History was made at the Cambridge Public Library on Monday, February 2nd when local resident, Nancy Dunbar, started her position as the very first Cambridge Public Library Branch Librarian. The Cambridge Public Library is one of 14 branches that make up East Central Regional Library system, which provides library service in Aitkin, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, and Pine Counties in east central Minnesota. Thirteen of those branch libraries already have a Branch Librarian. Up until this month, the ECRL Director has also served as the Cambridge Librarian, as has been the practice since the regional library system began 50 years ago. Public service, reference service and programming duties were all divided amongst ECRL headquarters staff.
Nancy has lived in the Cambridge area for 25 years and worked for ECRL in circulation and reference services for 18 of those years. Nancy loves “learning new things everyday and helping others learn about what interests them.” Variety is one of the reasons she loves her job. It enables Nancy to work with all ages, genres and subjects. Plus one of the best things about working at the Cambridge Public Library and for ECRL, she says, is the “satisfaction I feel when I know a patron’s needs have been met and he/she leaves (the library) happy.”
When asked “Why do you believe libraries are an important part of a community?” Nancy replied that “libraries provide materials, activities and services that fulfill the lifelong learning needs of its patrons.” Considering that only 43% of Isanti County residents have a library card, Nancy believes it is important to “publicize library services, so patrons become aware of the diverse ways that libraries can benefit them.” With regard to public service, Nancy says, “It’s also important to provide good and helpful service. Satisfied users are great advocates for the public library.”
Library advocates are very important because providing services and funding libraries during these difficult economic times can be challenging. The biggest challenge Nancy sees at present is “providing for the needs of patrons and staff within” the “limited space of the Cambridge Public Library.” Thus, the biggest challenge for the future “will be funding and building a new library with adequate and functional space for patrons and staff.”
Nancy is spending the first few weeks as Cambridge Branch Librarian becoming familiar with her new duties, plus visiting several neighboring library systems for inspiration and ideas. ECRL Assistant Director, Nick Dimassis, will introduce Nancy to the Isanti County Board of Commissioners at their County Board meeting on March 17th.
The Cambridge Friends of the Library invite the public, including local city officials and business leaders, to an open house for Dunbar on Tuesday, March 10, from 5-7 p.m. at the library to celebrate this history making event for the Cambridge Public Library.