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 Sibley, President 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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