Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Hope Walker, 6, reads a book on Tuesday afternoon at the Five Forks Branch Library.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- For the Makely Family, seeing their home library redecorated, redesigned and renovated was a bit of a shock.
When Alison, Anna and William Makely stepped through the doors for the first time Tuesday following Five Forks Library's first major overhaul, they were overwhelmed by all the new stuff.
What stuck out the most for twin 5-year-olds Anna and William was "all the new kids books."
Mom, Alison, said the new layout looked "beautiful and welcoming."
Children and adults alike seemed to find something to appreciate about the new-and-improved version of one of Gwinnett County Public Library's most visited branches.
To commemorate the accomplishment, public officials from around the community, including a local pastor, the county commission chairman and members of the library board gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash thanked everybody who showed up, as well as the loyal library-goers like the Makely Family for their patience.
"Thanks for allowing us time for this project to be completed," said Nash, addressing a crowd of nearly 100 at the ceremony Tuesday afternoon. "I think y'all are going to be pleased with the results."
Prior to Tuesday's gathering, GCPL Deputy Director Liz Forster talked about some of the major changes to the facility, which was originally built in 1995.
Forster helped open the facility, so she watched the recent upgrades with much excitement.
Paid for through voter-approved special purpose local option sales tax dollars, she said it's going to save money and provide for more efficient operations. And, she added, it's got some cool new stuff.
"We have three features we're tickled about," Forster said.
Novelties at the branch include an automatic sorter that uses a conveyor belt to move books and electronic media to the correct location as patrons drop off library materials.
Another new addition: a book vending machine, which the library board approved earlier this year. It allows library customers to check out books with the swipe of their card.
"The other really exciting thing," Forster said, is a tech studio space which allows library customers access to quality software for video and music production."
While addressing the crowd Tuesday, Commissioner Mike Beaudreau mentioned the tech space.
"When this branch was opened in the 1990s, it featured 21 computer stations and microfilm machines," Beaudreau said. "I doubt anyone ever dreamed of the digital technology lab it now houses today."
Five years ago, when the Makely Family first set foot inside their home library branch, they would have never guessed at such expanded technologies and such a "wide variety of children's books," which they found Tuesday following the upgrade.
"We're really glad to have our library back," said Alison Makely, who carted her twins to other branches for months while workers overhauled the Five Forks branch.
"It really is a good change," she said. "You can feel it when you first walk in the doors."