CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the critical role local libraries play in rural communities. Now, those on Edisto Island say they want a new library to come to the edge of Charleston County.
Charleston County Councilwoman Anna Johnson who represents the area says people have been reaching out to her with their hopes for the community space.
“They have expressed interest in having a bigger and better library,” Johnson said. “They want to do more things with the youth and the seniors out there.”
The only Edisto library is at Trinity Episcopal church.
Charleston County Public Library Director Angela Craig said the roughly 1,500 square-foot space has been there, unchanged, for 30 years.
“There’s nothing that we have on deck at this time. But we do know that with the growth in the community and how libraries provide accessibility, having a permanent, more robust library would be wonderful for that community,” Craig said.
Craig said other new rural libraries, like the one in Hollywood, do more than just house books. They play a key role in connecting people in rural areas with different resources, programs, food and even COVID-19 vaccines.
“We of course are available for books, but we can also help with the digital divide, we can help with technology services, we can help with resources for workforce development and educational success,” Craig said. “What we also found with COVID is that we are very much part of accessing resources for the community, too.”
Charleston County leaders are acknowledging the need for a library like that on Edisto Island.
Over the past week, councilmembers agreed to open up Greenbelt-funded land in the area to allow for a potential library in the future.
Johnson calls it a “big steppingstone” in one day making that dream a reality.
“For the Youth Recreation Leaders to decide to set aside property to build a new library, that’s a great opportunity,” Johnson said. “Having the opportunity for a new library would increase broadband access for those that cannot afford it.”
Craig said CCPL is closely following a national bill, the Build America’s Library Act. If passed, it could open up federal funds for areas like Edisto Island to build new, multi-use libraries in rural areas.