Tuesday, January 24, 2012

That Which We Call a Book

The hardcover edition of Catherine the Great by Robert Massie weighs 2 lbs. 3 oz. A Kindle weighs
7.5 oz. Anyone negotiating the T during rush hour, bundled in winter clothes, gripping a tote bag in one hand while trying to hold a book open with the other might ask, why not buy an e-book? Could the answer be that you'd miss the joy of giving books and passing them on as beloved possessions?  Would you miss browsing in bookstores? Do you just like the feel of the book in your hands and the paper as you turn the page?  It's a tough choice, but one that comes up more and more frequently these days as the price of e-readers goes down and the availability of e-books goes up.

E-book fans will bring up the usual arguments. They are sleek, small, and light. Their portability is ideal for travel and commuting. Readers can change sizes and fonts, highlight words, access definitions and references. Reluctant readers might be more motivated to read, thus increasing literacy. The benefits for the environment abound; trees are saved and paper waste reduced. Fluency in new technology stimulates the brain. Finally, in the words of Stephen Fry, “Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.”

Good points all, but have you thought of this - how could we possibly wax poetic about a piece of plastic and glass? "There is no frigate like a Kindle to take us lands away?" That's just not right.

Luckily our library can offer you either, an honest to goodness hard copy or the latest e-book available. CPL is the second biggest user of Overdrive, the largest library e-book provider. E-books may be checked out for 1,2, or sometimes 3 weeks. There are no fees associated with Overdrive, since you can never have a late book. The titles simply disappear from the device after the loan period expires.

So we'll see you at the library.  And happy reading - in whatever format you choose!

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.

Disaster Averted in Somerville

The bad news:
"$4.3 million in back pay could lead to layoffs" read the title of a January 18th article by Andrew Firestone in the Somerville News.  The article went on to explain that the payment to firefighters, mandated by the State Joint Labor Management Council in December, could necessitate layoffs, positions left vacant, and of primary concern to us,  the West Somerville library being shuttered.   The news prompted Somerville Ward 6 Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz to email her constituents about the proposed shutdown and about an open meeting to be held by the mayor that evening.

The good news:
Many concerned citizens attended the meeting to voice their despair over the potential library closing.  As of 5PM  on the 19th, it was announced that that the mayor and firefighters had reached a compromise on the payment schedule, and that there would be no layoffs and no library closings.

For those of us who recognize the importance of our Cambridge libraries, this recent situation in our neighboring city should serve as a reminder that we can't keep that knowledge to ourselves.  Alderman Gerwitz commented in a follow-up email that she was "heartened by how much solidarity there is in our community for the institutions and systems like the library that connect us."

Here in Cambridge we have been fortunate that our city officials have been enthusiastic library supporters.  The Friends value that support and hope that, if the opportunity presents itself, you will remind our councillors how much YOU value the library.  

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, January 21, 2012

Want an inside look at some of Cambridge's Secret Gardens?  Then when June rolls around you will want to find yourself a part of the "Professional Secrets" tour.  It's new, it's exclusive, and it's only being offered to members of the Friends of CPL. 

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, the day before the official tour next June. On that Saturday you’ll have 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.

These special tickets will be available in May to members only.  Watch the blog for more information in April.

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.

Resolve to Renew

Are you into making New Year's resolutions?  We know that it's already the 21st of January, but if you've been having trouble keeping the resolutions you've already made, we have a sure thing for you. Resolve to renew. 

Our current membership stands at 280 members. Of those 280 members, 205 are renewals from 2011, and we heartily thank you! And a warm welcome to the 75 new members who have joined our ranks. There are, however, a number of past members who have yet to renew. For you, and for anyone else out there who might be unfamiliar with what we do, here is a reminder.

Your membership to the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library allows us to:
For 2012, in addition to supporting our usual projects, we have earmarked $20,000.00 for the purchase of new materials and have agreed to donate $500.00 to Grow Native Cambridge to support five programs that they will be offering at the library.  Of course, we will also be hosting our Secret Gardens of Cambridge tour this June.

So, resolve to renew; we'd love to have you back.  And for anyone interested in learning more about our organization and how to become a member, just follow this link.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Eat Up

Before the Main Library reopened in 2009, it wasn't unusual for the CPL System as a whole to circulate over 1,000,000 each year. Many of you know that in 2011 the Main Branch alone reached a circulation of 1,000,000 for the first time in its history. And it only took until June to do it! (Read more about this achievement by clicking here.) That's an amazing 115% increase in circulation over the previous year. The circulation of teen materials was up 50%, and the circulation of children's items increased by 60%. Numbers like these are clear indicators that Cambridge is a community of readers. The question is, how will the library keep up with such voracious appetites?

Rest assured that the library staff has been hard at work doing just that. In fiscal year 2011 they added 36,190 items to the Main Library collections, and they hope to increase the size of the collections even more this year. Of course there's no such thing as a free lunch book. That's why the Friends of the Library have decided to get involved. At our Board meeting in January we committed to providing $20,000 in fiscal year 2012 to purchase materials for the library's varied collections.

So don't worry. Stop by the Main Library or your local branch. Come early and come often. There's plenty on the menu - think of it as a feast for the mind.

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, January 13, 2012

MLK Celebration

Many of us will be celebrating the birth and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this Monday. For the library, Monday is only the beginning.  The celebration will culminate in a special program at the Central Square branch later this month.

On Sunday, January 29 the library will honor the life and work of Dr. King with guest  Evelynn M. Hammonds. Hammonds is Dean of Harvard College and the Paige M. Gutenborg Professor of History of Science and African American Studies at Harvard University. She is also a Black Feminist author, whose writing intersects the concepts of race with the academic fields of science and medicine.

The program begins and 3:00 PM.  Tickets are not required.

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.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ask the Librarian - Julie Roche

Julie Roche is one of the Children's Librarians at the Main Library. She has worked at the Cambridge Library for 7 years. She attended Northwestern University for undergraduate studies and then completed her MLS at Simmons .

What made you want to become a librarian, and what do you love most about your job?
In college I studied to be a journalist, but in practice I absolutely did not have the right personality for it. Once I got that figured out, I enrolled in graduate school for Library Science where I had a wonderful professor and mentor, Maggie Bush. Her passion for children’s librarianship really ignited my own. I was so fortunate.

I love many things about my job, but what I love most are the stories—I love telling stories, hearing stories, connecting people to stories--true stories, fictional stories, sad stories, funny stories, stories about faraway places, and the real living stories playing out right in front of me in the library.

How has technology changed your job? What is your opinion on e-books like the Kindle?
Technology has changed everything. Mostly it speeds things up. We can access information more quickly and remotely. Communication is instant and far-reaching. Technology is evolving at breakneck speed and offers so much potential—figuring out what's next and how best to use it is the tricky part! It can also be a lot of fun. Our Children’s Room gerbils have a presence on Facebook. An author can visit and have a conversation with kids about books via Skype.

E-books offer a lot of convenience. I like them the same way I like a paperback book—easier to carry around, mark up, and dispose of. But as a Children’s Librarian who gets to work with and share gorgeously designed and illustrated books, I also really love the book as a three-dimensional, tangible object—as a work of art. Some texts will work best as e-books, and others will work best in a traditional book form; it will depend on their content and their purpose.

Are you in a book club? If so, how does your group select the books?
I facilitate three book discussion groups here at the library for kids and their parents. I bring a sampling of books to our meetings, and the members choose the next selection by anonymous vote. I am also personally in a book club, but we are not so organized about how we choose books...

Tell us about a situation you were part of or one that you witnessed at the library that has stuck with you over time.
Back when the final Harry Potter book was released, we had a sleepover for a group of kids at the library. Copies of that long-awaited final installment appeared at the end of a midnight scavenger hunt. What has stuck with me over time is this image of those kids all draped about the Children’s Room still obsessively reading at four in the morning. Reading is powerful stuff.

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.