Officials look to future as ground broken for new Central Library

Officials look to future as ground  broken for new Central Library
October 08
00:00 2015

Photo by Todd Luck Officials from city and county governments, Forsyth County libraries and Frank L. Blum Construction Company shovel dirt during a groundbreaking last week in front of the Central Library, which will be rebuilt and reopened in 2017.

By Todd Luck

The Chronicle

Ground was broken on the new Forsyth County Central Library on Thursday, Oct. 1.

The Central Library closed in October 2014, for renovations. Since then, Frank L. Blum Construction Company has been removing asbestos from the building.

The ground breaking symbolized the next step in the project, which will involve demolishing the front of the library, which was built in 1952. It will be replaced with a new four-story section of the library to match the current four-story part of the building, built in 1980, which will be renovated. Only the structural frame and foundation of that old section will remain, everything else will be new. The new library will be 101,000 square feet and is expected to be completed by summer of 2017. The $28 million project is being paid for by a bond approved by voters in 2010.

County commissioners along with officials from the library, school board and city council spoke before the symbolic shoveling of dirt.

County Commissioner Don Martin, a former school superintendent, quoted Thomas Jefferson, who believed there should be a public library in every county.

“I think you all would agree, libraries have done a lot of extensive good for a small cost,” said Martin, referencing a letter Jefferson wrote on the subject.

Martin said libraries remain important, citing statistics from the American Library Association that in 2013 2 billion items were checked out of public libraries, including books, e-books and movies. He also cited Forbes magazine, which said more than half of young people and seniors living in poverty have used a public library for Internet.

Forsyth County Library Director Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin said a lot of input from the community, county management and library staff went into the new library. She said the new library will have a “stunning exterior,” a “vibrant interior,” an expanded North Carolina room, new teen and children spaces, meeting rooms, large event spaces, a reading room and a book terrace.

“We are now positioned to make the vision a reality,” she said. “Every effort has been made to incorporate the ideas and best practices that make up a 21st century library.”

Despite its building being closed for construction, the Central Library continues to operate out of the Forsyth County Government Center, with administrative offices, a computer lab that still offers computer classes and a relocated North Carolina room. Staff and some of the Central Library’s books have gone to other branches, though some books and other items have gone into storage.

Sprinkle-Hamlin said patrons are finding the relocated services and those who used the Central Library to hold events and meetings are now relying on other branches. She said no one is missing out on books, since Forsyth libraries are part of the NC Cardinal consortium of libraries around the state, so even books not currently on the shelf can be ordered.

Sprinkle-Hamlin said though she’s a little sad to see the old Central Library go, she’s looking forward to 2017 and for the new, state-of-the-art library that will take its place.


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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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