Friday, August 19, 2011

Cambridge READS – the FCPL’s Newest Program

From its modest beginnings in 2003, when former CPL staffer Gail Willett gathered together several librarians and avid readers to choose The Color of Water as its first selection,  Cambridge READS (CR) has evolved into an extremely popular resource for the Cambridge reading community.  The program is modeled after one begun at the Seattle Public Library and is now proudly funded entirely by the Friends. Over time we have witnessed the relocation of the popular author event to larger capacity venues such as Sanders Theater and the addition of companion programming that dovetails with the author appearance. We thought you might be interested in how each year's book is chosen. 

Here in Cambridge, the process for selecting each year’s Cambridge READS book begins early, by the December following each year's author event. The CR advisory board meets regularly, sharing titles until a list of possible books is generated. Discussions are spirited and lively; the list changes frequently.  A book must meet several criteria: be available in paperback, have a broad age appeal that includes older high schoolers, and have an author willing to visit for a reasonable honorarium. By spring, Carole Withrow, CR program director, contacts the first author on the list. Nail-biting begins!

Many meetings later the book is finally selected, and a contract is sent to the author for signing. Additional meetings then focus on types of possible companion programming, publicity, and a to-do list for Board members for the day of the event. Within a week after the author visit, a follow-up meeting takes place to discuss the event. By the end of the calendar year, the process begins anew.

This year CR has chosen WAR by Sebastian Junger as its community read. The library is already experiencing a spike in check-outs for this powerful book. We have included a list of previous selections at the end of this article.  Be sure to check out this year’s Cambridge READS info on the Events and Programming page of the library's site.

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.

List of Cambridge Reads selections:
2003 - The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother - James McBride
2004 - The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri
2005 - The Kite Runner - Khaled Housseini
2006 - Mountains Beyond Mountains - Tracy Kidder & Dr. Paul Farmer
2007 - Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin
2008 - How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents - Julia Alvarez
2009 - Colored People: A Memoir - Henry Louis Gates
2010 - Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World - Mark Kurlansky
2011 - War - Sebastian Junger

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Would we let you in on a secret? Maybe...if that secret led you next year to some of the most interesting, creative, and little-known private gardens in Cambridge.

On Sunday, June 10, 2012, we'll be sharing some of the best-kept secrets in town: the “Secret Gardens of Cambridge,“ and we’d love to have you join us. Since 2001 we’ve been giving people the chance to explore backyard, side yard, and roof-top gardens all around town. It’s a Sunday in late spring, the flowers are in bloom, and it reminds everyone of why, exactly, we so much enjoy living here.

So mark it on your calendar: Sunday, June 10, 2012. Rignt now we’re in the process of finding gardens for the 2012 event, and we really wouldn't mind if you shared our secret with a few friends.  Have a garden you think should be on the tour—or know someone who has one? Write to us at  Next spring isn’t that far away, and we’d love to know your secrets.

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, August 5, 2011

Ask The Librarian - Lyndsay Forbes

Much attention has been paid during the past year to our newly remodeled and expanded library buildings, but what would they really be without the wonderful people who staff them?  We will be doing a series of monthly interviews to help you get to know some of the people who make our library system extraordinary.  We begin with Lyndsay Forbes from the O’Neill Branch. 

What made you want to become a librarian and what do you love most about your job? 
 Lyndsay Forbes
C PL Length of Service :  5 1/2 years
Undergraduate degree from St. Anselm's
MLIS from Rutgers University

At first, it was figuring out what to do with a BA in English. I started out in academic libraries with the idea that if I didn’t like working in libraries, I could take some classes in another area and switch careers. Several years later, I’m still in libraries so it was a good fit for me.

I really love figuring out what people are looking for when they come to the library. Whether it’s someone trying to remember a title and vaguely describing part of a book, helping a student find resources for their project, giving someone from out of town a map, or seeing someone’s face light up with “this is exactly what I wanted” -- it's a great feeling.

What is your opinion of e-books like the Kindle?
I think e-books are fabulous. They're just one more way to read books. I’m glad that more publishers are making their titles available for the wide variety of e-readers that are out there. I know people worry that all the books are going to disappear or no one will use the library. I just think it’s another medium for materials, like audiobooks or DVDs.

I do think publishers and libraries need to find a system that works for both of them in terms of e-books. I’m not necessarily opposed to the idea of having to purchase a title again after so many uses by a library, but would want to have unlimited access. Right now, a title can only have so many users accessing it. Part of the beauty of an electronic medium is getting rid of that physical barrier. How great would it be to get to read that hot new title without waiting? That’s a possibility with e-books and it’s one I’d like to see become a reality.

What is something that people may find surprising about your role as a librarian?
I don’t go around shushing people all day. It’s a stereotype that won’t go away. Libraries aren’t necessarily the silent places people think they are. While you can find a quiet corner if that’s what you’re looking for, it’s more likely that you’re going to encounter some friendly noise and conversations when you come to the library.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at the library?
We had a program for summer reading here called “Barn Babies,” which is a sort of traveling petting zoo of baby animals. They were set up in the back hall here. Before the program started, I went down the hall to use the bathroom. The goat, who seemed very suspicious of me, followed me down the hall and all the way to the door. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get the door open without letting him in. I had to go back and get another staff member to hold onto the goat. Wrangling goats is just not something you would think you would do while working in a library.

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.