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Read all about it: Officials, staff break ground on new library

Staff Photos: Erin Evans. Children's Librarian Carol Durusau checks out fabric choices for the new branch library at a groundbreaking held Thursday morning.

Staff Photos: Erin Evans. Children's Librarian Carol Durusau checks out fabric choices for the new branch library at a groundbreaking held Thursday morning.

COVINGTON -- The goal of having a branch library for residents in west Newton County is becoming a reality.

Local officials joined with library staff and board members to break ground Thursday for the Porter Memorial Branch Library on Ga. Highway 212.

According to Library Director Greg Heid, more than one-third of library patrons live on the west side of the county.

"It's so important that we build a state-of-the-art library bringing information and education resources as well as enjoyment to the citizens of that area," he said.

The library will include popular fiction and nonfiction books, DVDs and audiobooks, a full children's section, and a separate room for teens with materials appealing to middle school and high school students, according to Heid. The teen room will be soundproof and monitored by security cameras.

There will also be a soundproof "quiet room" where patrons can read undisturbed. Newspapers and magazines will be housed in that area, Heid said.

The library will include computers with Internet access and areas for studying and telecommuting, as well as a conference room and a 60-seat meeting room. There will be a self-checkout desk in addition to a staffed service desk.

The library has been designed to blend in with the natural environment and will include lots of windows and employ natural stone, brick and earthy colors, Heid said.

It will be one of only two libraries in Georgia to achieve the gold standard in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving resource conservation.

The building will be heated and cooled with Energy Star appliances to save utility costs.

It will also be designed to harvest sunlight to further conserve energy. Windows will comprise nearly the entire north wall to take advantage of natural light. Windows with southern exposure will have light shelves to bounce the incoming rays of light onto the ceiling, giving indirect sunlight to reading and staff rooms.

All electrical light fixtures will have sensors that dim interior lights during the day when the building can rely more on natural sunlight. Once the sun sets, the lights will brighten.

In addition, all offices, staff areas, storage rooms, closets and restrooms will have sensors that automatically turn lights on when the areas are occupied and turn lights off when unoccupied.

The library roof will be designed to catch rainwater that will be directed into cisterns in the ground. It will be recycled and used to water landscaping, and some will be filtered and recycled and used to flush toilets.

"It is a great honor to this area to be bringing them such a facility, especially since the county has such a sense of smart growth and balancing nature and the natural environment with development," Heid said.

The library will be constructed on Ga. Highway 212 between Oak Hill Elementary School and the Oak Hill Fire Station.

The budgeted cost is $5,014,286, with $3 million funded by impact fees, $2 million through a state grant and the remaining money through private donations.

At 18,000 square feet, the library will be slightly more than half the size of the Covington branch.

It is expected to open to the public in January 2011.

"I want to thank everybody involved: Greg Heid of the library, the library board itself and the past and present commissioners who had a part in making this building and project come to fruition," said District 2 Commissioner Earnest Simmons. "Speaking on behalf of the people of District 2, we're glad and excited that we've got more places to spend our time wisely and to enjoy a wide variety of activities in the western end of the county."