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Forsyth County Public Library System launches “Books, Buttons and Bright Smiles” project

When Jessica Hassler, a Library supervisor in the children’s department at the Forsyth County Public Library system, realized that wearing face masks was making it more difficult to create a friendly atmosphere in the library, she came up with the idea of creating three-inch buttons to wear that showed librarians’ smiling faces.

“I find myself smiling reassuringly at strangers as we edge past in the grocery aisle, only to realize that my mask has covered all friendly intent from sight,” she said. “The button was the result of a brainstorm on how to make the library a little more welcoming as we’ve opened to the public.”

Hassler worked with other librarians on a project they’re calling, “Books, Buttons and Bright Smiles,” and will be rolling out to the public from Aug. 24 to Nov. 28.

During library operating hours, customers can have their pictures taken and made into buttons like those the librarians are wearing. The library hopes that the community will embrace the effort and wear the buttons in public as well as at the library.

County residents are also discovering new ways that the library system can support them during the pandemic, Director Brian D. Hart said.

“In addition to Books, Buttons and Bright Smiles, we’re providing access to print and digital reading materials, and a host of online databases that can assist residents with needs ranging from homework help for students to marketing plans and funding opportunities for entrepreneurs,” he said.

Anyone can participate in the button project. Customers are invited to come into their favorite FCPL branch, fill out a registration form and smile for the camera. They’ll receive their buttons in the mail within seven to ten business days. Random buttons will also have a sticker inviting people to return to the library to receive a free book. These are books that have been donated and are suited to a range of ages.

Photos for the buttons will be taken outside when weather permits, or inside while practicing social distancing. The library will not keep the photos or use them in any way.

After receiving their buttons, customers are encouraged to post their pictures wearing their buttons on social media, using the hashtag #SMILEWITHFCPL.