Creating the South Caroliniana Library

John M. Bryan

Clothbound with jacket
10 by 10 in.
170 pages

Designed for the University of South Carolina Press
by Nathan Moehlmann, Goosepen Studio & Press

The South Caroliniana Library, located on the historic Horseshoe of the University of South Carolina campus in Columbia, is one of the premier research archives and special collections repositories in South Carolina and the American Southeast. The library’s holdings — manuscripts, published materials, university archives, and visual materials — are essential to understanding the Palmetto State and Southern culture as it has evolved over the past 300 years.   

When opened as the South Carolina College library in 1840 it was the first freestanding academic library building in the United States. Designed by Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument, it is built in the Greek Revival style and features a replica of the reading room that once housed Thomas Jefferson’s personal library in the second Library of Congress. When the college built a larger main library (now known as the McKissick Museum) in 1940, the Mills building became the home of “Caroliniana”— published and unpublished materials relating to the history, literature, and culture of South Carolina.

Through a dedicated mining of the resources this library has held, art historian John M. Bryan crafted this comprehensive narrative history of the building’s design, construction, and renovations, which he enhanced with personal entries from the diaries and letters of the students, professors, librarians, and politicians who crossed its threshold. A treasure trove of Caroliniana itself, this colorful volume, featuring 95 photographs and illustrations, celebrates a beautiful and historic structure, as well as the rich and vibrant history of the Palmetto State and the dedicated citizenry who have worked so hard to preserve it.