Thursday, February 23, 2012

The value of your library

Since 1917, the Sumter County Library has been a valuable part of Sumter County. The library is dedicated to the promotion of life-long learning that enhances the cultural, recreational, and educational needs of the community it serves. The Sumter County Library provides a diverse variety of materials, resources and programming covering a wide spectrum of knowledge, information, and entertainment for all ages. The Library consists of a Headquarters Library in downtown Sumter, a Wesmark and South Sumter Branch, and a Bookmobile to serve rural areas of the county as well as day care stops and senior centers.
The Library averages almost a quarter of a million visits each year. Most visitors come to take advantage of the library’s collection of books, audio books, eBooks, DVDs, CDs, and magazines available for loan. Last year patrons borrowed over 260,000 items from the library collection. The Library may also be accessed through its creative and interactive website at The website contains a wealth of information about library services and programs as well as access to the library catalog, patron accounts, online databases, and our social networking sites on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Public access computers are also an important service offered. Library patrons log onto our computers for internet access an average of 70,000 times a year to complete homework assignments, apply for jobs, search for information on health issues, or simply to surf the information highway.
We also offer many well-attended programs and events that meaningfully and positively impact lives. Last year, over 18,000 people attended computer and technology training; job search and resume assistance programs: presentations on health and wellness, finance and real estate; book clubs; a Taiwanese film and photography festival; scholarly lectures and much more. Children’s programs take place year-round, including the ever popular summer reading program which concludes with an end of summer bash at the Wesmark Branch. Story times and special movie showings are a regular feature for our younger patrons. Our highly talented and creative staff also create specially themed programs including a Halloween Spooktacular, Black History Month programs, Rappin’ Poetry Jams, Art Exhibits, and many other programs where children can create crafts, watch a magician, hear stories, dance, and listen to music.
The Sumter County Library is here to inspire, educate and entertain. Through our staff, resources and programming, we strive to help the citizens of Sumter County improve their lives through access to resources, materials and events that change lives.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Libraries Change Lives

A young woman visited the Reference Desk a few weeks ago. She was distressed because she had to write a paper for Graduate School. The young woman had been out of school a few years and did not know where to start. The paper required articles from reputable online journals. I explained to the young woman there was an online resource called DISCUS (Digital Information for South Carolina Users) available where she could possibly locate these articles. After a few minutes of showing her the various databases and how to search for these articles, the student felt much better on beginning her paper. Knowing how to find and use information in a helpful manner gave this student a new start.

They say knowledge is power. The student gained a new set of tools to improve her studies and, consequently, her life, by learning technologies that will allow her a greater understanding of knowledge. As a Reference Librarian, I find it fascinating and encouraging that public libraries provide the basic tools, knowledge and skills to advance in education, careers and in life. I find it thrilling to help a patron with a puzzling genealogy question or teach a beginning Microsoft Excel user how to create spreadsheets. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to help improve lives.

Libraries change lives. Individuals and communities thrive when libraries are there to assist those who need answers to questions other places simply cannot provide. The library is a free resource to those in the community who could not afford a test preparation guide, history books or internet access. In 2012, the Sumter County Library continues to offer free computer classes, a financial improvement program, author fair, a King James Bible festival, English as a Second Language classes, children’s programming and much more. Consider joining the Friends of the Sumter County Library to help support our mission:

The Sumter County Library is dedicated to the promotion of life-long learning. We believe that citizens of every age are important patrons of the Library. Through its Downtown library, community branches, and bookmobile, all residents shall be afforded access to authoritative information to meet their personal, educational, and professional needs.

Thank you.

Winniford A. Simmons III
Reference and Information Services Coordinator

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Forrest Ray 5k

The sixth annual Forrest Ray 5k was held at the Sumter County Library on October 8, 2011 to raise funds for the library collection. It was a great success, due in no small part to those who support the event financially and by volunteering. First and foremost the family of Forrest Ray, the 5k founder. Forrest was a great supporter of the library’s role in providing recreational and educational materials for the Sumter community. Thanks to all who came out to run or walk and support the library. SAFE Federal Credit Union, our presenting sponsor for the past five years, is crucial to the success of the 5k. Thanks also go out to all of our sponsors: the YMCA (very special thanks to Cheryl Huggins), IGA, Piggly Wiggly, Five Guys, the 1895 Inn at Savannah, Sumter County Active Lifestyles (more special thanks to Catherine Blumberg), McLeod Cardiology Associates Sumter, the Kiwanis Club of Sumter, and Driver’s Choice Low Cost Auto Insurance. Greatly appreciated are the volunteers from the Girl Scouts from Fanny Ivey Service Unit #655 and Troop 2292 for taking care of the water stations, the USC-Fire Ants for directing runners on the race route, Sumter Law Enforcement for directing traffic, and the Friends of the Library. All sorts of honorable mentions go out to the very hardworking and dedicated staff of the Sumter County Library. Finally, special thanks to Senator Phil Leventis for his support of the race and his efforts on behalf of libraries. He gets an A+ from us.

Robert Harden/Director

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Challenges and changes

These are challenging times for public libraries across the country. Many have had to close branch locations and reduce hours of operation. The Sumter County Library has also experienced budget reductions on the local and state level.

Thankfully, all our branch locations will remain open. However, beginning August 1, 2011, the Sumter County Library System will change its hours of operation to:

Downtown Library (111 North Harvin Street/803-773-7273)

Monday – Tuesday 9:00 – 8:00
Wednesday – Friday 9:00 – 6:00
Saturday – Sunday 2:00 – 6:00

Wesmark Branch Library (180 West Wesmark Boulevard/803-469-8110)

Monday – Friday 9:00 – 6:00

South Sumter Branch Library (337 Manning Avenue/803-775-7132)

Monday – Friday 10:00 – 2:00

Despite these changes, a public library facility will be open each day of the week. We look forward to offering the Sumter community entertaining and educational programs as well as providing books, audio books and e-books, DVDs, online databases, and many other services. For more information, contact any library location or visit us online at

Robert Harden

Thursday, June 9, 2011

This Summer Is Hot, Hot, Hot!

The Sumter County Library promises you a summer full of hot events and services for all ages and community members. As we do every year, the Library is beginning its Summer Reading Program, sponsored by the Friends of the Sumter County Library. This year, the theme is "One World, Many Stories". Parents are encouraged to register their children at their branch of choice. The sheer amount of events this year promises to entertain children and families alike. There will be crafts, movies, story times, ToddlerTuesdays at the Wesmark branch and of course our special guests. These special guests include the Penny Boyes dancers, The Musical World of John English, Sarah Dippity, Pat the Pack Rat, A Def Rappin' Poetry Jam and more! There is so much to do this year that a boring summer is out of the question!

For adults, the Sumter County Library continues its Computer Classes until the beginning of August. Classes in Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Computer Basics, Keyboarding and E-Mail are offered. If you want to see and try out a Barnes and Noble Nook or Amazon Kindle, consider attending our E-Reader events at Main (August 6 @ 3pm) and Wesmark (July 11 @ 6pm). Free refreshments will be provided. Call 773.7273 to sign up for our computer classes or for more information on the E-Reader events!

We hope to see you this Summer at the Sumter County Library!

Monday, April 11, 2011

National Library Week April 10-16

This week, April 10 – 16th, is National Library Week, a time to celebrate libraries in Sumter County and across the nation. Sumter’s Carnegie Library on West Liberty Street opened its doors in 1917. The opening reception was held on December 3rd, and the first librarian in charge was Miss Grace Randle, a local elementary school teacher. I remember trips to the Carnegie Library on Liberty when I was a boy, going down to the children’s department in the basement. Mrs. Mattie Ivey was the children’s librarian, and I little realized that I would be working alongside her one day. I began working part-time at the Sumter County Library in 1980 while a student at USC-Sumter. By that time, the library had moved to its present location on Harvin Street. Mrs. Ivey would retire in 1988, after 39 years of service.
My career goal at one time had been teaching. Once I entered the doors of the Library, however, I never left. I don’t believe I have left the goal of teaching behind, however. Libraries are very much a part of the educational process. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be . . . The people cannot be safe without information. When the press is free, and every man is able to read, all is safe.”
I was first hired to work at the library by Chapman J. (Jimmy) Milling. Mr. Milling had come to Sumter as director of the Carnegie Public Library in 1955. He was Director for thirty years before retiring in 1985. Sumter County was fortunate to have his service. He was instrumental in moving the library from the overcrowded building on Liberty into a new facility on Harvin Street in 1968. Jimmy Milling was a talented, cultured individual who greatly expanded the library collection, paying particular attention to the arts. Many of his selections on art, music and literature are still on the library shelves. He certainly could be described as a renaissance man – his knowledge and interests branched out into many different subject areas and disciplines.
Mr. Milling was a gifted artist and writer. He was a long time member and contributor to the Sumter Poetry Club. He also wrote for the Item, reviewing local art shows and exhibits. Jimmy Milling made important contributions to the cultural life of Sumter. His contributions to library services in Sumter County cannot be overstated and are still being felt today.

Robert Harden

Friday, April 8, 2011

National Library Week

April 10th through the 16th is National Library Week. National Library Week commenced in 1958 and ever since has been held in observance by the American Library Association and libraries across the nation. National Library Week is a time for all people to celebrate the freedom and sense of community libraries bring to cities, towns and villages throughout the United States.

We especially hope you celebrate National Library Week by visiting the Main, Wesmark or South Sumter branches of the Sumter County Library. When you drop by we especially you hope you take the time to walk around the library and notice all that is offered to the public on a daily basis. The Sumter County Library offers computer classes year-round and workforce development assistance for those in need of employment. The Sumter County Library creates new and interesting programming such as an art show, yoga, travel planning workshop, poetry group, book clubs (online and off), story times, movies and much more.

While we still lend your favorite books and movies, the Library is now, more than ever, a centrally based community center where people from all over the community visit to talk, study, read, learn and grow. Our meeting rooms (available by reservation, to all) are constantly used by personal, civic and government groups. The Sumter County Library is the one place where big or small, rich or poor, can come together and grow as individuals and citizens.

Celebrate National Library Week with us.

Ford Simmons
Reference and Information Services Coordinator