Young Gloucester Scientist’s Club is full STEM ahead

The club is the brainchild of Sawyer Free Library Children’s Librarian Marisa Hall, who has been looking to expand the library’s STEM offerings. The club will meet one Friday a month after school starting Friday and running through May. Hall hopes to connect kids to opportunities they may not be aware of in Gloucester.
“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,” Hall said in a prepared statement.

Read more from the Gloucester Times

Melrose Moves Forward With Library Project After Cost Increase

(Patch) Melrose’s long-awaited library renovation project recently took a step forward with the signing of a contract to begin the project’s construction phase, Mayor Paul Brodeur announced on Wednesday.
Following uncertainty over potential cost increases in recent months, Brodeur confirmed that the cost of the city’s contract with the Massachusetts-based Castagna Construction Corporation is roughly 12% higher than estimates available when the City Council approved the project last year.
The city has adjusted, though, with officials saying this week that a combination of state, federal and Library Trustees money has allowed the project to proceed without a need for new city bond funding.

Read more from Patch

Need a mobile hotspot for internet service? Try a Cape Cod library

Can you imagine not having access to the internet? For most, the internet is more than just a way to read news or go on social media. It can be essential for education, work and even health care. With a grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, libraries have been able to bolster their programs for mobile hotspots, allowing more library patrons to “borrow the internet.”

Read more from the Cape Cod Times

Gloucester gets State Help Toward Library Expansion

Gloucester’s Sawyer Free Library is closing in on a decades-long goal of updating and increasing the size of its facility with help from new state funding. The state Board of Library Commissioners announced July 7 it is providing Gloucester $9 million for the library’s $28 million renovation and expansion plan. The grant would grow by $316,052 if the project meets green building standards.

Read more from the Boston Globe

Massachusetts Center for the Book Celebrates the 22nd Annual Letters About Literature Awards

The Massachusetts Center for the Book has announced the winners of the annual Letters About Literature (LAL) program, a reading and writing initiative that invites students from Grades 4 to 12 to write letters to authors about the books that have had profound effects on them. The student honorees were celebrated in a virtual awards event on May 25.

As one of the most robust LAL programs in the country, the Center receives thousands of letters from all corners of the Commonwealth each year. The fifteen Top Honor and Honors students collectively represent the top 1.5% of this year’s submissions to the 22nd annual program in Massachusetts.

Representative Natalie M. Higgins welcomed the honored students, families and teachers in attendance. “Congratulations to the 2022 Letters About Literature honorees for showing us how books moved and delighted them, expanding their personal and world views,” Higgins stated. “Let’s all celebrate our love of books and reading!”

Sharon Shaloo, Executive Director of Mass Center for the Book, underscored Representative Higgins’ tribute, noting the remarkable personal letters submitted to the 2022 program. “This event celebrates one of the first programs we established when we were founded in 2000,” Shaloo noted. “In addition to the strength of the writing it always prompts, the students’ reflections reassure us that the young people in our commonwealth will be articulate and thoughtful contributors to life in Massachusetts and beyond.”

Commonwealth judges in the 2022 program were Patrick Borezo, Director of Hadley Public Library; Meena Jain, Director of Ashland Public Library and Chair of Programming for Massachusetts Library Association; and Martha Pott, Distinguished Senior Lecturer, Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University and member of the Board of Directors of Massachusetts Center for the Book.

The Top Honors and Honors writers in Massachusetts Letters About Literature 2021

Level 1 (Grades 4-6):

Picture of Top Honors winner Asma Al Ashabi
Top Honors winner Asma Al Ashabi

Top Honor: Asma Al Ashabi of Hopkinton, a 6th grader at Al-Hamra Academy of Shrewsbury, for her letter to Pam Muñoz Ryan about Esperanza Rising


Honors: Aliasgar Mufaddal Bhagat of Reading (A.W. Coolidge Middle School); Annabelle Butler of Arlington (Lexington Montessori School); Jasiri Cash of Hyde Park (Wellesley Middle School); Sasha Gardella of Marblehead (Village School)


Level 2 (Grades 7 and 8):

Top Honor: Daniel Ng of Arlington, an 8th grader at Lesley Ellis School, for his letter to Gene Luen Yang about American Born Chinese

Honors: Anna Grace Goodman of Newton (Newton Country Day School); Eliana Gunn of Wilbraham (Wilbraham Middle School); Jojo Jané-Leonardis of Watertown (Newton Country Day School); Karolina Robles-Maurer of Wilbraham (Wilbraham Middle School)

Level 3 (Grades 9-12):

Picture of Top Honors winner Felicity Zhang
Top Honors winner Felicity Zhang

Top Honor: Felicity Zhang of Concord, a 9th grader at Concord-Carlisle High School, for her letter to Gene Luen Yang about American Born Chinese

Honors: Dilara Bahadir of Lexington; Kasey Corra of West Roxbury (Montrose School); Zaynab Khemmich of Attleboro (Al-Noor Academy); Jemella Pierson-Freedman of Berlin



The Massachusetts Center for the Book, chartered as the Commonwealth Affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is a public-private partnership charged with developing, supporting and promoting cultural programming that advances the cause of books and reading and enhances the outreach potential of Massachusetts public libraries.

For more information, contact or call 617-872-3718.

New Toolkit helps Libraries Serve Veterans

During the Fall of 2021, over 250 librarians from academic, public, school, state, and VA libraries who had experience in providing services and programs that serve veterans met during the Libraries and Veterans National Forum. The purpose of this meeting was to help libraries learn how to better serve their local military communities.

Now, as part of this project, a toolkit is available to Massachusetts librarians that provides tools and resources to bring the findings of the forum statewide. Sharon Public Library Director Lee Ann Amend has been involved with the project since the beginning and has been crucial in making these resources available to all librarians in the state.

“The Libraries and Veterans National Forum was begun with a desire to serve the veteran and military communities,” says Amend. “The toolkit provides librarians with a list of lesson plans, exhibit ideas, program outlines, collection development ideas, tips and best practices, and much more.”

The toolkit is now available on the MBLC website as a free resource for any library looking to do outreach or programming for veterans, active military, and their families.

The Libraries and Veterans National Forum is a nationwide project and was funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Morrill Memorial Library Eliminates Fines for Overdue Materials

Postcard of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood

In Norwood, overdue fines were made history by an unanimous vote of the Trustees of the Morrill Memorial Library when they approved a revised borrowing policy at their meeting on December 14, 2021. This policy change removes barriers and increases access to the library’s resources.

For many years Norwood’s senior citizens have enjoyed fine-exempt status., and at the beginning of the Covid-pandemic the Morrill Memorial Library stopped collecting overdue fines. The Morrill Library joins a growing list of libraries permanently eliminating fines, including many in the Minuteman Library Network of which they are members, the Boston Public Library, and the New York Public Library in Manhattan.

“We know busy parents who have told their children they can’t check out books because they don’t know when they will be able to return to the library and are afraid of getting charged late fines,” says Library Director Clayton Cheever. “People with limited economic means are most adversely impacted by fines that many of us would consider trivial and insignificant. That’s why we’ve been happy to waive fines for seniors for so long. I’m very grateful our Trustees have voted to eliminate this barrier for everyone.”

Historically less than one percent of the library’s annual revenue came from overdue fines. In recent years this has been more than offset by the library’s revenue from passport fees, which the Federal Government mandates be collected.

Research has shown that collecting overdue fines is expensive and ineffective at getting people to return items to the library faster. Libraries that have eliminated fines get materials back at the same rate or sooner. The Morrill Memorial Library will continue to email overdue notices and charge borrowers for items not returned.

Libraries are experiencing worker shortages, too

By Celeste Bruno, MBLC Communications Director

Does it seem like there’s a lot of job openings?
You’re not imagining it. According to a recent CBS news report, the labor force remains 2.2 million people short of its pre-pandemic size and many people aren’t returning to work because of long COVID, symptoms that affect people even after they’ve recovered from the disease.
Education is one of the hardest hit industries. In fact, it’s one of the industries with the highest number of workers quitting.
At the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC), we wondered if libraries are like other industries experiencing labor shortages during the pandemic. So, we asked. At the end of January, we did a quick poll. Currently 60 of the 167 respondents are experiencing staffing shortages.

Are you currently experiencing staffing shortages due to COVID-19, or have you in the past?

Paul Kissman, Library Information Systems Specialist at the MBLC, dug deeper and looked at the number of job postings on the MBLC’s job board. He pulled data for public, school, academic, and special libraries as well as automated networks into a tableau visualization, which reflects the pandemic rollercoaster. Public libraries had the most openings, followed by academics, special, and schools. Openings in public libraries, hit a high in July 2021 and were a whopping 227% higher than July 2020. While openings have settled a bit since then the number of openings in January 2022 was still 37% higher than in January 2021.

With so many openings and so many people starting new positions (think of all you had to learn when you started your current job!), it may be safe to say that Massachusetts libraries will be feeling the effects of COVID even after cases decline and restrictions are lifted.




Lawrence Library, Pepperell adds “Little Free Library” to local food pantry’s “Books to Keep” program

The Lawrence Library recently installed a Little Free Library to the exterior of their local food pantry, PACH Outreach. Thanks to the Friends of the Lawrence Library, the library staff is able to supply new or gently used books from the numerous donations they receive for their annual book sale. The Little Free Library is the latest addition to the library’s Books to Keep program at PACH.

In 2015, the Lawrence Library launched Books to Keep, along with the Friends of the Lawrence Library, to become the first public library in the United States to launch a Chapter of the Books to Keep Program. Books to Keep was founded in The Villages, Florida by a neighborhood book club in 2013 ( The goal of the organization is to provide new and gently used books to children and teens in need through local food pantries and/or soup kitchens so they can create their own personal libraries.

In June 2016, the library added adult books to the baby, children’s, and young adult selection of books. Similar to the Little Free Library, these books are sourced from donations for the library’s annual book sale. With a growing number of lower income families becoming disenfranchised within their own communities, the library staff felt it was important to have a presence at the food pantry to serve as a reminder that our doors are open to all.

PACH has very limited hours, especially given the fluctuating Covid restrictions, and this new Little Free Library allows for easy access 24/7. This opportunity has allowed our library to help foster the love of reading to all while promoting the many free services the library offers.

The Lawrence Library believes that it is paramount to encourage reading in the community, especially at a young age, based on the following statistics*

  • One in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers.
  • More than 1 in 5 children in the U.S are living in poverty.
  • 30% of children raised in poverty do not finish high school.

The Lawrence Library, located at 15 Main Street in Pepperell, MA is part of the CWMARS consortium. PACH is located at 66 Hollis Street in Pepperell, MA. For more information on the library and our services, please visit or contact Deb Spratt at 978-433-0330.

*Statistics taken from The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Study Links 3rd Grade Reading, Poverty and HS Graduation