Lawrence Public Library - Annual Report FY21
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LAWRENCE PUBLIC LIBRARY
JULY 2020-JUNE 2021
LAWRENCE PUBLIC LIBRARY BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Top left to right: Atty. Eileen O’Connor, Mr. Jay Dowd, Miss Glennys Sanchez, Mr. Nelson Butten; Bottom left to right: Mrs. Patricial Burke,
Mayor Kendrys Vazquez, and Mrs. Arlene Ross; Top Right: Former Trustee Chair and Mayor, Daniel Rivera; Bottom Right: Trustee
Member, Mrs. Suzanne Piscitello
We would like to recognize former Trustee Chair and Mayor, Daniel Rivera whose service ended in January 2021. Thank you for your
service and commitment to the Library.
Front Page: Retirement Tribute for Louise Sandberg, Summer 2020
FROM OUR BOARD
Dear Residents and Library Patrons,
Although the Library hung a closed sign on the door for most of the year, operations inside continued unabated. Thanks to an everhopeful
staff, who worked remotely or in person when they could, the Library was ready to reopen on May 2021 when the Governor
issued the all-clear to municipal services.
Regardless of the circumstances around the COVID pandemic in the present, a patron could always get a book. The staff preserved the
most fundamental of all Library services with a curbside pick-up program that made the circulation of books possible for anyone with a
request. Meanwhile, inside both the Main and Branch Libraries, the staff completed the long and complicated update of the
bookshelves, known as “weeding”. They carefully cleared the shelves of outdated and unused materials according to American Library
Association standards. A contract for $100,000 with our supplier means the latest in fiction, non-fiction, politics and poetry will appear
daily. The art of browsing for a book is restored. Participants are welcomed.
To their day-to-day priorities and goals, the staff committed energy to its work preserving the past. As City government modernizes,
decisions on what handwritten ledgers and type written memos needed saving became the problem of our Library assistants and
archivists. The Director forged a working relationship with the Lawrence History Center to assure researchers that Lawrence history be
boxed and shelved and ready to read again. Landing an Archives Arrangement and Description Grant from the State will help with the
personnel and project materials we will need.
And finally, the future was safely entrusted to the Children’s Room staff. From delivering back-to-school craft bags in September to
organizing Mother's Day cookie decorating in May, the creative minds of the librarians in charge clearly made our Lawrence kids their
special cause. Building a love for reading now is what creates successful students in the future. Their summer reading list brought all
of us back to our most memorable vacations.
The Trustees consider our staff as champions who have overcome adversity. They consider it their job. A grateful City has a fine
Library to move into again as soon as they are ready.
James P. Dowd
Trustee, Lawrence Public Library
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
This year was unlike no other. The collective loss we experienced and the trauma
that has affected the lives of so many, is hard to understand. As a Library team, we
aim to provide equitable access to resources and information; goals that became
ever more challenging with the stay home orders that restricted our patrons from
coming to us. It took no time to realize how much of a gap exists in our community
in terms of resource access. The digital divide is real. We have a long way to go.
And yet, we have come a long way. No matter the challenge, our staff showed up
and shifted the way we do things to meet the needs of those we serve. We showed
up to food distributions sites to give out books and art kits; we showed up at phone
banks to help reach the vulnerable, and we showed up online, via zoom and all of
the other platforms available to us. I am proud of our team for coming together
during the hard times and continuing to support one another all year.
This year provided us many examples of good people who are here to serve but
there is one I learned the most from this year, our dear John. The kindest,
friendliest, and most patient member of the team who always did what he could to
help a patron. He left us too soon but with his example, we will continue to show up
and show up strong because that is exactly what he would do.
Jessica V. Vilas Novas
Lawrence Public Library
MEET OUR TEAM
OUR STAFF IS HERE TO SERVE YOU, AND AS A TEAM, WE CAN OFFER SERVICES
IN ENGLISH, SPANISH, ARABIC, CHINESE, FRENCH AND PORTUGUESE.
This year brought many challenges;
however, the Library and the
community continued to prevail. There
is a quote that states, “You don’t know
what you had until it is gone.” That was
a true sentiment for this year. During
these tough times, the Library and
community relied on one another to get
through this pandemic whether it was
providing at-home programming or just
connecting with a patron. Let us
continue being there for one another
and remembering to choose kindness
during the good times and the bad.
Head of Technical
MEET OUR TEAM (continued)
in loving memory
Kristy Martes Morel
THE LIBRARY IN THE TIME OF COVID
Curbside service and limited inperson
appointments launched as
staff returned to the Library.
Patrons were able to borrow items
via curbside or come into the
building to use the computer for a
limited time while wearing a mask
and practicing social distancing.
In partnership with Andover
Bread Loaf, the Library hosted its
4th annual Library Writing and
Arts Camp, virtually, engaging
with over a dozen youth over
two weeks filled with creative
writing and sharing.
Comic Con, a virtual
conference for comic book
enthusiasts, was hosted in
partnership with Libraries
as a way to engage teens
during the pandemic. This
program was funded by
the Library Initiatives for
Teens and Tweens.
Limited edition Library cards
were designed by local artist
Celeste Cruz to honor the
late Congressman John
Lewis and as a way to
celebrate Library Card
The Library’s electrical
switchboard was replaced,
which has minimized the
risk of losing power if any
major natural events were
This year’s White Fund Speaker
Series received generous
support from The Mentor
Network. The social justice
themed series used a
community led approach as
moderated the conversations.
Featured guests included Angela
Davis, Ibram X. Kendi, and
The Children’s Department paid tribute
to its annual Jowdy World Knowledge
Challenge with a Spring Break Around
the World craft and activity theme bag
giveaway, as an alternative to the
regular in person program. This
program was funded in part by the
Massachusetts Cultural Council.
The Library launched a new service
called Book a Librarian. This service
welcomes patrons to connect with
a Librarian one on one for book
recommendations, to get help
finding information, or to simply
have someone to talk to.
The computer lab reopened
as the Library aimed to
restore services almost a year
after the pandemic began.
The Library opened the building to the
public with limited restrictions on June
15th following the Governor’s
announcement lifting the emergency
order after over a year.
THE WHITE FUND SOCIAL JUSTICE SPEAKER SERIES
This year’s White Fund Speaker Series focused on the theme of social justice and featured prominent
speakers who shared their knowledge, experiences, and celebrity with hundreds who tuned in for
each online event. This series was community led in that the moderators were all Lawrencians who
derived their questions from fellow citizens. Enthusiastic audience response after the program could
be felt in the follow up questions. We expect important conversations inspired by these speakers will
take place across our City.
This program was made possible by the long term support of the White Fund upholding its mission to
present an annual series to “enlighten the mind and elevated the character of the young” and was
funded generously by the MENTOR Network.
Author of Are Prisons Obsolete?
and Women, Race & Class
Hosted on: February 3, 2021
Ibram X. Kendi
Author of How to Be an Antiracist and
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive
History of Racist Ideas in America
Hosted on: March 3, 2021
Author of When They Call You a Terrorist:
A Black Lives Matter Memoir and An Abolitionist’s
Handbook: 12 Steps to Changing
Yourself and the World
Hosted on: May 20, 2021
Featured is The Poppy Field by Claude Monet, one of 17 paintings owned by the White Fund in Trust for the People of Lawrence.
Established by Daniel Appleton White in 1854, the White Fund has presented to the community an annual speaker series. His will noted that the
series be delivered “...with special design to enlighten the mind and elevate the character of the young.” In 1939, the series welcomed our very
own Robert Frost whose original program brochure is displayed in the Library Local History Room. More recently, the Library has had the honor
of welcoming series speakers including Julia Alvarez, Elizabeth Acevedo, Junot Diaz, Martin Espada, and those featured in this year’s program.
“GRAB & GO BAGS”
The Children’s Department’s new approach to
programming during the pandemic included
providing families with grab and go bags filled
with educational and entertaining materials. They
created a special grab and go bag themed Spring
Break Around the World to honor the annual
Jowdy World Knowledge Challenge which could
not be held for the second year in a row. This
Library tradition that has lived on for over 30 years
was celebrated at home by children and families
and featured six different countries.
The Library partnered with Food Explorers, an
organization with a team of registered dieticians,
to bring a cooking class experience into the
homes of our community members. Patrons
learned how to make pizza, chocolate chickpea
truffles, and chicken quesadillas to name a few of
the meals created. All ingredients were provided
via curbside to patrons who registered for the
FAVORITE MOMENTS (CONTINUED)
The Library continued its partnership with the
Adult Learning Center providing Library workshops
to its Citizenship/ESOL class via Zoom, resulting in 5
people obtaining their citizenship. With funding
support through the Mass. Board of Library
Commissioners' Citizenship Corners and Expanded
Language Services grant, 10 students received a
resource bag. The resource bag contained supplies
which included notepads, pencils and dictionaries,
Citizenship/ESOL resources from the community
and Library resources that all can benefit from
while enrolled in class and beyond the class.
Similarly, our work around health literacy
continued. This year, we held a Spanish language
only nutrition series. Twelve people attended this
series. We are grateful to our partner, UMass
Extension and their nutrition program for
providing the class. We look forward to offering
the series in the future.
The Lawrence Public Library installed a StoryWalk® in the Campagone
Common and O’Connell South Common in April 2021. The project features
44 reading stations, each showcasing a page of the featured book. The goal
of the StoryWalk® project is to encourage exercise, reading and family
connections through a healthy outdoor activity.
THE BOOKS CURRENTLY FEATURED ARE:
Sofia Valdez, Presidenta tal Vez by Andrea Beaty
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
This project was made possible in part by a grant from the Essex County
Community Foundation’s Greater Lawrence Summer Fund.
Thank you to the City of Lawrence’s DPW Department for installing the displays.
The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of
Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with
The Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library.
Mayor Kendrys Vasquez, Children’s Room Coordinator Jacqueline Delacruz, and Library Assistant
Miguelina Feliz, welcomed children from the YMCA to help launch the StoryWalk®.
A special shout out to former Library team
member Emily Emerson who led our Library’s
weeding project. The pandemic provided the
unique opportunity of having more time and
space to approach a project of this magnitude
in a way that would not disrupt our daily
operations. Through an intense and thorough
thinning process, our entire collection of
books, DVD, magazines, and other Library
materials were evaluated to determine which
items would leave the collection, making room
for new material and to make browsing easy
for our patrons. This process, called
“weeding,” is a standard Library practice done
periodically to ensure that we maintain a
relevant and diverse collection that is up to
date and meets the needs of our community.
VISIT OUR LOCAL
Staff assisted researchers who couldn’t visit to look at
records themselves. The team supported searches of
newspapers, city documents, school records, censuses, vital
records, and family papers to provide researchers with
information about ancestors, family homes, and businesses
from long ago. To keep the local history room in the public
eye, we generated several blog posts, including a tale of the
connection between Lawrence, Massachusetts and
Lawrence, Kansas. There is a remembrance of Robert Frost’s
1961 inaugural poem in light of 2021’s poem by Amanda
Gorman, a deep-dive into the brief history of leather
postcards in light of a recent donation of such a postcard
featuring an embossed picture of the old Lawrence Public
Library building. The Library launched its participation in the
Community Webs program supported by the Internet
Archive. This is an opportunity for the Library to preserve,
organize, and provide access to digitally born records for
future use in researching and understanding the Lawrence
of the early 21st century.
Pictured Left: Read more about Amos Lawrence’s moment of
truth in our Immigrant City Blog which can be found on the
Special Collections page on our website.
OUR YEAR IN REVIEW
Trust Funds $168,952
Capital Improvement Project:
Replacement of the Electrical Switchboard: $249,433
OUR YEAR IN REVIEW
Our Library added to the collection 8,194 books, DVDs, audiobooks, magazines, and more.
Library Team members completed 4,580 reference transactions. These are questions relating to locating or accessing
various resources or items in our collection.
Our patrons borrowed 147 cultural passes.
There were 1,723 computer reservations.
There were 2,047 curbside appointments.
Our patrons made 79 reservations to use the Trustee Room, Auditorium, and Robert Frost Room for study sessions.
2,406 patrons attended virtual, in person, recorded, or curbside programs.
Our patrons borrowed 14,201 Library items which include DVD, books, audiobooks, and more.
There were 21,247 active Lawrence Library card holders.
The Library offered 50 programs, many of which were recurring and virtual programs throughout the year.
THANK YOU FOR ENGAGING WITH THE LIBRARY!
TO ALL OF OUR LIBRARY PARTNERS
Andover Bread Loaf
Adult Learning Center
Lawrence City Departments
Lawrence Arts Collective
Lawrence Public Schools
Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School
Perkins Library, School for the Blind
Lawrence History Center
Ashley Perez, Notre Dame Cristo Rey High
School student, working on an assignment as
an intern at the Library.
TO ALL OF OUR FUNDERS
Essex County Community Foundation
Friends of the Lawrence Public Library
Lawrence Cultural Council
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
Massachusetts Cultural Council
Check presentation from the Lawrence Partnership's LEADS pitch day panelists:
Glynn Lloyd, Executive Director of Foundation for Business Equity and Mill Cities of
Community Investment; Beth Francis, President & CEO of Essex County Community
Foundation; Jonathan G. Isaacson, Chairman and CEO, The Gem Group, Inc.; Lori
Trahan, Congresswoman, Massachusetts 3rd Congressional District.
Presented to the Lawrence Welcome Center project partners: Jessica V. Vilas Novas,
Lawrence Public Library Director; Frank Kenneally, Merrimack Valley YMCA, CEO
Jennifer Mezquita, NECC, Vice President of Student Affairs, Susan Kamacho,
Gemline, VP of Human Resources Maria Gonzalez Moeller, The Community Group,
CEO; Alexandra Nova, Lawrence Partnership, Deputy Director.
The White Fund
The Social Equity Group
The MENTOR Network
You too can help the Lawrence Public Library by getting involved! The Library can always
use your help to promote its importance 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
BECOME A FRIEND OF THE LIBRARY
The Friends of the Lawrence Public Library is a non-profit, volunteer organization made up of
community members who support our Library. This 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