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library (now known as the McKissick Museum) in 1940, the Mills building became the home of "Caroliniana"—published and unpublished materials relating to the history, literature, and culture of South Carolina.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.
A foreword is provided by W. Eric Emerson, director, South Carolina Department of History and Archives.
John M. Bryan, professor emeritus of art and architectural history at the University of South Carolina, is a recipient of the South Carolina Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor awarded by the governor of South Carolina. Bryan is the author of several books including Architectural History of the South Carolina College, 1801–1855; Robert Mills, America's First Architect; Creating the South Carolina Statehouse; and Biltmore Estate.
"Expertly researched and richly illustrated, John Bryan's latest contribution to South Carolina's history provides both a chronicle of past achievements and a prelude to future accomplishments, acquisitions, and discoveries at what is one of the Palmetto State's most venerable landmarks and institutions."—John Sherrer, Historic Columbia
"Meticulously researched, this handsome tome explores the complex history of the South Caroliniana Library, weaving together layers of personal stories using collections held by the very institution it seeks to describe. Future scholars will be able to look to this volume for inspiration—and its excellent bibliography!"—Edward Blessing, South Caroliniana Library