FOSCL History

Did you ever wonder how the Friends of South Carolina Libraries (or FOSCL, as it is affectionately known) got its start? One has to go back to 1988 when there began to be discussion in South Carolina library circles among local Friends groups, trustees, and librarians about the possibility of forming a statewide Friends group. A handful of people, led by Penny Davis of Charleston , with support from then South Carolina State Library Director Betty Callaham, began to develop a draft of bylaws and a draft constitution and to explore possible goals and objectives for such a group.

In February 1989, a small steering committee (note 1) met to examine these draft documents and felt that an invitation to a meeting should be issued statewide to those who might like to see a state Friends group. In the late 1980’s, South Carolina was one of several states that did not have a statewide group; however, by the end of the next decade, all states had such groups.

The Northeast Branch of the Richland County Public Library was host site to the state meeting in April 1989. A motion to form the Friends of South Carolina Libraries (FOSCL) was passed, and Interim Officers were approved (note 2). Draft constitution and bylaws were distributed; and after discussion, changes were approved and a dues structure was adopted.

The Interim Officers were authorized to proceed with filing for incorporation, filing for 501(c)(3) status, establishing a treasury, nominating permanent officers and all the other sundry tasks that would enable an organization to function as a legal entity. Those attending the meeting divided into focus groups and subsequently provided the Interim Officers with general guidance on a future direction.

Thanks to much behind the scenes work by many from around the state, the first annual meeting of FOSCL was held at the Hilton Head Branch Library on November 15, 1989 . There was a balance in the treasury which was reported as well as ideas for the sale of FOSCL promotional items to feed the treasury. Filing for incorporation had been completed, FOSCL had a mailing address and was working with the IRS to achieve tax-exempt status. Permanent officers for the year were elected (note 3), followed by moderator-led small group discussions on topics of interest to the local Friends groups who were in attendance (note 4).

Although fledgling, FOSCL was off and running, bolstered financially by a grant from the Friends of the Greenville County (Public) Library and grant assistance obtained through the South Carolina State Library. The Executive Board of Officers agreed to plan activities in conjunction with the 1990 South Carolina Library Association annual conference to provide that group with information on the White House Conference, and to assure there was awareness of FOSCL in the state’s library community. Additional plans were under development to support South Carolina’s Library Legislative Day, to promote libraries and their importance in the state, and to maintain a primary function of offering support to existing local Friends groups to get started.

In the years since its formation, FOSCL has continued as an all volunteer group to encourage the best of library services as well as awareness and increased public support to libraries throughout South Carolina.


Note 1: Penny Davis, Mike Burkhart, Karen Hellend, Cappy McFadden, Beverly Farrell, Harriet Woodham, Margot Dupuy-Howerton, Susie Hudson, Larry Freeman, and Margie Herron

Note 2: Penny Davis, Catherine McFadden, Nancy Redding, Carolyn Gilstrap

Note 3: Susie Hudson, Mike Burkhart, Phil Groben, Carolyn Gilstrap

Note 4: Friends of: Charleston County Library, Greenville County Library, Beaufort County’s Hilton Head Branch, Pickens County’s Village Branch, Richland County Public Library, Sumter County Library, and Georgetown County’s Waccamaw Branch

Thanks to Mike Burkhart, one of the charter members of the Friends of South Carolina Libraries, for providing information for this article.