Informational Alert | Coronavirus Updates
NOTICE: Fall hours for contactless pickup of library holds at Main, Central Square, O’Neill, and Valente are now in effect. No appointments required. Request items online, by phone at 617-349-4040 or by email at

Director's Update, August 31, 2020


Aerial View of the Central Square Branch Library

Dear Library Patrons,

It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that a beloved staff member, Torrance Dunbar, passed away earlier this month. Some of you may recall Torrance, who worked in Borrower Services. She was a special person who brightened each day for everyone who came into contact with her. Staff are very much grieving her loss. Please keep Torrance and her family in your thoughts. 

Mobile Hotspots now Available for Checkout

Beginning this week, we are providing mobile hotspots for checkout through contactless holds pickup services. Circulating mobile hotspots is the second phase of our Takeout Technology program launched in early August to expand access to technology resources during the COVID-19 health crisis.

What’s Been Happening!

Since our physical closure in mid-March, we have been busy helping patrons by offering traditional library services, often in a brand-new way:

  • We responded to 1678 Ask Us inquiries submitted through the Library’s website and answered 4045 patron phone calls since our closure in March. 
  • Your Next Great Read program began on April 13 and we provided recommendations to 387 patrons.
  • From June 16 to August 23, we facilitated 9620 Contactless Holds Pickups at the Main Library. 
  • CPL has hosted 9 Kids Books To Go events across our Boudreau, Central Square, Collins, O’Connell, O’Neill and Valente locations over the summer. We gave out 1164 bags of library books- approximately 4726 books in total!
  • The Library recently launched Takeout Technology and 21 patrons have checked out Chromebooks for home use. 

We have also provided loads of materials to community members!

  • This July, Cambridge residents checked out 26,299 items from Overdrive -the most in the Minuteman Library Network!
  • 2982 patrons also checked out 4,785 items from Hoopla during the month of July.
  • We performed checkouts of 39,450 physical materials and have processed 69,044 returned items since they came back on-site in June

The CPL has delivered lots of virtual programs serving children, teens and adults:

  • Since the Library closed due to the pandemic, we have hosted 725 attendees at 20 Virtual Family Story Times. We’ve also hosted 1,748 attendees at 26 virtual events for adults.
  • In collaboration with the Center for Families and the Agenda for Children Literacy Initiative, we hosted 5 Virtual Book Bike Story Times for 131 participants in July & August.
  • We also got cozy with 73 little patrons at three additional virtual Pajama Story Times in collaboration with the Center for Families.
  • Since mid-July, we've offered 8 virtual STEAM Story Time events with an average of 30 households participating each week.
  • We hosted 4 events this August, distributing 212 books for children and teens to take home to keep. Books were generously donated by the Cambridge Public Library Foundation.
  • In partnership with Innovators for Purpose, the CPL STEAM Academy led 14 teens through a six-week intensive virtual internship program, covering topics such as data visualization and sonification, digital media production, augmented reality, and 3D design and animation. Funding for the STEAM Academy is generously provided by the City of Cambridge, Cambridge Trust, CPL Foundation, the Margret and H.A Rey Curious George Fund, Eric and Jane Nord Family Fund, and Verizon.

Join us for Story Times

The next Virtual STEAM Story Time will be on Wednesday, September 2 at 11 a.m. Children and their grownups can join us for 20-25 minutes of stories and hands-on activities to explore STEAM. Please gather activity materials before the event if you plan to participate. Registration is required

CPL will host Virtual Family Story Time on Thursday, September 3 at 11 a.m. Caregivers are asked to participate in the program with their children. Registration is required

Coming in September...

You can register for these virtual events happening next month:

Stay Connected

To stay connected to what’s happening at the Library, please subscribe to our email list, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and visit our website.


Dr. Maria McCauley, Director of Libraries