Pictured: Student Jarely Ramirez studies in the Blue Ridge Community College library in Henderson County on Friday, Sept. 9. Photo by Benjamin Rickert.
The State Library of North Carolina (SLNC) has awarded the Blue Ridge Community College Library a Bright Ideas Grant to facilitate the creation of the Blue Ridge Local History Project. The grant funds the purchase of audio recording and editing equipment to document the life stories of community members. The content will be available through the College’s libraries in Henderson and Transylvania Counties.
Blue Ridge Library Director Anthony Baltiero applauded the SLNC for working to document local stories.
“Capturing and sharing local history is at the forefront of academic and public library trends,” said Baltiero. “As an academic library that is also open to the public, creating a local history project is something that will be both beneficial to our students as a research vessel, as well as valuable to the community as a civic and historical resource.”
The grant also funds the digitization of important local history items, including books, artwork, maps, magazines, yearbooks, advertisements, and more. These collections will be made available to the public in the library and online.
This means the Blue Ridge Library will be able to offer free digitizing/archiving services to the public. The library’s new scanners are available to patrons to digitize photos, film negatives, books, important documents and more.
Baltiero is currently building the library’s recording studio to record community members’ stories.
“This is an independent project that I modeled after similar oral history programs from peer libraries,” he said.
He hopes this project will bring people of different walks of life together to share their stories, histories and to see how the area is connected. He cautioned that many communities – without some form of oral history database – may lose a large portion of their lore, stories, and history.
“It is very difficult to move forward as a society when we don’t fully understand our past. This project will be a starting point for galvanizing our local history and making it accessible to everyone,” he added.
To learn more about the Blue Ridge Library at both the Henderson and Transylvania County campuses, visit blueridge.edu/library.
This Bright Ideas Grant project is made possible by funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (IMLS grant number LS-249980-OLS-21).