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2016 Librarian of the Year selected as Charleston County Public Library’s new executive director

Nicolle DaviesNicolle Davies, a nationally recognized library leader who was named Library Journal magazine’s 2016 Librarian of the Year, will be Charleston County Public Library’s new executive director, the library’s Board of Trustees announced. “Charleston is blessed to have a library leader of Nicolle’s stature to steer our system in the transformational years ahead of us,” said Andy Brack, chair of the library’s Board of Trustees. “A world-class city attracts world-class talent. With energy, drive and vision, Nicolle will help guide our professional staff through exciting changes with new buildings and programs that will truly make our libraries become lifelong learning centers." Davies will step down as director of the Arapahoe Library District, a system in the greater Denver area with eight branch libraries and a $30 million annual budget. She will start her new position in Charleston by October. "I am thrilled to have been chosen as the next executive director of the Charleston County Public Library,” Davies said. “It is an exciting time for public libraries, and I am happy to join a community that invests in their libraries. “During my interview, I was impressed with the warmth and passion that the staff and board have for this work,” she added. “My hope is to serve even more patrons and members of the community as our libraries change and expand." Library Journal, a national professional publication, praised Davies for improving library services to district residents. Specifically, the magazine recognized her efforts to make the library an essential community service and hub for residents by providing access to the latest, cutting-edge technologies and continually striving to ensure open communication with district residents and library staff. Davies was one of three finalists selected by the board and interviewed earlier this month after a national search by an executive recruitment firm that specializes in locating the best and brightest from the world of libraries. More than 100 applications were received for the position. The new director will lead the system’s continuing efforts to grow virtual services, overhaul technologies, create innovative content and build sustainable partnerships with businesses and community organizations. One key focus on the horizon for Davies will be the library’s voter-approved $108.5 million Building and Renovation Program, which includes constructing five new libraries (two new branches and three replacements), renovating 13 existing branches and relocating support staff out of the Main Library to free up space for public use. While in Colorado, she has supervised or worked on several multi-million projects to build new branches or renovate existing ones. The starting salary for the position will be $151,250. Davies, 40, started with the Arapahoe Library District in 2005 as director of communications and worked her up through several positions until being named executive director in 2012. Prior to that she worked in public relations and broadcast television. While at the district, Davies implemented new staffing models, received voter support in 2015 for a tax levy that increased the library's budget by 25 percent and worked to oversee the construction or renovation of several branch libraries. Currently, Davies is president of the Rotary Club of Centennial, Colo., and is active on several committees for the American Library Association, the Public Library Association and the Colorado Association for Libraries. She has a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Colorado. Via: Charleston County Public Library

Charleston County libraries seeking executive director

Application deadline: May 29

From the Charleston Post and Courier

Article by Prentiss Findlay

CCPLlogocroppedA nationwide search is underway for a new executive director of the Charleston County library system and there is no shortage of applicants.

The starting salary for the position is $115,973 to $151,250, according to the job posting.

Bradbury Associates/Gossage Sager Associates of Kansas City, Mo., will receive applications for the top library staff position through May 29. The firm will winnow the hopefuls to a handful of finalists who will be invited to Charleston for interviews.

“We hope this happens quickly. We would love to have somebody in place by the summertime,” said library board of trustees Chairwoman Janet Segal.

Executive Director Doug Henderson, 65, retired in December after some six years of service. Veteran library staffer Cynthia Bledsoe is the acting executive director until Henderson’s replacement is named. Previously, Henderson was executive director of the Loudoun County, Va., library system.

The draw of Charleston and the opportunity to oversee a $108 million voter-approved library expansion is resulting in no shortage of applicants, officials said.

“They said word was already getting out on the street and people were already calling,” said library spokeswoman Jamie Thomas.

The expansion includes constructing five libraries — two new buildings and three replacement facilities — as well as an administrative center and renovations at 13 existing locations.

“Anybody who comes in and gets this position is going to be in kind of a unique position. She or he is going to be able to ride this thing through to the end and be the hero. Much of the heavy lifting has already been done,” Segal said.

Henderson decided it was time to clear the way for a different director to come in and have their stamp on the new buildings, Thomas said.

“He (Henderson) had gotten us to the point of the referendum,” she said.

Bradbury Associates, which specializes in executive searches for libraries, surveyed local staff, community leaders and focus groups about the future of the library system and what is needed here, Thomas said.

The library system is also advertising for a project manager for its five-year construction and renovation effort. The hiring salary range is $56,056 to $63,107. The project manager will report to the executive director.

The library system has an annual budget of $16 million through a county appropriation and a full-time staff of 221. It has 16 locations that serve more than 389,000 residents.

Burke storytellers pour out feelings through words

From the Charleston Post and Courier

Article by Stephanie Hunt

[caption id="attachment_25587" align="alignright" width="275"]BurkestorytellingTraquanWinns Traquan Winns[/caption]

Who here thinks they’re a storyteller?”

Besides a squelched giggle or two, the 30 Burke High School juniors gathered for a storytelling workshop a few weeks ago stayed silent. No hands were raised; no eyes lit up.

That’s how veteran slam poet Kiran Singh Sirah, president of the International Story Telling Center in Jonesboro, Tenn., opened a three-hour session he led for the students. It’s an educational outreach component of the annual Charleston Tells festival that will be held next weekend.

“So who do you think storytelling is for?” Sirah followed up.

“Little kids,” students chimed together. “You know, like children’s storytime at the library,” another said.

But by the end of the workshop, these same students realized they each had stories worthy of telling, and gathered in a circle for an impromptu story slam, showcasing newly discovered techniques to make their personal experiences come alive.

Burke AP scholar Kevin Frayer, typically shy and prone to hiding his shining brown eyes beneath a Clemson hat, was tapped to emcee their cafe-style “slam,” just as he will emcee the storytelling performance nine of these Burke students will deliver during the festival on Saturday, March 12.

Sirah drew from his multicultural background — the child of Ugandan refugees growing up as a person of color in South England — and shared his own poems about what it’s like to be an outsider. The kids could relate.

“He was interesting, he took his time and opened up and let us inside his own experience about where he came from. I especially liked his poem about a chip on his shoulder,” said workshop participant Sydney Huger. “At first, I thought ‘I can’t do this,’ but he helped me bring back memories I didn’t know I had.”

“The way he put his words together helped us really imagine what he was talking about,” added Frayer, who admits at first he was nervous about sharing his own poem, and them emceeing the slam. “I liked his play on words. There was a lot of action, it wasn’t boring.”

An advisory member to UNESCO and a Rotary Peace Fellow who has addressed the United Nations Headquarters on the power of storytelling, Sirah’s passion and expertise is using stories to bridge divides, address injustice and build community.

Sirah has international experience using storytelling as a tool for peacemaking and conflict resolution, and “this year, especially in the wake of the Mother Emmanuel AME shootings, we wanted our annual storytelling festival to offer that to the community,” explained Cynthia Bledsoe, acting executive director of the Charleston County Public Libraries and director of the annual Charleston Tells storytelling festival sponsored by the library.

To honor her CCPL colleague, Cynthia Hurd, one of the victims in the shootings, Bledsoe secured grant funding from the South Carolina Arts Commission and Humanities Council SC to bring Sirah to Charleston for the first time and to Burke, where he worked with students to create stories or poems on the concept of “home.”

“Home is the one thing we all know, but what home means is different for everyone. It could be a physical place, or a memory, a smell, people. ... By providing a safe framework to explore all aspects of ‘home,’ we helped them bring their stories to the surface,” explained Sirah. “I believe every story is worthy. When sharing a story, one is making a mark and asking others to listen. It can be a healing process, a way to find connections and build community,” he added.

For soft-spoken Chanquaisha Drayton, it did just that. “The workshop helped me say exactly what I feel,” Drayton said. “It showed me I could just be me and let my thoughts flow onto the paper.”

And she’s excited, if a little timid, about taking the stage to share her story with the larger community at Charleston Tells. “People might understand our point of view and where we’re coming from better,” Drayton added. “I think people just see the news and think we’re all hoodlums and don’t want to go nowhere, but things may not seem how they are. I hope our stories can help people see a different perception of us.”

Image above: Elias Wendt and Sadayah Brown

Artist to paint library mural in memory of Cynthia Graham Hurd

[caption id="attachment_25414" align="alignright" width="300"]Dart Manager Kim Odom stands next to blank wall that will be transformed by mural Dart Manager Kim Odom stands next to blank
wall that will be transformed by mural[/caption] A world-renowned artist is painting a colorful, wall-sized mural of books on the side of the John L. Dart Branch Library to honor Cynthia Graham Hurd, a 31-year employee of Charleston County Public Library and one of nine victims shot last year at Emanuel AME Church. Artist and author R. ROBOTS will paint the bright geometric mural on the south side of the branch at 1067 King Street from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. from Tuesday, February 23 through Friday, February 26 (weather dependent). Residents in the area are encouraged to visit and watch him work, and kids can participate in a workshop with the artist from 3:30-5 p.m. on Thursday, February 25, to create their own mural-inspired artwork to be attached to book carts in the building. Hurd was branch manager at the Dart Branch for 21 years before serving as branch manager of the St. Andrews Regional Library. The mural is being partially funded by a donation from Winston & Strawn LLP to the Cynthia Graham Hurd Memorial Fund, which was established at Charleston County Public Library by the Graham-Hurd families to promote outreach and educational programming at the two libraries she managed during her career. The project is a collaboration between CCPL and Enough Pie, a nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging and inspiring residents in Charleston’s Upper Peninsula. The organization identified the talented muralist and street artist to be part of the project. CCPL Acting Executive Director Cynthia Bledsoe praised Enough Pie plus the many other donors and organizations committed to seeing that Hurd’s legacy continues. “Cynthia grew up and lived just blocks from the Dart Library, and she helped thousands of people during her years there. This bright, bold mural will be a daily reminder of Cynthia and all the lives she touched,” she said. Enough Pie Executive Director Cathryn Zommer said the Dart Library is a great community resource, and the organization is pleased to be able to help honor Hurd’s memory. “We believe this mural will bring more folks to the branch and honor Cynthia by illuminating the magic of books and storytelling on a main wall of the building.” About the artist: Nick Kuszyk, aka R. Robots, is known for his large public art projects throughout the world, including sites in Berlin, Prague, London, Tel Aviv and throughout the United States. His work also hangs in galleries, and Penguin Books published his children’s book, R Robot Saves Lunch, in 2003. Kuszyk graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in Painting and Sculpture and was awarded a Virginia Museum Fellowship. He currently lives in New York. Via: Charleston County Public Library

Charleston County Public Library hosts Kiran Singh Sirah for “Telling Stories That Matter”

International speaker offers ideas to help residents address issues of social justice, race relations Kiran Singh Sirah To explore the role of storytelling as a tool for conflict prevention, community development and social change, the Charleston County Public Library will host Kiran Singh Sirah for “Telling Stories that Matter: Cultivating Community through Story,” a public presentation at the Main Library, 68 Calhoun St., Charleston, S.C., at 6 p.m. on Feb. 5. Through examples of social justice, race relations and community cooperation, Sirah will explain how personal relations developed through storytelling can help residents better discuss and work through these difficult conversations. Sirah's visit to Charleston also will include a three-hour workshop with juniors and seniors at Burke High School during the afternoon of Feb. 5. The workshop will give students the opportunity to work under Sirah's direction to craft and tell their own stories that can be shared March 12 at the Charleston Tells Storytelling Festival. Whether to entertain, educate, heal, or resolve conflict, stories are the most fundamental way that people connect. The power of storytelling is unquestionable, and recognizing stories as creative expression helps to better understand the anxieties, dreams and aspirations that link humanity with community building. This program is part of a CCPL series that explores race, identity and civic engagement in response to recent tragic events in the Charleston area, most notably the mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in June 2015, which tragically took the lives of nine Charleston residents, including long-time CCPL staff member, Cynthia Graham Hurd. This series is intended to promote healing, dialogue and collaboration in Charleston. Program partners include the College of Charleston, The Women’s Resource Center, and the City of Charleston Housing Authority. Sirah is president of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tenn., a UNESCO advisory member, a Rotary Peace Fellow, storyteller and slam poet. A proven peace builder and advocate for the arts, Sirah has spoken about the power of story at the United Nations Headquarters, where he delivered the keynote address at Rotary International U.N. Day in 2012. As a Rotary Peace Fellow, he has worked with homeless populations, marginalized high school students, gang members and conflict-wracked communities from Northern Ireland, Colombia, Palestine and Israel. Through his international background and perspective, Sirah explains that sharing stories is “more than a human right, it’s an act of love that can change the world.” This presentation is funded by the International Storytelling Center, The Humanities CouncilSC, the South Carolina Arts Commission, the Charleston Friends of the Library, and Charleston Tells Storytelling Festival, a production of the Charleston County Public Library.  For more information, contact the Charleston County Public Library, (843) 805-6930.

HeARTS Mend Hearts joins with Charleston library to help residents heal through art

Hearts Mend HeartsThe creative art process has been used for hundreds of years to help people identify emotions, encourage communication and promote healing. Understanding this connection, a group of Charleston-area art therapists, educators, mental health professionals and artists joined together to create HEARTS MEND HEARTS in hopes of helping the Charleston community heal in the wake of the Emanuel AME Church tragedy. A new initiative, launched with Charleston County Public Library, is offering support to local residents faced with feelings of stress, dread or grief prompted by the church shootings. Starting Sunday, July 26, local residents can work with experienced artists and mental health professionals during art-based sessions offered three days a week at Charleston County’s Main Library, 68 Calhoun Street. The goal is to help individuals use art as a tool to tap into their creativity, express feelings and ultimately work toward healing – all while in a safe environment. Drop-in art sessions will be offered on Sundays from 2-4:30 p.m. and Tuesdays from 5-7:30 p.m., and more structured, art-related workshops will be offered on Thursdays from 5-7:30 p.m. All workshops continue through the end of September. There is no age limit and no art experience is needed. Art materials are being provided for the free sessions. Registration is not required. Professionals will lead attendees through the steps to create mandalas, which are considered “healing circles.” This internationally recognized method encourages individuals to tap into their creativity, identify personal emotions, reconcile conflicts and ultimately work toward healing HEARTS MEND HEARTS includes numerous art and mental health professionals, all volunteering their time. The organization was started by a small group that included Registered Art Therapist Dianne Tennyson Vincent, MAT, ATR; Psychiatrist Deborah Milling, MD; Psychoanalyst Sharon Martin, FNP, CNS, PhD; and Nationally Board Certified Art Educator Laura De LaMaza. For more information, contact the Charleston County Public Library, (843) 805-6930. Via: Charleston County Library  

Charleston voters approve library referendum by three-to-one margin

After nearly 30 years with no major improvements, voters on Tuesday overwhelming supported Charleston County Public Library’s plan to build five new libraries, renovate 13 others and complete major technology and building upgrades throughout the county. By nearly a three-to-one margin, 64,782 voters, or 74 percent, supported the library's building and renovation plan - a similar margin to the last time a library building referendum went before the public in 1986. The results were reported by Charleston County election official around 10 p.m. Tuesday night. "This truly is the beginning of a new era in Charleston County," said Library Board Chairman Janet Segal. "We spent nearly four years developing this plan and working hand-in-hand with residents to make sure it reflected what local residents want. In meetings, and even in independent surveys, county residents told us they love their libraries, and said they wanted more and better library services. Today, they showed that love in the voting booth." The $108.5 million plan includes construction or renovation of 19 buildings throughout the county. Five new libraries would be constructed – two in areas of rapid growth (the East Cooper/Carolina Park and West Ashley/Bees Ferry Road areas) and three to replace outdated facilities that aren’t able to meet customer needs (the Cooper River Memorial Branch in North Charleston plus the James Island and St. Paul’s/Hollywood branches). A total of 13 existing libraries would be renovated, the library’s support staff would be relocated from the Main Library to free up space for public use the library’s technology would be upgraded to include self-checkout kiosks, more public computers and the latest equipment in meeting rooms. The construction will cost $11.20 annually for households with a $100,000 owner-occupied home. Operating costs will be phased in and will be approximately $6.80 annually in 2019-2020. "This will mean better library services for all county residents, from infants to retirees. It's going to be an exciting time," said Executive Director Doug Henderson. "This truly is an important day for this generation and for the generations to come.” The next step will be meeting with Charleston County officials to develop a timeline and work together to hire architects to help with building design. The overall plan is expected to take approximately six years to complete. Henderson said meetings will be scheduled with residents to get input about the specific services they see as priorities for their neighborhood libraries. Henderson said there are a lot of people to thank for the hard work that went into developing the plan and educating the residents about the final proposal. “First, we have to thank all the residents and library users who continually offered their support, " Henderson said. "We also must thank the members of Charleston County Council, the library’s Board of Trustees, the donors and volunteers who offered their service to the Vote Yes for Charleston Libraries Committee, members of the Charleston Friends of the Library and to the library’s staff members. Every day, they share their passion for libraries and this community.” The plan was developed after a detailed assessment of the library’s existing facilities, a review of population growth patterns since the 1986 referendum, a study of changing technologies, a look at library service trends plus multiple meetings, surveys, focus groups and interviews to determine community needs. An independent consultant helped the library develop a Strategic Plan and identify shortcomings that needed attention. Since the 1986 referendum, the county's population grew 27 percent while the library's circulation soared 289 percent in the same period. Last year’s circulation was 3.3 million items and nearly 210,000 people attended programs, classes, exhibits, concerts and similar programs at one of CCPL’s 16 branches. Via: Charleston County Public Library

Art stolen from exhibition at Charleston County Public Library

According to this ABC news story (last updated Aug. 1 at 10:51 p.m.) three works by artist Alizey Khan were stolen from the library. According to the artist's website, a fourth piece was stolen this morning (Aug. 2). If you know anything about the theft of these paintings, you are asked to call Crime Stoppers at (843) 554-1111.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A local artist's exhibit at the Charleston County Library has three empty spaces after an art thief visited the gallery Tuesday. Alizey Khan is being featured at the Main Library's Saul Alexander Foundation Gallery. According to a police report, a white male around age 25 was seen on surveillance cameras taking three of the most expensive paintings. Police reports show he was around 5'8" and 135 lbs. Library executive director Doug Henderson said he walked out with the paintings in his backpack. No one at the library recognized the man. Khan told police she had no reason to believe anyone would steal them. "It's sort of flattering that some body liked it enough to steal it I guess. But it's still really depressing to have it stolen," she said. The paintings were worth $2,450 in all. They had been on display since July 2. Read the complete article and view images of stolen works.
[caption id="attachment_7560" align="alignnone" width="285"]Alizey Kahn, Flame Nebula Flame Nebula, one of the four works stolen[/caption] Via: ABC News 4 Charleston