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About Us

Since 1889, the Cambridge Public Library (the Library) has been a beloved hub of opportunity and civic engagement in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Our mission is to welcome all, inspire minds, and empower community. The Library envisions a Cambridge where everyone has equitable opportunities to learn, where people live their best lives, and democracy thrives.

With a Main Library and six branches, the Library operates as a unified system offering free services and programs to more than 118,000 residents in diverse neighborhoods across the City’s six-and-a-half square miles. Each year, we circulate over 1.1 million items, welcome roughly 850,000 visitors, and host more than 3,000 free community programs at the Main Library and full-service branches. These include creative aging offerings for seniors, programs for new immigrant communities and English language learners, digital literacy classes, and a diverse set of speakers, such as Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka in conversation with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, National Book Award winner, Louise Erdrich, and Anthony Graves, a man exonerated from death row after false prosecution.

Under the leadership of Director Dr. Maria McCauley, we have deepened our commitment to serving Cambridge citizens and their evolving needs in several ways, especially by strengthening partnerships with schools, affordable housing developments, senior and youth centers, and other City departments, as well as several local nonprofits. In the past few years, we have launched a full-time, licensed social work team; prioritized equity initiatives such as neighborhood Liberation Libraries and our partnership with the Cambridge Black History Project; and reduced barriers to access by eliminating fines and expanding library hours by 65 hours per week such that, as of June 2023, all branch libraries offer evening and weekend hours.

Reflecting core commitments to access, community, and sustainability, we have created exceptional spaces for learning and convening and continue to evolve to meet new interests and challenges. In 2009, the Main Library underwent a major renovation and expansion, adding a new LEED Silver-certified wing that accommodates 275,000 books, 90 computer stations, reservable meeting rooms, an entire children’s floor, and a 220-seat auditorium. In 2019, the Library opened the Valente Branch, which was designed with significant community input and is the largest building in Massachusetts to achieve Net Zero Emissions and earn a LEED v4 Platinum certification. Finally, we built The Hive, the first free public makerspace in Cambridge, at the Main Library in 2021; since then, the Hive has expanded to offer 70 classes each month, digital equity programs, and drop-in time for all ages.

The Library is a vital civic hub, social impact innovator, and community haven. Through our partnerships, programs, and services across our seven branches, we aim to be integral, and deeply responsive to the unique and changing needs of Cambridge’s diverse communities. By evolving with our diverse community and ensuring that our core values are embodied in everything we do, the Library is in the unique position to both preserve and celebrate Cambridge’s history and culture and welcome newcomers and expand perspectives, while anticipating and addressing the community’s ever-changing needs.


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