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Sharon Forks Library getting new automated materials handling systems
Sharon Forks Library
Sharon Forks Library will soon have two new automated materials handling systems to improve accuracy and allow patrons to return multiple books at once. - photo by For the FCN

Patrons of the Sharon Forks Library will soon have a faster and easier way to return their books, thanks to two new automated materials handling systems the library board recently voted to purchase.

At its regular meeting Monday evening, the board unanimously gave approval for the $291,405.08 purchase, which will replace Sharon Forks’ current AMH system.

The new system combines both accuracy and quantity, allowing patrons to return multiple books at once while helping staff re-shelve materials quickly and easily with fewer mistakes.

The new system is currently operating at the Cumming Library as the first in the country, though Library Director Anna Lyle said that won’t be for long.

“At the point we were making the [Cumming purchase] decision, the only one operating in the world was in Australia,” she said. “Of course, we couldn’t go there, so we have a contract where we agreed to do lots of testing and send them the data and they’ll guarantee technology [servicing] and for it to be [up to expectations] within two months.

“It’s been great so far, and it was already performing at that level within a week of us having it. We got to have a big test after the power went out [at the Cumming Library] for three days, and it was a huge help then.”

Lyle added Sharon Forks patrons will see another new addition once the library opens post-renovation.

At the meeting Monday, board members held two phone interviews with artists bidding for the spot behind the library’s soon-to-be welcome desk, ultimately choosing artist Tammy Woffey, who is from the Bronx in New York, to commission a linocut print.

The money for the piece comes, in part, from a $5,000 grant the Forsyth County Arts Alliance recently awarded to the library system.

“We were looking for a work of art to go behind the new main desk because it’ll be a focal point,” Lyle said. “We asked for everything from completely abstract to a local artist and provided [applicants] with our mission statement and strategic plan and asked for the artist to express that and the library’s inclusiveness.

“We got a variety of entries and narrowed down the [submissions] based on a scoring process and interviewed the top two candidates. We found people have very different tastes, but [board member] Bob Keller said we were all talking about the one [we chose], and even if it’s not to all the board member’s taste, it was generating interest and discussion, and that was our deciding factor.”