FAQ

If you have a question we haven't already answered, click here.

When are the Main and branch library book drops open?

Main Library book drops are open 24/7 (garage drops available when garage is open to the public)
Boudreau book drops are available when the branch is closed.
Central Square book drops are open 24/7
Collins book drops are available when the branch is closed.
O’Connell book drops are open 24/7
O’Neill book drops are available when the branch is closed.
Valente book drops are available when the branch is closed.

What are the Main and Branch Library hours?

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
 Main Library 9-9 9-9 9-9 9-9 9-5 9-5 closed
 Boudreau 10-6 10-8 10-6 closed 10-6 closed closed
 Central Square 10-6 10-9 10-6 10-9 10-6 closed closed
 Collins 10-6 10-6 closed 1-8 10-6 closed closed
 O'Connell 10-5 10-7:30 10-5 10-5 closed closed closed
 O'Neill 10-8 closed 10-8 10-6 10-6 closed closed
 Valente 10-8 10-6 10-8 closed 10-6 closed closed

How can I get a library card?

You may obtain a library card by going to any Cambridge library and presenting two pieces of identification, one of which shows your name and local home address. There is no waiting period for a library card.  Click for more info.

How can I renew my library items?

You may renew books, audio books, DVDs and compact discs by phone, through the on-line catalog, or in person for an additional 4 weeks if there are no outstanding requests and the renewal limit has not been exceeded. DVDs may be renewed for 1 additional week.

Books, audio books, compact discs, and DVDs borrowed at Cambridge may be renewed up to two times for an additional borrowing period from the date of each renewal.

Magazines, Express books and Express View DVDs are not renewable.

How can I request a library item that is checked out or from another town's library?

You are welcome to reserve library materials in person or by using our on-line catalog. DVDs less than three months old that are not carried by the Cambridge Public Library are not reservable. When the item you requested comes in, we will notify you by mail or email. You may have a maximum of 20 requests on your account.

How can I get to the Main and Branch libraries by car? By MBTA? Do you have maps of the libraries?

Please visit our Hours & Locations page to find the library you want to visit.  Maps and links to the MBTA will aid in finding the library.

What holidays are the libraries closed?

Click here to view a list of days when all Cambridge libraries are closed.

 

When is the Main Library open on Sundays?

The Main Library is open every Sunday except in July and August. None of the branches have Sunday hours.

Where else does my library card work? Where are these libraries and what are their hours?

Your library card allows you to access and borrow from all of the libraries in the Minuteman Network.

When was the Main Library built and who designed it?

The original Richardsonian Romanesque Main Library was designed by Van Brunt and Howe and opened in 1889.  In November 2009 the new glass addition, designed by award winner William Rawn Associates, opened to great acclaim.  In addition, the original Van Brunt building was superbly renovated by Ann Beha and Associates.  To learn more about the library's history and the design process for the new Main Library, please follow this link.

What are the "green" aspects of the new Main Library?

Your new green Cambridge Public Library has been LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified by the United States Green Building Council.

Here are just some of the initiatives:

  • The Children's Room and Teen Room contain bamboo floors, which was chosen specifically for its sustainability. Bamboo is a grass and not a tree, which means it grows fast and plentiful. Often, growth occurs as quickly as three to five years.
  • The old open parking lot was replaced with an underground garage. By putting the parking underground, we had room for a large landscaped and wonderful new children’s play area. In fact we could say we created a  ‘green roof’ for our garage!
  • Many of the windows that you see in the new building do open. The entire front of the new addition is a double skin curtain-wall which is like a giant insulated window helping to warm us in the winter and cool us in the summer.
  • A day-lighting system has sensors to turn off lights when there is enough light from the sun. There are occupancy sensors in all small rooms that turn off lights when they are unoccupied.
  • Products used contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) commonly found in floor and carpet glues.
  • The library uses low water flush toilets and sinks with automatic sensors.
  • The building contractor recycled 96% of our construction waste. Materials such as wood crates, paper, building materials and old stone were set aside for re-use.
  • There is a 350,000 gallon underground water tank by the front entrance that is used to catch storm water runoff from a portion of the city. The tank is part of a large MWRA project to control run–off and reduce localized flooding.

Does the Main Library have parking?

The new Main Library has a 70-car underground parking garage with access from Broadway that is open when the library is open. It costs 25 cents for every 15 minutes of parking.

The parking machines accept quarters and Mastercard or Visa.

Does the library have places where I could hold a meeting or have study sessions?

The Main Library has five meeting rooms that are available for Cambridge-based not-for-profit community groups.

There is other meeting room space available at the Central Square and O'Neill branches.

Are there any jobs at the library? How can I apply for one?

Job opportunities are posted on our employment site when available.

Applications are also available there.  If you are interested in working for us, print and fill out an application and drop it off at the administrative offices of the Main Library or at City Hall's personnel office.

Do you have a Friends of the Library organization I can join?

We have a very active Friends group.  Visit their site for more information.

Does the library have computers for internet and/or word processing?

All Cambridge Public libraries have free wireless access and all branches have computers with internet access.

The new Main Library has over 50 computers with internet access and over 50 more for catalog and database searching.  There are also two desktop publishing stations equipped with scanners and the latest publishing software in the Information Commons.

Does the library offer passes to local museums?

Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library, we are able to offer passes and coupons to over a dozen museums and institutions in and around Cambridge and the greater Boston area.  Passes and coupons may be reserved in person or by telephone up to one month in advance.  Pass availability, passes offered, and specific details can be checked via the online museum pass list or by calling the library at 617-349-4041.  Please note that the number of passes, and pass selection varies per location.

 

What events does the library have coming up?

There are always exciting things to do at our seven Cambridge Public libraries.  Visit the Calendar of Events to see what's going on.

Does the library have any book discussion groups?

There are currently 9 book discussion groups going on at our seven libraries for people of all ages and interests.

What does the library offer for tax forms and tax assistance?

Every year the Cambridge Public Library provides both state tax forms, and a wide range of the most common federal tax forms and publications.  Massachusetts tax forms can also be downloaded via the Massachusetts Department of Revenue webpage. Federal forms not available at the library can be downloaded via the Internal Revenue Service webpage. Tax forms from most other states can also be downloaded.

The Cambridge Public Library offers tax assistance courtesy of the Harvard Law School TaxHelp Program.  This program usually runs during the months of February, March and April. Over the years, students from Harvard Law School have helped hundreds of library users prepare their tax returns.  Although this service is open to all, the primary aim of this free program is to help the disadvantaged, the elderly, and those new to this country.  Individuals with complex tax filings or unique tax issues will be advised to seek professional tax assistance.

Does the library offer ESL classes? What ESL-type materials do you have?

The Literacy Project housed at the Central Square Branch has many great resources and services for people looking to learn or improve their english.

I'm unable to leave my house. Does the library ever bring books to people?

Monthly delivery service is available for patrons who are homebound due to short or long term disability.  This service is for Cambridge residents only and must be scheduled.

For more information or to arrange for this service please contact Carole Feeney Withrow 617-349-4035 or cwithrow@cambridgema.gov.

What do you have on Cambridge history?

Please visit our Cambridge Room page to see what we have to offer!

What databases are available in the library? How about from home?

Through various funding sources the library has access to over 56 databases, many of them accessible from home.

Can I get a book from outside the Minuteman Network? What is inter-library loan?

Library services extend outside of the Minuteman Network.  We can and do obtain books, articles, audiovisual materials, and microfilm from libraries throughout the United States.  Patrons can request much sought after materials in person, by phone and on-line.  Such requests take approximately one to three weeks.  Staff can be reached at 617-349-4044 or 617-349-6970 and on-line.

 

Does the library have a public Fax machine?

No.  None of the seven library locations has a public fax machine.  You should try your nearest copy center.

What magazines and newspapers does the library own?

The Cambridge Public Library system has over 800 magazine and newspaper titles for your perusal.  Check this list to see if we have what you are looking for.

Does the library accept book donations?

The library accepts very specific and select items as donations.  Please view our policy.  We've provided a list of agencies in the area that do accept more expansive donations.

Does the library have WiFi?

All seven library locations have free WiFi internet service.

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