After 2021 closure scare, Black Mountain Library prepares for centennial celebration

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
Friends of the Library Vice President Beebe Woodside (left), Black Mountain Library Branch Manager Melisa Pressley (middle) and Friends of the Library Volunteer Coordinator Susan Leive (right) all said they are looking forward to the library's centennial celebration April 25.

Over the last century, the Black Mountain Library has grown from a catalogue of 50 books to more than 10,000 today.

The library opened in 1922 in the Black Mountain Presbyterian Church before eventually moving to what was then Town Hall on State Street. The final move of the library ended at its current location at 105 N. Dougherty St.

To make this last move, community members, including local Boys Scouts, loaded books into trucks and wagons to bring to the new library building. This aspect of the library’s history along with many others will be on display at a centennial celebration, according to Black Mountain Friends of the Library Volunteer Coordinator Susan Leive.

“We’re going to talk about today and what our library is today,” Leive said. “Then we’re going to have a display exhibit on what do you want over the next few years for your library.”

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The centennial celebration will be hosted at the Black Mountain Library on April 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Though the library turned 100 last year, Black Mountain Library Branch Manager Melisa Pressley said renovations in the community room delayed an official celebration until 2023.

The current Black Mountain Library sits on North Dougherty Street and has since the 1960s.

The centennial celebration will take place during National Library Week, with a theme of “There’s More to the Story.” Leive said this theme will be part of the centennial celebration as visitors will be able to take a look at the library’s history in addition to seeing where the library is headed.

Visitors will also have an opportunity to share what they would like to see from the Black Mountain Library in the future. Leive said the suggestions gathered from community members during the centennial celebration will be passed on to county administration.

Pressley said she is looking forward to seeing what community members want, but, for her, the future looks like keeping the library a safe community space.

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“I’m real curious to see what our community wants,” Pressley said. “I’m really curious to see what they add to kind of their vision for the library. For me personally, I would like to see it continue to be a community space.”

Though the library has served as a community space for a century, Friends of the Library Vice President Beebe Woodside said the Black Mountain library was in danger of closing in 2021 after a consultant recommended closing both the Black Mountain and Swannanoa libraries and combining the two into a regional library.

The Black Mountain Library has grown from 50 books in 1922 to more than 10,000 today.

In order to stop this, the Friends of the Library gathered more than 900 signatures on a petition opposing the closure, and the Black Mountain Library remained open at its current location.

“The community was very involved with keeping the library where it is now,” Woodside said. “The community steps up when they need to and I think that just puts more emphasis on the centennial.”

Leive agreed that the community behind the library is a big part of what has made it successful for the past 100 years.

“The biggest thing about the celebration is just appreciating all the hard work that went into making this library happen and how much the community supports this library,” Leive said. “Both with donations and volunteers.”