After close to four decades, there is likely no book contained in the Sawyer Free Library unfamiliar to long-time library assistant John Prybot.
This month, John Pyrbot will retire after working for 35 years at the Sawyer Free Library. Through eight library directors and so many changes in the Library, John has remained a constant and reassuring presence, busy reshelving stacks with the latest titles, helping young and old alike find a book or an answer, and chatting with patrons most of whom he knows by name.
“I have always tried my very best to serve our library patrons. That’s been my overriding and unwavering goal, as well as the Sawyer Free Library itself as an institution,” said John Prybot about his long tenure at the Library. “My life in Gloucester revolves around the Library. It is the true cornerstone of the community. I believe that libraries are precious resources to be treasured and promoted and used to the fullest extent.”
Growing up in Gloucester, John loved to hang out at the Sawyer Free Library. He was there so much that in high school he got a job as a page, responsible for putting books back in their proper locations. After graduating from Gloucester High School in 1964, he spent a decade in the Peace Corps in Guatemala. This life-defining experience offered him a new lens through which to see the world and the importance of community service. With that passion, he returned to his hometown and re-joined the staff of the Sawyer Free Library, beginning his long and rewarding tenure of public service in Gloucester.
“When I started in the Peace Corps, I was told, “What you give to these people will be nothing compared to what you receive from everyone.” The way that people accumulate respect in Guatemala is to contribute to their community. It was an incredible and eye-opening experience,” shared Prybot. “This is the reason why when I returned, I chose to work at the Library. I recognized it as an essential institution that serves the public as a critical source for information and knowledge.”
Along with being a friendly and familiar face at the front desk, John’s time at the Library provided an invaluable wealth of knowledge and experience, benefiting both the Library and its patrons. Over the years, John has worked in circulation, managed the request lists, repaired books, processed and prepared new books for the Library’s collection, archived and organized historical resources, and much more.
With his fluency in Spanish and knowing how it feels to be a stranger in a new country, John has also been instrumental to countless newcomers to Gloucester from across the globe, connecting them to services and resources, as well as helping them to adjust to their new environment.
“John is such a beloved fixture at the Sawyer Free Library and in the community—everyone knows who he is,” said Library Director Jenny Benedict. “All of us at Sawyer Free Library are grateful for his dedication to our Library and our City. We wish him all the best for his well-deserved retirement.”
“I have had the great pleasure to know and work with John for close to ten years,” said Beth Pocock, the Library’s Assistant Director. “His care and consideration of people’s needs in all that he does inspires all of us to do the best we can each and every day. John has just a wonderful heart, and we will miss him very much at the Library.”
When asked what he will miss most in his retirement, John shared, “Interacting with the patrons, I will miss the people and helping them. I really enjoy it and like being a part of it all.”
In his retirement, Prybot will continue his tireless work on a historical recovery project which involves making archival materials from the Central American archives available to people in their communities in Guatemala. His long-range plan is to move back to Guatemala, actively work on-site, and spend time with his eight godchildren and their families. But, for now, John will stay in Gloucester and utilize the resources that he knows so well, in a space he loves, the Sawyer Free Library.
John Prybot retires from Sawyer Free Library after 35 years of service to Gloucester community.