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Library 21 - Phase 1 Status Report




MAY 16 - JULY 25, 1996

Drafted a mission statement, the Statement of Opportunity, which defines a two step process to define the services and programming first, then defines the building requirements for the main library.

Identified the decisions made and not made in the previous process and as a result of the City Manager's decision to not to submit the grant request to the State Board of Library Commissioners for the scheme J building proposal.

Established an overall framework and time line for carrying out the mission.

Held six public meetings starting May 16th through July 25th that have included interaction with audience participants and opportunity for public comment; two meetings were in the Main Branch, other meetings were held at the Collins, Valente, O'Neill and Central Square Branches. Sign in sheets indicated that the average audience size was 25 people. The meetings were approximately 2 hours in length.

Set schedule for Phase Two meetings: the Committee will meet on September 4th and 18th; meetings will be the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays. All meetings are 6:30 to 8:30; locations to be announced.

Installed minutes from meetings, Statement of Opportunity, Work Group reports on-line on the City's home page on the Internet. There is an electronic guest book for comments. Provided hard copies of minutes at all branch libraries.

Learned about the Cambridge Public Library, including the relationship between the Main and the branches, the condition of the Main building, the history of the Mid-Cambridge City Park, the roles the branches play in their neighborhoods, how some residents feel about the branches, the wide variety of services, the physical constraints in all buildings, and the efforts of the dedicated staff.

Established a series of community Work Groups comprised of Committee members and citizens at large, thus enabling interested people to take an active role in the on-going work of the Committee. There are three basic types of Work Groups: neighborhood or geographical -- North, Mid, Cambridgeport/Riverside, Area 4, East and West; constituents -- K-8th grade, High School, Adults; and subject matter, i.e. Other Libraries, Computers and Networks, Public Process, Sharing Resources with the School.

Engaged the advice and, we hope, on-going participation of librarians and professors at Harvard University, Simmons Graduate School of Library Science and MIT.

Visited 5 local libraries for overview tours; recommend in-depth visits of Newton, Everett and Waltham libraries by Committee members, Library Trustees, interested citizens, and the City Council. This trip is scheduled for October 19th. Prepared a set of standard questions for gathering information from libraries that anyone can use on visits. One person volunteered to visit the new San Francisco library on an already scheduled trip.

Obtained excellent media coverage from the Cambridge Chronicle and Boston Globe; Co-chairs were guests on "Cambridge Inside Out." Chronicle coverage included an editorial supporting the Committee's efforts and the publication of numerous letters to the editor.

Began planning for a Fall Symposium in conjunction with 150th celebration to explore some of the issues involed in library planning. Date: October 23, 5:30 to 8:30. Location: Main Library.

Written letters to acknowledge everyone who has sent comments to the Committee; letters have also been sent to all people who applied to be on the Committee to encourage their continued involvement. Set up a data base of everyone who has attended meetings, written comments or sent letters to editors of newspapers.

Began a series of small group meetings with City Program Managers who have access to large numbers of constituents to explore ways to engage the constituents in the overall process.

At the public and small group meetings, started the process of exploring the roles and services that a modern library might provide, building on the set of roles developed by the American Library Association. Below, these a selection of these roles are listed with a sample of the services that our audiences have said they wanted:

  • Community Activity Center: room for meetings, ceremonies and events
  • Community Information Center: bulletin boards with neighborhood events and programs
  • Formal Education Support: services to home schoolers, afterschool tutoring
  • Independent Learning Center: space for working on college prep exams, lots of personal computers for patrons and instruction, access to Cambridge historical materials
  • Popular Materials: musical scores, librettos and records/CD's in the same place for all types of music, including opera; comfortable chairs for reading; fireplaces; book discussion groups
  • Children's Door to Learning: safe place for children after school, baby sitter club, science group, children's film series