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Forsyth County library system celebrating 20 years
By: Kayla Robins CUMMING -- This summer 20 years ago, the landscape of county amenities and partnerships in education changed forever when the Forsyth County Public Library launched its own independent system. An anniversary celebration will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Cumming Library. Located at 585 Dahlonega Road, the branch, which now plays host to an administrative building adjacent to the library, was the system’s only location. Patrons checked out more than 560,000 books, tapes and other materials. Today, libraries in Forsyth County — the system has expanded to four branches since splitting from the Gwinnett County system — serve more than 71,000 cardholders. Sharon Forks Library in south Forsyth circulates more than 1,023,000 materials annually and is recognized as the busiest library in Georgia. “Circulating over a million titles in a year is a big achievement for our branch, and for the system as a whole,” said Mendy Gunter, branch manager at Sharon Forks. “It shows that our team of material selectors are doing a good job of finding books that appeal to our patrons and that our staff is helping patrons find those materials to expand their reading preferences, whether they’re reading for pleasure or for educational purposes.” Though Gunter said it may be hard to top 1 million checkouts in fiscal year 2017 while the branch is under construction, the expansion at Sharon Forks is eagerly awaited for both staff and residents. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall and is expected to nearly double the size of the current building and add more parking. Funding for the project is being funneled from several sources, including voter-approved SPLOST funding, impact fees and a construction grant from the state. Library officials will be at the celebration to talk with patrons about how the system has grown in the last 20 years. Gunter said she is excited to talk about the new amenities coming to Sharon Forks, including new study rooms, an expanded meeting room, Friends Bookstore, reading books, a new room dedicated to teens and a brand new Children’s section that includes an activity area for preschoolers to play and learn basic concepts. “We’re so pleased to share these milestones in the library’s incredible growth with our community,” said Anna Lyle, director of the library system. Lyle, who became the library’s second director after taking over for Jon McDaniel earlier this year, said the event will provide opportunities for patrons “to learn more about their library system and see what goes on behind the scenes to bring so many materials and resources to their public.” Cumming Library Branch Manager Denise Leeson will lead behind-the-scenes walking tours of the Cumming branch and the IT and materials departments in the adjacent Jon McDaniel Administration Building. Participants will have the chance to learn about the services offered at the library, including study rooms and meeting areas, and learn about the inner workings of library technology and materials processing. Tours will depart from the meeting room in the library at 5 and 6 p.m. At 5:30 p.m., Lyle will be joined by Library Board Chairwoman Mary Helen McGruder for remarks about the library’s history and plans for the future. Cake and light refreshments will be served during the event, which is free and open to the public. Families are invited to visit the children’s section at 6:30 p.m. for a Spanish/English bilingual storytime featuring Llama Llama, the beloved children’s book character created by Anna Dewdney. For more information, visit