Reflections on Local History Programs 9/2009 - 5/2010

Local History Programs sponsored by the Beaufort District Collection are designed to open dialog about local topics of a historical, genealogical, cultural or environmental nature (50 or more years ago so we "cut off" around 1960) and to publicize the amount, breadth, and depth of our library resources on these topics. Programs are not intended to be the final word on any particular topic, issue, or philosophical discussion relating to the history, culture or environment of our area. We make no claims other than to offer opportunities for you to learn more and/or proffer suggestions about possible materials for your further self-education. All that being said ...

I'm proud of the rigorous local history program series which I have facilitated throughout the Beaufort County Library system over the past 9 months.

As of May 30th, we had 413 people attend the 19 programs, workshops or outreach presentations that our staff of 2 have made happen.

The mix of afternoon, evening and weekend programs at various locations seems to be working.

I've personally learned a lot from our speakers!

I was happy to see new faces at the programs in addition to the loyal and stalwart supporters of the BDC and its programs.

The good folks who use the Beaufort Branch as their "home library" have always been the source of encouragement for me to labor on advocating the value of local history programs for our residents and visitors.

The attendance figures from the newly instituted BDC @ The Branches series outside the "main" branch bodes well for additional local history programming at other locations.

My goal is to do at least one local history or natural history program each calendar year at each of the Branch Libraries -- which with the recent co-sponsorship of the "Sweetgrass Basket Weaving" workshops for teens and adults is now accomplished.

Two very important tasks must be accomplished between now and January 17th --

1) Moving the Research Room to the 2nd floor and
2) Launching the "300 for the 300th" Lucille Hasell Culp digital collection.

The BDC can't keep up the blistering pace of local history programs -- and do these "Really, Really Special Projects" plus perform our core responsibility of keeping the Research Room open for on-site researchers!

All of us, myself included, need to keep in mind the BDC's raison d'être:

The primary function of the BDC is to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value which records the history of the area of lowcountry South Carolina known as the old historic Beaufort District.

Although I would love to do little else but arrange interesting speakers on topics of local historical interest to respond to the expressed need of our customers (it really is fun!), one must be practical. The bottom line is clear: There is simply not enough time nor money to take each local history program to every branch in the Library system. So, as with most things, it all boils down to people time and $s.

We can only promise that we'll do our best to meet your needs within available resources.

Stay tuned to Connections for updates about future local history programs in the BDC @ The Branches series. I will be posting the final September schedule very soon; I am finalizing the October and November schedules even as I write this. Because the Beaufort County Library relies heavily on professionals and experts in their fields to volunteer their time and expertise for much of our local history, cultural and natural history programming, the "Great Recession" and state and county budget cuts may impact the schedule.

P.S. If you sign up for a limited participation program, please cancel -- in advance -- if you cannot attend! When we limit participation, it's because we have limitations that we cannot overcome. We do not "overbook" like the airlines. When your place is confirmed, it is for you. If you don't cancel, you will be preventing someone else for taking your spot and enjoying the program. Please be considerate of others and cancel if you cannot come after all.

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.