The Timrod Library began in 1897, when a group of young Summerville women, inspired by the Chautauqua literary movement, formed a reading circle. The group and its collection of books thrived and grew and, in 1908, was chartered as the Timrod Literary and Library Association. The association was named for Henry Timrod, a Charleston writer whose poem became the state song of South Carolina.
The town of Summerville donated the lot on Central Avenue, and the women of the Timrod Literary and Library Association worked several years to garner donations of funds, materials, and labor to build their town's first library. The Timrod Library at 217 Central Avenue was dedicated in 1915. The building is in the historic districe of Summerville, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, the Timrod Library houses a collection numbering in excess of 12,000 volumes, including the latest bestsellers, classics, rare books, audio resources, hard-to find reference materials, and a large number of local and regional titles. The section for young readers includes picture books, juvenile fiction, young adult titles, and graphic novels.
Membership or subscription libraries, introduced to the United States by Benjamin Franklin, were the forerunners of the public library system. Today, less than twenty membership libraries are still in operation in the United States, with two remaining in South Carolina. The Timrod Library is funded by memberships, donations, and fundraising efforts, and is governed by a Board of Directors, which meets monthly to execute business.
Since it's creation, The Timrod Literary and Library Association has been a neighborhood library and continues to serve as a hub of literary events. Board members, employees, and many volunteers work diligently to continue their literary mission: serving the community and caring for the Timrod Library's historic building.
The Timrod Library also serves the community as an affiliate of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, which provides free age-appropriate books each month to children from birth to five years old.