Bangor Public Library serves as the area's reference and resource center for northeastern Maine. Its main aim is to provide the residents of Bangor with current reading materials, programs, and materials for continuing education, self-improvement, and information. There are over 500,000 volumes of books, periodicals, government documents, and recordings in the collection. The library started its operation in 1830, with a collection of seven books found in a footlocker kept in the publishing office of John S. Sayward, on Exchange Street. It was the first library of the Bangor Mechanic Association. As more volumes were added to the collection, the library was shifted to ever-larger reading rooms in several downtown locations. In 1873, the Mechanic Association absorbed Banger Mercantile Association and its library. As a result, the collection of six libraries came under one roof and came to be known as the Bangor Mechanic Association Public Library. Later, in 1883, an agreement was formed between the Trustees of the Hersey Fund and the Bangor Mechanic Association, under which the Bangor Public Library was organized. The library, which had previously exacted a nominal fee from its users, became entirely free in 1905. By 1911, the library became one of the largest public libraries in the state, with a collection of over 70,000 volumes, which were destroyed by a disastrous fire in the same year. After the incident, Peabody and Stearns, a Boston architectural firm, drew up plans for an educational center in Bangor. Accordingly, the corner stone for the new library was laid in 1912, and the building was opened for public use on December 20, 1913. Presently, the library features four sections, namely, the Circulation Department, the Reference Department, the Children’s Department, and the Local History and Special Collections Department. The children’s section organizes special events such as the Junior Engineering and Mathematics program. The Local History section primarily deals with items related to the city of Bangor, the Penobscot Valley, and the area of New England. Genealogical materials can also be found here. Special collections include artwork, broadsides, manuscripts, original documents, photographs, prints, and rare books. The library also offers meeting space, programs for adults and children, and monthly exhibits of art and architecture.