Welcome to the south’s oldest cultural institution.
The Charleston Library Society is a cultural institution for life-long learning, serving its members, the Lowcountry community and scholars through access to its rich collection of books, manuscripts and archival material and programs promoting discussion and understanding of the ideas they contain.
In the Vaults
From colonial era letters to literary manuscripts, the Library Society’s Archives and Special Collections hold some of the Lowcountry’s greatest cultural treasures. From its founding in 1748, the Charleston Library Society has served to promote research and inquiry, and has preserved and protected treasures of the written word. The collections of the Library Society stretch from the 15th century to the modern day, and include materials from around the world. Today, our collections assist scholars from across the Lowcountry, as well as internationally.
The collections of the Library Society exist for the benefit of all researchers. Our staff is here to help with your research project in any way possible and to connect you with the materials you need. Requests are accommodated daily on a case-by-case basis, but 24 hours advance notice is preferred. Researchers wishing to conduct long-term studies of our collections are also welcome. A staff member is available for hands-on research and reference assistance in our Main Reading Room Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:30am to 12:00pm.
A generous grant from the Bernard and Judy Cornwell Foundation in the summer of 2015 enabled Library Society staff to develop and expand a digitization program featuring the Special Collections. The ATIZ BookDrive Mark 2 Scanner allows Library Society staff to safely digitize the vast collections of rare books and manuscripts for preservation and online exhibition.
CONSERVATION & BINDERY
BINDERY & ARCHIVAL LAB
The Dorothy the Bookbinder’s Bindery and Archival Lab was christened in December of 2011.
From the summer of ’12 to ’16, past Director Brien Beidler oversaw repair and conservation of the Library’s priceless collection. He directed courses and workshops on the art of the book and traditional binding methods.