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“Carnegie Libraries in South Carolina” exhibit opens in Hipp Hall Gallery

Original card catalog in the Charleston Library Society

“Carnegie Libraries in South Carolina,” a new photography exhibit by A. Scott Henderson, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Education, is now on display in the Hipp Hall Gallery at Furman University.

Front windows (with books visible) of the Honea Path Public Library

Toward the end of his life, the American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) provided $41 million in funding for 1,689 American libraries. By some estimates, that accounted for nearly half of the nation’s libraries at the time of Carnegie’s death. It was one of the greatest philanthropic undertakings in United States history.

Henderson, an amateur photographer, has mounted two previous photography exhibits. He was drawn to this new topic for several reasons. “I love books, libraries, and architecture. Plus, I’m an education professor, so the project was a great fit with my personal and professional interests,” he said.

Initially, South Carolina was home to 18 libraries that received Carnegie funds. Of those, four were academic libraries (Benedict College, Converse College, Furman University, and Winthrop University), and one was a private subscription library (the Charleston Library Society). Many of those that survive still function as libraries; the remainder are either abandoned or serve other purposes.

During this past August, Henderson drove around the state photographing the 12 existing non-academic libraries.

Henderson said that most people are unfamiliar with Carnegie libraries, let alone the fact that South Carolina has so many of them. “We should celebrate and preserve them as vital parts of our educational, social, and architectural heritage,” he said, adding, “I hope my photographs will help accomplish that.”

The exhibit, which consists of 17 (18″ x 24″) black & white photographs, will be open for public viewing from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday to Friday through the spring of 2017.

For more information, contact the Education Department at (864) 294-3083.

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