Librarians assembling Co-Lin history project

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, February 17, 2011

In March of 2009, he was looking for a book. He rummaged highand low through the Evelyn W. Oswalt Library on the Wesson campusof Copiah-Lincoln Community College for a particular piece oftext.

As he rifled through shelves and cabinets he found pieces ofinformation from Co-Lin Agricultural High School, Junior Collegeand Community College. Soon, he had a full table related toCo-Lin.

“I can’t remember what was in (the book) that we were lookingfor,” said Library Director Ken Chapman while recalling the searchincident.

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As the table stood full of Wesson history, the librarian feltthere was no need to displace the information again, so heapproached college President Dr. Ronnie Nettles and asked for afiling cabinet.

“We needed something to preserve it,” said Chapman.

In April of 2009, Chapman and Assistant Librarian Sonya Cowenfilled the first filing cabinet with information about Co-Lin fromthe library. However, the request for a filing cabinet would leadto much more.

“Dr. Nettles is kind of the new generation,” said Chapman. “He’sthe seventh president, but he did not grow up here and he’s notfamiliar with a lot of the names on buildings and streets.”

In an attempt to not only educate the college’s president, butanyone unfamiliar with the rich history of Co-Lin, Chapman andCowen began researching building and street names.

In the end, the librarians created “Almost a Hundred.”

At roughly 140 pages of text, the book is filled with picturesand information relating to more than just the names on buildingsand streets around the college’s Wesson campus. Inside the book arepictures and information of the college’s presidents, alumni,stories and various information pertaining to Co-Lin fromagricultural high school to community college dating back to thefirst meeting of the high school’s trustees in December of1914.

“We’ve been a continuous educational institution since 1915,”said Chapman. “There’s a lot more to Co-Lin than what we aretoday.”

The completion of the book, the gathering of more informationand the addition of two more filing cabinets have all helped thelibrarians with the Copiah-Lincoln Archives and History Project.Chapman and Cowen have been collecting annuals, college catalogs,pictures, programs and just about anything else Co-Lin they can gettheir hands on.

“We’re trying to preserve everything because once you lose it,you can’t go back and recreate it,” said Chapman.

The Co-Lin project and book have been special to theresearchers.

Chapman has been working at Co-Lin for 35 years and is thethird-longest full-time employee at Co-Lin. Cowen attendedCopiah-Lincoln Junior College and Agricultural High School and hasrelatives who have attended Co-Lin in the 1920s, 1980s and1990s.

“It stirs memories every day,” said Cowen. “When you’re young itdoesn’t matter, but when you’re older history is more important toyou.”

Chapman and Cowen are in constant search of anything pertainingto Co-Lin’s history. They work throughout the day staring at agedtexts and pictures, piecing together the history of Co-Lin with nofinish line in sight.

“It ends for us when we retire,” joked Chapman.