As Walters State Community College’s third annual Mildred Haun Conference nears, organizers want to make the community aware of the Appalachian book collection available at the college’s R. Jack Fishman Library.
The collection is 60 books richer this year because of a donation provided by Dr. Richard Graybeal, a professor emeritus at Drew University, who made the donation after attending the 2012 conference.
The Mildred Haun Conference is a celebration of the literature, scholarship and culture of Appalachia, which attracted Graybeal’s attention.
“I have always been interested in Appalachia,” the Morristown resident said. “Last year, I really got worked up when I saw all of the authors and the books. I enjoyed the presentations and meeting the authors. I wanted to make sure the students at the college and community members could read these wonderful stories.”
This year’s conference is Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 at the WSCC Morristown campus and features author Anne Shelby.
The conference is named in honor of Mildred Haun, who claimed both Hamblen and Cocke counties as her home. Her book, “The Hawk’s Done Gone,” is considered among the standards in Appalachian literature.
Graybeal’s fascination with Appalachian literature began many years ago after reading “Our Southern Highlanders.”
He met his wife, Shirley, while researching Christianity in Appalachia, years ago. She is a Morristown native and was a bus ministry volunteer at the time.
Graybeal, who holds a B.A. from Emory and Henry College, a B.D. from Yale Divinity School and a Ph.D. from Yale Graduate School, retired after 50 years of teaching.
“Dr. Graybeal has become a cherished friend of the Mildred Haun Conference, and his generous donation has helped to expand the library’s impressive collection of Appalachian literature,” said humanities division Dean Carla Todaro. “We are excited to join the staff of the R. Jack Fishman Library in promoting and sharing this collection of Appalachian literature with our community.”
The library has since responded by cataloging the collection in a more convenient way for readers. A list of books available can be viewed at library.ws.edu/ appalachian.
“I have pulled all of the books related to Appalachia and placed them in a more centrally located area. Books are organized by topic: ecology, folklore, music, cooking and so,” said WSCC Reference Libarian Ann Richards.
“Usage of these titles has grown significantly since we did this. I hope that the publicity from the Mildred Haun conference will make the community more aware of this specialized collection,” Richards added.
Community library cards are available to nonstudents who wish to utilize the library’s resources. With few exceptions, all services are available.
For more information, contact the library at 423-585-6946.
For more information about the Mildred Haun Conference, visit ws.edu/ MildredHaunConference or call the division of humanities at 423-585-6922.