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Cambridge Public Library closed for renovation

11 commandmentsSunday, Mar 12, 2005 was a big day for the library. It was the day for closing for renovation and a large extension to be built next to it. The party featured a local brass band.

9 years ago the City Council turned down a plan for the expansion because it messed up the park and there was considerable neighborhood opposition in which it coexists with the High School.

The City Manager appointed the Library 21 committee to study the needs, location, etc and work with a broad cross section of the public to build support. I was a member of this committee. Between these two committees I have gone to almost 150 formal and informal meetings and gatherings! The work of this committee resulted in a recommendation to build a new library and to investigate alternative sites. Eventually the council chose the existing site (I lobbied hard for an alternative).

Architects were hired and a Design Advisory committee was appointed to work with the public and the architects. I am a member of that committee. Many iterations of site placement and other details yielded a good scheme that respects and improves the park, improves the high school campus and gives a large library (~95K sq ft instead of the current 35K) with a new building attached to the renovated old one. They are about to go out to bid with completion projected mid 2007 so they closed the old building and will temporarily move the contents to a currently closed school building.

11 commandmentsSo this event was a very important milestone. There was a Farewell Party there reported on by magid.

One of the interesting things in this library is that the land and money to build it were donated to the City of Cambridge ~1890 by Frederic Rindge who also gave them the land and money to build the current city hall. In his grant he specified that the 10 commandments and other words be on the wall and must be left there forever. For some reason there are 11 commandments. This wall is at the opposite end of the room where the brass band is playing.

There is an explanation posted next to the this explaining why it is there. I hope it never happens but there could be a very interesting court case about this.

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Nice photos.

It was nice running into you. And I suspect if we hadn't been talking where we were, I wouldn't've noticed the 11 Commandments and all the rest. I wonder if the texts were considered at all objectionable at the time, or everyone was fine with them then. Or they were objectionable, but a small enough thing compared to the rest of the gift.

It's a bit ironic that these very Christian sentiments, ones I could see Our Fair Shrub being quite happy with, are displayed in the very blue Republic of Cambridge.

magid also described it as an 11th commandment. Thus, I'm curious: is it actually listed as number 11 on a list? Because that is so blatantly wrong. Clearly, the list might be offensive to any non-Christians for being so overtly Christian, but it might also be offensive to Christians for being so blatantly erroneous! There are no 11 commandments. According to the Bible, there are the original 10 commandments, and then Jesus introduced 2 commandments which supercede all other laws. The two aren't meant to be tacked onto the end of the 10 but are meant to sum them up, to generalize them (for "love thy God above all else and love thy neighbor as you would yourself" are essentially what the original 10 state with greater specificity).

It's actually listed as number 11. Which definitely gave me a double-take.

Yeah, would have given me a double-take, too. It displays a misunderstanding of Christian New Testament teachings while being a slap in the face at the Judaic faith. Not cool from either perspective, IMO.

What a fascinating post (I'm a friend of ebearboston's, and I'm viewing this on his friends page).

I used to use this library intermittently until I realized that the Central Square branch was practically right across the street from my office. I'd heard about plans to relocate the main branch, and it's great to catch up on the decisions you have helped to make.

Glad to hear they are renovating the old dear rather than just demolishing and starting from scratch (which would of course have been a lot cheaper). I've noticed the X Commandments but failed to notice that there were 11. I wonder what the extra one commands?

It feels to me as if Cambridge is too hip to bother with a court case over this. And I write that as a hard-polytheist Pagan.

Best wishes, and many thanks to you for your service to our community,

Shimmer

I wonder what the extra one commands?
"Love thy neighbor as thyself."

I just got photos developed from the party. Let me know if you'd like to see them.

(take 2; sorry if you get this twice)

There's a corporate giving program at work, and I thought you might know who to give the paperwork to in the Cambridge library system. (Last year, the Watertown library got a $1000 grant towards their new building.)

Any suggestions?

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