Friday, April 26th, 2024

TinyCat’s April Library of the Month: The Annisquam Village Library

TinyCat’s Library of the Month is just a short drive down I-95 from LibraryThing’s Portland, ME headquarters: the Annisquam Village Library in Gloucester, MA has been serving their community since 1904! Janet Langer, a retired librarian and member of the Library Committee, is in charge of collection development and was kind enough to answer my questions this month. Here’s what Janet had to say:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”? 

The Annisquam Village Library (AVL) is located in the northern part of Gloucester, MA, a city known for its early ties to the fishing industry. The library has been a fixture in the village for generations and many of our patrons have visited the library since they were children, as did their family before them. We have both year-round and seasonal (summer) residents of all ages who use our library, but most of our patrons are adult recreational readers who are retired. Our goal is to provide them with engaging reading material and meaningful community events.

Tell us some interesting things about how your library supports the community.

The AVL is a central part of village life, particularly in the off-season when many local businesses are closed and activities are curtailed due to winter weather. We are open on Monday from 3:00 – 5:00 and Saturday from 9:00 – 11:00. On Monday we serve tea and refreshments, with a “high tea” once a month, a tradition that began many generations ago. On Saturday we serve coffee and pastries. Residents love to stop by and enjoy a warm fire, conversation with neighbors, and access to our collection of reading material. Refreshments are provided by volunteers who bake and help with set up and clean up each day we are open. Many of our patrons make generous donations of current books to our collection as well. We host an evening of poetry, author talks, and an annual summer party to raise funds for the library. As with many libraries, ours is a gathering place for the community and is used by other groups.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?


Our collection consists primarily of current fiction, with a healthy offering of mystery titles for those who love this genre. We have a children’s corner for readers under twelve years old which includes picture books, early readers, juvenile fiction series, and some non-fiction titles. We feature our local authors in a special collection since many of our residents have written novels, non-fiction books about their careers, or family histories related to their time in Annisquam. And finally, we have a small collection of books about Gloucester’s history for use in the library. We work with our local historical society to make material available to those who are interested in our heritage, including the fishing and boat-building industry, early tourism, the granite industry, and artists who resided in the area.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

I’d have to tell you about the challenge that we overcame in the last five years or so: The library collection at that point consisted almost entirely of books donated by residents once they had read a particular work. There was no systematic collection maintenance, so over many years the shelves filled and the books grew old and musty. We were fortunate to have a library committee with a new chairwoman, all of whom supported or pitched in on an extensive weeding of the collection and cleaning of the library, hiring a new librarian, and developing a robust collection for our community. TinyCat was a fundamental part of this library relaunch. Every book has been entered into the catalog and the catalog is now online for people to search when we aren’t open. We’ve also built an accurate database of our patrons which has made communication with them more effective. It was a big change for our long-time residents and there were some raised eyebrows, but most have embraced the new collection and accepted the digital catalog.

That sounds like a wonderful success story for your library, I’m so glad to hear it! Speaking of LibraryThing and TinyCat, what’s your favorite thing about the system and is there anything you’d love to see implemented or developed?

First of all, I appreciate the support from the TinyCat staff, from setting up our catalog to addressing questions and technical issues over the years. As I mentioned, TinyCat has been central to our collection management strategy. It has allowed online access to our catalog and simplified our circulation procedures. As a retired librarian, I’m responsible for collection development, and I value the statistics, reports, and charts available through TinyCat. This data helps me in meetings with the library committee and with weeding projects. I wish the reports could be customized a bit more: it would be helpful to run a transaction report that was sorted by the tags I’ve assigned to titles, or a report where the entries could be listed alphabetically by author. (Forgive me if this is already an option and I just don’t know how to do so!)

Great feedback, thanks! I’ll add your suggestions to our list and we’ll be sure to announce any improvements to TinyCat’s Reports.

Want to learn more about AVL? 

Visit their website at, and check out their full TinyCat collection here.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat


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