Wesleyan adds new Appalachian library collection

The staff in Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library at West Virginia Wesleyan College is continually finding ways to better serve the campus and community.

Beth Rogers, coordinator of reference, instruction and outreach at the library, has added yet another notch to its impressive selection. With Rogers’ initiative, an Appalachian Regional Interest Collection has been added to the library’s shelves. This permanent, circulating selection was started in summer 2012.

“This is my baby,” Rogers said. “It has taken six to eight months to get the collection to where it is useful. We had the pieces here all along, but there was no way to browse for it. By pulling it out, we made it easier to find and more easily searchable.”

All the resources in the collection are either about Appalachia or written by Appalachian authors. Rogers’ vision is to eventually make this section into a showcase as one of the library’s standout features. As Appalachian Studies is becoming its own discipline, Rogers wants to be sure that resources are readily available. In fact, students already are finding the section useful, and the Appalachian Studies and West Virginia History classes are utilizing the collection often.

The section does not consist of only books, but includes a small Appalachian film section available for checkout, and Rogers plans on building upon those resources, as well.

With the addition of this Appalachian-focused section, said she Rogers hopes to educate the campus and community on the rich cultural history this area has to offer.

“I could talk about the stereotypes of this region for days,” she said. “I do not think we have taught our students that being from this region is something to be proud of because of these stereotypes. By highlighting these amazing things, hopefully people will see that we deserve to be recognized.”

Rogers’ sentiment rings close to home, as West Virginia and Appalachia have produced some award-winning authors, such as Jayne Anne Phillips, Jessie Stuart, Denise Giardina and Wesleyan’s own Irene McKinney.

“A lot has happened here that we should be proud of,” Rogers said. “Why are we not acknowledging what is coming from here? Why are we not reading our own stories?”

It is true that stereotypes of Appalachia run deep, but by educating the campus and community on things like who Sid Hatfield is, how the Coal Wars affected our state and how the snake handlers of southern West Virginia impacted the religious history of this area, it is hopeful that a bridge of understanding can be built and stereotypes can be less effective.

It is Rogers’ hope to not only expand upon the Appalachian collection, but to also supplement it with some events, such as small readings by local West Virginia authors.

To learn more about what the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library offers, or to be informed about upcoming programming related to the Appalachian Regional Interest Collection, anyone interested can visit the library’s website or contact Rogers at 304-473-8013. or rogers_e@wvwc.edu.