Director Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin retires from the Forsyth County Public Library system

Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin

Director Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin retires from the Forsyth County Public Library system
December 11
14:43 2019

When Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin joined the Forsyth Public Library system in 1979 as a department head for children’s outreach, libraries were places to check out books with card slips that told customers when their books were due. 

As director of the system for the last 20 years, Sprinkle-Hamlin has overseen the library’s transformation to the digital age, where people are as likely to download materials online as to check out books. 

Her leadership has helped the library make its case to the community as an important resource for information. Citizens of Forsyth County approved a $40 million bond referendum in 2010 that resulted in the renovation of a new Central Library, new branch libraries in Clemmons and Kernersville, and the renovation of other branches. 

Sprinkle-Hamlin plans to retire from the system on Dec. 31. 

When she was named library director in 2000, Sprinkle-Hamlin became the first African American and the first female to head the Forsyth County Public Library system. 

William Roberts, who served as library director from 1971-1999, said that Sprinkle-Hamlin, was the perfect choice to succeed him in the job. 

“When I hired her in 1979, she was running a business out of her basement,” he said. “She was obviously a very dynamic person. I thought that with her being a native of Winston-Salem and having library experience, she was a perfect choice.” 

Roberts said that he was not surprised to see Sprinkle-Hamlin had the energy to serve as library director, and to help her husband, Larry Leon Hamlin, the founder of the National Black Theatre Festival, grow and develop the festival as well. 

Sprinkle-Hamlin received her bachelor’s degree in education from Winston-Salem State University and her master of library science degree from Clark Atlanta University. As a native of Forsyth County, she said that she has always enjoyed being involved in the community. 

“I’ve always believed that you should grow your own talent,” Sprinkle-Hamlin said, “and that our library staff should look like the community it serves.” 

Developing and nurturing talent was one of Sprinkle-Hamlin’s strengths, Roberts said. 

“Sylvia was not the kind of person to stand up and be in the front,” he said. “She stood behind people and helped them become strong on their own.” 

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