Historic Cambridge Exhibitions

The Cambridge Public Library at 449 Broadway has two small exhibition cases dedicated to showcasing original artifacts, books, manuscripts, and unique materials from the Cambridge Room, the Library’s Archives and Special Collections.


The Cambridge Public Library: Free and Confidential Since 1858


Cambridge RoomExhibition Location: Entrance and 2nd Floor, Glass Building

The Cambridge Public Library became “free and open to all” during the first great wave of American public libraries. Since then, the CPL has championed a free and open exchange of knowledge.

Cambridge’s first public librarians welcomed all visitors, answered questions, and made books and resources as accessible as possible, paving the way for the CPL to be known as the “People’s University.” This notion of free and open to all – radical at the time, but the norm today – has been the cornerstone of the CPL for over 155 years.

In honor of National Library Week, the CPL wishes to remind everyone that the protection of privacy is a fundamental right of every library patron. Free access to information without bias, censorship, cost, or fear of repercussion is the very reason for which the library exists.