FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — After more than a year of going all virtual, the Forsyth County Public Library system is preparing a return to in-person programs for all ages in the weeks ahead. But for those who aren’t yet comfortable with in-person events, some virtual programming will continue.
Forsyth Library Deputy Director Stephen Kight said the hybrid of in-person and virtual events will allow the system to provide programming for all residents during the pandemic.
“What we have found is that people’s comfort level is all over the place,” Kight said. “Some people were here when we first opened back up, and some are just now getting back in. We’re there to help them wherever their comfort level lies, whether they want to fully engage in person or entirely virtually.”
Tracy Walker, programming manager for the library system, said in-person events will vary depending on branch, but story time events, writer’s clubs and STEM classes for teens and tweens, “Musical Mornings,” kids art programming and select computer classes will all return face-to-face.
Some book clubs will also be back in person.
“A lot of our staff and patrons will be excited about that,” Walker said. “We’ve been doing them virtually, but there is just something special about being in the same room and discussing a book together.”
Many virtual programs will also still be available, including an outdoors series, some computer programming classes, story times in English, Spanish and Hindi and other events.
Some speaker events will also be digital, which has baked-in advantages.
“Because they are virtual in nature, that has allowed us to have presenters and attendees from out of state,” Walker said. “They can log in from South Carolina and attend one of our programs. Virtual events are probably something that it not completely going away even when we get back to our pre-pandemic routines. We will still, from time to time, have those programs available just to be able to offer to a wider base than if it we strictly in person.”
While some neighboring public library systems are just reopening, including Fulton County, the Forsyth County system chose to reopen last June with precautions.
While e-library usage is still up from pre-pandemic levels, Kight said, in-person circulation is back to typical levels.
“In April, we saw a circulation of more than 218,000 items, which is really about a normal level for April,” he said. “Despite going through a pandemic, people are still using the library. We have heard from patrons it has been…a nice consistent for families to go to in a time of uncertainty.”
And the system is happy to be fulfilling that need.
“It’s been an honor to serve our patrons virtually, and now we are excited, as the world is opening back up a bit, about serving our patrons in person again,” Walker said.