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Posts Tagged ‘Cambridge Public Library’

As Veterans Day approaches, I wanted to call attention to a particularly appropriate collection here in the Cambridge Room – a small collection of papers and personal effects related to Salvatore Valente, a Cambridge resident who served in the United States Army and died in World War II. He is also the namesake of the Valente Branch of the Cambridge Public Library.

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Photograph of Salvatore Valente in uniform

Photograph of Private Salvatore Valente in uniform and a postcard he sent to his mother in June 1944 from basic training in Fort McClellan, Alabama

Salvatore Valente was born on March 11, 1926, in Cambridge, to Alessandro and Ines Valente, who had emigrated from Italy. He had 10 brothers and sisters and his family lived at 14 Marion Street in East Cambridge. He graduated from Wellington Grammar School in 1942 and attended Rindge Technical School for his secondary education. He left Rindge Tech in 1944 to join the United States Army and was sent to Germany in early 1945. He was killed in action in Germany on March 12, 1945, less than two months before V-E Day. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

In January 1961 the City of Cambridge adopted a motion put forward by Italian-American Councillor Alfred Vellucci to name the new branch of the Cambridge Public Library at the Charles Harrington School in honor of Valente and his family’s sacrifice. Named the “Salvatore Francis Valente Memorial Library,” the Branch is located only a few blocks from Valente’s childhood home. The Valente Branch celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011.

The Cambridge Room collection on Salvatore Valente includes a small number of items related to Valente and his connection to the branch of the Cambridge Public Library named in his honor. The collection includes his birth certificate, his Wellington Grammar School diploma, a postcard he sent to his mother from basic training in Fort McClellan, Alabama, a telegram from the Army’s Adjutant General informing his mother of his death, condolence letters and memorials sent to Valente’s family from various public officials, and two photographs. Items related to the Valente Branch Library include a copy of the City Council resolution naming the public library branch for Valente, invitations to anniversary events, and two newspaper clippings.

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The Library’s First Book Mobile, circa 1970.  From the Cambridge Public Library Collection (011).

The CPL designed its first book mobile on the frame of a golf cart.

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CPL Book Mobile 2.0., circa 1970s.  From the Cambridge Public Library Collection (011).

The second iteration of the CPL book mobile was more traditional.

Does anyone remember seeing either version of the book mobile?  Better yet – has anyone ever been to the Mug n Muffin Restaurant pictured in the first photo?

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From the Cambridge Public Library Annual Report, 1908.

The photograph of Caroline Frances Orne, the CPL’s first librarian, is a real treasurer.  It’s the only one we have!  Click on the image to enlarge.

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The image above comes from the 1908 Cambridge Public Library Board of Trustees report.  The chart shows how dramatically circulation at the Cambridge public library increased once the library became “free and open to the public.”  Although it is important to note that the chart is a little misleading.

Between 1858 and 1979, the public library was free to all Cambridge citizens – not a subscription library as noted above.   During this time, it was called the Dana Library in honor of Edmund Dana, who led a group of citizens to establish the Cambridge Athenaeum, the membership fee based predecessor to the Dana Library.  The Dana Library was free to all but only open limited hours.  In 1848, it was open Saturdays from 4 to 8 and the following year Wednesdays were added to the schedule - most likely accounting for low circulation rates.

Not realizing that the library was free, many citizens stayed away thinking it was privately owned by Edmund Dana.  In 1879, the Library Trustees remedied the problem by officially changing the name to the Cambridge Public Library.  And by now, the library was open 6 days a week.

Either way, this chart illustrates how important it is to make information free and accessible.  If it is free -  people will use it!

To get a full view of the chart, Click on the image to enlarge.

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The Cambridge Public Library:  Free and Confidential Since 1858

Exhibition Location: Entrance and 2nd Floor, Glass Building

The Cambridge Public Library became “free and open to all” during the first great wave of American public libraries. Since then, the CPL has championed a free and open exchange of knowledge.

Cambridge’s first public librarians welcomed all visitors, answered questions, and made books and resources as accessible as possible, paving the way for the CPL to be known as the “People’s University.”   This notion of free and open to all – radical at the time, but the norm today – has been the cornerstone of the CPL for over 155 years.

In honor of National Library Week, the CPL wishes to remind everyone that the protection of privacy is a fundamental right of every library patron. Free access to information without bias, censorship, cost, or fear of repercussion is the very reason for which the library exists.

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The Cambridge Public Library dwarfed by Rindge Technical School (right) and Cambridge High and Latin (left) in 1969.

The City of Cambridge’s GIS department just added their collection of 1969 aerial photographs of the city to the Historical City Viewer.  See if you can find the drive in movie theater where the Alewife MBTA complex now sits.  In the same view, you’ll see a quaint rotary where Routes 2 and 16 merge and the Rindge Towers under construction.  Enjoy!

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Wikipedia-Loves-Libraries Cambridge Edit-a-thon
Do you want to learn more about Cambridge history, or do you already know how great Cambridge is and want to share your knowledge with the world?  Help us create and improve Wikipedia articles about Cambridge — members of the public and all levels of experience welcome!  Join the library’s archivist and an experienced Wikipedian for an evening of research, writing, and fun. For more information and to see a list of topics to be researched, click here:  http://bit.ly/OAMass13_CPL or follow #OAMass13 on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 23
5:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Cambridge Room
Cambridge Public Library

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