It's no secret: we love the Cambridge Public Library staff! From circulation to admin, facilities to youth services - the enthusiasm, warmth, and dedication of Library workers makes Cambridge an amazing place to live and be.
While we look forward to life returning to normal, we'd like to share a series of conversations with Library staff members conducted by the Foundation in March 2020. We hope that reading about their work brightens your day, and reminds you that no matter what goes on the world, the Cambridge Public Library continues to support our community.
What do you do at the Library?
I am the Manager of Adult Services here at the Cambridge Public Library. I oversee the operation of the department – the services that we provide to adult patrons. I work with my team to provide programs, readers’ advisory, information services, and assist with basic computing needs. We help people get information and their other needs from the Library.
And that includes programming for Seniors as well! Could you tell me a little about that?
Absolutely! Recently, we’ve been able to put more focus on programming for seniors thanks to a generous anonymous donor through the Cambridge Public Library Foundation. About 3-4 years ago we started our Creative Aging series and it’s been an amazing experience for everyone involved, especially our patrons.
How do you choose what kind of programs to offer at the Library?
A lot of times, it’s based on what people want or need! Back to Creative Aging – when we first launched the program, we conducted a survey and asked patrons what type of programs they would like to see. With other programs, it’s based on interest, or what we think might be interesting to patrons, and making sure they align with the Library's strategic priorities.
What does a typical day at the Library look like for you?
First, I meet with my team, then we greet our patrons coming in the morning, making sure everything is working well to meet their various needs. Most often they’re looking for a book, needing to print a document, or using our computers for Internet access. Other times, we direct them to appropriate resources or programs that are offered. The rest of the day, I work with my colleagues to plan programs and work on ways we can enhance our existing services.
How long have you been working at the Library?
Almost five years! I’ve worked in libraries since 2002. I’ve worked in St. Louis County Public Library and also Leon County in Florida.
What made you interested in working in libraries?
I saw an article about information brokering and I was really fascinated with the organization of information. I was a campus organizer before I went to library school. I like the social justice aspect of public service, helping people, that really appealed to me.
What’s your favorite thing about working at the Cambridge Public Library?
Working with my colleagues, the diversity of the patrons and how grateful they are with the service we provide for them – I think that’s the most enjoyable part. Among all the libraries I’ve worked at, it’s particularly great to see the strong support and appreciation Cambridge has for its libraries.
Do you have any advice for people who are interested in studying library science?
Understand that it’s not always about being able to read books! Sometimes people believe that if you love books, then this is the job for you – which is one of the perks. The important part is having that social justice drive of wanting to help and welcome everyone into the library.
Speaking of books – do you have any book recommendations?
I am currently reading There There by Tommy Orange. It’s a story about Native Americans living in Oakland, California, told from different character’s perspectives and at some point they all converge – so far it’s been quite fascinating.
What programs are coming up at the Library?
The Creative Aging program we have right now is Creative Aging Improv – so far, we’ve only had two sessions, and people have just been gushing about it! The next one that’s coming up is Creative Aging Standup at Central Square, that’s going to start in May. [Editor's note: this program has been postponed indefinitely.] On top of that, we started a series focused on Wellness for Seniors – we have chair yoga, dancing and drumming, moving and grooving, Tai Chi, and Zumba Gold – it’s quite an extensive variety of exercises for older adults, and it’s offered at most of the branches.
Another thing we’re excited about – we have partnered with the Cambridge Center for Adult Education to offer a language learning circle program, which is a peer-to-peer learning experience. The program is an Introduction to Korean Language Learning Circle and it’s a series of six classes where a librarian will facilitate the course. During the course you will be introduced to beginners’ level Korean, and get a chance to explore the language through Korean TV drama, K-pop, Korean food, and use the Virtual Reality headset to immerse yourself in a Korean market. So that’s going to be exciting!
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about?
Ever since we’ve done the Creative Aging program, it’s been a really amazing experience – there’s some work that goes into it, selecting the program, selecting the instructor, promoting it and getting people signed up, but once the program starts and we see the progression from the first to the last class – where in the beginning participants tend to be timid, then at the end, they’ve broken down those barriers, they proudly show off what they’ve learned in the culminating event. Many of them not only gain a set of creative art skills, but gain confidence, pride, and enjoy long lasting social engagement from their peers. We are grateful for the support we receive to be able to provide great programs and services.
Thank you, Diana!
Please note that upcoming events are prone to change in accordance with the Library's closure.
Library exterior photo (c) Stu Rosner.
The Cambridge Public Library Foundation is dedicated to supporting the Cambridge Public Library and its programs that educate, inspire and respond to the needs of our diverse community.