Sawyer Free Library recognizes volunteers with annual award

Courtesy photo/The Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library Corporation presented Christy Park, left, and Susan Oleksiw with the Mary M. Weissblum Volunteer Award at the recent annual meeting. 

Two volunteers have been honored for scheduling, managing and maintaining the exhibits at Sawyer Free Library's Matz Gallery for the past five years.

The Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library Corporation presented author Susan Oleksiw and artist Christy Park with the Mary M. Weissblum Volunteer Award at the recent annual meeting. 

The Mary M. Weissblum Volunteer Award is given each year in honor of one of the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library’s outstanding volunteers. The award, established in 2016, is named after Mary Weissblum who served the library for more than 40 years. The award seeks to recognize and show appreciation for the numerous volunteers who help to maintain and promote the library's services and programs.

In giving this year's award, Oleksiw and Park were applauded for their "unyielding attention" to the library's Matz Gallery, located in the library’s front lobby, welcoming patrons with ever-changing art exhibits. The gallery was named for the late Adolph Matz, an artist and library supporter for many years. 

"With each show, they strive to present a balance of styles and mediums, along with a range of artists working at different stages in their careers. The exhibits change monthly. Recently they also oversaw the installation of a new hanging system and created the very popular 'Where is it?' photography exhibit. With their knowledge, energy and care, the Matz Gallery has become highly visible and sought after exhibition space in the community," according to an award statement.

Assistant Library Director Beth Pocock thanked the volunteers.

"Their efforts and commitment to the gallery have greatly enriched the Sawyer Free Library for which we are most grateful," she said. "We are beyond fortunate to have such dedicated and talented volunteers that choose to share their expertise and time to help us make the Sawyer Free Library the best it can be for the Gloucester community that we are privileged to serve."

Oleksiw, a published author and teacher, has brought her writing and artistic talents to the work of the Lyceum since joining in 2001. Along with time spent on the Matz Gallery, sheoversees a writing group that meets bi-monthly at the library.

Park is an accomplished artist and professor emerita at Massachusetts College of Art, who has shown her work locally and nationally. She has created installations at the Massachusetts College of Art and Montserrat College of Art.  When she moved to Gloucester in 2003, she began her volunteer work as a member of the "Friends" group of the Sawyer Free Library. She was instrumental in the design of the T-shirt which is still sold by the Friends for fundraising. Over time she became more involved with the Lyceum, to which she has brought energy and expertise to the group's program offerings for the community.

Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library Inc. serves the informational and cultural needs of Gloucester's residents of all ages as it has for over 175 years. Its mission is to be a place of learning, innovation, and creativity to nurture and strengthen the community. Each year, the library hosts hundreds of programs and serves thousands of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. For more information, visit

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-675-2706, or at

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