It's no secret: we love the Cambridge Public Library staff! From circulation to admin, facilities to adult and youth services - the enthusiasm, warmth, and dedication of the library’s team makes Cambridge an amazing place to live, learn and explore.
The Cambridge Public Library Foundation is taking you on a virtual tour of the library and introducing some of the library’s superstar staff. Our next stop is Adult Services with Diana Fendler and Janet Borron, focused on the library’s services for seniors.
Diana Fendler is the library’s Manager of Adult Services, and oversees a team of 20 staff members who provide services to all patrons, but are primarily geared towards helping adults and seniors. Diana’s incredible team provides information services, book recommendations, basic technology assistance, program facilitation and more.
Janet Borron is the library’s Senior Services Librarian, and has been part of the library’s Adult Services team for more than seven years. In her role, Janet coordinates monthly curated home delivery of library materials to Cambridge residents who are unable to visit the library and establishes partnerships with local area assisted living facilities and the city’s senior center. Her expertise and knowledge about the library and community is unparalleled.
Diana, please tell us about Janet’s role in the community, specifically bringing library resources to seniors where they are.
Sometimes described as a “human book mobile,” Janet provides home delivery of an average of 600 items to more than 50 Cambridge residents every month. She also does monthly outreach visits to community partners in order to showcase the library’s vast collection, highlight popular books, and promote library resources and programs.
Can you tell us more about the library’s senior programming and what’s currently available to seniors.
Back in 2017, the library received funding through the Library Foundation to begin a Creative Aging series for older adults. These eight-week long courses provided instruction in various written and performing arts, including dance and storytelling. The workshops were taught by professional teaching artists, and offered participants the opportunity to explore new skills which bolstered self-confidence and created an avenue for lasting social connections between participants.
We had to pause the Creative Aging series due to the pandemic, but we look forward to restarting this program in the near future! If you’d like to be notified when Creative Aging gets restarted, you can sign up for the Director’s Weekly Message or the Events & Programs newsletter. You can learn more here.
Currently, there are two virtual program series being offered for older adult patrons. The first is a weekly Wellness Exercise Program. Each month we offer different themes such as Zumba Gold, Low Impact Fitness, and Let Your Yoga Dance. Our second series is the Active Older Adult Lecture and Workshop Series. The library launched this series with 10 workshops centered around the topic of “Navigating Solo” and “Tools for Creating Your Plan for Aging Well.” The ten virtual workshops are offered every other Thursday from February through June and you can learn more and sign up here.
How is the library’s programming for seniors being received in the community?
We can tell how popular these programs are from the number of attendees and from the feedback that we get from participants. The weekly Wellness Exercise Program consistently has over 40 participants who are engaged, interacting with each other since there are a lot of “regulars” and it’s clear they’re having fun during the program. At the end of every class, the Zoom chat fills up with words of praise and thanks.
As for the library’s Active Older Adult Lecture and Workshop Series, we are halfway through the ten workshops, and it has been incredibly well received and well attended! On average there are over 100 participants in each session. Many participants share their gratitude with comments submitted in the chat. Here are a few from our very first session:
Can't begin to say how appropriate this is for me and my brother.
This is so timely; I have just written my will.
This has been tremendous; this is so so important.
I really like this. It came out at a perfect time.
Thank you for this program and guidance.
This is terrific, a marvelous offering.
What programming, specifically for seniors, is coming up at the Library?
We are cautiously optimistic about bringing back the Creative Aging series in-person, and there are a few currently being planned for late summer and fall. The Wellness Exercise Program ends soon, in late May, and we hope to offer it again in the fall potentially in a hybrid (virtual and in-person) format. As for the Active Older Adult Lecture and Workshop Series, we have been doing early planning with potential author speakers on the topics of nutrition, health and happiness relating to aging. There’s more to come!
Thanks Diana! Is there anything else you’d like to share?
It’s wonderful to be able to share a glimpse of our work and to highlight the importance of services and programs for older adult patrons. People often feel isolated as they age, and it’s been wonderful to have resources from the Library Foundation to break down some of the natural barriers. We are grateful for the support, and we love being a part of the Cambridge community.
Janet, can you tell us about your position at the library?
I’m officially the Cambridge Public Library’s Staff Librarian for Senior Services. My position focuses on outreach services to the aging populations in Cambridge and to those members of the community who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to leave their home. These outreach services include personalizing book selections and coordinating deliveries with our Support Services staff, going to the senior center to run book groups, and bringing programs and services to these important populations.
What do you enjoy most about working at the library?
There’s a concept called “the third space” – which refers to society’s communal space, or a space that isn’t a person’s home or workplace. From the moment I encountered this concept it resonated with me because a public library is the quintessential “third space” and answers why I love working here so much- there’s no barrier to entry and it’s a place where people can come together and let life happen!
What’s your favorite book?
I don’t play favorites. My reading tastes vary as frequently as the New England weather. I am currently reading American Made: What Happens to People When Work Disappears by Farah Stockman. The author is a Pulitzer Prize winner and Cambridge native. The book looks at the impact of a plant closure on the workers employed in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Senior Center book club selection for this month is On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, an examination of loss, immigration and addiction among other societal issues.
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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.