Completed in 1840, this structure is the first free-standing academic library building in the United States. Robert Mills, a native of South Carolina, submitted designs for the building in 1838, modeling the reading room after Bulfinch's plans for the original Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.). Always a library, it served South Carolina College and then the University of South Carolina. Upon completion of the larger McKissick Library in 1940, this original building was designated to house materials pertaining to the history and culture of South Carolina. Today the Library draws researchers to its special collections of state heritage. The collection includes books, newspapers, manuscripts, pamphlets, serials, maps, audio recordings, and visual images.