Ida Jane Dacus

Black and white photograph of Ida Dacus

Ida Jane Dacus - First Professionally trained Librarian in the State of South Carolina. Image from Dacus Library.

(1875-1964) Dacus (pronounced “Day-cus”) was born in Williamston, Anderson County, to John Arving Dacus and Sara Elizabeth Hogg. She attended Williamston Female Academy (later Lander College) before entering Winthrop Normal and Industrial College in Rock Hill in 1896, the year classes began at the college. At Winthrop, Dacus was one of three scholarship girls assigned to care for the school’s meager library, which consisted of two hundred books and a study hall. At the end of her junior year she was asked to take over the library full-time. 

In 1901 Dacus took a nationwide competitive exam and won a scholarship to Drexel Institute in Philadelphia to study library science. The following year she received her certificate along with fifteen others and became the first professionally trained librarian in South Carolina and one of the first in the entire South. Dacus returned as head librarian to Winthrop, where she worked until her retirement in 1945. When she began as head librarian, the holdings numbered 5,184 books and 5,000 volumes of government publications. The Carnegie Foundation in 1905 pledged $20,000 to build a college library but in January 1906 increased the sum to $30,000 plus 500 books if the new library would offer library methods and act as a training school. The new library opened the following June.

In 1907 she inaugurated two classes in library science, the first in reference and a second in elementary library methods for schoolteachers. Her work was so respected that instructors of library methods from around the county began using her courses at their institutions. Library methods courses, a rarity in 1907, had become the norm by the late 1920s. 

Dacus retired in 1945 at age seventy. Following a short illness, Dacus died on October 18, 1964, and was buried in the Williamston Cemetery.