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.
With the New Year fast approaching, we’re all thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. Some of us will go on a diet, some will decide to exercise more, some will tackle classic literature, and others will pledge to do something to make a difference in the world. (Some of us just might attempt to do all of the above!)
Every year I pledge to do something that will change lives…that will make our world a better place. One year I bought a goat through World Vision for an African family. Another year I sent some of my textbooks to Africa to support students there. This past year I gave my time and political voice to a variety of worthwhile projects through involvement with the ONE Campaign and DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa).
Though all of those acts have been fulfilling and worthwhile, I’ve come to realize that not all of us can be like Bono and have the dedication, determination, and influence to single-handedly save the world…or even a mere continent. Besides, this year, I am looking to do some good a little bit closer to home. As I was brainstorming ideas for ways to do so, I had one of those Homer Simpson “DOH!” moments. Hello! I work at a library….why not become a paying member of my library’s Friends of the Library group!
Joining a local Friends of the Library group is a fabulous way to give back to the community and to support the library. Friends groups, like the one here at the Chisago Lakes Area Library, are vital to the success of the library. Think about the many things that these groups do: They purchase new library materials for their libraries; they fund library programs; they raise money for the library through book sales and other wonderful activities; and their members often volunteer at the library. Whether you become an active Friends member who helps set up programs or a dues-paying “inactive” member, your support effects every single library user who comes through the doors. And, you know, you might just benefit, too…think of all the local contacts you will make by becoming involved in this community group! Plus, there is that whole Pay It Forward concept to keep in mind…
Needless to say, I’m excited about the opportunity to make a difference in my library and in the local community. So come on! Join me! Call or stop by your local library to find out how to join your community’s Friends of the Library group!
Chisago Lakes Area Library Branch Librarian
It was a festive afternoon at the Aitkin Public Library on Sunday, Dec. 2. Library patrons celebrated the coming Christmas season by reading a variety of Christmas prose and poetry. Afterwards, Christmas tea and elegant goodies were enjoyed by all in the beautifully trimmed library. Many remark that this event is the beginning of their Christmas celebration and even their favorite Christmas event—very relaxing and charming. This was the 13th annual Friends of the Library Christmas Tea.
Mary Beth Woodrow, Aitkin Library Branch Manager
Recently at the Fall 2007 Minnesota Library Association convention in Mankato, local resident, Lorie Fetzik, was named as a board member on the Minnesota Association of Library Friends. Lorie is currently co-president of the Cambridge Friends of the Library organization and is an avid library user and supporter.
The mission of the Minnesota Association of Library Friends is to promote excellence in library services by working with and through Friends of the Library organizations and the libraries they represent. They assist in legislative efforts, sponsor programs and workshops, help new Friends groups get started, and serve as a clearinghouse for advice and information.
The MALF board meets 4-5 times throughout the year and is made up of individuals from various communities throughout Minnesota. Lorie says, “This will be a worthwhile learning experience and I hope to bring lots of ideas and enthusiasm back to our local Cambridge Friends of the Library organization.”
Vickie Sorn, Community Services Coordinator