Analyzing Appalachian Media for Purposeful Usage

When community scholars, undergraduate students, or professors at Berea College have research needs concerning Appalachian culture or history, Faber Library serves them. Hutchins Library, housing more extensive archives related to Appalachia, is a great in-depth resource for researchers while Faber Library serves as a more accessible, down-to-earth research space for the general academic consumer. Users of the Faber Library rely on high-quality materials that are easily accessible. Anecdotal evidence showed that problems existed in the usage of Faber library and we felt we could enhance its function by utilizing articles analyzing Appalachian library organization, taking inspiration from other Appalachian libraries, and surveying data from stakeholders and focus group discussions to consider ways to ensure Faber Library would be more user-friendly for patrons. Our analysis confirmed some of our initial observations: that use of Faber Library was sometimes compromised by hours of operation, a general lack of awareness of the library, and difficulty in locating materials within the stacks. We worked to ameliorate some of these concerns by clarifying library hours; improving digital presence; reorganizing materials; and designing clear informational signs to support its use, in addition to aesthetic improvements. The outcome of this process is that patrons can now more readily access Faber materials, while some changes will still continue to progress. We predict increased use of library materials based on our work. The resulting changes, if found to be successful, could be adapted by other Appalachian libraries to better support patrons.