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College of Information and Communications

History of the School

A growing need for library education

By 1966, University of South Carolina President Tom Jones saw the need for a professional library school in South Carolina. Questioned by many, over several years he nonetheless obtained Board of Trustees and legislative approval for such a school. In May 1970, he hired Dr. Wayne Yenawine, Ph.D., as the first dean of the then Graduate Library School. It was Dean Yenawine’s recommendation to locate the college in the building known as Davis College on the historic Horseshoe, our home for all these decades.

The first employee of the college was his personal secretary, Placidia McLeod Bell, a graduate of Allen University. A diverse faculty reflecting traditional library science to new era information science was hired. They first met as one faculty on September 1, 1971 where the dean reminded them that President Jones, who was present, “didn’t want just another graduate library school, he wanted a leader in library education”.

On September 11, 1972, the first class of 47 students began their studies in the semester long professional seminar held in Davis College. All students were on campus students in this seminar format unlike other graduate library programs. History has it that the students referred to themselves as “the guinea pigs” because they were part of this new experiment in professional librarian education. At the May 1973 university graduation ceremony, the college awarded eight Master of Librarianship degrees, the first degrees awarded in our history.  American Library Association accreditation was not available until two classes had graduated. The program has been continuously accredited since July 1974.

Augusta Baker and Cocky's Reading Express

Over the decades we expanded our online course and degree offerings. In her retirement, Augusta Baker agreed to be our Storyteller in Residence and we later established the Augusta Baker Endowed Chair on our faculty; this is the only endowed chair in a South Carolina college that is named for a black female. The annual Baker’s Dozen storytelling event, the Augusta Baker Lecture, the Augusta Baker Lecture Series and the annual Deans and Directors event are now part of our annual offerings.

We began both bachelor and doctoral programs that were first envisioned in the 1970-72 college planning, established a nationally awarded student association and by 1982 offered courses statewide via SCETV and traveled online and in person to Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia and Maine to offer the MLIS degree cohort. In Maine, 125 students enrolled!

In the late 1980s we created the BEST Center for the evaluation of children’s books that has expanded into the SC Center for Community Literacy. Cocky’s Reading Express has become a vibrant program traveling to elementary schools throughout South Carolina with volunteer readers who visit classes with Cocky to encourage reading and give a book to each student.

Merging of colleges

In 2002, the university merged the college with the College of Journalism to create the new College of Information and Communications. We are now the School of Information Science, which is similar to a name originally offered in 1971. A new program allows non-professional library staff members to begin study for a degree. During these fifty years our program has evolved in class offerings, technology use and faculty expertise.

Over the decades, faculty have come from throughout the United States as well as Canada, South Korea, Iran, Republic of China, Uganda and Czechoslovakia. College faculty recently have been recognized for teaching, social justice and research. Along with our sister school, we initiated a new course in identifying misinformation. The success and impact of our graduates has been our goal since 1970. Over these fifty years and in contrast to profession traditions, our college and school leaders have included white males, a black male and two white females.

The CIC expands worldwide

While the building may look the same from the outside that the first class of 47 knew, a different Davis College exists today. In Fall of 2021 our enrollment was over 480 mostly online students in five programs representing 31 states and two foreign countries. The influence of our early days in the late 60’s and early 70’s has continued through the decades. We are not “just another graduate library school” because of administrators, faculty, staff and students who over the decades have heard the call to this ever-evolving program. We still hear President Jones and Dean Yenawine expecting a leader in library education. Today here in 68-year-old Russell House and 113-year-old Davis College, we celebrate our 50 year past while continuing to look forward.

Timeline and Podcasts

Check out these oral histories as recounted by alumni.

The University of South Carolina has been offering library science courses since 1930 —initially in a Library Science Department in the School of Education. Here are some additional highlights and developments through the decades:


The 60s

Nancy Jane Day, president of the South Carolina Library Association from 1960 to 1962, advocates for a graduate-level library school in the state rather than an expanded undergraduate program.

University President Dr. Thomas F. Jones formally requests that the Board of Trustees establish a graduate School of Library Science.


The 70s

Dr. Wayne Yenawine is hired as the dean of the new graduate school, which is expected to be housed in Davis College. 

Faculty officially name the school the College of Librarianship.

After a three-day retreat in North Carolina, the first class of 47 students meets for the first Professional Seminar (affectionately known as Pro Sem). The retreat and seminar were hallmarks of the “different kind” of educational experience the college offered.

The first class graduates from the College of Librarianship. 

The Professional Association of Library Students (PALS) is established. It’s renamed the Library and Information Science Student Association (LISSA) in 1990.

The “strip” photos become famous as student mug shots. They also reflect the faculty’s deliberate intent to quickly learn each student’s name.


The '80s

The first televised class is broadcast statewide through a closed circuit system operated by the university’s Telecommunications Instruction Office.

Faculty vote on new name — the College of Library and Information Science. CLIS moves to the former Booker T. Washington High School annex for 18 months while Davis College is renovated.

Fred Roper is appointed dean.

The first (Augusta) Baker’s Dozen Storytelling Festival is held. 

The BEST Center is founded to help librarians, teachers and parents select books for children and young adults. This paved the way for Cocky’s Reading Express, the S.C. Center for Community Literacy and the Linda Lucas Walling Collection for Universal Access.

The name of the degree is changed to MLIS


The '90s

The college offers continuing education programs including “Dealing with DOS” and preservation workshops which taught students how to save wet books.

The college creates distance education programs in Georgia, West Virginia and Maine.


The 2000s

The university merges CLIS and the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. A committee of CLIS alumni works with Dean Roper to make the transition as smooth as possible. Former CNN White House correspondent Charles Bierbauer is named dean.

Dean Roper retires and Dr. Dan Barron is named director of the school.

The school applies for an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant to begin the Ph.D. program.

The Augusta Baker Endowed Chair is established.

Dan Barron retires.

Dr. Sam Hastings is hired as the school’s first female director.

Ph.D. classes begin - with six students.

The school proposes a multidisciplinary Bachelor of Science in Information Science degree.

The school celebrations the 100th anniversary of Davis College.

School awards the first Bachelor of Science in Information Science degree.

Dr. Michelle Martin is appointed the first Augusta Baker Endowed Chair.

Director Sam Hastings retires; Dr. David Lankes is named director.

Dr. Nicole Cooke becomes the second Augusta Baker Endowed Chair.

The School of Library and Information Science is officially renamed the School of Information Science — also known as the iSchool. 

Dr. Lankes; Dr. Karen Gavigan is named acting director of the school.

Looking forward to the next  50 years … 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.