CPL is Beautiful! (We made the list)

Apparently I’m not the only oggler. (Is that a word? Can I use that? “Oggler?”)



October 19, 2010 at 10:10 pm Leave a comment

Fall Showers

Night sky CPL

Originally uploaded by Phobean

Through the windows of the Cambridge Public Library: the sky opened up and poured a bucket or two down upon the toddlers, high school teens, patrons, dog walkers, and others wandering the grassy grounds. Everyone instantly scattered, not unlike a scurry of squirrels racing in that desperate way, abandoning a broken umbrella, trailing bemused smiles. And lucky me, sitting inside, watching.

October 3, 2010 at 12:29 am Leave a comment

Receipt of Purchase

My first receipt from paying a library fine online!  I never thought the day would come (or even conceived of such a day).  Wait, should I be this excited about paying a bill…?

Minuteman Library Network



Patron: Sinclair, Phoebe N

Good hair [videorecording] / Chris Rock Entertainment [and] HBO Films ;
produced b $0.10
Us : Americans talk about love / edited by John Bowe ; with Marisa Bowe and
Clancy $0.20
Eat.shop.Boston: the indispensable guide to… 2009 $0.20

Service Charge


Thank you for your payment of $0.50 for the above charges.
Your payment has been approved.

Please keep this receipt for your records.

August 18, 2010 at 12:33 am 1 comment

Happy 1st Birthday, Fox Point Library

Not only is it delightful and curious that libraries host their own birthday parties, (it’s true, I’ve been to one), but that a library would also post notices/invites around town adds to the charm/amusement factor.  Nice flyer design, too!  Wish, I could have made it to the bash to wish you a merry, Fox Point Library.

July 15, 2010 at 10:31 pm Leave a comment

Old Bridge Library – Master of Dedicated Spaces

It’s a Sunday morning at home with the parents and the car is busted (the heat, perhaps? It’s 90 degrees out . . . ) and there’s nothing to do. Wait? What’s this? The Old Bridge Public Library hasn’t yet converted to summer hours? Well! Time for a library tour.

After a brief trek down the sleepy Jersey-town lane, during which I supplied myparents with exciting names of trees I may or may not have been identifying correctly, we entered the cool (but not too cold –thank you!) library. First order of business –just arrived books section. Second, gather heavy pile of books to flip through. Third, Mom pays her $12 fine for late DVDs.

Have I mentioned that one of my favorite activities is hanging out in libraries with my family?

Old Bridge Library is lived-in and loved. The space is one large room organized by uses: Living Room, Children’s Room, Information Services, Senior Spaces, Teen Zone, etc. Each section is additionally separated into zones. For instance –in the Living Room one might fight to stay awake on couches in one area or, in another, relax in up-right armchairs, reading a magazine under a lamp. The Senior Space offered rocking chairs and computers with screens featuring increased magnification for eyes tired of trying to figure out tiny type.

In the teen section, I bumped into a young artist painting a mural.  Her skill and confidence were impressive and inspiring –apparently she approached the library and volunteered to decorate two support posts with depictions of her favorite books. I asked to snap the artist’s photo while her parents, lounging nearby in plush chairs, smiled and looked on.

Old Bridge Library is a master of dedicated spaces –study corrals, children’s nooks, small garden, laptop bar, book sale room (I snagged four records, yes, records, for $1), etc. So comfortable and welcoming! I look forward to visiting again next time I’m in the Jers twiddling my thumbs.

July 3, 2010 at 11:36 pm Leave a comment

Bibliotheque publique d’information

The Paris library Bibliotheque publique d’information is a big fish.  A big, big, fish.  I have never seen anything like it.  As it has become my custom to visit a library nearly everywhere I travel, regardless of whether I can actually speak the language and read the books, my cousin Jaleesa and I braved the crowds at the bibliotheque.

The wait line to get into this place was rumored to be up to two hours long –and we saw evidence of this, which is why we came back during the off hours. Once inside, I marveled at how HUGE the place is, but more so at how popular.  Patrons were everywhere –every table (not too many free seats), the listening stations, computer stations, lounge chairs, televisions, even the stairwell was teaming with people old, young, and in-between.  I think the best evidence of excessive use/popularity was the vending machine off the café that sold colorful earplugs.

Jaleesa and I didn’t stay long because, face it, the place wasn’t all that relaxing –particularly with the sizable fire hose stations (with buckets!) placed at regular intervals along the walls as though any minute a trash can fire might erupt.  I really wanted to take a picture of those, but the room we were in stated clearly, no photography.

The bibliotheque building, which joins library with museum, is a bizarre marvel that includes what appears to be stick houses belonging to the Three Little Pigs precariously attached in random places high above the ground.  We visited one of the two (!) bookshops and bought postcards from the largest postcard collection I’ve seen anywhere, ever, and then escaped into the night.  On our way to the metro, we passed crowds of folks hanging out in an (again) enormous brick plaza, including two young men smooching it up.  Nice to see that everyone feels comfortable around the bibliotheque.

June 14, 2010 at 11:31 pm 2 comments

Do You Smell What CPL Is Cooking?

Do you?

And wait, what’s this you say?  The Cambridge Public Library Main Library smells?

Sure it does!  That yummy library smell: new shelves, new floors, new books, new tables and chairs, new tiles in the restrooms, new everything.  Old, oiled wood paneling.  Sky-high ceilings and light pouring in.  Teens strolling past, fresh faced, wearing too much cologne.  All together smelling fancier than a new car.

Why all this talk about smell?

Well, way back when I first started this blog, I wrote a review of CPL’s main branch when it was housed temporarily in the Longfellow School at 359 Broadway.  In addition to other comments, I complained that the gym I sat in to do work smelled a little funky.  It so happened that library staff persons read that blog post.  They were dismayed.  I was dismayed that they were dismayed.


It’s true.  At first, I didn’t know how to respond.  Should I re-write the post? Delete it?  Defend it?  Pretend it never happened.  Slowly, I realized that the best response was to rethink my blog’s focus.  Why was I writing it?  What were my intentions?  I am no expert, after all, not a librarian, not an architect, not journalist, not a social anthropologist. And as the CPL staff person who responded to my original post said, the cookies of a good library should not be judged by that funny burning smell.

Okay.  So what are you?  Show us your credentials.

I’m a patron.  A fan.  “Superfan”?  The library’s love child.  The naughty daughter.

Why should we care what you think?  Maybe we think you smell, huh?

Maybe I do.

Maybe you shouldn’t care!  Anyway, I’d rather you join me.  We’ll scope out the nooks and windows.  We’ll peer through my lens at organization and categorization, missing busts and weird things in the corners.  We sneak into the YA room (my personal favorite) and pretend we’re not too old to be haunting the stacks, loading up on manga that we don’t quite get.  We’ll blabber and blunder and pontificate and appreciate.  In the end, we will celebrate this most incredible resource.

Now that you mention it, scents and sights aside, I do love a good library.

Me, too.

June 10, 2010 at 2:56 am Leave a comment

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