Gloucester Celebrates Library Groundbreaking


October 05, 2023
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director

Local and state officials recently joined Gloucester residents to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Sawyer Free Library. Commissioner Mary Ann Cluggish from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) congratulated the community on this major accomplishment, “I personally believe that the building of every new library  is an affirmation of some of the principles that this country was founded on: the freedom of speech and ideas;  a renewal of our commitment to equal access to information for everyone--no matter their age, gender, or station in life. That access to information and dissemination of ideas is critical to a free and dynamic society, which really, when it comes down to it, is what libraries are about.”

The MBLC supports the project with a grant for over $9 million from its Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP). Mern Sibley, President of the Gloucester Lyceum and the Sawyer Free Library Board of Trustees called the MBLC grant a gamechanger and thanked the MBLC for support and guidance throughout the process.

The new library will integrate three distinct structures with complete renovations of the library’s 1976 and 1913 buildings and an expansion of the footprint with a new 14,000 square foot addition. The design utilizes the latest in sustainability and green building technology with the goal of achieving  LEED Gold Certification and zero net energy. This commitment to sustainability will make the new library the first building of its kind on Cape Ann.

Residents will enjoy new and expanded services. The entire second floor will be a dedicated space for children and teens with an Early Literacy Center for toddlers. The library will also feature a local history center, a large community room, a digital makerspace where people can access and learn the latest technology, and a conference room. It will be fully accessible to all and provide a variety of spaces for studying, meeting, learning, creating, and performing.

“Libraries allow us to find the best that lies within us,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr. “This library is a critically important legacy that connects us with each other and future generations.”

The MPLCP was first funded by a state bond authorization in 1987. Since then, it has helped more than 250 communities plan, build, renovate and/or expand their public libraries. The MPLCP is currently seeking a new $150 million bond authorization to support upcoming grant rounds.   MPLCP projects are underway in the following communities:  Amherst, Deerfield, Fitchburg, Gloucester, Marlborough, Melrose, Sharon, Shutesbury, Swansea, and Westford.  Projects in Greenfield, Sherborn, and Marlborough were recently completed. Learn more about the program on the MBLC website and the Building Literacy podcast.

About MBLC

The Board of Library Commissioners ( is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.