Friday, December 18, 2009

"Tell Shakespeare to attend some leisure hour/For now I've business with this drop of dew"

It is cold, wet, and miserable.  I can count the number of patrons in the Library today on one hand.  I'm pretty sure my little Fiero isn't able to ford the shallowest of puddles, so I'm stuck at the Library.  Mommas, don't let your babies buy sports cars.

It's been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and I was firmly resolved to move to Australia.

And then: then I found out who the Library Society has got as guest speaker for next month's Annual Meeting.  Bernard Cornwell.  The Sharpe's guy.  OBE.  The living heir to C.S. Forester.  Over 12,000,000 books sold.  Possibly the greatest living writer of historical fiction.  Bernard Cornwell.

More details to come, but, for now, for your loyal blogger: this news more than makes up for slow days and bad weather and small cars.  Have a good weekend, and don't forget, we've only got three more business days until the holiday break.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

From the Collections: Red Dawn Edition

As some of you may know, the Junior Collection is moving from the Ripley-Ravenel building back into the Main Library Building.  This will give us much more exhibition and event space in the new building.  As for the wee ones, they're moving into the former staff lounge.  It's getting a full renovation over the holiday break: the Boss was just at Mescons to look at the carpet they're providing, gratis, for the room (thanks!).  With the amount of kindness, both corporate and individual, we've been receiving lately, I'm sure we'll owe a lot of folks thank yous by the end of this project!

Moving the junior collection has given us a chance to get reacquainted with a wonderful collection that most of us staffers don't work with very frequently.  Thanks to the rarity of weeding and deaccession, we've got hundreds of books that are now more interesting as portraits of their times than for their ostensible subjects.  One such book, from your loyal blogger's own childhood: 1986's A Family in the U.S.S.R.!

The Partridgeovich Family Band.

Depressing as a Lemony Snicket novel- I suppose a little worse, being (mostly) nonfiction- it  follows the Fomin family around Tetris-era Leningrad.  We get to see Nikita's art studio (he's not allowed to sell his paintings, but he's "happy and secure" on the state-minimum 200 rouble monthly salary); family fun-time ("Nikita and Irina have no special interests apart from their work"); dinner (ham and green beans = once-a-year extravagance).

Chess, babushkas, rye bread, and vodka all make predictable appearances.  There's even a picture hip-young girlchik buried balalaika-deep in a pair of poorly-cut Eastern-bloc blue jeans: lumpenproletariat indeed!

Like hundreds of our other children's books, this one has a happy ending, even if it just took a few years after the books' publication to be written.  Now that the Junior reading is even closer to the rest of the collection, we hope you'll check some out soon!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Extend the freedom of assembly to a loved one today: buy them a CLS gift membership!

December 15th: Bill of Rights Day!  The day set aside  your loyal blogger's favourite faction of Founders, the anti-federalists', greatest achievement.  That's saying something considering what some of these guys achieved: Patrick Henry (helped establish Hampden-Sydney), George Mason (a handful of my favourite blogs come from GMU), Samuel Adams (some day I will drink you, Sam Adams Utopia), and Thomas Jefferson (author of the Declaration of Independence, the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia).

The sentiments of these men towards any sort of strong government power can be illustrated through the famous words of Patrick Henry in defence of the Virginia Stamp Act of 1765: "Caesar had his Brutus; Charles the First his Cromwell; and George the Third may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it!".  Though modern historians agree Henry likely didn't say the bit about treason- in fact, he might have made a preemptive apology to the House for the statement- it's still a pretty radical sentiment, especially as early as 1765.

And after the history lesson, the shill: if you're looking for a radically great Christmas present, the Library Society now offers gift membership in stocking-stuffer size!  You can grab a gift certificate for membership at the front desk.  There are no forms to fill out, and no names or addresses required, so you can just pay and go (and give).

Monday, December 14, 2009

I have a little dreidel, I made it out of clay, and when it's dry and ready, with dreidel I shall play...

If you weren't at the Library Society this past Saturday evening, you missed our first ever holiday concert.  Yuriy Bekker, Norbert Lewandowski,  Jill King, and Lauren Paul from the CSO played a wonderful selection of holiday favourites in the warm, candlelit Main Reading Room of the Society.  We even tried to sing a few old carols together as an audience.  Happily Yuriy and Co. were every bit as good as we were... well, at least we made a "joyful noise", as the psalmist exhorted.  Though I still can't believe your loyal blogger was the only person singing along with The Dreidel Song...

If you're still trying to think of a Christmas present, especially for an aspiring writer in your life, the Library Society has a great one: a new CLS Writing Salon, starting in January.  A ten-week course led by bestselling novelist Bret Lott, participants will grow through critiques of original work they generate.  Matters such as dialog, pace, plot, setting, and, most importantly, the development of one’s own artistic vision will be discussed, as well as discussions of revision, strategies for securing an agent, and matters involving the publication of one’s work. Course cost: $1125 for members of the Charleston Library Society; $1200 for nonmembers: membership is included in the cost of the course, as is Lott's Before We Get Started: A Practical Memoir of the Writer’s Life.

Bret is a phenomenal writer: his works have been featured in The Yale Review, The New York Times, and The Georgia Review; his novel Jewel was an Oprah book club pick; and he has edited The Southern Review.  In addition, Bret teaches at the College of Knowledge Charleston (Go Cougars!), is a wonderful speaker (he's given a pair of excellent lectures at the CLS), and a great friend to this institution.  We hope you or someone you know can be a part of this wonderful new Salon.

For enrollment, or more information, please contact Anne Cleveland here at the CLS, 843.723.9912 or

Yuriy & Co., rocking the house.

Friday, December 11, 2009

and away he flew, "like the down of a thistle"...

Six. The CSO concert at the Library Society will be at six tomorrow, not at four as was reported in this morning's P&C.  Six.  Tickets will go on sale, at the door, one hour prior to showtime; $15 general admission, $5 students and children.   We hope you'll join us for some festive holiday favourites from a terrific string quartet.  The quartet includes concertmaster Yuriy Bekker; principal cellist, Norbert Lewandowski; violist, Jill King; and violinist, Lauren Paul.  Fantastic musicians (they're in here practicing while I'm typing this), in a great setting, playing beloved music for a special time of year: we couldn't be happier to host this concert.

We're also happy because it's our last event of the season.   In the space of one month, the Library will have had the Fall Book Sale, the Reyburn/Griffith Lowcountry Artist Award, the Annual Christmas Parade Party, and the Patoberfest The Pat Conroy Electric Koolaid Traveling Roadshow The Pat Conroy South of Broad reception and it's associated events, and the Holiday Strings Concert.  Everyone here at the Society is overjoyed at the success of these events: but, lately, we're even more overjoyed every night when we go home and get some sleep.  The CLS will be closed from December 23-January 3rd to give the staff some time to recover... a full events schedule starts back January 7th...

See y'all tomorrow.  At six.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's Pat Conroy Day Eve!

Little known fact: the front facade of our Main Building served as the Town Hall for the city of Laurelton on the ABC soap opera General Hospital.  It was 1986, and Terri and Kevin had returned home to get married, but Terri had a terrible secret to hide from Kevin and her friends back in Port Charles, and... well, suffice it to say, it was very complicated.  Long story short, we got some air time, got to see some daytime-tv celebrities (including a young Demi Moore!), and gained an interesting anecdote that's perfect for the blog.

Also interesting: while desperately trying to find some pictures or videos of the GH at the CLS, I did find the results of a late 1990's fan poll declaring the "Laurelton" storyline the worst in the show's history.  I guess having a snazzy town hall couldn't carry a weak script.

But as nice as it was being in General Hospital, we've got more Library-steps excitement to share with you.  Yesterday, Niall Ferguson (head of history at Harvard, and one of your loyal blogger's favourite public intellectuals) was in, filming his latest documentary.  Look for it sometime mid-2011.  Tomorrow, Mayor Riley will be here at 4:30 to declare it "Pat Conroy Day" in the City of Charleston, live from Laurelton Town Hall
the Library Society steps. We hope you can join us for this fun event... the last time someone proclaimed anything official from our steps, it was Kevin, proclaiming his undying love for Terri, but then Frisco and Lucy came to bust things up, and then, well... if you care, it's all on YouTube...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Natales grate numeras?

Today marks the 1,944th birthday of an author near to the Library Society's heart, the Roman poet Horace.  Horace's writing praised hard work; a life lived simply, and in the moment, and virtuousness for its own sake.  He penned epigrams that have outlived him by two millennia (as he said he would, Exegi monumentum aere perennius: I have made a monument more lasting than bronze): Carpe diem, aurea mediocritis, nil disperandum, dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, all Horace.

Horace's impact on our time goes well beyond a few fine Latin phrases: translations of Horace were made across the late medieval/early Renaissance world, and these Renaissance authors would spawn the Enlightenment, and through it our modern age.  15th and 16th century translators in Florence, Castille, Paris, Heidelburg, and London all poured over Horace, and their intellectual descendants followed suit.  The poets and scholars of the Renaissance made Horace one of their own, and his influence can be clearly seen in Opitz, Voltaire, Rousseau, Spenser, Johnson, Dryden, and Shakespeare.  Closer to our own times,  Nietzsche, Pound, R.L. Stephenson, and G.M. Hopkins are all remarkable for the obvious influence of Horace on their works.

This is why the Library Society's copy of the Works of Horace is such a treasure.  A handwritten Latin copy from the 1400's, our Horace manuscript has come back from a summer of loving restoration work just this Fall.  Penned in Ferrara, Italy, circa 1450, and at one point in the library of the queen's attorney in Milan, the manuscript was given to the Library Society by Plowden Weston in 1864.  The first medieval manuscript in South Carolina, Weston's antebellum acquisition of the document would have been a sign of cosmopolitan taste amongst his contemporaries.  Even today, when it sits in a collection full of treasures, the many fine qualities of the Horace award it a place of honor in the collection.

Don't forget: seize the day this coming Saturday at 6pm by joining us for a holiday concert with a string quartet from the CSO.  Tickets available at the door, $15.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Three days...

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Parade party this past weekend.  The weather was perfect, the cocoa was warm, the basset hounds were low to the ground: it was everything you could want for the Charleston Christmas parade.  As a native Johns Islander, I was especially proud to see the St. Johns JROTC double-timing it, while strictly maintaining dress, cover, interval, and distance.  I'm certain their vigilance will keep al-Qa'ida far away from Angel Oak, or JB's, or the tomato packing sheds...

This Saturday, December 12th, we host our first ever holiday concert! A string quartet from the CSO will play a host of Christmas favourites. The music starts at six in the evening, in the Main Reading Room. Tickets will be available at the door, fifteen dollars. For more information, call 843.723.9912, or email us at

Don't forget, the Library will be closed from December 23rd through the end of the year.  Normal library hours will resume on January 4th.

Also, on a literary note, happy 136th birthday to Willa Cather.  Cather was a favourite of Mencken and Sinclair Lewis (not to mention your loyal blogger), a Pulitzer Prize winner, and the first person to ever receive an honorary degree from Princeton.  Her "Prairie Trilogy" is recognized as three of the greatest novels in the American canon, teaching generations of Americans that: the 1800's were full of terrible ways to die (O, Pioneers!); your friends hold you back from reaching your full potential (The Song of the Lark), and older women will yank out your heart, and stomp that sucker flat (My Antonia).  She also wrote the excellent Death Comes for the Archbishop, but it's much less cheery than any of the Prairie Trilogy...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Seventy six trombones in the big parade! With 110 basset hounds close at hand...

Tonight, Friday the 4th, the Coastal Community Foundation and Donna Rayburn and Mike Griffith will have a reception for the 2009 recipient of the Lowcountry Artist AwardBernadette Cali.  The reception will run from 5:30pm to 8:00pm in the Ripley-Ravenel building.  Free food, drop-in format, everyone's welcome... it's going to be a fun evening with some good art.  The artist will have prints and notecards available for sale, too (your loyal blogger already purchased one).

Next: our Annual Christmas Parade Party is this Sunday afternoon.  As many of you know, it's always good to have a warm building to retreat into during the Parade.  We're filling the Library with holiday snacks and carols; we hope y'all come and fill the steps with your persons.  The parade runs from 2pm to 4pm, and please come early- don't forget the fuzz will be shutting the street down for the parade.

Monday, November 30, 2009

"An' bleak December's winds ensuin/ Baith snell an' keen!"

Happy St. Andrew's Day!  The brother of Peter; missionary to Asia Minor, Scythia, and the Ukraine; crucified on the crux decussata, the X-shaped cross; St. Andrew is now most famous in the West as the patron saint of Scotland, a nation he never visited.  (Not that it matters: dying in 1253 hasn't stopped Claire of Assisi from becoming patroness of television.)  So, fly your Saltire, eat your haggis, and get ready for a full slate of Library Society events between now and Hogmanay.

(Speaking of eating, don't forget, if you place holiday orders with the SweetSmith Bakery [843.573.2322: 1124 Sam Rittenberg Blvd.,West Ashley], and let them know you want your order to help the Charleston Library Society, we get a cut of the profit [and you get a great holiday treat!])
As for events: first, on Friday the 4th, the Coastal Community Foundation and Donna Rayburn and Mike Griffith will have a reception for the 2009 recipient of the Lowcountry Artist Award, Bernadette Cali.  The reception will run from 5:30pm to 8:00pm in the Ripley-Ravenel building.  Ms. Cali's artwork will be on display at the Library Society through the end of the month.

Then, this Sunday, December 6th, the Library Society will have its annual Christmas Parade Party.  We hope you'll join us for a fun, festive, informal afternoon as we watch the Charleston Christmas parade from the best seats in town, the front steps of the Library.  Inside, we'll have holiday music and treats, not to mention sheltering warmth.  Top tip: anyone planning on sitting down on our marble steps might consider bringing stadium seats/blankets/some form of insulation to prevent frostbite of the posterior.  Hot cider can only warm one up so much...

Pat Conroy will be here on the 10th.  All tickets have been sold out for months, and we're no longer taking book orders, so this reminder is more a reminder to jump on tickets as soon as they're available, and less a reminder about Pat.  Still, it's Pat!  We're kinda excited.  For those without Conroy tickets, there is a pretty good consolation prize: local historian Mike Coker will be having a book signing for his new work, The Battle of Port Royal over at the SC Historical Society that same night.  It's from five to seven in the evening, Thursday the tenth; light appetizers and drinks will be served.  If you're not going to be here, you should be there.

Après Pat, we've got a holiday strings concert from the CSO that will be here at the Society- pencil that one in for the 12th; we'll send out more details as soon as we get them...  Don't forget, for more information, or to RSVP for any event, call us at 843.723.9912, or email us at

Friday, November 20, 2009

Goodnight, sweet (canine) prince, and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest...

Between France cheating Ireland out of a spot in the World Cup, and the untimely death of Uga VII last night, it has been a sad week for your loyal blogger.  Still, there is nothing to be down about concerning the Library Society, so I'll jump right into some news:

Thanks to Lynn Smith and the SweetSmith Bakery, we've got a great way for you to support the Library this holiday season.  Call or stop by the SweetSmith Bakery (843.573.2322,  1124 Sam Rittenberg Blvd., West Ashley), and let them know you want your order to help the Charleston Library Society.  You get a delicious pastry, and the Library Society gets a cut of the profit.  Brilliant.

Coming up on Friday, December the 4th, from 5:30 'till 8:00, the Library Society will host the Coastal Community Foundation, and Mike Griffith and Donna Reyburn as they present the 2009 Lowcountry Artist's Award.  The $5,000 award is given annually to a Charleston County artist whose work reflects the "look and feel of the Lowcountry" to produce a work of art in the same manner.  This year's recipient is Bernadette Cali.

Other stuff:  The Library will be closed November 25-29.  Regular hours will resume Monday, November 30.  There are only thirty four days until Christmas: remember, Library Society membership makes a great gift.  Speaking of Christmas, the Library will be closed from December 23rd 'till the end of the year.  Finally, happy 85th birthday, Benoit Mandelbrot.

"Take a point called Z in the complex plane, let Z1 be Z squared plus C,  and Z2 is Z1 squared plus C , and Z3 is Z2 squared plus C and so on; if the series of Z's should always stay, close to Z and never trend away, that point is in the Mandelbrot Set" -JoCo

Monday, November 16, 2009

"We're rich! Richer than astronauts!"

Well, near perfect weather, lots of cheerful volunteers, and a few months worth of our harping all came together for our most successful book sale yet!  By the time we locked the door of the Barnwell Annex on Sunday evening, we had brought in a couple of hundred dollars over our pre-sale projections, and beaten our own sales records to boot.  Thank you, to all of our donors, our customers, and especially to our volunteers for creating this success.

Also, I would be remiss if I did not mention last week's marvelous concert from the Charleston Academy of Music.  Besides being one of the best-attended events your loyal blogger has ever seen the Library host, it was certainly one of the most enjoyable.  With individual performances by Nicholas Bentz and Shannon Fitzhenry on strings, and Micah McLaurin on the piano, and a orchestral showcase by Kidzymphony, the evening was nothing short of fantastic.  We here at the Society can't wait until the next time we can host the CAM.

As for that other noise around here (the bad kind): the scraping is, mostly, over!  Restoration work continues at a remarkable pace.  Painting has begun in earnest, and also on the window trim.  Hopefully this idyllic weather will hold and we'll have a productive week of work around the place.  We can do without more rain mid-November hurricanes...

Don't forget: The Library Society will be closed from Wednesday the 25th until Saturday the 28th.  Regular Library hours resume on Monday the 30th.
Also: Twenty-five days until Pat Conroy's here!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I wish there was "A Thanksgiving Carol". Or at least a "Ghost of Thanksgivings Past"...

Forty two days left until Christmas, and the Library Society just received its first Christmas card.  Like the first robin of spring, or the first mosquito bites of summer, receiving the first Christmas card of the season is always a touching moment.  It would have been even more touching had it not been addressed to "Occupant", and if a note begging for money hadn't fallen out of it.  I suppose we are entering into that "time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices."

Are there no prisons?  Are there no workhouses?

(Please do not mistake your loyal blogger's badmouthing of specific charities [who send Christmas cards weeks too early] as a denigration of giving to nonprofits more generally.  And liberally.  And frequently.  'Cause we're bringing back the New York Times, and man is it expensive!  Also, do remember, you can't fit a whole library society into a Victorian workhouse, and even if you could, I doubt we'd be much good running their treadmills or crushing up boulders.  Too many elderly members.  And I'm sure old Ebeneezer was a generous donor to the London Library without the prompting of any ghostly apparitions. )

(Pictured left to right) Generous Library Donor; Rotund, Otherworldly Fundraising Volunteer

Anyhow, with the dawn of the Christmas Card season, your loyal blogger now feels free to a) plug the book sale this weekend as a great place to buy gifts, and, b) present the first events of 2010.  Starting on January 12th, the Library Society and the Gibbes Muesum of Art are having Toddler Tuesdays.  Free for all CLS and Gibbes members, this will be a fun story time for children ages three to five (with an adult).  Toddler Tuesdays should run from 10:15 to 11:00 in the morning, every Tuesday, with no reservations required.  We've also got a book signing on Thursday, January 7th with Quentin Whitwell, author of If By Whiskey.  We promise no overlap between Mr. Whitwell's story a sorority girl at Ole Miss, and our toddler story hour selections.

Though we do have the 1940's Curious George books where George smokes a pipe, and discovers ether...

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Art of Noise

The Library Society, typically a haven of rest, currently sounds like Milton's Pandemonium,

"where peace/ And rest can never dwell, hope never comes/ That comes to all; but torture without end..."

-Paradise Lost, Book I

as right now dozens of workers simultaneously scrape ninety year old paint off our windows.  They scratch and beat and scour and rasp and generally fill the Main Reading Room with an obstreperousness that is about to drive your loyal blogger up the ding-dong wall.

That said, this is major renovation work that the Library has needed for a long time.  Furthermore, while it may be as loud as Hell in here, it is comfortably cool; it smells more of old books than sulfur; and our friendly and dedicated renovation workers are far, far from Milton's Belials, Baalims, and Beezlebubs.  Those of you in need of the Library's customary calm still have the Ripley-Ravenel building, which remains quiet as a tomb.

This Thursday evening the noise of the Society will switch from the cacophonous to the symphonic as we host the Charleston Academy of Music's Hand In Hand benefit concert.  Proceeds from the concert will go towards funding CAM’s Honors Program scholarships. The concert will feature current CAM Honors Program students Nicholas Bentz (violin), Shannon Fitzhenry (violin), and Micah McLaurin (piano) as well as CAM’s newest after school orchestra program for children called “Kidzymphony.” Nicholas, Shannon, and Micah study under CSO concertmaster Yuriy Bekker, renowned pianist Enrique Graf, and violinist Tomas Jakubek. The program will feature two violin solo works, Symphonie espagnole by Lalo and Saint Sanes Violin Concerto #3, and Rachmaninoff 2nd Piano Sonata. The three performers will also present a Haydn piano trio. Due to limited seating please RSVP your reservations through the CAM by calling 843-805-7794 or emailing

Also, this weekend is the Fall Book Sale!  The bottom of the Barnwell Annex is jam packed with discards from the collection, used books, new books, magazines, vintage vinyl, trashy dime novels, Cliffs Notes, et cetera.  The event will run Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday 1 pm to 5 pm.  If you're interested in volunteering, we would love to have you around: call us at 843.723.9912 or email us at for more information.

See you soon, and bring earplugs...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Notes following two weeks of craziness. Painful, Tom-Cruise-on-Oprah level craziness...

It's been two crazy weeks since your loyal blogger last posted.  Despite 261 years of existence, I'm not sure if the Library Society has ever hosted back-to-back weekends of major events before... with good reason.

First was the Membership Libraries Group conference: every year the Library Society meets with the other American membership libraries to discuss library management, fundraising, governance, programs, and a range of other issues where we share common ground.  The meetings were not just enlightening, but very, very enjoyable, thanks to the wonderful librarians and directors in attendance.  Besides, it's always nice to hang out with the small handful of people who know the pain of explaining what a "non-governmental public library" is to slackjawed visitors, over and over again...

Second was yesterday's lecture by Doctor Lisa Sanders, internist at Yale and technical advisor for the show "House".  Doctor Sanders' event was extremely well attended, which is always exciting.  Increasing the excitement was the large difference between the RSVP list and the number of attendees.  While RSVPs certainly were not an absolute necessity, the lack of them did make the event standing-room only.  Like I said earlier- it's been a hectic few weeks.

November should be much less hectic.  Coming up on the calendar, our monthly Young Professionals Group meeting is this Thursday, November 5th- Guy Fawkes Night!- so we hope you'll be able to swing by the Library, have a drink, and meet up with other local professionals from their mid-twenties to mid-forties.  Our first concert is coming up soon, too: the Charleston Academy of Music is having a benefit concert, hosted here, at 5:00 PM on Thursday, November 12th.  Fall Book Sale is the 14th and 15th.  Relative to October, this month looks almost devoid of activity.

Remember, you can call 843.723.9912 or email us at for more information or to make event reservations.  Please, please do.

Also, now that Halloween is over, I feel free plugging our merchandise as GREAT CHRISTMAS GIFTS.  We've just got a new run of notecards featuring the original architectural drawing of our front elevation: they're available for purchase at the front desk now, and should be in the online store shortly.  In the pipeline, our handwritten manuscript of John Locke's Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina is being prepared for limited run of hardbound reproductions...  we're still not sure when they will be ready, but they will certainly be a unique piece of both Caroliniana and Society history.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"The angels may love her / But surely they do not visit her."

By now, Library Society members should have received their 2009 Annual Appeal letters.  If you've got yours, then you have noticed that the Society now has a tiered membership structure. There is a basic Friend of the Library membership at $75 (the same as the old Adult Annual membership), a new Senior membership at $20, and a range of giving circles to recognize gifts from $100 right on to gifts of over $5000.  These circles have been named for figures either important in the history of the Society or whose work is an outstanding part of our collection.

All of this is prelude for something I've been wanting to do for weeks, ever since it was decided to name our $100-$499 giving Circle after her: talk about Beatrice Witte Ravenel.

Here goes: stop reading this blog, come down to the Society, and check out the poetry of Beatrice Witte Ravenel.  It's a quick read, and it's ridiculously great.  A wildly talented poet- during her time at Radcliffe she was an editor of the Harvard Monthly Magazine, and was published in Harpers and The Atlantic- Ravenel abandoned her poetry when she married.  During her lifetime she produced just one bound volume, The Arrow of Lightning: one more volume, The Yemassee Lands was compiled after her death.  Her three dozen or so poems stand as the greatest poems of the Charleston Renaissance; they easily equal any contemporary work on the national scene.  Today Ravenel is a largely forgotten part of the Charleston Renaissance, but her work is unforgettable to any readers who experience it.  An excerpt, describing Nicholas Trott's judgment of the Pirates from the view of the condemned, and then a full poem:

"And first he lifts from your shoulder the cover of common humanity,
Men?  You are not men.  You are hostes humani generis,
Enemies of all mankind.  Neither faith, nay, nor oath need be kept with you.  You were formerly ousted of clergy.
Now the law grants you this comfort; and, with a smooth lovingkindness
Equal to that of the law, he trusts you will profit.
But- he may allow you no council.

"He is telling you further
That the God of the land made the ocean,
(He swivels the Scriptures about like a gun, texts spitting for grapeshot):
That he parceled it out and place it under the thumbs of Kings and of lawyers.
(O ye fowls of the air, ye wild winds, ye waterspouts,
Praise ye the Lord!)
And against all these three, God, King, and Lawyers, have you offended."

-excerpted from "The Pirates"

"Salvage "

Three things in my house are my own.
Not the dark pictures whose blood runs in my veins,
Nor the vines that I trained round the windows,
Nor even the books.
But the curve of a shabby armchair that molded itself on your body,
And the echoes of songs that you sang,
And the square of sun
That comes as it came, first in the morning,
When you had opened the window.

There: there's a little poetry for a slow Thursday afternoon.  Stop by, pick up a copy of The Yemassee Lands, take it home, read the whole thing in forty minutes.  Connect with your cultural inheritance as Charlestonians; experience some of the best literary imagery of the Lowcountry ever penned; feel a little more civilized for checking out a book of poetry.

One last excerpt, from "Tidewater":

"Is Marathon richlier echoed
With voices of youthful heroes
Than the swamps of Santee?
When the bloom runs over the moss
In a lost gray glory of tarnished sliver,
  of shadowy pearl,
Riders furrow the night-
Marion, Marion's men,
Pass in a voiceless tumult,
Pass like the smoke from a torch,
With dark, unextinguished eyes."

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's not lupus. It's NEVER lupus.

Confirmed News: Lisa Sanders, faculty of Yale School of Medicine, NY Times Magazine columnist, inspiration for and technical advisor to the television show House, and author of Every Patient Tells a Story : Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis, will be talking at the Library Society on November 1st. This lecture should be informative and entertaining in equal measure, and the CLS is quite privileged to host it. More information-will be available soon.  The event starts at 5:00 PM and there is no admission charge.

Unconfirmed news: Hugh Laurie will also be along, singing novelty songs from A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and doing readings from Blackadder.

Okay, I just made the Hugh Laurie bit up. He's not coming. Though we would love to have him: I'm sure the man who claimed "[P.G.] Wodehouse Saved My Life" would be right at home here at a library where Jeeves and Wooster novels still fly off the shelf, sixty years after their publication.

ALSO: In much the same way that Generalissimo Francisco Franco remains dead, The Pat Conroy event is still sold out. Call or email, and we'll be happy to put you on the waiting list should tickets become available...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dies iræ! Dies illa!

Day of wrath! O day of mourning! Pat is sold out, booked, packed to the gills, jammed full. All seats have been accounted for by pre-sales to members. There are no more tickets; there is still much more demand...

This coming Thursday is the first day of sales to non-members, and we've already been informed, many times, "My whole book club is ready to come get tickets, first thing on the 15th" or "Everyone I know is chomping at the bit to get tickets" or "All my friends are calling at 9:30 on the 15th!", et cetera, et cetera.

Your loyal blogger -the Library staffer who sits closest to the telephone- feels he is about to become a very unpopular person. The general public might have no shot at tickets: hopefully they won't have a shot at me, instead.

Lacrimosa dies illa,
qua resurget ex favilla
judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus.
-Requiem, Tridentine Mass

Okay, enough lamentation, let's be positive: y'all sold out an event in a week's time. About two thirds of tickets were gone in the first 48 hours. With pre-sale available for members only, membership has jumped. Best of all, I had enough to handle last week concerning this event that I had to put off all the old work stacked on my desk. We knew that Pat Conroy is a draw second to none, but still, this is impressive.

If you haven't got your tickets yet, don't lament (but don't delay, either). Call us now, and we'll put you on our waiting list if tickets become available. It's a long time until December 10th...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"We're just a library, standing in front of a patron... asking you to love us."

For most of the year, Library Society fundraising is like a gawky and awkward Hugh Grant in a Richard Curtis movie... We quietly fumble about in the sidelights, all the while silently hoping you'll notice us for just long enough to see that we're madly in love with you. We're really quite charming, you see, and not at all anti-social; just rather shy, and awkward amongst pretty strangers.

Then comes the Annual Appeal Campaign (starting today)! Now we become climax/falling action Hugh Grant: it's almost the end of the movie, and we're racing across London in a friend's car, frantically trying to find you before you take off back to America, no longer moved by infatuation but earnestly longing for a deep, lasting relationship.

And what better way to define "deep, lasting relationship" than in monetary terms? Your gifts sustain our programmes, allow new accessions, provide for repairs and improvements. The year-round services the Library provides are possible because of this period Annual Appeal giving. In the past we have never failed to be both very impressed and deeply humbled by giving of our patrons, and we hope that generosity is expressed in the Appeal once again this year.

Also, if anyone has a Chagall they would like to donate, we would be more than happy to have it...

Because happiness isn't happiness without a violin-playing goat.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Suddenly, Monday appears again.

As promised last week, official details on the Pat Conroy event:

The night A South of Broad Evening with Pat Conroy (December 10th) will be divided into two complimentary events, one hosted by the CLS, and the other by the Gibbes. From 5:00 to 6:30 there will be cocktails and hors d'oeuvres with Pat here at the Library. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvers will be catered by the ever-wonderful Slightly North of Broad. In the interest of facilitating the best personal experience for all, and allowing every attendee time to talk with Pat, tickets will be very limited for this event. Tickets are $125 for members and $150 for nonmembers.

Tickets for members are available now. Tickets for non-members will not be available until the 15th of October.

Call us, right now, at 843.723.9912 and buy your tickets. Alternatively, email us at Please give us more information than "My name is Mike and I would like tickets". Name, number of tickets, purchasing information and contact number should all be in there. Tickets are first come, first serve, and will go quickly.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Your Michaelmas present: Pat Conroy's coming!

Happy Michaelmas, the third most painfully English of holidays (just behind St. George's Day and Guy Fawkes Night, but slightly ahead of Plough Sunday and Remembrance Day)! We can't cook you a goose or bring bannock bread, so this'll have to do:

Pat Conroy is coming to the Library Society.

To mercilessly crib John Keats; we wish a more exciting word than excited, a more thrilling word than thrilled, to express our regard for so wonderful a writer. Our pleasure in hosting this event cannot be contained.

So, yeah, we're a little hyped up over it. And y'all are too: twenty-four hours after the Post and Courier wrote about the coming fundraiser- more than two weeks before tickets will be on sale- the Society was receiving phone calls about the event. Personally, I've received about a dozen calls and emails looking for tickets, and thereby learned that hanging out with Pat Conroy is a great way to get reacquainted with old friends and distant relations (and then disappoint them terribly).

Tickets will be available after October 15th: priority reservations will be available to Society members, and tickets will be limited. Hard details- exact times and prices- will not be released until sometime next week... so be patient.

While on the topic of events, I would be remiss to neglect the fantastic one we hosted last week. Bret Lott, bestselling author of Jewel and The Hunt Club and about a half-dozen other books delivered a terrific lecture to a very large crowd of members and guests. It was a great kickoff for our Fall events season, season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, close bosom-friend of the maturing sun... sorry, sorry, more Keats. Anyhow, Bret not only gave a great talk; he supplied the A's in an insightful Q and A session (that could have lasted all evening, had it been allowed); and stuck around for an hour on top of that, talking to attendees personally and fielding lord-only-knows how many more questions. As folks who know him- even those who met him just last Thursday- know, Bret is as wonderful a person as he is a writer, and the Society is always pleased to have him here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bret, you've got it goin' on...

Just a quick reminder, best-selling novelist Bret Lott will be here this Thursday at 7:00 PM. He will discuss his time at the helm of The Southern Review. Bret is the author of a dozen books, including The Hunt Club and Jewel. We hope you can make it to what is sure to be a wonderful event. Please RSVP via email at, or by calling 843.723.9912.

Also: yes, we know it means missing the first quarter of the Ole Miss-USC game. First: y'all know that game's going to the fourth quarter; second, we didn't know that Gamecock fans read books... I now stand corrected.

Gamecock superstar Steve Taneyhill: dedicated bibliophile.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dispatches from the Chalerston Lybrary Societye

Hopefully, some of you are familiar with the continuously wonderful "group complaint about law, liberty, and leisure" that is It's a site your devoted author frequents regularly and never fails to enjoy. A highlight of the blog is the "Road To Popehat", a regular feature showcasing some of the exact search terms that brought people to the blog, and then musing upon their weirdness.

So, now I'm appropriating the bit for Shh! Here are a few (thoroughly weird) items y'all put into Google that eventually led you to us:

"Chalreston", or "Charlestun", or "Chareston", or "Chalerston", or "Chereleston"
Hopefully these visitors went to Savanuh instead.

old library + king street + savannah
Yup. They did.

murder in Charleston, SC
Might I suggest Romney Street?

The Brick + Charleston, SC + Hours
5 PM to 2 AM, thank you. And in my experience, they're real strict about the 2 AM part.

"free jackhammer" and "damn+jackhammer"
Two folks after my own heart.

Library Society charleston parking
It's a little known fact that we've had a parking lot behind the library for the past 97 years. It's free for patrons and guests!

Dr. King + Halloween Party + Charleston
I'm not touching that one with a ten foot pole.

the charleston library society is

Deep statement, young grasshopper.

charleston library society 29407
It would make my drive to work a little shorter.

what is the oldest and smallest instituion in society?
This feels like a riddle... I'm guessing the Libertarians.

charleston library society + myspace
We're not a band or a paedophile, so MySpace isn't much use to us, thanks. However, do feel free to follow our Facebook group!

Anyhow, that's enough of me being a wisearse. If nothing else, this has been a very insightful exercise: apparently we're not focusing on the illiterate and mildly mentally handicapped... and they are very interested in the "Charlee Lybray King stret".

For those of you who are not only fully literate and in possession of their mental faculties (that's you dear reader!), we have a host of events coming up soon. Bret Lott is here in one week: RSVP now, at, or by calling 843.723.9912. The Fall Book Sale is here in just under two months, so there's still plenty of time to drop by with donations. Remember, we're the "Charlee Lybray" behind the "old+ginko trees+29401", and once again, there is "free parking + Charleston Library". See you soon!

P.S.: To the ten people who have been searching "Clifford Jacobs on Facebook", (quite flattering, thank you) that's just a pen name... so you'll have search harder.

P.P.S.: If you're not a cute, available redhead between the ages of 19 and 35 (or someone looking to pay a freelance blogger), Clifford sez: feel free to stop trying altogether.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fall Events are Here!

Next Thursday, September 24th, bestselling author Bret Lott will give a lecture entitled "Southern Writing and Southern Editing: My Life and The Southern Review". Mr. Lott was named editor of The Southern Review in 2004: he returned to Charleston last year, and now teaches English and creative writing at The College. He is the author of a dozen books, including The Hunt Club and Jewel, an Oprah Book Club pick and major motion picture.

Also, for those of you yet to stop by since we've started remodeling, a picture of part of the improved reading area in the Main Reading Room. The old green vinyl chairs have been happily relegated to the bowels of the building, and our casual reading space has never looked better or felt more relaxing. Stop by soon!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A brimful of Asha...

Quick tip for confused patrons: your new books are all still here, they've just moved twelve feet. The passageway gallery (!) between the Main Reading Room and the Barnwell Annex is now the home to all our new nonfiction, fiction and mysteries, along with our esoteric collection of non-accessioned books. Feel free to grab a few good volumes and have a seat in our new chairs or couches.

Our fine collection of East Indian art is now on display in the passageway. Though they have been out since 1990, we hope their new place in the passageway brings renewed interest in these wonderful pieces. The Society has many American colonial-era works, and even a few late medieval documents, but none of our written materials compare age to our Indic art. Reflecting on these Jain and Hindu carvings- some over eight centuries old when the Society was founded- makes one pause before calling the CLS a "venerable" institution (still, 1748's pretty good by American standards- even for Charleston!)

Don't forget- CLS Fall Book sale, mid-November. The Bhagavad Gita teaches,

"Worn-out garments are shed by the body; Worn-out bodies are shed by the dweller within the body. New bodies are donned by the dweller, like garments." -Bhagavad Gita II.22

Well, our book sale is exactly like that. Just instead of worn-out bodies, think of worn-out books. And the immortal atman of cash from resale moves through the samsāra of being exchanged for new books. Or something like that. Anyhow, stop by soon, and bring books- it's good for your soul.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Labor Day Weekend: more proof Grover Cleveland was our greatest president...

The start of September; the end of summer; the start of football season; the end of having large print books in the front room of the Barnwell Annex... it's an eventful time indeed. Labor Day weekend is here, unless you're one of the 6,335,000,000 or so people who don't live in the United States, Canada, or Bermuda. (Remember, they all celebrate Labor Day on May Day, better known as "Commie Christmas".) Which reminds me, I'm pretty sure the City of Minneapolis officially regards the first of May as "Labor Day". So there's another 330,000 or so folks not celebrating Labor Day this weekend, either.

For the record the Charleston Library Society is taking the holiday off- we're closed this coming Saturday and Monday. I'll personally celebrate the proletariat's struggle against capitalist running-dog lackeys by watching the Bulldogs of UGA (in red, no less) run a football down Mike Gundy's throat; glory, glory, and to hell with Oklahoma State.

Other goings on: Don't forget, we're only a month-and-a-half away from the Fall Book Sale, so stop by with your donations. The new library chairs are in, as are new lamps and some more stylish seating in the Main Reading Room.

Monday, August 31, 2009

...about a lucky girl who made the grade...

Your devoted blogger hopes your weekend was a great as his- I finally got Hey Jude, the weird compilation album released in early 1970 by Apple Records while the Beatles were still with Capitol Records, which means I'm only A Collection of Beatles Oldies away from having the complete official discography.

For those of you who haven't read the news today, our own Anne Cleveland was given a quick writeup in this morning's Post & Courier. Check it out here. P&C columnist, naval historian, and all-around good guy Bryan Hicks put together a nice piece highlighting not only Anne's (impressive) CV but her goal of increasing membership, especially amongst younger Charlestonians. So remember: go grab a young Charlestonian and drag them to the Library Society, to-day. You know that they'll be glad.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Free, convenient parking downtown: the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

Notes (re)compiled while wondering why this blog didn't post the first two times I clicked "Publish Post".

As most of you know, Eric left his position here at the Society early this month, and is busy bringing the skillful leadership to the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, (, one of the most prestigious history jobs in the state. We all wish him the best of luck.

Anne Cleveland is now Executive Director of the Library Society. Her handiwork here is already readily apparent (not to mention awesome). If you haven't been by in a while, now is the time to visit. Everything is clean and smells like lemons! And there are rugs and lamps and thoughtful decor! We're all very excited.

Decor changes bring me to the next topic- our fund raising campaign for new furniture! The Society wants to thank everyone who has participated so far. Your donations have been as speedy as they have been generous, and the new furniture should be here soon. I hope everyone's in the mood for a good sit!

Finally, the news y'all have been waiting for: the driveway is now open! Our segment of the streetscaping project has passed, leaving a lovely bluestone sidewalk, bricks across the driveway, and a renewed appreciation for on-site parking! A month of parking in the garage and walking in the August heat will do that to you. This is also a good time to remind everyone that when you park in the rear, you do not have to walk around to the front: just press the buzzer at the back door, and we're more than happy to let you in.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Papalaka-papalaka-papalaka-boo! Digariga-digariga-digariga-doo!

Today, August the fourth, is Saint Sithney's Day- the obscure Breton saint of mad dogs (if you ever contract rabies, he's your man). And, as Noel Coward taught us, only Mad Dogs and Englishmen are out on a day like today, when the heat index is at 98 degrees.

"In tropical climes there are certain times of day,
When all the citizens retire,
to tear their clothes off and perspire.
It's one of those rules that the biggest fools obey,
Because the sun is much too sultry and one must avoid
its ultry-violet ray..."
- Sir Noël Coward

So the synthesis of our little ecclesiastical and musical history lesson and weather report is this: if you're coming into the Library Society today, look out for rabid canines. (The Englishmen should be fairly harmless unless they are soccer hooligans, or they try to convince you that British food is suitable for human consumption. It is not.)

The driveway is still blocked off due to streetscaping: visitors may park in the 93 Queen Street garage for free if their ticket is validated at the front desk. We'll let you know when (if?) the situation improves.

ALSO COMING SOON: Fall book sale: October 17th and 18th November! Mark your calendar. Now.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sorry, no snappy title today due do a sudden rush of patrons (weird, right?)

The CLS has been, if not overwhelmed, at least very, very whelmed by how quickly our call for new seating was answered. There must be some very dedicated sitters amongst you! All the club chairs have now been accounted for, as have twelve of the library chairs. That leaves us with just a dozen chairs left! These chairs are 150 dollars each: for more information, or to pay by credit card, call 843.723.9912.

Also, though we know y'all love the Library Society with a deep and abiding love, like that of a young John Hinckley for Jodie Foster, we're going to be a little hard-to-reach until the end of the month. We are now sans driveway and sidewalk thanks to ongoing streetscaping. The Society can still be reached via the Gateway Walk, and folks who drive to to library can park at the City of Charleston garage on Queen Street for free. Just make sure to get your pass validated at the front desk. We plan on remaining open and maintaining normal hours throughout this phase of construction.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Oh, streetscaping, so truly the bimetallism of our day...

Just some quick news on this, the 113th anniversary of the "Cross of Gold" speech, and the 29th birthday of Irish footballer Robbie Keane: Ongoing streetscaping will close the parking lot of the Society until late July. The Library will remain open. Patrons and Visitors may park at the City's Queen Street garage for free if their pass is validated at the Main Desk. The backdoor will still be open and the handicapped access ramp available via the Gateway Walk. If you have any questions, please call us at (843) 723 9912.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Two and One-Third Centuries of being cooler than "North Carolina Day"...

We should all feel privileged to have not one, but two days to celebrate Carolina Day this year: Sunday, the 28th is the 233rd anniversary of the Battle, but Saturday the 27th is the date of the parade. While we're sure y'all will be spending Sunday with your family, opening presents under the palmetto tree, we hope you will join us in the parade on Saturday. The Library Society is meeting at Washington Park at 11:00 AM, and the marching starts at noon. All members and friends of the Society are encouraged to join us- we will be near the front, under our new green flag!

Don't forget- only six days left to RSVP for the Lowcountry Launch Event for Dorothea Benton Frank's Return to Sullivans Island. The party will be on the evening of the 2nd, and is shaping up to be a lot of fun!

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Maybe the cabin is the place inside each of us, created by our goodwill and teamwork... Nah, they said there'd be sandwiches."

"Oh, yes, sitting... the great leveler. From the mightiest pharaoh, to the lowliest peasant, who doesn't enjoy a good sit?"

-Charles Montgomery Burns

As many of you already know, of the best sits in town is to be had in the Main Reading Room here at the Library Society. Whether at the research tables, digging into a hundred-year old manuscript or a brand-new magazine; or sunk deep in the club chairs taking in a new novel or some non-fiction, the peace and quiet in here is pretty hard to beat (though the streetscaping crews outside occasionally try).

If you know first-hand how relaxing a spell in the CLS can be, though, then you're likely also aware that our chairs have seen better days. If you had been around through two World Wars, Prohibition, eight-and-a-half decades of the Red Sox losing, the Atomic Age, the Jet Age, Nixonomics, Billy Beer, seven decades of the Soviet Union, telegraphs, telegrams, telephones, the internet, the mobile phone, mobile internet, and the collective posteriors of maybe a quarter-million "sits"... you might be a little worse for wear too. (Come to think of it, a signifigant number of our members have lived through two World Wars, Prohibition, eight-and-a-half decades of the Red Sox losing, the Atomic Age, the Jet Age, Nixonomics, Billy Beer, almost-seven decades of the Soviet Union, telegraphs, telegrams, telephones, the internet, the mobile phone, and mobile internet. As for being sat on 250,000 times, I'd rather not know.)

The Society is, therefore, looking* to replace our tired, squeaking, mismatched seating with twenty four new wooden library chairs and four new club chairs. Library chairs can be purchased for a donation of $150, club chairs for $300. A brass plaque of dedication is included if desired. For more information, or to pay by credit card, call 843-723-9912.

ALSO COMING SOON: June 27th is the Carolina Day Parade, come march with us (under our new flag)! Washington Park, 11:00 AM: we're near the front. July 2nd is the Lowcountry Launch Party for Dorothea Benton Frank's new novel, Return to Sullivans Island. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be served, and a complimentary signed copy of the book comes with every ticket ($75). There will be sandwiches. Also, spread the word: our first Summer Book Sale, mid-July!

*ha, I audaciously split an infinitive! Take that, 5th grade English class!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ah, King Street and the Never Ending "Beautification" Project

They will be finished by August. At least, that's their story, and they are sticking with it. In the meantime, the city's contractors will subject lower King Street to jack hammering and other loud noises, dust, and the indiscriminate blocking of our driveway. Our apologies to members, but you are witnessing your tax dollars at work. When the project is completed, you will be buoyantly carried along beautiful bluestone sidewalks, until you find yourself deposited at our august organization. What a wonderful world it will be!

Much has happened since our last blog (yes, we are pretty slack). The Southern Literary Festival was a big success. Our thanks go to all of the authors who took time out of their busy schedules to entertain and inform. Next year will be even better, so be sure to mark your calendars for June 3-5, when we will feature more of the region's best writers.

Next on the agenda is Carolina Day. Few events are more emblematic of Charleston's affinity for the past. This year Carolina Day will be celebrated on Saturday, June 27 (it is never celebrated in Charleston on Sunday). We urge you to join the Library Society contingent at Washington Park at 10:30. We will line up at the Broad Street gate near to the front of the procession. The uniform of the day is seersucker for men and cool clothing for women. We have a newly modified banner this year (dark green and gold). The procession will start at 11:00. We hope that you will choose to march with us (at the expense of all of your other organizational affiliations). Of course, we will understand if you march with an organization founded prior to 1748.

Finally, you can not miss our next author event (unless of course, you wish to be mocked by your fellow literary buffs). On Thursday, July 2, we will host a book launching party for Dorothea Benton Frank to celebrate her new title, Return to Sullivans Island. This book is the sequel to Sullivans Island, her breakout novel and New York Times bestseller. At the party Mrs. Frank will discuss the book, answer questions, and sign copies for guests. Tickets are available by calling the Library Society at 843-723-9912. Ticket costs include a copy of the book. The food will be great, and the event will be spectacular. We hope to see you here.

Read a book!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Did you know that "Cinco de Mayo" is Spanish for "Bring your Favourite Librarians some Dos Equis Day"?

It's Cinco de Mayo! Little more than a local day of remembrance in Mexico, the anniversary (this one is the 147th) of the Battle of Puebla has grown into a major celebration of Mexico and its culture on the north side of the border. As St. Patrick's Day and Oktoberfest have taught us, Americans are quick to adopt other cultures' holidays and traditions, so long as they mostly consist of drinking, eating, and dancing. This is why Leif Erikson Day, with its lutefisk, mashed peas, and Ringes beer just hasn't been all that popular outside of Wisconsin. Norwegian Americans, I am truly sorry.

The Library Society has a few upcoming events you'll want to mark on your calendar (we'll even have wine and hors d'oeuvres at a few of them- though none are scheduled to involve dancing...). Next Thursday, May 14th, we are scheduled to host Dr. Edmund Drago for a lecture and book signing. Dr. Drago, a historian at The College of the Charleston, will be discussing his Confederate Phoenix: Rebel Children and Their Families in South Carolina. The first full account of white children and their families in South Carolina during the Civil War. Drago's book shows how the War transformed the domestic world of the white South, through deprivation, disease, and death. Call us at 843.723.9912 for reservations or more information, or email us at

Also, one of Charleston's own major local holidays (and we do have a few, don't we?) will be here soon: Piccolo Spoleto. The CLS will again be hosting the international arts festival's Southern Literary Festival, a series of lectures and book signings from some of the South's most beloved and well-respected authors. This year's scheduled guests include Nicole Seitz, Cassandra King, Ron Daise, Janna McMahan, Bret Lott, and Anne Rivers Siddons.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Who knew the word "cozy" was pejorative?

You would, if you attended the Carolyn Hart and Margaret Maron lecture last night. According to the authors, describing American mysteries written by women as "Cozies" belittles the genre and reinforces the preconceptions of chauvinistic, misogynist editors who dominate the publishing business (or something to that effect). Again, who knew?

The authors were both entertaining and enlightening (one of them won The Order of the Long Leaf Pine). Of particular interest were their descriptions of how they became mystery writers, and the challenges that they have faced through their careers (see the above paragraph). Their humor and insight, and rather good questions from the audience made the night quite memorable. Many thanks to Carolyn Hart and Margaret Maron.

Look for more events in the upcoming issue of the Charleston Reader, and don't forget about the Southern Literary Festival on May 28-30. It will be loads of fun, and again, you need to be here!

Spring has been especially beautiful, and colder than normal, this year in Charleston. This season, above all others, makes me grateful to be a resident of the Lowcountry. There are far worse places to live, most of which are north of Virginia and west of Texas.

Read a book!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Carolyn Hart and Margaret Maron...and You Need to be Here!

Thursday we will host Carolyn Hart and Margaret Maron, two of the world's most successful mystery writers...and you need to be here! Per your demands, we have made murder mysteries (or cozies) the greatest strength of our circulating collections for the past fifty years. Now, you have the opportunity to listen to, meet, and get signed copies from two of the masters in their field. Skip whatever you have planned (including College of Charleston plays, organizational meetings, or drinking at the club), and come to the Library Society to show your devotion to the genre. Be forewarned! If you do not attend, we will begin using the mystery book budget to purchase how-to and self-help books. Cozies or lawn mower maintenance manuals...the choice is yours!

Also, don't forget about the Southern Literary Festival from May 28-30. This year we will have a great line up of authors who will offer their perspectives on fiction and the South. Tickets will be available from Piccolo Spoleto. We look forward to seeing you here!

Read a book (and come see Carolyn Hart and Margaret Maron)!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I'm just sad 'cause there's still six months of baseball left...

XJSes roll around town with their tops down, polychrome sails push scores of dinghies back and forth across the harbor, tourists form an unplanned human chain Meeting and Market Streets in a kind of casual protest against all politeness. Yes, its springtime in Charleston. Which at the Library Society can only mean one thing... the Spring Book Sale!

Which was last weekend, so, you missed it. Way to go. For the record, it was excellent, which is a polite way of saying we made a little money with it. Thanks to all the members, Bridge Runners, tourists, and sundry passers-by who stopped in; an even bigger thanks to the volunteers who kept the sale sailing along.

So with the Book Sale out of the way, springtime at the library must mean it's time for something else... and that something is murder! On Thursday, April 16th, at 7:00 PM, we will host Writing Murder Mysteries of the Carolinas, a lecture and book signing with authors Carolyn Hart and Margaret Maron. These two nationally-recognized authors will be providing insights into their creative process. It's sure to be an exciting night- doubly so if they disclose their "creative process" for penning murder mysteries (over fifty between the two!) to be autobiographical. RSVP now.

Don't forget, the Edgar Allan Poe exhibit is still here: if you can't make it to the Murder Mysteries event, you can still get in a little vernal morbidity- if you come before the 20th of April.

ACTUAL LIBRARY NEWS: the Library Society will be closed this Friday the 10th and Saturday the 11th. We will return to normal hours Easter Monday because we're the only country in the Western world that doesn't get the day off...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring Book Sale, Still More Poe, and Mysteries

This weekend the Library Society will hold its annual Spring Book Sale: we refer to it as Mr. Hinson's Crazy Book Bargain Bonanza (everything must go, go, go)! As in the past, this year's sale will feature great titles and even better bargains. If you love books, and you are looking for a stack of volumes to read during summer vacation, the Library Society is the place to be on Saturday and Sunday. The hours for the sale are 9:30 AM-5:00 PM on Saturday, and 1:30-5:00 PM on Sunday. All books will be half price on Sunday. Book dealers are welcome, but only after Noon on Saturday.

People are still talking about Friday's Poe event (in a good way)! Prof. Harry L. Poe gave an enthralling lecture about the famous poet, and then read "The Raven." Members indulged on Poe-themed hors d'oeuvres, such as City in the Sea Shrimp, The Pit-cooked Barbeque and the Pendulum Sliders, and Ravens Wings (there was no extra charge for the puns). We are grateful to Prof. Poe and other Poe family members, who made the gala and our month-long Poe exhibit possible. If you have not yet seen the exhibit, you have until April 20. It is definitely worth a trip to King Street.

Don't forget that nationally best-selling mystery writers Carolyn Hart and Margaret Maron will be at the Library Society on April 16 to speak about writing mysteries in the Carolinas and to sign copies of their books. If you love mysteries, this is a must-see event!

We look forward to seeing you this weekend.

Read a book (that you purchase from the Library Society)!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Poe, Poe, Poe...and Other Things

On Friday evening the Charleston Library Society will unveil its Edgar Allan Poe exhibit at a Poe-themed party (or Poepalooza) for members and guests. The exhibit includes Poe manuscripts, rare editions, and ephemera, and the event will feature Poe-themed hors d'oeuvres. The exhibit made the front page of the Post and Courier on Monday, and it is even more impressive in person. Tickets for the Poe party are still available, so call today. We are sure that you will have a good time (we humbly apologize to the member who called on Monday to express their concern that people are enjoying themselves at the Library Society).

Jack Bass and Scott Poole did a great job last week at their lecture on South Carolina during the modern era. One of the underlying currents to their comments (and the resulting audience questions) was that South Carolina is dealing with many of the same issues today as during the past century (no great surprise there).

Don't forget our annual Spring Book Sale on April 4-5. We begin the book sale on the day of the Bridge Run, with the hope that dehydrated and fatigued runners will stumble into the building and purchase their weight in Lee Iacocca biographies (at least that is how it has worked in past). Sunday is half-price day (we have discontinued the "fill a box with books for $10" promotion).

Thanks for your support, and we hope to see you soon!

Read a book!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

(It's also Osama Bin Laden's birthday... but let's not get into that.)

Happy Purim! We here at Shh! would like to thank the City of Charleston for bringing some non-traditional ra'ashan... er, noisemakers, in the form of jackhammers and Sawzalls and front-end loaders and the like. These guests should still be around long after the holiday has passed...

We hope you've been able to make it to one of our late-winter events: both the Ken Burger and Marjorie Wentworth book signings proved entertaining, interactive, and very well-attended. If you haven't been able to make it to an event recently, we hope you'll join us Monday (yes, Monday- not Thursday) the 16th (St. Pat's eve!) for Jack Bass and W. Scott Poole as they discuss and sign copies of their new book, The Palmetto State: The Making of Modern South Carolina.

Also on the horizon... a major event celebrating Edgar Allan Poe, mid-April murder mysteries, and, yes- the Spring Book Sale (April 4th-5th... get the word out now)!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Southern Fried Fiction and Poetry

You should kick yourself if you missed Ken Burger's talk about his book Swallow Savannah. Burger is a rarity; he is an accomplished journalist, an excellent writer, and as congenial as anyone that you would ever hope to meet. The setting for his novel is mid-century Groton, SC, (a thinly disguised Allendale, which was Burger's childhood home). His book is replete with elements of Southern Gothic fiction: sex, avarice, violence, substance abuse, and racism. Burger uses all of these instruments to create a tale of how outside forces change the residents of a small South Carolina town. Check it out today.

Next on the agenda is Marjory Wentworth, who will be at the Library Society on March 5 to discuss her book, Shackles, her poetry, and herself. She is poet laureate of South Carolina, a prolific writer, and a regular contributor to the Post and Courier. She also will sign copies of her books, so do not miss this event!

The city's work crews have once again descended on lower King Street to "beautify" it with bluestone sidewalks. We apologize for the daytime mess, but you can park behind the Library Society and avoid much of the noise. The construction crews depart by 5:00 pm, so parking for evening events is not a problem.

We hope that you join us for all of our entertaining and educational programs. We also hope to see you soon.

Read a Book!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Many moons have passed....

It has been quite some time since Clifford Jacobs or I have taken time to keep you informed of Library Society happenings. We hope that you had a chance to come to Danny Crooks' lecture on January 15 (the crowd was large and enthusiastic). Let's face it, if you can't draw a crowd in Charleston with a lecture and book signing dealing with Robert E. Lee, then you are just not trying.

I also hope that you had a chance to attend the Library Society's 260th Annual Meeting. For the first time in its long history, the Library Society has witnessed trustees rotating off the board as a result of term limits. The new trustees are excited to be part of the team, and we are excited to have them on board.

The Library Society received much appreciated publicity from the the front page Post and Courier article about the George Washington/Charles Cotesworth Pinckney correspondence. We also received an addition to the collections. After reading the article, two generous members donated to the Library Society Pinckney's appointment as Minister Plenipotentiary to France. They also donated a letter from Washington welcoming Pinckney home from France and offering to host him and his family at Mount Vernon as they returned to Charleston.

We have big plans for late Winter and early Spring. Ken Burger will be here on February 19 to discuss his debut novel Swallow Savannah. Many of you know him as the Post and Courier's new columnist and a former sports reporter.

We will blog more often in the future. After all, what would Shh! be without news?

Read a book!