HendersonvilleNews Stories

Trina Rushing helps expand our reading world in library, with ‘Elf’ help

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Trina Rushing is the new library director

Rushing succeeds Bill Snyder, who retired after leading the local library system for a quarter century from 1989 through the end of 2014. She started Jan. 1.

She started Jan. 1. She had worked 10 years for the Henderson County Public Library and seven in administration. She worked up to administrative library, the second-highest post, and then interim director.

Library board member Tom Orr, an historian and retired teacher, said Rushing is “very intelligent and well-organized. She does her homework. She’s attuned to needs, and services to meet those needs with innovative practices for now and the future.”

Rushing’s initial priority is letting people know of more advanced services and equipment, and upcoming advances in coming months such as acquiring iPads for reading to lend to adults to go with those already available for children.

Earlier this month, she staged the first annual I Love My Library open house showcasing devices and services that the elderly and youth among others may not realize they can use for free in the library. It drew about 150 people. Commissioner Grady Hawkins read children’s books and showed the colorful illustrations.

Visitors seemed most surprised by “our magazines subscription digital database, mobile ‘app’ and Library Elf, Rushing said. The new Library Elf email notification-text service personalizes accounts, organizing and tracking an entire family’s library activity. Its messages are on top of those mailed and phoned.

Elf helps users coming and going, so to speak. “When a requested item comes in, it lets them know it’s ready to pick up,” Rushing said. “It later sends a reminder three days before the item is due to be returned.”

Since the New Year, the main branch has offered “one-on-one assistance,” she said. “Staff members help people load these items onto their devices.”

People are becoming “more aware they can download e-books to their devices, along with electronic magazines,” drawing upon a statewide digital library, Rushing said. The Zinio collection even offers some magazine editions ahead of when they come out in print. There is no waiting list, nor due date. Magazines include the Economist, Good Housekeeping, Esquire Cosmopolitan, the Oprah Magazine and Rolling Stone on music.

“A mobile app (HCPL to Go) is used to search the catalog and request titles, place them on hold and renew their titles.” It also tracks purchased titles, lists an events calendar, and has the Friends of the Library newsletter. The newsletter is customized, noting “new titles in the genres the person picks such as cooking or non-fiction.”

Digital e-books are a quick, convenient way to read classics and newer releases. Many already listen to audial books and magazines, such as while traveling or in a waiting room (using headphones) or if having limited eyesight. E-books can be downloaded onto PCs/Macs, portable e-readers or “smart” phones.

Many people like to physically grasp what they read, while others get more fatigued reading on a digital screen. Thus, publications will still be in print in the local libraries, Rushing assured. “We’ll definitely continue to have print publications, as well. Electronic supplements what we have in print and is to read at home or when traveling.”

The main branch has 22 desktop computers in back, and an American Disabilities Act-standard one with a larger keyboard. Its table adjusts up or down, to fit a wheelchair so the user is level with the keyboard. Three more portable iPads for children to use for online access are on order, and more pending for adults.

Self-check computer stations limit the burden on staff. The user scans each item on his or her library card; a receipt is printed. This innovation began two years ago in the Fletcher branch.

Library administrators and the advisory board are planning ahead. “We are just beginning to write our next three-year action plan” that takes effect with the new budget year July 1, Rushing said soon after the initial “brainstorming session.” This puts details behind the 10-year strategic plan that began in 2012, and its five prime goals.

They include “connecting to the online world for digital access,” aiding resources-data users and “encouraging young readers.”

The other objective is “updating spaces,” for a “comfortable place.” New carpeting is due to be in by the end of this week. This is part of a three-year gradual re-carpeting in the main branch and in Edneyville, and next in Fletcher where there is new entrance and “updated children’s department,” Rushing noted.

In total, there are more than 1,000 free library programs and special events annually across the county. Branches are in Fletcher, Edneyville, Etowah, Green River and Mills River. Their collective space has risen from 25,000 to over 60,000 square feet.

The main branch at Washington Street and Third Avenue opened in 1970.

The modern library debuted a century ago in September, 1914 — a month into World War I. It was at King Street and Fourth Avenue. This Carnegie Free Library was funded by a $10,000 grant from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. He helped start over 2,800 libraries. “Hendersonville is the smallest town ever funded by his foundation,” Tom Orr said.

The volunteering and fundraising force Friends of the Library formed in 1956 with 32 charter members, and now has around 1,600 members, according to Orr. Its first book sale raised less than $1,000 in 1981; the one last year raised $107,000.

Rushing grew up in Cass City, in mitten-shaped Michigan’s “thumb” near Saginaw. She is thus used to harsh winter weather. She was very impressed with local library turnout after the snowfall early last week. Usually open 9-8, the main branch shut down at 4:30 Monday and reopened at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Turnout was slow only for the first hour, then “picked right back up” to the usual volume, she said.

When in preschool, she first visited her town library. She soon took a Battle of the Books reading team challenge. Her first favorite author, E.B. White, penned Charlotte’s Web and Trumpet of the Swan. “I liked his storylines, and animals interacting with young girls.”

Soon after college, she taught four total years in Transylvania then Henderson counties. She earned a master’s degree in library science from UNCG, switching careers. She and husband Jason Rushing, a computer technician, enjoy bicycling and zip-line riding. Their daughter Kaelee, 8, also enjoys the outdoors. They live in Fruitland.

Trina Rushing was “afraid of heights,” but overcame that on zip lines. Similarly, she and her staff help youth plunge into the adventure of reading.

For more information on library services, call the main branch at 697-4725 or check www.henderson.lib.nc.us.

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