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Ground Breaking for Cambridge Public Library

Another milestone has been reached in the Cambridge Public Library project. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on Tuesday, June 28.

I toured the stacks which are now empty - see this entry about the stack system.

After some refreshments and schmoozing with various people there were a bunch of speeches about the project and how long it had taken to get to this point. There were issues of the program within, the location, the siting, the effect on the park, and the design which were covered by two different committees (I was a member of both).

One of the speakers pointed out that when she lived in France and later in Italy there were no public libraries. Her point was that with a library and a hardware store you can do anything and figure out to do it yourself. She said that in Italy her observation was that people only did something if someone showed them how. We can thank Andrew Carnegie for his vision about libraries and backing it up with the funds to build them (1946 of them in the US).

Then we went outside for a talk by Charles Sullivan - the Cambridge Historical Commission guru about the history of this building. The land and the funds for it were given by Frederick Rindge who also gave money for the building of the Technical HIgh School and for the City Hall. It was originally built in ~1895 and several augmentations were done soon after. In 1967 an ugly addition was added. This project removes that addition to give more space to the adjacent highschool and restores the nice wall that is covered up, generally restores the old building and adds a large glass walled extension on the East Side to yield about 100,000 sq ft as opposed to 35K now.

click for some pics that show the front of the old building, the connection to the 1967 addition, some dignitaries digging, a piece of a stone frieze that was on the old Latin School and was placed in the grass and now sprouts weeds, and the empty stacks .

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More is needed toward the usability of the architectural design,
the interior design.

More needs to be done as function of designs that would assure
CPLusers, CPLer staff of CPL collections and services usability.

The setup for reference desk department services intimidates.
Reading rooms can be made more comfortable for CPLusers and
CPLer staff.

Many people are uncomfortable with the manner of rendering important
services for accessing CPL collections especially for difficult,
sensitive topics where a good customers services program would assure
the worthiness of enquries.

Young adults are uncomfortable similarly regarding the what
should be better assured, the worthiness of enquiries.

For example, encouraging rather than suppressing enthusiasm of
aficionados with special areas of interests. Or neutrality toward
topics of interest for some that are off putting to others.

Professionalizing the library work should involve encouraging
intellectual freedom.

A more transparent operation of the CPL institution, greater openness
would be a first step.

Then continuing efforts, staff programming, users' programming
encourage continuing feedback, comment, critique, suggestions,

Arcane attitudes of library services should be replaced with an ever
more user friendly environment that reassures people of the worthiness
of enquiries no matter how unconventional. This needs to be assured
CPLusers, CPLer staff at every step using library services and at
every step rendering library services.

Where some libraries' users have no difficulties, others do.
Models of reference desk department services and reading rooms
design have yet to solve here in Cambridge what is problematical
for many libraries' users. What have we been doing to look at the
best of libraries' environments, the best of libraries' designs
for improving usability, and for improving on a continuing basis
libraries' usability?

Links at

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