Wareham Free Library director leaving for position in East Providence

Jul 21

The Wareham Free Library’s director, who was instrumental in helping put the library on the road to recertification, will leave his position in August for a new job in East Providence.

Michael Carlozzi was named director of the East Providence Library where he will lead a staff of 20 full-time employees serving a city of 47,000 people. A Providence resident, Carlozzi starts Aug. 20 and has no official end date yet as he works to finalize paperwork for Wareham’s recertification.

The library lost its state certification in 2014. That year, voters defeated a Proposition 2 1/2 override, which, if approved, would have provided money for several town agencies by raising property taxes. After it failed, the library’s budget was slashed from $295,637 in 2014 to $125,000 in 2015.

The cut forced the loss of certification as staff reduced hours and spending on new materials, meaning it couldn’t meet state requirements. Without certification, the library lost up to $15,000 in state funds, missed out on grant opportunities and lost access to the state’s library network, which had allowed patrons to borrow materials from across Massachusetts.

Carlozzi’s salary was funded in part through the efforts of the Wareham Library Foundation. The idea, he said, was to bring on a full-time director focused on recertification.

Carlozzi had been working in Canton Public Library as a technology and information services librarian when he was hired in 2016. The Wareham position provided him a chance to help the same library where he got his start.

“I worked here as a page through high school and college,” he said. “I saw an opportunity to help and it’s why I came back.”

Regaining recertification involved funds raised through the Wareham Library Foundation, assistance from the Friends of the Wareham Free Library and support from the library Board of Trustees and town officials, including Town Administrator Derek Sullivan, said Carlozzi.

“That’s what I’m most of proud of, coming here into this situation and being able to consensus build and direct all of the energy and various groups so we could move forward to a reasonable and productive goal,” said Carlozzi. “It’s been a heroic effort.”

Carlozzi credited library staff – “a skeleton crew,” he said – for working to keep library doors open 40 hours a week, a state requirement for certification. He noted with additional funds from the town two more staff members will soon be hired: a full-time reference librarian and circulation desk assistant.

Pending apporval, Carlozzi said the library is set to regain its certification in November. For patrons, that means they will once again be able to request materials from libraries across the state. Also, expanded hours and additional staff will better serve residents, he said.

“Whoever succeeds me is going to have an opportunity to transform the library going forward,” said Carlozzi. “Everybody is excited. It’s been almost four years and we finally turned the corner.”