The Keith Summey North Charleston Library (KSNC) was opened in 2023 to replace a smaller facility erected more than seventy years earlier at the corner of Rivers Avenue and Dorchester Road. The original structure was conceived in 1946 by the North Charleston Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) as a memorial to local citizens lost in the recent war. After conducting a capital campaign within the community in 1947, the Jaycees transferred donated funds to the newly-incorporated Cooper River District Memorial Library Association (CRDMLA), which purchased the land and oversaw construction of a 2,500-square-foot building. The Cooper River Memorial Library, as it was known for seven decades, opened on December 29, 1948. A tablet installed by a local chapter of the American Legion the following month dedicated the facility to the “memory of the men and women of Cooper River District who died in service during World War II.” A second building campaign in 1957–58 extended the structure southward, doubling its square footage to meet increasing demand for services and space.
Although the CRDMLA owned and maintained the Cooper River Memorial Library, staff of the Charleston County Free Library (now Charleston County Public Library, or CCPL) operated the facility from the beginning. Use of the building was initially limited to White citizens, but CCPL’s Board of Trustees opened this and other branches to African Americans in 1963. The increasingly integrated use of the library inspired further expansion a decade later. To facilitate the application of public funds for the new construction, the trustees of the CRDMLA conveyed ownership of the property to Charleston County Council in June 1973. The subsequent renovations, completed in December 1974, enlarged the structure from 5,000 to 7,850 square feet by adding wings to the east and west facades.
Charleston County Government continued to maintain and improve the aging library into the twenty-first century. Following the success of a 2014 referendum to raise $108.5 million for library construction, CCPL began planning its replacement. The Cooper River Memorial Library closed on April 27, 2021, to facilitate the construction of a larger building at the same site. The new design retains the shell of the original 1948 structure and its 1957 extension, now augmented by an adjacent suite of new construction. The 20,000 square foot facility includes community rooms, dedicated children and teen spaces, a learning lab, creative studio, mobile teaching kitchen, and more. Named for the long-serving mayor of the City of North Charleston, the Keith Summey North Charleston Library opened on April 20, 2023 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a day of community programs.
This history was provided by CCPL Historian Nic Butler.