Many names will be among the ones commemorated during the month of February

  • Monday, February 10, 2014

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” did not receive one Oscar nomination despite an A-list cast. When asked about the so-called “Oscar snub,” Oprah Winfrey, who plays the butler’s wife, answered that she made the movie to tell a story. This remarkable story is about the life of an African-American butler who served eight presidents in the White House during an era characterized by societal changes concerning race-related issues. Names like Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela are given the necessary attention. These names will certainly be among the ones commemorated during the month of February, which is, after all, Black History Month — a month dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of African-Americans who played a significant role in the shaping of U.S. history.

Before 1976 this period of dedication encompassed only one week. In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson and his colleagues at the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History founded “Negro History Week.” They chose the second week of February in deference to the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln (“Black History Month/Negro History Month,” Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, 2006. From U.S. History in Context). During the Bicentennial celebrations in 1976, members of the organization were able to change “Negro History Week” into “Black History Month” (“Association for the Study of African American Life and History,” Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History,” 2006. From U.S. History in Context).

You may have noticed that I cited this information, which I retrieved from the library’s extensive databases. In the past few weeks, I observed an increase in students coming to the library trying to find sources for their school assignments. In general these students can be divided into four groups based on their search patterns:

1. Students search, find and retrieve their material.

2. Students search and find, but are not able to locate the items on the shelves.

3. Students search and can’t find anything.

4. Students skip the search process and come straight to the reference desk.

Gathering information is part of the learning process. Students in the first group have already mastered this skill; the rest of the kids need some additional help. In the case of the second group, the problem is often that the book isn’t in our branch. Even when the library catalogue mentions there are three copies available, it doesn’t necessarily mean “available” in the Mount Pleasant branch. Clicking on the title link will open up a new window with general information and the location(s) of the book.

Like the students in group four, the students in group three – who are easily discouraged when they don’t find what they need right away – will end up in front of the reference desk. The required items are not always in our branch; in these instances we are able to place a hold and the item will be delivered in three to five working days.

In case a student needed research information “yesterday” – and most of them do – I recommend, if their teacher allows it, using the library’s extensive databases. If your library card is in good standing, you are able to access these from home. To do so, visit www.ccpl.org. Look for Quick Links and select the Research Tools option. Select the subject of interest or All A-Z for a list of databases. Use the Home Access link and login with your library card.

The following databases are really easy to use. Under “Reference and General Research,” there are databases specifically for high school and middle school students: “Student Research Center: High School” and “Student Research Center: Middle School.” “Opposing Viewpoints in Context” provides topical overviews and position statements in social sciences and the sciences from magazines and e-books. “Primary Sources,” “U.S. History in Context” and “World History in Context,” are very helpful for history assignments. “Culture Grams” provides cultural reports of family and daily life in North America and most countries in the other six continents.

Mirjam Veldkamp is the Young Adult Specialist at the Mount Pleasant Regional Library Branch located at 1133 Mathis Ferry Rd. Contact us at 843-849-6161, www.mtplibrary.blogspot.com, www.ccpl.org, and like us on Facebook. Email MTPReference@ccpl.org if you wish to receive a PDF copy of the programs being held each month at Mount Pleasant Regional.

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