KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A new campus library at Pellissippi State Community College is serving as a place to explore and celebrate the region’s vibrant culture. 

Pellissippi State is celebrating the new Strawberry Plains Campus Library in Knoxville. 

“I believe academic libraries are really the heart of a campus,” said Mary Ellen Spencer, dean of library services. 

The library is designed as a productive and social space where students can enjoy peer learning. It repurposed 9,000 square feet on the main level and offers study rooms, a virtual reality space and a multipurpose room. It also houses the Appalachian Heritage Project

“Through the project, our hope is that students especially and members of our community will come to be very proud of their Appalachian past,” Spencer said. 

The project was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and donations. Spencer said students and community members can learn about the regional literature, history and folklore. 

“So often when you say the word Appalachia to someone they think of black and white 1930s photographs and our goal is to celebrate our past but really focus on what we want Appalachia to be going forward,” Spencer said. 

The project has already been offering quarterly programming while the campus library was under construction. They will kick off educational programming in the new space with an Appalachian Showcase Winter Exhibition featuring art, photographs and music. 

“I think having the project in the library will elevate students’ experiences because they will be learning about the humanities, but it will be in the context of our region, and I think that’s an exciting combination for our students,” Spencer said. 

The library is currently on schedule to open in mid-October. Visit its website to learn more about the Appalachian Heritage Project’s quarterly programming.