Public library opens in a Columbia community for first time in half a century

A rendering of the inside of the new Richland Library Edgewood branch, which opens Saturday, Dec. 12, 2018/
A rendering of the inside of the new Richland Library Edgewood branch, which opens Saturday, Dec. 12, 2018/ Richland Library

Two generations of Columbia residents have grown up in a cluster of neighborhoods without a public library.

Come next Saturday, residents of Edgewood, Celia Saxon, Waverly, Martin Luther King and other nearby neighborhoods will be able to walk from their homes to a library for the first time since 1971.

Richland Library celebrates the opening of its Edgewood library branch Saturday, Dec. 15. A celebration will be held from noon to 2 p.m., and the library will be open until 6 p.m. that day. The Edgewood library is located at 2101 Oak St.

The new library means free access to the internet and computers, something that some people in this lower-income community can’t afford for themselves.

It means thousands of books, career advancement programs and a safe hangout space within walking distance — a particular benefit for some who lack reliable transportation.

It means these neighborhoods no longer lack what dozens of others in the Midlands have enjoyed for decades.

It’s been 47 years since the closest public library – one of the few available to African-Americans in the days of persistent segregation – shut down on Gervais Street in the nearby Waverly neighborhood.

The new Edgewood library features 7,000 square feet of books, technology, public art and meeting and working spaces.

Richland Library spent more than $2 million to transform the former Dollar General building, which it leases from the Columbia Housing Authority for $1 per month.

The Edgewood library will be open Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is closed on Sundays.

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Sarah Ellis has reported on Columbia and Richland County since 2014. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in journalism. She’s probably skipping happy hour to go to a County Council meeting.