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Ribbon-cutting scheduled for Hampton library

Special photo
County officials will mark the opening of the new Fortson branch library with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday. The library is at 61 McDonough St., in Hampton.

Special photo County officials will mark the opening of the new Fortson branch library with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday. The library is at 61 McDonough St., in Hampton.

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

County officials are expected to turn out to celebrate the opening of the new Fortson branch library in Hampton.

The Henry County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the library, on Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 2 p.m., according to Julie Hoover-Ernst, county communications director. The Fortson library is located at 61 McDonough St.

In preparation for the library's opening, a fund-raiser was held at the facility on Sept. 12. Money raised from the event went to buy new books, said Jan Lowe, a member of the Henry County Library Board of Trustees, and the wife of Hampton City Councilmember Arley Lowe.

"We did quite well. We made a little over $4,000 for books," said Jan Lowe. She said she expects more money to come in when a $500 donation pledged by a local club is collected.

During the fund-raiser, she said, local authors, Peggy Taylor, Diane Shore, Dale Cramer, and Annette Laing, were on hand to sign copies of their books. The library board hopes to buy books written by local authors, to help stock the shelves, she continued.

"We had a recent acquisition of some Civil War books we wouldn't have had room for in the old library," she added.

The building is expected to better accommodate the increasing number of library patrons, said Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis.

"The new Fortson library was needed to provide for the increased demand for library services experienced, due to population growth west of I-75," Mathis said.

The estimated county population on April 1, 2000, was 119,338, according to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. The estimated population in Henry County in 2009 was 195,370.

"This facility is almost three times the size of the original library, which was constructed on land donated by the Fortson family, and with funds raised by the citizens of Hampton," said Mathis. "Not only will it contain more books, but also more computers."

Computers in the library system complement books and periodicals as a way for library patrons to gain new knowledge and further their education, continued the commission chairman. "Computer-use has risen significantly over the past few years, and has become a vital source for citizens taking online classes to improve their job skills, and to search for jobs in this challenging economy," she added.