“For Freedoms” Installation at Robbins Library

From now through November 13, the library’s new “For Freedoms” installation can be viewed on the Robbins lawn at the corner of Mass Ave and Peg Spengler Way. Created in partnership with the Ottoson Middle School eighth grade civics class to promote civic engagement among young people, the signs offer students’ views inspired by four prompts: Freedom for, Freedom of, Freedom to, and Freedom from. Teens were asked to finish the prompt with the one hope that they have as Election Day approaches. The project gives teens the opportunity to let voters and candidates know what issues are most important to them.

In a world where most political decisions are made by adults, the signs represent the hopes of Arlington’s teens for their lives, their communities, their country, and their world. Katy Kania, Head of Teen Services at the library, says “We hope you will take time to reflect on these teens’ thoughts and feelings, to consider the world they will inherit, and to familiarize yourself with the world they intend to create.”  

For Freedoms is an artist-led organization that models and increases creative civic engagement and discourse within communities through installations like the one at Robbins Library. Founded by Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms was inspired by Norman Rockwell’s paintings of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms (1941)—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. The For Freedoms Federation encourages new forms of critical discourse, inviting communities to use art as a vehicle to build greater participation in American Democracy. 

Visitors are invited to stop by the library’s front lawn to view this installation, but please respect physical space and maintain social distance.  

This project was made possible by Waltham Public Library, the Friends of the Robbins Library, Ottoson Middle School, and For Freedoms. You can learn more about For Freedoms at https://forfreedoms.org/

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Introducing Book Packs

Although library users are able to request specific books and pick them up, we know that many of you miss browsing our collections in person. One way we are helping to simulate the browsing experience is with our Grab Bag service. Now we have another way: our new Book Packs!

Now you can request a tote bag with items in a specific topic or genre and take home an array of titles to peruse. You can find them in the catalog by typing in “book pack.” Click on each record to see the titles included in that Book Pack. We’ll be continuing to add to this new collection, but here are the topics we have so far:

Race (2 bags)



Queer Fiction

Latinx Fiction

Hot Fiction


True Crime

Indigenous Fiction and Non-fiction

Queer History

Climate Change



We hope these will satisfy your curiosity when you want to learn more about a topic but don’t have particular titles in mind, or just want a selection of new, popular books. Getting 5 or so titles at once will give you some choice and hopefully keep you busy for the 6-week checkout period. 

Happy reading!

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Convenience Drop-in Checkout Service Starting Oct 19

Effective Monday, October 19, library visitors can check out their reserved items inside the lobby without an appointment, Monday – Thursday 9:30-6:30, and Friday – Saturday 9:30-4:30. Lobby access is for the new convenience pickup service only. 

For those who prefer contactless pickup, that service will continue to be available. The contactless pickup area is just inside the first set of doors.

The Robbins Library lobby has been transformed to support drop-in checkout. Instead of the usual desk on the right, the checkout point is on the left between the lobby area and the Reading Room. Social distance floor markers and directional arrows have been added to the lobby area, and plexiglass and temporary barriers have been installed to define the public service area and provide additional protection for staff and patrons.

The new drop-in checkout service point in action

The Reading Room has been reconfigured, too. In June, when returns started flooding back to the library and contactless pickup began, the Reading Room became the heart of circulation operations, with socially distanced staff workstations and a sea of book carts. Now, the Reading Room is both a staff work space and the storage area for all outgoing inventory (patron holds and Grab Bags) which is organized on tables, shelves and book carts.

In addition to being able to reserve and borrow books and other familiar formats, Library of Things items and items from the Discover It Yourself collection for children can now be reserved through the catalog. Patrons looking to refresh their surroundings can order their favorite art print from the library’s circulating art print collection, too. 

Public technology service now includes remote printing (learn more: robbinslibrary.org/technology-in-the-library), and beginning October 19, Chromebooks and hotspots can be reserved through the catalog.

All visitors entering the vestibule or lobby area must wear masks and keep 6’ apart. Those with medical conditions that prevent masks from being worn will need to call on arrival and will be served outside. 

For details on borrowing items, visit https://www.robbinslibrary.org/borrowing-items/

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Women’s right to vote – Arlington’s history

One hundred years ago, in 1920, American women won the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th amendment to the United States Constitution. The suffrage campaign had been neither easy nor straightforward. In 1915  Massachusetts voters in a state referendum on the issue soundly defeated women’s suffrage—only males voted of course, and they cast 68% of their votes against the measure. Arlington men voted 1410 (no) to 857 (yes).

Arlington had strong suffrage and anti-suffrage organizations with women in the vanguard of both. The Arlington’s Woman’s Club (AWC), the town’s powerhouse women’s organization with hundreds of members had a record of accomplishments  from the establishment of the Arlington Visiting Nurses Association, to successfully lobbying the state for prison reform.

AWC provided the leadership–the leaders of both factions  became AWC Presidents– for both the anti-suffrage and the pro-suffrage  groups, but the “battle” was decidedly sedate and middle class featuring teas, political plays, and lectures. After the amendment passed  In order to accommodate a much-enlarged electorate, Arlington town meeting changed from an open form to a representative one. The 1921 Town Meeting was the first to have both precinct and women representatives, and they’ve been there ever since!

In addition

Ida Robbins (eldest Robbins sister) was a member of the very first voting group of women-voting Town Meeting members after the 19th Amendment passed – but she had been anti-suffrage before then.

You may wonder why anyone would not want the right to vote.  Many women in Arlington already had power within the cultural spheres of their women’s groups so why would they wish to show up at smoke-filled back rooms with spittoons dominated by men, when their methods were based on female solidarity over which they had control.

Related  Library books on this topic which you can reserve…

Suffrage : Women’s long battle for the vote by Ellen Carol Dubois

Massachusetts in the woman suffrage movement : revolutionary reformers by Barbara F. Berenson

Forging the franchise : the political origins of the women’s vote by Dawn Langan Teele

The woman’s hour : the great fight to win the vote by Elaine F. Weiss

Thank you to local historians, Doreen Stevens and Oakes Plimpton, for information used in this blog post.

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Expressions you’ve known – and loved

Expressions contributed by staff members :

Marblehead lighthouse

Light dawns on Marble Head                                                                                                               An expression with plenty of local color  – translates to the aha moment.





Do your best and G-d will do the rest.





Russian sayings – plus transliterations  and  translations.

The less you know the better you sleep                                                                                   Men’she znaesh, luchshe spish   

In every joke there is a grain of truth                                                                                                     V’kazhdoi shutke est’dolja pravdi                                                                                        

Russian porridge  


And speaking of grains…

You cannot spoil porridge with butter           Kashu maslom ne isportish                   No such thing as too much of a good thing.

Russian porridge is a food/a meal  and yes, it is pretty bland. The cereal, or rather grains are cooked  in water or milk with some salt. The grain can be rice, oats, millet, semolina, etc and  after its cooked you add butter for taste/flavor.     – Nina R.


Goin’ down the shaw                                                                                                                                Jersey-speak for going to the beach














                                Lord love a duck!                                                                                                                                     Translation :   omg





Yiddish words and expressions :

kvetch   – To complain, whine

the whole mishpocheh  –   One’s whole family

plotz   –   to collapse from exhaustion or laughter










Bless us and save us said Mrs. O’Davis                                                                                       (spoken with an Irish brogue)


Off the derech

Off the derech, from the Hebrew word דֶּרֶךְ‎ derech, is an expression used to describe someone who leaves an Orthodox Jewish community. The term applies to a broad range of ex-Orthodox Jews, including those who leave Hasidic communities, ultra-Orthodox or Haredi communities, and Modern Orthodox communities.     – from Wikipedia








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Database How-To – Peterson’s Career Prep

Looking for help switching careers, finding a job/school, or writing your resume and cover letter? Check out this basic guide to getting started using the library’s Peterson’s Career Prep database! This database has replaced our old career prep database Career Transitions.

Peterson’s Career Prep “Accommodates job seekers at all levels, whether they are entering the workforce for the first time or searching for new opportunities. Career assessments prompt personalized career recommendations and guidance on programs, knowledge, skills, and ability. Search for open jobs opportunities and create visually interesting résumés, cover letters, and websites that can be externally shared with prospective employers, using prebuilt templates.”

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It’s A Mystery

This month we asked our librarians what some of their favorite mysteries are! Here are their answers:

I’m usually not a big super-scary mystery fan but I’ve grown to LOVE Agatha Christie movies – Murder on the Orient Express and Knives Out were two favs. I also like Westing Game by Ellen Raskin for kids as well as Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet. Both are intriguing and surprising! Best qualities for a mystery in my book.

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris – A really stunning graphic novel, though the main mystery won’t be solved until volume 2.
The Likeness by Tana French – My favorite of the few of her books I’ve read; very psychological.
Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson – I love all of his stuff, though they are more like thrillers than straight-up mysteries.
The William Monk series by Anne Perry (first book is The Face of a Stranger) – I’ve read a bunch of these and really enjoy the Victorian setting and the main characters, especially Hester.

Agatha Raisin (available on Acorn)
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (available on Acorn)

Mystery is not a genre I am too familiar withI however really enjoyed Gun with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem. It’s a traditional detective narrative that takes place in a world where Humans and Animals are hybridized. It has some of the strangest sci-fi elements I have read.

The BMO Noire episode of Adventure Time is really good also.

Knives Out and Clue are the best mystery movies.

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
The City & the City by China Miéville
Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Abbott by Saladin Ahmed, Illus. Sami Kivelä
I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

What are your favorite mysteries? Share in the comments below!

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FREE Wifi Access Via Xfinity For Everyone

Xfinity has opened up WiFi Hotspot access nationwide in response to Coronavirus.

Xfinity WiFi hotspots located both indoors and outdoors in places like shopping districts, parks, businesses, and train stations will be open. Hotspots located in customers’ homes (Xfinity Home Hotspots) are not opened to the public in this free service.

Customers and non-customers can find the exact hotspot locations at xfinity.com/wifi/#find-a-hotspot < https://wifi.xfinity.com/#find-a-hotspot >

To access this Wifi:
1. Go to the Wifi Settings on your device

2. Select “xfinitywifi” from the list of available WiFi networks

3. Launch a browser

4A. Xfinity Internet customers can sign in using their Xfinity ID and password to be automatically connected to Xfinity WiFi hotspots in the future.

4B. Non-Xfinity Internet customers can connect by clicking the Accept and Connect button. Non-Xfinity customers will be able to renew their complimentary sessions every 12 hours.

Check the Xfinity FAQ for troubleshooting and more information:

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Introducing Arlington’s COVID-19 Community Archive

Six months after Arlington’s first diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in March, Arlington’s COVID-19 Community Archive is available and accepting contributions on the “Local History Resources” page at robbinslibrary.org. The archive presents a snapshot of life in Arlington during the pandemic and includes a growing array of images, videos, and documents for future students of local history.

Any document that reflects life in Arlington during the COVID period is considered for submission. Library staff encourage a diverse range of material including diaries, journals, essays, art work, amateur photos captured on cell phones, videos, and other documents.  Arlington residents who would like to submit files to the archive can do so via the online submission tool at https://robbinslibrary.librariesshare.com/arlingtonscovid-19/.  

In March 2020 as schools and workplaces closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff at the Robbins Library recognized a need to begin documenting life during the COVID period.  During the first few months of the pandemic library staff set up the necessary technology tools to create the backbone of the archive and a submission tool for community members to share digital files.  In July, staff began reaching out to community leaders to solicit contributions to Arlington’s COVID-19 Community Archive.  

So far, the earliest image in the collection is a photo of a March 9 press conference with national and regional news media interviewing Christine Bongiorno, Health and Human Services Director.  Assistant Director of Libraries Anna Litten’s favorite image is a photo titled “Arlington Service Station Raises Sign of Hope and Thanks.”  Litten says, “The color and composition would make it a great photo under any circumstances, but the image captures a public art project featuring mask-like flags and a ‘Thank You Caregivers’ banner that really captures the spirit of Arlington.”  

“We hope that seeing the archive as it is now will inspire community members to find their own images and other documents to contribute to the collection,” says Litten.  “It’s a great time to look through your camera roll or diaries to find pieces that would work well in the collection.” Litten adds, “I’m hoping that community members will add photos of the bare grocery store shelves and signs limiting the purchase of cleaning supplies that we saw back in April as well as other documents that capture the early days of the pandemic.”  

Joan Roman, Arlington’s Public Information Officer, was one of the first contributors to the project.  Roman suggests including detailed description of any file uploaded to the archive.  “Since this is an archive, it is important to include details of the image on hand. Think of someone looking at this image in 20 or even 50 years. The pandemic might be a mere memory, or even forgotten. This is your opportunity to share your experiences during this historic moment in time and answer the question ‘what was it like” says Roman.  “Don’t forget to include details like dates and places on photos, answer basic who, what, where, why, and when for each file,” Roman adds.  

To access the archive, visit robbinslibrary.org and select Local History Resources.  Find Arlington’s COVID-19 Community Archive under Robbins Library Digitized Historical Materials.  Visitors who click into the archive can choose to follow the simple prompts to create a profile and download content, save favorites, see their recent searches.  Or, select Robbins Library from the drop-down menu to move straight to viewing the archive.  

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FREE Online Technology Magazines–Available via Overdrive

MLN Library card holders have free access to a collection of print magazines available online via Overdrive. Included in this collection are four technology magazines.

Technology Magazines in the Collection:

September 2020 issue
Since launching with the Mac in 1984, Macworld is still the best place to read about everything Apple! Combining product reviews, valuable tips, and analysis of the latest news developments, every month Macworld magazine provides you with what you need to know about the universe of Apple products.



PC Magazine
August 2020 Issue
PCMag has been the leading authority on technology buying since 1982, delivering independent reviews of more than 2,000 products per year. The editors and analysts are regularly featured in the press as experts.


Popular Mechanics
Fall 2020 Issue
Since 1902, Popular Mechanics has been the authority on how the world works. They bring their audience the latest news on innovations and inventions across the automotive, DIY, science, technology, and outdoor spaces. They also serve their readers with the knowledge they need to get the most out of life, whether that’s how to change a tire, how to build a farmhouse table, how to find your lost phone, or how to hike the Appalachian Trail. Popular Mechanics is about wonder, about being curious about the world around you, and it’s about getting your hands dirty, too. Popular Mechanics explains the world in an easy-to-understand, jargon-free way while also offering readers the depth of information they need to succeed.

WIRED Magazine
September 1, 2020 Issue
WIRED is the essential source of information and ideas that make sense of a world in constant transformation. The WIRED conversation illuminates how technology is changing every aspect of our lives—from culture to business, science to design. The breakthroughs and innovations that we uncover lead to new ways of thinking, new connections, and new industries.

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