Cambridge Public Library

March 31, 1997 Letter to Editor

3/31/1997

CAMBRIDGE LIBRARY 21 COMMITTEE CLOSER TO DEFINING THE PROGRAM:

Dear Editor:

The Library 21 Committee is moving towards a difficult phase of its work and we want to give an update of our process. The Committee is charged by the City Manager to develop recommendations for an expanded library system for the 21st century and we've spent months gathering information and the last three meetings systematically discussing and organizing it into a program. Now, we are almost ready to agree on the kinds of things that should be in a Main library.

The Committee and the Cambridge Public Library staff are defining the most important things that should go into a Main library to support the needs of Cantabridgians into the next century. We are very mindful of budget, space and the many other constraints that go along with this and every other capital project in Cambridge, however we want to define a reasonable ideal. Also, we have learned that a strong Main library is needed to support the branch libraries. The branch libraries, which are an integral part of the public library system, thrive when the Main library can support them with new collections, reference requests and much more.

Once we have this program mapped out, probably by our April 15 meeting, we want to develop a strategy for bringing it back to the public and to the many people who advised us. We will ask two basic questions: one, does this program reflect what you said you wanted and two, given that there will be real constraints, what aspects of this program are most important and which ones are less so. Since the library enhances each of our lives differently, we must have this discussion so we can develop priorities among the program elements. With the priorities in hand, the Committee, the Library staff and the public will be far better equipped to begin the discussions about expanding the Main library on the current site and addressing proposals to move the Main library.

This phase is difficult because we are committed to having an orderly, sequential process for discussion, priority setting and evaluation yet we don't want to take years doing it. The Committee is setting up additional meetings to work out the details of this kind of process and we will need everyone's patience. We know that some people want us to make a recommendation now and be done with it. Others feel that we should be even more deliberate. In any event, we are definitely not procrastinating! This is a major capital expenditure that many of us will only participate in once or twice during a lifetime . . . and we want to do it right.

Our minutes are posted in all the public libraries and on our web site, library21@ci.cambridge.ma.us or contact us by mail c/o Library 21, 795 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139.

Nancy Woods & Richard Rossi
Co-Chairs

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