Charleston Library Society


Charleston Library Society

Four. Charleston Library Society

164 King Street (Business District)
CharlestonSC  29401
(843) 723-9912

Monday - Friday 9:30a to 5:30p
Saturday 9:30a to 2:00p.

The Charleston Library Society is thought to be the third library established in the United States. It was organized in 1748 by a group of young men who wished to keep up with the scientific and philosophical issues of the day. To promote education, it began giving funds for the establishment of a college in the 1770s, which later became the foundation of the College of Charleston. The Society purchased scientific instruments and appointed a committee to collect materials that promoted the study of the natural history of the area. These collections became the foundation of the Charleston Museum, the oldest museum in the United States.

The current building was constructed in 1914. It was designed in the Beaux Arts classical style using stuccoed brick and marble detailing. Built on a raised basement, the main floor is punctuated by arched Palladian windows separated by double pilasters with Ionic capitals. Today, the Library still serves researchers from all over the world, in person and by correspondence, providing access to the collections of rare books, periodicals, manuscripts, clippings, maps, directories, almanacs, and a newspaper collection that dates to 1732.

The library is open Monday - Friday 9:30a to 5:30p, and Saturday 9:30a to 2:00p.