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.

Apr├Ęs 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.