Cape Ann libraries plan for reopening 

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff file photo. Sawyer Free Library on Dale Avenue will begin offering curbside pickup of library materials on Monday.

The stories of events that have unfolded over the past three months, from the unexpected effects of a pandemic to riots that have flooded the nation's streets, have been page turners. 

But while history is being made daily, the buildings that house thousands of narratives have been forced to close their doors to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus — until now. 

Sawyer Free Library in Gloucester has established a plan for reopening, which includes curbside pickup and home delivery starting Monday, June 8. 

“The past two months have been unlike anything the country has ever experienced,” said Assistant Library Director Beth Pocock. “In Gloucester and particularly here at the Sawyer Free Library, our vibrant and welcoming culture was disrupted. We are used to putting books on hold, but few, if any, were prepared to put our lives on hold.”

Manchester Public Library will also begin offering curbside pickup on Monday.

TOHP Burnham Library in Essex has been offering curbside pickup since May 27. 

As its begin to reopen this month, Sawyer Free Library aims to provide services in the least restrictive manner possible while preserving library patrons' and staff's health and safety. 

According to the library's reopening statement, these steps will be used for using curbside pickup and home delivery services: 

Items may be reserved by patrons online at or by calling the library at 978-325-5500. Beginning Monday, patrons will receive a notification once the items become available. 

Curbside pick-up will be offered Monday through Saturday. Patrons will have seven days to pick up items up and the library is requesting that patrons call in the morning on the day they will be picking up materials.

Pickup hours are from 1 to 5 p.m. in the library parking lot. Patrons are asked to stay in their vehicle, and library staff will approach the window from a safe distance to ask for their name. Staff will deliver books in a secure paper bag to the driver's trunk or back door. 

Home delivery can be organized by calling the library to arrange a contactless home delivery by library staff. 

Both curbside pick-up and home delivery will only be available to physical library cardholders. 

As a part of the curbside pickup-up, the library is making technology such as Chromebook and Hotspot available to patrons. Each resource can be checked out once per day and must be returned the same day. 

"While we have and will continue to provide a lot of great services and programming online and through digital delivery, everyone at the Sawyer Free Library is anxious to get back to the business of serving our community in person," Pocock said. 

Alicia Quintano said those words could not be more welcome as she considers herself a “library person.”

“We would never have moved here if it wasn’t for this library,” the Gloucester resident said. “It is a treasure.”

While it has been a huge loss for her and her husband as writers to not be able to go to the physical space, Quintano is excited for the services made available on Monday. 

“Just to be able to have books and go by the library building and have someone from the library staff come out and say hello,” she said. “That is going to be super."

Next chapter

Phase Two of Sawyer Free Library and other Cape Ann libraries' reopening plans includes limited public access to the libraries, and phase three would restore full access. 

However, no dates have been determined and transitioning to these phases will depend on guidelines and restrictions from state and local officials. 

"Our leadership team has taken great care to ensure we can execute this plan safety for both our staff and patrons," said Mern Sibley, president of Sawyer Free Library's Board of Trustees. "Their health, safety, and peace of mind are of the utmost importance."

Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or


Detailed information about local libraries' procedures and policies during the COVID-19 pandemic may be found at:

Sawyer Free Library in Gloucester, including curbside pickup and home delivery services, at

Manchester Public Library, including curbside pickup, at, calling 978-526-7711 or emailing staff at

TOHP Burnham Library in Essex, including curbside pickup and home delivery services, at, calling 978-768-7410, or emailing director Deborah French at

Rockport Public Library, at

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