Drat! The BDC Research Room Is Closed -- Coping Strategy #3

Coping Strategy #3: Use the "Recommended Reading" lists, bibliographies at the end of the articles in the Library's "Local History and Nature Pages" as well as in other Connections entries as the starting points to find other ways to get the information you are seeking.

A Virtual Customer sent this message: [paraphrased]
I looked at the Virtual BDC pages. Maybe I am doing something wrong, but I cannot get further than the index or listings for most items. I'm mostly interested in the Native Americans.

Here's the jist of my answer: No, you are not doing anything wrong. The lists are stepping off points for you to pursue your research while the Research Room is closed to relocate. I suggest that you do what you can before your BDC Research Room visit in October.

Like painting a room, the hardest work is in preparing the walls to be painted:

The bulk of the materials listed in the Native Americans Recommended Reading section are only in the BDC here in Beaufort County, SC– but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t try to find the same materials in a library closer to where you live or through the Interlibrary Loan process.

Start at your local public library by talking with a reference librarian about available resources concerning Native American tribes of the Southeast. Odds are the public libraries in your state highlight their tribes but that’s not to say larger reference works exclude all mention of Native American tribes elsewhere in the United States. Milk all the reference sources in your hometown library for all you can. You may be surprised by what is made available to you through your hometown public library.

Similarly, you may find some of the materials listed in "Pathfinder to Materials about Lowcountry South Carolina Indians" at your hometown public library. Check your library's catalog. If you don't know how to search your library's catalog, ask your friendly and helpful library staff to show you. I assure you it is not an imposition to ask staff for help. Librarians help people explore resources that illuminate topics of interest to them. It's what we do.

Let's say you don't find a particular title from one of the lists at your local library. There's a tried and true way to borrow materials from other libraries. And guess who you should ask? Yes. Your local Reference Librarian. (I feel almost like Flo on those Progressive Insurance commercials.) S/He can explain how to go about getting access to materials not in your local public library. The process is called "Interlibrary Loan" and it's been working for library customers for more than 100 years! [Every public library does "Interlibrary Loan" a little differently so ask where you live and where you have a library card how to do this].

Although BCL does not loan reference materials from the Beaufort District Collection via Interlibrary Loan, materials from our local history circulating collections at the other Branches in the Library system are loaned out through the Interlibrary Loan process. But you have to start that process at your local library, following your local library's rules for accessing the Interlibrary Loan process. The best person to explain those rules is (yet again), your local reference librarian.

And while not everything is on the Internet, please don't forget vetted websites posted on the Internet. For example, a good resource for background historical and cultural information in South Carolina is StudySC. It's still being developed but StudySC just put up some new links about the Native Americans in South Carolina. Although the site is designed for K-12 students, there’s plenty to interest adult learners, too. Please explore the many links listed at First Carolinians. Similarly, there is a section on Native American culture inside this website.

It may well be that some of the materials are only held here – but for those that are not, you can further your research while you are at home by tapping into the skills of your reference librarians and/or reading online and/or perhaps borrowing materials through the Interlibrary Loan process. Follow these steps and you'll be able to spend your BDC Research Room visit time in October on reviewing those materials that are exclusively in our Research Room (for example, the contents of the BDC vertical files or reference books not available elsewhere). I look forward to meeting you then.

About the Author

Grace Cordial has been responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Beaufort District Collection at the Beaufort County Library since 1999.  The Beaufort District Collection exists to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value which records the history, culture, and environment of our part of the South Carolina lowcountry.  Besides the research room, Cordial manages the “Virtual BDC:” the BDC web pages, the Online Obituary Index, two digital collections, a new BDC.BCL Facebook page, and the Connections blog.  
Among her duties is to coordinate or present programs about local history, Gullah culture, and our coastal environment, including occasional instructional sessions about how to perform historical and/or genealogical research.