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Berlin branch library looking to book additional ‘friends’

(Oct. 5, 2017) While the state, county, Town of Berlin and nonprofit groups like the Humphreys Foundation funded the majority of the massive new Berlin branch library, which is under construction, the old library continues to serve an estimated 5,000 visitors each month.

Branch Manager Alice Paterra said during regular events, like Reptile World, “it’s not unusual to have 150 children in this building.” A Thomas the Tank Engine program several years ago drew more than 300 children, she said.

The Friends of the Berlin Library, a nonprofit umbrella group of the Worcester County Library Foundation, support many of those day-to-day activities.

“We’re a small group of people who support literacy in the library,” Harriette Creter said. “We really only have about 100 members, so I think that we do want to become a little more aggressive in attracting more membership, because, obviously, the town has more than 100 people in it.”

In a modest showing of the effort, a handmade sign sits on a display table in the Berlin Welcome Center on South Main Street that reads, “SUPPORT (NEW) BERLIN LIBRARY.” Beneath the sign are several mugs, $10 each, that resemble those once used in the Berlin Coffee House.

Former Berlin Coffee House owner Peggy Hagy is the treasurer of Friends of the Berlin Library board. The mugs are also available at the library.

Additional funds are raised through Friends of the Berlin Library membership fees and used for “really, whatever Alice asks for,” Creter said. “Things like the TV or the audio cabinet or crafts for the story hour – [the board] will take a little vote and supply her with the funds.”

Paterra said the Friends of the Berlin Library would continue to be important when the new library opens next summer.

“We’ll get in there and live in it for a while and say, ‘this is how we used to handle this issue in the old branch, being one room and 3,000 square feet, and now we’ve got two floors and 12,000 square feet,’” she said. “Foundation and other money can only go so far, and that’s where the Friends come in.”

Membership forms for Friends of the Berlin Library are available at the front desk of the library, on 220 North Main Street.

Dues are $5 per individual, $10 for a family, $25 for a patron, $50 for a patron organization or $10 for a club, association or business.

“I think a community’s success if measured by the literacy of its members,” Creter said. “The role of the library is invaluable as far as the literature, the nonfiction, the computer usage, the cultural programs, the social programs – all those things just enhance the community.”

“It’s not just about books, obviously,” Paterra added. “It’s a community hub and it’s an informational organization now. The friends are very involved in getting that out to the community and, since they’re all community members, it’s a circle.”

For more information, call 410-641-0650 or email berlin@worcesterlibrary.org.