Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More important than the following blather: happy birthday Pat Conroy!

It's always interesting to browse the minutes of old CLS board meetings.  262 years of mostly boredom interspersed with virulent fighting.  Perhaps my favourite: a particularly heated record of one late 1950's meeting at which a trustee suggested smoking be allowed in the Main Reading Room. 

As every television/film Eisenhower/Kennedy period piece has taught me, in the late 1950's, EVERYBODY smoked.  Grandmothers, titans of industry, Blue Collar Joe, Presidents of the United States, newborn babies...  from the offices of Sterling Price, to NASA's Mission Control, to the office of your very own doctor, everybody smoked.

But not at the Charleston Library Society.  Thanks to the valiance (and vehemence) of trustee Mrs. I'on Rhett, it was not to be.  The motion went from near passage by acclimation, to a long, (one-sided) bargaining for "half the room" to "part of the room" to "one smoking chair", to the cold hell of being infinitely tabled.  The anger and the yelling of the whole affair really does come right through all the stuffy, formal language of board meeting minutes...

So that's why, sixty years later, the Main Reading Room doesn't reek of cigarette smoke.  Kudos, Mrs. Rhett.

Remember, smoking is not attractive.  Except on Mad Men... then it's cool.

Another interesting thing from the minutes is the hours of operation the Library has held.  While I've never seen a record of us being open on Sunday, the other 144 hours of the week have been fair game.  Open at five, open at six, open at eleven in the morning; closed at three, closed at six, closed at nine at night... as customs evolved  (and indoor lighting, and air conditioning, and the standard 9-5 business day came into existence), we've changed our hours of operation.

And as of tomorrow, we're doing it again.  Every Wednesday through the end of cotillion season, the Library Society will remain open after 5:30 until 8:30.  Circulation will remain open, through research services- i.e., trips to the vaults - will not be available.  We hope you'll stop by and grab a book, have a cup of coffee, and enjoy the peace and quiet of the South's oldest cultural institution during our new "after work, during cotillion" hours.

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