Friday, December 28, 2012

See you at the Library in the New Year

For many, the annual turning of the calendar means reflection on the year past and plans for the one ahead. As you ponder new goals or projects for 2013, consider a few of these ideas:
  • Cook something new every month --check out the Friends' recommendations for inspiring cookbooks in the sidebar!
  • Read more --join a book group at the library
  • Meet new people --go to an author event, a community disucssion, or a toddler sing-along at the library and meet a few Cambridge neighbors
  • Be healthy --take a walk to your local library branch
  • Learn a new craft, skill or just expand your interests --check out a library book on a subject you've always wanted to know more about.
There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help support our Cambridge libraries, click here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Library gets High Marks in City Survey

Cantabrigians weighed in on the City's bi-annual opinion survey, and in the 2012 Citizen's Survey88 percent of respondents ranked Cambridge Public Library Services as good or excellent.

Not only do people like what they see at the library, but responses indicate that residents are also using the library more than ever before. Results show that 45 percent of respondents report using the Cambridge Public Library 13+ times in the last 12 months...that's more than one visit per month!

You can help keep the rave reviews coming by joining the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library! Come to the library this weekend to meet a Friend and learn how you can help us support the city library system. Board members of the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library will be at the main branch in the afternoons this Saturday, Dec. 15 and Sunday, Dec. 16 to sign up new and renewing members and to share information about how membership contributions support our Cambridge libraries.

Find out more about the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library and how to become a member here.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Meet a Friend and Join Us!

It's time for the annual membership drive of the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library.

If you enjoy the amazing library resources available in Cambridge, you can help support all the programs, events, and neighborhood branches you appreciate most by becoming a member; if you're already a member, thank you and don't forget to renew for 2013.

Come to the library this weekend or next to meet a Friend and sign up in person! Board members of the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library will be at the main branch in the afternoons Saturday, Dec. 8 and Sunday, Dec. 9th and again next Saturday, Dec. 15 and Sunday, Dec. 16th to sign up new and renewing members and to share information about the Friends and how the membership contributions support our Cambridge libraries. Bring your checkbook or cash to join on the spot at the library this weekend!

Find out more about the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library and how to become a member here. And be sure to keep up with the Friends on Facebook too.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Who Hearts Libraries?

Well, we all heart libraries, of course. But on Nov. 17 Wikipedia showed some love for the Cambridge Public Library (CPL).

Photo Credit: Alyssa Pacy, Cambridge Public Library
Local archivists, librarians, Wikipedians, and interested community members joined the first Wikipedia Loves Libraries event at the CPL to revel in the joy of editing, Wikipedia style, and in the abundance of references available in the library archives. 

The day started with an introduction to Wikipedia, presented by Sven Manguard, a local Wikipedian, 
Photo Credit: Alyssa Pacy, Cambridge Public Library
followed by a practical instruction on how to edit and create content on Wikipedia with a hands-on tutorial. Close to 35 participants joined the workshops and lively discussion, some from as far away as Cape Cod.

The Friends of the CPL hosted the event, in collaboration with Alyssa Pacy, the Cambridge Room archivist (check out her blog The Cambridge Room), and members of the local Wikipedia community. We plan to make this an annual tradition and hope to see you next year!

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Proposed Pocket Park for O'Connell Branch

The East Cambridge Open Space Trust has chosen the O'Connell Branch Library at 48 Sixth Street as the location for a new "Pocket Park". The Trust is a group of East Cambridge residents whose mission is to acquire and improve public open space in their neighborhood. This will be their first project since receiving a mitigation fund contributed by the developers of Cambridge Research Park.

The Trust sees the O'Connell Branch as a great asset to the neighborhood and recognizes that it serves as something of an informal community center. They are just starting the process of community outreach to inform and solicit advice from neighbors and interested residents. Here is a link to a set of pictures of the site on flickr if you would like to take a look at the proposed site.

You can learn more about the East Cambridge Open Space Trust at their blog.

Who was that masked man?

In the past, the board members of the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library keep a pretty low profile, choosing to let our good works speak for themselves. Lately, we've been thinking that "loud and proud" may send a better message.  We love our library system, and we have always been proud of the work that we do to support it.  Now you can check us out on our Board Bios page.  Just click here .

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Day in the Life of the Library: Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ever wondered what goes on at the library when you're not there?  Here's your chance to find out.
Staff arrives to put out newspapers and empty return bins.

Doors are unlocked as a dozen or more patrons – adults of all ages, many of whom are regulars- stream in and head for the newspaper room and to use the computers. Some rush in before work to drop off books or videos.


A steady stream of parents and strollers head for the Children’s Room. Readers settle into comfortable chairs with their books, while browsers scour the carts holding just-returned movies.

12:00 noon   
Activity increases as the staff changes for the lunch shift. People
working in the neighborhood as well as some high school students
drop in during their lunch break, but after an hour or so, it is quiet again.

High-schoolers raise the level of activity (and noise) as they head for the teen room to study, socialize and use the computers.

There is another influx from the elementary schools. Children head to the 3rd floor to browse, read, use the computers, and study with friends.

A veritable crowd of parents and young children line up for the weekly afternoon sing-along, lasting 25 minutes. At least 130 bodies participate, of which more than 60 are youngsters.

Patrons start to head home, and by 7:00 p.m. things quiet down.
Computer use continues until the closing announcements.

There are always great things happening at the library (even when you're not there)! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Give The Gift of Stories You Love

We know that it's only the beginning of November, but we bet that at least some of you have started your holiday shopping lists. We ask that you help us to spread the joy of reading by adding a childrens' book to that list. 

Each year the Cambridge Public Library collects new books to give to children in transitional housing during the holiday season. You can read more about the history of this annual event on an earlier post .

This year Porter Square Books is giving a 20% discount on any books purchased for this project, but of course you can purchase your book (or books!) anywhere. Then just drop them off at any Cambridge Public Library location.

For those of you who want to take a hands-on approach to this project, there will be wrapping parties in the Beech Room at the Main Library on November 29 from 6-8pm, November 30 from 10am to noon and on December 7 from 10am to noon. Please join us at any of these times to wrap gifts and help to spread the gift of stories.

For questions or more information on this year's drive call 617-349-4038.

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Another kind of Thanksgiving Bounty

The calendar page has turned. It's November now. So like our Pilgrim forefathers and foremothers, we get ready to gather at the table with friends and family and give thanks for nature's bounty by consuming as much of it as we possible can. In that same spirit of gratitude and sharing, members of the Friends Board bring you a short list of books we are thankful to have read.

A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents -- and Ourselves  by Jane Gross
This is an excellent book for help with how/when to begin the terribly difficult process of dealing with an elder relative, particularly around issues related to living independently. The author, a former health writer for the New York Times, gives thoughtful information and suggestions on types of care and how to make transitions between them. - Martha

The Braindead Megaphone  by George Saunders
I'm thankful that a writer as hilarious and humane as George Saunders exists. I recommend his book of essays to all who vacillate with uneasy frequency between despair at the state of things and absolute exaltation at being alive in the world, and who find, in reading, their ability to feel that kind of joy enlarged. -Elizabeth

Building Stories  by Chris Ware
The scope of Ware's talent is equalled only by the depth of his empathy, and both are evident on every page of this heartbreaking, life-affirming masterpiece. I'm thankful for every book inside this box, every frame on every page. -Elizabeth

A Christmas Memory and The Thanksgiving Visitor  by Truman Capote
I never tire of reading these stories because of Capote's beautiful and evocative language and because of the unusual friendship between Buddy (a young boy) and his elderly, eccentric cousin. They each transport me to a quieter, smaller world of simplicity and common sense. -Eva

 A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius  by Dave Eggers
I'm thankful to have read this book because the narrative is so fast and raw that it just engulfed me. It was exhilarating, furious, heartfelt, and obnoxious. And it made me think of the people I love and laugh out loud a lot. - Jennifer

Maurice  by E.M. Forster
Its unapologetic and unsentimental portrayal of gay relationships in the Edwardian era was a relief to read for a gay teenager in high school. As an adult I still love the novel for its sparse prose and glimpse of a by-gone era. -Arend

Our Town  by Thornton Wilder
The characters showed me that life is "awful...and wonderful" and they continue to do so whenever I think of them.  -Sue
Zen and the Art of Archery  by Eugen Herrigel
This book is a personal account of the author’s journey to understand Zen through the art of archery. The descriptions of his experiences came alive for me and gave me a better understanding of the ever-popular phrase “go with the flow.”   -Linda

If you would like to share the bounty of books by adding to our list, just tell us in the comment box below about a book you're thankful to have read.

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Who Goes There?

We've been hearing for years now that print books and the libraries that contain them are on their way out; that young people have abandoned libraries in this electronic age.  In what may be a surprise to many, The New York Times reports that the results of a resent study by the Pew Research Center show a majority of Americans from the ages of 16 through 29 still frequenting libraries. You can read the whole text here.

Of course a trip to our own Main Library would lead you to the same conclusion!

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

A Guest At Their Table

Last year we began a series focusing on local book clubs. Today we have some interesting news from a club we first featured last March.  Please consider sharing stories about your book club by adding a comment to this article or by emailing us at

The All in the Family book group, which was featured in an earlier post, was delighted to have recent CambridgeREADS author Audrey Schulman as a guest at its latest meeting. One of this book group's members met Schulman at a book signing last spring at Porter Square Bookstore where the author mentioned her belief that book clubs were a lifeblood for writers.

At the meeting Ms. Schulman talked about her love of all things foreign and her approach to writing "from research, not experience."  She added that she "learns better that way" and is able to synthesize the material more effectively. Schulman was especially interested in the members' reactions to the ending of her book Three Weeks in December.  The group's "neurotypical"members were intrigued and stimulated by her frank and clear comments.

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.


Friday, October 19, 2012

You've got a Friend on YouTube!

The Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library was held Tuesday evening in the Main Library Community Room.  As usual, a good time was had by all!  There was news from our new president, Arend Sluis, who reviewed the successes of 2012 and gave a preview of upcoming events for 2013.  Arend is in Europe, but with the help of video technology and YouTube, his presentation came through clear as a bell. If  you missed the meeting, or just want to review our exciting accomplishments and plans for the future, you can watch his video below.

After the business portion of the meeting, we had a few challenging rounds of literary trivia.  This year's winners were Maureen Ahern, Carole Bundy, Martha Osler, and Ellin Sarot.

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tree Tour

 Aline Newton and Florrie Wescoat have created a wonderful guide to twenty-five trees in and around Joan Lorentz Park, also the home to our library's main campus. You can click here to visit their web site. At the site you'll find a pdf version of their booklet as well as a sort of online journal detailing the steps in their project. Hard copies of the booklet will be available at the Main Library soon.

To celebrate the completion of their project, they will be conducting a live tour on Saturday, October 27, at 2:30pm. Those interested should meet at the Cambridge Main Library entrance. The rain date for the tour is Sunday, October 28, also at 2:30pm.

Not Just Good; These Books Are Great!

The 2012-2013 season of the CPL Great Books Discussion Group begins at 7:30 PM on Tuesday, October 16th.  The first selection is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

There are many book discussion groups meeting at our public libraries, but this one has quite a history. Hugh Crane, the current leader, has led the group for the last twenty years or so. The group was formed in the early 70's and originally led by library director Joseph Sakey.
Originally the group selected short readings from anthology sets published by the Great Books Foundation. Other book-length works were also used.  Currently the group meets 15 times between October and May. Ten shorter readings come from Great Books anthologies as well as other collections. There are also five longer readings, one of which is reserved for a long book to be read over the summer, and a second is reserved for a Shakespeare play. The membership votes on selections for the up-coming year at the last two meetings of the previous year. You can follow this link to see this year's schedule and meeting times.
There are only two requirements for membership: read the scheduled work and participate in the discussion. These requirements are waived for prospective members attending their first meetings. At the meetings, members employ the Great Books method of "Shared Inquiry" to exchange thoughts with each other. Examples of the questions used to guide the discussions can be found on the group’s blog. The library will provide a copy of the reading for anyone planning to attend.
Group leader Hugh Crane says, "One thing I get out of leading the group is what all long-time members get: I read books that I probably wouldn't have otherwise. And they are good books, and the difficulty of getting through some of them is rewarded by the pleasure of the group discussion. Left to my own inclinations, I would never have read any Henry James; now I have read five of his novels, and think the first chapter of The Wings of the Dove is one of most brilliant passages I have ever read. Few people with degrees in the liberal arts get to use them at work as much as I do, which is another satisfaction."

The group is always looking for new members, and you can join at any time. 

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It's in the Mail....

but just in case you didn't get yours, here is the announcement of our annual meeting. We hope to see you there. Feel free to bring a friend (or a Friend!)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Chills - They're in the Air

And with the coming of October and its popular holiday (I'm talking Halloween, not Columbus Day) many of us look for them in our stories as well.  This month the Friends' recommended reading list is made up of stories of mystery and suspense.  You'll find it on the sidebar at the right of the screen.

Once you've seen our selections you might also like to see what the folks at  Goodreads recommend.
Or if you prefer to get your chills from the screen instead of off the page, you can follow this link to their top 50  scariest movies of all time.

At this time of year, nothing beats a good scare.  Try yours on a dark and stormy night with a bowl of popcorn and a cup of spiced cider!

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Library Playaway Weight Loss Plan

Here's a fresh new weight loss idea submitted by one of our members. 

For years the words “work out” were anathema to me.  You, like me, have undoubtedly read articles about the virtues of daily exercise for weight loss and overall health and mood improvement.  Perhaps, like me, you’ve glanced at these articles, sighed, and quickly turned the page.   It took my experience this summer with a new audio technology at the library to make me a believer in the good that exercise can do.

 Knowing I’ve long enjoyed audio books and regularly borrow them from the library, a friend told me about Playaways, small cassettes which hold an entire book.  You don’t have to download anything.  The borrower simply supplies her own headphones and a AAA battery.

 I’ve wanted to lose 10 pounds for a while.  With the Playaway, I quickly found that if I’m listening to a book while walking, I can walk for an hour or more.  I’ve walked all over Cambridge and Somerville listening to We Bought A Zoo, The King’s Speech, David Copperfield (haven’t read that since high school!), Middlemarch (never read that in high school), and currently, A Soldier of the Great War. Because listening to a book always feels like a delicious escape from responsibility, I find myself plotting ways to fit in an extra walk or a longer one.

Since starting the “Playaway diet” in June, I’ve lost 6 pounds and feel great.  My new first stop at the main library is the mezzanine where I check out what’s on the Playaway shelves.  This has truly been the best feel good and lose weight activity I’ve ever heard of. 

Cambridge is embarking on some gorgeous autumn weather, perfect for being outside -- so now is a great time to stop at the library and start your own Playaway habit.

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

More Good Press

Since this blog began, we've written many times to share with you the accolades that have been received by our beautiful new Main Library.  This time, a library visitor has taken up her pen, or should we say keypad, to spread the news.  You can read her post at , the blog of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. 

While you are there, you could always add a comment or photo of your own.  Spread the word!

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Put a Literary Twist on your Holiday

Halloween is just around the corner. If you've exhausted all of the usual costume ideas over the years, why not think about transforming yourself into a literary character or a book title? Try these on for size:

  • The Grapes of Wrath: purple balloons over green tights
  • Old Man and the Sea: a fishing hat, rod, a plate of fried bananas, and wrinkles
  • Lady Macbeth: fake blood on hands, a candle, and a nightgown
  • Ophelia in Hamlet: a crown of flowers and a frantic expression
  • Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire: a ripped undershirt, preferably with sweat stains
  • Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment: an ax and a cross
  • Miss Havisham in Great Expectations: a frayed wedding gown and some of last week's cake
  • Montag in Fahrenheit 451: fireman’s hardhat, a pile of books, and a lighter
  •  Fifty Shades of Grey: go monotone
  • The Kite Runner: assorted kites (broken glass optional)

We would love to hear your costume ideas, so think about posting a comment before October 31st.  Happy Halloween!

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

CambridgeREADS Announces its 2012 Selection

Hard to believe, but this year will mark the 10th anniversary of the CambridgeREADS program. To honor this auspicious milestone the selection committee concentrated on books by local authors. In addition, since the last two books were non-fiction, the committee moved novels to the head of their list. Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman came out on top.  
There will be a "Meet the Author" program on October 25th at the Main Library at 7 PM which will be followed by a book signing held in cooperation with Porter Square Books.  In addition there will be three companion programs on Thursday evenings in October.  You can read more about the book, its author, and the up-coming programing by following this link.
If you belong to a book club, why not make Three Weeks in December your September or October pick?  It will provide your group with lots of opportunity for discussion topics, among them the endangered mountain gorillas of the Congo, Aspergers, the colonization of East Africa, and the true story of man-eating lions during the construction of the British railway.  
If you'd like to know more about the history of the CambridgeReads program and their book selection process, you can follow this link to a previous post on our blog.
There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Are you a frequent Cambridge Public Library user? Would you like to show your support for the library in an active way? Here is your chance! The Friends of the Cambridge Public Library (FCPL) is looking for new board members,

The FCPL is an organization whose mission is to promote interest in and support for our library's programs, resources, and needs. Its board members are library lovers who meet monthly from September to June to plan programs that further the Friends’ mission. Board members are expected to serve on or chair committees and to give several hours of their time beyond the monthly meetings. Board tasks include - but are not limited to - planning the biennial Secret Gardens Tour, writing and editing the Friends newsletter, supporting the annual membership drive, and helping to run author series and other ongoing events.

Currently, the Board has a particular need for individuals who are tech-savvy, have experience using social media to promote an organization, or have experience organizing events.

If you have any of the above interests or skills, please consider joining the Board.

For more information or to express your interest, contact or call the main library at 617-349-4032 and tell them that you are interested in working on the Board. A response before September 9th, 2012 is greatly appreciated, but the Board will consider applications after this date.

It's All In The Numbers

And they are mind-boggling! If you follow this blog or are a frequent Main Library visitor, you know that in June of 2011, for the first time, the Main Library circulated over 1,000,000 books. We proudly announce that for the 2011/2012 year, patrons of the Cambridge Main Library did it again, circulating just over a million items. Of course, some of us call one of the branch libraries our home-away-from-home. And we're no slouches either. When you include the entire library system, the circulation jumps to over 1.5 million items for the year. 

Keep it up, Cambridge readers!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Where did you take your book this summer...

and where did it take you?

Just for fun, we'd like to take an informal survey of where you did your summer reading.  Was that novel really a beach read, or did you take it hiking in the mountains or on the plane ride to your family reunion?  Or, did you stay home and let the book take you for a ride?  Please take a moment to share your reading travels by adding a comment at the end of this post.

To get you started, we have...

Larry Adler relaxing on the shore of Lake Placid while he reads the Adirondack Trail Guide.

Sophia Friedman, really on the dock by the lake, visiting the Treski's house while reading Jacqueline Davies' The Lemonade Wars. 

Caleb Friedman in body is visiting Lake Placid, but in his imagination he's transported to the English village of Stilton as he reads The Mysterious Cheese Thief by Geronimo Stilton.

One Down, One to Go

School's out for summer, and it will be for another whole month.  If that early glow of excitement at being free to sleep in and stay up late has started to fade, and your kids are looking for something to do, look no further than the Cambridge Public Library. Our libraries continue to offer wonderful summer programs for children of all ages, as well as respite from the heat.
Mr. Mike showcased each animal, discussing
its usefulnes to our Earth with the audience.

 On Wednesday, July 18th twenty-five children attended “Museum of Science Presents: Animal Invaders” at the O’Neill branch and learned about three formidable home invaders – cockroaches, snakes, and rats.  One mother, who attended with her five- and six-year-old children expressed great appreciation for these summer programs, saying,“We are huge fans.” Another mother added that the library and its programs are “a gift.”

All materials were provided by the library
but these kite makers brought their
own ingenuity and craftiness.

On the same day, the Teen Room at the Main Library offered a do-it-yourself kite-making workshop led by Maya Escobar, Teen Services Librarian. Yesterday there was a jewelry workshop. On August 2nd teens can show up for a discussion of The Contender, a CRLS required reading book . Other required summer reading books for CRLS will be discussed throughout the month of August.

More information about activities in the Teen Room can be found on their blog .  To find out about summer offerings at all of the branches, visit the library's website or pick up the red brochure "Dream Big READ!" at your home branch.

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help us to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Don't Take Our Word For It

Looking for a good summer read?  You'll find our recommendations on the sidebar to the right.  And in case our word isn't good enough for you or you finish our list by the end of July, here's a series of links to other recommended "beach reads."  Enjoy your search...and your summer!

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help us to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Oh! The times, they are a'changin'!

I just got back from my local branch library.  At check-out the librarian, helpful and friendly as always, gave me a bookmark detailing a new circulation policy that went into effect just last Thursday.
Here's a copy of the bookmark in living color:

As you can see, the policy relates to how long a borrower may keep materials checked out from the CPL.  I asked, and it turns out that the changes, which are pretty simple, were made in response to feedback from patrons and staff. 

New books now circulate for 2 weeks and can be renewed twice if no one has placed the book on hold. This should lessen the wait time for holds.  I'm hoping this means that I will get the latest John Irving book any week now!

Speed Reads have undergone a name change.  CPL staff member Kelly Linehan told me that to some library users the term “Speed Read” communicated a need for reading speedily. This was never the intention. Kelly said, "Our main goal with Speed Reads was for patrons to skip the network queues for popular titles, and see copies of high demand items on the shelves while browsing."  To emphasize that it's about the speed of getting the book, not reading it, they're changing the name to Express Reads. In addition, these books now  circulate for 2 weeks instead of 1.  As before, renewal is not an option.

There's one final user-friendly change. A book from the General Collection will now circulate for 4 weeks and can be renewed twice if no one has put it on hold. If you compare this to the current policy, you'll see that it adds up to the same amount of total time, provided no one is waiting. But, getting an extra week right off the bat means that you might not have to call or go online to renew.

Isn't nice to have a public library system that not only listens to its patrons but actually acts on our suggestions?

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help us to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

See You in September

Just like the school calendar, the meetings of the Friends of the Library board begin in September and continue through June.  On June 19 the 2011-2012 board gathered for a final meeting and a potluck dinner to discuss the accomplishments of the past year.
We looked back over our membership drive and were proud to note that this year we had almost 400 members.  And if you are one of the 400, we thank you for your contribution.  Because of your robust financial support, this April we were able to donate $20,000 which the library will use to strengthen its collections.

We toasted the success of the recently completed Secret Garden Tour and shared some of our favorite garden sites. But just like the planners of the Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, who start all over again the next Monday, we also discussed a list of suggested improvements that will insure the smooth running and continued success of the tour when it returns in 2014. 

 The meeting also marked a transition.  President Judy Elstein pictured at the left with her successor, Arend Sluis, is departing from the board after 7 years of dedicated service.  Judy assured board members that she would continue to be  active with the Friends.  “A major part of my identity is that I am a reader and a library user,” she said. The board thanked her and acknowledged her work with a gift card. The remaining new officers for 2012-13 were also announced.  They are Vice-President PJ Neal, Treasurer Paul Trunell, and Secretary Eva Adler.  The new officers will be officially installed at the Friends’ Annual Meeting in October. 

Keep your calender open.  Last year’s Annual Meeting featured a Trivia Contest that was so popular we've heard that another is scheduled for this year.  More on that later this summer. There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Do it now, before you forget!

Our wonderful library system has branches all across our fair city,
 and Secret Gardens Tour chairperson Bruce Mays wants to remind
everyone that our goal is to make the tour equally as representative

The 2012 tour was a fantastic success.  Brisk ticket sales, great weather, beautiful gardens, helpful gardeners, and generous sponsors.  The Friends of the Cambridge Public Library, the sponsoring group behind this biennial event, would like to make sure that the 2014 tour is just as successful and that it includes plenty of gardens from North and East Cambridge as well.  And we'd like your help.  If you know of a garden in either area, secret or open, that would be a good fit for our tour, please send us a note at Do it now, before you forget!

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Excellent Garden Party

Friends board member Eva Adler used the Secret Gardens of Cambridge tour as an opportunity to throw a party, and she shares her impressions, and those of her (lower case) friends, here with you.

I don’t have a garden. The only thing that grows in our condo in Cambridge is one large potted plant which is sometimes joined by fresh flowers in a vase.  That's why I was so excited when I realized that this was the year that the Friends of the CPL would hold our Secret Gardens tour.  It was my chance to host a garden party!  Seven of my close friends joined me for brunch on June 10th. After the brunch, slathered with sunblock, water bottles and booklets in hand, we caravanned to Area 2 and began the tour. Exulting in the weather, our attention quickly turned to the beauty of the gardens. I assigned everyone to note taking (I am a former English teacher). Here are some of our impressions:

"I love an open field with wildflowers. It reminds me of my childhood when I romped through the daisies and the buttercups."

"The spectacular formal garden has layer after layer of horticultural magic; one of the greatest copper beeches ever."

"This proper border of peonies, foxglove, and clematis must cheer its owners every day."

"My favorite was the most comfortable and personal of the gardens; lovely, peaceful, a garden you could spend hours in."

"The restrained elegance is an example of money in the service of beauty."

"Water makes a difference; the combination of open space, borders, sculptures, carriage house, and genial host is tops."

"A resplendent wildflower swath."

"Such beauty, such grace, such fun! We absolutely loved the entire tour!"

If you missed this year's tour, set your sites on 2014.  We already have some of the gardens lined up!
There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Scenes from the Secret Gardens

It was a beautiful day to visit 24 beautiful gardens. For those of you who missed the tour on Sunday, or for those who took the tour but already miss the sights and sounds and smells, here are some images from just a few of the gardens.  A slideshow of even more garden images is coming soon.

Photos taken by Martha Slocum and Sherry Leffert

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ask the Librarian - Maya Escobar

You'll find Maya in the
Teen Room at the Main Library.
We've been running a series of interviews with our library staff.  Here’s another featuring one of the people who make our CPL system extraordinary.

What made you want to become a librarian and what do you love most about your job?
Working in a library was initially something that happened to me -- the summer after I graduated from college Susan Flannery encouraged me to take a part-time position at CPL. I worked the evening shift at the circulation desk for eight months before embarking on other things, but whenever I ran into Susan she would remind me that the library was always waiting in the wings. I came back to work full time in the Children’s Department 10 years ago and honestly now it seems like destiny.

I could answer the second question by saying that I love books, and I love the atmosphere of the library building, and I love being able to wear what I want (I did my time in the financial district. Khakis: never again). But it comes down to the people I work with and the people who visit the library: this community of book lovers, IDEA lovers, who thrive on creativity and unconventionality. You know -- weirdos and nerds.

Are you in a book club? If so, how does your group select the books?
I am in a book club that hasn’t met for a few years, but before that we met for eight years. And it is co-ed. I think book groups have an undeserved rep as solely chick lit gatherings; you can absolutely have dudes and ladies get together over books.

At the library I have run a couple of book groups for middle school kids and teens. We select the books by voting on two or three titles I describe for the group.

What is something that people may find surprising about your role as a librarian?
I think librarians have an excellent sense of what they offer the world, but too often we are preaching to the choir and not to the people who still think we’re all shushing and reclusive. Even I worried, when embarking on this career, that I might be cloistering myself away from the real world. In fact librarians are incredibly outspoken and impassioned! I mean, it’s our job to know stuff and tell as many people as possible. So because of all we learn -- or because information-sucking is our nature -- library staff have an amazing breadth of talents and interests.

We also have a superhuman ability to detect the presence of cake in the building, and we are frequently still around at last call. That whole It’s a Wonderful Life librarian-lonely-spinster thing? Total lie: everyone wants to hang out with librarians.

Tell us about a situation you were part of or witnessed at the library that has stuck with you over time.  The marvelous things are small and incremental -- you have to remind yourself to look for them. Like when a child in story time is seeing something in a picture book that you have forgotten how to see. Or the teenager who comes to the library every day and makes you crazy, but he or she still comes in every day and then comes back years later to say hello. So many times I couldn’t tell you what I did; I just hope I keep doing it.

You can find out more about what's going on in the Teen Room on the CPL web site or by reading the Teen Room blog.
There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Friday, June 1, 2012

June - An Occasional Month

There's Father's Day, high school graduations, and all those tradition-minded friends and relatives who just can't resist the idea of being a June bride.  What's a gift-giver to do? 

We're undoubtably biased, but we believe that there is no better gift than a good book.  To help you out, we've offered our suggestions in the side-bar on the right.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sharing the story behind...

the stone

and the glass.

As many of you know, a few years back the Cambridge Public Library underwent a major re-model and expansion project.  Since its grand re-opening in 2009, our Main Library has garnered over 12 awards, including the Boston Society of Architects’ prestigious Harleston Parker Award as the most beautiful building in the greater Boston area.  The library has also received a silver LEED certification. 

The community's response to the end-product of this project was positive and powerful.  On opening day at the new Main Library 1,750 people came through the glass doors and checked out 5,000 items!  Cantabrigians were eager to see their beautiful new library and to show it off to visiting friends and family members.  As a response to this interest, the Friends of the CPL began giving docent-led tours to interested individuals in the spring of 2010.

The tours have been running ever since.  Perhaps you have taken one and learned about the history of our original stone building and the face-lift it received, or about the unique design of our double-skinned curtain wall and the contribution it makes to the environmental sustainability of the complex, or about the original artwork that is an integral part of our library.

It has been a good two years, but we have decided that it's time for our docents to take a well-deserved break.  The last docent-led tour will be Saturday, May 26th.  If  you have been telling yourself that taking the tour would be a great idea but have just never made it over to Broadway on a Saturday morning, don't despair.  This summer, some of our docents will be working on a new self-guided format for the tour.  Look for it at the Q/A desk in the fall.
In offering a farewell message to the docents, Library Director Susan Flannery wrote,  "The Library is grateful to the dedicated Friends who gave up their Saturday mornings to offer tours to interested resident as well as visitors, students, and architects from all over the world. They were true ambassadors for the Library and our City."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Secret Garden Tickets Now on Sale



Today  !

You won't want to miss the 2012 edition of this popular tour.  On Sunday, June 10, you can visit twenty-four fabulous "secret" gardens, eighteen of which have never before been a part of our tour.  The tickets are only $25.00 each and can be purchased at retail outlets conveniently located throughout Cambridge, as well as at the Main Library and all of its branches. On the day of the tour, tickets will be available only at the Boudreau branch and the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House.

Members of the Friends of the CPL who would like to take advantage of their $5.00 membership discount should plan to purchase their tickets at one of the libraries and have their membership stickers handy.  Please be prepared to pay with cash or a personal check.

The Friends would like to thank the following businesses for agreeing to sell tour tickets:
Bonny's Garden Center
Dickson Bros. Hardware
Harvard Book Store
Pemberton Farms
Porter Square Books
Rodney's Books

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Breaking the Silence

Friends board member Paul Trunnell shares his thoughts on the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.

Some books entertain. Some articulate our experience. And some change the world.

Such is the case with Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, published 50 years ago by Houghton Mifflin. Researched and written over several years, Silent Spring offers a well-documented analysis of the negative effects of wide-spread pesticide use on the environment. While this premise is well-accepted in 2012, in 1962 it was a controversial challenge to popular faith in the value of man-made chemicals – and the political and economic powers that profited from their use.

When she began writing Silent Spring, Rachel Carson was already a published author and had worked for many years as a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.

She was supported in her writing by Houghton Mifflin editor Paul Brooks, a respected environmentalist and writer in his own right. His book The House of Life: Rachel Carson at Work gives additional insight into their work together.

I read Silent Spring as a college student, nearly 30 years after its controversial release. It opened my eyes to a history I knew nothing about, and made me appreciate how the world in which I had grown up was impacted by Carson's thoughtful arguments.

We continue to live in a world where controversial scientific debates – around global warming, energy consumption, and environmental degradation – affect our lives. My thanks to Rachel Carson, and many other modern-day scientists, writers, filmmakers and other artists, who help us understand these issues so we can help change our world for the better.

My thanks also to the articles and authors of the spring 2012 edition of Sanctuary, The Journal of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, which helped inform and inspire this blog entry.

What book have you read that’s helped to change the world in a big or small way?  Please take the time to share its title with us by leaving a comment below.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Professional Secrets To Be Revealed on May Day

The "Professional Secrets" garden tour. It's new, it's exclusive, and it's only being offered to members of the Friends of CPL.

We've been talking for months about our new pro tour;  how for only $50 you can join a select group that will tour some of the Friends' secret gardens in the company of Michael Hanlon, a professional landscape gardener, on June 9th, the day before the official Sunday tour. On that Saturday you’ll get a head start on the tour itself and be able to get gardening tips from a professional. Then on Sunday you can check out the rest of the gardens on your own.  This is a "can't miss" for the amateur gardener who wants to get in on the secrets of successful gardening in Cambridge. 

There are only 12 tickets available, and they are only available to members of the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library.  So how do you get one?  At 9 AM on May 1st we will email all Friends members with specific directions for purchasing one of the Golden Tickets.  Then it's up to you to follow through.  It will be first come/first served until the tickets are gone.  What if we don't have your email?  If you are a Friends member, you can send it to us at before May 1st, and we will add you to our email group.

Good luck, and good gardening!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Kingdom for a Horse

Actually, you would probably do better on foot or by bike if you are planning to join the Harvard Square Business Association, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, the Cambridge Public Library, Revels, Zumix and all of Harvard Square’s book stores for the Fifth Annual Bookish Ball and Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebration.  The festival is free, family friendly and will feature book store strolls, live music, dancing, performances, birthday cake and a sidewalk procession led by Curious George!

The festivities begin at 11:00 AM in the Whale Room at the Main Library.  There you will be able to make  banners, signs and/or hats to wear or carry during the sidewalk procession. Then,  at around 11:55 Toni Bee, Poet Populist of Cambridge, will share one of her poems and the newly inspired group, led by the man of the hour, Curious George, the Man in the Yellow Hat portrayed by Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s very own Allyn Burrows, and  Dr. Nick Walton from The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the group will head to the streets.

The procession should arrive at 1 JFK Street around 12:30 for the ribbon cutting and grand opening of The World’s Only Curious George Store – Harvard Square.  Following the ribbon cutting the party moves to Palmer Street.  In addition, many of Harvard Square's book and printed word stores will be holding vents, book readings and promotions to celebrate the Bookish Ball.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


It's Library Snapshot Day!

If you happen to visit any of our Cambridge Public Libraries today, you may find yourself captured in the act. April 12th is Library Snapshot Day. Sponsored by the Massachusetts Library Association, Board of Library Commissioners, and School Library Association, Snapshot Day is just one part of National Library Week.

You can read about how to join in the fun by taking your own photos or just view the pictures that have already been taken by visiting . If you are going to snap some shots yourself, be sure to ask a librarian for the proper release forms first!

Happy Library Week!

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Wild Thing

MOVE ME is a public art project currently taking place in and around our fair city.  The Cambridge Arts Council, the Cambridge Public Library, and artist Roberta Paul have collaborated on this project, which was inspired by Paul's travels to the Serengeti.   The event, which includes a four-week gallery exhibition at the Cambridge Arts Council and a two-week continuous performance in the streets, investigates themes of immigration, national identity, and life transitions through the metaphor of animal migration.

The gallery exhibition will run from April 2-June 15, 2012 at the CAC Gallery on the second floor of the City Hall Annex at 344 Broadway.  The "pop up" part of the project will travel through the streets of Cambridge for several weeks starting with MBTA trolleys on April 9. The wrapped vehicles are meant to surprise viewers and hopefully begin a community dialogue about borders and barriers.  Those of you who use the Main Library may recognize the images that hung on display in one of the windows of the Beech Room earlier this year. 

Cambridge was selected as a starting point for this project because of the diversity of people and cultures found here. Within our 6.3 square miles you will find residents who come from all over the world and speak a myriad of languages. MOVE ME is about hearing the stories of Cambridge residents as they move through and around the borders of their neighborhoods.

The Cambridge Public Library, Cambridge Community Center, and StoryStream Cambridge worked together to the gather personal stories of immigration, migration, and boundaries. Last fall trained volunteers interviewed residents, and if you visit the CAC Gallery you will find that their stories have been integrated into the exhibition.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Reason to Rhyme

It's April and once again Cambridge poets in grades K-8 have the opportunity to enter their original work in the city-wide Cambridge Public Library/Cambridge Tree Project Poetry Competition. Entries are being accepted until Monday, April 30th.

Amanda Gazin, who is coordinating the competition, says, "Since its inception in 1999, the poetry contest has grown and developed into a competition that brought in over 1,200 entrants last year. And yet the poets and their poems continue to run the gamut of all that makes Cambridge special. We find them funny, earnest, flippant, tortured, from the accidental perfect phrasing of a first grader to the carefully crafted pentameter of a middle-schooler. The annual reading is one of the happiest and friendliest programs the library hosts. We were delighted to learn this year that the Friends of the Library have offered to fund the prizes as part of their regular annual budget."

 If you'd like more information on how to enter, you can find it on the library's web site.  Just click here and scroll down until you see the contest flyer.  And if you are looking for inspiration, you might enjoy reading this poem, written by last year’s First Place Kindergartner, Ellen:

You can find out more about last year's contest and winners if you click here .

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.

Shop Local and Say Thank-you

We are so grateful to our many Friends members for your financial support.  Your membership donations help us in turn to support many worthwhile programs at our Cambridge public libraries.  In addition we should all be grateful to the numerous local businesses who have given their support in the form of certificates and member discounts. Crema Cafe, Games People Play, and Porter Square Books were the generous donors of the gift certificates won by the lucky members pictured in the side-bar to the right. And in case you've forgotten, all members receive discounts at the  local organizations listed below.  Please be sure to identify yourself as a Friend when you shop, and acknowledge their support for our wonderful library system.

Actor’s Shakespeare Project: $5 discount off tickets for productions from January through December 2012, subject to availability. Visit or call 866-811-4111 to learn more about the season. Use code FOCPL5 when making your purchase, then show your Friends’ sticker at the box office. Offer cannot be combined with other promotions.

American Repertory Theater: $5 off tickets for performances at the Loeb Drama Center during the 2011/2012 season. Visit to learn more about the season. Use code CPLFRIEND to get your special discount. Offer good for online ticket sales only. Subject to availability. Offer cannot be combined with other promotions.

Central Square Theater: $10 off regularly priced tickets for the 2012 season through June (Saturdays excluded) Show your Friends’ sticker at the box office.

Clothware: 10% discount on non-sale items upon presentation of FCPL membership card.

The Harvard Coop: Present the coupon and your FCPL membership sticker to get 20% off a non-textbook purchase. Offer valid one-time only – January 2012 to December 2012.

Dolphin Seafood: $3 off two lunches, $5 off two dinners with presentation of FCPL membership card. Offer good through December 2012.

Follow the Honey: Friends of the Cambridge Public Library 2012 enjoy 10% off all purchases.
Harvard Bookstore: Present the coupon you received with you membership acknowledgment and your FCPL membership sticker to get $5 off any book printed by the in-store robot, Paige M. Gutenborg. Offer valid one time only January 2012 to December 2012.

Nomad Clothing and Accessories: 10% discount on all purchases upon presentation of FCPL membership card.

A Garden Poem to Share

In honor of Poetry month and the coming of spring, our Secret Gardens chairperson offers the following:

"I may not know much about poetry, but I know when something moves me. I read this poem for the first time when it appeared in The New Yorker in May of 1987, and reading it every spring since still gives me a chill. If you're a gardener, you'll know what I mean. And even if you're not--my God, how can the last line not give you goosebumps?"
 - Bruce

An American Naturalist Writes to a Londoner, 1758
Brendan Galvin

Now I will tell you my manner
of gardening here, which progresses
not by calendar but by natural signals.
On a clear March night, I sight down
the Dipper’s bowl, for a backward
question mark—tail of the rising Lion—
and then may be found slapping mud
from the plot into balls, squeezing
to test for water content, this before
even a single mallard clack from
the creek, and pumpkins seem the wreckage
of last year’s quarter-moons.
Then the whole plot is already staked
in my head, minus slugs, borers,
hornworms, loopers, beetles, and all
that plague I forget each year
until they descend like a host of
savages to be bought off
only by a feast of this or that leaf,
and dug out of vines and stems
where they poke without welcome.
Asparagus I intercrop with parsley,
since I have discovered they agree
with one another. The latter
is said to go to the Devil and back
nine times ere it breaks the soil,
but I have found it mild
and without evil influence. Beans
I keep far from onions they can’t
abide, and basil, which breeds
a merry heart, I grow along borders
with umbelliferous dill, whose leaves
are agreeable with fish, though of
a strength not to everyone’s taste.
These strong-scented herbs, with chives
and mint, may keep a barrier against
insects, though my studies here
need more attention. Native squashes
and gourds are set when the dogwood
flowers, and tomatoes during
the mayfly hatch. This conveys somewhat
my manner of gardening. I would
continue but that in the mere telling
I grow fatigued, and must ask myself why,
yearly, I engage in it with such ardor,
since I am without family. For the surety
of plenty? Or the images such growth
alone provides? Or because I do better
with vegetable kind than human
(no easy admission), and have come to
myself more than once knocking upon
and addressing a blue squash
of five-stone weight and pebbled like
the back of an alligator? By the time
of the Perseids, when my turnips go in
for autumn, I am as weary as some
old king fighting his battle with the sea,
down on hands and knees in that
riptide of beans and cabbage splashes,
a spume of chickweed flying over
my shoulders, wishing I had never listened
for spring peepers chiming their long,
ghostly sleigh rides through the dark.

- Poem included with the author's permission.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow?

The recent warm weather has given most of us a serious case of spring fever; perhaps no one more so than the amateur gardener.  If you find yourself just itching to get out and play in the dirt, you may want to catch the next lecture in Grow Native Massachusetts' Evenings with Experts series.  The five lecture series, which is being partially sponsored by the Friends of CPL, is being presented at the Main Library on the first Wednesday of each month from 7:00 until 8:30.  On April 4 Ellen Sousa, author of The Green Garden, will speak on the topic Our Native Pollinators:Intriguing Insects and More.

Grow Native Massachusetts is a 3 year old nonprofit focused on education at the community level and working to engage people in action on behalf of native plants and the diversity of life that they support. Their lecture series got its start in 2010 when nationally acclaimed Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, spoke on the the importance of our gardens to ecosystem health. Last year Grow Native expanded the series to five lectures, and the response was so positive that they have organized another five for this year.

President Claudia Thompson says, "The importance of native plants to our landscapes is something that is just starting to be appreciated, and the science behind it is relatively new, especially Doug's work on the role of insects."  Her organization's motto is "Every garden matters - Every landscape counts."

We hope that you will be able to catch the lecture on April 4.  If not, you have two more chances to hear the experts.  On May 2 Wayne Mezitt, Chairman of Weston Nurseries, will present Sexual Secrets: Tales of Species, Seedlings, and Sports.  On June 6 you can hear about The Rare Plants of Massachusetts from Bryan Connolly, Massachusetts State Botanist.

To learn more about these lectures or Grow Native in general, you can visit  their website at .  And don't forget to save some time on June 10th for the Friends' Secret Gardens of Cambridge tour!

There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends and help to support our Cambridge libraries click here.