Friday Fiver: Cynthia Bledsoe

library3If you feel like sharing your thoughts in a quiet and reflective manner, the Charleston County Public Library system has you covered. Many of the library branches currently have a Reflection Tree, which prompts visitors with a question (such as “What do you want your community to look like in five years?”) and then allows them to share their answers on a tag and place it on a small tree. Cynthia Bledsoe, Deputy Director for the library, said the idea for the tree came about after the Emmanuel AME tragedy as a means to encourage community dialogue. “(The goal was) to begin a discussion with the community to get an idea of how they feel about the community, what kinds of things they’re interested in, and then see if we can have a better sense of how to craft programs to meet those interests,” she said. The trees will be up through the end of November.

We sat down with Cynthia for this week’s Friday Fiver.

CB1. What is your answer to the first Reflection Tree question: What do you love most about your community?

Its richness— Charleston is rich in character, rich in its people, rich with natural and architectural beauty, rich with fabulous food and rich with history.

2. What was a reflection you read that really stuck with you?

I’m torn between two.  “Through failure, success is made” and “Fear of change, even if change is positive.”

3. Certainly a library means books, but CCPL has expanded into many other programs. What is one program that you think would most surprise people that the library offers?

It’s almost impossible to pick just one!  But, what about our Monday evening in November series Hack the Holidays: DIY Holiday Cards, Nov 9th; Fundamentals of Electrifying LED Ornaments, Nov. 16th;  Easy Ornaments, Nov 23rd; ; Fundamental of Programming Electric Light Displays, Nov. 30th., MakeLab Charleston members conduct these.  We have many partners in the community, MakeLab being an example. Or, that we show the Met Opera at the Main Library, free for all.

4. But books are still the cornerstone of libraries. So what book are you reading right now?

Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff and The Hands-on Home, Erica Strauss

5. How will libraries be different 20 years from now?

Libraries have always been a place of learning, but there is a shift taking place in how learning is offered and presented in public libraries.  Learning is increasingly experiential and public libraries are a perfect location for this type of learning.  I see this as a trend that will continue and grow.  Libraries can provide opportunities for people to engage in activities easily, at no cost and at a pace that allows individuals to dabble creatively.  And, as a bonus, libraries have print and non-print materials to supplement the learning.  A great example of this is The Library as Incubator Project.  I’d love to see CCPL do more of this.