Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tea Time at Collins

For over eight years, the Collins Branch has been inviting Thursday visitors to enjoy a cup of tea and a snack from 3:30 to 5 -- along with plenty of reading material to browse and borrow. 

On an overcast day in early spring, two artists who come regularly to do research praised the warm and cozy atmosphere of Thursday teatime and said the civility of the tea service made the library feel like a true community center.  As you can see on the left, visitors really enjoy reading and relaxing with a cup of tea!

Librarian Joe Logue, pouring tea in the photo on the left, reports that many patrons are surprised and pleased to be offered tea and occasionally have to be assured that, yes indeed, the tea service is a free service. Some regulars demonstrate their thanks by bringing cookies to share.

The program has proven to be so popular that the staff is thinking of adding a second “tea afternoon” during the week.  This summer they hope to serve patrons outside in the newly renovated garden space.

There are always great things happening at the library!  For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library, click here.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Poetry Month at the Library

We all know that April showers bring May flowers, but did you know that April also brings Poetry Month? Join the celebration daily in the Teen Room, where the poem of the day is showcased each afternoon at 3:07. Teens who would like to take a more active role can sign up to choose and read a showcase poem.

Sixth grader Nabi Tall at the 2010
ceremony. Here's an excerpt from
his poem The Everlasting Crusade:
Do they know of the word truce,
Of all the war they can reduce
If they just let loose
The rope between each other

Now I do not wish to go too deep
In the abstract swoosh and sweep
But let me ask before I sleep
What would you risk
What would you leave
For what you think is right?

For Cambridge poets in grades K-8 who want to share their original work with a larger audience, the Children's staff at the Central Square Branch is again managing the city-wide Cambridge Public Library/Cambridge Tree Project Poetry Competition. This is the 13th year of the competition. Last year there were almost 900 entries. The Friends of the Cambridge Public Library are proud to sponsor the prizes which are given to first through third place winners as well as to those receiving honorable mention. Karen Carmean of the Cambridge Tree Project serves as one of the judges and also provides additional prizes for poems about trees.

This year the prizes will be awarded at a ceremony and reading on Thursday, May 19 at 6:00 PM in the Main Library's lecture hall.  The ceremony is a special event for the poets, their families, and the library staff. Amanda Gazin, Central Square Children's Librarian, wrote of last year's celebration, "We had a segment of family poems that had just about everyone choked up--a sixth grader's loving poem to her mother; another sixth grader's wrenching poem of loss about her absent dad; a kindergartener's wonderful poem about a game he plays with his dad." Check our blog after the 19th to read more about this year's ceremony.

You can email your entry to . Please put your poem in the body of the message rather than as an attachment.  The entry deadline is Friday, April 29th.

There are always great things happening at the library!  For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library, click here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Calling All Photographers!

We are pleased to announce our first annual photography contest:  “The Cambridge Public Library: A Place For All Seasons.”  Photographers of all ages are invited to depict any part of the Cambridge Public Library system: buildings (interiors and exteriors), objects, and people, any time of day or night, in sunshine or inclement weather throughout the calendar year.
Photographs will be judged primarily on how effectively they portray the theme, A Place for All Seasons.”  It is our hope that the collected works will represent each one of the libraries and all four seasons of the calendar year.

All appropriate entries will be posted on the library’s Flickr website.  The first-place winner will receive a $100 bookstore gift card; second-place winner will receive a $50 gift card, and third-place winner a $25 gift card.
To read more about the rules and how to enter, click here , and on the sidebar on the left choose "Photo Contest."

There are always great things happening at the library!  For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library, click here.

The Literacy Project – Another CPL Gem

Two floors beneath the hustle and bustle of the main library lies one of its hidden gems: the Literacy Project.  Soon to return to its Central Square location when renovations to that branch are completed, the Literacy Project is a gathering spot for Cambridge’s newest residents who come for help with speaking, writing and reading English, and more.  Just as critical is the need for computer literacy, starting with the most basic tasks that many have not had an opportunity to experience.

And come, they do! On a recent Thursday afternoon, director Maria Balestrieri, with the help of three volunteers, was teaching an advanced conversation class.  The sound of two dozen adults soaking up knowledge was palpable.  Students were working in small groups, as staff stood close by. It was hard work, but also tremendous fun as students from a host of different countries converged in the L2 community room to share, learn, smile and feel like a part of something.

“I’m just the caretaker of the garden,” says Maria of her special charges. She is an avid cheerleader for the Project, which includes computer classes, English conversation, one-to-one tutoring, resume writing, job hunting and family literacy, all for a multi-national population.  When asked about the greatest highlights of her work, Maria describes the joy of seeing students get jobs; of volunteers getting turned on to teaching; of students who report the Literacy Project as the best part of their week; and of witnessing the formation of a group who truly feel a sense of belonging. “Believe it or not,” she says, “some of our students have even formed a soccer team!”

If you would like more information on how to volunteer with this extraordinary program or to contact Maria Balestrieri, click here.

There are always great things happening at the library!  For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library, click here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kevin Henkes Comes to Cambridge Library

To the delight of a packed auditorium, Kevin Henkes, Caldecott Award-winning writer and artist, came to the Cambridge Public Library on Wednesday, March 30.  The Friends of the Cambridge Library provided pizzas (over 28 were eaten!) and bottles of water for the overflow crowd.

While waiting, kids and their grownups talked about favorite Henkes books.  Most mentioned were Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse and Julius, the Baby of the World, but many kids said, “I’ve read them all.”

Among the adults in the crowd were a group of future teachers attending Lesley University who had spent an intensive weekend studying Henkes’ work. “Just call us his groupies,” said one young woman.

On stage, Henkes read from his new book and talked about the creative process. “It’s hard to explain creativity,” he said, noting that often one book sets off a train of ideas that leads to the next.  “Every bit of me goes into every book.” He said that when creating a picture book, the words come first because there are so few of them, so every word must count.

Asked which of his 41 books was his favorite, he responded, “My favorite book is always the next one – because I think it will be perfect.”

There are always great things happening at the library!  For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library, click here.

What is a Friend?

A friend should be the one on whom you can count in a time of need.  I know; I read it on someone’s Web page earlier today.  In this time of needwhen government funding to libraries is being cut dramaticallythe Friends of the Cambridge Public Library enable the library to provide services for its patrons that go beyond the scope of city and state budgets. 

  • We underwrite authors’ visits and children’s programs at the library.
  • We help to fund new library materials.
  • We provide the museum passes that library card holders can obtain free of charge or at reduced prices.
  • We published and now sell a book titled Cambridge Voices which showcases local literary talent.
  • We stage the Secret Gardens of Cambridge Tour biennially and sell Secret Gardens of Cambridge, a book we produced which features some of the wonderful local gardens that have appeared on our tour.
  • We train docents to lead tours of our newly LEED certified main branch, which has just won the 2010 Harleston Parker Medal for the "single most beautiful building" built in the metropolitan Boston area in the past ten years.
  • We are the sole sponsor of the Cambridge Reads program. Each year Cambridge Reads selects and promotes a book to be read and discussed city-wide. The book’s author appears at a program for students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School and at an evening program for the public at large.
As of April, 2011, we already have 360 Friends. But don’t worry, we have room for you!  As Rod McKuen wrote, “Strangers are just friends waiting to happen.”  Please join us in our support of the Cambridge Public Library.  In addition to supporting the library, your membership includes discounts at Harvard Books, the Coop, American Repertory Theater, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Central Square Theater, Nomad, and Clothware, plus reduced prices on Friends’ publications and special events, and home delivery of the library newsletter On and Off Broadway.  To download a membership form just click here and choose "application" from the bar on the left.   Join now, or if you have questions about our organization, you can contact us at .