The renovation and expansion project for Cape Ann’s oldest library received a boost on Thursday when the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners announced approval of a $9 million bridge grant for the proposed modernization of $28 million from Gloucester Lyceum and the Sawyer Free Library on Dale Avenue.
Those advocating for the project, which plans to renovate a 1976 wing and add 15,000 square feet to double the size of the library, have been waiting six years for this grant to become available.
“On behalf of the Gloucester Lyceum Board and the Sawyer Free Library, I am delighted to announce that the wait is over. After six years on the list for an MBLC building grant, funds are now available , which brings us one step closer to achieving Sawyer Free 2025,” said Mern Sibley, Chairman of the Board, in a prepared statement. “We are grateful to MBLC and everyone who has supported the project for the past several years. This funding is critical to our overall project goal of $28 million.
Gift to create a maker space
Separately, another boost came from Cape Ann Savings Bank, as it was announced last week that the bank has made a charitable donation of $250,000 to Sawyer Free 2025, the philanthropic fundraising campaign raising funds for finance the project.
The donation underscores “the bank’s goal of strengthening the communities, businesses and families who live here through sponsorships and charitable donations,” according to the announcement of the donation. He also secured for Cape Ann Savings Bank one of 14 donor nomination opportunities available to support the campaign.
Cape Ann Savings Bank’s donation follows a series of philanthropic giving announcements at Sawyer Free 2025, including $250,000 from BankGloucester, $1 million from Newburyport’s Institution for Savings and a $200,000 grant from MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, one of 94 capital grants from the Cultural Facilities Fund to the organizations fiscal year.
Sawyer Free 2025 has raised pledges and grants totaling more than $14.3 million, including the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners grant.
“The Sawyer Free Library’s mission to be a place of learning, creativity and innovation that nurtures and grows the community is very similar to the long-standing community mission of the Cape Ann Savings Bank,” said President of the bank, Marianne Smith, in a statement.
“The library is one of Gloucester’s treasured gems,” said Smith. “As such, we are happy to be able to contribute to its renovation and modernization. We are also excited to follow the progress of the Sawyer Free 2025 plan to equip the building with advances in technology, new ways of learning, and innovative ways to share ideas and information. In fact, the donation from Cape Ann Savings Bank will directly fund the construction of a digital creative space for all ages inside the new library.
“This major contribution from Cape Ann Savings Bank is a shining example of its legacy as a supporter of community events, organizations and activities,” said Barry Weiner, retired lawyer and chair of the Sawyer Free campaign. 2025.
The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners grant is part of the Massachusetts Public Library Building Program to help libraries across the state meet the growing demand for library services with expanded and improved facilities.
“On behalf of the Gloucester community, I thank them for supporting the Sawyer Free Library Transformation Project to renovate and expand this community treasure,” Mayor Greg Verga said in a statement. “This significant investment by MBLC to create a transformative 21st century educational, cultural, civic and community center will pay dividends for years to come for our Gloucester residents. I can’t wait to see the future of the free Sawyer library take shape.
Plans for Sawyer Free include a new community space with a 110-seat community room, a room dedicated to teens, a digital creation space with a film production suite, and a sound recording studio. Other features include a library history center, a quiet reading room, and a 16-seat conference room.
The project was accepted into the Massachusetts Public Library building program in 2017 with a tentative price of $9 million. Since the library plans achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the US Green Building Council, they are eligible for a planned addition of up to $316,052 through the state’s Green Library Incentive. .
The library board is preparing for the project to start in early 2023. Once construction begins, the library plans to move to a temporary downtown location and remain open during construction, which is expected to last 18 months.
Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-675-2714 or firstname.lastname@example.org.