Thursday, July 28, 2011

Let's go guys! National TV! Everybody's mama's watching!

"If you gaze into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you", or at least that's what I learned reading the Nietzsche Family Circus; here at the Library Society we are all staring into the abyss that is the fall events calendar. Of course it's a fun, educational, enjoyable abyss, but here in the quiet of summer it looks daunting indeed.

Of course, most of the dauntingness is just the chair-moving... thirty-or-so events, averaging around 90-120 attendees... and pretty soon you're moving over 3,500 chairs. Which wouldn't be so bad, but your loyal blogger almost died moving one credenza yesterday. On a related note, the Library Society now has a lovely credenza sitting right inside the back door. Riiight inside the back door.

Anyhow, back to fall events. Nan Morrison will be back teaching Shakespeare (The Roman plays this time, yay!); Unedited returns, and will be joined by an all new Chamber Music Series; Wide Angle Lunches III; special events with Marshall Chapman, the CCL, the Poetry Society, a new non-fiction book club... it's going to be another great events season, and we'll keep you posted on each and every upcoming programme.

One final (kind of last minute) update: look for the Robert Rosen's Library Society lecture on Confederate Charleston to air on CSPAN's BookTV at 5:30PM this Saturday and 11:15AM this Sunday. Also, some of our treasures from the vaults on C-SPAN's BookTV channel this Sunday at 12PM.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Spellcheck recognizes "Servian", but not "McDonalds". That's kind of nice, actually.

It's July 18th! Today is the 2,401st anniversary of the Battle of Allia, between Republican Rome and the Gaulish Senones. The Senones accused some Roman diplomats of a serious violation of international law, and demanded they be turned over to face justice. Long story short, the Romans refused and the Senones' army took to the field. A few miles north of the city they met the Roman army - a militia composed of Greek-style phalanxes with the weakest auxiliaries on both flanks - and promptly obliterated it. Rome was sacked, and the Senones stuck around until the plague struck (likely a consequence of too many unburied Roman bodies lying around).

The battle is notable because it was the last time Rome would be sacked for 800 years. The Romans built the Servian Wall (you can see a bit of it if you're ever in the McDonalds in Termini Station); they changed the relationship between social class and military status (no more putting all the nobles on the front line to get slaughtered first); and they abandoned the rigid phalanx for the famous testudo formation (the flexibility of which was a key to eventual Roman military dominance in the Mediterranean world). In many ways, the defeat at Allia built the foundations of Roman success for centuries to come.

In much the same way as those ancient Romans, the Library Society has regrouped and reevaluated our strategy after the evening events of the past few weeks. The conclusion we've reached: if y'all are going to keep coming out in droves, we're gonna have to start charging for summer lectures!

Though we knew the speakers would be good, we figured the hot weather, scant advertising, and traditional lack of summer programming would keep event attendance down. How wrong we've been. Last week's great Bastille Day event with Alan Hoffman brought in about 120 people. Your loyal blogger very much enjoyed his conversations with the dear folks at the Alliance Francaise who were responsible for the wine and snacks... "I know we had 19 RSVP's yesterday... we're up to 60 today"... "'I'm pretty sure we're going to break 100.', 'Yes ma'am, we're at 115'"... you get the picture.

Our thanks to everyone who has come out and made our summer events so successful. Unless we're lucky enough to have a guest speaker fall in our laps, we should be done with lectures for a little while. Pub Quiz night is this Thursday... bring $5 and some friends for beer, snacks, and a lot of nerdy fun!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summertime hours = the living is now 8.75% easier.

  Over 130 people in attendance for two events, one quite hastily announced, in one week, in the middle of summer. Last week's event schedule was a pleasant revelation of just how many folks are willing to come out for lectures and events in the face of torrid temperatures and hellish humidity. Many thanks to everyone who came out to the great events with Robert Rosen and Charlie Geer.

  Though, to be fair, those events were air conditioned. Attendance for last week's Carolina Day parade was not so... robust. Your loyal blogger says if our noble forefathers could fight off the Redcoats in 93 degree weather, we can put on striped suits and walk down Meeting Street. 

  And if you disagree, General Moultrie would be disappointed in you.

  Oh well. As long as we're discussing Library events and our Revolutionary-era predecessors, it's a good time to mention our Bastille Day Lecture next week. Alan Hoffman, president of the Massachusetts Lafayette Society, will discuss the work he's recently translated, Lafayette in America in 1824 and 1825. This work was the diary of Auguste Levasseur, Lafayette's secretary, and recounts the major general's trip around the young American republic (including his time here in Charleston). Things start here in the Main Reading Room at 7PM, Thursday July 14th. There's no charge for the event, though we do ask you RSVP by emailing us or giving us a call (843.723.9912). A light reception will follow the lecture.

  Also, new summertime hours start this week! Monday-Thursday remains the same (9:30-5:30), while Friday gets trimmed down to "Saturday Size", (9:30-2:00), enabling our staff to get home in time for dinner for once.

  Finally, we're having a dry-run, get-the-kinks-out, first go at a trivia night this Thursday at 7PM. Cover is $5, beer & snacks are provided, and there'll be a little prize for the winning team. Get some folks together- groups of 2-5 might be best - and join us for a little beer and brainteasing! If you'd like more info, fire us an email.