COLUMBIA --- It's hard to appreciate the charm and character of former U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings if you can't hear him speak.
Now, thanks to a new library at the University of South Carolina, thousands of students, faculty and researchers will get to see and hear South Carolina's second-longest serving U.S. senator and look behind the scenes at his 50-year political career.
The Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library will be formally dedicated July 23, but reporters got a sneak peak Wednesday at the modern technology that will help preserve and make accessible the university's oldest books and historical items.
Hollings, 88, donated his personal papers to the university in 1989. He also helped convince other South Carolina governors, John West and James Edwards, to donate their papers, said Herb Hartsook, the director of the university's political collections.
"We had been talking with Gov. Edwards for years and not getting much traction," Hartsook said. "Sen. Hollings convinced him to give his papers to us."
Edwards, West and Hollings are just three of the 11 South Carolina governors, including current Gov. Mark Sanford, whose papers are housed at the library. The political collection also includes the papers of 23 former and current members of Congress, including Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Joe Wilson.
Construction began on the $18 million, 50,000-square-foot library in 2008 with Hollings securing $14 million in federal funds for the building, which is attached to the back of USC's main library.