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Library to allow snacks
Messy items, meals not OK
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Forsyth County News

Thanks to courteous patrons, the local library system will allow snack foods inside its three branches.

Forsyth County's library board voted 5-0 on Tuesday to amend the food and drink policy to permit small food items.

Snack machines in the employee rooms will be moved up front by the drink machines for library visitors to enjoy.

The library decided to amend the policy, in part, because its March change in policy to allow drinks went over well.

"We were really concerned when we went to the drink machines. We just knew things were going to be ruined," said Carla Beasley, assistant director for planning and facilities.

"We've been very surprised. It was not a problem."

The snack machines will be filled with selected food items, as the board expressed concern about certain chips or snacks that easily leave stains.

A wet wipes dispenser will be placed by the snack machine as a precautionary measure.

"We're going to be suggesting that they take a few wipes with them to keep their hands clean and the library clean," Beasley said.

The change to the policy won't allow for messy items or meals, like a pizza, said director Jon McDaniel, but it will permit patrons to bring in small snacks for children.

"We aren't encouraging people to bring food into the library unless its similar to what we're selling," he said.

Revenue wasn't a point of discussion in the food policy switch, but money matters couldn't be ignored Tuesday as the library faces uncertain and dwindling funding from the state and county.

The state cut the library's funding by 5.5 percent, something officials had been expecting, said Anna Lyle, assistant director of support services. That money hadn't been budgeted to be spent.

In fact, in its last fiscal year, the library saved $190,000 "because we got scared of the budget and underspent," Lyle said.

That savings came about by slashing materials "dramatically," she said.

The board expressed some concern about not properly updating its materials.

"I don't want to see the collection out of date because we're being nervous," Kristin Morrissey said. "When the collection gets out of date, you can't just catch it up the next year."

McDaniel said the library likely will wait until funding is more certain to make a decision on how much to spend on new materials.

In the meantime, the system has begun to "float" its collection.

McDaniel explained that means if a book is checked out at one branch and returned at another, it can remain there to offer patrons "more diversity."