As West Asheville’s Haywood Road continues to thrive, it has brought significant change and evolution to the area. While the only constant is change, it’s nice to have a perennial institution to anchor the neighborhood. Situated next to its previous location, now a police substation, the new West Asheville Library started its legacy on Haywood Road in 1953 and transitioned to its adjacent location in 1997. During that time, the mission has largely stayed the same. “We are a quintessential neighborhood library. We are situated near many residential streets and in between a church and a fire station. Many people walk or bike to our library,” explains Branch Manager Sherry Roane. “We have many patrons, myself included, who visited this branch back in the day when it was in the old building next door.” It’s very fitting for this branch to have someone at the helm who is deeply and historically connected to the community and understands its importance to the neighborhood.
That significance is reflected in the passionate staff, innovative programming, individualized attention, and more. “We’re a hometown branch, so we know a lot of our patrons by name. Even though we’re quite busy, we often provide personalized service,” says Librarian Kim Engle, who notes that the fiction section is uniquely cataloged with mysteries, sci-fi, fantasy, and westerns all compartmentalized to make browsing by genre an easy task. Of course, if you have any questions, just ask. Kim says that’s one of her favorite aspects of the job, “I like interacting with library patrons, both new and people I’ve known for a long time. I’ve watched a lot of young patrons grow up over the years.”
And programming is intentionally designed for growing up with the West Asheville Library. From baby story time to Lego club, and a robust graphic literature selection for all ages to the County’s longest running book club, there are so many reasons to visit and ways to discover new and exciting resources and programming. And the staff is always receptive to feedback and community needs. Librarian Kit Rashid says if something isn’t available, you should always ask. “Our Lego club is terrific! It’s been popular enough that we’ve had numerous parents ask if we can form a Lego club for adults. Who knows what the future holds,” he says. Librarian Casper Davis adds that there’s also a very special service provided by their branch. “Book bundles,” he exclaims. “Kim, our Youth Services Librarian, hand selects bundles of board books, easy readers, and picture books for kids to make it easy for young patrons to find great new reads.”
While it’s easy to see how the branch is helping take care of the current patrons, it’s also keenly aware of its past. “We have a West Asheville History Project with oral histories, photographs, newspaper articles, and more,” explains Kim. Adding to the unique and relevant resources available are notable hidden gems such as a partnership with Wilma Dykeman Legacy that highlights local authors via the My Story program, a sewing repair program, take-home craft kits, a paper-covered wall that kids can draw on, and the popular tax assistance. “My favorite resource is the tax preparation help offered by the AARP in our meeting room every spring,” says Kit. “It benefits those patrons who are not computer savvy or have no internet access at home. It’s not very fancy but is highly valuable to an often-overlooked part of the population.”
It's really easy to see how this branch fits into the community by taking into account people of all ages and interests while providing personalized service. “Many of our patrons appreciate the enthusiasm of the staff who often go the extra mile with helping people find books and other resources, suggesting new reads, assisting people with computer issues, and trying our best to share our love of our library with the neighborhood,” says Sherry. Echoing that sentiment, Casper says there is definitely a reverence for their branch’s role, “We have awesome patrons, and it is cool to see the way the West Asheville Library serves as a sort of community center where people come hang out and get to know new and old friends alike.” So head on over to the West Asheville Library and see why so many people are saying, “I’ve always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.”
West 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: Sherry Roane, Kim Engle, Kit Rashid, Casper Davis
Resources, services, and offerings: Art exhibit space, book club, computer access, Wi-fi, meeting room, ongoing book sale, printing and copying, public transit access, research help, story times, tax help.
Unique services and hidden gems: Personalized book bundles, Lego club, graphic literature for all ages, sewing repair program, take-home craft kits, children’s graphic novels.
Additional thoughts from staff:
- “I love talking with the patrons about books and just getting to know our patrons over the years. I love facilitating the book club discussions.” – Sherry
- “I often help seniors one-on-one learn to use their phones. They’re always grateful.” – Kim
- “I like Reader’s Advisory -- helping patrons who are casting around for their next good read, or looking for a particular book. The other day, I helped a little girl who wanted to find a book but could only vaguely remember what the cover looked like. This led to a fun internet search (we found it!)” – Kit
- “One thing I was surprised to learn before working at West was that despite our size, we are actually one of the busiest branches in the county.” – Casper