New St. Stephen Library in the works

  • Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The back of the former St. Stephen School still has swings and a playground.

Photos

While Hanahan’s new library opened this month, another new facility is on its way to St. Stephen.

The St. Stephen Library should be completed by the end of the year. It is being renovated from the former St. Stephen School, which has sat empty for about five years, according to Berkeley County Library System Director Donna Worden.

The former school is located off Ravenel and Pitt streets, near the intersection of U.S.-17A and S.C. Highway 45.

It was last used for the Head Start program. It will also house a magistrate court.

The St. Stephen Library is currently in a leased building that the county is paying rent on. There is also no room for expansion there, Worden said.

The currently library is 2,000 square feet. The new one will be 5,000 square feet.

The Town of St. Stephen offered the former school to the library and magistrate court if they would renovate it.

The school was built in the 1930s, Worden said. It housed all grades.

The library system has received a $500,000 community block grant through the Council of Governments for the project.

“The people of St. Stephen are so excited,” Worden said. “We’ll be delighted to move into a much larger space and provide technology the other building cannot accommodate.”

Since 2006 BCLS has opened four libraries.

“We are a department of the county,” Worden said. “We don’t have a separate millage rate. There are a great number of advantages to being a department of the county, such as maintenance. We are grateful for that. I think we have the best model.”

The Goose Creek branch is the county’s oldest and largest library. It was opened in 1991.

Worden said there are some long-term plans to upgrade the Goose Creek Library.

“We requested new carpet for next year,” Worden said. “We want to update its look.”

The grand opening at the new library in Hanahan was May 4. About 200 people attended. By midweek the library was buzzing with children and their parents looking at the colorful furniture and eons of books.

About 400 people have visited each day since the Hanahan Library has opened, Worden said.

The new facility is located at 1216 Old Murray Court, at the corner of North Murray Avenue and Railroad Avenue.

The old facility was in a leased building in a storefront trucked away in Yeomans Hall Plaza, Worden said. The county did not own the building and was paying rent.

In 2009 Berkeley County Supervisor Dan Davis created a building projects fund. Close to the top of the list was a new Hanahan and a new St. Stephen library.

“It’s been well worth the wait,” Worden said.

The Hanahan Library is 6,700 square feet. The one at Yeomans Hall was about 5,000 square feet.

“It’s amazing what you can do to make it seem so much larger,” Worden said. “When you walk into this one it is wide open.”

The new library has a reading garden, which no other county library has. It is an outside area for children. Worden said the library is looking for donations of benches and tables for the garden.

The Hanahan Library has 20 computers for public use – 10 for adults, six for children, four for teens, with room to grow. They also have free wireless internet and separate teen and children’s areas.

The teen room has bright red and fluorescent green chairs.

There is also a community meeting room that is free to use for civic meetings such as non-profit groups and government groups.

There are three study rooms, small rooms where people can shut the door and have privacy.

“The location is ideal,” Worden said. “We are near the elementary, middle and high schools, the senior center, the parks and recreation department, S.C. Works, the Catholic school, the Fishburne Adult Educational Center and Trident Technical College.

“We’ll have adult, teen and children’s programs. We’ll have the space to do that.”

The Hanahan Library received $10,000 to enhance its collection. Two-thirds of the new materiel went to children and teen materials.

The other books and media were transferred from the old location.

“All of our services come out of one desk at Hanahan,” Worden said. “It just makes sense to bring everybody together.”

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