Station gives guests access to the full Adobe Creative Cloud
suite of video and music editing tools.
St. Lucie County Library Board members began working
on a special project for the Port St. Lucie community in 2013.
It had been close to 20 years since the area had seen a new
library branch built. Their plans were completed in October of
2017 when the doors of the sleek, newly renovated building of
the Paula A. Lewis Branch Library were opened to the public.
The building started out as a city police substation. It had
been sitting vacant for several years before being purchased
by St. Lucie County in 2013 for $2.3 million from the City of
Port St. Lucie.
“The facility was largely built using library impact fees,
but we received a $500,000 grant through the State Library of
Florida as well as a donation of $300,000 from The Friends of
the Library of St. Lucie County,” said Susan Jacob, director of
the Library Advisory Board for St. Lucie County.
The Friends of the Library of St. Lucie County Association
Inc. is a non-profit organization made up of volunteers who
support the county’s thriving library system. In the past, they
have helped with other branches in need. When the Zora
Neale Hurston branch needed to expand, they were there to
lend a helping hand.
COUNTY SUPPORT NEEDED
As for this newest addition to St. Lucie County’s library
system, it is a project that board members had been trying
to make headway on for a long time. Before any movement
could be made though, they needed the support of St. Lucie
County Board of County Commissioners. This backing was
crucial in order to receive continued funding for the required
10 staff members at the branch.
The Lewis branch is now the sixth library facility in St.
Lucie County. This number is quite high compared to some
other, larger metro areas. To say the county has a prospering
library system would be an understatement.
“For every dollar invested in libraries in our community,
the return is $10.18,” Jacob said. “People forget that and it’s
quite a lot.”
As part of the county library system’s initiative to carry
out its mission “to advance knowledge, inspire lifelong
learning, and strengthen our community,” the ArtSpace
project was launched, allowing local artists to showcase their
submitted pieces if approved for a period of 3 months at
the Lewis branch.
In January, the Lewis branch hosted a touring exhibition
of works by the highly admired Washington Post editorial
cartoonist, Herb Block. The works focused on America’s civil
rights movement. The participation of the Lewis branch in
such exhibits has allowed it to serve as a cultural center of
sorts for the community.
PLENTY OF ACTIVITIES
Each week the branch holds various social activities and
workshops that are open to the public, including a book discussion
group, tax assistance and book-a-tech sessions. The
book-a-tech sessions are a great, free resource for residents
seeking basic introductions to certain technologies.
“Each session is 30 minutes and provides instruction on
things such as setting-up and using email, social media and
research work,” said Port St. Lucie resident and frequent
library guest Donald Jagomine. “My father is in his 80s and
has gotten help navigating a new laptop and tablet.”
The Lewis branch was a defunct city police substation purchased in 2013 by
St. Lucie County. Renovation costs were made possible by state grants and the
nonprofit, The Friends of the Library of St. Lucie County Association.
The 3-D Printer housed at the Lewis branch translates data from the
computer and turns it into real, solid products. Residents can work with a
technical specialist and learn how to use it for a nominal fee.
The branch also hosts several story time activities for families:
Just Baby & Me Storytime age 2 and younger, Rhythm
& Rhyme Toddler Storytime ages 2 to 3, Storytime Jam
ages 3 to 5. In the summers the branch usually schedules an
exclusive story time for children on the autism spectrum or
with special sensory needs.
“It’s been really great to have access to all of these resources
for my family,” Jagomine said. “We love the Lewis branch
and visit quite often. My kids go crazy over the great book
selection they have to offer.”
With its location in the southwestern part of town and
with all that the Lewis branch has to offer, it is no wonder
the building is always buzzing with visitors. While the use
and sale of e-books has increased significantly in the last few
years, physical books are still preferred by the lot. Yet, to keep
up with the times, libraries have quickly become technological
hubs and their resources are utilized by many in their
communities. The Paula A. Lewis Branch Library exemplifies
success in the transition toward the modern world. E
Port St. Lucie Magazine 29