The “office” not an “OFFICE”

We continued with suburban efforts wherever we could during those years, and were involved with local groups such as the Dorchester Task Force, a South Shore Coalition, the South County Coalition in Rhode Island, and others. At the same time there was an emphasis on working with people in the places where they were employed.

The CCI office and library gradually became a meeting place, and as our rooms grew in size, the frequency of groups and individuals using them also expanded. Don West, a local black community photographer, was, I think, the first to call our library meeting space an “oasis” or “watering hole” in the desert of racism. A Puerto Rican man, emerging as a community leader, said he just liked to come by the office to regain perspective and hope. Increasingly the library became a lively facility for creating community. In later years, when staff from the Library Science Department of Simmons College gave assistance to improve our library, they shared the concept of “library” which was expanding nationally, to include much more than a resource bank of information. The way we thought about our library space fit neatly into that new idea.

The library remained also the place for books, and increasingly there came a period when I found myself turning to the shelves to find inspiration in the great Langston Hughes. His “dream deferred” joined Baldwin’s insistence that whites must understand the history in which he claims we are trapped. How long has the dream been
deferred? Who has deferred the dream? How has the dream been deferred? How can we hold fast to the dream? History plagued for attention. It became urgent to find ways to make the resources of the library more readily available, to assist understanding, commitment, and community.

A big boost for the library came in 1980. Aided by a lively committee of librarians, teachers, and community folk, they installed new methods of catalouging of resources, including video tapes, books, and written records. A few years later, additional help came from the Library Science Department at Simmons College, and today the on-line catalogue is appropriately “user-friendly”. The library became the Yvonne Pappenheim Library, named for the one, who in the process of its growth, has become one of the greatest of CCI supporters and “inspiriters”.

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