More space means more opportunities for everything from creativity to community. The modern design of the newly built East Asheville Library is symbolic of the up-to-date offerings the nearly 14,000-square foot facility provides. From a rotating art space to monthly mystery creature game and ample room for community meetings and individual study sessions, this is far beyond your average library. And it’s easy to see why patrons are in awe of this community resource as many of the library’s amenities are based on public feedback. “Our library patrons were really involved in campaigning for a new library here in East Asheville and a lot of the community’s ideas went into planning the building,” explains Branch Manager Alexa Duncan. “It has so many cool and innovative spaces and features… It’s so colorful and inviting, with all kinds of nooks to sit in and read. I also love that so many patrons know each other.”
The abundance of space provides the opportunity for solitary pursuits, from homework to recreational reading. “We have quiet, private study rooms for use – we're the only branch with them. And we’ve got a nice nook with a table in the teen area,” notes Library Assistant Leah Worster, who adds one of her favorite features of the library are the variety of craft kits available for checkout.
Of course, hardware only goes so far if you don’t have creative and passionate staff helping curate unique programming, resources, and more. Innovative learning opportunities like the afterschool art studios and the Black Experience Book Club help the East Asheville Library foster gatherings. “I love the sense of place and community. Every day is an opportunity to connect with amazing folks,” says Youth Services Specialist Chris Neely. “I love our diversity of programming as well the opportunities for community groups to connect in our amazing meeting rooms. Our Flowstate art space is also a fantastic hub that brings people together through creativity.” Flowstate is an everchanging room with modular walls that can feature community-created projects like magnet poetry or host exhibits from artists in residence.
Beyond diversity in programming and arts, the branch boasts an impressive spread of non-English movies, magazines, audio books, and good old fashioned paperbacks and hardcovers, with Spanish, French, and Russian offerings. And the assortment of book offerings goes well beyond language extending into genres, subjects, and more. “The exposure to the variety of books our patrons favor has broadened the scope of my own reading interests,” exclaims Library Assistant Izzy Guerra, who also notes the nonanalog resources are just as important. “I’m happy that we provide computer use. It’s easy to take for granted that not everyone has access to computers and the internet. Like books, they provide information and resources that are important.”
Ultimately, the most important aspect of the East Asheville Library is making everyone feel welcome and helping them find information, services, and resources that are relevant. “There’s a lot of intentional misinformation about transgender people and our experiences, which makes it hard to have open conversations and find good information,” says Library Assistant Takira Rose. “It's not officially in my job description, but I want people to know that I'm here to offer reading recommendations and have open, judgment-free conversations with my neighbors who may be struggling to accept queer people in their lives.” Buncombe County is proud to have a facility, staff, and community that help make the East Asheville Library a space that has room for everyone.
East Asheville 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: Alexa Duncan, Chris Neely, Takira Rose, Anders Joura, Leah Worster, and Izzy Guerra
Resources, services, and offerings: Hotspot lending, free wi-fi, public computers with internet, printing and copying, ongoing used book sale, public transit access, nearby park and playground.
Unique services and hidden gems: Study spaces, 689-square foot children’s activity room, 1,402-square foot community meeting room, large variety of non-English media, craft kits, monthly mystery creatures, Flowstate community art space, electric vehicle charging stations, Crankie Storytime.
Additional thoughts from staff:
- “What I like most about my job is getting to plan new programs and activities for our patrons with my awesome, creative coworkers. I feel so lucky to work with people who are full of ideas about fun things to learn and ways to make the library better for everyone who comes through the doors.” – Alexa
- “The patrons often voice their joy at connecting with our amazing staff. Often patrons will thank staff members for conversation or positivity. I think our staff members are our greatest asset.” – Chris
- “I know it may seem like a new building isn’t important but I’m sure many people are coming more often because it’s a very inviting and homey place. It promotes the idea that libraries are still vital whereas some older and decrepit buildings can make them appear as a thing of the past.” – Izzy
- Takira shares two of her most memorable pieces of visitor feedback [slightly trimmed for length]:
- “Opportunities like this are why I was so excited to move here 20 years ago, and I'm so proud of my community for building a library like this one. I turned inward during the pandemic and I was starting to lose hope in my community... but I'm so glad I finally came in here today and you welcomed me."
- “In the country where I grew up, books were very expensive. We had public libraries, but there were not accessible of welcoming. It's such a different mentality in America, and I feel like people here often take it for granted. Every time I come in here I get a little choked up because of how amazing it is to have so many books freely available.”