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Gloucester

Gloucester library director quits in frustration after override fails

Posted by Marcia Dick April 30, 2007 12:10 PM

Sawyer Library.jpg

Voters rejected a bid to renovate the building.
(Photo courtesy of Sawyer Free Library)

GLOUCESTER

This has been a bruising week for Gloucester’s Sawyer Free Library.

Last Tuesday, voters dealt a crippling blow to a proposed library expansion and renovation project, rejecting a Proposition 2 ˝ tax increase needed for the plan.

In the wake of that vote, library director Roger Brisson announced his intention to resign effective May 31.

In an interview this morning, Brisson said his decision was spurred by disappointment with the override vote.

"I came to Gloucester a year and a half ago for one reason and one reason only, and that was to help with this building and expansion project," said Brisson, who previously spent five years as head of the Germanic division at Harvard’s Widener Library, and 10 years at the Penn State University library.

He said with the city’s "resounding rejection of this vision" of an expanded library, he felt it was time to move on. The ballot measure would have allowed the city to collect $7 million beyond the limits of Proposition 2 ˝ to repay debt for the $15 million renovation and expansion of the Sawyer Free Library. The library planned to meet the remaining costs of the project through a $4 million state grant and $4 million in private funds.

"Gloucester is in a very serious financial condition, and clearly the residents saw the library as a cultural center that was not high on the priority list ... So the decision was made for me when the vote was tallied," said Brisson, who also cited his frustration with chronic under-funding of the library’s budget as contributing to his decision to leave.

-- John Laidler

About override central Coverage of Prop 21/2 override campaigns in more than 30 communities in Greater Boston.
Christine Wallgren is a correspondent in the Globe South bureau.
David Dahl is the Globe's regional editor.
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