A Guide to Charleston Area Libraries

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A library is so much more than a place to discover new books. A library is a place where you can linger. It’s a place where you can exist without the expectation of spending money.

As a child, my mother took me to the library often. I can still picture walking in with her, seeing the DMV office to our left, and then walking down the long hallway in the old white building.

I would head to the kids’ corner, cheerfully joining the other children to play. Our corner of the world was complete with a Lego table, bean bag chairs, and a few computers with interactive learning games.

My love of reading began here, being immersed in a new world opened endless possibilities for me. My imagination grew and I quickly knew exactly what I was looking for when we would return each time for new books. (Memoirs by female authors became my selection every time).

To this day, I will gladly pick up a library book over a TV remote every chance I get.

I have tried to encourage the love of reading with my two boys, I read to my first child every night before bed when he was a baby/toddler. My now eight-year-old was reading in Pre-K at age 4 1/2.

Naturally, I was shattered when it was clear that my oldest did not necessarily enjoy reading; but rather preferred math and science. (However, he is now very interested in Dog Man, Thank you, Amber.)

Both of my children do love library trips, nonetheless. The activities and entertainment at the Charleston Country Public Libraries always get their attention. We attended the baby storytimes years ago, clapping and singing along to the music after the books were read. We’ve played in the playrooms, read to fluffy therapy dogs, and done endless arts and crafts.

My children have checked out almost all of the 30+ Storytime Kits each with a different theme and consisting of a combination of books, games, puzzles, sensory toys, and stuffed animals.

We participate in the Explore with CCPL program. This program has allowed us to borrow a weekly pass to South Carolina State Parks, the Children’s Museum, and even the South Carolina Aquarium, which allows free entry for two adults and eight children for one week.

My advice for the South Carolina Aquarium pass is to get on the waiting list and then be very patient as there are now over 600 families on the waiting list! Passes are also available to the Gibbes Museum, Charleston County Parks, or to check out an Orion Telescope for a week.

We complete their reading programs in the summer and receive some awesome prizes. My boys would be appalled if I didn’t mention that there are often snacks (or even a full breakfast in the summer) at the libraries.

We have been to several of the Charleston County Public Libraries, but not all. Our most visited is the Bees Ferry Library, mostly because of the two glorious outdoor areas, one specifically for children. Reading in the sunshine and letting the kids run around someplace (that is completed gated in) besides home for free? Win.

We also love the Main Library Downtown. It’s two floors to explore with constant events (pre-Covid) and they will validate your parking in their underground garage if you are there for an hour or less. If you are there for more than an hour, the parking fee is very minimal.

Charleston County Public Library locations:

  • Baxter-Patrick James Island, 1858 South Grimball Rd.
  • John L. Dart, 1067 King St.
  • Folly Beach, 55 Center St.
  • Main, 68 Calhoun St.
  • Otranto Rd., 2261 Otranto Rd.
  • St. Paul’s Hollywood, 5130 Highway 165
  • West Ashley, 45 Windermere Blvd.
  • Bees Ferry West Ashley, 3035 Sanders Rd.
  • Dorchester Rd., 6325 Dorchester Rd. (currently closed for renovations)
  • Cynthia Graham Hurd/St. Andrews, 1735 N. Woodmere Dr. (recently renovated)
  • McClellanville, 222 Baker St.
  • Poe/Sullivan’s Island, 1921 I’on Ave.
  • Village, 430 Whilden St., (curbside service only)
  • Cooper River, 2036 Cherokee St. (temporary location)
  • Edisto Island, 1589 Hwy 174
  • John’s Island, 3531 Maybank Hwy.
  • Mt. Pleasant, 1133 Mathis Ferry Rd. (currently closed for renovations)
  • Keith Summey N. Charleston, 3503 Rivers Rd. (opening soon, construction began May 2021)
  • Wando Mt. Pleasant, 1400 Carolina Park Blvd.
  • Plus a Mobile Library! Check the mobile library routes online.

CCPL cards are free for residents of Charleston County, and students and business owners in Charleston County. They are $40/year for non-residents and can be picked up at any branch.

In addition to belonging to the Charleston County Public Library and The Dorchester County Library System, we also recently became members of The Timrod Library.

This library is in Summerville at 217 Central Ave. This is one of only two membership libraries left in the state of South Carolina and one of only 16 in the US. It’s a small yearly fee for a family and it’s pure magic. This library looks like it came out of a scene from Matilda.

Usually, there are fun events (and virtual events!) at most of the libraries around town on both weekdays and weekends. We recently stopped by the newly renovated Hurd/St. Andrews Library to drop off our letters for Santa in their “Magic Mailbox”.

Choose a library, go explore it and you’ll quickly see why we love our libraries!

*Please note that as of 1/5/22, CCPL has suspended all indoor programs, events, classes, and appointments temporarily due to the rise in COVID cases. Please check out their page for the most recent updates.

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