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VIDEO: Can Somerville's Library Smash Lexington, Belmont and Arlington's?

The "Library Card Challenge" pits four communities against each other in February.

The gauntlet has been thrown.

The Somerville Public Library is officially in a showdown with Lexington, Arlington and Belmont, and as Somerville's library director, Maria Carpenter, said, "We are fiercely competitive."

The challenge is to see which community can increase its new library card registration the most in February (percentage increase this February, compared to February 2012).

“When I started as library director in April of 2012,” said Arlington's Robbins Library Director Ryan Livergood, “one of the things I wanted to do was get out in our community and remind people of the value of a library card.” 

Belmont’s library director, Maureen Conners and Lexington’s Koren Stembridge joined Carpenter and Livergood Jan. 31 at a press conference in Arlington, where the stakes were laid out:

The winning library will receive a platter of baked goods from the losing communities’ favorite local bakeries. Also, Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine and Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone have made a side bet, with the winner getting treated to lunch at his favorite local restaurant.

The visiting directors said they’re up for the challenge.

“I hate to burst your bubbles, but we can’t wait for the cookies,” Conners said.

“I want to wish Belmont, Lexington and Somerville the best of luck,” Livergood said, “but not too much luck, because we intend to win here in Arlington.”

Livergood also spoke about the importance of library cards in general.

“I believe a library card is a golden ticket to one of the most magical places on Earth – the library,” he said. “It’s the one place where everyone in our community, regardless of their background, regardless of their circumstances, they can come in, and they’re empowered to better their lives … in both big ways and small ways.”

Carpenter said, "The library card, we believe, is the free ticket ... to go out and build your life and be succesful."

Joe Beckmann February 04, 2013 at 02:52 PM
In other discussions, I suggested free, library supplied, and federally subsidized WiFi in lots and lots of locations across the city. I now have about a half dozen customer cards and codes from coffee shops, yoghurt stores, and restaurants as a "regular." Why could those not be consolidated under the Library Card, since all they are is a scanner code, and those data could be used to expand library membership, support tablets and smart cell phone access to the Minuteman Library collection, and make EXISTING LIBRARY SERVICES GO MUCH FURTHER. If the Library thinks we need a new building, this could prove it, or...it could prove we can do more with less, and where that "growth vector" ought to go. The easiest way to beat Arlington, Lexington and Belmont is to enlist Union Square, East Somerville, and Davis Square merchants associations, Main Streets, and the farmers markets.... Why not a discount at those markets for those who show their library card??? For too long we've thought of libraries as "the box," and its time we thought "outside the box."
Courtney O'Keefe February 04, 2013 at 04:30 PM
I like it!

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