Sawyer Free Library Approves Campaign Feasibility Study and Establish Sawyer Library Foundation to support the Library Building Project


The vision of the 21st-century Library for Gloucester residents moved one step closer to being realized this week at the January 29, 2020 meeting of the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library Board of Trustees. On Wednesday evening, the Board unanimously voted to accept the findings of the campaign feasibility study for the renovated and expanded Sawyer Free Library presented by the Minnesota-based consulting firm Library Strategies

Library Strategies, from their research, believes the Sawyer Free Library can conduct a successful capital campaign to support the proposed building plan. The findings served as positive feedback to all involved. They clearly stated that the Sawyer Free Library is widely considered a valuable public asset, and the need for it to be upgraded and expanded is welcomed and understood by the greater Gloucester community. Community leaders interviewed in the feasibility study were pleased that the Library project is moving forward positively, and gave positive reviews to the architect's newest plans. The central conclusion of the report was the strong recommendation of the need to complete the establishment of a Library Foundation before undertaking a capital campaign. 

From the report: "People see the need for a beautiful and expanded Library and believe this should be the next big thing for Gloucester.They also see the possibility of a renovated and expanded Library contributing significantly to the downtown and cultural area surrounding the Library." 

In 2018, the Sawyer Free Library and Gloucester Lyceum retained Library Strategies Consulting Group to undertake a feasibility study to assess the potential for achieving a successful capital campaign based on the recently approved design for the library renovation and expansion. To discover the Library's potential to raise funds for a project through a significant fundraising campaign, Library Strategies conducted interviews with community leaders throughout Gloucester. These interviews tested the readiness of the community to provide $19.6 million in private funds toward a $28.6 million project to renovate and expand the Library and restore the historic Saunders House.

In 2017 the Library project was awarded a $9.03 million General Construction Provisional Grant in building reimbursement money from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC). Winning this substantial grant was the initial catalyst for the Library to begin the process of making an improved and updated Sawyer Free Library a reality. The grant is part of the MBLC's Construction Program, which helps libraries across the state meet the growing demand for library services with expanded and improved library facilities.

In addition to green lighting the feasibility study last spring, the Sawyer Free Library Board of Trustees took the critical step to begin the work to establish the Sawyer Library Foundation, a separate 501(C) 3 charitable organization to support the new building project. The Library Trustees took this step as it recognized their fundraising limitations in conducting a multi-year capital campaign, as well as the need to establish a protective buffer for the support of the Library's ongoing invaluable services and daily operations. Going forward, working in partnership with the Library's Administration and Trustees, the Sawyer Library Foundation will be committed to raising funds needed for the renovation, expansion, and long-term enhancement of the Sawyer Free Library. Ultimately, even after completing the capital campaign and the building project, the Sawyer Library Foundation will continue its mission to provide a sound financial future for the Library.

The Library Board has begun the search for the new foundation's Development Director. It is also in discussions with a diverse group of community leaders, including local government officials who have expressed great interest in how they can be a part of the foundation's Board to help bring Gloucester this beautiful and inspiring 21st-century Library. It is the intended goal of the Library Board to announce the specifics of the foundation and the capital campaign at the Annual Board Meeting this spring and have the building project be shovel ready by 2023. 

"The positive results from the campaign feasibly report is tremendous news for us all. It has made the Library Board even more motivated to continue working to realize the next exciting chapter of the Sawyer Free Library," stated John T. Brennan, President of the Sawyer Free Library Board of Trustees. "We appreciate all those who participated in the feasibility study and have been a part of establishing the new foundation. We also want to thank the community for its continued support as we work towards transforming the Sawyer Free Library into an innovative and vibrant space welcoming the people of Gloucester now and for future generations to come."

For more information about the Building Project, the approved preliminary plans and conceptual schematic drawings, please visit the Sawyer Free Library website at