We have seen the future, and it is the 211 year old Charleston Library Society, where the dauntingly capable new director and her exceptionally good natured staff have taken a dart here and raised a seam there, keeping an eye on the oven and pulsing the blender as necessary, spending next to nothing in the process, to turn the architecturally significant institution from beingThe Library That Time And Most of South Carolina Forgot to Sufficient Reason to Drive 620 Miles Just To See What’s Cooking. No kidding. Sure, it’s always had holdings to knock one’s socks off, but one could live and die a block away without ever knowing that, say, John Locke’s handwritten Carolina Constitution lay in the Society vault alongside countless items of similar interest. Self effacement? The place had it down to a science. But the new watchword is “welcome”. Good news for Charleston.
We came home from Charleston to find our own much less inexpensive makeover proceeding apace. All that steel that came through the window has been bolted together by a gang of deft but oddly aloof ironworkers, and we can finally see what the south stacks will look like. They will look like cool.
Finally, it had to be pointed out to us that there had been no blogmention of the mad success of Books By The Banks. In our defense we will say that mention had not occurred to us because we were sure that every Cincinnatian who reads was thoroughly aware of the great leap the city’s book fair has taken from its modest early days to near juggernauthood. Gratifying crowds poured into the author pavilion at the Duke Energy center thumbing their noses at the financial panic, spending twice as much on books as they did last year. At our august level we had little to do other than sign proclamations and pose for ribbon cuttings. The heavy lifting was done by teams of bookish, highly skilled employees from the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, the University of Cincinnati Department of Libraries, Cincinnati Magazine, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, and your own Mercantile Library with support from the Friends of the Public Library, the Public Library Foundation, and (new this year) Northern Kentucky University’s Steely Library, and the public libraries of Boone, Kenton, and Campbell County. It would be wrong to single anyone out for his or her effort, but if you run into Sandy Bolek at the Public, prostrate yourselves at her feet.