The Sawyer Free Library is pleased to announce some exciting additions and promotions to the staff at the start of this new year. 

Meghan O’Neill has recently joined SFL as a new Community Librarian with a focus on serving newcomers and the Gloucester High School teen community. Joella Allen is the new Digital Services Librarian responsible for managing digital learning programs and digital resource access through SFL’s website. In addition, Joann Dunajski has been promoted to the newly created position of Customer Experience Supervisor, and Leah Svensson to the role of Community Librarian

“I am thrilled to say that there are two more dynamic reasons to visit the Sawyer Free Library at 21 Main Street with the addition of Joella and Meg to our dedicated and talented staff. I am also delighted to share the news of the well-deserved promotions of Joanne and Leah,” stated Jenny Benedict, the Sawyer Free Library Director. “Their collective experience and knowledge strengthens our great staff team and brings new enthusiasm for achieving our goals.”

Meghan O’Neill brings her extensive library experience, having worked in school, college, and public libraries, to her new position as a Community Librarian at SFL. “I am happy to have joined Sawyer Free Library and to be in Gloucester,” said O’Neill about her new role. “I’m committed to equity and accessibility, outreach with various community partners, and uplifting voices through programming and enhanced online services.”

She comes to SFL after serving over a decade as the Librarian at the Pingree School in Hamilton, MA. Previously, she served as a librarian at The Buckley School in California. O’Neill holds a Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of California Los Angeles, a Master’s of Arts from Dartmouth College, and a Bachelor’s of Art from Bishop’s University in Quebec. 

SFL’s new Digital Services LibrarianJoella Allen, shared, “I am excited to join the Sawyer Free Library and help our patrons of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds with their technology needs. I’m looking forward to the exciting spaces and technology coming in the next few years and the programs we’ll be able to offer!” 

Joella grew up in California before leaving to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and English at Johns Hopkins University. She completed her Master’s Degrees in Library and Information Studies and Archival Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, where most recently Allen worked for a health technology start-up doing privacy and information security.

Already a familiar and welcoming presence at SFL, Joann Dunajski has been promoted to the newly created Library position of Customer Experience Supervisor.  With her extensive Library services experience and passion for serving the public, Joann is now responsible for supervising and maintaining the daily operations of the primary public service desk and collection circulation, providing customer service in person and remotely, and most importantly, creating a welcoming environment for people of all ages. 

After two years serving as a Library Assistant at SFL while she worked toward her Masters in Library and Information Science at the University of Rhode Island, Leah Svensson has been promoted into the position of Community Librarian.  

SLF invites the community to meet Joella and Meg and say hello to the friendly and talented staff at the Library’s new sun-filled space at 21 Main Street, downtown Gloucester. While there, learn about the Library’s in-person and digital services, resources, programs, and events. SFL@21 Main Street is open Monday through Wednesday, 8am to 6pm, Thursday 10am to 7pm and Friday and Saturday, 10am to 5pm or 24/7 at 

For more information about SFL@21 Main Street, please visit

Joella Allen, Digital Librarian and Meg O’Neil, Community Librarian at Sawyer Free Library

“So Salty” Fun at SFL@21Main Street Saturday, Jan. 21

Join in on the “So Salty” Fun at the Sawyer Free Library at 21 Main Street in downtown Gloucester on Saturday, January 21:

10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.   “Snacks by the Sea with The Open Door”

The Sawyer Free Library and The Open Door will present a cooking demonstration of a salty snack for families. Throughout the day, we will celebrate local food traditions with a display of our historic cookbooks and recipes in the Local History collection. 

1:00 to 2:00 p.m. “Sea Shanties and Maritime Heritage Through Folk Music

Come listen, sing, engage, and celebrate maritime heritage and community with local musician and teacher Olivia Gale, who was born and raised in Gloucester. Join the fun as Olivia leads an exploration of history, story, and performance of sea shanties, nautical ballads, and other folk music written about the sea.  

Both events are free and open to all ages to come and enjoy!

These Sawyer Free Library events are a part of the 2nd Annual Gloucester’s So Salty Festival taking place throughout Gloucester Saturday, January 21 and Sunday January 22, 2023 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Celebrate the fish city’s recognizably salty character with local cultural institutions and businesses during the 2nd Annual Gloucester’s So Salty festival led by the Cape Ann Museum in partnership with area cultural institutions and businesses. Inspired by the annual Salem’s So Sweet event, this two-day event will include ice sculptures, live music, salty treats, free kids’ art activities, and much more.

All events are free and open to the public.

For additional details on the Library events, visit: or 978-325-5500.

Sawyer Free Library’s Storytime: New Time & Location

After a short pause, Sawyer Free Librarys is excited to announce weekly STORYTIME with Christy is resuming at a new time and location – this Wednesday.

Join Christy for a morning of stories, songs, rhymes, bubbles and fun with friends this Wednesday, January 11 from 11:15am to 12 noon in Movement Arts Gloucester MA‘s beautiful space in downtown Gloucester.

During the construction phase of the Library, weekly Wednesdays Storytime for our youngest patrons and families will be held inside Brown’s Mall at MAGMA (Movement Arts Gloucester MA) located on the top floor of the Brown Building in Gloucester. Families and caregivers can enter at 186 Main Street and take the elevator to the 5th floor. Please note that the new time is 11:15am – 12noon, weekly on Wednesday.

Until construction begins, attendees are able to park in the Library’s parking lot, and walk over to Storytime via Pleasant Street. For more information visit, or 978-515-6349.

For all other Sawyer Free Children’s Library services and activities please, visit 21 Main Street in downtown Gloucester or

Sawyer Free Library Unveils the Most Checked-Out Library Books of 2022

As the page turns on 2022, the Sawyer Free Library has compiled a list of some of the year’s most popular books, sharing the top checkouts for adults, teens, and children. Of the thousands of print, digital, and audiobooks patrons borrowed, these were Gloucester’s favorite books of 2022. 

“It’s not surprising that as we slowly regained our ability to leave our homes, our reading turned to reflect on the priorities and values of our time spent in quarantine. In 2022, Gloucester seemed to want to read stories about relationships, families, and the uncertainties of modern life,” said Beth Pocock, the Library’s Assistant Director. “The Sawyer Free Library takes great pride that our beloved community continually turns to us for unparalleled access to books, knowledge, and entertainment to feed their souls, brighten their spirits and enrich their lives.”

Top Adult Fiction

1. Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

2. by Amor Towles

3. Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult 

4. Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

5. The Judge’s List by John Grisham

6. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

7. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

8. Never by Ken Follett

9. Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart

10. State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny

The most borrowed book was Elizabeth Strout’s Oh William!, with a story full of family secrets that eventually grows into an uplifting meditation on our humanity. Taking the second spot is The Lincoln Highway, Amor Towles follow-up to his blockbuster novel Gentleman from Moscow, a complex story about two brothers whom you’ll come to care as deeply about as you did Count Alexander Rostov. 

Another highlight on the list is Anthony Doerr’s celebrated novel, Cloud Cuckoo Land. A New York Times bestseller, National Book Award finalist, and Best Book of the Year by most major newspapers, Cloud Cuckoo Land follows five young dreamers through time and space from 1453 Constantinople to the future. 

The pandemic and its shared experience provided the underpinning for many of this year’s other favorites. In Wish You Were Here, Jodi Picoult tells a story about the pandemic shattering a well-planned life and providing a platform for rethinking priorities. A group of friends meeting in a country house to wait out the pandemic in isolation sets the stage for Gary Shteyngart’s book, Our Country Friends. Referred to by many as “The Great Pandemic Novel,” Shteyngart aptly captures the uncertainties of modern life we all felt so keenly during the pandemic. 

No list of Gloucester favorites is ever complete without a few good thrillers. One of this year’s most popular suspense writers, Liane Moriarty, adds Apples Never Fall to 2022’s list.  John Grisham’s latest legal thriller, The Judge’s List, and State of Terror, by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny aptly fill two other suspenseful slots.

Top Adult Nonfiction

1. The Gloucester Notebook by T.S. Eliot, 1888-1965

2. The Dawn Of Everything: A New History Of Humanity by David Graeber

3. Caste: The Origins Of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson 

4. Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town by Elyssa East

5. Words Like Loaded Pistols: Rhetoric From Aristotle To Obama by Sam Leith 

6. Happy, Healthy Minds: A children’s guide to emotional wellbeing by The School Life

7. The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story       

8. The Weekday Vegetarians by Jenny Rosenstrach

9. Quick + Simple: Simply Wonderful Meals With Surprisingly Little Effort by Jacques Pepin

The top ten non-fiction titles circulated at Sawyer Free in 2022 reveal the range of demographic groups that the Library serves. For those who love Gloucester’s history and lore, the top spot went to The Gloucester Notebook by T.S. Eliot, a collection of poems the 21-year-old Eliot first began to write at Harvard.  The number two spot in local history went to Dogtown: Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town by Elyssa East.

Cape Ann’s long history of independent free-thinkers continues, with readers finding The Dawn of Everything and The 1619 Project appealing along with Caste The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson which remained on the list from last year. The books rewrite traditional history very differently in surprising and eye-opening ways. While many parents found a helpful tool with Happy, Healthy Minds, inspiring chefs looked for guidance from the likes of renowned cookbook author Jacques Pepin. And local students who made their way to the Sawyer Free Library for their summer reading materials found the most in demand book this summer was Words like Loaded Pistols: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama

From familiar series to popular new releases, the Sawyer Free Library’s younger patrons read a lot in 2022. Children and young adults were browsing the Library’s shelves at record rates, in person and online, and to follow were some of their best-loved reads. 

For younger readers, Dog Man master Dav Pilkey chewed up the top spot on the most popular children’s books list. Raina Telgemeier’s Ghosts and Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid graphic novel titles were also top reads this year. The Young Adult titles with the highest circulation were Welcome to the Dark House, the suspenseful story by Laurie Faria Stolarz, and Siege and Storm, the second book in Leigh Bardugo’s popular Shadow and Bone Trilogy and the compelling tale Spice & Wolf: Volume 1 by Isuna Hasekura.

Top Children/Teens Fiction

1. Dog Man: Fetch-22 by Dav Pilkey

2. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

3. The Magic School Bus: Inside a Beehive by Joanna Cole

4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney

5. The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

6. The Babysitters Club: Kristy and the Snobs by Chan Chau

7. Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

8. Beetle & the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne

9. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

10. Spice & Wolf: Volume 1 by Isuna Hasekura

Find these and millions of other books through the Sawyer Free Library. Visit the Library in its new location at 21 Main Street in downtown Gloucester or, where its friendly and talented Librarians are always there to help you find a new book to read and so much more. 

Approximately 14,000 people currently possess Sawyer Free Library cards. Anyone who resides or attends school in Gloucester can obtain a Library card for free by applying in person, online, or by mail. For more information, visit or call 978-325-5500.

Open House at SFL@21 Main Street on Saturday, December 17th



Saturday, December 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Come discover the Sawyer Free Library‘s new space and learn about all its services, both in person and digital.

Swing by to say hello to your favorite librarians and meet a few new ones.

There will be a scavenger hunt for kids, local history display and more for all to enjoy. Cookies and hot chocolate will be served too!

If you have any questions, please call us at 978-325-5500 or visit


Author Talk with Pulitzer Prize winning historian Nicole Eustace 

On Wednesday, December 14 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., the Sawyer Free Library is pleased to invite you to explore early-American history during an online afternoon conversation with Pulitzer Prize winning historian Nicole Eustace as she discusses her 2022 award winning book Covered With Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America. This is a virtual event, for link, register at

On the eve of a major treaty conference between Iroquois leaders and European colonists in the distant summer of 1722, two white fur traders attacked an Indigenous hunter and left him for dead near Conestoga, Pennsylvania. Though virtually forgotten today, this act of brutality set into motion a remarkable series of criminal investigations and cross-cultural negotiations that challenged the definition of justice in early America.

In Covered with Night, Dr. Eustace reconstructs the crime and its aftermath, bringing us into the overlapping worlds of white colonists and Indigenous peoples in this formative period. As she shows, the murder of the Indigenous man set the entire mid-Atlantic on edge, with many believing war was imminent. Isolated killings often flared into colonial wars in North America, and colonists now anticipated a vengeful Indigenous uprising. Frantic efforts to resolve the case ignited a dramatic, far-reaching debate between Native American forms of justice—centered on community, forgiveness, and reparations—and an ideology of harsh reprisal, unique to the colonies and based on British law, which called for the killers’ swift execution. As Eustace powerfully contends, the colonial obsession with “civility” belied the reality that the Iroquois, far from being the barbarians of the white imagination, acted under a mantle of sophistication and humanity as they tried to make the land- and power-hungry colonials understand their ways. 

About the Author: Nicole Eustace is a professor of history at New York University. A historian of the early modern Atlantic and the early United States, she specializes in the history of emotion. She is author of Pulitzer-Prize winning Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America, as well as Passion Is the Gale: Emotion, Power, and the Coming of the American Revolution and of 1812: War and the Passions of Patriotism as well as coeditor of Warring for America: Cultural Contests in the Era of 1812.

This virtual event is Wednesday, December 14 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. For the link, register at If you have questions, please contact or 978-325-5562.

Ladies Night In: The Holiday Edition

Join us for LADIES NIGHT IN: The Holiday Edition on Thursday, December 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sawyer Free Library at 21 Main Street in downtown Gloucester.

The Sawyer Free Library is creating a Romance Book Club and the first book we are reading is The Great Christmas Knit-Off by Alexandra Brown. The fun festive evening will be complete with cocoa, cookies, a holiday book discussion and perhaps a few knitting projects. 

Those interested should register HERE and come by SFL@21 Main Street to pick up a copy of the book!

For more information or if you have questions, visit or call 978-325-5501. 

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 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 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