29 September 2014

Digital Collections are Down

Our Donner and Culp digital Collections hosted by the Lowcountry Digital Library are down today.
From Heather Gilbert, LDL Project Director: This weekend the College of Charleston experienced a hardware failure in its data center. This piece of hardware allows the public to access different websites, including the Lowcountry Digital Library. Because of this hardware failure, the Lowcountry Digital Library is currently down. I will keep you informed as the situation develop. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Come Tour!

At the Reception, 2010
On September 29, 2010, we re-opened the Beaufort District Collection in its much larger quarters on the 2nd floor, 311 Scott Street, Beaufort, SC through the help of Beaufort County, Beaufort County Library, Friends of the Beaufort County Library, the Clover Club, and over 100 individual donors. (View images of the relocation process and other Library events). Through the years, the collection had grown so large that the space allotted on the first floor was totally inadequate - that, and we wanted desperately to store the collection well above the flood plain. (The Beaufort River is only a few blocks away). 

As the Library's the special local history collection and archives unit of the Beaufort County Library, we concentrate on gathering and sharing information about the people, places, and themes of the area wedged between the Combahee and Savannah Rivers, from the Atlantic to approximately 50 miles inland for the period 10,000 BCE ~ 1964.  The relocation was necessary to provide better conditions for this valuable and valued collection.

We follow Rare Book and Special Collections guidelines from the Association of College and Research Libraries; guidelines of the Society of American Archivists, the Reference and User Services (RUSA) guidelines of the ALA, and participate in the South Carolina Archival Association and the Public Library Association to provide the best service we can given the constraints of staffing, funding, and available space.

On Saturday, October 11th, we are hosting our 4th annual "See-What's-in-the-Closed-Stacks" tour in honor of SC Archives Month.  We'd love for you to sign up to attend.

As an added treat, folks who register will also get to see the "Creating the Carolinas" traveling exhibit loaned to us by the South Carolina Historical Society up close and personal on that date.  We'll begin the tour, surrounded by the "Creating the Carolinas" exhibit, with a very short presentation about the BDC's programs, services, and policies, and then head into the locked storage area to view the treasures. This is the only opportunity you have to see precious items from the BDC and the South Carolina Historical Society up close and personal at precisely the same time.
The 1.5 hour tour is free. In keeping with the "Archives and the Natural Environment" theme, this year we'll highlight some of the many natural history related treasures we hold in trust for the community. (Trust me, you'll be surprised.)  Because the BDC area is rather small, we must limit the number of participants to 15 people over age twelve. Please no walk-ins. Register today to join us! cseabrook@bcgov.net; 843-255-6468.

Charmaine and I do so hope that you can take the tour! 

28 September 2014

"Archives = Awesome!": Celebrate Archives Month with the BDC

(Please note: This is an expanded version of the article that ran in the "From the Beacon" column of the Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette newspapers earlier today): 
The term “archives” refers to both an historical record and the facility that holds historical records. An historical record today can be on any medium—paper, tape, microform, photograph, electronic, or digital— to serve as proof that an event occurred, explain how something happened, or fulfill a financial or sentiment need.  In most cases, these records have significance beyond the immediate reason for their creation and use.
Archives come in all sizes and varieties.  Well run archives have a mission, trained staff, a rationale behind what gets collected and preserved, policies for sharing the materials on a regular and recurrent basis, and plans for long-term stewardship of the records it holds.  

The Beaufort District Collection (BDC) is the special local history collection and archives unit of the Beaufort County Library. It is our responsibility to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value about local history including Gullah traditions, cultural and natural history, archaeology, and genealogy of this area. Thus we concentrate on gathering and sharing information - in both traditional and modern ways - about the people, places, and themes of the area wedged between the Combahee and Savannah Rivers, from the Atlantic to approximately 50 miles inland for the period 10,000 BCE to 1964.

The BDC Research Room is a combination traditional reference room and a closed-stack archive. Customers can browse the materials in the public part of the area but the bulk of the collection is accessible only through the staff.  Staff is on hand to protect materials and guide researchers but researchers perform their own work.  However, that traditional model is transforming to include 21st century modes of service.  

Libraries and archives know how to deal with change: we’ve been doing it since 2600 BC.  Each and every work day, we assist researchers working in the Research Room and some whom we will never see in person.  Each and every day, we share Beaufort District’s long and storied history through the “Virtual BDC.” (In fact, you're reading a component of the "Virtual BDC" right now!) Find it posted under the “Local History” tab on the Library’s homepage at www.beaufortcountylibrary.org.  Letting people enjoy some of our holdings over the internet is a non-traditional way to connecting people to treasures in our archives.  

But digital libraries exist, for the most part, because of the physical treasures secured in brick-and-mortar libraries, archives, and museums watched over by flesh and blood trained librarians, archivists, and curators who protect and share treasures with others today, and who have committed to preserve and share the treasures with future generations, too.

We share because we care about the materials, the community we serve, and we are true believers that "Archives= Awesome!". The BDC keeps a challenging local history programs schedule. Recent BDC@ The Branches programs have highlighted materials from our collections about the Sea Island Hurricane of 1893, the phosphate mining industry, the Byrne Miller Papers, and practical ways to keep digital items from getting lost in the cloud.

In addition, we collaborate with the cultural heritage community locally, state-wide, and on the national level when possible.

A prime example of such collaboration arrives on October 1st when we open “Creating the Carolinas,” a traveling exhibit from the South Carolina Historical Society as the keystone for our celebration of Archives Month.  

Squabbling about South Carolina’s boundaries began 400 years ago when kings, political deals, Indian treaties, and misguided surveying helped draw the lines. Come find out just how troublesome establishing our state boundaries was. Discover the role that the Treaty of Beaufort of 1787 played in the disputes. This free exhibit showcasing treasures from the South Carolina Historical Society will be on display October 1, 2014 through Friday, January 30, 2015 in the 2nd floor lobby, 311 Scott Street. The exhibit will be open when the BDC Research Room is open, that is 10 am to 5 pm, Mondays through Fridays, except as otherwise posted. 

Join us for any or all of the lecture series to supplement the "Creating the Carolinas" exhibit:

  • Wednesday, October 22, 6 pm: Prof. Chris Judge, USC-Lancaster, returns to Beaufort to discuss the early Native Americans of our area.  Some of their paths remain our by-laws.  
  • Thursday, November 6, 6 pm: Alan-Jon Zupan and David K. Ballard of the South Carolina Geodetic Survey Commission will discuss the intricacies of establishing the state’s boundaries through the centuries.
  • TBD: A lecture on the "Treaty of Beaufort" in January 2015 with a special guest

As I wrote earlier, most of the treasures of the BDC are accessible only through the staff. Staff offer advice and researchers uses the catalog of finding aids to determine what she would like to see from the stacks. Charmaine or I go into the locked storage area to retrieve the requested materials for the researcher. Researchers are not allowed into the stacks.

Although we keep most of the collection under lock and key, we are not rabidly selfish.  We provide security for the holdings to ensure that the items will remain accessible and usable in the future.  We welcome small group tours with prior arrangement throughout the year. Ideal size is 4 to 10 people.  Call 843-255-6446 or e-mail gracec@bcgov.net to discuss scheduling, topics, and needs.

To accommodate individuals who want to learn more about how we operate and see some of the many treasures inside the BDC, once a year we offer a tour of the locked, climate controlled storage area to members of the general public over age 12. The 2014 tour is set for Saturday, October 11. This year we highlight materials about “Archives and the Natural Environment” in keeping with this 2014 theme for SC Archives Month. Because of the size of the storage area, we must limit the number of participants to 15 people. Registration is now open. The tour is free but you must register by Friday, October 10th at Noon. Call 843-255-6468 or e-mail cseabrook@bcgov.net to reserve your place.  Please: No walk-ins. 

24 September 2014

Notable Digital Collections Featured

Libraries and archives must be aware of on-going digital humanities work outside our own institutions. Among the sources we use to keep up with current projects and best practices is InfoDOCKET from Library Journal.  Recently InfoDOCKET re-capped its coverage of American History online resources over the past months.  Here are a few of the digital collections noted in the infoDOCKET e-newsletter of September 15th:

State Library of Iowa Digitizes 1857 State Constitution
Filed By Gary Price

A new, $23,000 scanner allowed the State Library of Iowa to digitize the state's constitution. It took a whole year to to plan out how to scan the document, including an escort by a state trooper from the Secretary of State's office to the building where it was scanned. A 15 minute video about the process is also available.

Listen Online to Historic Speeches From the 1960s and '70s at UCLA
Filed By Gary Price
Gerald Ford speaks at UCLAMore than 300 speeches given at UCLA during the political and social unrest of the 1960s, previously accessible only via archived tapes on campus, will now be available online. The most popular recordings feature actress Mae West, satirist Lenny Bruce, screenwriter Rod Serling, and actors Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Other speakers include Jonas Salk, the inventor of the polio vaccine; Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel; and boxer Muhammad Ali.

Note:  Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina spoke at UCLA in February 15,1967 on the topic of "Through the Looking Glass: The Communist World" (1 hour, 17 minutes)

New York Public Library Makes 20,000 Hi-Res Maps Available
Filed By Gary Price
Florida map from the NYPLIn March, the Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division of the New York Public Library (NYPL) released more than 20,000 maps as high resolution downloads, including 1,100 maps of the Mid-Atlantic United States and cities from the 16th to 19th centuries; 2,800 maps from state, county, and city atlases; more than 10,300 maps from property, zoning, topographic, and fire insurance atlases of New York City dating from 1852 to 1922; and more than 1,000 maps of New York City, its boroughs and neighborhoods, dating from 1660 to 1922, detailing transportation, vice, real estate development, urban renewal, industrial development and pollution, political geography, and more.

Library Company of Philadelphia Digitizes Collection of African Americana Graphics
Filed By Gary Price
African American primary school classroom photo from Library Company of Philadelphia collectionThe Library Company of Philadelphia has digitized more than 900 prints, photographs, and pieces of ephemera documenting African American life, community, work, art, and political and social activism from the early American period to the early 20th century and added them to the Library Company's digital collections catalog, ImPAC. The collection will also be available through the Access Pennsylvania Digital Repository.

Yale University Launches Photogrammar Platform, Search and Visualize More than 170,000 Historic Images From 1935 to 1945
Filed By Gary Price
Photogrammar's Metadata ExplorerPhotogrammar, a web-based platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing the 170,000 photographs from 1935 to 1945 created by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information, went live on September 2. The platform has been in development since prior to 2012, when the project from the Yale Grad. School of Arts and Sciences received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

NEH To Fund Studs Terkel Audio Archive
Filed By Gary Price
Studs Terkel from Chicago public radioA National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant of $60,000 will support the creation of a publicly accessible digital archive with nearly 5,000 oral history interviews, conducted by the Chicago journalist Studs Terkel, by Chicago Public Media station WTTW. The archive is one of 177 projects in 43 states and Washington, DC, awarded a grant this summer by the NEH, totaling $34 million.