Council Settles On Public Library Site

In one of its most anticipated City Council decisions in recent years, the council voted late last night to expand the current public library on Broadway, rejecting a proposal to move the library to Central Square.

By a seven to two margin, the council decided to spend $35 million renovating and enlarging the current library near Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS), creating a 90,000 square foot facility with improved technology and services.

Proponents throughout the night called the Broadway site "tried and true" and complimented the "serenity and dignity" of the location. They said the site, located in the geographical center of Cambridge, would also benefit students at nearby CRLS.


Compared to the bustle of Central Square and the heavy traffic of Prospect Street, the library on Broadway is surrounded by quiet, grassy open space, proponents said.

The Broadway site offers "simple elegance that we can hold onto," said Joan Qualls Harris, who sat on a library advisory committee in 1996.

"We can walk through Harvard Yard, but it's not ours. The library is ours. Everyone can go there," she added.

After hearing from Harris and about a dozen other members of the public, councillors gave lengthy speeches reiterating their positions on the two possible sites. The process for choosing a site has taken over eight years. The choices were narrowed down to the two sites this fall, with councillors divided over which site to choose.

As expected, however, the current site garnered the needed votes to remain at its location. After their final attempts at persuasion failed to change the council's five to four split, two councillors who had favored Central Square followed the majority and supported the current site.

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