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Forsyth Countys library system seeks more funding for materials

FORSYTH COUNTY — As Forsyth County’s population continues to grow, so too does the demand and need for services.

Accordingly, the Forsyth County Public Library system seeks an increase in funding for its proposed annual budget. The plan was presented to the county’s finance committee during a meeting Thursday.

Within the $5.4 million the library system is asking for from the county, is a $70,000 increase in funding for materials to “keep up with population increases and patron demand for materials.”

“We’re just phenomenally busy, and it’s a wonderful problem to have,” said Anna Lyle, library director.

Lyle said the success of the libraries in Forsyth — the system has four branches — is largely credited to the community’s focus on education.

An estimated 2.5 million items will be circulated in 2017, she said.

There are about 71,000 residents who have library cards, though that number is about to jump due to a new partnership between the library and the school system.

Under the arrangement, students will be given library cards upon entering the district.

In the last decade, the population in Forsyth has increased by 37 percent and circulation per capita has increased by 45 percent, Lyle said.

Over the same span, materials funding per capita has decreased by 12 percent.

Forsyth’s government still puts more money into its libraries than most of the systems in Georgia.

Doug Derrer, county manager, said the overall county budget came up $6.5 million short, and though the finance committee has trimmed $4 million of it out, all departments are being asked to find savings anywhere possible.

If the $70,000 increase is approved, materials funding would be at $3.01 per capita. Combined with $55,185 in state funding, the total funding per capita would be $3.26, which is still below the national average of $4.10.

Forsyth is the only library system in Georgia to have a higher circulation per capita than the national average.

Lyle noted that from 2014 to ’15, program participation increased by 38 percent.

Of the more than 400 libraries in Georgia, the Sharon Forks branch circulated the most items last year, Post Road the sixth most and Cumming the seventh.

The only decrease Lyle said occurred last year was in the number of people using library computers. However, the number of people using Wi-Fi at the library on their own devices rose 57 percent.