01 May 2016

Author Book Talk on Saturday

(Courtesy of Stephanie Turner)
Please join us on Saturday, May 7th for another free inspiring and enlightening program about Beaufort District's local history and Gullah culture. At 1 pm we're hosting an Author Book Talk on A Yankee Scholar in Coastal South Carolina (University of South Carolina Press, 2015) with Bob Hester.

Transcribing the Civil War journals of William Francis Allen required a unique skill set. Allen was a New Englander with impeccable academic and abolitionist credentials who was "a perceptive observer of culture and events" in Civil War and Reconstruction era South Carolina. Taking an anthropological view of the former enslaved, Allen analyzed and collected their music for the first published anthology of Negro spirituals, Slave Songs of the United States (1867). He studied the syntax of their communication and dispassionately watched their interactions with others sharing his observations with his journal and a series of essays published in the Nation and the Christian Examiner.

Who had the particular set of skills and educational background to pay attention to the details and understand from whence came Allen's entries? According to Stephanie Turner of the Aiken Standard newspaper, Robert Hester, that's who.  Hester, an engineer by trade, is well accustomed to paying attention to all the details so vital in a scholarly transcription of manuscript material. Hester also has a deep interest in musical performance, theory and arrangement that equipped him to transcribe those portions of the journal relating to Gullah musical forms.

Hester did his job as historian and musicologist well. Professor George Rable, Charles Summersell Chair in Southern History at the University of Alabama calls A Yankee Scholar  "fascinating reading" and says that Hester's work "immediately becomes an important new primary source for studying the Civil War era."

All are welcome to attend. Books will be available for purchase and autographing from the author at a discounted price. Doors to the Gallery will open at 12:30 pm.

23 April 2016

Preservation Week Drop-In April 26th

As sincere and trained stewards of cultural heritage, we believe that memories and treasures should last a lifetime and be passed on to future generations, either within a family or via reputable institutions.

The Heritage Health Index survey (2005) revealed shocking statistics about the dire state of preservation of cultural heritage. A key conclusion of the survey was that people at all levels of government and the private sector must take responsibility for the survival of these collections. An essential step is strengthening everyone’s awareness of the importance and scope of preservation needs. The American Library Association and partner organizations have responded to the call for action with a week dedicated to heightening awareness of practical practices and techniques to insure that memories and treasures will last a lifetime and will be passed on to future generations in better condition because of those behaviors. 

In other words, Preservation Week inspires actions to preserve personal, family, and community collections in addition to library, museum, and archive collections. It also raises awareness of the role libraries and other cultural institutions play in providing ongoing preservation education and information. The Beaufort District Collection promotes Preservation Week to connect our communities through events, activities, and resources that highlight what we can do, individually and together, to preserve our personal and shared collections.

The BDC has marked Preservation Week with local programs each year since its inception. For 2016, I'm going to put a slightly different spin on it.  Instead of offering a workshop or lectures, we're having a Preservation Day Drop-In in the lobby of the Beaufort Branch at 311 Scott Street. Ashley and I will be on hand, 10 am to 3 pm on Tuesday, April 26th, to answer questions and distribute hand-outs to folks interested in learning how to better take care of their own family treasures.

Like all BDC programs this is an opportunity to learn something on a specific topic offered at no charge to anyone interested in dropping by with their questions about how to take good care of their "stuff."

Please share far and wide!

11 April 2016

Baxley: Gen. Stephen Elliott (CSA) April 13th

Celebrate National Library Week by attending one of the Beaufort County Library's many programs on offer, April 10 -16.

I particularly encourage you to attend our own BDC program this week.  It is sure to enlighten you about local history as well as demonstrate the value of library and archival programs and services provided through many of the nation's 119,487 libraries.

Please gather in the Beaufort Branch's Children's Programming Room to hear Neil Baxley share his research into the military career of Beaufort's own Brigadier General Stephen Elliott, Confederate States of America, "From Bay Point to Bentonville" this Wednesday, April 13th. Baxley premiered this presentation at the South Carolina Civil War Symposium in November 2015. We are grateful that he is donating his services to provide us all an opportunity to learn more about the people, places, events, and themes in the historical record of our community. Thank you, Mr. Baxley.  

Space is limited. First come, first seated. Free!

Heads up: The Beaufort County Library system will be closed on April 20th (Wednesday) for staff development day. Regular hours will resume Thursday, April 21st. 

The Beaufort District Collection Research Room is open 9 am to 5 pm on Mondays and Thursdays; 9 am to 3 pm on Fridays. Access to staff and to the Research Room is by appointment only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Contact us to make advance arrangements: gracec@bcgov.net; 843-255-6468 for a  "Reserve the Archivist" appointment. It is best that you call ahead no less than one week ahead of time; several weeks advance notice would be even better! Please understand that we cannot make same-day appointments.


10 April 2016

Celebrate National Library Week 2016

National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country usually during the second week in April. The first National Library Week was observed in 1958 with the theme "Wake Up and Read!" This year's theme is "Libraries Transform!"

National Library Week allows everyone to celebrate the contributions of our nation's 119,487 libraries and 366,642 library workers and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries - school, public, academic and special - participate. This year we beat the drum for libraries April 10 - 16. 

On Monday, April 11, the State of America's Libraries Report is released, including a list of the Top Ten Frequently Challenged Books of 2015. (Note: The link should be live by Noon on Monday).

Tuesday, April 12 is National Library Workers Day when the focus is on all those who keep libraries up and running, that is, professional and paraprofessional library staff, Friends groups, Library boards, and the administrative units that help pay each library's bills.

On Wednesday, April 13 we celebrate National Bookmobile Day.  Although the Beaufort County Library retired its last bookmobile in 1993, many libraries still provide a bookmobile service staffed with dedicated professionals who make quality bookmobile outreach possible in their communities. 

BTW: You can see some images of bookmobiles from the 1940s to the early 20002 in the South Carolina State Library’s Bookmobiles Collection. See photographs of the bookmobiles, library staff, patrons of all ages and the collections housed in these mobile libraries. Although the State Library doesn’t have a picture of the old Beaufort County bookmobiles, we have one of the 1958 library on wheels:  
(1958: Beaufort County Library archives)

Want to know more about the history of public libraries in South Carolina? The South Carolina Public Library History, 1930-1945 collection consists of photographs and documents from the archives of the SC State Library hosted by the South Carolina Digital Library. These digital images highlight public libraries, bookmobiles, librarians, and patrons from around the state. Many photographs and documents relate to the federal Works Project Administration (WPA) Library Project in South Carolina, which provided statewide library services from 1935 to 1943. 

The Beaufort Township Library opened in 1918; the Colored Library in 1932, so library services in Beaufort County pre-date the WPA project, though the WPA effort did enhance existing library operations here. You can even come into our research room to read through the Library system's archives during our regular hours of operation to discover the working relationship between the Beaufort Township/County Library and the State Library through the years. 

Prefer just the basic facts? We have a Beaufort County Library timeline and history posted on our Local History & Nature pages that provides a brief overview of our Library system's rather complicated past.  

Heads up: Expect to hear more about the history of this community institution as we get ever closer to our 100th Anniversary in 2018. Rest assured, we'll be soliciting your input about how best to mark the momentous occasion. 

In fact, we're asking you for input this month on the matter of what programs you'd like to see us arrange for persons aged 18 to 108. The Library system is conducting a month-long Adult programming survey, April 1-30. It takes a lot of time and energy to arrange, coordinate, and present programs and instructional sessions for adults. We want to make sure that we're spending that time and energy on the type of programs that help us enhance and transform your life. Please participate: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9RD2W2T
 And don't forget! We have our own adult program on Wednesday, April 13th at 5:30 pm in the Children's Programming Room of the Beaufort Branch Library, 311 Scott Street, 1st floor. Neil Baxley will be there to share his research into the military career of Beaufort's own Brig. Gen. (CSA) Stephen Elliott: From Bay Point to Bentonville. 
Free! but seating is limited.

03 April 2016

Some of What We Accomplished in March

The Beaufort District Collection (BDC) had a busy March with materials processing, community engagement activities and a BDC@ Bluffton Branch archaeology program, co-sponsored with the Beaufort Chapter, Archaeological Society of South Carolina.

Ashley continues to work on the Arnsberger Postcard Collection, preparing it for submission to the Lowcountry Digital Library this week. It's been an intensive process making high resolution scans of more than 200 postcards, capturing metadata, creating tags and subject headings. We hope that you enjoy the end results beginning National Postcard Week in May. 

Among the goals we set for this unit during 2016 was to interact more often with more segments of our community. Thus, the BDC continues to enter into collaborations with community groups.
  •  The BDC represented the Library system on the Beaufort History Museum’s Living History Civil War Encampment weekend planning committee and at the event on Saturday.  Staff talked with 160 people and handed out 100 brochures about Civil War materials and Library services. 

  • We highlighted the family history resources of the BDC for 10 members of the Charleston Genealogy Society on March 16, first during a behind-the-scenes tour and for some, during a family history research session.
  • Senior staff attended the private “Virtue, Liberty, Science: A Legacy of Education in Beaufort County: History and Reflections on the Occasion of the Investiture of Dr. Al M. Panu” lecture and reception the evening of March 16. 

  • On March 23, 30 Landmark Conference attendees got to enjoy a broad subset of our treasures in a special behind-the-scenes tour. Staff was pleased to be invited to the Landmark Conference banquet on March 24 during which they heard Dr. Brent Morris’s presentation on historical interpretations of Reconstruction through the past century and to interact with other stewards of cultural heritage collections.

Such community engagement activities allow BDC staff to interact with other professionals, customers, and the public, to assess the Library’s perception in the community, solicit input, and provide fertile ground for new ideas for service delivery to form. 

As you may remember from previous posts, the BDC is the only Beaufort County Library public service unit that has to provide services and programs at other Library unit locations. We have to provide at least one program per year per location - though at some of the locations we do more (depending on meeting room availability, speaker preferences, and turn-out at previous programs and trainings at a particular location).

On March 22, LAMAR Institute archaeologists, Dan and Rita Elliott, screened a documentary film and gave the Battle of Purysburg Final Report at Bluffton Branch to 26 interested people. This well-attended program was co-sponsored by the Beaufort Chapter, Archaeological Society of South Carolina.We hope to return to Bluffton Branch with a quite different local history program over the summer.