Wednesday, June 22 2022

Some of you will recall that I have three novels available for purchase in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.co.uk. A fourth book will be available later this year. While I’m not shy about promoting my novels, this column isn’t about that.

This is Northeast State Community College and its library.

I recently had the opportunity to give a talk on how I came to write my novels, including doing readings from all three and a book signing, at the Wayne G. Basler Library on campus. main NSCC next to Tri-Cities Airport. The event took place in a conference room on the second floor of the library. It was an enriching experience.

The dean of the library, Chris Demas, introduced me and I had the opportunity to tell him about the college library. I learned some very interesting things, and when I got home and did some more research online, I learned even more.

The NSCC Library has locations in the Basler Library Building on the Airport Campus (Blountville) and at the Kingsport Center for Higher Education. The library contains 70,000 print volumes and offers e-book and audiobook subscription services that expand the available resources to several hundred thousand volumes. (I don’t know exactly how many; I stopped counting at about 500,000.) Upon discovering the resources of the NSCC library, I reflected, once again, on what a remarkable asset Northeast State Community College is. for our region.

Because the NSCC is just as regional as its complementary institution of public higher education, East Tennessee State University. In fact, the two complement each other very well. ETSU offers a traditional four-year college education in a variety of programs, including several graduate and professional degrees. It has a traditional, “film” college campus, which includes intercollegiate sports.

NSCC, with campuses at the airport and in Kingsport, Johnson City and Elizabethton, offers a somewhat cheaper and more localized opportunity to obtain either vocational training ending in two-year diplomas or certificates, or the first two years of college, with credits that transfer almost anywhere. Its value to the greater Tri-Cities community in providing both cannot be underestimated.

It’s not hard to find people who have benefited from a start at Northeast State. The law firm I’m still ‘advising’ at is not a ‘big business’, but it does have two junior associates who went to NSCC before transferring to King’s University and ETSU, respectively. (Another partner started at a community college in Kentucky.) I think the audit will reveal that most companies in the area can designate employees who have NSCC degrees in one field or another.

I went to college at a school that had, and still has, a “movie set” campus. (I can say this honestly because movies have been shot there.) I really enjoyed the experience, but I’m fully aware that the financial landscape of going to a traditional four-year college has changed a lot since I started. was at school. Tuition at my alma mater is now 10 times what it was when I enrolled there. I did a little checking and found that to be pretty typical.

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Thus, the value of the community college alternative in today’s educational climate is immense. True, its students won’t have the experience (or expense) of living on campus, or joining a fraternity or sorority and living in a “house,” or going to a football game. or college basketball on campus.

But community college students can take courses locally at low cost, interact with other students, and participate in social activities and events.

They can live at home and can often work and go to school at the same time. And, I might add, attend classes and study in a pleasant environment.

Northeast State campuses are not “movie sets” in the sense of campuses in places like Charlottesville, Chapel Hill, and even Johnson City.

But they are modern, well-lit, attractive and scrupulously clean.

This is not only true of the Blountville campus, but also of those in Kingsport, Johnson City and Elizabethton.

Classrooms are not old, dreary and outdated. They are modern, airy and wired for the 21st century.

Whenever I visit one of the Northeast State campuses, I always think, “I bet these kids like going to school here.” And the students I talk to tell me yes.

And then there are the books. All these books. Including mine. Let’s not forget that.

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