I’m Katie Whetzel, a graduate student in the Library and Information Studies program and while loving to read is not a requirement to be a librarian that is how I got interested in working with the NC Literary Map. I work in Special Collections and Archives as a graduate assistant. I research basically anybody remotely related to NC and enter their biography/published literature into the map.
Clyde Edgerton, Margaret Maron, Kathy Reichs and Timothy Tyson are all among my favorite authors. One reason is that they’re all fantastic writers. The other is because I’m connected to North Carolina and its people when I read about the characters. I’m a North Carolinian all the way- love the bbq, am spoiled by having the mountains and beach so close, and am a basketball fan only when the NCAA comes around.
I enjoy coming across authors who live or wrote about a place that I’ve actually been. I even end up looking at original manuscripts that Special Collections has since I’m already here. It is awesome looking at original illustrations and handwritten notes made by the author. The NC Literary Map allows me to do research on stuff that I would never do in my spare time. I’ve learned that the famous line from Sunset Boulevard, “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up” refers to Cecil DeMille (the father of Hollywood) who grew up in Washington, NC (It’s east of Greenville, for those of you who would have to look it up on a map like me). Another interesting fact about North Carolina is the experimental college started in 1933 in Asheville. Black Mountain College was open for only 23 years and yet people still talk about it. It seems like something that lasted only that long should have faded away by now, but the number of people who went on to be extremely influential is unbelievable. From my research, everyone keeps saying that the works of ‘Black Mountain writers’ are so varied from each other that they can’t be grouped together. I find it kinda crazy that NC can lay claim to something so radically different and out of the box.
It’s that connection between me, history and that quirky Southern culture which I love (and the latter which I’m slightly fearful is disappearing) that keeps my interest. I consider this research to be pretty much like reading People magazine or being obsessed about celebrities’ lives. These people just live closer and some details are just as scandalous! If you’re interested, you can check out the NC Literary Map here: http://library.uncg.edu/dp/nclitmap/