BREWER — There’s a certain symmetry in a former school becoming a library.
The School Street School, on the corner of School Street and South Main Street, now houses the Brewer Public Library. The library moved there in 2007 after out-growing its former space at 24 Union St.
One result of this change is that children now have a new place to further their education.
Shelley Arnold, children’s and programming librarian, explained that, unlike in the old building, children now have a designated area, made up of two rooms, for their activities. These include Story Time and a summer reading program.
The library now has more reading rooms and has gone from three to 12 computers. All it takes to use them is a Brewer library card.
Next up is an archive composed of historical documents now stored in the basement. The archive will be installed in the former boiler room.
Patrons aren’t limited to the thousands of books on the shelf. Their library card entitles them to use Maine’s inter-library loan system, which once a week delivers books from libraries throughout the state to Brewer.
In addition to the computers and Wi-Fi access, the library offers many forms of electronic entertainment. There’s shelves of books on CDs and movies and TV series on DVD. Access is offered to Ancestry Library Edition for amateur geneaologists. EBooks and audio books can be downloaded through a link at www.brewer.lib.me.us. Patrons can also renew books or place a hold on a book through that Web site.
Library Director Donna Rasche estimated that 80 percent of the library’s usage is material items such as books and magazines while the other 20 percent is electronic items.
When asked what the library’s biggest needs are, Arnold pointed not to equipment, but more programs.
“The library needs to be a center for the community,” she said.
Since the move, the library has added a book club and a knitting club, with computer programs for seniors a future possibility. Also it’s a U.S. passport acceptance agency.
“We’d like for the library to be the communications and information center for Brewer,” Arnold said.
Rasche explained what was necessary to make that happen. “Our biggest need for the future would be staffing to allow more programs and classes,” she said.
The Brewer Public Library (100 South Main St.) is open 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday and Wednesdays; 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; and 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturday. For more information, call 989-7943. People who live or pay taxes in Brewer and senior citizens, regardless of residence, are eligible for free library services. All other non-residents pay an annual fee or $25 per family.