Perhaps you’ve heard this sentiment already applied to any number of things: “back to normal” isn’t possible. The past two years have been revealing and transformative for society as a whole, forcing reflection and putting a pause on even the best-laid plans.
As we approached 2020, the North Carolina Room was already bracing for change: retirements, a new library director, gearing up for large community gatherings as part of outreach and collection efforts. While 2020 did not go as planned, it brought the opportunity to make even greater sweeping changes and establish new connections. We never aimed to get “back to normal.” We aimed to get better.
While closed to the public, a team of staff members, artists and activists, and research fellows joined forces to create a welcoming, accessible, and engaging special collections library with an emphasis on ensuring that everyone, especially traditionally marginalized folks, could feel comfortable and supported accessing their own history.
Steps towards this goal included changing our name from the “North Carolina Room” to the name and branding you see above; weeding and rearranging books to increase our collection’s relevance, make it easier to locate material, and provide additional historic context; updating our collection development and access policies; renovating the reading room to offer an open, bright, and comfortable space for all; opening an artist installation by Honey Simone that highlights Asheville’s Black history; adding a wall-length timeline on the history of Buncombe County; and improving digital access to our archives with a new website and online portal. Whew!
We could not have done this without you, our Friends, who support us not only through your financial contributions but also your tireless commitment as advisors and ambassadors for the collection.
We hope you will renew your membership and offer additional support to sponsor another year of growth and outreach!
In 2022, your membership as a Friend of the Buncombe County Special Collections will help support special new initiatives including a partnership with the YMI Cultural Center and the development of a new exhibit featuring the history of the land we now call Pack Square.
Our goal is to raise $15,000 to support this work in the coming year. We hope you will join us in meeting and exceeding that goal. You can support the Friends of Buncombe County Special Collections by following the link below to send a secure payment via PayPal or send a check (made out to Friends of Buncombe County Special Collections) or cash to:
Friends of Special Collections
Pack Memorial Library
67 Haywood St.
Asheville, NC 28801
With deepest gratitude,
Katherine Calhoun Cutshall, Collections Manager
Louise Maret, Chair, Friends of Buncombe County Special Collections