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Community, relationships, support, location… depending on which staff member you ask, they’ll give you an indisputable answer about what makes the Black Mountain Library special. Branch Manager Melisa Pressley sums it up succinctly when she states, “The Black Mountain Library truly is an anchor in the community.” Celebrating 100 years of service in 2022, this branch has matured and had time to become one of Black Mountain’s backbones. Its centralized location in downtown makes it easy for people to develop relationships with other patrons and librarians. It’s the kind of place where you are on a first-name basis with almost everyone. Librarian Amy Drever shares the perfect example of the spirit of comradery fostered by the library: “I answered a call on New Year’s Eve from a patron who was simply calling to wish the staff a Happy New Year and to thank us for our service to the community.”
A large contributor to the support the Black Mountain branch receives is from the Friends of the Library group. Librarian Michelle Ruedin calls them the most dedicated group of volunteers ever. “They work hard to raise funding and awareness for our branch. [This] branch wouldn't be anywhere near as wonderful as it is without their dedication,” raves Michelle. And with all the offerings available at the Black Mountain Library, it’s easy to find a reason to be so fiercely dedicated. From story times to the free seed library and seasonal displays to the free art library, there’s always a something interesting and unique available. Librarian Abigail Clarkson says one of the greatest joys is introducing new members, “I love giving out new library cards and watching peoples’ mouths literally drop open when I describe all the resources that are available to them through the library.” Helping add to that sense of awe is what Librarian Laura Edmonds describes as a, “Love of literature, art, and creativity that we embody in daily library activities to big programs.” She also notes it never hurts to pick their brains because they have, “Knowledge of literature and beyond… like some really cool places in town and the woods.”
Over the course of its 100 years of service, the Black Mountain Library has evolved from a traditional library to an invaluable community resource that has offered up courses on everything from cooking and gardening, facilitated book clubs and poetry open mics, helped the town through the COVID-19 pandemic, and more. When you walk through the doors, whether it be the seasonal displays or smiling faces of children and staff; there’s something tangible about the importance of this library in the heart of downtown. Librarian Kasey Edwards brings it back to the community as the primary reason the Black Mountain Library is so distinctive. “[What I like most about my job is] the relationship with both my coworkers and patrons. I love that I can make fun displays or seasonal decor for the library! Patrons’ faces light up when they come in to see the circulation desk has been covered in flowers or snowmen the children have colored,” exclaims Kasey. Come find your community at the Black Mountain Library, it truly is a place for books, bonds, and beyond.
Getting to Know Our Libraries will be a monthly feature highlighting Buncombe County’s library branches. Stay tuned to learn more about all 12 of our branches.
Black Mountain Library overview
Hours: Tuesday 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Wednesday-Friday 10 a.m-6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Staff: Melisa Pressley; Abigail Clarkson; Amy Drever; Kasey Edwards; Laura Edmonds; Michelle Ruedin
Resources, services, and offerings: Art exhibit space; book club; computer access, free Wi-Fi; meeting room; used books sales; printing and copying; research help; story times; tax help.
Unique services and hidden gems: Piano reservations; free seed library and garden plots; free art library for taking and leaving projects; releasing of Monarch butterflies; staff’s knowledge of literature and beyond; the parent-teacher section.
Additional thoughts from staff:
- “The relationships we build with patrons is a valued part of working at the Black Mountain Library. I love the patrons and find the community of Black Mountain to be supportive of the library and appreciative of the services provided.” – Amy Drever
- “I love the satisfaction that comes with teaching someone how to use technology to meet their goals. The number one thing I hear from patrons regularly is that they love the genuine community connections they build and nourish at our branch, patrons with staff and patrons among one another.” – Michelle Ruedin
- “The Black Mountain Library was built in 1968 through fundraising by the Friends of the Black Mountain Library who felt Black Mountain deserved a brand-new building after outgrowing space in City Hall. It was a grassroots effort and continues to be a point of pride for the community.” – Melisa Pressley
- “I love being able to hear snippets of story time with Ms. Lulu. A hidden gem is our piano, which is available in our community room. Our patrons love that they are known by us and receive friendly and knowledgeable service.” – Abigail Clarkson
- “We truly saw the love and support [the community] has for their library during COVID-19 and the facilities study that took place last year.” – Kasey Edwards
- “What I like most about my job as a youth services librarian is story times and finding answers.” – Laura Edmonds