Thursday, November 10, 2016

Library Breaks Ground on Sharon Forks Expansion

Patrons, local officials, volunteers, and library staff will gather for a Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Sharon Forks Library Expansion and Renovation Project on Monday, November 14 at 2:30 p.m.

Several dignitaries are expected to speak during the event, including State Senator Michael Williams, Forsyth County Commissioner Brian R. Tam, and library officials. Following the celebratory remarks, the Forsyth County Public Library Board of Trustees and members of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners will conduct a ceremonial groundbreaking.

The Sharon Forks Library originally opened in 2000 as the county’s second library location. Of the four branches in the library system currently, Sharon Forks is the smallest in terms of square footage. However, it is most certainly the busiest.

Since the branch opened, the surrounding area has seen a 100% increase in population. Residents’ usage of the Sharon Forks Library has grown even faster over the same period. The number of patrons visiting the Sharon Forks branch increased by 300%.

Circulation, or the number of items checked out each year, also increased by more than 300%. In fact, the Sharon Forks Library lends more materials than any other library in Georgia, regardless of size. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016, this branch alone had over one million checkouts.

“With so many Forsyth residents using the Sharon Forks Library, it became clear to voters that an expansion would be necessary and $2.8 million for construction was pledged in SPLOST VII,” explains Library Director Anna Lyle.

Forsyth County Impact Fees will provide $2.1 million for construction and a State of Georgia Construction Grant will deliver an additional $2 million that will allow for a comprehensive expansion of the Sharon Forks Library.

When construction is complete, the Sharon Forks Library will be nearly double its current size.

“During the planning process, we conducted surveys and talked with patrons, staff, and volunteers to learn which features should be prioritized,” explains Lyle.

The finished facility will include a larger meeting room for programs and community use, additional parking, a dedicated teen room, six new study rooms, a Hot Spot similar to the one at the Post Road Library, a larger Friends Bookstore, and an automated drive-through book return.

“Our staff and our contractors will be working diligently to minimize disruptions to library services during construction,” says Lyle.

The library will keep patrons informed about progress on the project through a dedicated website at Patrons can expect to see photos of the work in progress, as well as updates about upcoming phases of construction and how it might impact services or access to materials.

Patrons can also opt-in to receive email announcements and text message alerts on the Sharon Forks website, something the library encourages regular visitors to do.

“For example, many students come over to Sharon Forks from South Forsyth Middle School in the afternoons. If there is an interruption in Internet or other utility services, especially if it requires the library to close for safety reasons, we want parents and students to know as quickly as possible so they can plan accordingly,” adds Lyle.

Construction on the project is expected to take just over a year and will be completed in phases.

First, the new expansion portion of the building will be built. The library will move its existing services and materials into the new portion of the facility while the current facility is renovated. Finally, the new furnishings, equipment, and materials will be installed throughout the whole facility and the outdoor landscaping and parking lots will be completed.

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