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Library closing for a week
New computer system debuts Dec. 17
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Forsyth County News

The Forsyth County Public Library has two branches: Cumming at 585 Dahlonega Road, (770) 781-9840; and Sharon Forks at 2820 Old Atlanta Road, (770) 781-9840. For more information, go online at
The Forsyth County Public Library will be closed Thursday through Dec. 16 to install and train employees on a new computer system that officials say is more user friendly.

Director Jon McDaniel said the computer system is “really the heart of the library.”

“It will have a lot of the same features, but it’s also got a lot of new ... bells and whistles [patrons will] be interested in,” he said of the new Polaris Integrated Library System.

Books cannot be dropped off during the closure, which affects both the Cumming and Sharon Forks branches, but late fees will not be charged.

Both branches are scheduled to reopen Dec. 17.

During the closure, all 96 library employees will be trained on the new technology, which manages everything from checking out and paying bills to e-mail and cataloging books.

“We’ll be bringing them all in, from book shelvers all the way up to me,” McDaniel said. “We’ll have intensive training on this because it affects all functions of the library.”

For patrons, the switch from the Horizon to Polaris library system will bring new features such as e-mail alerts when a preferred author releases a book and the ability to write book reviews.

It is also more user-friendly and includes a children’s component with colorful icons and more graphic-oriented selections.

McDaniel said the new system is more advanced, but that wasn’t the only reason for the $255,000 switch.

“The Horizon people were bought out by another company and they chose not to support the Horizon system any longer,” he said. “We didn’t like the choices of what they were offering us instead. It was almost 30 years old and they were just adding new stuff to it.”

The Polaris system won the close bidding process, McDaniel said, because it’s easier to navigate and library staff can handle changes internally.

He said the majority of the cost is covered through the portion of the county’s 1-cent sales tax that goes toward installing a computer system at the new Hampton Park library branch in north Forsyth.

When that location opens in February, it also will be on Polaris.

Mary Helen McGruder goes to the library at least once a week.

As both a patron and member of the library system’s board, McGruder said she’s excited about the change, even if it means she has to forego her visit this week.  

“It’s just going to make the county’s libraries better,” she said. “The benefit of the libraries closing is that it will provide patrons with an upgraded information system that will enhance the library service experience.”

McDaniel said officials “regret it takes a whole week” for the process.

“But it’s one of those things where if you want to get it done right, you get it done right the first time,” he said.