Posts Tagged ‘Columbus Public Library’

Thursday Special at Friends Bookstore: The Kingdom by Clive Cussler and Grant Blackwood

August 11, 2011

  When I start my Friends of Libraries Bookstore shift this afternoon at 2, I’m bringing my  copy of  Clive Cussler and Grant Blackwood’s  latest thriller The Kingdom.  This copy is almost new since it has been read one time… by me.  Yours for $5. Come and get it. First come, first served.


Join Me at the Library

April 18, 2011

It’s Monday so that means I need to come up with something to post because I’ve promised to try to have a new post on Monday – well, Sunday night sometimes.  I have a few things in my blog oven, but the only one ready to serve is an invitation for you to come to the Friends Book Store at the Columbus Public Library.  I work in the store every Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m., and the time passes quicker when I stay busy ringing up sales so I thought maybe you might like to come by and buy a book.

 I hope to be there this Thursday, but I have to be honest with you. I fell again.  Two weeks ago I fell and hit my head on a sidewalk, but that didn’t interfere with my Thursday volunteer job. However, this time I stumbled on a step in the Bill Heard Theater,fell forward, and rolled on my side when I hit the carpeted floor, causing me to land on my left leg. I don’t think I broke anything, but there is pain so I’ll have to wait to see what the doctor says after the x-rays.

  If I am there Thursday, I will bring an interesting novel I just finished called American Rust by Phillip Meyer. It’s a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and a Washington Post Top Ten Book of the Year. I paid about $15 for it at Barnes and Nobel. It’ll go for $4 at the book store.  First come, first serve.  Do I recommend it? I do, but I have to warn you that it’s not all sweetness and light.  The goings on in an economically devastated Pennsylvania steel town can get rough. 

  I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you,  but people who work in the bookstore are among its best customers.  I just bought David Baldacci’s The Collectors.  I am a Baldacci fan.  It’s not Hemingway or Steinbeck, but a good action packed and mysterious ride. This one, a hardback,  sold for $26.99 new. I picked it up for $3.

Maybe I’ll see you Thursday, if my injuries allow it, and if you come. If I’m not there, they’ll sell you a book, anyway.  I hope I will be there. I enjoy meeting the interesting folks that come in to buy books, and I like the idea of helping raise money for the library. I think public libraries are extremely important in a democratic republic. It’s a lot harder to fool people who do a lot of reading and fooling people is what a lot of politicians really care about. Unfortunately, they often succeed.  But, an informed public makes it harder to do.   

Gay Talese is Not Thrilled with Internet and Tape Recorder Journalism

January 25, 2010


Gay Talese, the man who gave rise to “New Journalism” when he wrote his most famous article for Esquire, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” has a low opinion of the quality of magazine writing today. The only exception to that judgement is the New Yorker, whose writers do it the old-fashioned way: face to face contact with the source. Speaking to an audience at the Columbus Public Library today, he said magazines are all celebrity oriented.l They want to put a celebrity picture on the magazine cover. The story inside might be written by a writer who maybe spent ten minutes with the celebrity, tape recording an interview. He said you can’t really get a meaningful interview that way.

He and his wife Nan chatted a little about their marriage and careers – they have been married for 50 years – and then took questions from the audience. The first question was about his opinion about the blogosphere and the Internet.

Gay Talese

“I don’t know anything about the blogosphere. I don’t use it,” he said. He went on to say that he believed in face to face conversations with sources, not contact with sources via the Internet, or using Google or anything like that. He believes in personal contact. He doesn’t even like or use tape recorders. For one thing, he says they inhibit sources. The person you are interviewing figures he or she has to get it right the first time. “They usually don’t.” When the person being interviewed is more relaxed and becomes comfortable with the interviewer, they come back to a question and give a more thoughtful answer.

When I pointed out that his most famous article, the one that gave rise to the term “new journalism,” the one he wrote for Esquire Magazine about Frank Sinatra, was one without a face-to-face interview, he admitted that was the case. Esquire had paid his expenses to go to Los Angeles to interview Sinatra, but when he got there, “His press agent said Sinatra could not do the interview because he had a cold.” Finally, the press agent told Talese that Sinatra was upset because he had heard that Walter Cronkite was working on a program for CBS on Sinatra’s connections with the Mafia.

Gay Talese

Instead of giving up, Talese stayed on in Los Angeles and interviewed people who knew Sinatra, people who worked with him in movies and recording sessions. “Hundreds of people had worked with Sinatra over the years.” He believes that he probably got a truer picture of Sinatra than if he had actually interviewed him. But, he said, “I was in Los Angeles. I interviewed those people. I made contact with them.”

The “New Journalism” he is credited with starting with that article refers to the technique that he used in writing it. He dropped the old newspaper style of reporting and wrote it in the same way that you would write a novel. It was all true – his stint as a reporter for the New York Times had imbued him with the importance of accuracy – but, the style was novelistic. It worked big time. Esquire ran it as its cover story.

Talese was not happy with what the “New Journalism” became. His complaint is the same complaint he has with bloggers, the lack of accuracy. Too many writers now, he said, sacrifice accuracy. After their appearance in the library’s auditorium, I went up to him, introduced myself, shook hands, and told him I enjoyed their performance – that wasn’t smoke because I definitely did – and handed him a blog business card, telling him that I had a blog and was going to write about their talk. He took the card and thanked me.

Nan Talese

Nan Talese, who is now Senior Vice President at Doubleday, was asked about some of the authors she has edited for the New York publishing firms where she has worked. It was an impressive list, people like James Michener, Pat Conroy and Rosalynn Carter.

She went to Plains to work with Rosalyn on her autobiography First Lady from Plains. She got to know Mrs. Carter well because they spent a lot of time together. She would have dinner with Rosalynn and President Carter. After dinner they would all watch the evening news on television. She said that was an interesting experience, citing one evening when President Carter became irritated with a report about an English public figure and shouted “jackass, jackass” at the TV.

Mrs. Talese said sometimes Jimmy would try to give Rosalynn some advice about how a passage should be written, which irritated Rosalynn, who finally told him, “Jimmy, you wrote your book, now let me write mine.” She said that the two could be competitive and that when Rosalyn’s book hit the number one slot on the New York Times list of best sellers Jimmy was perplexed because none of his books had done that. She added that they were a great couple and she enjoyed being with them.

Fans in line to get Talese books autographed, Columbus Public Library, Columbus, Georgia

I have never read any of Gay Talese’s books, but that is about to change. After today’s delightful presentation by the two of them, he went out into the library’s rotunda for a book signing. I bought A Writer’s Life, which he wrote in 2006, and the best seller about the Mafia, Honor Thy Father, which he wrote in 1971. I got him to autograph both books.

He was born and raised in New Jersey, but when he graduated from high school, he couldn’t get into any universities there or in neighboring states. He was accepted by the University of Alabama, where he majored in journalism. In “A Writer’s Life”, he reports that his journalism instructors weren’t thrilled when he strayed from the newspaper “who, what, where, when, why, and how” inverted-pyramid writing style. But, look what straying from that style did for him when he wrote the Sinatra story in 1966. It played a large role in his publishing success, and revolutionized journalistic style.

Leaders Come Together for the Good of the Community in the Library Green Space Controversy

January 20, 2010

Finally, tf appears that the ugly asphalt from the old Columbus Square parking lot is going tobe removed, and green space will take its place.  At a joint news conference at the new Muscogee County School District Public Education Center building, representatives for the school board, the library board, and the City of Columbus announced a Memorandum of Understanding on the issue.

The understanding is that the city will supply $1,050,412.46 of the 1999 SPLOST Projects to the School Board to remove the asphalt and “for seeding and landscaping said property to the extent that the funds will allow.”

We got a lesson in what can be done when two leaders get together to resolve a controversial issue.  Those two leaders are Mayor Jim Wetherington and School€ Board Chair P$hilip Schley.   Their coming together means the library site is going to be enhanced by a beautiful park instead of a stark old parking lot.  

A Memorandum of Understanding was issued today that allows the City to give $1,050,412.46 to the MCSD to  get the job done.  There were also some land swapping deals between the school system and the city. You can get the details about all of that in the paper and on TV newscasts.  

Attorney Frank Myers, who the mayor gave credit to for helping to bring the two sides together, said that the thing that really got things moving was when the late David Rothschild called Mayor  Wetherington four days before he died and asked him to get the issue resolved.  After that the mayor and  School Board Chair Philip Schley came together.  The city and the school board had been battling over who owned the 1999 SPLOST money that would be used for the park project.  Once they agreed that the public owns it, they decided it should be used to remove the asphalt and build the park. It won’t be called a park, though. State law doesn’t allow a library to operate a park, I was told. I guess it’ll just be library grounds. 

Of course, Columbus Council and the School Board each must approve the memorandum, but it appears they will;  however, you can’t be sure of that.  And this can mean the lawsuit filed by a group that included Rothschild, whom Myers said was totally dedicated to the good of the community, will be dropped.  Josh McKoon, lawyer for the group,  said of the seven plaintiffs in the suit, only one remains to be convinced it should be dropped. McKoon said he hopes it will be dropped and believes it will.

So now it looks as though the asphalt will be removed and replaced by a beautiful green area. That’s what I’ve wanted all along.

Construction Delay Almost Doubles the Cost of the Mildred Terry Library

May 17, 2009


New Mildred Terry Library,  Veteran's Parkway, Columbus, Georgia

Delaying construction of the new Mildred Terry Library, which opens on June 2nd,  was quite costly, something that voters may think about when it comes time to vote on the new Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for the school system.   Dr. Philip Schley says the new SPLOST will avoid those costly delays for new projects by selling bonds this time.  Projects  listed in the 2003 SPLOST  took so long to complete  because  money could not be spent until taxes were collected.  There will be no need to wait this time since bond money can be spent all at one time.  The bonds will be paid off as taxes are collected. “Hopefully,” he says, “the interest paid will be less than the cost of delaying construction.”  That depends on the economy.  If there is inflation, money is saved by not delaying construction,  but if there is deflation,  waiting would save money.  As is said, timing is everything.

Mildred Terry, the downtown branch of the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries system, has a proud history – opening in 1953 as the Fourth Avenue Library,  it was the first public library for blacks in Columbus, because they were not allowed to use the Columbus Public Library – and every library friend that I know supports the new and improved facility, but it really didn’t have to cost $4.7 million dollars.  It could have been  built, some believe,  for the $ 2.5 million provided for in the SPLOST  had it been built in 2003, the year the SPLOST was approved,  and the Library Board would not have had to resort to using reserve funds to finish the project.

Ft. Benning soldiers, volunteers from the 39th AG,  move piano from old Mildred Terry Library to new Mildred Terry Library, Columbus, Georgia

Ft. Benning soldiers, volunteers from the 39th AG, move a piano from the old Mildred Terry Library to the new Mildred Terry Library, Columbus, Georgia

 Dr. Philip Schley, chairman of the Muscogee County School Board,  to which the library board must answer, explained that the Mildred Terry was “pretty far down the priority list.  Critical needs had to be met first.  While the new Mildred Terry Library is larger and nicer,  the old building served the public well so that need was not considered critical.”

Kelly Pridgen, chair of the library board,  said the situation really isn’t as bad as it sounds.  Yes,  the library board has to spend part of the library’s reserves to complete Mildred Terry, but, she added,  “That’s what reserves are for.”   And, yes, next year’s budget will be trimmed, with $100,000 budgeted for book purchases being cut, but that doesn’t mean books won’t be purchased.  Last year’s book budget will remain in place.  The $100,000 would have been an increase.  She says private funds will, hopefully, replinishthe reserve fund.

Friends of the Lbraries Book Store,  Columbus Public Library, Columbus, GA

Friends of the Lbraries Book Store, Columbus Public Library, Columbus, GA

 I am unabashedly a supporter of the library system.  I’m on the Friends of the Libraries board, and I work in the book store at the Columbus Public Library.  I am a friend of the library because the library is my friend.  A library card makes a world of information, entertainment, and art available for everyone, and it’s all free. As Claudya Muller,  executive director of the Chattahoochee Valley Regional Libraries, says, “The library empowers people to achieve their goals in life,  and it is for everyone.  A library will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no library.” 
Because of the recession, the library is getting a lot more use.  And since we are on the subject of economics,  the quality of a public library is one of the first things that industries seeking to locate in a community check out. Thanks to community leaders who know the value of a library, we have one of the best in the state.


For the First Time, the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries System is Remembered in a Will, and AKA Pitches in to Help Terry Branch Construction

November 15, 2008

  For the first time, the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries system has received money left in a will. Mrs. Lorette Rosenstrach left $5,000 to the library system foundation. She wanted to leave the money to the libraries because she said they do so much for the communities they serve. Claudya Muller, director of CVL, said it was encouraging that Mrs. Rosenstrach did that, and she hopes others will remember the libraries in their wills.

   She also got another $5 thousand donation, this one following her talk to the Alpha Kappa Alpha, an African American sorority.  It goes toward building the new Mildred Terry Branch in downtown Columbus.  Muller says that now makes the shortfall $1.75 million.  It was $1.8 million.  The money alloted by the school board to build the branch three years ago isn’t enough to build it now that construction costs have greatly increased. AKA says it will work toward raising more money for the branch. Perhaps others will pitch and help, otherwise the money is coming out of the system’s operating fund reserves.  With the economy headed downward, those operating funds may be needed to prevent cutting services when they are needed most. The state has already cut its contribution to the system by more than six percent.

Public Libraries and Hard Times

November 12, 2008


Columbus Public Library, Columbus, Georgis

Columbus Public Library, Columbus, Georgia

   Just about every business is affected by a recession, including bookstores. This affects libraries since people turn to them for free books and entertainment. It doesn’t cost anything to check out a book, VCR tape, audio cassette, movie DVD, or music CD, or use a computer at the library. And there are free events there: things like movies, lectures, book signings. That’s why, instead of cutting back on services, which is on the horizon, including Chattahoochee Valley Libraries libraries, they need to be expanded.   

    And if you love to collect books, you can buy them at the Muscogee County Friends of Libraries Store.  Prices run from 50 cents for paperbacks, to a dollar for recent hardback releases, to up to five dollars for hardbacks copyrighted this year.  All of the proceeds go to the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries.

  There is one way that we can help during this unfortunate situation. We can volunteer our time.  Libraries use a lot of volunteers.

 The Firends of Libraries Store at the Columbus Public Library needs more of them.  Being a member of Friends, I work in the store about four hours a month. I plan to more than double that.  In keeping with my full disclosure policy, I’ll tell you that I’m also on the Muscogee County Friends of Libraries Board of Directors.  

  Yes, I am biased when it comes to supporting public libraries. They are essential to the intellectual well being of any community.

How Christopher Columbus Affected the Chattahoochee Valley

October 15, 2008

  Columbus Day has come and gone, but the subject lives on. 

  Columbus State University is tackling it with a series of programs on what Christopher Columbus wrought and how it affects us right here in the Chattahoochee Valley. 

  Retired Ledger-Enquirer editorial page editor and noted Columbus historian Bill Winn is very much involved in the subject,  writing books and conducting lectures on how the white man moved into the Chattahoochee Valley and moved the Creek Nation out.

Billy Winn - journalist, author, historian

Billy Winn - journalist, author, historian

  He delivered a lecture on the subject at the Columbus Library last night as a part of CSU’s “When Cultures Collide: Dialogues with Native American History and Culture.”

Columbus Public Library Auditorium

Columbus Public Library Auditorium

  He told us all about how the Creeks were defrauded of their property and forced out of the area. He also told us that a lot of people have the wrong ideas about Native Americans. They all didn’t live tee-pees, for instance. They had a nation with some 56 towns up and down the Chattahoochee River. There was even a capital.

  He didn’t deal with the subject of Christopher Columbus, for whom our town, Columbus, Georgia, is named. But, it will be delt with next Tuesday, October 21, 2008, when Gary Whitedeer will address the question, “Should We Celebrate Columbus Day?” That will be held at 12:30 pm at the CSU CLock Tower.

  As I said in the previous post to this, Columbus was not a nice guy, being responsible for killing and enslaving a lot of Native Americans.  Maybe we shouldn’t celebrate Columbus Day.

Friends Can Really Make a Big Difference

September 24, 2008
Freinds of Libraries Annual Meeting, Columbus Public Library

Freinds of Libraries Annual Meeting, Columbus Public Library

   It’s always good to get together with Friends. Yes, the capital “f” was intentional, because I am talking about the Friends of Libraries. The non-profit Chattahoochee Valley Library System support group held its annual meeting last night at the the impressive new Columbus Library that it had a big hand in getting built.

  Last fiscal year (July 1, 2007 – June 30, 2008) Friends gave more than $50 thousand to the library system. The money was raised by donations, membership dues, and Library Store profits. The library store was the second largest contributor, raising more than $40 thousand by selling used books.

  I am one of the store’s volunteers, selling books every other Tuesday afternoon. It’s an enjoyable experience that doesn’t require me to think very much – well, once I finally learned how to operate the cash register.  It’s enjoyable because I get to meet a lot of book lovers of all types of friendly people. Maybe they are friendly because they like being in a book store, especially one that offers some almost new best sellers that can be bought for five dollars or less. A lot of the books are a dollar, and paperbacks go for half-a-dollar.  People also buy a lot of DVD’s and CD’s for fire sale prices.

  This tradition of support is a direct result of the work of Doris Halouska, who, as a president of the Columbus League of Women Voters, did a study back in 1988 and learned that Columbus was the only city of comparable size in Georgia that did not have a Friends group. She started lobbying to correct that situation, eventually making the case before the Library Board and the Muscogee County School Board. She said it was an easy sale, that Superintendent Braxton Nail signed on to the idea, but it did take a while for Freinds to become a reality, 1995, to be exact.

Doris Halouska, Friends Annual Meeting, Columbus Public Library

Doris Halouska, Friends Annual Meeting, Columbus Public Library

  Since then Freinds has been a motivating force in getting branch libraries built, switching from the old card catalogue system to computerization, and getting the beautiful new library built on Macon Road.  Our libraries are bright, warm, user-friendly places now, and they are definitely being used. Since Friends went into action the number of people using the libraries and checking out materials has increase exponentially.

  Just think of the wealth of information that libraries provide. The shelves are stacked with ideas that are available for free to anyone who seeks knowledge. But, it is more than that. It is a gathering place for lovers of literature, music and drama. You can even go see free movies at the Columbus Library.  

  A city’s public library is a barometer of a communty’s intellectual values, and its commitment to offering a decent lifestyle and opportunity for learning to all of its citizens. Columbus can be thankful for all who support it, including Friends.

  Full disclosure: I am now a member of the Friends of Libraries Board of Directors, elected last night, so I could be biased in my reporting on the subject. But, frankly I was biased toward supporting the library long before I ever joined Friends.

  By the way, I would like to encourage you to join. We have 229 members now and we can use a lot more. It’s quite reasonable, only $10 bucks a year. Come to the Library Book Store and pick up a membership form. We’d love to have you. And, if the buy something while you are there. well, that would be good, too.

A Little Help from the Library’s Friends

September 6, 2008

  The Chattahoochee Valley Library System gets a lot of help from its Friends, all 203 of them. For instance, The Muscogee County Friends of the Libraries today sponsored a luncehon honoring the 350 volunteers who serve the libraries.

Columbus Public Library Volunteer Celebration Luncheon

Columbus Public Library Volunteer Celebration Luncheon

  Those attending the luncheon were given certificates of appreciation, and learned that the 2008 Volunteer of the Year was a tie. The award went to the husband and wife team Frank and Donna Doyle who put in a lot of time helping the Genealogy Departmnet. They’ll  get their certificate when the come back from vacationing in Alaska.

Columbus Public Library Volunteer Celebration Luncheon

Columbus Public Library Volunteer Celebration LuncheonColumbus Public Library Volunteer Celebration Luncheon

  Meanwhile, some more friends of the library, Bettye and Cecil Cheves, presented a statue to the Children’s Department, in honor of their mother and mother-in-law Olivia D. Amos, who was the wife of the late Aflac executive Bill Amos. Aflac sponsors the Children’s Department.

Susie Chisholm, Bettye Cheves, Cecil Cheves

Susie Chisholm, Bettye Cheves, Cecil Cheves

  Bettye Cheeves told the children attending the unveiling of the statue, which is titled “Quiet Time,” that her mother had always stressed to her when she was a little girl how important it is for all of us to have some quiet time every day.
Bettye Cheves

Bettye Cheves

  The statue was sculpted by Susie Chishom of Savannah. She told us that the young girl who posed for the statue didn’t like the way the sculptor had her sit in the chair, that she wasn’t comfortable that way. So, the sculptor decided the girl knew more about the way she sat so she let her pose that way for the statue.

"Quiet Time" by Susie Chisholm

  It was made clear to the children that it’s all right to touch the statue. In fact they were encouraged to rub the girl’s toe, saying it would, over time, make the toe turn golden and shine. No one said it should be touched for good luck.  Susie Chisholm asked me, “Are  you going to start that rumor?” Not me.