Arlington Reads Together Events in March

Featured Events

Esmeralda Santiago: Writing a Life

Sunday, March 83:00 p.m. (Please note: Daylight Savings Time begins on March 8)
Arlington Town Hall

Esmeralda Santiago, author of 2020 Arlington Reads Together pick When I Was Puerto Rican, kicks off a month of Puerto Rico themed programs and events when she presents, “Esmeralda Santiago: Writing a Life,” Books will be available for purchase and signing after the event, courtesy of The Book Rack.

Santiago was born in Puerto Rico and came to the United States when she was thirteen years old. She is the author of three memoirs, two novels, a children’s book, and has co-edited two anthologies of Latino literature. Her transcultural experiences growing up in a rural barrio, poor and disenfranchised, inspire much of her work and her books have been translated into fifteen languages. 

Upon publication of the ground-breaking memoir When I Was Puerto Rican, Santiago was hailed by the Washington Post Book World as “a welcome new voice, full of passion and authority.” Her first novel, America’s Dream, was made into a movie by executive producer Edward James Olmos. Her second memoir, Almost a Woman is a George Foster Peabody-award winning film for PBS Masterpiece Theatre’s “American Collection.” She is the only living author in this prestigious series that includes James Agee, Willa Cather, Langston Hughes, Eudora Welty and Henry James. 

Esmeralda Santiago is passionate about the need to encourage and support the artistic development of young people with storytelling and media literacy. She is a spokesperson on behalf of public libraries and has travelled extensively as a cultural ambassador for the State Department. Her essays and opinion pieces have been published widely and she is a frequent guest commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered, Morning Edition, LatinoUSA, and The TakeAway. Santiago graduated from Harvard University, earned a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, and has Honorary Doctorates from Trinity College, Pace University, Metropolitan College/NYC, and University of Puerto Rico/ Mayagüez. She has served on the boards of The Jacob Burns Film Center, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and PEN American Center. The mother of two adult children, she lives in New York with her husband, award-winning documentary filmmaker, Frank Cantor.  Presented by the Arlington Libraries Foundation. 

Fabiola Mendez Trio
Sunday, March 29
3:00 pm
Arlington Town Hall

The Fabiola Mendez Trio wraps up a full month of Arlington Reads Together events and discussions with the music of Puerto Rico. Fabiola Mendez is a Puerto Rican musician who studied at the Humacao Musical Institute, the Antonio Paoli School of Music in Caguas, and the Conservatorio de Artes del Caribe. In 2018, she received her Bachelor of Music from Berklee College of Music, becoming the first student to graduate with the Puerto Rican cuatro as principal instrument. This concert is presented by the Friends of Robbins Library. 

Fabiola has participated in several cuatro competitions winning prizes in all of them, including being selected as the winner of the “National Cuatro Player Competition” in 2011 by the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture. Fabiola has collaborated with artists such as: the Puerto Rican Symphony Orchestra, Totó la Momposina, Pedro Capó, Victoria Sanabria, Cucco Peña, Eddie Palmieri, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Danny Rivera, Edwin Colón Zayas, Los Rayos Gamma, among many others.  She has also had the privilege of receiving acknowledgements such as the dedication of the Mapeye Festival 2011, the Quincy Jones Award 2016, ambassador at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade in NYC 2018, and a commendation from the PR House of Representatives for being the first Puerto Rican cuatro player to graduate from Berklee.  

Additional Programs

Wayfarer Film Series presents: The Last Colony – Puerto Rico’s Unique Relationship With The United States
Thursday, March 5
6:00-8:00 p.m.
Robbins Library Community Room

Travel the world and experience international cinema with the Wayfarer Film Series! Catch a glimpse from beyond the continent, snack on fresh popcorn from our new popcorn machine, and enjoy a variety of films you might have missed at your local theater. In March we’ll be watching The Last Colony.   Filmmaker Juan Agustin Marquez examines Puerto Rico’s political situation and relations with the United States. The documentary is in Spanish and English with English subtitles. This film is unrated with a runtime of 92 minutes. 

ART Cookbook Club
Monday, March 9
6:30-8:00 p.m.
Robbins Library Community Room

Join us for a special Puerto Rico themed Cookbook Club!  We will be cooking from the El Boricua website: Choose a recipe to make, and register by emailing your recipe choice to Linda Dyndiuk at by March 4. Please see additional information about Cookbook Club at

Robbins Library Queer Book Group/Social Listens To Puerto Rican Podcasts
Wednesday, March 11
7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Robbins Library Conference Room

QBG will be listening to some podcasts about queer Puerto Ricans!  We’ll listen to an episode of Se Ve Se Escucha (Seen and Heard), about three Boricuas using language justice to create bridges between folks in the diaspora and folks in Puerto Rico, and an episode of Queering Left, interviewing two activists from the Puerto Rican community.  Please feel free to bring any quiet crafting, knitting, etc. to work on while you listen – we’ll provide some coloring books! 

Solo el Pueblo Salva al Pueblo: Puerto Rico Amidst Austerity, Natural Disasters and Political Revolt
Thursday, March 19
7:00 pm
Robbins Library Community Room

Patricia Alvarez Astacio, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University discusses the complex threads of Puerto Rico’s recent history to understand how natural disasters in an economically depressed US territory reinforce colonial policies, sustain corruption at the national and federal levels, and also serve as a catalyst for Puerto Ricans to reclaim their voice. 

PLUGGED iN PRESENTS: Equitable Resilience to Climate Change: Lessons from Puerto Rico
Tuesday, March 24
7:00 pm
Robbins Library Community Room

Ramón Bueno’s work focuses on how different dimensions of resilience and vulnerabilities interact with equity in development and technology. Ramón was born in Cuba then later grew up in Puerto Rico. He studied aerospace engineering and a master’s degree in systems modeling and optimization at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His interests in the Caribbean region extended to his climate-related work, starting in 2008 with “The Caribbean and Climate Change: The Costs of Inaction,” with colleagues at the Climate Economics Group. He has participated in presentations, dialogues and lectures at universities in Puerto Rico, and with others such as the Puerto Rico Climate Change Council and the Center for Investigative Journalism. Following the devastation by the 2017 hurricanes, he has been engaged in dialogues fostering connections and collaborations between colleagues in the Island and universities and professionals in the Boston area.

For Children and Families

Parrot Art Project
Wednesday, March 11
2:00 – 4:00
Robbins Library Children’s Room
Using Parrots over Puerto Rico as a model, we will explore the unique book illustrations and create our own artwork – in the same style!

Fun at Fox ART edition
Saturday, March 7
10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Fox Branch Library
We will read Parrots over Puerto Rico and a few other stories about  Puerto Rico followed by a craft.  

Book Groups and Discussions

Puerto Rico Strong at Fox
Wednesday, March 4
Fox Branch Library
6:30-7:30 pm

When I Was Puerto Rican and Puerto Rico Stong
Friday, March 13
12:00-1:00 pm
Robbins Library Conference Room
Two books, one discussion! 

Three Books, One Topic
Saturday, March 14
10:00 a.m.
Robbins Library Conference Room
At this discussion, we’ll discuss all three community read books and talk about how all three titles work together to paint a picture of Puerto Rico.  

Not-So-Young-Adult Book Group Reads When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago
Monday, March 23
7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Robbins Library Conference Room

Tertulia Literaria de Robbins discute Cuando era puertorriqueña por Esmeralda Santiago
25 de marzo
3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Robbins Library Conference Room
Ven a Robbins a discutir en español la autobiografía de la escritora puertorriqueña Esmeralda Santiago. Puedes conseguir copias del libro en el escritorio del circulación. 


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QBG Reads…. Has the Gay Movement Failed?

Wednesday February 26th at 7pm in the Robbins Library’s 4th Floor Conference Room QBG discusses the book Has the Gay Movement Failed? by Martin Duberman.

“The past fifty years have seen marked significant shifts in attitudes toward and acceptance of LGBTQ people in the United States and the West. Yet the extent of this progress, argues Martin Duberman, has been more broad and conservative than deep and transformative. One of the most renowned historians of the American left and LGBTQ movement, as well as a pioneering social-justice activist, Duberman reviews the fifty years since Stonewall with an immediacy and rigor that informs and energizes. He relives the early gay movement’s progressive vision for society as a whole, and puts the Left on notice as having continuously failed to embrace the queer potential for social transformation. He acknowledges successes as some of the most discriminatory policies that plagued earlier generations were eliminated but highlights the costs as radical goals were sidelined for more normative inclusion. Illuminating the fault lines both within and beyond the movements of the past and today, this critical book is also hopeful: Duberman urges us to learn from this history to fight for a truly inclusive and expansive society”

We’ll be voting on our next batch of books at this meeting, so be sure to come cast your vote!  New members are welcome!  Come make some new friends & expand your community!

Facebook Event:

Meetup Event:

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Wayfarer Film Series presents: The Last Colony (March 5, 2020)


Travel the world and experience international cinema with the Wayfarer Film Series at Robbins Library! Catch a glimpse from beyond the continent, snack on fresh popcorn from our brand new popcorn popping machine, and enjoy a variety of films you might have missed at your local theater.

Thursday, March 5
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Robbins Library Community Room

Kanopy Summary:

In 1898, the United States invaded and colonized Puerto Rico as part of the Spanish American War. For 114 years the people of Puerto Rico have maintained a polarizing debate on the STATUS ISSUE that has been front and center of the political discourse on the Island. Puerto Ricans (American citizens since 1917) constantly dispute between the options of Statehood, Independence and Commonwealth.

Continue reading

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Not-So Young Adult Book Group Reads When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago (March 23)

The next NSYA group meeting will take place on Monday, March 23 at 7pm in the 4th floor’s conference room. We’ll be discussing When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago.

when i was PR white backgroundGoodreads description:

Esmeralda Santiago’s story begins in rural Puerto Rico, where her childhood was full of both tenderness and domestic strife, tropical sounds and sights as well as poverty. Growing up, she learned the proper way to eat a guava, the sound of tree frogs in the mango groves at night, the taste of the delectable sausage called morcilla, and the formula for ushering a dead baby’s soul to heaven. As she enters school we see the clash, both hilarious and fierce, of Puerto Rican and Yankee culture. When her mother, Mami, a force of nature, takes off to New York with her seven, soon to be eleven children, Esmeralda, the oldest, must learn new rules, a new language, and eventually take on a new identity. In this first volume of her much-praised, bestselling trilogy, Santiago brilliantly recreates the idyllic landscape and tumultuous family life of her earliest years and her tremendous journey from the barrio to Brooklyn, from translating for her mother at the welfare office to high honors at Harvard.

Copies of the book are available at the front desk (if not, ask for assistance at the reference desk)

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Auschwitz – 75th Anniversary of the liberation – A Library display


A display of books, films and visuals, to learn more about the Auschwitz Concentration Camp and the Holocaust in general.


Entrance to Auschwitz
Arbeit macht frei = Work makes you free.


On January 27, 1945 all prisoners left behind at Auschwitz were liberated by the 1st Ukrainian Front of the Red Army.

Approximately 6 million Jews perished in the Holocaust

A children’s book about the Holocaust




Excerpt from Benno and the Night of Broken Glass









Anne Frank the diary of a young girlAuschwitz not long ago  Not far away

Benno and the night of broken glass

I never saw another butterfly :Children’s drawings and poems from Terezin Concentration Camp

Maus I :A survivor’s tale

Maus II A Survivor’s Tale And here my troubles began

Mein Kampf by Hitler


Anne Frank remembered

Bag of marbles

The Boy in the striped pajamas

Europa Europa by Agnieszka Holland

Night and fog by Alain Resnais

Shtetl by Marian Marzynski

Shoah by Claude Lanzmann

Triumph of the will by Leni Riefenstal


a yellow Star of David Jews were required to wear during the Holocaust


Seen at the Auschwitz Not So Long Ago Not So Far Away Exhibit in New York City 2/20


This Library display will run throughout the month of February.





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March Cookbook Club

Registration is open for the March Cookbook Club! We’ll be participating in Arlington Reads Together by celebrating the food of Puerto Rico.

We’ll be cooking from the El Boricua website and bringing our dishes to share.

The meeting is Monday March 9, 6:30-8:00pm in the Robbins Library Community Room.

To register, email with the name of the recipe you will bring. Space is limited; RSVP by March 4.

More information, and a list of recipes that have already been chosen, can be found here.

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Cold Climes

This month we’ve asked out librarians to share their favorite pieces of media that have chilly settings. Check out their responses below!

I reread Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter on the coldest day of the year.  I’ve been doing this for at least 30 years!
I am ready to go out, find the wheat, and save the town!

I chose to focus on picture books as there are some great ones about being outdoors in the winter and the snow! First, there is “Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats, of course, about a boy who wakes up and finds that it has snowed overnight. Marvelous adventures like building a snowfigure, making a snow angel and dragging a stick through the snow ensue. “Over and Under the Snow” by Messner is another ‘get out and explore’ book. As the children walk ON the snow, the illustrations show what is happening UNDER the snow – animals sleeping, eating, burrowing, etc. “Snowflake Bentley” is a biography of Wilson Bentley who is the one who really showed the world that each snowflake is an individual and distinct pattern – and he did this by photographing the snowflakes. “Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter” by Pak takes us on a walk through the woods as children are watching the seasons change. Finally, “Snow” by Uri Shulevitz is a marvelous illustrative book that shows a town as a storm begins. First there is one flake, then two, then….

The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean – YA fiction
Above All Things by Tanis Rideout – adult historical fiction
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips – adult fiction (suspense, multiple perspectives)
And of course, Lyra goes to the North in The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (book, movie, TV show)

Snowpiercer, the movie

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

As much as I dislike actually being cold, I LOVE books set in cold climates! Some of my favorites are:

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey – a retelling of the Snegurochka tale set in 1920s Alaska
The Shining by Stephen King – snowbound horror!
The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson – post-apocalyptic novel set in the Yukon
City of Thieves by David Benioff – dark humor set during the siege of Leningrad
Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic by Jennifer Niven – a young woman accompanies a group of explorers to do their cooking and whatnot, and ends up being the only survivor
My Last Continent by Midge Raymond – novel about a naturalist who studies penguins in Antarctica and there’s also a shipwreck!
No One Thinks of Greenland by John Greisemer – set in a military hospital in Greenland after the Korean War
Above All Things by Tanis Rideout – a fictionalized story about George Mallory’s attempt to climb Everest in 1924

Winter’s Bone

Let the Right One In
30 Days of Night
The ShiningThe ThingSnowpiercer

The Shining by Stephen King
The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride by Daniel James Brown
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman


Horizon Zero Dawn was an amazing game, and the The Frozen Wilds expansion was just icing on the cake.  The gorgeous wintry environments took my breath away and the narrative added in the expansion helped to clarify some plot points from the main portion of the game and open the door to potential sequels!

Let us know your favorite polar picks in the comments below!

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Off the Wall: Adopt an Art Print

Off the Wall text on gray brick backgroundOn Tuesday, February 4, we’ll be starting the first phase of our “Off the Wall” art print adoption program. Library patrons can choose an art print from the library’s circulating art print collection to adopt and bring home – permanently! Read on for details.

Why is the library doing this?

Thanks to a generous grant from a library trust fund, we are rebuilding our beloved circulating art print collection with local art, in addition to prints of classic, modern, and contemporary art that reflect the Arlington of today. To create the space we need, we are encouraging community members to adopt these well-loved prints. Now is your chance to bring a favorite print (or two) home with you to keep!

How do I adopt an art print?

Simple! If it’s on the wall in the library, take it off the wall and bring it to the reference desk. A reference librarian will withdraw the print from the library collection, take your name and library card number, and the print is yours to take home! If you already have a print checked out and want to keep it, call the reference desk and they will help you. If the print you want isn’t in the library, a reference librarian will help you place a hold on it. Limit two prints per household. Canvas bags not included. Some frames may have wear and tear.

Are all the old prints being given away at once?

No, we will be giving the old collection away in phases which will be announced periodically. We need to keep the collection healthy as we renovate it.

Will there still be art prints to check out?

Yes! We are actively adding prints to the collection: local art as well as prints of classic, modern, and contemporary art. Framed prints can be checked out for six weeks, along with a canvas carrying bag.

Are there prints that are off-limits?

Yes. We’ve already begun adding new prints to the collection, so those aren’t up for adoption. Staff will be able to identify these for you, if you aren’t sure.

How are the new prints being acquired?

Our new collection will include prints of famous art, especially those held in local museums; local artists’ work; and prints from online sources. We’re aiming to build a diverse collection that will have something for everyone. If you have suggestions for the collection, or if you are a local artist with work to sell or donate, please contact Jenny Arch at

The first phase of the “Off the Wall” art print adoption program will end after 50 prints have been adopted or two weeks have passed, whichever comes first has ended! Keep an eye on the blog for the next open phase.

Jenny Arch is the Circulating Art Prints Coordinator.


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Young, Gifted, & Black – Black History Month 2020

This year for Black History Month, we’re featuring some great YA books starring young, gifted, & black protagonists!  Check out the list below:

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Wayfarer Film Series Presents: The Red Balloon (Thursday, February 13)

RedTravel the world and experience international cinema with the Wayfarer Film Series at Robbins Library! Catch a glimpse from beyond the continent, snack on fresh popcorn from our brand new popcorn popping machine, and enjoy a variety of films you might have missed at your local theater.

IMDB Summary:

A boy makes friends with a seemingly sentient balloon, and it begins to follow him. It follows the boy to school, to the bus, and to church. Boy and balloon play together in the streets of Paris and try to elude a gang of boys that wants to destroy the balloon.

Thursday,February 3
7:00-8:00 p.m.
Robbins Library Community Room

Language: French dialogue with English subtitles. Rated G. Run-time: Approx 35 Minutes. For additional information contact Nick Glade at or 781-316-3227. Closed Caption/Subtitles will be provided.

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