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Library celebrating 100th birthday all year long

Baker Barber photo show what is thought to be the first bookmobile used by the library after 1951. It was rented two weeks a month from the Transylvania County library. Baker Barber photo show what is thought to be the first bookmobile used by the library after 1951. It was rented two weeks a month from the Transylvania County library.

In celebration of 100 years of serving the community, the Henderson County Public Library has organized a series of events throughout the year leading up to its official birthday celebration in September.

The Library Centennial Committee, comprised of members of the library staff, county staff and Friends of the Library, has worked for the past year and a half to plan events for all ages that celebrate the history of the library.
The events, funded by Friends of the Library, include a monthly concert series, historical displays, children's activities and an author's dinner. The library will have its official birthday celebration Sept. 21. All events are free and open to the public except the author dinner in August, which is a ticketed event.
"We just really wanted to show the community what we've accomplished over the last 100 years and how we've been able to serve the community and expand and grow, said Administrative Librarian Trina Rushing, who leads the Library Centennial Committee.
The library officially opened its doors to the public in September 1914 after Andrew Carnegie donated $10,000 for the library's establishment. At the time it opened, the library contained approximately 600 books. The building served as the temporary home of the Agudas Israel temple, among other uses, and is now the home of the Partnership for Economic Development.
"You think about how libraries have changed over 100 years," said Library Director Bill Snyder said. "We started off as basically a ladies' reading room, and then we added space for this and that. After 55 years we moved into the current location, and then 22 years ago, we opened up, we renovated and doubled the size to what we have here.
"This year we may come very close to circulating 1 million items for the first time, but that's a number," he said. "It's a number to be proud of, but more important are the people who are borrowing those 1 million items and their stories."

Technology advances
One of the major ways the library has grown over the years has been through advances in technology. The library now offers wireless access and computers in each of its locations, as well as eReaders and eBooks for circulation. Rushing said that since so much research can now be done online, there is not as much need for large reference libraries.
"Our spaces are changing," Rushing said. "Instead of housing books, we're having more space for people, for meetings and groups that want to gather and learn that way."
Despite the lower demand for printed reference books, fiction books are still popular in their print format, Snyder said.
"I don't think the printed book is going away any time soon, at least as far as popular materials go," Snyder said. "I do think that the library is going to become more and more of a commons for the community, an area where people can go to talk about issues and explore their lives and the lives of others."
In conjunction with the centennial, the library also has a new logo. Rushing said the new logo better fits the role of the library in the community today.
"We've added 'Shaping the mountain community since 1914' because we feel like that's what we've been able to do, is help to shape the learning throughout the last 100 years," Rushing said.
People can share their own memories of the library by submitting a form (available online or at any of the Henderson County branches) at any branch location. Submissions will be displayed in the main library, at various branches and on the library website.
"It is very rewarding to work in an organization that is so appreciated by the people who use it," Snyder said.
"There are an awful lot of people who tell us that one of their deciding factors between moving here and moving somewhere else when they retire was our library," he said. "It says a lot about the quality of life and the values of the community, whether you have a library and how much you support it and how much you use it."