If you ever watched the PBS cartoon Arthur, then you’ll remember the quote, “Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card!” That couldn’t be any truer in Columbia. We’ve got a lot of libs in Cola, all with different perks like classes + events, plus ways to get involved in the community… and plain and simple opportunities to just read a really rad book.
Known as the primary admin of federal and state support for S.C.’s libraries, the State Library is locally known around Cola for the two bronze lion statues by the front entrance 🦁🦁 (fun fact: their nicknames are Sol and Edgar, after local politicians Solomon Blatt and Edgar Brown).
To get a library card, you must be 18 years old and apply online. Loan periods last up to 21 days, for books, audiobooks, CDs, magazines and paperbacks -- just a small list of the materials offered, not even mentioning their special collections of rare books and federal documents. You can check out up to 30 items at once, and all items can be renewed twice; the best part is that overdue fines aren’t charged, so bookworms can rejoice (although you do have to pay for any lost or damaged items).
Their other services include Discus (S.C.’s virtual library), Digital Collections (a set of online S.C. projects), DayByDaySC (providing families music, Internet, books, + even access to health info), and Speaker @ the Center (a meet-and-greet series with authors).
Photo by @scstatelibrary
Take it from me; there’s no better place to pull an aall-nighterthan T. Coop, especially now that they’ve opened up a new Starbucks cafe inside. 🤙🏼☕
The Thomas Cooper Library was first built in 1959 (fun fact: UofSC’s OG library was held in Rutledge College, which is now the University Chapel), and in 1976 the current library, a seven-story building with four underground floors, was added on as a continuation of the old T.Coop. The project cost around $9,500,000 to finish.
T. Coop is open 24/7 for students and faculty, and from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. for visitors. The library offers tons of useful tools, like computer access (visitors can use “express” computers to check email and use the Internet for 30 minutes total). They also offer student and guest WiFi networks, if you want to bring your own device.
You can check out books and other materials on the Main Level at the circulation desk. If you’re a student, your Carolina Card is basically your best friend when it comes to checking out books – but if you’re a visitor/non-UofSC student, you can join the Thomas Cooper Society to get a library card for $60/year for access to book borrowing, exhibitions + society programs.
Photo by @uofschousing
Not only does the Lexington County Public Library offer free library cards to Lexington County residents and property owners; they offer tons of cool resources and classes for kids and teens. From the Teen Anime Club to Teen Book Discussion, kids in grades 6-12 won’t have any issues finding rad clubs and groups to join. Also, need some help with homework? They’ve got you covered.
Their online content also offers tons of downloadables, such as e-books, e-comics, music, audiobooks, and a special online library just for kids.
The library offers 11 locations, including a mobile library:
- Lexington Main | 5440 Augusta Rd.
- Batesburg-Leesville | 203 Armory St.
- Cayce-West Columbia | 1500 Augusta Rd.
- Chapin | 129 N. Columbia Ave.
- Gaston | 214 S. Main St.
- Gilbert-Summit | 405 Broad St.
- Irmo | 6251 St. Andrews Rd.
- Pelion | 206 Pine St.
- South Congaree-Pine Ridge | 200 Sunset Dr.
- Swansea | 199 N. Lawrence Ave.
- Mobile Library | runs from Jan. 9 to May 11 | click here to view its routes
Photo by @lee_racheal
Any citizen + property owner in Richland County can get a free library card for any of the 12 locations, but for everyone else, it’s a $65 annual fee (#worthit). They offer books and other rentable items, of course, but also multiple skills-building + entertainment classes and events – every single day.
The art gallery at the Main branch shows exhibits throughout the year of local artists and performers, and the new Recording Booth at North Main offers a free, full service recording booth for members to channel their inner Jack White and record their own songs. As a library card holder, you’re even able to download 6 free songs per week + get unlimited music streaming online – that is nuts. In the best way.
RL’s Business, Careers and Research Center offers opportunities to connect with clients, and explore career options + thesis options for anyone who might need job help. There are also 18 designated computers (with up to 3-hours of access time) for Job Seekers, who are given guest passes with no library card necessary. Interview Practice is also available on the first + third Wednesdays of each month at the Main library, from 10 a.m.-noon.
Each of the 12 branches has a cool, different aspect:
- Ballentine | 1200 Dutch Fork Rd. | located on seven acres of wooded land, there are tons of cozy lil’ reading nooks to create some majorly chill vibes
- Blythewood | 218 McNulty St. | build on the LEGO wall, or look at Jarod Charzewski’s public art piece, the Water Tower Pavilion
- Cooper | 5317 N. Trenholm Rd. | features a children’s area for kindergarten-aged kids + a makerspace for kids to experiment with tools and technology
- Eastover | 608 Main St. | first est. in 1930, but moved to its current location in 1985
- EdVenture | 211 Gervais St. | located right next to “Eddie,” the location at EdVenture has a puppet stage and tons of books for kids of all ages
- Main | 1431 Assembly St. | 240,000 square feet of resources; check out the newly-renovated. 20,000-sqft. children’s room (with Where the Wild Things Are mural) + the new cafe (ft. Rise bagels)
- North Main | 5306 N. Main St. | book a session in the new recording studio
- Northeast | 7490 Parklane Rd. | first opened in 1986, this branch is home to the Let’s Speak English program
- Sandhills | 763 Fashion Dr. | features an auditorium, multiple courtyards + an art studio
- Southeast | 7421 Garners Ferry Rd. | features a covered outdoor section
- St. Andrews | 2916 Broad River Rd. | features a laptop bar, children’s area + even a pickup-window
- Wheatley | 931 Woodrow St. | temporarily closed for renovations in the Old Shandon neighborhood (a.k.a. so convenient)
Photo by @zamee_
Seriously, what’s better than getting lost on a rainy afternoon in really good book? Yeah, we can’t think of anything, either.
Also – how dope does that recording studio at Richland Library North Main sound? Y’all can definitely find us there jamming out soon. 🎶