For many people across the U.S., local libraries serve as a vessel for community and economic development. But residents in Orangeburg County, South Carolina, went without an updated local library for several years, and the effects were felt throughout the community. But recently that changed with the help of USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Grant Program, which provided a $471,800 grant for the county to build a library and conference center for its residents.
"This facility has been a beacon for our community, for everybody," said Angel Howell, Director of Administration for Orangeburg County. "If it weren't for this facility, citizens wouldn't be able to come to look for jobs. Students wouldn't have a safe place to go to help keep them off the streets. The library and the state-of-the-art conference center are a very important aspect of our community.
USDA Rural Development's $471,800 Community Facilities Grant accounted for 35% of the total $1,348,081, with Orangeburg County providing the remaining 65% needed for library and library campus equipment. The combined funding provided the Orangeburg County Library and Conference Center with modern network cabling, IT equipment, audio-visual equipment, furniture and fixtures, library shelving, playground equipment, fitness equipment, security equipment, and a walking trail.
"The county library in Orangeburg received USDA funding through our community facilities program, as well as some of our rural business resources," said Dr. Saundra H. Glover, USDA Rural Development South Carolina State Director. "This project is about providing a state-of-the-art facility for Orangeburg and the surrounding rural communities, and we believe that the presence of this library is a drawing card for our young people."
Orangeburg County, a Persistent Poverty and Strike Force County in South Carolina, has been partnering with Rural Development for over 20 years.