Citing it as “the standard for the County’s library system moving forward,” it’s easy to tell Buncombe County Library Director Jim Blanton is pleased with the new East Asheville Library. And he thinks the community is going to be just as charmed. “The new facility is exciting for the expanded service it will provide. In terms of the value to the community, it will serve as a vibrant hub for discovery and engagement,” exclaims Blanton. “Patrons will have access to a wide variety of materials, computer and internet access, educational and entertaining programming for all ages, and plentiful space for meetings and gatherings.”
There will definitely be more room to breathe for services, resources, programming, and patrons as the new facility is more than five times bigger than the original building built in 1965. The new facility will be the first of Buncombe County’s library portfolio to offer rooms for studying and small group meetings. It also boasts a dedicated space for art programming, children’s activity room, and a 1,402-square foot community room that can be divided into two areas both equipped with projectors.
Commission Chair Brownie Newman is delighted with the opportunities it will provide the East Asheville community and County at-large. “The East Asheville Library has been one of our community’s busiest but smallest libraries. The original building served us well for many decades, but the community had clearly outgrown the capacity of the older facility,” explains Newman. “We are excited about the new facility, which was designed based on extensive public input and will serve this growing part of the community for years to come.”
County Manager Avril Pinder notes this is the first new facility to open since her tenure started in 2019. “For me, I’m proud of the process we used to bring a state-of-the-art library branch to Buncombe County,” says Pinder. “This truly is the community’s building. When you look around, you can see tangible results from the multiple community input sessions we had to arrive at this point. It’s an amazing result from the intersection of government and public collaboration.”
That community involvement process also helped deliver the County’s first LEED certified building, a major component of the 2025 Strategic Plan. “It was designed with a variety of energy efficiencies to achieve this status including water-use reductions, optimization of energy usage, use of low-emitting materials, electric vehicle charging stations, assessment of indoor air quality, and construction and demolition waste management,” explains Blanton.
County Library Board Chair Ruth O’Donnell says her first impression was, “Wow!” O’Donnell has been instrumental in helping the community get a library that reflects its needs and wants, noting its “modern feel, with lots of natural light, a bright color scheme, and welcoming vibe” will be sure to please patrons. “This community worked hard to get a new library, and they are going to love the results. The generous amount of meeting spaces more than take the place of the former community spaces that used to be in this area of Asheville,” says O’Donnell, also noting that visitors of all ages will find “special treats” in the design and furnishings.
Additionally, adjacent to the new library will be a brand new community playground and basketball court. The updated playground will be a national demonstration site featuring sensory-based equipment. And to help nearby neighbors safely walk to the new library and playground, a new crosswalk will be installed at Tunnel and Avon roads.
The East Asheville Library officially opens to the public on May 1. Regular hours are as follows:
- Tuesdays 2-7 p.m.
- Wednesday 1-6 p.m.
- Thursday 1-6 p.m.
- Friday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
By the numbers
- The East Asheville Library is Buncombe County’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building.
- Building square footage: 13,906.
- Total cost: $6,977,466.
- 1,402-square foot community meeting room which can be divided for separate meetings with each side equipped with a projector for displaying presentations.
- Two small group meeting/study rooms totaling 268 square feet. Each room has a large screen television for displaying meeting presentations.
- 689-square foot children’s activity room.
- 347-square foot specialized arts programming space.
- Eight public computers.
- Updated community playground and basketball court.