Joe Biden to Speak at Univ of SC Library Dedication

Vice President Joe Biden will speak at a special event to dedicate the University of South Carolina’s Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library, the university announced. The ceremony will take place on Friday and a number of other dignitaries and elected officials, including Sen. Hollings and U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, will be featured.

The Hollings library, which is connected to the Thomas Cooper Library by a glass-enclosed walkway on the main level, was completed in June. In addition to the S.C. Political Collections, the $18 million, 50,000-square-foot facility will house the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections and Digital Collections.

Dean of Libraries Tom McNally says the new Hollings Library will better serve students, researchers, donors of materials and staff.

“This is an exciting time in the history of university libraries,” said McNally. “The Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library pulls together three areas of collections in one working environment that is unsurpassed by any repository in the country.

“The Hollings Library makes it possible for the rare and valuable treasures from the university’s collections to be accessible for students, researchers and the public through reading, research, class and meeting rooms, a mini-theater and large exhibition galleries.”

Hollings was instrumental in securing the $14 million in federal funds for the building. The senator gave his personal papers to the university in 1989, a gesture that encouraged friends and fellow former Govs. James B. Edwards and John C. West to place their papers with the South Carolina Political Collections (SCPC). Soon thereafter, Govs. Robert McNair and Carroll Campbell also placed their papers with SCPC. As a result of Hollings’ support, the SCPC is unparalleled in its holdings of the state’s congressional delegates, leaders in the General Assembly, governors, political parties and organizations.

Hollings says the library will be a repository of knowledge that will benefit all South Carolina citizens.

Libraries are strong symbols of our democratic society,” Hollings said. “They are places where any of us can go to read, to learn, to research, to expand our knowledge and to improve ourselves. This beautiful new facility will promote those noble endeavors, as well as protect and preserve our history, and it has been my distinct honor and privilege to have been associated with its establishment.”

The green design of the Hollings Library is as important as the treasures it contains within its walls. The library was built to LEED (Leadership in energy and Environmental Design) Gold standards.

The main level features a comfortable, classic yet contemporary environment that is bathed in natural light and surrounded by warm wood surfaces. Library staff members in the floors beneath work in spacious, specially designed areas with vaults and stacks perfectly controlled for temperature and humidity. Low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, finishes and furnishings and specially designed lighting provide the optimal environment for the preservation of materials and health of visitors and staff.

“Space limitations in our previous home threatened to constrain our collecting and preservation efforts,” McNally said. “That’s no longer the case. The Hollings Library provides significant space for our archivists to work and for us to seek out and acquire new collections. The temperature and humidity controls on our stack floor, where all our unique materials are stored, provide a near-perfect environment ensuring our materials will be preserved for generations to come.”

Several dozen 20 foot tall stacks run along tracks that, with a push of a button, can compress for optimal storage. The stacks provide 47,000 linear feet, or about nine miles of storage, for materials. That translates to up to 250,000 volumes of books and approximately 20 million manuscripts, folios, maps and political and literary papers and hung political memorabilia, posters and paintings.

A large treasure vault houses the most valuable items from holdings in the Irvin department of rare books and special collections, including the original double –elephant folio Audubon, first editions of Milton, Burns, Whitman, Fitzgerald and Hemingway and a rare 1699 charter with the Great Seal of the Lords Proprietors of South Carolina.

Digital Collections, responsible for creating digital versions of select rare materials from the collections and making them available online for access by scholars and the public, now houses the only Zeutschel scanner in the United States. The large-format overhead scanner allows staff members to digitize large books and maps that could not otherwise be made available in digital form. The scanner will make possible the digitization of the William Gilmore Simms Collection and materials from an array of collections.

“The Zeutschel scanner greatly enhances the capabilities our digital-collections staff,” McNally says.

“We already have made more than 60,000 images and 60 digital collections available for public use. The Hollings Library expands the resources available to staff and will certainly accelerate their good work to preserve materials and enhance research by making them widely and freely available.”

While the dedication on July 23 is closed to the public, the Hollings Library is open to visitors and researchers 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, visit the website: