Librarians: The Original Search Engine

Special collections and archives assist researchers on a daily basis, in a variety of ways, via a variety of means. We can share who has benefited from our resources once the research is presented in a public forum or published. Otherwise, we must stay mum regarding who is investigating what topic.

For example, we had two out-of-state University researchers working on dissertations during January. Until they publish or share the products of their research via some publicly accessible format or event, I cannot divulge who they were or what their topics were. Protecting library customer privacy is extremely important to librarians!

However, I am proud to say that the notice for the 2012 Annual Meeting of the South Carolina Historical Association which came out on February 1st includes a session by a BDC customer on Robert Shaw Wilkinson, the second President of South Carolina State College. The BDC researcher, Jean Weingarth, visited our facility two summers ago, used some of our resources, and picked my brain, as she tracked down primary sources to document the story of his very considerable contribution to the field of education. There isn't usually a quick turn-around in the field of academic research.

“Will the real Robert Shaw Wilkinson (1865- 1932) please stand up?” The Role of Primary sources in debunking the myth surrounding one of South Carolina’s Leading Black educators by Jean L. Weingarth, USC-Columbia Ph.D. Sat., March 3rd - 1:45 pm

As the button states, librarians are the original search engines. We are in the information gathering, analysis and sharing business - which means that there is far more media to consult than just books and materials listed within our library system catalog. We can do a better job for our customers when we get a little advance notice. When it comes to projects, the more prepared we can be before your arrival, the quicker you can get to work upon your arrival.

Just like Ms. Weingarth, you, too, can pick my brain about what the Beaufort District Collection might have to help you pursue your own research interests relating to our local history, culture, and natural environment, 10,000 B.C.E. to 1962. I schedule research consultation appointments during our regular hours of operation. I can tell you about our holdings and discuss possible research strategies one-on-one with you. Call me at 843-255-6446 or e-mail me at to start the consultation process.

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.