The Sawyer Free Library has opened its doors to the staff and students of Veterans Memorial Elementary School.

While the school community awaits the opening of its new building being constructed on Webster Street, the library is acting as the school’s temporary library — full of books, resources, and even library cards for the students to use themselves.

“We are very excited about the students using the Sawyer Free Library. It is part of the fun of being downtown, and for many (students), it is more of a part of the area where they live,” Veterans Elementary School Principal Matt Fusco said in a prepared statement.

“Especially for many of our ELL (English language learners) students, they will get a chance to understand how the public library works and get them excited about what it has to offer and hopefully, they then get their families to visit to enjoy together and take advantage of all its great resources.,”

To get the 215 schoolchildren started in the new sea of books, the library is providing each with their own library card that has their name and language of choice inscribed on it.

Children’s Librarian Christy Rosso has been working to arrange for cards to be offered in English, Spanish, and Arabic.

On an average day of school, classes walk a few short blocks from their temporary home in the old St. Ann School on Prospect Street to the library where the kids can find a book to check out.

Librarians are also working with Veterans Memorial teachers to support the classroom curriculums by making sure that the materials needed are available and provide them with research and school projects.

“Our end goal at the Sawyer Free Library is to create lifelong library users,” library Director Jenny Benedict said.

“This incredible opportunity to develop a direct relationship with these young students may help to level the playing field for that child whose parents aren’t active library users and now have the chance to see themselves as adventurous, capable library explorers. Hopefully, the students will return to the library with their families and share their incredible enthusiasm for their weekly school visits.”

This is not the first time Gloucester’s School District has utilized the library’s space and resources during a transition.

West Parish Elementary School pupils and staff also used St. Ann and frequented the library while they waited for their new building to be completed back in 2016.

Sawyer Free Library was also the school library for St. Ann when the Catholic grade school was open.

Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford may be contacted at 978-675-2705, tbradford@gloucestertimes.com or on Twitter at TayBradford97.

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