From toe-tapping live music to facilitating imagination-based tabletop games, Buncombe County’s smallest branch is offering up mighty programming and resources. The Swannanoa Library is known for its wildly popular Groovin’ on Grovemont concert series, and this family-friendly community hub also provides engaging events such as an ongoing D&D campaign. Central to its significance is its location on prime real estate, making it a perpetual favorite destination for people in the area. “The Swannanoa Library is amid a walkable community with a park and playground, as well as a small amphitheater under big shady oaks. We have a padded walking path for easy striding and a pavilion that is used for concerts, movies, and other community events,” says Branch Manager Carla Hollar. “We have a wonderful children’s area with a comfy colorful rug and hangings on the walls that are part of Swannanoa’s history.” Speaking of history, this branch sits in the middle of a planned community by E.W. Grove, of Grove Park Inn and Grove Arcade fame. “Our library was built where a town hall in a planned community would have gone in the 1920s, and many of the houses around us were planned by Grove. People here love history programs and we’ve had standing room only at many an event,” explains Carla.
It should come as no surprise the Swannanoa Library has long been engrained in the surrounding community. And with a committed staff always on the lookout for new ways to serve patrons, you can count on stalwart services alongside innovative programming. Youth Services Librarian Olivia Muse says interacting with the public is the best way for the library to evolve. “In getting to know and connecting with our patrons, we can work toward creating a welcoming space for all. I think we can do this because we have such awesome and dedicated staff members who are so passionate about the work that we do,” she says. “We love to talk with patrons about our nerdy interests and hear about theirs. Our patrons love our selection of fantasy and sci-fi books, graphic novels, and movies, and we have teen programs for anime and Dungeons and Dragons.”
Piggybacking on the sentiment of making connections, Librarian Sabrina Staton says zeir favorite part of the job is interacting with the public. “I really like getting to help people and connect them with valuable community resources. And giving book recommendations,” ze exclaims, adding there is also intentionality about being inclusive. “We host lots of great programs and take pride in forging strong community connections. We are also a predominantly queer staff, and as such are proud to be able to provide a safe place for other queer folks in the community.”
Supplementing the unique programming is a stellar collection of media. “If you are looking for help finding fantasy, science-fiction, or horror, you’ve come to the right place,” says Carla. Librarian Lee Nice-Webb says there’s also a focus on specialty books. “We have a lot of large print books and will be getting more books in Spanish. We also have a large graphic novel section,” he says, adding that the children’s story time is also a popular feature. Lee says there’s another kid-oriented feature he considers a favorite of patrons, “The seek-and-find, where kids find laminated pictures hidden around the library.” Indeed, it is a popular program as Olivia also highlights its importance to the Swannanoa branch. “It’s a monthly themed scavenger hunt that resets on the first of the month, and we often have kids show up right when we open on that first day. The kids can pick out a small prize from a treasure box once they find all the hidden items, but they also get so excited to see the new hiding places. I’ve had to get very creative with where I hide things,” explains Olivia.
Speaking of kids, there’s also a park and a playground outside the branch, so there’s no shortage of entertainment for the little ones. But the outside area also caters to an older crowd, especially the Groovin’ on Grovemont concert series and Winterfest. So, whatever you’re interested in from Tiny Tots Yoga to the Anime and Manga Club to personalized book recommendations and a welcoming, inclusive environment – the Swannanoa Library is the place to get into your groove.
Swannanoa 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: Carla Hollar, Olivia Muse, Sabrina Staton, Lee Nice-Webb
Resources, services, and offerings: Book club, story times (bilingual story time), computer access, free Wi-Fi, printing and copying, faxing, research help, hotspot lending, ongoing book sale.
Unique services and hidden gems: Tiny tots yoga, sci-fi and fantasy selection, Teen Anime and Manga Club, Teen D&D, Groovin’ on Grovemont, bargain basement sale, playground and park, cushioned walking path, story walk in the park, pollinator garden space, small amphitheater under the trees, geocache, Pokemon stop.
Additional thoughts from staff:
- Our Tiny Tots Yoga class is precious, and we have caregivers and tots here from all over the County. Groovin’ on Grovemont music festival has been going on for 20 years and we have amazing food and great bands for three Tuesdays in July and August each year. We have a big bargain basement book sale that takes up most of the basement area and is available any time we are open.” – Carla
- “Our park and outdoor spaces also make us particularly special! We’ve been able to have so many wonderful community events, like Groovin’ on Grovemont and Winterfest, because we have that awesome outdoor space.” – Olivia
- “Patrons have told us that they appreciate the warmth, friendliness, and altogether welcoming environment we’ve created at the Swannanoa Library.” – Sabrina