Arlington’s Queer Open Mic, tonight, April 1st

Did you know it’s going to be 68 degrees on Friday?  How exciting is that?

This is a picture of an excited kitten.

This kitten is pretty darned excited.

You know what else is exciting?  The Queer Open Mic that’s happening at the library tonight.  This is a pretty unplugged event (save for mics for the poets, storytellers, writers, and readers of awesome other stuff).  Want to gift us with your song?  You can do that, too (with our modest set-up), and wow us even more with energy, guts and raw talent.

Oh, and here’s your content warning (if you didn’t read the signs carefully). This event will probably include some mature themes and frank language.  Be advised.


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National Library Week, April 12-18, 2015

ALA National Library Week 2015 logo bannerNational Library Week is April 12-18 this year, but we’re so excited we’ve put a display up early. The library is many things to many people, so drop by and tell us what the library means to you!

National Library Week display on a table at the Robbins Library, with a poster and a basket for comment cards

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Bookending Arlington Reads Together 2015

My favorite photo from this year’s Arlington Reads Together was taken at the author Skype event we had in the Community Room. It was a Saturday afternoon in Arlington, March 21st, and Annabel Pitcher, author of My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, had just finished speaking to an audience of a couple dozen adults and teens from her home in West Yorkshire in the United Kingdom. Her smiling face was projected a few feet in front of the audience, on the screen that hangs above the Community Room fireplace. During the Q&A an audience member commented, “did you know you’re on the mantelpiece right now?” I sent Annabel the photo of herself on the mantelpiece, which she promptly shared on her author Facebook page.

Annabel Pitcher skype photo

Annabel on the mantelpiece

That was just one of many great moments from this year’s Arlington Reads Together “one book, one community” series. In a year of changes at the library, I found comfort and inspiration in the continuation of this annual tradition and I’d like to thank all those who made it great: the readers, the presenters, library staff, and Annabel herself! We held seven community events in all, ranging from intimate book discussions to larger gatherings that focused on the major themes in the book. As those who read it can attest, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece deals in some heavy subject matter. Though it’s told from the point of view of an upbeat ten-year-old, among the themes it addresses are terrorism, intolerance, alcoholism, grief, and anorexia.

Planning community events around these themes led to partnerships with five amazing organizations. Here are some of the highlights.

The Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition and local addiction center Right Turn offered a program that featured a documentary, Brought Up By Booze, by the son of soccer legend and notorious alcoholic George Best, followed by a discussion of how Arlington teens are affected by drugs and alcohol.

The Diversity Task Group of Vision 2020 co-sponsored a panel discussion with the Daughters of Abraham, an interfaith book group created in the wake of 9/11. One panelist relayed a story of a fellow group member speaking out when ugly comments were made about Muslims at a family gathering. The ripple effect of enlightenment reaches far and wide. We talked about the challenges of addressing religion and politics in a group setting, and how the shared experience of reading a book can make those conversations easier.

Finally, The Children’s Room of Arlington held their public annual meeting in the Community Room on March 25th at our invitation, where Executive Director Donna Smith Sharff and others spoke about services to grieving families in Arlington. The family in My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is completely upended by grief, though the protagonist Jamie barely remembers the source: his sister Rose who died in a terrorist attack when he was just five. The Children’s Room helps kids like Jamie understand and process the grief that surrounds them when a family member dies.

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is the kind of book lots of adults would pass by, not only because it’s technically a Young Adult novel but also because many would judge it by the cover, or judge it prematurely because of the subject matter. I admit I would never have picked it up if it hadn’t been nominated for Arlington Reads Together by our very savvy Young Adult librarian. Yet it proved to be the kind of book that takes you by surprise, and inspires great conversations–just what you want in a community read.

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Rosetta Stone has arrived!

LOGO_RosettaStoneTrying to learn a new language? You may already be familiar with our collection of books, CDs, and Playaways as well as our subscription to Mango Languages, but now we’ve added yet another language-learning resource: Rosetta Stone!

Many of you have been asking us for Rosetta Stone over the years, but the company hasn’t had a product for libraries…until now. If you’re an Arlington library patron, just use your library card number to access it on our database page. You’ll need to enter an email address and choose a password to set up an account, and it will track your progress.

Unfamiliar with Rosetta Stone? It’s a world-renowned interactive language learning resource. Lessons include sound and visual components as well as voice-recognition. Our package includes the basic level for these languages:

Chinese (Mandarin)
English (American & British)
Filipino (Tagalog)
Persian (Farsi)
Portuguese (Brazil)
Spanish (Latin America)
Spanish (Spain)

So don’t delay – get started learning a new language today!

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Arlington’s Queer Open Mic, on April 1st @ 7PM

It’s no April Fools’!  Arlington’s Queer Open Mic is quite real, and is happening on Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 at the Robbins Library. We’ve got a couple of great featured performers – poet, Aaron Smith and queer erotica writer, Anna Watson. If you’re feeling like knocking our socks off with your own writing, stories, song or anything else you dream up, you can.  Sign ups for a performance slot start at 6:30 PM. Show starts at 7 PM

Hey.  It’s been a long winter.  Time to let it all out.


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Next Not-So-Young Adult Book Group

nothingFor April, the Not-So-Young Adult Book Group will be reading Nothing by Janne Teller. Here’s a description from Goodreads:

When Pierre-Anthon realizes there is no meaning to life, the seventh-grader leaves his classroom, climbs a tree, and stays there. His classmates cannot make him come down, not even by pelting him with rocks. So to prove to Pierre-Anthon that life has meaning, the children decide to give up things of importance. The pile starts with the superficial;a fishing rod, a new pair of shoes. But as the sacrifices become more extreme, the students grow increasingly desperate to get Pierre-Anthon down, to justify their belief in meaning.

As you can see, we’re continuing our recent trend of reading light, happy books. (But don’t worry, we’re ending this reign of despair by reading Terry Pratchett the following month!) However, this book has been nominated for several awards, and won a couple of them including one from the American Library Association, so I’m expecting good things from it. Interestingly, it’s a work in translation, originally published in Danish.

We’ll be meeting to discuss Nothing on April 21 at 7pm in the Robbins Library Conference Room. Copies of the book are available now at the Circulation desk.

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Big Library Read

mysisterlivesonthemantelpieceAs you all know, we are in the middle of Arlington Reads Together, with several My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece events still to come (including a Skype session with the author, Annabel Pitcher!).

If you’ve already read My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece and are looking for something else you can read right away, our digital content (e-books, digital audiobooks, and streaming video) vendor, Overdrive, is hosting what they call their “Big Library Read.”

shakespearesavedThe book Shakespeare Saved My Life, a memoir by Dr. Laura Bates, is available as an e-book for everyone to check out and read at any time between now and March 31. Just click on the title to go to the digital catalog and download it for yourself.

Shakespeare Saved My Life is the story of a Shakespeare professor who volunteers to teach in a prison, and one of the inmates she meets there. There is a discussion guide for readers [PDF]. Unlike many e-books, there is no wait list for this book – you can read it right away and discuss with friends. Let us know what you think!

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