[singlepic=136,320,240,,center] (This story by Adam Houston appeared September 11 in The Mint Hill Times print edition. Click here for subscription information.)

The Mint Hill Library will host a tea party September 25 to honor branch manager Neily Trump, who retires three days later. But why a tea party?

“Everybody knows Neily loves tea,” said Trilby Meeks, assistant branch manager for Mint Hill. “We’ve had two tea parties here for authors, and she has brought about 90 percent of the tea pots used. She loves throwing tea parties, so this is her turn.”

Trump has been at the Mint Hill branch since 1996 and said she will miss working with children, leading the programs, and the drive to work. The commute from Lancaster County, S.C., to Mint Hill gave her lots of time to think and listen to—what else—books.

“I mostly work in an environment where reading and learning are important,” she said. “There is something every day with our early literacy program teaching some early literacy skills and having lifelong educational programs for seniors, and we’re just a cultural center for the community.”

It is that enthusiasm that has made Trump and Mint Hill Library a success. Meeks said Trump’s love of books attracted many people to join the library’s book clubs, and everyone walking in always admires the building.

“Neily took our displays and bulletin boards to another level,” she said. “It’s going to be a challenge to replace her because she put her stamp on this place from the beginning.”

Chris Bates, senior library manager for southeast Mecklenburg, has known Trump for 20 years. He said Trump is always his go-to person. She always knew what people in Mint Hill liked and disliked.

“She knows Mint Hill,” Bates said “Having somebody like Neily makes a big difference for the community and the library.”

Trump has worked in libraries since she was a college student. She started working in the zoology library at UNC-Chapel Hill helping as many professors and graduate students as she did undergraduate students. She said working in the zoology lab was interesting and that library had a narrow clientele. She also worked for the public library in Chapel Hill, and she received her Master’s degree in library science in 1990.

After her time at Mint Hill Library ends, she mostly looks forward to working on arts and crafts with her free time.

“They’ve been a love of mine since I was knee high to a grasshopper,” Trump said.

She likes to do work with glass and hot glass, and she has a small kiln and materials for stain glass. Trump also wants to work on concrete sculptures, knitting and painting.

Trump and her husband Rod will also travel after he retires in a few years. He is an associate dean at York Technical College in Rock Hill. Trump wants to visit Montana and Wyoming and take a trip to Nova Scotia.

“I’ve never been there and I’ve heard wonderful things about it,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Mint Hill Branch faces a challenge replacing Trump.

“It’s always hard to get a good qualified manager who keeps the needs of the community in mind, and Neily is not replaceable,” Bates said. “There is only one Neily.”