A new tourism map produced by National Geographic Magazine and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is directing travelers to a Mississippi State attraction. The John Grisham Room of the university’s Mitchell Memorial Library is among fewer than 400 sites---and one of only 17 in Mississippi---featured in a new tourism guide. The new directory covers attractions in a 13-state Appalachian region stretching from Pennsylvania to the Deep South. More than 1,000 sites originally were nominated.
Nearly a million copies of the Map Guide to Appalachia are inserted in the April issue of National Geographic’s Traveler magazine. The maps will also be available while supplies last through the Mississippi Division of Tourism. “This is a tremendous honor for Mississippi State and for the MSU Libraries,” said Frances N. Coleman, Dean of Libraries. “The Grisham Room currently draws about 6,000 visitors annually, and we anticipate that more will soon discover its resources.”
Donated in 1998 and located on the Library’s third floor, the room features displays of papers and materials donated by John Grisham, a 1977 MSU graduate and best-selling novelist. In addition to manuscript materials, photographs, correspondence, and promotional materials, the public exhibit features foreign language versions of the author’s novels as well as media accounts and other items about the author and his works.
The partnership between ARC and National Geographic was launched last fall. The common goal of each is to promote geotourism through the region’s culture and heritage, according to Mike Armour, director of the Mississippi ARC office. “Sites were selected after extensive research to show the region’s rich, diverse, and in many cases, undiscovered assets,” he explained. Among other Mississippi sites in the Golden Triangle are Waverly Mansion in West Point and the Tennessee Williams birthplace in Columbus. Calling cultural heritage tourism “the fastest-growing sector of the travel market,” Armour said, “we hope that travel and tourism-related businesses will realize increased benefits from this project and that travelers will have enjoyable and educational experiences.”
Presently, the National Geographic “Travel” web site receives between four and seven million hits each month, he added. The Map Guide to Appalachia is available online at: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/appalachia/. Armour said the project’s successful launch owes much to the “invaluable support” of Governor Haley Barbour, the Mississippi Development Authority’s tourism office, MDA Deputy Directory Bill Crawford, and the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District.
The Grisham Room is open 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. weekdays. For more information on the Grisham Room, telephone (662) 325-2559 or visit http://library.msstate.edu/grisham_room/.
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