Sawyer Free Library is reopening its doors to the community on Friday. 

While the Gloucester library has offered curbside pick-up of books during the novel coronavirus pandemic, it opens its 2 Dale St. building to the public Oct. 30 at 10 a.m. for select onsite services. 

"The Sawyer Free Library is very excited to be once again able to open our doors to the public," said library Director Jenny Benedict. "We're thankful for the community's support and patience as we begin to step cautiously back into our physical space and welcome people inside. We will be taking every safety precaution possible to deliver quality library service while keeping our staff and customers' safety our priority."

Sawyer Free Library will be open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Thursdays when it will be open from noon to 7 p.m.

Visitors are asked to keep visits inside the building to 30 minutes or less, including youngsters and their families in the Children's Room. An exception will be students 11 and older using the "study hall" librarians set up on the second floor; they'll be limited to two hours.

Things will look a lot different from the last time library users were allowed in back in March, the library's official release announcing the opening stated. Furniture, tables, and seating have been removed to increase the amount of space available for physical distancing, and directional pathways and signage have been installed to manage traffic. 

Hand sanitizer and glass barriers have been installed to help diminish the spread of germs. Masks are also required to be worn by staff and patrons at all times. 

When arriving, patrons must use the entrance closest to the library area that they intend to visit. The parking lot entrance will be for access to the Children's Room and those with accessibility needs. The Dale Avenue entrance will be for the first floor where the fiction, DVD, and music collections are available for browsing and the Friends Book Shop is located. If people need materials from the non-fiction and local history collections on the second floor, staff can retrieve them per request. 

Two public computer stations on the first floor will be available for 30-minute sessions, first-come first-served. People needing computer access for longer periods may check out a Chrome Book or an App Sampler Tablet along with a 3-hour wireless hot-spot. 

The library is also launching its Digital Devices to Go service, loaning patrons Title E-Readers, Load and Go Tablets, PressReader Tablets and SFL App Sampler Tablets for e-books, audiobooks, newspapers and magazines, and video steaming services. 

While library begins to allow patrons in the building, cardholders may continue to utilize daily curbside pickup, digital collections for downloading, and online programming for book clubs and children's story time. 

"Our community needs the library now more than ever as we respond to and recover from the impacts of COVID-19," said Mern Sibley, president of the library's Board of Trustees. "We face a changing employment landscape, a new schooling structure with increased online learning, and continued isolation due to the pandemic."

"We have been thoughtfully making certain that everything is in place for this next step in our library's reopening, keeping at the forefront of our minds the health and safety of our staff and the public," she added. 

As the library waits for the state's Phase Three to allow restoration of full operations, its public indoor lounge seating, meeting rooms and group study spaces, newspapers, and in-person public programs will remain temporarily unavailable. 

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

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