JULY 2019-JUNE 2020
LAWRENCE PUBLIC LIBRARY BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Top left to right: Mrs. Patricia Burke, Mr. Jay Dowd, Mayor Daniel Rivera, Rev. John Dello Russo, OSA, Mrs. Suzanne Piscitello,
Bottom left to right: Atty. Eileen O’Connor, Mrs. Ana Rodriguez, Mrs. Mary Guerrero, Mrs. Arlene Ross
We would like to recognize former Trustees, Mrs. Ana Rodriguez whose service ended in FY19 and Rev. John Dello Russo, OSA and Mrs.
Mary Guerrero whose service ended in FY20. Thank you for your service and commitment to the Library. We would like to welcome our
two newest Trustees, Mrs. Glennys Sanchez (Top Right) and Mr. Nelson Butten (Bottom Right) to the Board.
FROM OUR CHAIR
Dear Residents and Library Patrons,
It is with great pride that as your Mayor, the Chair of the Lawrence Public Library Board of
Trustees, and fellow resident, I present you with the 2019-2020 Annual Report of the Lawrence
Public Library. This has been a year of transformation at our Library. We have prioritized efforts to
update the facility, including new elevators and updates to the Children’s Room and Teen Corner.
We have worked to transition our Library from a quiet place of study, to a thriving, robust
community center that brings us together. Our Library is now not only a place to go for reading,
research and studying, but also, a place to connect with your neighbors through activities that join
us together. Now, our Library is open Saturdays and Sundays, allowing for even more programming
and accessibility to the public.
This last year has brought unprecedented nationwide uncertainty as we navigate the COVID-19
global pandemic. Now more than ever, our community is in need of resources and outlets for
support as we navigate the new normal that requires staying home more often than venturing out.
With these new challenges, come new opportunities. I am happy to report that throughout these unprecedented times, our Library
staff, under the leadership of Director Jessica Vilas Novas, is well equipped to weather the demands that come with offering 21st
Century services and online programming amid a global pandemic.
As I reflect on these last six and a half years as Mayor, I often think of the things I am proudest of. Without question, the renaissance
of our Library is, for me, a tremendous point of pride. Lastly, I urge you to communicate with us on how we can we make your Library
better for you. The success of the Lawrence Public Library lies in the voices of our community in our work to make the Lawrence Public
Mayor & CEO
Chair, Lawrence Public Library Board of Trustees
The freedom to pursue knowledge is a foundation of our democracy. The Lawrence Free Public Library, an essential public institution,
strives to serve as an accessible and responsive information and literary center for all residents of the Lawrence community. Through
its evolving collection of materials and an abiding concern for its customers, the Library exists to preserve the free development and
expression of ideas essential for an informed citizenry.
FROM OUR DIRECTOR
Jessica V. Vilas Novas
Yet another year has passed and here we are again, amidst a crisis which has us all
refocusing and realigning ourselves with the needs of those we serve. This past year
had many highlights and our most celebrated moment was the opening of our Main
Library on the weekend. We are thrilled to be able to offer services for extended
hours of operation into the weekend and during times many of our patrons can
access the Library more freely. Our reopening came to a halt shortly afterwards due
to the pandemic we are still making our way through. As with any challenges we
have faced, we continue to serve our community with pride and with the intention
of being responsive to its needs. We recognized the need for activities for the family
while quarantined and partnered with our funder, LITT, on an art kit giveaway to a
couple hundred families. We followed suit by giving away books as well as resource
flyers at all food distribution sites.
There is no telling what is to come in the next year but one thing is certain.
Regardless of the circumstance, the public library here and beyond, remains a vital
institution in the community; ready to serve and adapt to changes and willing to be
flexible to meet patrons’ needs.
We look forward to seeing you again in person. Until then, stay safe, connect with us
online, or meet us at curbside. If you can pick up a great meal at the curb, you can
pick up a great book, too.
Jessica V. Vilas Novas
Lawrence Public Library
Welcome to your 2nd home — Janelle
MEET OUR STAFF
OUR STAFF IS HERE TO SERVE YOU AND AS A TEAM, WE CAN OFFER SERVICES
IN ENGLISH, SPANISH, ARABIC, PORTUGUESE, AND CHINESE.
“Not all who wonder are lost” — Tolkien (Matthew)
Being a part of the
Library means connecting
with our community and
patrons. Providing what
our community needs and
putting smiles on our
patrons’ faces makes the
service we provide all
worth it. We look forward
to continue seeing you at
the Lawrence Public
Janelle Canales Lanzot
We are excited to see our familiar patrons, and to make friends with our new ones! — Marlyssa
*= former staff
Keep calm and read on. — Nancy
MEET OUR STAFF
I've been lucky to hear many true stories from our patrons in the library. I am looking
forward to seeing every one of them and having more conversations. — Wen
Head of Tech
Grateful and proud to have the opportunity to serve and to be a part of this community
for so many years. Looking forward to many more. — Giselle
Welcome back to our library. We are glad to serve and help you all again. — Noelia
The Children's Room has missed you a great deal. I can't wait to connect with you all. I am
so eager to see you light up our Children's Room with your energy! Stay safe. — Miguelina
Welcome back! I feel very fortunate to be a part of this wonderful library family
and look forward to seeing everyone. — John
I am more than blessed to be part of a space where families can learn, create and talk about
any issues without discrimination, harassment or bias. — Jaqueline
A library is nothing without its patrons. We are very grateful to continue to serve you
and we look forward to seeing you at the library very soon. — Emily
*= former staff
ONE FOR THE BOOKS
LIBRARY WRITING &
THE ARTS CAMP
The Library hosted its 3rd
annual Writing and the
Arts Camp, sponsored by
Andover Bread Loaf. This
two-week program is
open to middle and high
school youth and features
local guest artists and
The Library’s main
entrance fence was
removed in an effort to
provide a more welcoming
public space to all.
In partnership with
Lawrence-based art and
social justice nonprofit,
Elevated Thought, Inc., the
Library unveiled an over
40-foot mural on the
Haverhill Street façade,
depicting Lawrence’s past,
present, and future.
AT THE LIBRARY
A Youth Advisory Council
was formed which met
throughout the school
year to plan programs for
youth by youth, supported
by the Library Initiatives
for Teens and Tweens
The Lawrence Public
Library, in partnership
with the Adult Learning
Center, launched a
citizenship class at the
Library, supported by an
MBLC Library Services and
Technology Act grant.
The Children’s Room
hosted its 3rd Annual
Decorating event. The
event took place in the
auditorium due to the
increase in participation
every year, bringing in
over 100 participants.
AT MAIN LIBRARY
As a result of increased staffing,
the Library’s Main Branch
reopened on the weekends
after over a decade.
DUE TO PANDEMIC
While the building was closed, the
Library remained open providing
online resources and programming
to the community through
Facebook Live and Zoom.
COMMUNITY ART EVENT
Library staff distributed art kits at all
COVID-19 crisis food distribution sites,
supported by the Library Initiative for
Teens and Tweens grant. Workshops
were provided by Elevated Thought,
Inc. and Essex Art Center through
Facebook Live, making art accessible
to families during the stay home
After over three months at home,
Library staff returned to the building
to begin the reopening process.
Starting with telephone services, the
Library moved on to offer curbside
services, allowing patrons to pick up
items to borrow, and receive copy/
fax/print services from the curb.
TEEN CORNER’S ONE
The Teen Corner had its start
as a drop-in program in the
auditorium afterschool and
has grown into a furnished
department of its own, staff
with a Teen Coordinator.
The City invested $384,900
for this capital improvement
project, providing a full
replacement of both Main
Library elevators, complete
with a nice interior finish.
The Lawrence Public Library reopened its Main Branch on the weekends on Saturday, January 11, 2020 as a result of increased staffing.
This special day was commemorated with a grand weekend opening celebration which kicked off with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and
was followed by many fun activities throughout the building, including a full mini golf course on the second floor.
Special guests in attendance were Mayor and Library Board Chair Daniel Rivera, members of the Library Board of Trustees and the
Massachusetts Library Board of Commissioners, Senator Barry Finegold, Chief of Police Roy Vasque, and City Councilor Marc Laplante.
Above: Youth enjoying Library Mini Golf in the stacks.
Below: Youth excited to receive a copy of The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo.
Families engaging with Storyteller Nicolette Heavey from Stories in the Streets.
In partnership with Lawrence-based art and social justice
nonprofit, Elevated Thought, Inc., the Library unveiled an
over 40-foot mural on the Haverhill Street façade on
December 20, 2019. Art panels depicting Lawrence’s past,
present, and future offer a sight to take in and reflect upon.
This project was the culmination of 18 months of planning
by the organization as well as support from various
community organizations including the Lawrence Heritage
State Park, Lawrence History Center, Groundwork Lawrence,
Lawrence Cultural Council, the City of Lawrence, and its
primary funder, the Essex County Community Foundation
through its Creative County Initiative program. The planning
months included community engagement sessions across
the city engaging many youth voices from the Boys & Girls
Club of Lawrence, the Lawrence YMCA, and Movement City.
A common theme in all conversations was the importance
of youth in the City, acknowledging how young Lawrence is
and how its past, present, and future have been and are
determined by the actions and influence of young people. It
is no surprise that the final art piece centers on a young
child, a Lawrence kid, who at the mural unveiling gleamed at
the giant image of herself.
Elevated Thought (ET), Inc. Executive
Director, Marquis Victor, shares at the
mic the long and thoughtful process
the organization took in order to fulfill
the desire to have the mural truly be a
community-based project. ET Art
Director, Alex Brien, stands nearby
along with a half dozen of ET’s team,
many of whom participated in the
program as youth just years prior.
This past year’s Halloween was like no other. A
rainy day turned into a fun indoor scavenger hunt
for families to enjoy. Our Children’s Room,
decorated and staffed with Library team
members, welcomed close to 100 families. Kids
and their families enjoyed a fun and educational
scavenger hunt of the children’s collection, and
room itself. This program was a staff favorite and
we look forward to hosting it again.
SATURDAY WRITING &
THE ARTS WORKSHOP
Sponsored by Andover Bread Loaf, the Children’s
Room held monthly Saturday writing and art
workshops. Kids were provided a writing prompt,
and given time to write, then share with the group
which proves from time to time again to be an
TEEN CORNER’S ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY
The Teen Corner celebrated its first year with an after
school event welcoming teens with pizza, raffles, and
cake. This new space was carved out of what used to be a
larger reference collection with multiple stacks. After
reorganizing the layout, the Teen Corner was born and
over its first year, developed into a safe space for teens to
come and do homework, socialize with friends, talk to
staff, and participate in programming. A Youth Advisory
Council was formed which met throughout the school
year to plan programs to host discussions for youth by
youth on hot topics.
The Library is grateful for the support it has
received from the Library Initiative for Teens and
Tweens (LITT) which awarded the Library with
$6,586 to purchase furniture, a LED flat screen,
computer software, food for programming, and a
stipend for the Youth Advisory Council
The Library hosted Raquel “LaDura” Lara,
National Coach from the Yes, You Can
program for a 6-week fitness challenge.
Community members met in the auditorium
on Thursdays and were rewarded with a
Library tote bag after they completed the
challenge. This program was funded in part
by a grant from the National Network of
Libraries of Medicine’s Health Literacy grant.
The Library, in partnership with the Adult Learning Center,
launched citizenship classes, which are held during the
school year on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in the
Robert Frost Room. This program is supported by the
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC)
Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Grant for
Citizenship and Expanded English Language Services for New
Americans. This two year grant, awarded in the amount of
$15,000, assisted the Library’s efforts to revamp its
citizenship corner and expand existing language offerings.
Students visited the Children’s Room to engage with
bilingual books to practice English, and the computer lab to
access the Pronunciator and ProCitizen databases.
The Library has undertaken an ambitious endeavor to revamp its collection. In an effort to improve the collection and
continue to develop it into an inclusive and diverse set of offerings, thousands of library materials in the form of books,
magazines, and DVDs were reviewed with the aim of removing anything that was outdated, worn, or damaged. This
Library standard process is called “weeding” and the Library referenced the best practices outlined in the CREW Manual,
(Revised and Updated by Jeanette Larson, 2012). Items that get removed from the collection go to one of several
destinations. They are either donated to an organization, included in a future book sale, returned to the book distributor
for a credit, or recycled. The Lawrence History Center has partnered with us on this project to help us assess which items,
although worn or outdated for a public library, may go live in their collection.
Additionally, the development of the collection is being taken seriously and a new emphasis has been placed on acquiring
materials that speak to a diverse community. The Library aims to provide updated materials and also to revamp the entire
world languages collection, adding emphasis on Spanish titles to address our largely Spanish speaking community’s needs.
Finally, the Library is working to actively contribute to its shared digital collection found on Overdrive and is also adding to
its collection materials from the Perkins Library for those who are print and visually impaired.
BUILDING IS CLOSED BUT THE LIBRARY IS OPEN
Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency on March 10, 2020 in response to the COVID-19
pandemic. While the Library had to physically close its doors to the community, it continued providing its services
through different outlets. Library cards were offered online through a simplified registration process. Homework
help, story times, health information, and programs like Fuerza Open Mic and Live Art Sessions were offered
through our social media. We continued to catalog new items from home to prepare for the Library's reopening.
Additionally, Library staff made wellness calls to community members as part of the City’s outreach efforts.
OUR YEAR IN REVIEW
Trust Funds $168,372
Capital Improvement Project:
Main Library Elevator Replacement $389,400
OUR YEAR IN REVIEW
53,044 people visited the Library.
11,351 public computer sessions were recorded.
27,810 books, DVDs, audiobooks, magazines, and more were borrowed by our patrons.
1,355 Lawrence residents registered for a Library card.
9,353 people attended a program or meeting in one of our meeting rooms. There were
238 bookings of our Trustees Room, 240 of the auditorium, and 200 of the Robert Frost
Room. The Local History Room hosted 74 bookings and our Art Gallery had 6 events.
Library team members worked on 4,356 reference transactions. These are questions
related to locating or accessing various resources or items in our collection.
The Library offered over 50 programs, many of which were recurring programs throughout
THANK YOU FOR ENGAGING WITH THE LIBRARY!
TO ALL OF OUR LIBRARY PARTNERS
Act It Out Drama Club
Andover Bread Loaf
Adult Learning Center
Creative Drama Club
Elevated Thought, Inc.
Essex Art Center
Feria Internacional Del Libro
Greater Lawrence Health Center
Lawrence Public Schools
Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School
Tech 4 Hood
City Nurse, Jacqueline Aguilar, providing a free
blood pressure screening during her weekly
blood pressure drop in at the Library.
TO ALL OF OUR FUNDERS
Essex County Community Foundation
Friends of the Lawrence Public Library
Library Initiative for Teens and Tweens
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
Massachusetts Cultural Council
Merrimack Valley Federal Credit Union
Mrs. Theresa Jowdy
Library team is presented with a check from Merrimack
Valley Credit Union President & CEO, John Howard, as
part of a three-year Library literacy program grant award.
The White Fund
You too can help the Lawrence Public Library by getting involved! The Library can
always use your help to promote its values to the community and accomplish its goals.
BECOME A VOLUNTEER
Get more information by visiting our Reference desk located on the 2nd floor of our Main Library. Volunteering
may consist of performing clerical or computer work, assisting with Homework Help, or reading a book during
story time. There is always something to do at the Lawrence Public Library and the time given is promised to be
rewarding and appreciated.
BECOME A FRIEND OF THE LIBRARY
The Friends of the Lawrence Public Library are a nonprofit, volunteer organization consisting of
community members who support our Library. This support makes it possible for the Library to
improve public service programs for adults and children, as well as to provide museum passes.
Membership is open to anyone who wants to help improve and grow our Library.
LAWRENCE PUBLIC LIBRARY
51 Lawrence Street
Lawrence, MA 01841
135 Parker Street
Lawrence, MA 01843