The Cambridge ‘Friends’ need your help

By Rachel Kytonen

The Friends of the Cambridge Public Library is asking for the community’s help.

This past week, members of the Cambridge business community received a letter in the mail from the Friends organization making an urgent plea for contributions to plug a $34,000 budget hole and maintain library operations at the current level.

The Friends of the Cambridge Public Library are a nonprofit, volunteer organization supporting the Cambridge Public Library in Cambridge. Its mission is to increase public awareness of the library and its services and promote lifelong learning.

The Cambridge Library is part of the East Central Regional Library System that includes Aiktin, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Pine counties.

ECRL is governed by a Joint Powers Agreement between the counties. An annual operating budget is established by consultation between members of the Joint Library Board and approved by each member county. The total amount budgeted is then prorated among the member counties by a formula outlined in the Joint Powers Agreement. If any county member approves an amount lower than its share of the approved budget, library service to that county member shall be reduced correspondingly.

Isanti County cut its share of the 2012 budget by $34,000. If the Friends organization can’t come up with the $34,000, the Cambridge Public Library will have to make significant reductions in the hours it is open to the public and in the amount of staff hours available to assist library patrons when it’s open.

I lived in Stratford, Wis. until I was 5th grade, and in 6th grade I moved to Spooner, Wis. In both small, close-knit communities, the library was an important part of my childhood.

In both communities, my family lived within walking distance of our local library. I checked out several of my favorite books at the library including Ramona the Pest books by Beverly Clearly, and then later I grew fond of the Sweet Valley High books by Francine Pascal. The library was a place to read, but also a place to work on homework and do research. It was also a place to gather with friends.

Take a moment to think about what the library means to you, and if you are able, make a donation to the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library to help offset the $34,000. I’m sure the Friends organization would appreciate any donation you can give.

Checks should be made payable to the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library and can be mailed to Friends of the Cambridge Public Library, 244 Birch St. S., Cambridge, MN 55008. Contributions to the Friends are tax deductible.