Cambridge Friends of Library ask for financial help from city

By Rachel Kytonen

The Cambridge Friends of the Library is asking the city of Cambridge for help.

During the Cambridge City Council meeting Monday, Jan. 17, Friends members explained the Cambridge Public Library is facing an approximate $39,000 shortfall due to budget cuts by the Isanti County Board.

Karen Lee, treasurer of the Friends organization, said due to the $39,000 shortfall the Cambridge Library will have to cut staff and will be open less hours.

“We need to plug this gap otherwise we will lose a lot,” Lee said. “I’m also here to tell you we need a new library. Our Cambridge Library is too small and out of date. We need to due a needs assessment. At our January Friends meeting we discussed if we would be able to raise these funds. We are a non-profit 501c3 organization and over the past five years the most we’ve ever raised was $4,000 in 2010. Even if we could raise twice, three times or four times what we did in 2010 there is no way we can plug the gap in with our existing budget and we still need to do a needs assessment.”

Lee explained she has been a patronage of the library since 1994 when her mom started bringing her to the library when she was 5-years-old.

“The Cambridge Library has a much larger collection of materials now than it did when I was younger,” Lee said. “We have large print books and books on tape for the visually impaired, as well as computers and Internet access,” Lee said. “It’s a marvelous asset to the community, but it’s busting at the seams. I’m asking for the city of Cambridge to help us by plugging the whole in our budget.”

Trina Godfrey, co-chair of the Friends organization who has also been a reading teacher for 22 years, said she and her husband choose to live in Cambridge because of the great services and amenities.

“If you go to the library around 3:30 p.m. you’ll see many unemployed individuals using the Internet to look for work, students using the computers for homework and many people socializing,” Godfrey said. “I love the library and I know you do too.”

Jan Wheelock and Julie Parent also spoke in support of the library. Parent mentioned she uses the library almost daily, and it’s always busy.

Mayor Marlys Palmer thanked the Friends members for their time and said the council listened to everything they had to say. Since the members spoke during Citizen’s Forum, the council did not take any action.