Black Mountain Library hosts centennial celebration

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News

Dozens of community members and volunteers came together April 25 to celebrate a century of the Black Mountain Library.

First opened in 1922 in the Black Mountain Presbyterian Church, the library eventually moved to what was then Town Hall on State Street. The library currently sits at 105 N. Dougherty St.

This history of the library was on full display during the centennial celebration with photos commemorating past locations and the journey the library and its staff have been on along the way.

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

A red wagon filled with books represented the last move of the library where community members, including local Boy Scouts, used trucks and wagons to move books from the old location to the new.

On the opposite side of the room sat displays showing what the library is now, with more than 10,000 books as well as various items of technology. Next to this was an activity allowing participants to write what they would like to see from their library in the near and distant future.

The Black Mountain Library celebrated its centennial anniversary with a celebration April 25.

The library saw its 100th anniversary in 2022, but Black Mountain Library Branch Manager Melisa Pressley told Black Mountain News earlier in April the official celebration was delayed until 2023 due to renovations in the community room.

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

This celebration also coincides with National Library Week.

Black Mountain Library Branch Manager Melisa Pressley speaks during the Black Mountain Library's centennial celebration April 25, 2023.

Pressley welcomed guests to the April 25 celebration, calling herself the “lucky 13th branch manager.” She introduced Briar Branch, a local mother-daughter band that provided music throughout the night.

Before turning the microphone over to other speakers, Pressley thanked the Friends of the Black Mountain Library for their work with not only the centennial celebration, but also with the library in general.

Black Mountain Town Manager Josh Harrold followed Pressley, welcoming participants to the celebration.

Black Mountain Town Manager Josh Harrold speaks during the Black Mountain Library's centennial celebration April 25, 2023.

“It’s an awesome showing of support for the Black Mountain Library,” Harrold said. “I have fond memories, not of this library, but of a different library where I grew up as a kid. … This really is what community is all about. A library, I think, is a community hub for folks.”

Mayor Michael Sobol followed Harrold’s comments by telling the gathered group that “we still need paper and books.”

Black Mountain Mayor Michael Sobol speaks during the Black Mountain Library's centennial celebration April 25, 2023.

He said it is important for libraries and their volunteers to exist because they “defend our democracy” and the work of libraries is the “best defense we have to protect our way of life.”

“The right to dissent is the foundation of our democracy,” Sobol said. “That is good. We don’t have to agree on issues, but we must agree that nothing, nothing will ever come about with us banning books from the library.”

The final speaker of the night was Buncombe County Library Director Jason Hyatt. He lauded the Black Mountain branch and said that when he was visiting the various branches when he started his tenue as director three months ago, he found the Black Mountain staff to be among the “friendliest, most welcoming” of the system.

Buncombe County Library Director Jason Hyatt speaks during the Black Mountain Library's centennial celebration April 25, 2023.

Hyatt agreed with Sobol that books should not be banned and spoke to the importance of keeping libraries open.

“At a time when our libraries are under all kinds of attack across the United States, it is a wonderful, wonderful thing to come out on a weekday evening and celebrate such a long-standing institution with a room full of people who understand the importance of these institutions in our lives,” Hyatt said. “The importance of keeping them free and available and open to everyone.”