February 16, 2018

Cynthia G. Hurd, Librarian, Among Those Killed in Charleston Shooting

Cynthia Hurd

(Editor’s Note: On June 25, Charleston city council voted unanimously to change the name of the the St. Andrews Regional Library to the Cynthia Graham Hurd St. Andrews Regional Library, according to The Post and Courier. “People will look up and see her name and remember her every day,” said her husband, Arthur Hurd.

See below for further updates.)


On the night of Wednesday, June 17, a gunman opened fire at a prayer meeting at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, SC; officials described the shooting as racially motivated. The suspect was apprehended Thursday morning in North Carolina, more than 200 miles away. Nine community members were killed, including Cynthia G. Hurd, manager of St. Andrews Regional Library branch at Charleston County Public Library (CCPL).

Hurd graduated from Clark Atlanta University and received her MLS from the University of South Carolina. She lived with her husband, Arthur Hurd, on Charleston’s east side. She would have turned 55 on June 21.

All 16 of CCPL’s locations were closed Thursday in mourning. The St. Andrews Regional Library and John L. Dart Library will also close Friday, June 19.

“Her loss is incomprehensible, and we ask for prayers for her family, her co-workers, her church and this entire community as we come together to face this tragic loss,” CCPL stated. “Cynthia was a tireless servant of the community who spent her life helping residents, making sure they had every opportunity for an education and personal growth.”

San Diego Public Library director Misty Jones told LJ, “I worked with her in Charleston and she was the person that said to me ‘Libraries are always inclusive, never exclusive.’ This is something that stuck with me and I use all the time when talking about library philosophy. I think it also sums up the type of person she was. A true public servant.”


Hurd worked with CCPL for 31 years. At the time of her death she served as manager of the St. Andrews Regional Library branch. From 1990–2011 she was manager of the John L. Dart branch, named after the founder of the Charleston Normal and Industrial School for local black children in 1894. Charleston’s first free public library for African Americans was established in 1927 by Dart’s daughter, Susan Dart Butler, and when the 75th anniversary of its founding was commemorated in 2012, Hurd worked on the planning committee. She was active in the community as well, serving on the Charleston City Housing Authority board of commissioners.

In addition to working full-time at CCPL, Hurd worked at the College of Charleston’s Addlestone Library as a part-time librarian since the 1990s—its longest-serving part-time librarian. A statement from the College said, “She was a protector and lover of books and a fountain of knowledge whose loss will be felt by our entire College community.”

Hurd was the sister of former North Carolina Sen. Malcolm Graham, who used to attend the church as a child. In a statement released Thursday, Graham said, “My sister, Ms. Cynthia Marie Graham-Hurd, was a victim of the senseless hate crime at Emanuel AME Church. It is unimaginable that she would walk into church and not return. But that’s who she was—a woman of faith.”

Graham spoke through tears at a conference, the Charlotte Observer reported, remembering his sister. “’She was a nerd,’ Graham said lovingly. ‘She was a librarian.’”

A fund has been established to help the families of the victims. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley announced the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund on Thursday, stating that the city had already pledged $5,000. The website is planned to be operational by Friday, June 19; the fund will also accept checks made out to “Mother Emanuel Hope Fund” at the following address:

Mother Emanuel Hope Fund
C/O City of Charleston
P.O. Box 304
Charleston, SC 29402


In response to the tremendous outpouring of support from across the world and requests from individuals and businesses wanting to make donations in her memory, the Hurd family has established a fund at the library to continue her work. Funds donated to Charleston County Public Library will be set aside in her honor and used specifically to promote educational programming at the John L. Dart Branch Library and the St. Andrews Regional Library, both are branches that Hurd managed during her 31 years with CCPL.

Donations can be sent to:

Charleston County Public Library
c/o Cynthia Graham Hurd Memorial Fund
68 Calhoun Street
Charleston, S.C. 29401

On June 24 the College of Charleston board of trustees, citing Hurd’s long service to the college and her “quick wit, sense of humor and optimism,” designated one of its most prestigious academic scholarships for South Carolinians as the Cynthia Graham Hurd Memorial Scholarship.

Lisa Peet About Lisa Peet

Lisa Peet is Associate Editor, News for Library Journal.



  1. The Charleston County Library and the community are devastated by this senseless act of violence. Cynthia Hurd epitomized what a librarian is. I am proud to have known and to have worked with her. Thank you for letting everyone know that she was a wonderful person.

    Douglas Henderson
    Executive Director
    Charleston County Public Library

    • Cynthia Van Ness says:

      Cynthia and I had the same first name, the same profession, and the exact same age. I would like to contribute something in her name to the Charleston County Public Library. Do you have a means for me and other librarians to do so? I already donated via the AME church in my neighborhood to the Mother Emanuel fund.


    • Meredith Schwartz Meredith Schwartz says:

      Yes, the family has established a fund at the library to continue her work.

      Funds donated to Charleston County Public Library will be set aside in her honor and used specifically to promote educational programming at the John L. Dart Branch Library and the St. Andrews Regional Library, which Hurd managed.

      You can find out how to donate here:

  2. Lindsay Davis says:

    My heartfelt condolences to the families and community. Thinking of the CCPL system all the way from CA.

  3. My heart is broken. To paraphrase the ancient West African saying about the traditional African living repositories of knowledge commonly known as griots, a fallen librarian is akin to a “walking library” that is no more. Our great new director at San Diego Public Library came to us a few years back from CCPL. Not surprised at all by the quality of CCPL librarians and the output of community love respectfully being lavished upon our dear colleague, departed too soon.

  4. Deandra Garcia says:

    This breaks my heart to the core. There is no rest for the black community. I wish there were peoplw for justice and equality in this world. The hate for blacks is astonishing. What Have we ever done??? To be persecuted this way. I hope this low life piece of shit person that did this rots in hell forever. #backtoafrica #unrestuntilthereisjustice #wematter

  5. Doug Henderson,

    Our hearts are in charleston during this terrible loss,

    Martha and frank Barkley in Maine

    We use Otranto and I often walk by Emauel on my way to downtown library…I am the Blair grad when you were at Wheaton…

  6. Happy birthday, Cynthia… You sounded like a really nice woman, and I’m glad that you were helping people and that you were a librarian. I hope she rests in peace, and that she has a smooth journey. Happy birthday, Cynthia, lots of hugs and love xxx

  7. Angela Semifero says:

    Every librarian I have ever met is in the profession for the same reason: We want to help people. People don’t usually stay in libraries for long if they are there for other reasons.

    Cynthia Hurd worked for Charleston County Public Library for 31 years. I did not know her, but there is not a doubt in my mind that had the man who chose to commit this terrible act come in the library, Cynthia Hurd would have helped him. If he wanted to find something to support his views, she would have helped him find that. If he wanted a map of all the churches in town, she would have provided it. If he wanted a list of historic markers of Black History in the City, she would have found it. If he wanted a place to rest, the library would have given him that. I am not sure why my heart is so specifically broken over this event.

    Perhaps it is because we all identify with different facets of each other: some granted to us, some socially constructed, some inherent, some chosen. For me, librarianship is all of those. My heart breaks for Cynthia Hurd’s family, her co-workers, her community members and her colleagues in the profession. My heart breaks for those she never got the chance to help. I am sorry her life of service was cut tragically short. Rest in peace, Cynthia

    • Catrina says:

      Thank you, so well said! We are all human, trying to live life as best we can, not harming others. Many, especially librarians and teachers, try to help all in the public equally. What could possibly be in that young man’s mind to hate black people and want to kill them?

      I hope the families and friends of Cynthia Hurd and the other victims find peace one day, and I hope everyone in the United States can find ways to break this nonstop violence on our own people!

  8. Tanisha Mitchell says:

    Librarians are lights in the community. My heart goes out to the family.

  9. Gail Blanco says:

    Angela Semifero, you expressed what I think all of us are feeling so beautifully. Our hearts are broken over this senseless act and the taking of such fine people. They probably all welcomed that man into their Bible study with open arms and then he took their lives. What a tragedy.

  10. I feel very sad for our country to lose someone who is so dedicated to God and her profession. I think we should educate people more about responsible gun ownership and that the freedom to take arms does not give the freedom to go and shoot people. The loss of so many lives is so tragic. My heart bleeds for them. I hope they can find peace and solace. Belated Happy Birthday Cynthia. I hope you watch over us in heaven. Please take care always.

  11. My heart goes out o the nine families of this devastating tragedy. The young man has a family also. I was so appreciative of the way the people of Charleston are coming together .I pray for peace for all.

  12. Tragic happening. I sent blessings for all those affected.

  13. Julia K says:

    Mrs. Cynthia Hurd you will be miss by so many. You were a wonderful woman of God and someone I have found to be intelligent, beautiful, loving, caring and spectacular. I admire you so much for the life you have led to show young women of any race that we all can be successful and beautiful inside as well on the outside! RIP Mrs. Cynthia Hurd

  14. Julia K says:

    My heart goes out to The 9 Beautiful Heaven Sent human beings that lost their lives on that horrific night. My heart goes out to their families, friends, coworkers and their fellow church members. They will be missed so much. Each one of you did things meaningful with your lives and were so faithful and commited to God. We all love you! God loved you most. RIP

  15. Diane R says:

    From one librarian to another: Go with God, Cynthia. May you organize heaven so well that the rest of us will have no trouble finding our places when we arrive~

  16. Jewel Harris says:

    As a retired library vendor and librarian, I am so saddened to hear of Mrs. Hurd’s tragic loss. May she rest in peace.

  17. Margaret McClure says:

    No one understands equal service to all as well as librarians. The world needs more people like Mrs. Hurd, who was taken in such a horrible manner. Her dedication to lifelong learning and education is to be admired. To have personally known you would be an honor. Bless her family and friends.

  18. Natalie says:

    My heart goes out to the friends, family, and community of Cynthia Hurd, and the city of Charleston. This is a tragic loss for the entire library community. May her beautiful legacy of service be an everlasting beacon of light to the world, and may she rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    -Natalie B., librarian in Denver, Colorado

  19. Keith Q. Schenck says:

    How many wings Cynthia provided for children, her family, and the whole literate community across the globe, this griot wtote her story across all of the pages of our healing hearts.
    I had the honor of her memory forever etched into my dna and then also passed her photo to an adjunct english professor how prophetic during social justice forum in Philadelphia also organized by coalition for real justice #wearesocialmedia

  20. Jeremy Parker says:

    R.I.P. LOVE

  21. Ben Meredith, Jr. says:

    This is a “HORRIBLE” act of violence, as I’ve already stated in a New York Times commentary. I am from the south too, Louisiana, and you don’t want to think you can be at church, trying to keep your life safe, with Jesus Christ and God, and a “crazy” mad man”, will open fire in behalf of Satan, and the Devil, and try to end your life.

    When will this RACISM end? I try to go on with my life, as a “working class, college educated”, Black person, and say to myself, God, I know librarians from Atlanta and elsewhere, no too far from South Carolina, been to the nightclub with them, and don’t want to think you can get gunned down at a Bible study, where you are trying to get sin out of your life.

    He didn’t go in the nightclub in Charleston, and open fire, killing those drinking, sexually active, etc., but this Satan chose to go to the church to do his dirty work.

    I say, Jesus, the Bible said, “You came to save us from our sins”, but one of my sins, is not trusting the “HONKY”, as well as criminal Blacks, etc.

    I say, Jesus, and God the father, make some sense of all of this and tell me about it, and what should I do as a God fearing man, as well as his Black family!