Being from West Virginia, the comforting embrace of the mountains that I was so fond of during my younger years has been lost in my time at Berea. They’re visible in the distance, but it’s not the same. My favorite thing to tell people is that there’s “just too much dang sky here!” My heart longs for the mountains, even though I love it here.
I was excited about the journey we had planned: a visit to Appalachian State University, snuggled within the Blue Ridge Mountains. We packed up the car, with two less of us than we expected, but prepared to make the journey with a little lighter load. As we drove south into Tennessee, I began to get excited. We made idle chit chat about color theory and our lives as we drove further and further, eventually making our way east through the more rural parts of Tennessee.
The mountains began to crop up around us, engulfing the car in dancing shadows. My excitement grew more and more as this happened, and I began to feel at home again, even though we had traveled even farther away from West Virginia. We talked about how nice it would be to live on these mountains, the exquisite views of the foggy morning mountains, a cup of coffee in one hand and a pen in the other. We eventually passed a lake, with plenty of scenic overlooks (we stopped to take in the view!) and soon we crossed over the state line into our destination, North Carolina.
I’m a senior Appalachian Studies major working as the Operations Manager at the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center. For the past two years, I’ve dedicated myself to the study of Appalachia, because of my personal connection to the region and my love for the mountains. This trip to Appalachian State University was, first and foremost, to learn about their special collections and Appalachian Studies department in order to aid us in our research project (funded through the Undergraduate Research & Creative Projects Program) called Analyzing Appalachian Media for Purposeful Usage. Our intent with this project was to make observations, analyze information from interviews and focus groups, and take what we could learn from similar libraries around the region and utilize our findings to make our own Faber Library, located within the Appalachian Center, more user-friendly and accessible.
But a more personal reason for my excitement for this trip was scoping out the area and the Appalachian Studies program at Appalachian State. We got the opportunity to meet Dr. William Schumann, the director of Appalachian State’s Appalachian Studies program. We sat down and had lunch with him and one of his graduate students. Our conversation reminded me why I study Appalachian Studies; it gave me the kick in the rear to gear up to pursue Appalachian Studies at a graduate level, when I had been hesitant, because “what are you going to do with a degree in Appalachian Studies?”
As a part of our observations at Appalachian State University, we also had the opportunity to peruse their special collections, with a tour by the University Library Specialist at Belk Library, Trevor McKenzie. Some of the most useful ideas for getting more patronage into the doors of our Faber Library came from this experience. Utilizing social media, making blog posts, and organizing in a more user-friendly fashion were all wonderful ideas that we utilized in our rework of Faber Library. We intend to continue to use social media as an outreach and advertisement opportunity to increase patronage.
We would like to say thank you to Trevor McKenzie and Dr. William Schumann from Appalachian State University. We would also like to thank Laura Smith, Jen Bingham, and Ron Roach from Eastern Tennessee State University!
For more information about Belk Library, go to https://library.appstate.edu/ and for more information about their William Leonard Eury Appalachian Collection, go to http://collections.library.appstate.edu/.
For more information about Appalachian State’s Appalachian Studies program, go to https://appstudies.appstate.edu/.
Article written by Ciara Felty