Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Help the Charleston County Public Library – Donate Your CDs, DVDs, LPs and Videogames

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Well – it seems one of my favorite places needs help. I know I’ve got some CD’s and a few DVD’s I wonder why I ever purchased to begin with that I could donate. I’m not going to name names – to protect me. But, here’s an opportunity to get them out of my collection and spare me the embarrassment the next time someone is looking to see what I have and then it happens – they pull one of those mistakes out and give me that look. Oh man, it’s a look I don’t want to see again.

So, I guess I’ll be going through and doing some sorting. The Library will get some cash for my mistakes and I’ll have that warm fuzzy feeling. Like they say – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And, I’ll be clearing some space for some new – better – music and movies. You’ve just got till Apr. 15, 2010 so don’t delay.

Here’s the pitch:


The Charleston Friends of the Library, in Charleston, SC, is holding a special Media Donation Drive to help raise money to support the Charleston County Public Library (CCPL). Now through Apr. 15, 2010 (tax day), donate your gently-used CDs, DVDs, LPs and videogames to any of the 16 public library locations in Charleston County.

With neighboring libraries like the Public Library of Charlotte-Mecklenburg County in North Carolina announcing the closing of half its branches and the recent announcement of reduced library hours at CCPL starting April 1st, the Friends of the Library is looking to raise money in new and innovative ways like online sales, in addition to the popular book sales held throughout the year.

The Charleston Friends of the Library, a non-profit volunteer organization, raises money through book sales and membership to help fund over 4,000 Library programs each year that are free to the community. The Friends of the Library is partnering with (formerly Millennium Music) and CCPL for this special donation drive.

The Friends of the Library accepts donation of books and media all year long, but needs your help now. Your donation is tax-deductible and supports your local Library.

If you would like to become a member of the Charleston Friends of the Library, or for more information on the Media Donation Drive, please visit (

Charleston County Public Library in Charleston, SC, Offers Downloadable Audio Books

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

It’s always a pleasure to bring you news about one of my favorite places in South Carolina – the Charleston County Public Library and libraries in general. This announcement actually involves people not needing to go to the library for service, but I will still go – as there is always something new to discover and I spend enough time on the computer anyway.

This announcement is also timely as you will be able to purchase Apple’s new iPad in April, which enables you to download digital audio books and read them with its bigger screen. You’ll be able to do a lot more with an iPad, but that’s a different entry.

So here’s the press release we received at Carolina Arts:


Listening to a great book is easier than ever for local residents with Charleston County Public Library’s latest Web service – free downloadable audio books.

This new service, partly funded by the Friends of the Charleston County Library, gives patrons the ability to download books free from the library’s Web site just by using their library card number. Books are compatible with both PCs and Macs, and people can use iPods, iPhones and most MP3 devices to listen to the books. (I’ll add in iPads)

The library contracted with Ingram Digital’s MyiLibrary Audio service and has added more than 550 downloadable titles, ranging from the latest best sellers by James Patterson or Anne Tyler to non-fiction biographies and children’s classics like the Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.


With the system, patrons go to the library’s Web site – ( – and look for the “Listen to Me” icon on the left side of the home page, then select the link for MyiLibrary audio. Patrons will need their library card number to login and peruse the collection. Once they find something of interest, the audio book should be added to their virtual “bookshelf.” Initially, the system will prompt them to download Ingram Media Manager to their computer before downloading their first audio file. Patrons can have up to two downloadable audio books at a time checked out and up to two hold requests. The audio books can be checked out for up to 14 days.

MyiLibrary is the latest in CCPL’s efforts to provide more services online for patrons. In addition to the downloadable audio books, the library has online book clubs, databases and talking storybooks for children.

The Tumblebooks Library includes animated talking storybooks for children plus puzzles and games to encourage learning and reading. In the library’s online Reader’s Corner, patrons can sign up for Online Book Clubs, which send short snippets of a different book via e-mail each week so they can decide if they want to check it out. NextReads allows patrons to sign up to receive e-newsletters based on their areas of interest. NextReads’s 19 e-newsletters profile recent releases and offer suggestions based on the subject, such as science fiction, business and personal finance, popular culture and historical fiction.

In addition to these reader services, CCPL offers more than 100 research databases, with most available remotely on the Internet. The databases cover topics including history, genealogy, finance and investing, legal forms, career and job assistance, literature and science.

To learn about all the online offerings, visit ( or call Charleston County Public Library at 843/805-6930.

The Georgia Renaissance Festival – 25 Years of Amazing Days and Crazy Knights!

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

I have been to the Georgia Renaissance Festival twice and enjoyed it both times – I wish I was going this year but I can’t get the clan of fellow Ren Fest folks who do this thing with me organized this year. Bugger!


Here’s the scoop:

Join us for an entertainment experience that’s closer than Disney and more affordable than Six Flags! It’s the 25th Anniversary of The Georgia Renaissance Festival, held in Fairburn, GA, just south of Atlanta, GA. It all takes place over eight fun-filled weekends – Saturdays and Sundays plus Memorial Day, from April 17 through June 6, 2010, from 10:30am until 6pm each day.

You’re invited to the biggest Silver Anniversary Celebration in the grandest realm since Camelot! Designed to help visitors imagine that they have time traveled back to Elizabethan England, the Georgia Renaissance Festival creates the fantasy with themed buildings and rides, costumed actors, and creative entertainment and interactive activities.

Once inside the gates of our magnificent 16-Century Kingdom, you’ll find Knights in shining armor and Maidens Faire, King Henry VIII and his Court, jolly pubs and a 32-acre World Bazaar full of elaborate treasures created by nationally renowned artisans. Feast like royalty on a cornucopia of delectable delights including our popular giant roasted turkey legs! Endless entertainment waits with ten stages featuring juggling, music, comedic storytelling and feats of incredible physical skills! Your whole family will enjoy our Royal Petting Zoo and the thrilling rides in our medieval amusement park! Entertainments not to be missed are the original extreme sport – The Jousting Tournament of Kings, and the magnificent high-flying Birds of Prey and Animal Show!


It’s a rollicking good time, so don’t miss The Georgia Renaissance Festival, where the good life is festive and the parking is free!

Several of our weekends offer Special Discounts or Themed Activities including:

April 17 & 18 – 2-4-1 Grand Opening Weekend! Buy one adult ticket and get one free, valid online now and at the gate and not sold at Kroger.

April 24 & 25 – Highland Fling Weekend! King Henry VIII invites all merry lads and lassies to this Highland Celebration! Enjoy the exhilarating sounds of our newest act, Tartanic, watch an amazing dance performance by the Drake School of Irish Dance and enjoy the music from the world-renowned Atholl Highlanders Pipe and Drum Band! Roll up your pant legs or wear your kilt to compete in the Bonnie Legs Contest!

May 1 & 2 – Kids get in Free Weekend sponsored by WSB TV’s Family 2 Family! One free child admission, 12 years of age and under, per each full paid adult, offer valid at the gate only and not sold at Kroger.

May 8 & 9 – Mother ‘s Day Weekend! Moms can shop, feast and be honored on her special day! The first 100 Moms through the gate will receive complimentary flowers!

May 15 & 16 – Arrh! Pirates Weekend! Scalawags and swashbucklers abound for His Majesty’s Pirate Adventure! Those adults and children who think themselves worthy buccaneers can compete in the Talk Like a Pirate and Best Dressed Pirate Costume Contests! This weekend is also Knights on Bikes Weekend! Present your motorcycle license and receive $4 off an adult full price ticket purchased at the Festival Box Office only.

May 22 & 23 – FEAST for $5 Weekend! It’s a gourmet’s delight! This weekend, ALL individual food items are only $5 or less!

May 29, 30 & 31- Three-day Memorial Weekend! It’s a family affair! Watch for special surprise discounts to be announced valid for Saturday, Sunday and Memorial Day Monday!

June 5 & 6 – Final Knights Weekend! It ‘s your last chance to eat, drink and make merry. After that we ‘re history until 2011!

In honor of our 25th Anniversary – new shows, food and festive fun has been added including:

Dressed in full kilt, Tartanic gives its audiences a barrage of sound! Imagine one dancer, six drums, six drones, 18 notes, fast fingers, high comedy, flying bagpipes, taste-defying stunts and scorching hot music played at over 120 beats per minute, all brought to you by five vigorous men without pants.


The beautiful Jayna Lee demonstrates jaw-dropping and AHH-inspiring skills: acrobatics, contortion, fire-eating, and juggling on the aerial trapeze and aerial silks! Jayna has an extensive background in gymnastics and 10 years of performance experience spanning across venues all over the United States and Europe.

The year is 1534 and King Henry VIII has been the King of England for 25 years. In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Georgia Renaissance Festival and His Majesty’s silver anniversary on the throne, we are going to host a re-coronation ceremony for the King! Our guests can celebrate along with the royal court, making the re-coronation of King Henry VIII a truly memorable event for all!

Click, purchase and print discount tickets on-line now at the Festival’s website at ( or stop by any Atlanta area Kroger checkout registers and purchase with your Kroger Plus Card beginning April 19, 2010.

The Georgia Renaissance Festival is close, conveniently located just 5 minutes south of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on I-85. Take Exit 61- Peachtree City / Fairburn and follow the signs. Regularly priced tickets include tax and are available at the festival box office. Adults $19.95, senior 60+ $17.95, Youth ages 6-12 $8.95, 5 years of age and under get in free.

For more information call the Festival Hot Line at 770/964-8575 or visit (

First Event of SC Arts Commission’s 2010 Canvas of the People Draws 20 People in Columbia, SC

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

I couldn’t be in Columbia, SC, for the first event of the SC Art Commission’s 2010 Canvas of the People on Feb. 22, at 6:45-8pm. It seems many others couldn’t either with only 12 days notice – even those living right there in Columbia. In Jeffrey Day’s blog, Carolina Culture, he reports that only 30 people showed up for this important meeting and 10 of those were with the SC Arts Commission.


I posted notice of this call for public input within hours of receiving the e-mail from the Arts Commission. In fact, I did a follow-up blog entry on Feb. 18, 2010, encouraging folks to go to these Canvas of the People events. Day posted info about the event in his blog and The State newspaper serving the greater Columbia area offered an article about the gathering on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010 – the day before the meeting.

The fact that it took The State newspaper eleven days to offer its readers notice of this event is a whole different issue – assuming they got the same notice the rest of us got. But, then Jeffrey Day could address that issue better, since he was The State’s former arts reporter – let go last year in a staff reduction move by McClatchy Newspapers – owner of The State.

So, 20 people will have made their voices heard in the Columbia area – our state capital – for this ten-year planning process.

What are we to make of this?

Should we think that folks in the Columbia area don’t care what the Arts Commission plans – that it has no effect on them? Should we think that the art community and community in general in Columbia is happy with the way things are going in the arts? Should we think that sending an e-mail out to media outlets 12 days before an event is all you have to do to notify the public – regardless of when they will post that info – if they even do? Should we think that 20 people is enough to represent the Columbia area?

There are 16 days before the next meeting in Bluffton, SC – more days in between the 1st and 2nd meetings than the initial notice to the folks in Columbia. The folks in Spartanburg, SC, the location of the last meeting will get 51 days notice and the benefit of all the hub bub (they’ll like that reference) about the previous meetings.

Was this process fair to the folks in Columbia? I don’t think so.

When you look at the schedule of the meetings you see that most are less than a week apart – except for the first meeting – 16 days apart from the second. Was the Arts Commission in a rush to get the Columbia meeting over for some reason?

Here’s the schedule again:
Monday, Feb. 22 – Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia
Thursday, March 11 – Technical College of the Lowcountry, Beaufort area (Bluffton, SC)
Tuesday, March 16 – Governor’s School for the Arts, Greenville
Monday, March 22 – Black Creek Arts Center, Hartsville
Thursday, March 25 – Aiken Center for the Arts, Aiken
Monday, March 29 – North Charleston City Hall, North Charleston
Thursday, April 8 – Chapman Cultural Center, Spartanburg
For more information about exact locations visit this link (

What’s the hurry? This is a plan for the next ten years. Let’s don’t rush through this process – leaving most of the people behind – only to hear about the process – after the fact.

I don’t know about the folks in Columbia, but I would be asking for a do-over if I was from there. Sure, they can go to any of the other meetings – all are welcome, but that puts the burden back on the public.

OK – let’s look at the darker side of things. Maybe 20 people is all that would show up anyway – even after a do-over. Maybe even less would show up a second time. Maybe less people are going to show up at the other meetings. Perhaps at the end of the process a total of 150 people show up for these meetings. What then?

The reality is, the SC Arts Commission will say that the people have spoken and they will write up their plan – based on what they heard? based on what they thought they heard? based on what they wanted to hear? based on what they wanted to do all along. What’s the difference?

What I hoped and hope people will do is show up to these events and tell them they have the whole process wrong. This is no way to plan for the future – not this fast and not without proper notice to the public.

Think about how much publicity – over a billion dollars worth – is being spent to let people know the US Census is coming. We’ll be so sick of hearing about it before it’s over – but it is so important to each state, yet a lot of people ignore it and many hide from it. In some ways you just can’t win when it comes to the public’s input, but you can make a better effort for people to know about it and see why it counts.

This is what Ken May, the acting executive director of the SC Arts Commission had to say in that article offered in The State the day before the meeting in Columbia. “While the economy has certainly presented challenges, the arts in South Carolina are still strong, and they still have a lot of community support,” May said. “The need for creative expression and aesthetic experience is a basic part of human behavior.”

In the article it also offered, “He pointed to a 2009 poll by the USC Institute for Public Service and Policy Research showing that 67 percent of S.C. adults participated in the arts in some way during the past year. The poll revealed that, on average, South Carolina residents participate in the arts 14 times a year.”

So, if participation is so high in South Carolina – why did only 20 people show up for the Arts Commission’s important planning meeting? Just twice as many people as staff members there.

I don’t believe or put much stock in such polls about the arts, but every time they have to stand next to reality – they look more fantasy and fiction – than research. They always say what the arts groups asking for the poll want. I hope the folks at USC were not counting football games as an art event.

So what percentage do you think 20 people is to the greater Columbia area art community? Not much.

Of course the explanation for such a low turnout might be that this is not the first Canvas of the People the art community in SC has been through and showing up didn’t seem to matter much to those who have participated before. The results of the process just didn’t justify a second or third trip to participate. It could be the old fool me once – fool me twice effect. And, it’s the same people doing the fooling too.

We need better ideas, better leadership, and a different group of folks calling the shots in South Carolina. But there doesn’t seem to be much chance of getting them any time soon.

P.S. – If you want to read what Jeffrey Day had to say about the Canvas event in Columbia, you better do it fast. He has announced his last posting on Carolina Culture as of Feb. 28. His comments about the Canvas process can be found in his Feb. 23 posting. His dealings with Carolina Culture may be finished, but I’m sure it’s not the last we’ve heard from Day.

More Good Words Towards the SC Arts Commission(ers)

Friday, January 29th, 2010

No one should doubt my dislike for the actions of the SC Arts Commission – the SC State Arts Agency. As far as the folks who work there, I don’t harbor any dislike – except for a few individuals who have earned that distinction, but of late I find myself taking a new look at the Commissioners who are supposed to direct the agency – their current leader – Charles T. “Bud” Ferillo, Jr., especially.

If I’m not mistaken, and I’m not saying that’s not possible, it’s been some time since the leader of the Commissioners was someone who actually worked in the arts, was an active business person, and also had experience working in politics. So many of these Commissioners have had questionable ties to the SC art community to be thought of as true leaders or representatives of any part of the arts much less the whole state.

I’m talking about people whose claim to fame is having sat on the board(s) of arts organization or non-profits. People who are the spouse of an important business person, university president or politician. Or in one case, someone from Hollywood who just happened to be married to someone in SC for a period of time. Most of them are just rubber stamps to the staff’s directions.

But Ferillo could be the real deal.

I’ve been reading about Ferillo in local newspapers. He was just awarded the Harvey Gantt Triumph Award during Martin Luther King Jr. Day festivities in Charleston, SC, for the documentary film Ferillo produced called, Corridor of Shame, which highlighted the poor conditions of SC’s public schools located along the I-95 corridor. By the way, Ferillo was the 25th recipient of the award and the first white person to receive this award since its inception in 1983. He’s now working on a second documentary film titled, State of Denial.

You all know who Harvey Gantt is – right? He’s a Charleston native who was the first black student at Clemson University, former Mayor of Charlotte, NC, and he’s the person the new Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts & Culture in Charlotte is named after.

Ferillo also runs a publicity business – which I hope will help the SC Arts Commission in dealing with publicity and the media as well as the general public, much less some parts of the art community they seem to not notice.

Ferillo also served as deputy lieutenant governor and chief of staff to the speaker of the SC House – so he knows politics.

And, in a previous posting I told you of the quick response I got from Ferillo (during the holidays) when I e-mailed him about not getting press releases from the SC Arts Commission. Getting a response from a Commissioner hasn’t happened since Carl R. Blair was head of the Commissioners – a long time ago – at least its seems like a long time ago. Since Ferillo looked into this matter I’ve received two press release from the Arts Commission.

I’m not saying I’m an instant fan of Charles T. “Bud” Ferillo, Jr., but he’s got my attention and respect. His leadership is still new and there are lots of things to improve at the SC Arts Commission, during these challenging times, but so far I’m glad he’s at the top – for all that’s worth.

My biggest concern is that he might be too busy to make the impact needed at the Arts Commission, but I can hope.

We can still do that can’t we?

End Of The Year 2009 – Looking Back & Forwards

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Here’s the start of last year’s comments about how bad a year 2008 turned out to be.

End Of The Year – Looking Back & Forwards
Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Well it’s happened again – one year is ending and another will soon begin. Frankly, I’m ready for 2008 to be good and gone and 2009 to begin – hopefully bringing a new era in the visual art community of the Carolinas.

Looking back it has been a rough year – $4 a gallon gas, the stock market tumble, the collapse of the financial market, recession finally acknowledged, a long drawn-out election, and dwindling advertising support for Carolina Arts. It was the trickle down theory in reverse. And, although gas prices have tumbled and may continue to lower – it is but one bright spot in a bad year – other than Carolina Arts Unleashed.

You can see the entire posting at this link.

Man, except for the $4 gas and the election – there wasn’t a lot of progress made last year – in fact – it even got worse. That can’t happen again this year – can it? I hope not!

If you go back and read all of my Looking Forward, you’ll find that I had hoped to be adding Podcasts to the website about the visual art community – that didn’t happen. I guess I’m lucky I’m writing about this year – as if we survived and I guess we did. (We – meaning the collective Carolina Arts family.)

So looking ahead to next year, 2010, I think we’ll still be in survival mode, so I won’t even bother to mention any hopes of what new we might be adding (except for more advertising) – some people might be keeping score.

But I guess survival isn’t so bad, as so many didn’t make it over the last year and a half. A lot of commercial galleries have closed and some are just waiting for leases to end – if they can do that. Many just disappear between the time I dropped off papers one month and the time I returned the following month. There’s no note left on the door – just an empty space where there once was an art gallery. I guess people should remember that image when thinking of the glamor of owning an art gallery. It’s a hard business even in good economic years.

For one thing – I hope more people – individual artists, commercial art galleries, non-profit art galleries, art museums, arts councils, artist’s guilds or anyone buys more advertising in 2010 and I hate to add this point, but it is relevant – I hope those who buy ads – pay for them. It’s a big problem we’ve been having.

And now that I’ve mentioned advertising – we’re going to be adding display advertising to our website – inactive and active – meaning some will just be a picture ad and some will be a picture ad that can be clicked to be taken to another place. That could be to images of more artworks, a website, a blog, or an article about an event.

We need to open our fairly large (all things are relative) online audience up to advertising opportunities. A lot of folks are wondering why we haven’t already done that long ago – beyond ads from Google, but you have to remember – we’re preparing a printed newspaper every month besides our online offerings and there are only two of us.

So here’s hoping we all have a better, much better 2010.

Happy Holidays to All

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

I say Happy Holidays – not to be politically correct, but because although we will be celebrating Christmas and New Years, many others will be celebrating other holidays.


Linda and I hope you and yours will be having a good one. We’ll get back to the art world after a few days – after all, I have our Jan. 2010 issue ofCarolina Arts to deliver.

Here’s hoping Santa brings us all something good and if you get what you wished for – I hope you’re happy with that. I guess that’s why they say to be careful what you wish for.

Friends of the Charleston County Public Library Present THAT Big Book Sale in Charleston, SC – Oct. 8-11, 2009

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

I love libraries and I need my Charleston County Library. Without it’s selections of books on CD and tape I couldn’t get through my monthly deliveries of Carolina Arts. They’re good for a lot of other stuff too, but I’m keeping this short so more will read it.

Great bargains, good books and family fun are part of the Friends of the Charleston County Library’s ‘THAT Big Book Sale’ set for Oct. 8 – 11, 2009, at the Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, 77 Calhoun Street, in downtown Charleston, SC.

More than 60,000 “gently used” books, CDs, DVDs, cassettes, videotapes and rare collectibles will be on sale during the 27th annual THAT Big Book Sale. With prices starting at just $1, the event is expected to draw nearly 10,000 book lovers from throughout the area.

The Friends of the Charleston County Public Library, a non-profit volunteer organization, raises money through book sales to help fund Library services, equipment, training, materials and public programming. The Friends collect and sort donated books for resale to raise money.

Prices starting at $1 for paperbacks and $3 for hardbacks. Items include mysteries, romances, classics, children’s books, local histories, biographies, cookbooks, travel books and collectibles about art, pets, travel, religion, philosophy and just about any topic imaginable. Items will be restocked throughout the weekend.

Thursday night, on Oct. 8, 2009, from 5:30 – 8pm, a Celebrating Friends preview event will be held for Friends members with hors d’oeuvres, wine and music by Shrimp City Slim. Non-members are encouraged to attend and join at the door. The Friends are asking patrons to BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag to conserve resources. All books were donated and have been sorted and selected for good quality. Member admission price is $15. Non-members can join at the door and attend for $35. For the Celebrating Friends event, please RSVP by Oct. 1st to 843/805-6882.

The event continues on Friday, Oct. 9 and Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009, from 9am – 7pm and Sunday, Oct 11, 2009, from 10am – 3pm with items at half price. Admission is free Friday through Sunday.

For more information on THAT Big Book Sale, please visit ( or get daily updates on Facebook: ( or Twitter: (

Hurricane Hugo the Art Critic

Monday, September 21st, 2009

It was 20 years ago today – no this is not the opening to The Beatles song,Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but it was 20 years ago today that Hurricane Hugo struck just north of Charleston, SC, in the middle of the night and then proceeded to rip a path through South Carolina – all the way up through Charlotte, NC, at 100mph. Pictures from space showed the size of Hugo covered the entire state of SC – it was a big mother.


The joke back then was that weather forecasters used to say that when a hurricane hits the mainland its strength tends to fizzle out – not this time. We live in Bonneau, SC, in Berkeley County – about 45 minutes northwest of Charleston – at least 30 feet above sea level – so we had no worries about storm surge that far inland. The only problem was Hurricane Hugo didn’t know about that fizzling out thing. But, we still had an office in downtown Charleston on East Bay Street, a half a block from Charleston harbor – so we had big worries about our office space. We were still running IF Labs, a custom black and white photo processing business and were two years into our new business – Charleston Arts, a newspaper about the arts community in Charleston. That’s right, back then we covered all the arts.


Linda and I had been through some close-call hurricanes when we lived in downtown Charleston. She was from Myrtle Beach, SC, and had been in hurricanes all her life – I was a transplanted Yankee from Michigan and from what I saw of them – they were kinda cool – Mother Nature’s fury and all that. Of course we were renters back then. We used to go down to the Battery in Charleston and watch the waves crash against the wall – during those close-call hurricanes. Hurricane Hugo was directed right at us, a more powerful storm, we now were home owners, had a two-year old son, and with an office almost on the harbor – this was different – not so cool.

We did all the things you are suppose to do in preparation for a hurricane and then waited. We didn’t think about evacuation back then – remember we were 30 ft. above sea level, 45 minutes inland and the fizzle factor, but we learned a lesson that night.

Long nightmare short. During the middle of the storm a very large pine tree in our backyard decided it might be safer to come inside the house – entering through the roof, we ended up huddled in a hallway with a mattress over our heads singing children’s songs to drown out the noise until we all fell asleep. The next morning we could not recognize our neighborhood – couldn’t even find the road in front of our house. Life as we knew it a few days before would be over for years.

You don’t want to hear about dealing with insurance companies, FEMA, and waiting in lines for everything – it’s not a pretty story.

Our office in Charleston? It took a week or so before we could even get into Charleston to check it our, but amazingly enough we learned where we were located in Charleston was one of the highest points in the city. The historic building had walls that were nearly two feet thick and we just suffered a little bit of leaking around a couple of windows – no real damage – except there was no business for our businesses.

Our Oct. 89 issue of Charleston Arts was at our printer – they lost the roof of their building and that copy of the paper. We ended up doing a few 8 1/2″ x 11″ pages, copied at Kinkos, of info about the storm and its impact on the art community which was shut down for almost a year. Our headline was – Hurricane Hugo the Art Critic.

The final word is – we survived, recovered and learned some lessons about insurance, good neighbors, FEMA, and hurricanes that fizzle when they hit mainland. The next hurricane with Charleston’s name on it – we went as far as Alabama to get out of its way. And, a Thank You! shout out to the workers who drove up from Jacksonville, FL, from Florida Power and Light who came and restored power to our community in a few weeks instead of the months it would have taken our local power company to put things back together – and an upgrade on equipment too. They worked long hard hours to give us power.

Hurricane Hugo was no Hurricane Katrina, but when it comes to hurricanes – there are no good ones. I’m glad we have had none come our way this year – knock on wood till November. An experience like that should be good for a hundred years.

Charleston County Public Library One of Top US Libraries

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

I love libraries. They have been a useful resource for so many things in my life and work. I don’t know what I’d do without them. The library provides books on CD for my long delivery travels, research info when working on my commentaries and instructional help from technical books – covering all sorts of subjects. Throw in the collections of music, DVD’s, national magazines & newspapers and monthly art exhibits – what more could you ask for – except more funding for the libraries. The library even has free parking too.

Although I’m a card carrier for both Berkeley and Charleston County most of the time I tend to bypass the libraries in Berkeley County to visit Charleston County libraries – they just have more and better selections. My favorite is the Main Branch library in downtown Charleston. It was nice to learn that this library system had just been recognized for its excellence.

Library Journal, the oldest and most respected publication in the field, named the Charleston County Public Library (CCPL) a “star” library, putting it in the top 3 percent of library systems (7,115 libraries included) throughout the country. This first-ever service comparison clusters libraries with similar operating budgets, then rates the libraries in four main categories: number of visitors, circulation, program attendance and public Internet computer use.

“We’re a community resource, not a vault with books that are kept under lock and key. From computer training and entertainment events to homework help and finding the most recent book or DVD, libraries provide residents with essential services and information,” said Cynthia Bledsoe, Acting Director. “Library Journal’s star rating is a reflection of how Charleston County residents have embraced the library and understand its importance as a vital cornerstone in the community. We’re proud of our rating and of the support from our community.”

A 2007 study by the SC State Library found that CCPL was the busiest public library system in South Carolina, ranking first in circulation, patron visits, programs offered, program attendance, reference transactions, public Internet computers and number of branches. The same study showed that Charleston County’s available operating revenues ranked third, behind the library systems in both Richland and Greenville counties.

I like my local library, but I enjoy other libraries too. I’ve spent a lot of time in the SC State Library in Columbia, SC, as well as the Richland County Public Library in downtown Columbia. In fact, the Richland County Public Library was named 2001 Library of the Year – best in the country byLibrary Journal. So we have some pretty good libraries in SC.

I used to like the Greenville library too, but some years back they said we couldn’t leave our paper, Carolina Arts, there anymore. The problem wasn’t us, it was some other publications they had problems with and the only solution they could come up with was to ban all alternative newspapers. I’ve had no problem like that with any other library – except in Asheville, NC. They really didn’t have any good reason for keeping us from their readers. But, that’s Asheville for you – always different. Sometimes not in a good way.

And, the good news, bad news is, with the downturn in the economy – people are using libraries now more than ever, but funding is probably being cut like all government services. We should let our leaders know that we understand the need for cutting back, but we don’t want to see the libraries’ budgets cut – they should be increased due to the increases in use. Makes sense, doesn’t it?