Nebula Nominees Announced

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America have announced the nominees for the 51st annual Nebula Awards. The five nominated novels are below:

Cover images of the five Nebula nominees

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Borderline by Mishell Baker

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (this is the second book in a series; if you’d like to start at the beginning, the first book is The Fifth Season, which was also nominated for a Nebula, and which won the Hugo)

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Everfair by Nisi Shawl

See the nominees in other categories (novella, novelette, short story, Bradbury, Norton) on the SF&FWA website.

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Computer Basics class: Searching the Internet

Finding the information you want online can be difficult – not because it isn’t there (it usually is), but because there is so much to sift through! Come to our Internet Searching class for some tips on how to find what you’re looking for, and how to tell what’s reliable from what isn’t.

Bring your own laptop if you have one, or borrow one of ours before class starts. We’ll be meeting from 3-4pm on Tuesday, February 28 in the Robbins Library Conference Room.

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Gender Diversity Books for Kids

Looking for some great books to help you explore gender diversity with children? Our Children’s Librarians put together this excellent list. All are available through Minuteman.

Picture Books:
Worm Loves Worm by  J. J. Austrian
Two worms in love decide to get married, and with help from Cricket, Beetle, Spider, and the Bees they have everything they need and more, but which one will be the bride and which the groom?



morrisMorris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino
A young boy faces adversity from classmates when he wears an orange dress at school.



redcrayonRed: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
Red’s factory-applied label clearly says that he is red, but despite the best efforts of his teacher, fellow crayons and art supplies, and family members, he cannot seem to do anything right until a new friend offers a fresh perspective.




jacobdressJacob’s New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman
Jacob, who likes to wear dresses at home, convinces his parents to let him wear a dress to school too.



bigbobBig Bob, Little Bob by James Howe
Big Bob likes trucks and throwing balls and being loud. Little Bob likes dolls and jingling bracelets and being quiet. No matter what they do, they do not do it the same way. Can they possibly be friends despite these differences?


myprincessboyMy Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis
A four-year-old boy loves dressing up in princess clothing. “A nonfiction picture book about acceptance … to give children and adults a tool to talk about unconditional friendship”




Chapter Books :

lilyLily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth-grade. Norbert Dorfman, nicknamed Dunkin Dorfman, is bipolar and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse. One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.

georgeGeorge by Alex Gino
When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

theotherboyThe Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey
Since twelve-year old Shane moved to a new town, he has been concealing the fact he was born a girl, but when one of his classmates learns he is a transgender, Shane must deal with the reactions of his entire community.




famfletcherThe misadventures of the family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
Relates the adventures of a family with two fathers, four adopted boys, and a variety of pets as they make their way through a school year, Kindergarten through sixth grade, and deal with a grumpy new neighbor.



gracefullyGracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky
Grayson, a transgender twelve-year-old, learns to accept her true identity and share it with the world.




hiddenHidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. He must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favor.




formagnuschaseFor Magnus Chase: Hotel Valhalla guide to the Norse worlds : your introduction to deities, mythical beings & fantastic creatures by Rick Riordan
A can’t-live-without guide for guests of the Hotel Valhalla, this volume contains facts about the Norse gods as well as other characters and creatures you might encounter if you are fortunate enough to be chosen as one of Odin’s brave warriors.



sexisafunnySex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg
A comic book for kids that includes children and families of all makeups, orientations, and gender identies, Sex Is a Funny Word is an essential resource about bodies, gender, and sexuality for children ages 8 to 10 as well as their parents and caregivers. Much more than the “facts of life” or “the birds and the bees,” Sex Is a Funny Word opens up conversations between young people and their caregivers in a way that allows adults to convey their values and beliefs while providing information about boundaries, safety, and joy. The eagerly anticipated follow up to Lambda-nominated What Makes a Baby, from sex educator Cory Silverberg and artist Fiona Smyth, Sex Is a Funny Word reimagines “sex talk” for the twenty-first century.


Book descriptions are from catalog and often publisher supplied. 

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Black Characters & Black History in Pop Culture

Looking for books, movies, and games featuring black characters & black history for Black History Month?  We’ve put together a compilation of lists just for that purpose!

Looking for books?  Check out this Goodreads Black History Month list or this list of new books, put together by The Guardian.

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Want children’s books?  BookRiot has you covered with their list of 100 children’s books!


Graphic novels more your speed?  Bustle has 11 titles for you to check out.


For movies, The Huffington Post has 29 films for your consideration & The Guardian highlights some new releases for you to watch.

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Inverse has your TV needs covered with their list of 10 TV shows featuring black leads.


BuzzFeed asked queer artists “What film, play, or book best represents queer black culture to you and why?”  You can read their answers also compiled a list of 35 queer black writers to know.

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Lastly, YouTuber Cortland Messam put together his list of top 10 black characters in video games.


Have recommendations of your own?  Let us know in the comments!

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Discover African-American History With Our Databases

Our databases are a great tool for learning about African-American history!  You can look at the databases here in the library, from at home, or anywhere you have an internet connection!  All you need in order to access them are your library card number and your password.

Check out Biography in Context for biographical information, images, articles, videos, and more, on famous African-Americans.

Octavia Butler – Accessed using Biography in Context

Searching for “African-Americans” or “African-American history” will bring up topic pages in our Britannica & Credo Reference databases (accessible here) which are great jumping off points for research, images, and more.  You can also do more focused searches on specific movements or individuals as well.  The Britannica database is maintained by the very same company that puts out the Encyclopedia Britannica in print.  All of the information you’ll find in Credo Reference comes from published books – the books that were used on any given page are listed at the bottom.


Selma March – Accessed using Britannica Online

NoveList and Books & Authors can help you find books with African-American characters as well.  Try this sample search in Books & Authors or do a subject search for “African-Americans” in NoveList!  You can get more specific in either database, refining by limiters like age, genre, and more!


If you’re having trouble figuring out how to use any of these resources, our staff are always happy to answer questions about our databases!

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Nicole Maines and the dignity of bathrooms

“This entire issue of transgender people posing a kind of threat to cisgender women in bathrooms is made up. We are just like everybody else — we go into the bathroom, we keep our heads down, we don’t look at anybody.”
Nicole Maines, speaking to Terry Gross


Nicole Maines, the subject of our 2017 Arlington Reads Together selection “Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family” won a landmark lawsuit in the state of Maine affording her the right to use the bathroom of her gender identity. She has spoken extensively of the importance of this issue, and she’ll be sharing her story with us when she speaks in Arlington on Saturday March 4 at 1:00 pm at Arlington Town Hall.

Transgender bathroom lawsuits have been in the news this week. The Department of Justice submitted a legal brief, “withdrawing the government’s objections to an injunction that had blocked guidance requiring that transgender students be allowed to use restrooms that match their gender identity.”

Gavin Grimm‘s lawsuit against the School Board in Gloucester, VA will be going before the Supreme Court later this year. They barred him from using the bathroom matching his gender identity.

Learn more about Arlington Reads Together and find additional programming.

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Next NSYA Book Group Meeting

smellofotherpeoplesThe next book we’ll be reading for the Not-So-Young Adult book group is The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck strikes. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance, with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger.

Copies are available at the Robbins Library front desk now. We’ll meet to discuss it on Wednesday, March 15 at 7pm in the 4th floor conference room.

Hope to see lots of you there!

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Lemonade Syllabus

lemonadebeyLemonade didn’t win the Grammy for Album of the Year  this weekend, to the surprise of even the winner, Adele.  But Beyonce’s iconic album did inspire the Lemonade syllabus, created by Candice Benbow last year.

The syllabus includes books, films, songs, and poetry made by & about black women.  It’s a great resource for those looking to celebrate the works of black women this Black History Month.

Additionally, we’ve compiled a small sampling of works that have come out since the syllabus was created (or will come out soon) by & about black women.

Fiction & Literature:


Kindred : A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia E. Butler

Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn

Grace by Natashia Deón

We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlin Greenidge

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan

The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso51k-l3walxl

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson



Non-fiction & Autobiography:

41kodbafo6l-_sx329_bo1204203200_The Meaning of Michelle : 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own edited by Veronica Chambers

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly




9781481479790_zoomLittle and Lion by Brandy Colbert

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland with Brandy Colbert

Peas and Carrots by Tanita S. Davis

Everyone We’ve Been by Sarah Everett

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson32075671

Into White by Randi Pink

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

American Street by Ibi Zoboi




solangeA Seat at the Table by Solange

OOOUUU by Young M.A.

Here by Alicia Keys

For All We Know by NAO

Film & Documentary:

hidden_figuresHidden Figures

Like Cotton Twines


Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise


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Books in Bloom returns to Robbins Library

Books in Bloom is around the corner! Get your ticket today for a lovely and literary evening at Robbins Library.

FRIDAY, MARCH 10th, 2017 7:00 – 9:00 pm


Join the Friends of Robbins Library & the Arlington Garden Club for an evening of stunning literary inspired floral displays, hors d’oeuvres and beverages in the elegant Robbins Library Reading Room & Rotunda. Music entertainment from the Morningside Music Studio Jazz Combo.

Tickets $30.00 in advance or $35.00 at the door
online at eventbrite or the Circulation Desk of Robbins and Fox Libraries
Patsy Kraemer of the Garden Club ( 781-858-8629)
Checks to be made payable to Arlington Garden Club
Proceeds to benefit Arlington’s Libraries and the Arlington Garden Club

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100 years of Fox Branch Library: Part One


Circa 1915 post card view of Crosby School. Built in 1896, with a 1911 addition to the right of the main entrance. From 1917 to 1950, the East Branch Library was located in the basement room to the furthest right in this image. (Courtesy Arlington Historical Society)

Circa 1915 post card view of Crosby School. Built in 1896, with a 1911 addition to the right of the main entrance. From 1917 to 1950, the East Branch Library was located in the basement room to the furthest right in this image. (Courtesy Arlington Historical Society)


Local historian Richard A. Duffy, a board member of the Arlington Libraries Foundation since 2013, is today’s guest blogger.

February 15, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Fox Branch Library in East Arlington.  This blog post is the first in a two-part series to celebrate this major milestone.

As early as 1888 the trustees of the Arlington Public Library (as Robbins Library was known until 1892) considered the possibility of expanding library services into the “east section” of town.  Since 1883, the rudiments of a branch library had been present in Arlington Heights, with a wicker basket of books sent weekly to the railway station (which also housed the Arlington Heights post office) to enable basic borrowing facilities for patrons in that vicinity.

The suggestion five years later for library services in the east part of town did not gain traction.  The Arlington Heights railroad station was located in the center of that “village,” whereas the Lake Street depot was comparatively isolated.  Moreover, the extensive farmlands of the east meant that most of the population was thinly spread.

A detail from the Beers 1875 atlas shows the Lake Street railway station at center. The open farm fields shown in the vicinity would remain largely unbuilt until the second decade of the 20th century. (Courtesy Arlington Historical Society)

A detail from the Beers 1875 atlas shows the Lake Street railway station at center. The open farm fields shown in the vicinity would remain largely unbuilt until the second decade of the 20th century. (Courtesy Arlington Historical Society)

Still, the evolution of neighborhood library services in the Heights would provide a model for the east to emulate in another three decades.  In 1891 a Heights “reading room” opened in commercial space on Park Avenue (home to Arlington Coal & Lumber today), where library patrons could order books from the main library, read newspapers and magazines, and consult reference works.  The 1909 addition to the Locke School enabled a proper branch library to be established there, with its own small circulating collection enhancing the services offered to Heights residents.

East Arlington quickly gained a stronger identity once the extension of subway service to Harvard Square in 1912 sparked explosive growth in housing construction.  In November 1914, the East Arlington Improvement Association sought the establishment of a library branch, but commercial space was filled about as fast as it was built.  A solution was not apparent, but with prominent East Arlington resident and land developer William Muller having been elected as a library trustee in 1911, the interests of the neighborhood could not have been better represented at that level.

Home of William and Kate Squire Muller at 231 Massachusetts Ave., circa 1910. The building was moved and is still standing at 19 Grafton St. (Robbins Library collection)

Home of William and Kate Squire Muller at 231 Massachusetts Ave., circa 1910. The building was moved and is still standing at 19 Grafton St. (Robbins Library collection)

The opening of the present Arlington High School building in 1915 made its former home at the corner of Academy and Maple streets available for conversion into the town’s first junior high school.  This relieved the Crosby School (at the time the only grammar school in East Arlington) of grade eight, with grade seven soon to follow.   This freed-up space to allow East Arlington to have branch library facilities similar to those in Arlington Heights.  Formal planning got underway in 1916.

Nina L. Winn, a 39-year old resident of 37 Summer St., worked part-time as a library assistant at Robbins Library, and was keenly interested in the East Arlington Branch assignment.  On Monday, November 6, 1916, she wrote in her diary: “Worked [at Robbins Library] from 10 – 12-30 & 2 – 5-15 & [then] telephoned to [library colleague] Eva Smith about East End branch of the library, as I fear Mildred Marsh may be applying.”

On Saturday, December 9, Nina Winn recorded “[Worked at] Library in eve 7-30 to 9.  So stormy that there was not much doing.  Went over early and had a talk about East Branch with [head librarian] Miss [Elizabeth] Newton. Mildred Marsh there to see two of the trustees. She is Miss Newton’s choice, good discipline, literary, etc., but to me quite disagreeable & lacking in manners.”

Two months later, a brief news item in the Arlington Advocate was the extent of public fanfare for the new endeavor:

“The East Arlington Branch of the Robbins Library will be open as of Thursday afternoon, Feb. 15th, at 1:30, in the basement of the Crosby schoolhouse, on Winter Street, where a room has been fitted for the purpose, with an entrance on the north side of the building.  Miss Mildred Marsh will be in attendance and will welcome those who wish to use the library.  Books can be ordered and delivered there from the library at the centre.  Magazines and reference books must be examined there.  The hours for the present will be from 1:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.”

Early on, some adjustments were needed, as described in the Advocate:

“Beginning on Thursday, March 8, the hours of the East Arlington Branch of Robbins Library will be from 1 to 6, then 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. This will enable the schoolchildren to leave their books before 1:30. The room has been well patronized by young people since its opening the middle of February and it is hoped that adults will soon be attracted there also.”

In 1917 the pupils of the Crosby School walked home for their 90-minute lunch break, so having the library open before classes resumed at 1:30 was an obvious improvement.  Less apparent is the rationale to keep the branch open until 9:00 on Saturday evenings.  A century ago, many people had a six-day workweek, so Saturday evening openings, be they at banks, stores, or libraries, were of great importance to adults.

The supervisor’s position at the East Branch ultimately was not that attractive to Mildred L. Marsh, for she resigned to take an office job in Boston in September, Eva Smith taking her place and serving there for many years to come.  The trustees reported that “Miss Marsh rendered important service in the establishment of the Branch and will be gratefully remembered in connection with it.”

The trustees commented on two “firsts” in relation to the new East Branch.  Prosaically, the use of “taxicabs for the transfer of books with entire satisfaction.”  And, much more compelling, “a library of Italian books was borrowed for several months from the Massachusetts Free Public Library Commission.” Later, books in Swedish, Hungarian, and Polish were also made available to serve immigrants, many of whom lived in East Arlington.

In the ensuing decades, East Arlington would fairly burst at the seams with residential, commercial, and institutional development; however, the East Branch did not keep pace.  The 1936 “Report of the Librarian” stated:  “The Robbins Library has two very definite needs.  First:  Branch Library buildings at Arlington Heights and East Arlington. With the estimated division of population of 15,488 at the Heights, 11,404 at the Centre, and 14, 230 at East, it would seem that something must be done.”

The Heights soon gained a spacious and handsome new building at the north corner of Park Avenue and Paul Revere Road, on a former fire station parcel owned by the town.  The Vittoria C. Dallin Branch Library went immediately from success to success.  In East Arlington, there was no comparable site, and its branch was left to wither for lack of space, and face a growing chorus of complaints that its quarters at the Crosby School were unattractive and inconvenient.  The East Branch did what it could, in particular reaching out to the Hardy School, and taking part in Library Week 1943, whose slogan that war year was “Build the Future with Books.”  But its programming had to be limited to story hours.

Detail of flier for 1943 Library Week activities. (Robbins Library archives)

Detail of flier for 1943 Library Week activities. (Robbins Library archives)

It was hoped that postwar prosperity would soon bring positive changes to the East Branch.  Its physical plant left it out of the mainstream compared to the other two library locations in Arlington.  Popular exhibits were routine at the main library and the Dallin Branch.  In 1949, the East Branch finally had an exhibit that it had room to display:   “small dolls, little elephants, squirrels, penguins, bird baths and others,” all made from unpainted sea shells.  The scale of the sole exhibit to reach the East Branch became unintentionally emblematic of the reality that serious improvements could wait no longer.

Retiree William B. Fleming of 306 Appleton St., “Artist in Sea Shells” with some of his creations exhibited at the East Branch Library in 1949. (Arlington News photograph)

Retiree William B. Fleming of 306 Appleton St., “Artist in Sea Shells” with some of his creations exhibited at the East Branch Library in 1949. (Arlington News photograph)










The second half of the Fox Branch Library history will appear later in this centennial year.

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