The first library building built solely to serve as a library was at the University of South Carolina in 1840. It is shown on the postcard to the left. Academic libraries prior to this time were located in campus buildings that served multiple purposes. My source for this information is Kenneth E. Carpenter's book The First 350 Years of the Harvard University Library (Harvard University Library, 1986). According to Carpenter, Gore Hall, built at Harvard in 1841, was a close second. Carpenter also points out that although the University of Virginia built a library in 1825 it was put to a variety of uses. The University of South Carolina building is still used as a library. It houses the South Caroliniana Library. Gore Hall at Harvard is shown on the postcard below. Carpenter notes that to decrease the risk of fire Gore Hall only had a small furnace and users and staff had to wear hats and coats in the winter. Gore Hall was replaced by the Widener Library building in 1915 on the same site.
Knapp School Libraries Project
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