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Efforts to open a new Cambridge Public Library that spanned over a decade have come to fruition.
Members of the East Central Regional Library and its Cambridge branch, the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library, the city of Cambridge and the general public, celebrated the opening of the new Cambridge Public Library and East Central Regional Library Headquarters during a ribbon-cutting celebration on July 6. Tours of the new building were held following the ceremony.
The new Cambridge Public Library, located at 111 Dellwood St. N., is now open to the public via appointment. Approximately $8 million from the 0.5% local option sales tax that was approved by the voters of the city of Cambridge during the November 2018 election helped fund the construction of the new library and headquarters.
Those wishing to utilize the services of the library, such as to use the computers or check out books, need to make an appointment by calling 763-689-7390 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Computer appointments can also be made online by visiting ecrlib.org/locations/cambridge-public-library/.
Those entering the library will be required to wear a mask; if you don’t have a mask, one will be
provided to you.
Cambridge Mayor Jim Godfrey thanked all the different groups and organizations involved with making the new library a reality.
“I want to thank the citizens of Cambridge, because this would not have been possible if they hadn’t voted over 60% to approve the sales tax that allowed us to be able to afford to do something like this without making everybody go broke. That wouldn’t have been possible if it hadn’t been for the Friends who started this initiative and then we have the task force that worked on creating a winning levy referendum. I’d like to thank those two groups for all their dedication and work and keeping this project rolling for over eight years, a long time,” Godfrey said. “I’d also like to thank Marlys Palmer, the late Marlys Palmer, whose family is here today, Kim and Red, because she started this eight or some years ago and kept that ball rolling as well.”
Godfrey thanked Brian Baas with BJ Baas Builders of Cambridge and his staff who served as the general contractor on the project. It was also Baas who approached the Cambridge City Council with the idea of remodeling the former GracePointe Crossing Gables East nursing home building into the new home of the Cambridge Public Library.
Godfrey also thanked the efforts of the Cambridge City Council for helping to keep the project moving forward, along with Rep. Mike Nelson and Sen. Mike Koran for introducing the bill to the Legislature that allowed for the funding of the new library through the voter-approved local option sales tax.
Godfrey also commended the efforts of Cambridge City Administrator Lynda Woulfe and city staff.
“And of course Lynda Woulfe and her staff at the city of Cambridge for working on code enforcement and thinking down the road; not just what it would be like now, but in 50 years this building should still be very well used and the design and the execution to give us the space that we’re proud to call the Cambridge Public Library for many, many years to come,” Godfrey said. “I would like to thank you all for coming here today and being excited to see what all that work has brought us.”
Woulfe also gave credit to Karen Lee, who is a member of the library task force, Friends of the Cambridge Public Library and the East Central Regional Library Board.
“Thanks, everybody, for coming,” Woulfe said. “Somebody I think that we would be remiss without thanking too is Karen Lee. Karen, among many others, has been a champion for the local library. She helped make sure the task force stayed on task, and kept at it, even when the future was dismal. So thank you, Karen, for that.”
Kim Palmer, daughter of the late Marlys Palmer, who served as mayor of Cambridge for 20 years and was a big proponent of the new Cambridge Public Library, was moved to tears during the ribbon-cutting celebration. One of the public study rooms in the new library is named after Marlys Palmer.
“I just want to say I know my mom would have wanted to be here today. I think we all know that she would love to be here. And on behalf of my family, my dad and my sisters, we want to thank you for your thoughtfulness in naming one of the rooms in memory of our mom and just thank you for that,” Kim Palmer said.
Play Inc. Arts finds new home
Godfrey mentioned that the City Council, during its meeting held just prior to the ribbon-cutting celebration, approved a lease for Play Inc. Arts to rent a 1,073-square-foot space in the upper level of the building and two storage units in the lower level of the building. The lease agreement is for three years at a cost of $12,000 per year.
The space on the main level will be used for visual arts classes, music lessons and small rehearsals. Play Inc. Arts wants to schedule monthly events for about 30-45 people for stand-up comedy, theatrical shows for small casts, improv, solo or small-group musical artists. The close proximity to the Cambridge Primary and Intermediate schools provides them with additional options for scheduling their IPlay performances.
The lower level will provide Play Inc. Arts space to house their costumes, some props and equipment.
Play Inc. Arts is planning on gallery shows, including their 170 Elof Wedin paintings. They would like to serve alcohol, providing they are allowed with potential partnerships with North Bound Liquor and local wineries or breweries and host painting parties for both individuals and corporate team-building groups. They would like to provide food service for small events, coordinated with local restaurants and local food trucks.
Play Inc. Arts is also requesting to utilize the opportunity room, community room, and the courtyard at no additional charge, providing the space is available and by working directly with the Cambridge Public Library for scheduling and reservations. The courtyard would be used for small concerts.
Play Inc. Arts will provide paintings of the Elof Wedin collection to the Cambridge Public Library for display at no charge and will rotate them on a quarterly basis or a period mutually agreed upon.