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Let the NC Literary Map Be Your Guide

If you’ve been to a Network conference in the past few years, then you’ve likely chatted with a representative from the North Carolina Literary Map. They’ve been an exciting and constant presence in our exhibit hall since their founding in 2010. In the last six years, they’ve developed a unique program that has positioned them as stewards of North Carolina’s literary heritage and an irreplaceable piece of our state’s literary, well, map.

The mission of the North Carolina Literary Map is to highlight the literary heritage of the state by connecting the lives and creative work of authors to real (and imaginary) geographic locations. Through the development of a searchable and browseable data-driven online map, users are able to access a database, learning tools, and cultural resources, to deepen their understanding of specific authors as well as the cultural space that shaped these literary works.

Here’s how it works. Go to http://library.uncg.edu/dp/nclitmap. (Yes, they need a new URL. It’s shorter than it used to be, though!) Click on “Search by Author.” Enter an author’s last name. “Maron,” say, for 2016 North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee “Margaret Maron.”

This returns one record. Click on her name to bring up the author page for Margaret Maron. Author pages include complete bibliographies with links to the books; awards specific to North Carolina that were won by the author, and you can even click on the name of the county where Margaret is from—Johnston—to see all the other authors associated with Johnston County.

The selection criteria of the North Carolina Literary Map are broad and inclusive. The criteria focuses on works written about North Carolina and authors who were born in North Carolina, who currently live or have lived in North Carolina, who have written about North Carolina, or who have made a significant contribution to the North Carolina’s literary landscape. The author must have at least one publication cataloged by the Library of Congress. At this time, the Map includes only works that have a physical equivalent and does not include literary articles, self-publishing houses, works published by vanity presses, or works only available from an individual website.

The website also offers a list (with links) of North-Carolina based literary magazines; lesson plans for schoolteachers; and the ability to search by genre or book, as well as browse North Carolina authors by specific criteria. Visitors can search for books that take place in North Carolina towns, including the fictional Falls, NC, made famous by NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Allan Gurganus! Hopefully Cotton Grove, where Margaret Maron’s Bootlegger’s Daughter series takes place, will be added soon.

The more time one spends with the website, the more gems reveal themselves. For example, NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Randall Jarrell’s author page links to his letters.

The NC Literary Map is a joint program of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro University Libraries; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; and the State Library of North Carolina.