What’s Cooking at St. Stephen Library

So it all started with cake decorating….

Written by Tina Chenoweth, St. Stephen Library Branch Manager

Last year, Tina, the newly minted manager of the St. Stephen Library, had literally no idea what kinds of programs she should offer at her branch, so she tried a variety of different programs to see

what would stick. She simply observed the turnouts and silently gathered feedback. But when the cake decorating program took place, the normally sleepy little library was overrun with customers of all ages, clamoring for a chance to decorate cakes with Ms. Owens, our guest baker from the IGA grocery store. And thus began St. Stephen Library’s obsession with cooking programs.

Since that first program, the branch has hosted several different kinds of cooking programs, including:

• Candy sushi
• Egg rolls
• Tofu
• Homemade pasta
• No bake holiday treats

And they have more cooking programs that will be featured in their upcoming Cooking Academy series. Cookie decorating, sushi (nothing raw!), and a Downton Abbey style “high tea” are on the menu this winter.

Many attendees travel distances to attend the cooking programs at St. Stephen, and many library staff and family members are also fans.

The staff at the St. Stephen branch offer some theories behind the popularity of cooking programs. Donna T. reported that a family member signs up for every single cooking program offered and looks forward to attending. “For the homemade pasta program, he didn’t feel well on that day, but he came anyway – and was glad he did because he had a blast!” Vickie S. said that she learned how to eat something – namely tofu – that she originally thought was disgusting! “Everyone was saying negative things when I tried to talk them into coming to our tofu program – but the dishes prepared were totally healthy and delicious!”

Mrs. Owens from IGA grocery store gives cake decorating tips at the library. This program attracted attendees of all ages.

Food and cooking are social events; they bring people together, in more ways than one. Learning about other cultures through food and cooking is a wonderful bonus. Furthermore, in rural areas, poor diet, obesity, and diet-related illnesses, such as diabetes, are extremely prevalent, and the library seeks to inform as well as entertain attendees at cooking programs. With all of the artificial and potentially harmful ingredients in food these days, we could all stand to be more cooking literate and aware of what goes into our dishes. So come and learn how to prepare healthy and delicious food at your library, through cooking programs as well as a great selection of cookbooks.

Check the Family section online or in our Open Up! Program Catalog for Cooking Academy program dates and times:

Cookie Decorating
Thursday, Dec. 14th
4:30 pm

Homestyle Sushi
(nothing raw!)
Thursday, Jan. 18th
4:30 pm

High Tea
(Downton style)
Tuesday, Feb. 20th, 4:30 pm

Getting Prepared for NaNoWriMo


All use of logos courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

By Courtney Clark, MLIS, M.Ed., Sangaree Branch Manager

What’s NaNoWriMo?

Do you have the next great American novel sitting in your head, waiting to be written? If so, consider joining NaNoWriMo in November. If you’re not familiar with the organization, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. You can learn how it works here or follow the step below:

  1. Sign up for NaNoWriMo before November 1 and get your profile started. You’ll earn virtual badges to help keep you motivated as you’re writing.
  2. Get Prepared. The NaNoWriMo website has lots of resources to get you ready to write your novel, including blog entries, videos by famous authors, and writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing.
  3. Start writing on November 1. You can update your word count on the NaNoWriMo website as often as you’d like (or not at all).
  4. When you get a case of writer’s block, use NaNoWriMo’s inspiration, your BCLS writer’s groups, or any of the BCLS resources on writing to help you get un-stuck.
  5. When you’ve finished your novel (or at least gotten 50,000 words in), upload it to NaNoWriMo’s word counter to join the winner’s circle. All winner’s circle members are entered to win prizes!

If you have any questions about NaNoWriMo or how to use their website, visit their FAQ section.

Books on Writing provided by BCLS

The library is a great resource to help get you started on writing your novel. There are many titles available through BCLS, including:

Writer’s Groups

There are several writer’s groups around the Lowcountry to assist you in the writing process and get helpful feedback from other writers. There are also several writing groups taking place at your local Berkeley County Library branch.

Other organizations also host writer’s group meetings, including the Lowcountry Creative Writing Forum and the Lowcountry Initiative for the Literary Arts Writing Groups.

Library provides ‘toolbox’ for children with communication barriers

Library provides ‘toolbox’ for children with communication barriers

By Rickey Ciapha Dennis Jr. rdennis@berkeleyind.com  

While the library is typically a quiet place, Berkeley County is making an exception. Florence Lewis-Coker, the branch coordinator at the county’s main library in Moncks Corner, invited a group of

Tamiesha Jackson, an early intervention specialist at Berkeley Citizens, looks through sensory games at the library’s Young Learner’s Toolbox. The photo was taken by Rickey Dennis, Berkeley Ind.

early intervention professionals to the library to spread the word about a new learning epicenter called the Young Learner’s Toolbox. About two years ago, the library received a grant to create a place where children with learning, language or communication barriers can obtain out-of-school, hands-on learning experience. The center features stacks of multi-sensory toys, learning kits and IPads. It also has open space for young children to play freely with the novelties. “I have been thinking of how I can make a difference in the life of a child with autism,” Lewis-Coker said.

Children with autism typically have communication challenges and struggle with social interactions. They often have delays in areas of development, such as learning to talk, Lewis-Coker said. The Learner’s Toolbox will ensure that such children are given the tools they need to develop vital skills. Local behavioral specialists said the center would be beneficial for their patients. “We’re going to get some ideas and maybe have the families to come…bring their kids here and work with some of these things,” said Becky Pettgrew, an early intervention specialist with Berkeley Citizens. “We take some [tools] into their homes. But to have the kids come to the library to work on this is a difference…they can work with other kids.”

Elizabeth Harvey with ABC Therapies said the program could voice a larger message. Typically, Harvey said, parents are leery about bringing special needs children to public places like church or the library where they are supposed to be quiet. “Those families become isolated. They don’t know where they’re welcome because the behaviors [are] very unpredictable,” Harvey said. The Learner’s Toolbox could be a place where ‘everyone is welcome’ and children can express themselves freely. “[The library] wants to meet everybody’s unique learning needs,” Harvey said. According to Lewis-Coker, Berkeley County Library System is the only county in the state with such a program and could serve as a prototype for other counties.

Brittney Reynolds with Berkeley Citizens examines playful objects at the YLT. This photo was taken by Rickey Dennis from the Berkeley Ind.

 Content from the local newspaper, Berkeley Independent.

Lowcountry History at Your Library

Dr. Nic Butler, Ph.D. (photo from charlestontimemachine.org)

Written by Catherine Turner, Marketing Intern

Charleston is a city of a thousand stories. Knowing where to start learning its history can be a daunting prospect. Thankfully, the Daniel Island Library has a solution. Dr. Nic Butler, Ph.D., will present his lecture “Ten Things Everyone Should Know about Lowcountry History” at the library on Oct 5th at 1 pm. After this listening to this lecture, keeping up with the tour guides won’t be so hard.

Butler is the archivist and historian for the Charleston County Library System (CCPL). He is an author, a frequent lecturer, and the radio show host of the “Charleston Time Machine.” Before he worked for CCPL, he attended the University of South Carolina and completed a PH.D. in musicology at Indiana University. He went on to become an archivist of the South Carolina Historical Society, an adjunct faculty member for College of Charleston, and a historical consultant for the City of Charleston.

When asked why he developed an interest in history, Butler explained. “I became a historian sort of accidentally. I used to be a musician and became fascinated with how music, instruments, and musical tastes evolved over the centuries. That interest led me down a path of studying the role of music in society, especially in early South Carolina, and that work led me to a fascination with early South Carolina in general. A good historian is a good storyteller,” he said, “and the Lowcountry has an endless supply of interesting stories that need to be told.”

CharlestonTimeMachine.org describes Butler as an “interdisciplinary historian with an infectious enthusiasm for Charleston’s colorful past.” Come join the community on the Daniel Island Library to learn more about the historical city.

BlueChoice® HealthPlan Partnership with BCLS

Written by Catherine Turner, Marketing Intern

At the Berkeley County Library System (BCLS), we believe in enriching the lives of the people in our surrounding community. BlueChoice® HealthPlan of South Carolina has a similar mission: to provide affordable health care options to South Carolinians. In the end, both organizations arrive at a related purpose: improving the lives of our customers and meeting their needs with specialized services. That’s why we’re excited to partner with BlueChoice® HealthPlan for a family event, “Trunk or Treat with Love”, on Saturday, October 21st, from 4-6 pm.

BlueChoice® HealthPlan knows how to combine fun and education. Visitors to the event will receive free giveaways, healthy snacks, and health screenings. Literature in both English and Spanish will be available. Kids and adults can enjoy the Interactive Activity Zone, featuring an activity table and oversize games. And don’t forget the face painting, bead making, and storytelling!

This event will be held at the Moncks Corner Library, next to the Berkeley County Administration Building. Whether visitors are looking for health advice, medical information, or a fun family activity, they’ll find it at “Trunk or Treat with Love.”


Making New Friends and Friendships

Dr. Maureen McNichols, licensed counselor and Daniel Island resident
(Image from therapists.psychologytoday.com)

A tightly knit circle of friends plays a significant role in creating happy, healthy, and more fulfilling lives as we age. But hectic schedules, frequent moves and a variety of life changes can make it difficult to make new ties. Join Maureen McNichols, a licensed counselor and Daniel island resident, to learn how you can meet new people and create lasting friendships. This program, “Making New Friends and Friendships”, takes place on Monday, October 2nd at 1:30 pm at the Daniel Island Library.

McNicholas has over 10 years of experience of helping couples, families, and individuals work through hard situations. After graduation from National Louis University, she worked as a therapist, counselor, and school psychologist. Her most recent experiences include working as a psychotherapist for the Awakening Center and also Personal Growth Associates. But more importantly, McNicholas has dealt personally with the struggle of making new friends in different seasons of life. At the Daniel Island Library, she will share her advice on how to succeed in this area.

At the Berkeley County Library System, we’re all about building community and bringing people together through programs and common interests. Knitters and adult coloring participants have shared how they have found friendships in unexpected places through library groups. Those bonds brought them through hard times in life. Through McNichols, attendees can learn how to find those ties. And through the programs at your local library, you’ll find ways to practice her advice and thrive.