BOWMAN – History will be made in Bowman on Monday as the town celebrates the grand opening of its library.

The library will be the first in the town’s history.

Orangeburg County Public Library Director Anna Zacherl said having a physical library in Bowman will help children learn about the importance of reading and learning in their lives.

“The kids need to know that when we dedicate the time and the money, that this must be a really important part of their life,” Zacherl said. “Reading is fundamental to all the other learning they will do in their lives.”

The 3,000-square-foot library’s grand opening will be held at 1 p.m. Feb. 6 at 7105 Charleston Highway

It features a parking lot, crosswalk, playground and dedicated children’s and quiet reading room space. It has the ability to offer indoor and outdoor programming.

People are also reading…

The library will initially be open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The library will be closed on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Library officials hope to eventually expand library hours and days, depending on demand and growth.

Bowman has had access to the library system’s book mobile, but Zacherl says rural communities like Bowman really need brick and mortar facilities due to the lack of internet and Wi-Fi capabilities.

“Access is still an issue,” Zacherl said.

As the grand opening nears, the final touches are being finished.

“We need to make sure the computers are firing on all cylinders,” Zacherl said.

The library will have six to seven public computers as well as early literacy computers just for children to help them learn to read and do math.

The library will also have designated spaces for children, teens and adults. Public meeting spaces will also be available.

The library will be staffed with part-time associates.

Zacherl said patrons will be able to receive help in making resumes, filing out job applications, faxing or printing items and locating books or items. Patrons will benefit from the library’s interlibrary loan system where books from across the country can be shared.

Bowman Mayor Patsy Rhett praised the opening of the library.

“I see the opening of our new library and downtown park as a great opportunity for the advancement of education not only for our children, but adults also,” Rhett said. “Since we are a rural community and for some it’s hard to travel to Orangeburg or surrounding areas, this brings opportunities for internet and social gatherings closer to home.

“I believe it is and will be a great asset and I am forever grateful for this great addition to our downtown area.”

Bowman Councilman Ike Carter, who has been promoting literacy efforts, echoed Rhett.

“I believe this will really be a boon to the town and that it will energize the citizens and the community,” Carter said.

According to the Children’s Trust of South Carolina, Orangeburg County is ranked 39th among the 46 counties in the state in literacy.

The number of third-graders in the county testing below state standards in English and language arts is 71.1 percent, according to the CTSC.

As for kindergarten readiness, according to the S.C. Department of Education, 28 percent of students in Orangeburg County School District show readiness for language and literacy.

Carter said the new library, “will be a good thing to encourage kids to go to the library and get books out. Adults, town council and Mayor Rhett will encourage the use of it.”

Carter expressed his appreciation for what Orangeburg County has done for Bowman.

Randy Boland, who owns Boland Pharmacy next to the new library, is looking forward to it opening.

“I am hoping the library will help the quality of education in the community,” Boland said.

“We are just glad to have them next door,” he continued. “I think it will help the town altogether.”

Construction began in 2021. That included the renovation and conversion of a building located in downtown.

While the library has been complete for about a year, Zacherl said pandemic-related backorders on library furniture was the contributing factor for the delayed grand opening.

In addition to the library, the Matthews Park was built across the street. The park is named after retired Sen. John Matthews, D-Bowman, who helped with funding of the library.

Costs for the Bowman Library and Matthews Park are $359,000 and $297,250, respectively. Both were paid for with the 1 percent capital project sales tax, as well as with some state dollars.

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