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Creative Corner: North Asheville Library Provides Imaginative Landscape, Refuge, & Resources

North Asheville Library

Welcome to the busiest library in Buncombe County, where you might also have a puppet check out your books. To say the North Asheville Library is unique is an understatement. As the lobby plaque adorned with names of some 500 patrons who donated to help furnish the facility attests, this is also a place where community runs deep and is ingrained in everything. A hub for inclusivity and eccentricity; the North Asheville Library is a phenomenal monument to nurturing a community and staff’s creativity in pursuit of being a resource reflective of the people. “We have an amazing group of people who work here,” exclaims Branch Manager Matt Phillips. “I’m always impressed by the creativity, thoughtfulness, and work ethic of our team. Our branch has so much community support and a big reason for that is our great team.”

Adding to the allure is the library’s architecture and adjacent woods, bird sanctuary, and walking path leading to Beaver Lake. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this space’s value was immediately recognized by the community that helped create this special branch by raising the funds to provide furniture and other little touches that make it a cozy spot to read, study, or stare out the oversized windows. “Our patrons stepped up,” says Library Assistant Lynn Hunter. “The staff were invited into patrons’ homes to conduct fundraisers and their love for this library is evidenced by the plaque in our lobby bearing almost 500 names of our generous donors!” A favorite pastime for staff and visitors is birding with binoculars that are available for checkout.

And the investment has paid off as the North Asheville Library is truly a magical place. Literally. Regular magic and puppet shows are just an example of the innovative programming and resources the staff works tirelessly to create. Helping lead the charge on the imagination front is Youth Specialist Peter Athos, whose handmade puppets are the stars of storytimes, skits, and even works the circulation desk occasionally. “My favorite part of the job is conducting our toddler storytime. We have a large group of devoted families who come every week,” says Peter. “I love to perform little skits for the kids. As a parent myself, I know how important it is to meet other families and I am proud to help build a tight local community.” Peter’s creativity also extends to various cardboard cutouts that create an exciting and immersive dimension to the library.

With all the imaginative scenery and activities, it’s no wonder the North Asheville branch is a huge draw. In fact, Adult Specialist Sara Kaglic says being the County’s busiest branch is a draw for her. “I love the hustle and bustle… there is hardly ever a dull moment. But my favorite part is getting to know our patrons on a personal level. We have so many regulars that we see weekly and sometimes daily. It’s always fun to catch up with them,” she says. Piggybacking on that sentiment, Library Assistant Elaine Richie says she loves helping people find exactly what they are looking for. “Recently a tired young mother approached the desk asking if we had any books about helping her child sleep. We found two resources here and ordered some others. She was very thankful,” explains Elaine. With librarians regularly providing personalized service, Matt says he’s always getting rave reviews about his staff: “I’ve gotten great feedback from our patrons about our staff going above and beyond to find new reads for them. So many of our patrons are big readers and it can sometimes be tricky to find a book they haven’t read!”

Featuring a cardboard playset, alligator puppets, an assortment of other characters, and a dedicated and fiercely creative staff, the North Asheville branch’s imaginative landscape is the perfect backdrop for reading, birding, enjoying original puppet programming, and more. Come find your magic and have your creativity stoked at the North Asheville library.

North 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: Peter Athos, Lynn Hunter, Sara Kaglic, John Matheson, Matt Phillips, and Elaine Richie

Resources, services, and offerings: Book club, computer access, free Wi-Fi, meeting room, ongoing book sale, adjacent to Beaver Lake, bird sanctuary, printing and copying, public transit access, research.

Unique services and hidden gems: Monthly magic/puppet show, rotating lobby display case, monthly book club, binoculars available for check out, Beaver Lake bird sanctuary, CD collection, back porch reading/work spot.

Additional thoughts from staff:

  • “Peter’s cardboard structures for the play area are marvels of creativity and engineering. Also, our back porch is peaceful and quiet, and it’s a great spot to get work done on a nice day.” – Matt
  • What do you like most about your job? “Our patrons! And the smiles on children’s faces when they bring their books to the desk to be checked out.” – Lynn
  • “I run a puppet-themed storytime on every second Thursday of the month at 3:30 p.m. I like to create original skits to perform for the show. Lately, the children’s specialist at the East branch, Chris Neely, has been collaborating with me to create a fun and unique program. The program is a family friendly storytime targeted toward preschool and early school age children, but anyone is welcome.” -- Peter
  • What makes this location special? “Our patrons, our location surrounded on two sides by trees and next to the beautiful bird sanctuary, our children’s librarian Peter with his puppet shows. A walking path that begins behind the library and follows Beaver Lake.” -- Elaine
  • What are some hidden gems at your branch? “We have binoculars available for checkout that are perfect for exploring the bird sanctuary next door. Our lobby display case! We have rotating exhibits of art and personal collections from our community members. And our monthly book club! We meet on the second Tuesday of every month at 2 p.m. Some of our book club members have been at the library longer than most of the staff!” -- Sara

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Updated Jun 15, 2023 11:13 AM
Published Jun 13, 2023 01:00 PM

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