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Bird Watching

Yesterday, I saw one of my favorite of signs of spring in Aiken circling the roof of the Aiken County Public Library.  It was a pair of Mississippi Kites, graceful, long-winged birds of prey which arrive in Aiken in early spring every year and stay through the summer.  They are easy to spot in downtown Aiken and often fly very low, especially around the horse pastures and paddocks.

The first time I noticed them, when I was walking across the library parking lot several years ago, I mistook them for pigeons.  After watching their acrobatic flight for a few minutes, I pulled my binoculars out of the car and was treated to a great surprise.  Instead of pigeons, I saw two debonair gray and black raptors, Ictinia Mississippiensis, to be exact.

South Carolina is a birding paradise, according to a recently published guidebook to birding sites in the Palmetto state, Birding South Carolina: A Guide to 40 Premier Birding Sites by Jeff Mollenhauer.  Published in 2009, Mollenhauer’s new guide joins a long-serving similar book,  Finding Birds in South Carolina by Robin Carter.   Published in 1993, Carter’s book has been my trusty companion for many bird finding adventures in Aiken County and South Carolina.  Carter’s book is out-of-print now but fortunately there are four copies available in our library system.

In addition to birding guides, the library system has several bird identification guides including the new gold standard, Sibley Guide to Birds by David Sibley.

May is one of the best months of the year in the South Carolina birding calendar so check out the many resources the library offers to get you started or polish your birdwatching skills.


Tea on the Avenue

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse and Friends at 2009 Tea on the Avenue

Lilly and Friends Enjoy Talking About Her Plastic Purse at the 2009 Tea on the Avenue

My six-year-old daughter had a hard decision to make this weekend.  It was Kaya vs. Dorothy Gale and she considered it from every angle before making her final commitment.  Although she loves the Wizard of Oz, she decided she wanted to meet Kaya, the Native American character from the American Girl book series. 

On Saturday, April 24, she and I will be attending the Fourth Annual Tea on the Avenue at the historic Stewart House in North Augusta.  We have attended this wonderful event, sponsored by the Friends of the Nancy Carson Library Foundation, for the past three years.  

Each year in April, she and I put on pretty spring dresses and join other girls and their moms (or aunts or grandmothers) for tea and dainty refreshments with storybook characters. Each of the eight tables features a different character. 

This year’s Tea includes characters Alice in Wonderland, Amelia Bedelia, Camellia Cream, Cinderella, Dorothy Gale, Kaya: An American Girl, Pinkalicous, and Sleeping Beauty. 

The ticket prices, $8 for adults and $6 for children, raise funds for the Nancy Carson Library. 

There are still tickets available and we hope to see you there. We’ll be sitting with Kaya!    

For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Nancy Carson Library at 803-279-5767.

Celebrating National Library Week

Mary Jo Dawson ABBE Director

Mary Jo Dawson


The ABBE Regional Library System is observing
National Library Week, April 11-17, 2010  with a host of events across the 14 libraries including storytimes, book clubs, movies, and appearances by two nationally recognized authors, Kathryn Wall and Andrew Geyer      

 Started by the American Library Association in 1958, this year’s National Library Week theme is Communities Thrive @ your Library.  Neil Gaiman (whose 2003 fantasy novel Coraline was recently adapted into a critically acclaimed move) is this year’s honorary chair.              


National Library Week was initiated after a group of concerned people formed a nonprofit citizens organization to encourage reading.  They saw a need for this when research in the mid-1950s showed Americans were spending less of their personal income on books and more on radios, televisions, and musical instruments. These concerned Americans wanted to promote reading because, to paraphrase their goals, it leads to increased income, health, and the development of strong and happy families.           

The result of their effort, National Library Week, is still being celebrated 52 years later.  The wealth of free information and entertainment resources provided by public libraries is good reason for celebration all year long.   The American Library Association (ALA) website especially notes the following dates:    

  • Monday, April 12 – Release of “The State of America’s Libraries” report.
  • Tuesday, April 13 –  National Library Workers Day
  • Wednesday, April 14 –  First annual National Bookmobile Day.  Also on this day, ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom releases the “Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2009” list.
  • Thursday, April 15 –  Support Teen Literature Day

So join the celebration this week by visiting an ABBE library.  You may come away a little richer, a little healthier, and a whole lot happier.    Communities Thrive at Your Library               

Mary Jo Dawson, Director
ABBE Regional Library System

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