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Nicole Fynn shows Blowing Rock Hospital resident Junie McGraw some tricks on how to use the Kindle electronic reader. JEFF EASON PHOTO



Originally published: 2013-01-17 12:43:47
Last modified: 2013-01-17 12:43:47

Silver readers – Library reaching out to Blowing Rock Hospital

by Jeff Eason

Friends of the Watauga County Library were saddened to learn of the death of adult services librarian Evelyn Johnson this week.

For more than 30 years, Johnson helped instill a love of reading in all members of the community, young and old.

That love of reading is the inspiration behind a new program that is a joint effort of the Watauga County Public Library and the Davant Extended Care Facility at Blowing Rock Hospital.

Called the Silver E-Read program, it helps put electronic reading devices into the hands of the residents of the extended care facility and instructs them on how to use them.

“We are getting more of the baby boomers in here for physical rehab and other treatment,” said Marie Tsourakis, activities director for Davant Extended Care. “It’s a generation that doesn’t necessarily want to play Bingo.”

For the past two weeks, Watauga County Library staff member Nicole Fynn has traveled to Blowing Rock Hospital to show interested residents how to use a Kindle E-reader and to find out what titles they are interested in reading.

Fynn will visit the hospital once a week as Tsourakis attempts to form a book club at the facility.

Tsourakis said that they currently have four Kindle E-Readers and one Kindle Fire, an advanced electronic reader that can download audio books for the visually impaired.

She gathers the readers each evening and makes sure their electronic readers’ batteries are charged for the next day.

“We are trying to get more audio books and looking at other ways to expand the program in different ways,” Fynn said. “We are trying to make reading more enjoyable. Some of the residents have limited mobility and they can turn pages on the electronic readers with just a thumb.”

The Silver E-Read program is provided by the Watauga County Library as part of its library outreach services.

“This initiative provides e-readers, training and support to elders where they live and congregate,” said a spokesperson for the library.

“We want to promote the joy of reading and support lifelong learning for all Watauga County residents with special needs. We want to ensure that elderly patrons receive accommodations they need to continue reading and learning throughout their lives,” the spokesman said.

The program is made possible through a Library Services and Technology Act grant and community sponsorships.

On Tuesday, Fynn and Tsourakis visited with Blowing Rock Hospital resident Junie McGraw to see how she was progressing with her new e-reader.

“I taught English at Southwest Junior High School in Gastonia for more than 30 years,” McGraw said. “It was hard to get my students to read. They weren’t wealthy and their parents didn’t read, for the most part. Some of them said they’d never held a book in their life. I remember the girls were more receptive to the notion of reading than the boys. Boys didn’t want to be seen holding a book.”

With Fynn’s instruction, McGraw was able to change the size of type on the reader to one that she was most comfortable with.

“The Kindles are so portable and you can change the font size so easily,” Fynn said. “For many of the residents, reading is company.”

 “Reading helps with their mental health and helps with their alertness. You want to keep your mind as sharp as possible,” Tsourakis said.

The Silver E-Read program is now in place at Blowing Rock Hospital, Appalachian Bryan Estates, Glenbridge Health and Rehabilitation and Deerfield Ridge Assisted Living.