Rockin’ Robbins Book Cart Drill Team takes Silver!

On Tuesday May 17, the Rockin’ Robbins Book Cart Drill team was awarded Second Place in the Massachusetts Library Association Book Cart Drill Team Competition! The videos were judged on technical ability: organization, precision, unique moves, and timeliness. The overall artistic impression was considered: the overall performance, music, costumes, and cart décor. Rockin’ Robbins received an award for best decorated carts.

What exactly is a book cart drill team competition you ask? It’s simply a choreographed routine with the work horse of the library: the book cart. There are a variety of moves to be performed with precision.

Enjoy our video set to the music of Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars! We had a great time making it, and hope you enjoy it!


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InterLibrary Loan: ComCat helps you find books statewide

You saw an amazing book at your friend’s house called Book Art: Iconic Sculptures and Installations Made from Books , but you can’t find it in your library’s online catalog.

When you visit the library for help, you’re sent to “Reference” where a librarian busily types at her keyboard. You hear her mention something called “ILL”….”ComCat”….”WorldCat”…um, what are all these cats?

Welcome to the beautiful world of inter-library loan –  ILL! It’s all about libraries sharing* books, DVDs, CDs, playaways – whatever they’ve got – with the patrons who want them, wherever they are. Let’s take this one cat a time.
ComCat stands for Commonwealth Catalog, which allows you to search beyond the libraries in the Minuteman Library Network (shown below in blue). With ComCat, you can search the collections of the eight other Massachusetts library networks.

Using ComCat, it’s easy to search and request items yourself! They’ll be shipped to Robbins Library and you’ll be notified when they arrive. Just get your library card number and password  handy, and head to

1. Enter the title (or author, or keyword) to search:


2. Click on the title you want:


 3. On the next window, click “request”, then fill in the info below and “submit”.


Good luck searching! Next time, WorldCat!

*Generously, unlike your “friend”.

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Not-So-Young Adult Book Group on 5/18

hiredgirlThe NSYA book group will meet next week, May 18 at 7pm in the Robbins Library Conference Room.

We’ll be discussing The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz, a historical novel about a 14-year-old girl who flees her family’s farm and tries to build a better life for herself working for an upper-class family in Baltimore.

Copies are still available at the front desk if you haven’t picked one up yet. Copies of our next book, My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier, are on order now and should arrive in time for the meeting.

The Not-So-Young Adult Book Group is for adults, but we read and discuss books written for teens. Newcomers are always welcome!

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You CAN take it with you: audiobooks for family road trips

Cover image of On the Road by Jack Kerouac

On the Road…not actually recommended for a family road trip

Road trips: whether you think they’re a grand adventure, boring and uncomfortable, or simply the most efficient way to get from point A to point B, one thing is almost certain: you’re going to hit some traffic. (Especially if you are going through Connecticut. For such a small state it sure does take a long time to drive through, doesn’t it?)

No matter your perspective (road trips are the best! road trips are the worst!), the library is here to help you out. What better way to pass the time than an audiobook for the road? Now, if you’re the only one in the car, choosing a book is pretty easy…but what if there are others along for the ride? With this question in mind, your helpful librarians have compiled a list of audiobooks that will entertain all ages.

For kids & up:

  • Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, read by Jason Segel
  • George by Alex Gino, read by Jamie Clayton
  • The Princess in Black by Shannon & Dean Hale, read by Julia Whelan
  • Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo, read by Ron McLarty
  • How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, read by David Tennant
  • Half Magic by Edward Eager, read by the WTW Repertory Company
  • Coraline and/or The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, read by the author
  • Greenglass House by Kate Milford, read by Chris Henry Coffey
  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale (you may have already read these, but if you haven’t listened to them, give them a try – Jim Dale is, dare we say it, a magical narrator, and a good book is always worth re-reading!)

For teens & up:

The links above take you to the audio CDs in the library catalog. Digital audiobooks are also available through Overdrive and hoopla – check ’em out!

See more book lists for kids and teens and find recommendations for adults on our children’s site, teen blog, and adult blog, respectively. Do you have an audiobook you would recommend for a family road trip? Leave a comment! June is audiobook month, so your suggestions could make it into another blog post about great books to listen to.


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Not your average novel: Doug Dorst’s S. and all its loose parts

18081043574_a8ae6cd68e_oI attended the lectures held last week at MIT as part of their celebration of National Preservation Week and heard Jana Dambrogio and Ann Marie Willer speak about the very curious case of S., a 2013 novel conceived of by JJ Abrams and written by Doug Dorst that challenged MIT librarians to think in new ways about acquisition procedures, conservation treatment, collection processing, preservation, and reader experience. It brought librarians from separate departments together for valuable discussion, collaboration and experimentation.

How did one book do all that? Well, it wasn’t a typical novel. The title and the author are only listed on the outer slipcover. Once the slipcover is removed, the reader is left with a bound text called Ship of Theseus by one VM Straka.


Tucked here and there between the pages are postcards, letters and notes. Hand-drawn messages line the margins in an apparent dialogue between two characters.


Ok, a fascinating, immersive mystery – exciting for the reader! Definitely will be a hit with puzzle-obsessed MIT students! The acquisitions department decided to buy it. But when it arrived, it became clear that the procedures used in the preservation department wouldn’t work. Preservation librarians prepare new and repair damaged books, and at MIT, slipcases on new items are discarded, and items left in books (bookmarks, candy wrappers) are removed. They actually had to rescue the slipcover for S. from the recycle bin, and then check the bibliographic record to verify all the inserts were still present!

Librarians from the acquisitions, preservation, and collections departments met to work through some interesting questions:

  • should S. circulate? won’t the inserts get lost over time?
  • should we put S. in special collections in order to preserve it?
  • if it circulates, do we let the inserts go missing, then restore them in some way (create facsimiles?)
  • if we fabricate new inserts, is the book still original? [the Paradox of Theseus’s Ship: how many parts can you replace and still consider something an original? The presenters shared a youtube video that explains this philosophical paradox – pretty funny].
  • how do the authors’ intent figure into these decisions? what would they want?

The librarians then collaborated on an elegant experiment using three copies of S.

Copy 1 was put in the circulating stacks at Hayden Library. It circulated 15 times in 2 years. It was checked periodically; over time, the inserts moved to different locations in the book, but were not lost.

Copy 2 was conserved and shelved in closed stacks for reading room use only. The inserts were taken out of the book and archived in folders. In place of each insert was a withdrawal slip that the reader could use to request the insert.

Copy 3 was shelved in closed stacks, still in its original shrink wrap, unreadable.

A library employee was asked to read copy 1 and copy 2 and report back on the experience. She seemed to prefer reading the circulating copy; she found reading the limited access copy was “disappointing” and  felt “sterile” as she had to go to the archives desk and request each insert. Clearly, the decisions concerning collection processing and preservation have a decisive impact on readers’ experience. The presenters wrapped up with a really interesting question: are libraries even obligated to provide the immersive experience that these authors intended?  It probably depends on the library’s mission and its audience, but it was fascinating to hear how these librarians turned a difficult situation into an opportunity for experimentation.

A local public library was found which had purchased the book; MIT librarians were interested to see that they had put a property stamp on each insert and included a note in the book describing where each insert belonged. Even with the vigorous stamping, the copy was missing two inserts.

All images by Duncan under Creative Commons License BY-NC 2.0

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Alt+ is back, now with more bikes

If you’ve ever been in the Boston/Cambridge/Somerville area late on a Saturday evening in nice weather, you may have seen a group of people riding around on unusual-looking modified bikes. You probably wondered who they are, where they’re going, and most importantly, if you’ll ever be that cool yourself. Now you’ll finally get a chance to answer all of these questions and more!

Join us on May 11 at 7pm in the Robbins Library Community Room where Fleet Admiral Skunk will tell you all about this group of friendly, talented, and cleverly-nicknamed folks in a talk called Space Exploration by Bicycle: The Adventures of SCUL.


This program is part of the Robbins Library’s ALT+Library series of quarterly events designed to be edgier than traditional fare to appeal to people in their 20s and 30s, but the programs are open to everyone.




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Brand New Books: April Edition

Missed the new March books? Check them out here.

Cover images of City of Secrets, Eligible, and Til Death Do Us Part

City of Secrets by Stewart O’Nan
From the publisher: “a timely moral thriller of the Jewish underground resistance in Jerusalem after the Second World War.” O’Nan has written many other highly regarded novels, including Emily, Alone; West of Sunset; and Last Night at the Lobster.

Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld
It’s all there in the subtitle. You can trust the author of Prep, American Wife, and Sisterland to do a great job with Austen’s beloved classic.

‘Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick
Victorian romance with a Gothic twist. Read more at Shelf Awareness.

Cover images of Alice & Oliver, Keep Me Posted, and Now and Again

Alice & Oliver by Charles Bock
“In Alice & Oliver, Charles Bock (Beautiful Children) draws on the experience of his late wife’s battle with leukemia to create an intensely realistic and harrowing portrayal of a young woman’s desperate fight for life against a relentless disease.”-Shelf Awareness

Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley
“Lisa Beazley’s warmhearted first novel explores what happens when snail-mail letters between two sisters end up on the Internet.” –Shelf Awareness
If you liked other epistolary novels or memoirs like Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe, Graduates in Wonderland by Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale, or Attachments by Rainbow Rowell,  Keep Me Posted is for you.

Now and Again by Charlotte Rogan
The author of The Lifeboat (2012) returns with another morally complex novel told in parallel narratives: Maggie, a wife and mother in Oklahoma, and a group of Iraq veterans who begin a website to share the truth about the war, all struggle to do the right thing – but first they have to figure out what that is.

RavenKingIf you’re an adult who reads YA (or a teen who’s reading this blog) and you like fantasy, you’ve probably been eagerly awaiting the fourth and final book in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle: The Raven King. And this month it has finally arrived! If you’re not familiar with this series, you’ll definitely want to start at the beginning, with The Raven Boys. 

Remember to check Overdrive and hoopla for e-book and digital audiobook versions of these and many other new books!

Are you planning to read any of these? What other books are you looking forward to, or currently enjoying?

Happy reading!


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Listen to Prince for free on hoopla


The music world was dealt a crushing blow this week, and children of the 80’s everywhere are still reeling from the loss of one of our favorite musical icons. As you might expect, all of our Prince CDs are checked out and have waiting lists. But there’s no need to wait – you can download or stream Prince’s music for free on!

Just like the man himself, Prince’s music has been elusive online but with just your library card you can listen to all your favorite albums: Purple Rain, 1999, Dirty Mind, Around the World In a Day, Sign O’ the Times, and more!

Go to and click on “sign in.” If you haven’t used hoopla before, click “sign up now” to go through a quick registration process. Then party like it’s 1999!

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Next Not-So-Young Adult Book Group

hiredgirlOur next meeting is on May 18 at 7pm in the Robbins Library Conference Room.

We’ll be discussing The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz, a historical novel about a 14-year-old girl who flees her family’s farm and tries to build a better life for herself working for an upper-class family in Baltimore.

Copies are available at the front desk now.

The Not-So-Young Adult Book Group is for adults, but we read and discuss books written for teens. Newcomers are always welcome!

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National Library Week: Because…


The theme of National Library Week this year is “Libraries Transform” (or, if you’d prefer, #LibrariesTransform). You can tell us how the library has transformed your life in a comment on this blog (original NLW2016 post here) or in person – just fill out a comment card and drop it in the basket! We’ll share them online (anonymously) next week.


The basket is located near the Reference Desk on the first floor of the Robbins Library.

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