Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Head up! Arms to the Side!

Jean Salemme builds strength
and balance at AEC.
“Raise your thigh up, clasp your hands below the knee, and flex your hip for a stretch.” Commands from a yoga teacher or personal trainer? No, just part of the hour-long instructions given by Sylvia Piltch, master teacher for the ten or so “women of a certain age” who attend the weekly Adult Exercise Class (AEC) at the Cambridge Public Library’s main branch. It’s the longest running weekly adult program in the history of the library!

Begun more than 20 years ago, the class has continued with its loyal group of women (and sometimes men), in an effort to “keep our muscles and joints working,” says long-time member, Jean. Some have been attending since the AEC’s inception; others drop in from time to time. This time, a visitor from New Zealand, in town for her child’s graduation, joined the group for chair, floor and wall exercises. To the tunes of Perry Como on the library’s boom box, members stretched and moved, chatting occasionally between exercise breaks.

Instructor Sylvia Piltch stretches
with class members Virginia Hardman
and Ruth Mandalian
According to Virginia, it's more fun to exercise when you are among friends rather than doing it alone in your own home. And as Ruth said, "It gets you to the library" – one of her favorite places in Cambridge. During the multi-year reconstruction of the main library, the group moved to the Longfellow School as well as Youville House (teacher Sylvia is a resident there), but they are now happily ensconced in the L2 Community Room.

“It’s an ‘up’ group of people,” says Jean. They meet each week for exercise and occasionally enjoy lunch together. As Sylvia reported while carefully monitoring her students, “Everyone’s in good shape for the shape they’re in.” She couldn’t have stated it more perfectly.

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.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Harleston Parker Medal Awarded to Main Library

City officials Rich Rossi, Bob Healy,
David Mahre; Head Librarian Susan Flannery;
Architects Pamela Hawkes, Cliff Gaffney
The 2010 Harleston Parker Medal, considered the highest architectural honor in the Boston Metropolitan area, was formally presented on May 23 to William Rawn Associates and Ann Beha Architects for their work on the Cambridge Public Library. The festive event included guided tours for guests, comments by city officials, architects, and the library director, and concluded with a reception.

Harleston Parker Jury Chair Elise Woodward, AIA, said the panel evaluated the 96 nominated buildings for beauty of purpose, craft, materials, ethics, form, innovation and formal beauty. She praised the seamless incorporation of the original structure with the new building. Alluding to the many new environmental features, she said that part of the pleasure of the building was experiencing beauty as a sustainable form.

Mayor David Maher boasted that when the renovation of Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School next door is completed, its proximity to the library will make it “one of the finest high school campuses in the country.” City Manager Robert Healy said a special pleasure for him, when going to work early, is seeing the sunrise through two corners of the library building. Deputy City Manager Rich Rossi praised the architects who repeatedly asked what patrons and library staff wanted from the building. This building is “a home run for the community,” he said.

Susan Flannery, Head Librarian, applauded the steadfast support of officials “who were on board from the first time the words ‘new library’ were uttered.” She also thanked preceding city officials, library trustees, staff, colleagues in other city departments, volunteers on the Library 21 and Design Advisory Committees, and the thousands of residents who participated in many ways.

She said, “As we hear so often from our customers, it’s hard not to smile when you are in this library. The … building is aesthetically stunning yet welcoming and accessible. It brilliantly embodies the democratic principles of the free public library and signals to all who approach that this is a place for them. It also, as both good architecture and good libraries should do, lifts the mind and the spirit.”

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.