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Forsyth County residents gather ideas for new Denmark Library design at input meetings
Denmark Library
David Moore, a representative with McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, speaks to community members about the new Denmark Library's design during a public input meeting on Thursday, Oct. 28. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

The Forsyth County Public Library recently held two community input meetings to gather feedback on the design of the new Denmark Library, which is expected to open in fall 2023.

FCPL Deputy Director Stephen Knight began the first input meeting on Thursday, Oct. 28, at the Post Road Library by letting community members know a little bit about the upcoming library, which will be located on Fowler Road next to Denmark High School.

The library system currently has four branches, many of which are some of the most high-traffic libraries in Georgia. Knight said this fifth branch will help to better serve Forsyth County by specifically catering to those in the southwest Forsyth area.

The Board of Trustees selected McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture to design the new library earlier this year, entrusting the firm with the process after its work on the Sharon Forks Library expansion and Cumming Library renovation.

Representatives from the architectural firm, known for experience in library planning and design, also helped to lead meetings and guide areas of discussion that could lead to meaningful ideas for the Denmark Library.

David Moore, one of the representatives, said one purpose of the meetings was to hear from stakeholders and library patrons about what the community may want in a new library.

“[Libraries] really should be catered and designed to empower the librarians to provide the services and programs that, in turn, meet very specific needs in the community,” Moore said. “So a library in the north end of your county might not be serving the same needs as a library maybe on the south end of the county.”

Moore reminded those at the meeting on Thursday that modern libraries not only work to give patrons a quiet place for reading, studying or working, but also serve to provide programming, events and collaboration and creative space for a variety of community needs and wants.

To give some examples of these spaces, Moore presented photos of unique spaces they have worked on for libraries in the past.

Some areas were more collaborative, giving room for studying areas and spaces where groups could still have some privacy while having the space to talk and not have to worry about disturbing others.

Other examples showed spaces where people could get together to learn or create. These photos showed recording studios, rooms with green screens and a variety of desks and furniture. Moore said they have previously designed a workshop in a library where patrons could woodwork.

Many of those in attendance agreed that the Denmark Library should be as connected to the community around it as possible, especially helping to serve families, kids and teens from neighboring Denmark High and other schools.

“You don’t want to think of the library as here is a place where people are going to come and shut the door and then they’re going to be in the library,” one patron said. “You want to bake it in right from the start that it’s connected to the neighbors, it’s connected to the schools, it’s connected to the coffee shops.”

To reflect nearby schools and families in the design, some suggested more collaborative spaces in the teen area to give those studying, especially during exam season, more room to gather with classmates.

They also suggested adding devices to the section such as laptops to give students who do not have their own devices the chance to come to the library and complete their online work in a group setting instead of in a computer lab with limited movement and flexibility.

Several in attendance said more meeting rooms could help to serve library patrons in any age group. Those coming from Denmark High School could use them for club and after-school gatherings when space in the school isn’t available, and adults could use them for business or organizational meetings.

Moore pointed out that meeting spaces could also have other uses by adding a moving wall or garage door to the room. By closing the wall or door, the library could have private meeting spaces when needed, but when they aren’t needed, they could be opened for collaborative events and programming.

After discussing these ideas, those in attendance had the opportunity to move around the room and look at photos of different library spaces, putting green stickers on spaces they liked and red stickers on those they did not care for.

Moore said they would use the feedback from the two meetings and an online survey to inform the upcoming concept and drafted design of the Denmark Library. For more information, visit www.forsythpl.org.