Why the BDC Keeps Historical Vertical Files

Beaufort County has more than a few Chamber of Commerce groups at the present time. Each one has its own mission, governorship, constituency and controversies. Some groups are affiliated with the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. Some are not. Some of the groups have been around more than half a century. Several groups have been founded within the past decade. One group south of the Broad River is in the process of getting started. Some groups have a complex structure of committees and sub-committees while others are controlled more directly by their Executive Director and Boards.

Therefore, in the case of Chambers of Commerce based in Beaufort County, "one size does not fit all" - which is why the BDC keeps vertical files of clippings on each one in our Research Room. We hope that a present-day researcher, as well as researchers 100 years from now, will be able to follow the individual organizations through time using the clippings as a pointer file to additional sources of information about the respective groups.

For example, the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce's Tourism Committee funded and produced a video earlier this year to promote tourism to northern Beaufort County. Take a peek. [http://vimeo.com/31626474]

In 2112, we hope that a future researcher tracking the promotion of Beaufort County as a tourism mecca will be able to still view the video file because we captured a copy in 2012.

The Hilton Head Island - Bluffton Chamber of Commerce re-vamped its website. [http://www.hiltonheadchamber.org/about-the-chamber/programs-and-services/]

In 2112, a future researcher might be interested in how graphic design was used to promote local organizations a hundred years earlier.

The Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce has just received a grant to begin a microlending program. [http://www.bcbcc.org/blog/?id=185]

In 2112, a future researcher might be interested in how small loans led to the creation of multi-national African-American owned corporation based here.

Of course, it's hard to predict the future. If it were easy, and always accurate, each and every one of us would be investing in IPOs and becoming billionaires! Materials get used in unforeseen ways. Technology changes almost every day. Admittedly, then, some of our BDC collection policy is our best guess about what future researchers, residents, and visitors will find interesting, compelling, and worthwhile. On the other hand, if the BDC doesn't take the time to capture the clippings, preserve them, and create some way of accessing them for future customers, the significant pieces of the local history of Beaufort County may be lost altogether.

The Beaufort County Library allots a very small investment of its overall funding from Beaufort County to the Beaufort District Collection. The Beaufort District Collection 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." We share what we steward with the world via the "Virtual BDC," local programs, and opening our Research Room doors 35 hours a week to serve anyone over age 12 who is interested in learning more about the history, culture, and environment of this wonderful and beautiful community in which we live. As the manager of the BDC, I am proud of how we have adjusted to an ever changing information environment yet stayed true to the BDC's mission.

As the world becomes more global, the unique and local becomes ever more important. Beaufort County is a unique place with a unique history. We should celebrate that history and endeavor to collect, preserve, maintain, and share it with the world - as well as our neighbors - through advocacy of the special collections library and archives, the Beaufort District Collection of the Beaufort County Library system.