Sawyer Free Library Honors Long-time Volunteer with Prestigious Community Award

Each year, the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library recognize outstanding volunteers for their efforts and dedication to the Library. As a part of the Sawyer Free Library’s Annual Meeting, the Mary M. Weissblum Volunteer Award was presented to lifelong Gloucester resident Rebecca Aliberte. She was honored with the community award for her leadership, tireless dedication to the Friends of the Sawyer Free Library, and countless hours volunteering in the Library’s children’s room.


“Volunteers are essential to the work of our Library, and so every year, we seek to celebrate one of our most exceptional volunteers. This year we have chosen to honor the wonderful Rebecca Aliberte,” said Assistant Library Director Beth Pocock in presenting the award.  


Rebecca has volunteered in the Library’s children’s room for over ten years. On any given day, one might find her doing various tasks to help ease the load of the library staff from cutting out crafts to organizing books story time. In addition, Rebecca served as the President of the Friends of the Sawyer Free Library for three years. Under Rebecca’s leadership, the all volunteer group, made significant contributions to enhance the Sawyer Free Library, including purchasing equipment and funding a wide variety of library programs for all ages.


The annual volunteer award was established in 2016 by the Library’s Board of Trustees and named after Mary Weissblum, who served the Library tirelessly over four decades. 


For more information about volunteering at the Sawyer Free Library, please visit sawyerfreelibrary.org or come in and say hello at its new downtown location at 21 Main Street in Gloucester.

Rebecca Aliberte being honored by the Sawyer Free Library with the 2022 Mary M. Weissblum Volunteer Award.

Reading and Book Signing by Local Author at Sawyer Free Library on Saturday, December 3

On Saturday, December 3, from 10:00- 11:30 am, the SAWYER FREE LIBRARY will host a reading and book signing of The Tree in Dock Square. Written by author Jean Woodbury and illustrated by Bonnie Sylvester, the book was the Cape Ann Reads’ First Prize Winner.

Inspired by a true story in Rockport, this charming children’s book about a town’s holiday tradition and a child’s love for her grandfather has been described as “rich in the warmth of family and community connections.” 

The author, Jean Woodbury, will read from her book followed by the illustrator, Bonnie L. Sylvester, leading a craft activity based on themes from the holiday story. Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase, or people are welcome to bring their own book to be signed. 

The Sawyer Free Library’s new downtown location is 21 Main Street in Gloucester.  

The family friendly event is free and open to the public. For questions, please visit SawyerFreeLibrary.org or call 978-350-5500. 

Cape Ann Reads: The art of children’s literature is strong throughout Cape Ann and is part of its rich cultural history. To mark the 75th anniversary of author and illustrator Virginia Lee Burton winning the Caldecott Medal for her book, The Little House, the four Cape Ann’s libraries (Sawyer Free Library in Gloucester, Manchester by the Sea Public Library, TOHP Burnham Public Library in Essex, and Rockport Public Library) launched Cape Ann Reads. The joint library project with community partners and the Cape Ann Museum aimed to highlight Cape Ann artists and writers and strengthen community connections and family literacy. Special events included a picture book contest for Cape Ann residents, with the Grand Prize being a first-edition hardcover publication by Cape Ann Reads.

Sawyer Free Library Annual Meeting next Wednesday, 11/16 at 2 Dale Avenue! All are welcome!

The Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library Corporation will be hosting its Annual Meeting on Wednesday evening, November 16, at the Sawyer Free Library located at 2 Dale Avenue in Gloucester. All are welcome.

Doors open at 6:00 pm and the meeting will begin at 6:30 pm with welcoming remarks by the President of the Board of TrusteesMern Sibley. The public is invited to attend this informative evening, during which there will be a presentation by Matt Oudens of Oudens Ellos Architecture detailing updates of the 2025 Sawyer Free Library Capital Project. 

The annual meeting will offer the community the chance to gather at 2 Dale Avenue one more time before the Sawyer Free Library’s historic renovation and expansion project begins early next year. Attendees will be welcome to take pictures of the spaces that have special meaning to them or just sit and take it all in while learning more about the Library’s busy year.

The Sawyer Free Library recently moved its operations to 21 Main Street in downtown Gloucester, in preparation for the construction of the 2025 Sawyer Free Library which is expected to be completed in early 2025. 

The meeting will be from 6:30–7:30 pm on the main floor of the Sawyer Free Library. Refreshments from Willow Rest will be served. For more information, please visit sawyerfreelibrary.org.

Sawyer Free Library at 21 Main Street

SAWYER FREE LIBRARY AT 21 MAIN STREET IS OPEN! Come visit us in our new welcoming space!

Here you will find most all of the in-person library services you have come to depend on, including:

  • An ample selection of books, audiobooks, DVDs, and music CDs for all ages, including adult new releases and bestsellers.
  • Comfortable chairs to read the Library’s selection of current magazines and daily newspapers.
  • Children and teen spaces.
  • Local history research resources.
  • Public computers, printing and copying services, Wi-Fi access, and study tables.
  • Free and discounted museum passes.
  • Digital Devices to Go.
  • Your favorite Sawyer Free Librarians and so much more!

Through the hold system, cardholders can request items from the Library’s full CD, DVD and audiobook collections. Cardholders continue to have access to thousands of titles from other NOBLE libraries that will also be delivered to the new space.

Our new temporary space, is open for all to use and enjoy! Located on the second floor, it is handicap accessible by elevator.

So come by, and say hello! We can’t wait to see you soon at 21 Main Street!

For more details visit, SawyerFreeLibrary.org

The Diamond Eye: Author Talk with Kate Quinn

Join the Sawyer Free Library on Tuesday, October 25 at 7:00 pm for a captivating virtual conversation with historical fiction writer KATE QUINN as she discusses her newest release, The Diamond Eye, and her other worksQuinn is the author of several New York Times bestsellers, including The Alice Network, The Huntress, and The Rose Code.

Quinn’s latest book, The Diamond Eye, offers an unforgettable World War II tale of a quiet bookworm who becomes history’s deadliest female sniper. Based on a true story.  Click HERE to register.

In 1937 in the snowbound city of Kiev (now known as Kyiv), wry and bookish history student Mila Pavlichenko organizes her life around her library job and her young son – but Hitler’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia sends her on a different path. Given a rifle and sent to join the fight, Mila must forge herself from studious young woman to deadly sniper – a lethal hunter of Nazis known as Lady Death. When news of her three hundredth kill makes her a national heroine, Mila finds herself torn from the bloody battlefields of the eastern front and sent to America on a goodwill tour.

Still reeling from war wounds and devastated by loss, Mila finds herself isolated and lonely in the glittering world of Washington, DC – until an unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and an even more unexpected connection with a silent fellow sniper offer the possibility of happiness. But when an old enemy from Mila’s past joins forces with a deadly new foe lurking in the shadows, Lady Death finds herself battling her own demons, and enemy bullets, in the deadliest duel of her life.

Based on a true story, The Diamond Eye is a haunting novel of heroism born of desperation, of a woman and mother who became a soldier and who found her place in the world that changed the course of history forever.

Click HERE to register for author talk and to be sent the event Zoom link.

About the Author: Kate Quinn is a New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction.  She is a native of Southern California, and she attended Boston University, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classical voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga and two books set in the Italian Renaissance before turning to the 20th century with The Alice NetworkThe Huntress, and The Rose Code. She and her husband now live in Seattle with their rescue dogs.

Click HERE to register and to be sent the event Zoom link. For questions, or to learn about other upcoming author talks please visit sawyerfreelibrary.org.

This event is brought to the community in partnership with the Library Speakers Consortium.

FAQ’s on the Sawyer Free Library Temporary Move

The Sawyer Free Library (for now) closed its doors at Dale Avenue to the public on Friday, September 30 at 5pm, and will reopen at our temporary location on Monday, October 24 at 8am, located at 21 Main Street (above Mystery Train). We look forward to serving you at the temporary space while the construction phase of our new library is underway! 

To follow is all you need to know about the move and what to do with your materials during our three-week closure. For even more information, please visit SawyerFreeLibrary.org.

SAWYER FREE LIBRARY IS ON THE MOVE

The Sawyer Free Library (SFL) is on the move, although they are not going too far or for too long. 

The Sawyer Free Library’s 2 Dale Avenue location will close to the public at 5 p.m. on Friday, September 30.  The Library’s new temporary home will open at 8 a.m. on Monday, October 24 at 21 Main Street in downtown Gloucester, just a few blocks from the Library’s current location. 

During the three-week closing, library resources will be available online through the Library’s website http://www.sawyerfreelibrary.org. Due dates for physical materials that are checked out will be extended and not become overdue during the move. The Library’s outside book drops at the front entrance and in the parking lot of 2 Dale Avenue will remain open for materials to be returned.

“The Sawyer Free Library is an essential service that supports our residents to reach their full potential in manyaspects of their lives,” said Mern SibleyPresident of the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library’s Board of Trustees. “This temporary location will ensure that our Gloucester community continues to have full access to the Library’s resources, including our dedicated staff, as we take another big step towards making the 2025 Sawyer Free Library a reality.”

The Library is moving in preparation for its upcoming historic renovation and expansion project. The temporary location will be in use throughout construction, which includes a renovation of the Sawyer Free’s 1976 main building at 2 Dale Avenue and an addition of 15,000 square feet toward School Street.  The construction is expected to be completed by early 2025. 

SFL will be working with professional relocation and moving services companies, National Library Relocations and Hiltz Moving and Storage, to move the library’s collections, furnishings, and equipment to the temporary location. The Saunders House will be used for library staff office space and onsite storage during the construction. 

As a part of the temporary move, the Library’s Main Floor and Friend Room A/V equipment, valued at $60,000, will be loaned to the Rose Baker Senior Center for use in their Multi-Purpose Room and the Second Floor Meeting Room. The arrangement is an opportunity for the Library’s resources to continue to benefit the Gloucester community during the construction project. 

“This moment has been a longtime coming, and we are so grateful to the Gloucester community for their ongoing patience and overwhelming support of this historic project,” said Library Director Jenny Benedict.  “In the meantime, we want to encourage everyone to visit us at 2 Dale Avenue before the move starts on October 1st. People can take pictures of places that had special meaning to them or just sit and take it all in. We realize how much this Library has meant to so many over the years, but we also want people to know that this is not a farewell to the Sawyer Free Library, but rather, see you again very soon after you get that much-needed TLC.” 

Library hours at the temporary location will remain the same, open six days a week, with the Sawyer Free Library’s staff available to assist the public. The Library phone number and emails will not change and all information is listed on the website, sawyerfreelibrary.org. The centrally located space on Main Street is handicap accessible and offers on-street and public parking in the St. Peter’s Square lot. The Library’s parking lot located on School Street will also be available until construction begins and then will be closed through the project’s duration.

In its new temporary home, the Sawyer Free Library will offer select in-person services, curbside service, outreach programming, and an enhanced level of online services. The approximately 3,600 sq. ft. at 21 Main Street will accommodate library services for both children and adults, as well as the Library’s local history research resources and Wellspring House’s client intake center. The space will have public computers, printing and copying services, Wi-Fi access, and study tables. 

A large selection of books, audiobooks, DVDs, and music CDs will be available for all ages, including adult new releases, bestsellers, magazines and newspapers. Through the hold system, cardholders can request items from the Library’s full CD, DVD and audiobook collections. While the size of the space limits the quantity of books onsite, cardholders have access to thousands of titles from other NOBLE libraries that will be delivered to Gloucester.

SFL will continue to offer a robust schedule of programs for residents of all ages throughout the community onsite at 21 Main Street and many off-site locations in Gloucester’s public schools, preschools, community centers, municipal spaces, local cultural institutions, parks, and other outdoor spaces. It will also work with its many community partners to host collaborative programming. In addition, the Library will continue to utilize and enhance its remote and online virtual programs.

“As we find new ways of providing the same service in our temporary location, it will feel a bit different and take some getting used to, but we are bringing so much with us that it will also be a lot the same,” added Benedict. “We look forward to the day we move back into 2 Dale Avenue. The current library building has so many memories from what the community has created here. It’s exciting to think how people will build new memories in the 2025 Sawyer Free Library.”

When doors open at the 2025 Sawyer Free Library, the building will exemplify what a 21st-century public library can and should be in terms of architecture, sustainability, accessibility, use of natural resources and light, wayfinding, lines of sight, air quality, and public safety. The modernized and expanded Library will double in size with the addition. It will boast new community spaces, including a 110-seat community room with state-of-the-art science presentation technology, a dedicated room for teens, and a digital maker space with a sound recording studio and film editing suite. Additional features include a Library History Center, a quiet Reading Room, and a 16-seat Conference Room. 

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners recently approved the Sawyer Free Library’s $9 million provisional construction grant toward the estimated $28 million historic project. In October, the Gloucester City Council is expected to vote on a request for a city loan to provide the financing for the project, which will allow the City to receive the state grant. Gloucester’s Public Library is owned by the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library, a nonprofit corporation, which will repay the series of short-term city loans through grants, corporate and individual donations. 

The Sawyer Free 2025 fundraising campaign has over $15 million in committed funds and continues to seek funding of large and small donations through individual and corporate donors, federal, state, and municipal government grants, and nonprofit foundations. The public is encouraged to learn more about the project by visiting sawyerfree2025.org.  The specifics of Sawyer Free Library’s move to the temporary location at 21 Main Street are available at sawyerfreelibrary.org.  

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Author Talk with Simon Winchester: Tuesday, 9/20

Sawyer Free Library is pleased to host a virtual conversation with prolific British-American writer, journalist, and consummate adventurer SIMON WINCHESTER on Tuesday, September 20 at 2:00pm.

The NYT bestselling author will cover many aspects of his work across myriad fields of history, technology, and geology as well as the author’s personal expeditions, including his path to becoming the acclaimed author he is today of more than 30 titles, including The Professor and the MadmanPacificThe Perfectionists, and most recently, Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World

Virtual Author Talk on Tuesday, September 20 at 2pm

About the Author: Beginning his writing career in journalism, Simon Winchester has found renowned success in the world of non-fiction and now works almost exclusively as an author.  Aside from his numerous books, Simon Winchester OBE has been published in The GuardianThe Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesNational Geographic, and Conde Nast Traveler among many others. Honored with several awards throughout  his career—Britain’s Journalist of the Year in 1971 among them—in 2006 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to journalism and literature. In addition, he received an Audie Award for Non-Fiction for The Perfectionists and was made an Honorary Fellow of St. Catherine’s College, Oxford in 2009.  

This is a virtual event, for link, register at sawyerfreelibrary.org. For questions, contact: moneill@sawyerfreelibrary.org or 978-325-5562.

Sawyer Free Library Receives State Grant for Innovative STEM Programming 

Library to Launch Young Gloucester Scientist’s Club for Elementary and Middle School Students 

It’s full STEM ahead for Sawyer Free Library‘s young patrons with the launch of Young Gloucester Scientist’s Club, a new innovative after-school program made possible through a federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC).

The grant of $9,800 will expand Gloucester’s public library’s programming to promote interest in science, engineering, technology, and math (STEM) learning. The Young Gloucester Scientist’s Club supports the digital, scientific and technological goals of 4th through 8th graders aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. It will introduce young scientists to Gloucester community members with careers across a variety of STEM fields and connect them with Gloucester’s natural environment.

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) awarded Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) direct grants to public libraries at its July 7, 2022, board meeting. Federal LSTA grants are funded through the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 

“Each community in Massachusetts is unique and has its own local needs,” said Robert FaviniHead of Library Advisory and Development at the MBLC. “These grants allow libraries to address those local needs directly, whether it’s programming for children and teens, helping residents find a path to citizenship, or protecting the town’s historic documents and artifacts.”

“We’re thrilled to be a recipient of this generous MBLC grant to fund the Sawyer Free Library’s newest program, the Young Gloucester Scientists Club,” said Library Director Jenny Benedict. “Sawyer Free Library plays a vital role in supporting young people to discover their interests and direct their own learning.” Benedict added, “The future of our local environment is dependent on young people today developing a strong sense of place and community and engaging in meaningful learning together to solve our most pressing environmental concerns.”

Children’s Librarian Marisa Hall, who developed the Young Gloucester Scientists Club and applied for the grant, said, “These funds give the Sawyer Free Library an incredible opportunity to expand our current STEM programs and encourage students to further explore their interests in the sciences. This project connects them to a sense of “place” by using our own community’s physical resources and social connections to introduce them to new and innovative STEM concepts and topics.”

The Young Gloucester Scientist’s Club features three components:  in-person programs, circulating STEM kits and online video interviews. The in-person family programming will introduce young people to Gloucester community members with careers across various STEM fields, providing mentors from various backgrounds. Programs will feature local sea, land and sky topics and will highlight our rich Maritime history and culture as Gloucester celebrates its 400th anniversary. 

The Club will take a hands-on approach to learning, build community connections and encourage youth to actively think like scientists by observing, questioning, and experimenting with the world around them. Kicking off in 2023, the library will host Afterschool Young Gloucester Scientist’s Club monthly meetings January through May. In the summer, it will feature a three-day Astronomy “Crash Course” and a series of four Young Gloucester Summer Scientist’s Club Field Trips.  All in-person programs will be held in the Library’s transitional space located on Main Street in downtown Gloucester as well as locations throughout the community.  

The “Young Scientist” STEM kits will provide participants with fun and engaging learning at-home activities. The hands-on kits will be available to check out and include accompanying guides with FAQs, discovery tips, parent conversation starters, and more. There will be seven types: Mini Drone, Microscope and Color Camera, Reflector Telescope, Space Rover Inventor, Coding, and Marine Biology Explorer Kits. Materials will be available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and, if needed, other languages to be inclusive and accessible to all interested participants.

The “Let’s Meet an Expert” online videos will feature interviews with Gloucester’s STEM experts and scientists conducted by young scientists. The videos will create connections to those working to explore, discover and protect Gloucester’s natural environment. Topics will include Ocean Conservation and Sea Turtle Rehabilitation (NOAA), SnotBots, Drones and Observing Whales (Ocean Alliance), Whale Protection (The Whalemobile), Astronomy (Gloucester Astronomy Club), Using our Natural Environment to Design Solutions for our Future (Biomimicry New England) and more. 

The schedule and specifics of the new after-school program will be forthcoming. For more information, visit SawyerFreeLibrary.org.

Twenty-one libraries received Federal LSTA grants for a total amount of $220,085 awarded. Grants are open to libraries of all types that meet the eligibility requirements. In addition to the direct library grant program, the MBLC uses LSTA funds to support statewide programs and services, including summer reading programs, research databases, the statewide eBook program, the Commonwealth Catalog and mass.gov/libraries which has information and resources for residents. LSTA is administered on the federal level by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in the Commonwealth by the MBLC. More information about LSTA can be found at www.mass.gov/mblc.

Kids Poetry Afternoons at Sawyer Free Library

Join young Gloucester poet Willa Brosnihan to explore & enjoy poetry this Friday afternoon, August 26th at the Sawyer Free Library.

12:00 to 1:00 p.m. – For children entering grades 3 to 6 and younger. Write & read poems, try out rhyme, personification and haiku.  Register here.

1:30 to 3:30 p.m. – For kids entering grades 6 to 12. Poets from various eras and movements will be explored. Writing in response to prompts and investigating the mechanics of poetry will be explored. Register here.

All workshops are free and open to all! If you have questions, contact: crosso@sawyerfreelibrary.org or 978-325-5500.