New librarian plans to expand services

Paul Clark

Black Mountain Library's new branch manager wants to expand services for adults and has made the library more welcoming to teenagers.

Melisa Pressley has been branch manager since January, and already she's made the library more efficient and welcoming. Her plans include opening the library during and after hours for lectures, author readingsm music performances and other events.

Melisa Pressley, center, has already made significant changes at the Black Mountain Library.

The library has plenty for children, including story times, Lego club and game days for families. A new 11 a.m. Saturday story time, "Bounce 'n Books" for children 18-24 months, starts May 13.

Pressley, who oversees one full-time and three part-time staff members, has been working in the Buncombe County Libraries system since 1997. For 12 years she was the children's librarian at the Enka-Candler library. Her masters degree from UNC Greensboro is in information science.

"It's been a real joy to be here" at the Black Mountain Library, she said, sitting outside the building on a pretty day last week. "The public has been receptive to the changes I'm making. I see the library as constantly evolving. As trends change, there's an ebb and flow in collection development."

Pressley has been weeding out the music and books the library has on cassette tapes and been stocking up on more CD audio books. "Lots of people have been getting library cards for our online resources," she said. They've been streaming video and downloading audio (bring your own headsets to listen).

All of the audio and video offerings are now in the same section. Pressley has also been moving the collection of books around a bit. She's creating a section for young adult readers, putting it near the end of the nonfiction stacks.

She's been ordering books to reflect the tastes of local readers (she takes suggestions). The local readership is highly educated, she said.

"A lot of academics are here," she said. She's noticed that books about the environment are big here. So is most nonfiction. "You can get a feel of the area by looking at the books in a library," she said, and Mountain is "a pretty diverse reading community."

Pressley has been doing research on Black Mountain and has learned that next year the library, started in 1922, will have been in its present location for 50 years.

"I don't want that to pass without notice," she said. She's planning to have lots of special events. "Certainly I'd like people to share photos and stories about the library," she said. Email her at

"So much about librarianship has changed since 1922," Pressley said. "But what doesn't change is how passionate librarians are about serving their people. I just think that's wonderful."