One library in Forsyth County checked out more materials than any other branch in Georgia last year.
Patrons at the Sharon Forks Library in south Forsyth checked out 984,291 physical materials in fiscal year 2015, marking 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.
“We are pleased, but not surprised,” said Mendy Gunter, branch manager at the library on Old Atlanta Road. “These circulation figures demonstrate that our community finds library services relevant and valuable, and it further highlights the community’s need for additional shelving space and public meeting space that will come with the upcoming repurposing and expansion of the Sharon Forks Library.”
Designs show a potential 18,000-square-foot expansion for the library, one of four branches in the Forsyth County Public Library system. That would almost double its existing size.
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.
As scheduled, design is expected to be completed this spring, with construction wrapping up in spring 2017.
While Sharon Forks tops the list in circulation for 2015, it was not alone in local branches receiving recognition.
Of the 405 public libraries in Georgia, all four locations in Forsyth County were ranked in the top 50 for circulation.
The Post Road Library came in sixth, the Cumming Library at seventh and the Hampton Park Library at 49th.
“Our staff works diligently to make all our libraries welcoming for patrons, with both desirable programming and in-demand materials for pleasure reading and learning,” Forsyth County Public Library Director Anna Lyle said. “When we see circulation statistics as high as these, it’s clear that our staff members are selecting and promoting materials that are interesting and relevant to the community.”
Lyle credited the system’s success to local support from the county commission and partners like the FCPL Friends and Advocates and Forsyth’s “commitment to education, literacy and life-long learning.”
System-wide, FCPL had a per capita circulation rate of 11.33 last year, the highest rate in Georgia and nearly triple the state’s average of 3.64.
That rate translates to the number of checkouts per resident in Forsyth County and includes the total population, not just library patrons, said Stephen Kight, assistant director for public services.
The system also beat the most current national average per capita circulation of 8, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
“With careful planning and staff dedicated to serving the public, we were able to open both the Hampton Park and Post Road libraries in the midst of a recession. All four of our branches returned to pre-recession operating hours on Jan. 1, 2015, and our digital collection of eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines and eVideos grows each month,” Lyle said.
With the fiscal year wrapping up at the end of June, Sharon Forks’ Gunter said patrons are encouraged to stop by the library and check out “a couple of books to help us reach our next goal of circulating 1,000,000 items this year.”