July 29th is game night

forbidden islandGame night is just a few days away!

Join us on Tuesday, July 29th for our monthly board game night. Adult and teen gamers are welcome in the community room from 6:00-8:45pm. Choose from one of our games or bring your own favorites.

Newcomers welcome – more seasoned players will be happy to teach you how to play. We hope to see lots of you at the library on Tuesday!


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New resource: Safari Books Online

Have you ever come to the library looking for programming books, or a manual on using your new ipad, only to find that the books you want are checked out? Or maybe the the books are there but you’ve only realized you needed them after the library has closed for the evening so you can’t get to them. Well, we have good news for you: now you can access a whole collection of technology books online from the comfort of your own home!

The Robbins Library has a shiny new subscription to Safari Books Online, which you can access from our database page – from outside of the library you’ll just need to enter your library card number. Then just scroll down the alphabetical list until you see Safari Books.


WordPressWe’ve subscribed to the Basic Programming and Consumer Technology collections. This means you’ll find lots of up-to-date programming books (like all the O’Reilly titles) as well as books on a wide range of topics like digital photography, blogging, using LinkedIn for professional networking, music theory, even LEGO design. This resource truly has something for everyone!

The best part is that these books are all available all the time. No need to be on a hold list – access the information you need when you need it! There’s no need to download to a device either; you can just view the information online, and you can search across all titles so that you can find exactly what you need even if you don’t know what book to look in.

We think you’re going to love this resource. Get started at our database page now!


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Staff Picks Book Group in August: Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

blackswangreenEveryone’s heard of Cloud Atlas, but the “unfilmable” book that became a movie isn’t David Mitchell’s only novel. In August, the Staff Picks Book Group will be reading Black Swan Green, which begins in this way:

“Do not set foot in my office. That’s Dad’s rule. But the phone’d rung twenty-five times. Normal people give up after ten or eleven, unless it’s a matter of life or death. Don’t they?”

Who is calling? Will the narrator answer? Pick up a copy of Black Swan Green at the circulation desk at Robbins or at the Fox Branch, and come discuss on Wednesday, August 13, at 7pm in the Robbins Library conference room on the 4th floor.



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But (s)he was still hungry…for books! Librarians’ favorite children’s and young adult books

This month, we’ve set ourselves an impossible task: We asked ourselves to pick a favorite children’s book and a favorite young adult (teen) book. (Note: a favorite, not the favorite. The article is an important part of speech, folks.) It really would be impossible to pick just one all-time favorite, and that’s as it should be: childhood and adolescence should be filled with so many good books that when you’re asked about them years later, several dozen spring to mind. Some of us, in fact, just blatantly ignored this “pick one” rule.


Little House on the Prairie, one of Linda's favorites.

Little House on the Prairie

“This is a tough one. I’d like to pick the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder series for a children’s book but the best one might be Little House in the Big Woods. Possibly. For YA…..I’ll go with The Perks of Being a Wallflower since I’ve read it four times already AND just purchased the audio version yesterday.”

But wait, there’s more: “I read The Outsiders approximately 25 times I think. Most YA books I love weren’t written when I was actually a teenager – I wasn’t even thinking about what I read then since YA books didn’t really exist the way they do now.”


The BFG, one of Aimee's favorites.


“I did not like reading growing up, but when I found a book I loved, I read it to pieces, literally.
There are three books that stand out in my mind from my childhood. Red Tag Comes Back by Fred Phleger, Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel, and The BFG by Roald Dahl. (Do not ask me why I loved Red Tag Comes Back so much because I can’t explain it.  Apparently as a young child I identified with the struggles of a fish(?).)

As a teenager I fell in love with the author LJ Smith.  My favorite series by her were The Forbidden Game and Dark Visions.  I also read the Queen’s Arrows series by Mercedes Lackey over and over.  I primarily read YA as an adult and I can’t pick a favorite book from recent years.  I do have some favorite authors though, and you can ask me about those another time.”


Harold and the Purple Crayon, one of Ellen's favorites.

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson: “This may be the most creative book of all time. Harold is at the mercy of a crayon as they draw their way through an entire day – led by the crayon itself.”

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa: “I love this book! There’s this almost unbearable edge that author Kagawa creates via the protagonist –  Allison Sekemoto – a character living on the absolute edge of a dystopian vampire society – someone you can totally root for.”


Edda, one of Rob's favorites.


“I’m a huge nerd for mythology, so when I saw Edda: A Little Valkyrie’s First Day of School I instantly fell in love.  It’s an adorable story about a Valkyrie’s first day at a mortal school and how unfamiliar the culture and all of the rules are to her.  At first she’s an outcast, but eventually makes some friends when she channels her negative emotions into creativity – writing about her home, Asgard.  Definitely relatable for me as a creative person. And it reminded me a little of my first day of school – I kept getting into trouble because I didn’t understand all of the rules!”

And what about YA books? “I really love Kelley Armstrong’s adult novels, but I was a bit hesitant when I heard she was dipping her toe into the YA pool.  However, her Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising trilogies, which both happen in the same universe as her adult series, happily surprised me!  She keeps her signature style and all of the rich complexity and lore that her adult novels have, but adapts it for a younger audience.”



Cat on the Mat (1987)

“I could list several dozen children’s books, but I will limit myself to three: (1) Cat on the Mat by Brian Wildsmith, which, sadly, is no longer in the library system. It’s the story of a cat who sat on a mat and was joined by several other animals in succession; the mat got crowded, the cat made a huge hiss, and everyone scattered. (2) The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. No explanation needed, really, is there? Simple, colorful, full of pathos. (3) Oliver and His Alligator by Paul Schmid is a recent favorite. Oliver is a little nervous about his first day of school so he decides to stop by the swamp and pick up an alligator, “just in case things got rough.”

As for middle grade/YA, I’m afraid that’s a whole separate blog post, though I will say that many of the books I thought of have an element of fantasy or magic to them: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, Half Magic by Edward Eager, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, The Lion Tamer’s Daughter by Peter Dickinson, Voices After Midnight by Richard Peck, The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop, The Boggart by Susan Cooper, Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn, Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville.”



Summer of My German Soldier

“In 4th grade I moved to a new town and went to the library out of abject boredom and a serious case of friendlessness.  I met the teen librarian and she went on to hand-pick books for me for the next 11 years.  I read everything.  But that first summer in my new town is what I really remember. Bette Greene’s Summer of My German Soldier, Robert Lipsyte’s One Fat Summer, and Jane Yolen’s Dragon’s Blood series (my first ever trilogy!).  I would chill out in my parent’s waterbed, air conditioner blasting away, floating and reading and reading and floating, a little seasick maybe, but very happy.”

veryhungrycaterpillarThat’s us – what about you? Leave your favorite books from your younger years in the comments. Have you re-read them since then? Have you passed them on to any of today’s youngsters?

Special bonus: Five favorite children’s books turning 50 this year

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Next Not-So-Young Adult Book Group Meeting

nochoirboyThe NSYA book group meeting will be on August 11 at 7pm in the Robbins Library Conference Room.

We’ll be discussing No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row by Susan Kuklin. Book List calls it “a searing and provocative account that will touch teens’ most fundamental beliefs and questions about violence, punishment, our legal and prison systems, and human rights.” I think we’re going to have a lot to talk about!

Copies of the book are available now at the Robbins Library Circulation Desk.

The NSYA Book Group is for adults, but we read and discuss books written for teenagers. Our discussions are friendly and casual, and we welcome newcomers to the group.

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Take the Pew “Library Lovers” Quiz

What-kind-of-library-users-are-in-your-communityAre you a “Library Lover”? Or are you totally “Off the Grid?” See how your own library habits stack up against the rest of our community—and the U.S. as a whole!  Take the “What type of library user are you?” quiz on the Pew Research Center’s website: http://www.pewinternet.org/quiz/library-typology/group/aa0f135

We know you have survey fatigue…rest assured this is just for fun! In addition to telling you what kind of library user you are, this library user quiz will let us gather (anonymous) data.  The results will help us learn how people use the library, how they think about their library’s impact on the community and what their views are on the importance of libraries in the digital age.  Any information collected in the quiz will be anonymous.

You can also visit the general sign in page here and enter our group ID:  aa0f135

Thanks!  We’re betting you’re all Library Lovers.

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Arlington Book Festival applications due 8/15

arlington book fest_final_color_croppedAttention local authors and the people who love them:  we’re currently accepting applications for the first-ever Arlington Book Festival, which will take place at the library on Saturday, November 1.  You can apply via our web form, or pick up a paper application at the reference desk at Robbins Library.  All applications are due by Friday, August 15.

The number of applications we receive and the areas of interest and expertise among our applicants will help determine the festival format, and preference will be given to Arlington-based authors.

Arlington is a place where arts and culture are thriving more than ever; just in the last few years we’ve seen the advent of a film festival, Arlington Alive!, and support for more public art projects like Chairful Where You Sit.  The Library has always played a key role in Arlington’s cultural life, and in past years we’ve had local author panels featuring three or four authors at a time.  This year, the Library is expanding this idea so that we can include more authors and create an event that showcases the incredible talent our community has to offer and gives authors an opportunity to share their hard-earned knowledge of the business of publishing.

Organized and run by library staff, the A.B.F. will provide authors with an opportunity to join their colleagues on panels covering a variety of topics related to writing and the publishing process, answer questions, and sell their work.  Plans are underway for the A.B.F. to take center stage in the beautiful Robbins Library reading room.  What’s more, November 1 also marks the kickoff of National Novel Writing Month (known as NaNoWriMo).  During the month of November, we join institutions nation-wide in setting aside space for writers of any experience level to “come write in” and work on their novels.

Further details about the Arlington Book Festival and NaNoWriMo will be shared here as plans develop, so stay tuned–and in the meantime encourage the local authors you know to apply for the Festival!

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