East Carolina University's library began collecting North Caroliniana soon after the school opened in 1909. By the early 1940s, when the growing collection was housed in a room in what is now Whichard Building, special efforts were made to collect, preserve, and provide access to library materials pertaining to the state. Wendell Smiley, East Carolina's librarian from 1943 to 1973, strengthened the library's commitment to developing the North Carolina Collection. He hired Mrs. Frankie Cubbedge in 1962 to serve as librarian of the collection. Several years later he provided a spacious reading room for the collection in an addition to J. Y. Joyner Library. Miss Marguerite Wiggins, who served as librarian from 1968 until 1991, greatly expanded the collection's holdings, placing emphasis on North Carolina history. Library Director Kenneth E. Marks in 1990 placed the North Carolina Collection within the Archives and Manuscripts Department (now Special Collections Department). Six years later the North Carolina Collection moved into spacious new facilities on the third floor of a major addition to Joyner Library. The collection became a separate department in 1999 and in 2000 was renamed in honor of ECU benefactor Verona Joyner Langford.
Today the Verona Joyner Langford North Carolina Collection serves a dual purpose. First, it strives to meet the information needs of the students and faculty of East Carolina University. In fulfilling this responsibility, the collection makes available current and historical information, in a variety of formats, pertaining to the entire state. In addition, materials reflecting the history of Eastern North Carolina and its people are being acquired in an effort to build upon the North Carolina Collection's strength as an important research facility available to the people of Eastern North Carolina.