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Design presented for Sharon Forks Library expansion

SOUTH FORSYTH — Architects tasked with expanding the busiest library in Georgia presented their final designs to the Forsyth County Public Library board Monday.

Plans for the Sharon Forks branch included color schemes and carpet samples and did not involve any drastic changes since the last formal conversation in front of the board, said Stephen Kight, assistant director for public services.

“They were pleased with what they saw,” he said.

Visitors to the library in south Forsyth, one of four branches in the county, checked out 984,291 physical materials in fiscal year 2015. That marked 300,000 more books, magazines, CDs and DVDs than the library with the next-highest circulation, according to data from the Georgia Public Library Service.

A growing demand has led to a need for a larger space at Sharon Forks.

Though an original goal was to add 14,000 square feet to the location, funding and designs have allowed for an 18,000-square-foot expansion, nearly double the existing size.

Meeting room space will increase by 50 percent, Kight said. Seven study rooms are being added, as well as a teen room, hot spots similar to the Post Road Library, more parking spaces and nearly 25 percent more materials.

“We will have a bigger book store and a lot more places for people to just sit and work,” Kight said.

He said the aim is to keep the library open for as much of the construction process as possible, though they may have to close the branch for a few days here and there.

About 90 percent of the additions will be in the back of the building, said Bobby Williams, facilities manager for the library system. The rest will be built onto the street-facing side, which will become the new entrance.

Once the addition is ready for use, construction will shift into the existing portion of the building for renovations.

The library system received $2 million from the state’s 2016 $21.8 billion budget to be used for renovation and expansion projects, including the one at Sharon Forks.

The funding will be used in conjunction with $2.8 million from a 1-cent sales tax referendum that residents approved in November 2011 to fund $100 million in various county projects, including the new county courthouse and jail that opened last year in downtown Cumming.

As scheduled, Williams said, construction may begin this fall to be completed by fall 2017.