Pellissippi State unveils improvements to Blount County Campus library

Ed Harmon unveils his name above the library on the Pellissippi State Blount County Campus
William “Ed” Harmon, right, unveils his name above the library on the Pellissippi State Blount County Campus on Wednesday, June 19, assisted by Blount County Campus Librarian Will Buck, left.

Panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains, natural light from a semicircle of nine large windows and shorter shelving accessible to those who use wheelchairs are among the changes students will discover when they visit the library on Pellissippi State Community College’s Blount County Campus.

The improvements were unveiled Wednesday during a ceremony naming the library in honor of Pellissippi State donor William “Ed” Harmon, who has committed $100,000 to help build the Blount County Workforce Development Center on Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus.

“The space is just transformed,” said Dean of Library Services Mary Ellen Spencer. “It looks so much larger.”

Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett agreed.

“The library is, by far, the most open, most naturally lit and most inviting area on this campus,” she said.

Three large shelves previously dominated the library, blocking not only the light from the room’s soaring windows, but also the line of sight from the service desk to the library’s computers, which were located around the perimeter of the room.

“When a person was struggling or needed help, we couldn’t see them,” Spencer said, adding that the library’s glass display cases also were hidden from view by the large shelves.

Removing the tall shelving and replacing it with shorter stacks that fit beneath the windows along the wall not only flooded the room with natural light, but also made the library collections accessible to those who use wheelchairs.

Meanwhile, the library’s computers were moved to a different area of the room, closer to the printer and to the service desk, and existing furniture was rearranged to make the library “much more student-friendly” and conducive for collaboration. Students who don’t want to use one of the library’s desktop computers can check out laptops or tablets and use them at four-top tables located throughout the library.

“The space looks twice as big; it’s night and day,” Spencer said. “We’re very excited to show off this inviting, welcoming atmosphere.”

William "Ed" Harmon and Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett pose inside the newly improved Blount County Campus library.
Ed Harmon and Blount County Campus Dean Holly Burkett pose inside the newly improved Blount County Campus library on Wednesday, July 19. In the background you can see the shorter shelving, which not only allows natural light to flood the room from the massive windows, but also is accessible to those who use wheelchairs.

Naming the library in honor of Harmon was a natural fit, as the Maryville native has been supporting Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus since 2004, when the college was located in the old Bungalow School. In fact, much of the framed artwork located throughout the Blount County Campus was donated by Harmon, said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr.

“It means a lot to me,” Harmon said at the unveiling ceremony Wednesday. “I have been blessed with so many friends, and I appreciate you all coming.”

Harmon’s most recent gift to the college –  $100,000 to build the Blount County Workforce Development Center – will benefit not only Pellissippi State, Wise noted, but also the community.

“Our students who graduate from here stay here,” Wise said, noting the Blount County Workforce Development Center will include alignment with Alcoa City, Maryville City and Blount County schools; Tennessee College of Applied Technology; and the college’s industry partners. “We are all in this together to create great jobs and careers for the people who want to live and work here.”

For more information on the Blount County Workforce Development Center or to make a donation in support of the project, which Pellissippi State hopes to break ground on by the end of this year, visit www.pstcc.edu/campaignforpellissippistate/workforce.

For more photos of the event, check out Pellissippi State on Facebook.

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