Letter writer: East Asheville library patrons shortchanged

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Imagine 17 women trying to cram into a tiny space, lined on three sides with bookcases, to discuss Justice [Sonia] Sotomayor’s biography. Some sat in children’s chairs in the small East Asheville library.

The librarian concluded that maybe no children would come after 6:30 p.m., and the book club could circle chairs in an adjacent space. Still, there was little space between members and shelving.

It’s not the first time they’d squeezed in a small space. Once before, a parent and child came in asking if her child could peruse the bookshelves behind the club members’ chairs.

While we met, regular library business made hearing difficult. And just as surely, the book club’s discussion was a distraction for other patrons.

The county is in charge of the library, but the city owns the two 1960s buildings; one doubled for years as the library’s community meeting space until the city leased it to LEAF for $1 a year. Sometimes that leased space is available to the book club, but this December night, it was not opened.

The LEAF building was dark as members walked to their cars on this very dark night. A weak, movement-sensitive streetlight came on for about 10 seconds, not bright enough or long enough to find and get in cars. (And did I mention the bathrooms have to be entered outside — in the dark?)

Asheville: center for creative arts and intellectual pursuits. East Asheville library: the fourth-most-used library in the system.

Yet poor Asheville government can’t provide what’s called the “core of communities.” The American Library Association says, “In the digital age more than ever … 21st-century libraries are engines of societal and personal change and progress.” Libraries “foster education, literacy, research, business incubation, job training, civic involvement” and more. Poor Asheville.

– Emily L. Cooper


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

6 thoughts on “Letter writer: East Asheville library patrons shortchanged

  1. Uhhh

    N’well you should have thought of that when you didn’t vote in the last election.

  2. Big Al

    While I sympathize with your difficulties finding a meeting place ( I am a member of two similar clubs and we have a devil of a time), I think you expect too much from a library sub-station. The East Asheville branch is one of several small, out-lying facilities that supplement the main branch, whose downtown location can be difficult (or expensive) to access. These small branches are meant to be easier to access, not luxurious. I have visited the branches in Black Mountain, Swannanoa, North Asheville and West Asheville, and all of them are small and limited in amenities. If you want a good place to meet in Asheville, you had better be prepared to pay for it.

  3. Libraries are for books, not meetings. They are superior to school tax because they do not waste money trying to force people to learn against their will; so school funds should be transferred to libraries, but all rooms should be filled with books, leaving little space for meetings. Dress warm and meet in a park. There are plenty of community centers for meetings; too many already. They should be filled with books too.

    • Yep

      But what to do with all the books that aren’t being read, as computers take over ? We do not need more book storage places.
      But agreed libraries are for reading and research, not public meetings. People should be thankful there’s a branch library
      there at all … libraries are no longer critical as they once were.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.