Volunteer Patricia Keene organizes inventory Thursday for the upcoming book sale at Bridge Academy Public Library in Dresden. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

DRESDEN — Nestled in behind large-bushed trees along the Eastern River is Bridge Academy Public Library.

People driving down Middle Road could miss the building, and would then miss the opportunity to explore history and connect with the Dresden community.

That is the goal of Nancy Call, substitute librarian, who along with newly hired librarian Amalia Farel worked hard to create with volunteers during the coronavirus pandemic.

They restocked books unable to be cataloged when volunteers couldn’t come into the building during the pandemic, reorganized the bookstore and hung up historic memorabilia to remember the schoolhouse that once was housed in the building. They also applied for grants to buy more books to finish collections, including a $500 grant from Goodwill, which Call tried repeatedly to get until she was successful.

In two months, the visitor count more than doubled — in March, around 10 visitors per Saturday would visit. This month that number has risen to around 60 on a given Saturday. The pair are hoping to have even more visitors this Saturday at the library’s annual fair.

“I’m proud of this place,” Call said. “We are making it full.”

The pair is gearing up for the annual bake, plant and book sale Saturday. They said preparing for the whole event has been a “generous community effort.” Along with items for sale, there will be a silent auction and raffle.

“It’s really important this year. It’s our biggest fundraiser,” Farel said. “We missed last year, so this year is extra important.”

Old gardening books are some of the items available for purchase at the upcoming book sale at Bridge Academy Public Library in Dresden. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

In addition to preparing for the annual sale, Call and Farel have worked to restore the library and to make it a community resource.

Farel was hired in February, and Call started as substitute librarian in November, taking on tasks such as sorting the bookstore and using grants to finish book collections.

Now, the shelves are full and about 10 regular volunteers work around 40 to 60 hours of combined time weekly.

The children’s section was completed during the pandemic. Call recalled bringing her own children to the library when the room wasn’t quite as complete or full as it is now.

Library Trustee President Rick Graffam said both the sale preparation and the library restoration is all possible due to Call and Farel.

They were able to get more children’s books during the pandemic through the Kenyon Fund, which gives money to arts and literature programs. There is also a park pass that up to 17 people can take out for a free trip to a state park, that was donated.

“We try to focus on what Dresden kids want and what appeals to them,” Call said. “Dresden kids like to hunt, fish and be outside, so we want to focus on them and their families.”

Bridge Academy Public Library on Thursday in Dresden. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Residents of Dresden have their own memories of Bridge Academy Public Library. Many remember the building when it was the school either they or their family members attended until the 1960s, when it became a library.

The school was established in 1890, according to Call, who admits she doesn’t know much about the school itself. But, through her time volunteering, she started to research it and decorated a bulletin board with photos of students who attended the academy throughout the years. Call said people come to the library now just to find their relatives in photos.

“Everyone rooted here in town can find someone on the wall,” she said. “I have people come in, saying, ‘Oh! That’s my mother.'”

Call also has incorporated memorabilia from the school into the library and has tried to keep the original photographs.

“It makes it full circle,” she said.

Call and Farel are preparing for book borrowing to pick up steam again. It was less popular during the pandemic, Call said, likely due to the “area of uncertainty.” Books borrowed during that time had to wait in a box for two days before it could be cataloged, which made it difficult to keep up, as there were fewer volunteers at the time.

The library’s downstairs houses a year-round bookstore, offering a range of books from which to choose. All books are priced less than $5, and Call gives children a free book on their first visit, because “we love kids here,” she said.

The library installed Wi-Fi on Tuesday so residents can “surf the web or look for jobs,” Call and Farel said, hoping people will turn to the library as a resource. They said there is “something for everyone” with audiobooks and large-print books available in large qualities.

The library is open from 1:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. The annual sale will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.


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