Library Bond Referendum FAQ

A bond referendum for forty million dollars for the Forsyth County Public Library system will be on the ballot this fall, allowing voters to decide whether or not to build three new libraries and make improvements to four others.

Frequently Asked Questions

QWhat is the timeline for construction of the three libraries?
AConstruction TimelineTop
QHow will the $40 million dollars be spent?
AThe money will be used for three new or completely renovated facilities, to replace the Central Library and the Clemmons and Kernersville branches. This will include obtaining and preparing sites for all three facilities, including enough space to provide adequate parking.

All of the locations will include:
  • Space adequate to house the current collection as well as room for expansion
  • Display space for materials
  • Self-check stations
  • Space for additional public computer stations
  • A multi-purpose meeting room, with smaller meeting rooms of various sizes, each including the capacity for state-of-the art technology
  • Spaces for quiet study and tutoring
  • Reading spaces with comfortable seating
  • Expanded spaces for children, including programming space
  • Expanded Teen spaces

In addition, at Central the following will be included:
  • An expanded North Carolina Room, allowing space for digitization units and photograph storage
  • A central gathering space
  • A café/coffee shop
  • An expanded and updated computer training center
  • Space for Outreach Services

The bond will also provide the ability to make needed repairs and improvements to other branches, including:
  • Heating system at Carver School Road
  • New elevator, ceiling and windows at Malloy Jordan East Winston Heritage Center
  • New fire alarm systems at Rural Hall and Walkertown
  • Parking lot repaved at Southside

In addition to the repairs at Malloy Jordan, moving Outreach Services to the new Central Library will allow space for the complete conversion to a Heritage and Computer Center. A new Computer Learning Center and additional computers for the public would be provided. Space for display, digitization of important community records, and archival storage would be possible, as well as an expanded collection of historical materials. Top
QWhy do we need a Central Library?
AThe Central Library serves as the cornerstone of the Library system by housing the in-depth collections that all of our branches draw upon, as well as the Collection Management Department that prepares all materials for the system. From Central, the Library does the in-depth reference that we are unable to do from branch libraries. Central also provides support for Children’s, Teen and Adult services at all locations.

In addition to the collection, Central is where all specialized services are located, including:
  • Local history and genealogy
  • Photograph Collection
  • Government documents, both State and Federal
  • Business resources
  • Non-Profit Resource Center
  • Computer Training Bridge
  • Assistive Technology
  • Public Computer Center
  • Computer Learning Center
  • A variety of public meeting spaces
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QWhy were Clemmons and Kernersville selected to be replaced?
AClemmons, built in 1984, is only 8,900 square feet, part of which is the meeting room. While small, Clemmons consistently has the highest circulation of all of the branch libraries. The parking situation at this branch is extremely inadequate, resulting in frequent fender benders. This situation cannot be remedied because the library is landlocked, so that surrounding land cannot be obtained. The materials space is so tight that for every new item acquired, another item must be weeded, so the collection cannot grow in its current location. There is no more floor space for public computers and, in addition, the staff space at Clemmons is the worst in the system.

Kernersville’s use has been growing steadily, and was the second highest-circulating branch in the 2010 fiscal year. While the building was recently refurbished, it still suffers from overcrowding at just under 10,000 square feet. Because it is one of the oldest branches, it has one of the largest collections, and is running out of room for materials. The worst problem in this facility, however, is the lack of adequate meeting space. There is only one small meeting room, and this is located on the basement level. This building is not owned by the County.

Both branches, as well as the Central Library, have been on the County’s Capital Improvements Projects list for many years. In addition, the Library’s strategic plan from 2000 lists replacement of Clemmons, Kernersville and Central as goals for the next ten years.Top
QWhy a new building for Central?
AThe current facility has the following problems:
  • Too small to accommodate all of the functions of a modern library
  • Essentially two separate buildings, connected by an atrium, making the layout inflexible and confusing
  • Layout is difficult to monitor for security purposes
  • Significant square footage is in basement space, with low ceilings and difficult-to-maintain humidity levels
  • Dated infrastructure, not allowing for additional wiring to support today’s technology
  • Insufficient electrical infrastructure for supporting today’s need for laptops and other portable devices
  • Inadequate meeting rooms
  • Inadequate space to meet the needs of children and teens, including a lack of programming spaces
  • No space for quiet rooms for study and tutoring
  • Roof leaks that are all but impossible to repair
  • Heating and air conditioning issues
  • Two entrances, making security for materials difficult and causing staffing problems

Every effort has been made to move, restructure, retrofit and repair the current facility. The Library used a grant from the federal government to fund a research study to determine the best course of action for the Central Library. That study, completed in 2008, recommended a new library to be located downtown.

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QHave the sites been selected for these facilities?
AThe search for sites will take place if the bond question is successful; the hope being that this strategy will ensure that we have more options and that the cost of the land will remain reasonable. Top
QWill I be able to share my ideas about the library?
AIf the referendum is successful, we will be actively seeking citizen input on every facet of the projects. We will have public meetings to encourage participation on what the libraries should include. Top
QWith all of the technology available today, is the library still used?
AForsyth County citizens cannot afford, on their own, all of the resources that we provide free for our customers. For those who do not have a computer or high speed Internet access, the Library is their link to the Internet. The Central Library, with over 70 public computers, still cannot meet the community’s demand for computer access. All of the branches, including Clemmons and Kernersville, have waiting lists at almost all times of the day.

The Library purchases information databases that provide detailed and reliable information on investments, genealogy, job searching, college preparation, testing, business and foreign languages. In addition, we provide access to thousands of newspapers and magazines, live homework assistance with an online tutor and answers to reference questions from a qualified librarian 24 hours a day. Even for those customers who have chosen to purchase an e book reader, downloading titles is expensive, and the Library provides access to free downloads.

While few customers have an e book reader, many have an MP3 or an IPod. These devices, far from taking business away from the Library, have increased the public’s need for the Library. Downloadable audio is one of our fastest-growing services.

While technology is growing steadily, traditional library services are still as popular as ever. In fiscal year 2009, our library checked out over 2 million items, an all-time record. Top
QThe Central Library seems to attract a lot of homeless people, so wouldn’t a new library just attract more of the same?
AHomelessness is a societal problem, and libraries will not be able to solve that problem. We do have rules and regulations that strive to maintain a safe and pleasant atmosphere, and Security Officers to enforce those rules. We have very few serious problems, so in large part the safety issue is one of perception. Library Administration works with other agencies to attack this issue from a community perspective. The Library serves as a place where anyone can come to get help to find a job, find a place to live and become a contributing member of our community, so in this way we are part of the solution. Top
QHow much will the bond cost me in increased taxes if it passes?
AA taxpayer owning a home with a tax value of $150,000 would pay $11.85 more per year. Buying 1 new hardback book can cost approximately twice that much.Top
QI think this is a bad economic time to choose to ask citizens to vote for a bond. Why now?
AWhile this is a bad economic time for many Forsyth County residents, interest rates and the cost of building are lower.Top
QWill parking be addressed at the new libraries?
AParking is topmost in County and Library Administration’s minds. Parking allowances based on parking studies for similarly-sized facilities is the goal.Top
QWhat does the public library offer students, since we have school libraries?
AEven for those schools that have a library, and not all do, the doors close at approximately 3pm. After that time, the public library is the homework center. The library provides collections and reference help during all of our open hours, including Sundays during the school year at the Central Library. Central serves as the only library for the Downtown School, and all of our branches serve as the main source for materials for many homeschooled families. And, since learning does not stop when you are no longer in school, we serve as the “people’s university,” supporting learning for life for all of Forsyth County’s citizens. All of our facilities are used heavily for tutoring and homework assistance, and after-school children use the computers to do research for projects and to write papers.Top
QSocial networking is becoming very popular. Will people continue to come to the Library?
AThe Public Library serves as a gathering place for the community. Already, approximately 30,000 people come in to the Central Library every month, making it one of the most, if not the most, heavily-trafficked buildings in the County. Approximately 12,000 people per month visit Kernersville, and more than 11,000 visit Clemmons. Lewisville, in its new space, has topped the other branches in people coming in the door. Top
QWhat is the Library doing now to help the local economy?
AIn tough economic times, public libraries get busier than ever because customer needs are greater. We provide job searching material and programs, and free Internet and computer access needed to fill out applications and learn about available jobs. The Central Library has a vast array of materials to help entrepreneurs start or grow a business and help business owners study their market and current industry trends. Individuals can receive tax help, find information to help fix their car or repair their home, or even get tips on raising their own food or using coupons effectively. The Library responds quickly to the needs of the community and creates programs and collects materials that reflect these needs. An example is the successful Survive and Thrive @ the Library series of programs, developed to help customers in this difficult economy, and the one-on-one job-seekers labs that have grown from that series. Top