Built in the late 1980’s, the Winder Public Library has served Winder for more than thirty years. The building also served as the headquarters for the Piedmont Regional Library System (PRLS) until September 2014, when regional administrative offices moved to Jefferson. Regional offices serve all ten public library locations in Banks, Barrow and Jackson counties — Winder, Auburn, Statham, Jefferson, Commerce, Braselton, Maysville, Talmo, Banks County, and Harold S. Swindle in Nicholson. The move of PRLS regional offices left over 3,000 square feet vacant. The extensive renovations have increased the library’s public area, providing more room for books, computers, and for patrons.
With almost 100,000 visits, more than 42,000 computer sessions and more than 139,000 checkouts per year, Winder is the busiest library in the tri-county region. The renovation, led by Athens Ga architect Joe Smith and interior designer Cortney Orme of Vivre Interiors in Gainesville, Ga, included additional computer stations, study rooms, improved meeting space, energy-efficient lighting, and more efficient use of space for both staff and patrons.
Over two hundred people attended the Winder Public Library Grand Re-Opening that was held Sunday, January 21, at 1:00 pm. Local donors were present and recognized. State Librarian Julie Walker presented the Georgia Library Champion of the Year Award to Representative Terry England for his tireless support of public library service in Georgia. The audience also enjoyed live performances of stories and songs by beloved children’s author Carmen Deedy and multiple Grammy-nominated folk musician John McCutcheon.
Carmen Deedy and John McCutcheon performances were brought to the Winder Public Library as a part of North Georgia Kids Read program. North Georgia Reads promotes collaboration among neighboring library systems and brings bestselling authors to a community of forty-six libraries in the region. Library systems currently participating in North Georgia Reads include Gwinnett, Cobb, and Hall counties, and Piedmont Regional Library System.
Public library funding in Georgia is a group effort. The Winder Public Library building is owned by Barrow County. Winder Public Library receives funds from federal, state, county and city levels, and from the Barrow County School System. The renovation project spanned three years. Ninety percent of the project (approximately $600,000) was funded by the state of Georgia using Major Repair and Renovation (MRR) Re-Purposing Construction funds. Re-purposing current library buildings is more cost-effective than new construction. Local matching funds came from Piedmont Regional Library System’s fund balance and local donors. Six study room sponsorships were offered with naming rights for $5,000 each. Four of those rooms have been sponsored by: Bob and Shirley Lanham; Jane Thompson and Cheryl Brownstein; The Barrow County Historical Society; and Senator Frank Ginn, whose mother was a librarian. Two rooms are still available.
Visit the Winder Public Library Website at http://winder.prlib.org/ to learn more about the programs and services of this beautiful library.