By Joy Sharp

Mountains Branch Library

When I discovered libraries, it was like having Christmas every day.” Jean Fritz

Happy New Year from Mountains Library! Speaking for myself, I’m ready to usher in 2017! 2016 was a bit of a challenge in many ways. Mountains Branch prides itself on being a hub for Lake Lure and the surrounding Hickory Nut Gorge community, but little did we know how important that role would be in November of 2016.

The Party Rock Wildfire tried our area like never before. And as a community, we rose to the challenge. There will never be enough ways to say thank you to the heroic men and women who battled those tremendous blazes day and night for weeks on end. Thanks to the generosity of our friends and neighbors, thousands of bottles of water, packages of socks, granola bars, tubes of lip balm and eye drops and other items were dropped off at our little library. Thanks to the efforts of John Cullen and others like him, all those donations were distributed to the firefighters, to help in whatever small way we could. We will never underestimate the generous and giving nature of our patrons.

Mountains Branch was also saddened by the loss of a great friend and volunteer in Linda White. Linda served in many ways throughout the community, but we knew her best as a member of the Friends of the Library Board. Linda volunteered her time by sorting and shelving all those boxes of books we receive as donations each week. Only a few days before her death, she was in the community room getting donations on the shelves for the ongoing Book Sale. Though Linda’s health had not been good for some time, most people were unaware. She never complained and was unfailingly cheerful. She will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and condolences go out to Linda’s husband, Aaron, and their sons.

We begin 2017 with two very exciting programs in January and February. On January 10th at 3:00, Mountains Branch Genealogy Club will host award-winning historian, Randell Jones and his program, “Rutherford’s Expedition against the Cherokees, 1776.” This program, which was postponed from November due to the wildfire, will examine many of the key players in the Revolutionary War’s Battle of King’s Mountain and the less heroic role they played in driving the Cherokee from their lands in the mountains of western North Carolina.

This program is part of a Roads Scholar grant and is made possible by funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Refreshments will be provided by the Friends of the Library.

We are honored to kick off this year’s Books & Bites series on Thursday, February 2nd with author Cassandra King. King is author of five novels, including her most recent book, Moonrise, numerous short stories, magazine articles and essays. She is the widow of the late South Carolina writer, Pat Conroy. King will discuss her own work, as well as Conroy’s posthumous book, A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life, a collection of letters, interviews, and magazine articles spanning Conroy’s career, for which King penned the introduction. She is presently at work on a memoir/cookbook, Supper for One: A Love Story told in Recipes.

Books & Bites takes place at the Lake Lure Inn beginning at 11:30 am. The cost for the event is $25, which includes lunch. Reservations can be made by calling the library at (828) 287-6392.

Please take advantage of all the great programming Rutherford County libraries have to offer.