Archive for February, 2010


Smarty Pants Unite!

February 26, 2010

What do off-beat artist Andy Warhol, dandy playwright Oscar Wilde, and contemporary author J. California Cooper have in common? They’ve all been the subject of recent humanities programs at Durham County Library. If you are a fan of intellectually stimulating fare, I encourage you to join the 150 (and counting!) members of the recently-founded Durham Library Foundation Humanities Society. It’s like a “frequent buyer” program, but for folks who attend multiple humanities programs at the library — “frequent attenders” if you will.

To join this who’s who of the culturally curious, simply fill out a short form the next time you come to a humanities program. You will receive a membership card and membership number. Each time you attend a humanities program, a staff person or volunteer punch your card. Society members that attend six programs in a calendar year will be entitled to special events, invitation-only receptions and other benefits. We are even speeding up the process so that if you attend just three humanities events by May, you will be invited to an off-site reception in a great downtown location. Please mark your calendar for one of the many humanities programs at the library. Coming up next? A book discussion of James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On the Mountain, moderated by Dr. Lynne Jefferson, Visiting Assistant Professor at North Carolina Central University. The discussion will be March 6 at 2:00 pm at Stanford L. Warren Library, 1201 Fayetteville Street, so check out a copy and start reading this classic novel about a young man’s birthday in 1930s Harlem.

I can’t promise that attending humanities programs makes you more successful or better looking, but I can promise that they’ll make you better informed and provide excellent cocktail party bon mots.

See you at the library!

Marian Fragola, Adult Programming and Humanities Coordinator


Getting Even Greener

February 23, 2010

Public libraries were green before green was the new black.

Way before it was popular or trendy (though it has always been smart) public libraries were all about re-using resources. By making printed and recorded information available to the masses, libraries have been saving trees and decreasing the amount of waste sent to landfills for centuries. When it came to being green, we were hundreds of years ahead of our time.

Durham County libraries are even greener than most. Thanks to the foresight and vision of the county’s leadership, all of our regional libraries are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. This means the buildings are designed to reduce negative environmental effects and to improve occupant health and well-being.

So, in keeping with this tradition of being green, last year the library’s Marketing and Development Division decided to discontinue the practice of buying and handing out plastic bags to our customers who leave with armloads of books. Instead, we purchased recyclable, re-usable library bags. We made the bags available for check out, and we crossed our fingers that our customers would appreciate this new effort to help the environment.

The response has been great! Customers are checking out the bags and using them to cart their materials back and forth. We can’t keep them on the racks at the Main Library, and other locations are starting to see an increase in the bags’ popularity as well.

We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for our customers by allowing them to check out up to three bags per card (for those who leave their bag at home from time to time, like me). Customers can also renew their bags an unlimited number of times. That way, they don’t have to worry about returning the bag, only to check it out again.

Our green experiment has been a great success. Not only have customers responded enthusiastically, but the county has taken notice as well. This month, the library will have the honor of being named the first ever recipient of the Durham County Environmental Impact Award for our re-usable tote bags.

Tobin Fried, of the County’s Sustainability Office, created this quarterly award to recognize teams of employees who have been instrumental in reducing waste, conserving natural resources and improving our environment. The Board of County Commissioners will recognize members of the library’s Marketing and Development Division at an upcoming meeting.

We are thrilled to be helping the environment with our tote bags, honored to be receiving this award from the county and very happy that we are carrying on the green legacy created so long ago by public libraries everywhere.

Re-use, Recycle, Re-Read!

Gina Rozier
Marketing and Development Manager


J. California Cooper is coming!!!

February 5, 2010

In case you haven’t heard, a very special guest is coming to Durham this weekend — the much-loved author J. California Cooper! Sponsored by the Durham Library Foundation, she will appear at Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville St., on Sunday, February 7 at 3:00 pm. Her author talk is free and open to the public, and books will be available on-site for purchase from the NCCU Bookstore (Ms. Cooper will sign books following her talk). The author of novels, short stories and plays, Ms. Cooper’s work is alive with fascinating characters, a wonderful sense of place, and interesting themes. If you haven’t read any of her work, hop on over to the library and check some out!

Ms. Cooper’s appearance is a special event we’ve planned to coincide with the book discussion series Let’s Talk About It which begins on February 20 at 2:00 pm at the Stanford L. Warren library, located at 1201 Fayetteville Street, with a discussion of J. California Cooper’s Family. More information about the series is available on the Programs and Events tab on the library website ( and I do hope you will join us. Let’s Talk About It Is made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, in partnership with the North Carolina Center for the Book, a program of the State Library of North Carolina.

So grab your umbrella and come out and join us on Sunday for what promises to be an engaging and special afternoon with J. California Cooper.

— Marian Fragola, Humanities Coordinator (and guest blogger — thanks Skip!)