To read this content please select one of the options below:

Defining Community Archives within Rural South Carolina

Rural and Small Public Libraries: Challenges and Opportunities

ISBN: 978-1-78743-112-6, eISBN: 978-1-78743-111-9

Publication date: 10 November 2017


This chapter deploys qualitative interviews with employees of rural South Carolina cultural institutions to assess the state of their rural community archives in order to understand both the practices and needs of the institutions within their relationship to larger, traditional archives with the aim to better understand national trends around community archives.

The research uses open-ended qualitative interviews based on snowball sampling focused on cultural institutions in populations defined as “rural” by the state of South Carolina. Using snowball sampling allowed for communities to self-identify other cultural institutions previously overlooked in surveys of rural South Carolina archival holdings.

Findings from the interviews provide new community-defined understandings of both practices and needs of rural community archives. Valuable insights include the following:

  • A clear awareness on the part of rural community archives of their relationship to larger practices of archiving

  • Notable moments of creativity by rural community archives concerning long-term self-sustenance

  • A continued need for low-cost, low-barrier methods of digital outreach for both preservation and communication

  • A more direct stream of access to grant funding favoring community archival practitioners over user-based research funding

While many examples of community-based archival practice exist within British, Australian, and New Zealand research, such studies remain sparse and entity specific within the United States. This continued lack of case studies and models for understanding and aiding rural, community archives within the United States is only amplified when divided by regions and states. By focusing directly on the concerns of practitioners working to preserve and make available localized histories, this research illuminates both the incredible agency of rural community cultural institutions while re-conceptualizing the needs of such groups.



Wagner, T.L. and Bischoff, B. (2017), "Defining Community Archives within Rural South Carolina", Real, B. (Ed.) Rural and Small Public Libraries: Challenges and Opportunities (Advances in Librarianship, Vol. 43), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 155-180.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited