© 2021 Buncombe County Special Collections. All rights reserved.

Mission and Purpose

The Buncombe County Special Collections Library is dedicated to actively collecting, preserving, promoting, and providing equal access to the history of Asheville, Buncombe County, and the surrounding area. We are proud of our historic resources and are committed to preserving them for the future, through preservation, digitization, and decreasing barriers to public access.

About the Collection

The Buncombe County Special Collections Library is home to thousands of unique historical records including photographs, maps, books, and other materials that provide researchers the resources they need to understand and interpret the history of Western North Carolina. The collection is not restricted to Buncombe County Public Library card holders; anyone can visit and utilize the resources of the Buncombe County Special Collections Library.

The collection is especially rich in photographs of Downtown Asheville and other commercial, social, and residential districts, as well as tourist attractions like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Many of the photos in the collection are attributed to important photographers including Thomas H. Lindsey, George Masa, and Andrea Clark.

The manuscript collection exists to preserve the social, economic, and cultural history of Asheville and Buncombe County. Collections may be acquired through donations by individuals or by purchasing materials from reputable dealers in fine manuscripts. Occasionally, the library will purchase materials directly from individuals when appropriate. Manuscript collections can contain the records of families, businesses, organizations, and communities. These special collections provide researchers with important details and nuances of daily life and important events in the past.

Buncombe County Special Collections will not collect artifacts and objects traditionally found in a museum. The library will not collect most artworks, though they may be considered for inclusion in the collection if they contain useful information for researchers, for example, an oil painting of the now razed N.W. Woodfin house painted contemporaneously. Overall, Buncombe County Special Collections strives to preserve unique communication and documentary materials not otherwise maintained by other public records offices like the Register of Deeds and Clerk of Court.

Guiding Values and Core Principles

The Buncombe County Special Collections Library aligns with the Society of American Archivists’ Core Values of Archivists and Code of Ethics for Archivists.

As a public, community archive, we condemn racism and align with the Society of American Archivists statement on Black Lives and Archives.


BCSC accepts donations of materials from individuals, families, businesses, and units of local government who wish to contribute to local history by making sure such materials are preserved for future generations and made accessible to the public. This may include physical items, born-digital resources, or digital surrogates of materials loaned for us to scan.

Please reach out to us  to discuss your donation in advance. Donations are accepted at the discretion of the Collections Manager and must align with our collection policies.