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January 16, 2013

A lift for the library

Added city dollars aimed at certification

Mayor Carolyn Kirk said Tuesday she is asking the City Council to appropriate $50,371 from the city’s free cash reserve of $4.8 million to lift the funding for the Sawyer Free Library above the state certification threshold, and assure the facility’s permanent participation in the crucial Inter-Library Loan System.

The busiest municipal facility and the city’s intellectual hub, the Sawyer has been granted a series of waivers in lieu of certification since 2007.

The waivers allow the Sawyer, which has approximately 140,000 books and other forms of expression on its shelves, to draw from the 28 libraries within NOBLE — or the North of Boston Library Exchange — whose members also can draw upon a web of resources beyond NOBLE including academic institutions.

Losing certification and its waiver — a step the state Board of Library Commissioners has taken, albeit infrequently, to sanction municipalities for failing to provide support for their libraries — would yank the Sawyer back to “pre-Internet days,” said Sawyer Director Carol Gray.

If approved by the council, the free cash appropriation, together with $54,408 approved by the council last spring for fiscal 2013 for an assistant director, would lift total funding for the Sawyer above the state’s threshold for certification. The Sawyer was appropriated a budget of $774,846 by the council last spring.

Freyja Sanger, a technology expert who helped the Tewksbury Public Library develop its first website for mobile devices, has joined the Sawyer Free Library as its first assistant library director since 2007, Gray and Scott Memhard, president of the library’s board, announced.

Sanger fills a position left vacant by budget cuts six years ago that led to its decertification by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

Since then, the library has had to repeatedly seek waivers to continue in a program that lets Gloucester residents borrow from other libraries.

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