With its unique high ceilings buttressed by rafters, the Fairview Library creates a magical and inspiring environment that overlooks the ancient mountains we call home here in Buncombe County. Librarian Jill Scobie whimsically describes it best: “Lying just off the beaten path up a quiet road, our open, airy layout literally gives people space to breathe and relax in an oasis of order and peace. Our windows look out onto beautiful landscaping. With lots of forward-facing book covers throughout the library, browsing feels interactive and serendipitous.” That imagery paired with a word-class staff is why the Fairview Library has been a community mainstay for nearly a quarter of a century. Librarian Brandon Widner says the cozy and bright space offers up a bit of something for everyone. “I think because Fairview is such a small community, there aren’t many places that are seen as a definitive community hub, but the library slots in perfectly and fills that role. Whether that be socially and educationally, or through entertainment and resources, we fill in for a lot of different institutions that larger communities have more readily available,” he explains.
And those resources have been meticulously crafted with the specialized knowledge of the staff. Branch Manager Jaime McDowell says they are very intentional about diversifying offerings. “The Fairview community is still pretty rural, and our library is a major cultural center out here. We love that and take that responsibility seriously by bringing interesting lectures, art exhibits, storytellers, musicians, classes, and high-quality children’s programming to this part of the County,” says Jaime. Piggybacking off that sentiment, Librarian Dearing Davis notes the staff collectively makes the library’s programs and resources come to life. “Our staff is so knowledgeable, talented, and fun. Each individual staff member has a unique set of talents and skills they contribute to make up a collaborative, entertaining, and productive team,” she exclaims, adding the library itself acts as a central character. “The building is warm, inviting, and draws people in with its bright, spacious layout. There are areas for reading, studying, playing games, and creating art. The large community room allows for meetings and programs that welcome the entire community. The solar panels make the building energy efficient, and our outside spaces allow for the perfect blend of sunshine, rest, and the creation of chalk art.”
For Librarian Angie Cathcart, all those amazing amenities add up to one thing she says makes the Fairview Library special. “Smiles. Lots of smiles from lovely, happy patrons and an amazing, caring staff,” she says, noting there’s another feature people flock to. “One resource I feel is invaluable to the Fairview community members is our computer study stations. I have often seen patrons using our computers to take continuing education classes because they live in a rural part of the community with limited or no internet access,” explains Angie. And all of those smiling faces is Librarian Ann Fahres’ favorite thing about her job. “Libraries are about more than collections; they are about people. Our patrons get a personal touch, are greeted warmly – many by name –, and served with respect, understanding, and even humor. They are remembered and feel seen. It is heartwarming to hear families say, ‘This is our favorite library,’ and ‘We don’t live nearby but we come here.’”
All these resources and personal attention from staff create a genuine community where real relationships are created. Librarian Jennifer Prince says it really is hard to name just one thing that makes it unique. “The community we serve, the architecture of the building, the landscaping - all of it makes this library special and amazing. So many people (several of whom have passed away) dreamed and worked to make this library a reality and help it grow and thrive,” she says. Of course, Jaime says they are continually working to incentivize people to congregate there. From Fancy Nancy Month to a carefully curated selection of pop-up books, the staff is always innovating. But the unexpected and indisputable crowd-pleaser? “If you haven’t been to BINGO at Fairview Library, you’re missing out,” laughs Jaime. “We’ve got bad prizes and good prizes and bad jokes and definitely not good jokes with a room filled with folks of all ages and all abilities laughing and playing this game of chance together. It really is everything I love about the library packed into an afternoon.” Bingo! It’s no game of chance this talented staff has created a community resource with an imaginative blend of traditional and unorthodox programing and services.
Fairview 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: Jaime McDowell, Jennifer Prince, Brandon Widner, Jill Scobie, Dearing Davis, Angie Cathcart, and Ann Fahres.
Resources, services, and offerings: Art exhibit space, book clubs, computer access, free Wi-fi, meeting room, ongoing used book sale, outdoor seating, printing and copying, research help, story times, Teacher Subject Request service, large outdoor green space, large print computer station, active Friends of the Library organization.
Unique services and hidden gems: Online book club, family BINGO, Take and Play program (check out puzzles and board games), drive-through books pickup, Fancy Nancy month, pop-up books, monthly Tuesday Night Speaker series, creative writing classes, art classes, in-house craft station for kids.
Additional thoughts from staff:
- “We go the extra mile for our patrons seeking materials or information. If it requires a little research, we usually follow up within 24 hours by phone or email. Our patrons really appreciate that. We had a patron looking for American movies that had optional dubbing in French and/or German. We connected with Cataloging to find a way to search for that feature and found it.” – Jill
- “We had a parent come a few months back and tell us how proud they were of their child getting into college. They were long-time patrons, and they said their child learned to love learning and reading by coming to story time and working with Jennifer, our YS specialist, on finding books that were just right for them. She was adamant that her child’s success was because of that early exposure to the library and the relationship they were able to build with the librarians. Being able to hear those stories of direct impact – that’s library magic.” – Jaime
- “A couple of times I have provided reader’s advisory for a parent only to have them return in the following weeks to request the rest of the series for their elementary age student. It is such a delight to engage young readers! Also, we had a patron who was enraptured by a TV Series that he had been watching on DVD. Unfortunately, the Cardinal system only had four of the five seasons of this series! With the help of the wonderful folks at PACK we were able to order the fifth season and help this patron find out the rest of the story. He called back elated that we could assist him in this way!” – Dearing
- “As a patron, I really appreciate the large-print collection. My elderly father has limited sight but is an avid reader and loves books. He also has diminished hearing and does not enjoy audio books. But I am able to find books that he really enjoys from Fairview’s collection as well as throughout the Cardinal System. I have noticed that we have many elderly patrons that rely on our large-print collection as well.” – Angie
- “I love working with our patrons, building connections with them, seeing our juvenile patrons grow up, and all of this is made better by Fairview being such a hub surrounded by a close-knit and passionate small community.” – Brandon
- “While my job of placing and keeping everything in order suits my task-oriented personality, I love seeing the result – the library neat and tidy for our patrons and staff. I make a difference.” -- Ann