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New library opens Monday
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When Newton County’s new $6 million library opens Jan. 10, it will be the county’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design registered building.

The Porter Memorial Branch Library is next to Oak Hill Elementary School off Ga. Highway 212.

The "green" building is 19,200-square-feet and the project was paid for with Newton County Impact fees ($4 million) and state funds ($2 million). The cost includes design, construction, furniture, equipment, technology and the collection of materials.

LEED means the building will cost less to operate and maintain. It is more energy and water efficient and allows for it to contribute to the health and productivity of its occupants, according to Bob Halcums, acting director of the county library system. It is expected that the Porter Memorial Library will cost 30-40 percent less to operate than a typical building its size.

While the library was expected to open with 40,000 items on the shelves there will only be 17,000 to start.

"When you do go to visit the library it is our hope that you will not feel that the shelves are completely empty," said Halcums. "The staff has been arranging the books to make them easily accessible and still give the impression of a ‘full’ library. What we are lacking on the shelves we intend to make up with customer service."

More items are on order and others are expected.

"With the savings realized by the tight management of the project by the construction company, the architect, and by Library Director Greg Heid, we have been able to make these book and other item purchases so far," said Halcums. "In addition, thanks to generous donations by individuals and groups in the community we will be able to continue to add some items to the collection."

Along with books, DVDs and CDs, the library also has a 50-seat auditorium, conference room, quiet reading room with magazines and newspapers, area for new books and audiovisual materials, primary service desk, self-service checkout of all items, outdoor book drop, video monitors for announcements, programs and study, six study rooms, teen collection and activity area and a children’s department, featuring a three-dimensional art tree, activity area for arts and crafts and play, children’s computer area and a family room.

There will be 20 computers for adults and four for teens that can be reserved, and 32 public computers. There’s also free WiFi throughout the building and in the outdoor picnic shelter.

Hours will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.