Carol Stewart, director of the Clayton County Library System, admires the new Forest Park library branch Tuesday. The new library, which is a replacement for the existing Forest Park branch, is expected to open next month.
FOREST PARK Carol Stewart is like an expectant mother eager to welcome her new child into the world these days.
The only difference is the “child” is a new 16,000-square foot library that will replace the existing Forest Park Library Branch.
“I’m so excited that I can’t wait until it opens,” said Stewart, director of the Clayton County Library System. “I want to get it open to the public and get our patrons in here so they can see this beautiful building.”
The new $5.1 million Forest Park Library Branch is expected to have its grand opening ceremony, featuring county and state library officials, at 3 p.m., Dec. 16. The public will begin using the facility the next day. The new library branch is located on West Street, next to First Baptist Church of Forest Park.
Library system officials have wanted a new facility in Forest Park for years because the current branch facility, which opened in the late 1960’s, has been slowly decaying over the years. The old facility was also a tight fit for a heavily-used branch, despite the fact that it is a two-story building.
“It’s been around for about 45 years and it was impossible to add anything to the old facility,” Stewart said. “There’s just nothing flexible about that building.”
Ownership of the old facility has been turned over to the City of Forest Park and will be used for whatever programs the city decides would best work in that space, according to the library system director.
The new facility will include a teen room, a multi-purpose room, a computer lab, a children’s program room, 76 public-use computers, a homework center, toddler area, motion-controlled lighting, more space for people using computers, electrical outlets that contain USB ports in the walls and red pleather-clad chairs, ottomans and sectional sofas.
“We also have what’s called a ‘Family Quiet Room,’ which is a new thing libraries are starting to do,” Stewart said. “Whenever someone’s little angel is having a hissy fit, they can bring their family into this room for some quiet time.”
There will be a gap between when the current Forest Park branch closes Dec. 10, and when the new facility opens a week later. Stewart said the gap was necessary because the library system has to bring in a professional moving company to transfer the branch’s book collection from the old facility to the new facility.
“The last few times we moved existing branches into new facilities, we did it ourselves and had inmates help us out,” the library system director said. “It took us months each time to find all of the books because they got out of order in the move.”