The Stirling Collection of the James H. Carson Library was established with the aim of preserving a variety of materials relating to the Southern Appalachian region. In 1929, when Alison B. Stirling joined Lees-McRae College as its first librarian, one of her goals was to create a special North Carolina and Appalachian Collection. Miss Stirling's goal was in full accord with the college's motto: "In, of, and for the mountains." Her creation has proven to be farsighted in its lasting benefits to a succession of researchers, authors, journalists, students and faculty for whom the special collection bearing her name is a rich, unique and multifaceted resource.
The cataloged material in the Stirling, or North Carolina Room, includes books, pamphlets, sound recordings (folk music and tales and field interviews), videotapes, and microfilm (primarily local area newspapers). It is classified by the Dewey system.
Most of the uncataloged materials consist of loose clippings, brochures, leaflets and other such media in the collection's vertical files. A subject guide to the vertical files identifies general categories. A series of box files preserves materials on topics with a proliferating literature or of a particular interest. Other uncataloged material includes maps and prints.
The collection contains many artifacts; these range from an impressive hand-built lathe once used in the campus woodworking shop to pottery by famed North Carolina master potter Ben Owen. The collection doubles, then, as a campus museum.
The photos, artifacts, papers and many other items related to the history of Lees-McRae College are located in the archives of Lees-McRae College.