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 < >

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 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  

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 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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Help the Library Plan for Teen Programs this Fall

As lives and schedules have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, adapting to change has become more important than ever. Head of Teen Services Katy Kania is seeking input from parents to learn more about the support Arlington’s Libraries can provide to teens and families.  

Kania says,”I’ve been noticing  that the teens I’m serving need something different from me than they did before. And so do the parents. I’m hoping to be able to learn from parents what I, as a librarian, can do to help. I know that we’re all in an impossible situation right now and cooperation is how we’ll get through.”  Kania adds, “I came up with this survey after hearing that parents need help. So, how can we help?”

Parents can fill out the four question  Parent Survey for Robbins Library Teen Department to help get ready for a great calendar of Teen programs for the library this fall. Contact Kania at with any questions.

Teen Librarian Katy Kania
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We Didn’t Learn That In School

This month we asked our librarians to share some books/movies/TV shows/etc. that taught them something important that they didn’t learn about in school.  Here are their responses:

I went to school a LONG time ago, so I’ve learned many things from books that I didn’t learn in school! Three books come to mind as great examples. I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong, The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery, and The Overstory by Richard Powers were all great books about life on planet Earth. I learned so much about how complicated life on Earth is, and how much richer than I ever knew.

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F Saad: This book opened my eyes to a lot of behaviors that are antiblack and racist. I’m Puerto Rican and my skin is white, and although I’m often treated as an “other,” I sometimes fail to acknowledge my own privilege. The book is heavy to read at times because it shatters a lot of erroneous perceptions and questions a long list of behaviors/thoughts we often choose to ignore. True change (specifically systematic) isn’t supposed to be easy.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann: I’m somewhat aware of many of the injustices Native Americans in this country have suffered, including unsolved murders (I still need to learn more). However, I didn’t know about this particular case involving land, oil, and the FBI. This was another eye-opening book.

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough: Although I have seen many of Artemisia Gentileschi’s paintings, I didn’t know anything about her story/personal life. Even though the book is fiction, it places the painter on the spotlight and brings forward issues that women still struggle with today.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers: This is a YA book that was published in 1999 and is still relevant today. The main character is a black teen facing our justice system and all the biases and injustices that come along with it.

I mostly read fiction, and I really appreciate it when historical fiction is based on facts.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. Fiction. A studious black kid, Elwood, ends up in reform school, where horrors await him. Based on a real place that let its Jim Crow minders do whatever they wanted to poor mostly Black boys. Horrifying and heartbreaking. The reform schools for Black, Indegenous and impoverished people were often hell holes, and this one was no exception.

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. Fiction. Wonderful epic quest, with a motley group of orphans across Minnesota during the depression. Includes traveling evangelists, Native Americans on the run from their cruel “Indian School”, and great descriptions of Hoovervilles. The horrible realities of schools for Native and impoverished people are well illustrated in this novel, and also the hardships of the Great Depression.

Fire! The Zora Neale Hurston Story by Peter Bagge. Graphic novel non fiction. This fast paced graphic biography of Zora Neale Hurston is really structured like her life: peripatetic, with lots of unusual short chapters! She was perhaps the only Black woman writer at the time of the Harlem Renaissance who made her living by writing. Bagge introduces the reader to many of the artists active during this time, and shows their love/hate relationships with Hurston, who for the most part did not share in the left-leaning philosophy of the movement. The episodic structure of the book recognizes Hurston’s many friendships, lovers and mentors as they came and went in her life. The charming full color cartoons are reminiscent of early Robert Crumb, with an affectionate humorous feel. Includes extensive notes with photographs in the back matter, and a bibliography. I like that this biography doesn’t attempt to airbrush Hurston’s many peccadillos, but presents her in all her eccentric, fascinating glory.

I Know What I Am: The Life and Times of Artemisia Gentileschi by Gina Siciliano. Graphic novel non fiction. An engrossing biography of the Renaissance woman painter, with many details around the politics and social realities of the time.

Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander: What we learned about race in school was along the lines of “There was slavery, which was bad but it’s over now, then there was a Civil Rights movement, and now everything is fine!” Needless to say, that is not the entire story.

Mayflower by Nathanial Philbrick: Speaking of things glossed over in school, what we learned about our country’s origins were overly simplistic and we could have done with a more nuanced and detailed history.

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli: I can only blame myself for dropping physics to take music, but if our science curriculum was presented in such a beautiful and wondrous way I’m sure I would have been interested in learning more than I did.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: We learned nothing about the history of any African countries, so this novel was my first exposure to the 1960s civil war in Nigeria, and was also an immersive dive into Nigerian culture at that time.

War and Peace by Lev Tolstoy: Come to think of it, we learned very little about any country outside of the United States and I knew nothing about the Napoleonic Wars until I read this doorstop of a novel. See also: Robert K. Massie’s fantastic biography of Catherine the Great for some excellent Russian history and culture.

Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon: There’s no place in a school curriculum for this, but there should be. In it, Solomon examines parts of the population with identities different than the rest of their families (people who are transgender or have disabilities, for two examples) and it’s a real thorough set of lessons on empathy and compassion.

Much of what I learned in school focused on a very specific perspective and left me with gaps in my knowledge, especially around marginalized communities and cultures outside of the US.

Everything I’ve learned about queer history comes from learning outside school.  A few of my favorites are:
Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker & Julia Scheele
How To Survive A Plague (The book by David France & the documentary are both excellent.)
The Celluloid Closet
Everything I’ve read by Sarah Waters
Butch Heroes by Ria Brodell
Paris Is Burning
Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor
The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded by Jim Ottaviani & Leland Purvis
Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution by Linda R. Hirshman

Learning more about my Puerto Rican heritage is something that’s important to me and a few recent books I’ve read that have helped me learn more are:
War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony by Nelson A. Denis
The Battle For Paradise by Naomi Klein
Fantasy Island: Colonialism, Exploitation, and the Betrayal of Puerto Rico by Ed Morales
Puerto Rico Strong edited by Marco Lopez, Desiree Rodriguez, Hazel Newlevant, Derek Ruiz, and Neil Schwartz

The countless anime & JRPGs I’ve watched & played are major contributors to my interest in learning more about Japan and its history. The Persona series and the graphic novel What Is Obscenity? by Rokudenashiko are both places where I learned a lot.

Reading The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See sent me down a rabbit hole of wanting to learn more about Korea, and a few other great things I’ve read since are Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, Human Acts by Han Kang, and White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht.

Death is often a taboo topic, and reading Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach taught me a lot about death, death rituals, and what can happen to our bodies after we die.

Even in school I was always suspicious of the lack of women that we learned about.  Women Warriors: An Unexpected History by Pamela D. Toler, Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World by Mackenzi Lee, I Know What I Am: The Life and Times of Artemisia Gentileschi by Gina Siciliano, and History Vs Women: The Defiant Lives That They Don’t Want You to Know by Anita Sarkeesian & Ebony Adams helped me learn more about memorable women throughout history.

The documentary 13th, the TV show Lovecraft Country, the novel Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and the memoir When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele are a few places I’ve learned about Black history and racial disparities.

Most everything I list has taught me a little bit about a topic, but even more importantly has piqued my curiosity and drove me to do further research on the topic.  I think that’s especially important to do with works of fiction to disentangle what’s made up, what’s exaggeration, and what’s true.



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Robbins Library and ACMi Host Stephano: The True Story of Shakespeare’s Shipwreck

In an exclusive joint local broadcast and online event, ACMi and Robbins Library host an Arlington-only screening of Stephano: The True Story of Shakespeare’s Shipwreck on Thursday, September 10 at 7:00 p.m. This event will be hosted on Facebook Live.

The 90-minute film follows the story of the only Mayflower passenger who had been to North America previously. A decade earlier, Stephen Hopkins had been aboard a Jamestown-bound ship that wrecked on Bermuda, inspiring Shakespeare’s final play, The Tempest. Two-time Emmy-nominated producer and host Andrew Giles Buckley, a Hopkins descendant, grew up hearing stories that New Plymouth’s iconoclast tavern keeper may have the model for The Tempest’s drunken and mutinous Stephano. 

Shot on location, the intrepid Hit and Run History crew retraces Hopkins’ life crisscrossing the Atlantic. In their Gumshoe Historian style, Buckley and the crew of Hit and Run History retraces Hopkins’ life from. England to Bermuda, Jamestown, and Plymouth.  Hopkins came to know Native Americans in the New World and Old. Hopkins’ experiences with Pocahontas, Squanto and Massasoit would serve him and the Separatists aboard the Mayflower in establishing their fledgling settlement in New England. 

Anna Litten, Assistant Director of Libraries says, “We’re so glad that we can continue to support recipients of Arlington Cultural Council grants during this period.”  Litten adds, “we’re so thankful that ACMi has partnered with us on this event. Together, we’ve been able to create a streaming event that will work well for attendees.”  

This Facebook Live event will feature a livestream of the film along with a  Q&A with Buckley hosted by the Robbins Library. This program is supported in part by a grant from the Arlington Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

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FREE E-Commerce Ebooks on Hoopla

If you haven’t taken a look at Hoopla, we highly recomend you see what resources are available to you. All you need is your library card. The collections are always available, so there are never any waitlists. If you see something that you want, you can check it out right away.

E-Commerce Collection (514 Titles)
Click on the link above and browse this collection of Ebooks. Or explore one of these highlighted best selling titles.

Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk
In this lively, practical, and inspiring book, Gary dissects every current major social media platform so that anyone, from a plumber to a professional ice skater, will know exactly how to amplify his or her personal brand on each.


Launch by Jeff Walker

Whether you have an existing business, or you have a service-based business and want to develop your own products so you can leverage your time and your impact, or you’re still in the planning phase—this is how you start fast. This formula is how you engineer massive success.


One Million Followers by Brendan Kane

How can you make a significant impact in the digital world and stand out among all the noise? Digital strategist and “growth hacker” Brendan Kane has the answer and will show you how-in 30 days or less.


Social Media Marketing 2020 by Gavin Turner
Whether your business is small or big, a startup or an established venture, the strategies contained in this book will make your brand’s products and services stand out and make an impact in social media.


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Teen Summer Reading Challenge Giveaway Books

Calling all bored teenagers!  

During past summers teens who signed up for the Robbins Library Teen Summer Challenge and completed a BINGO card got a free book at the library. Sadly, we aren’t able to give away books at the library this summer, but Teen Librarian Katy Kania still wanted to give readers a chance to get a free book.  

By partnering with  team behind Little Free Diverse Libraries on Instagram Katy was able to stock Little Free Libraries across Arlington with teen books. Teens can locate the Little Free Libraries across Arlington, find a teen book with the “Save My Spot” Teen Summer Challenge Giveaway bookmark, take a picture, and tag us @RobbinsLibraryTeens and @LitttleFreeDiverseLibraries on Instagram with the hashtag #robbinssummerchallenge.

Use the Little Free Library World Map and select City/State to find local Little Free Libraries, or follow @LittleFreeDiverseLibraries or @RobbinsLibraryTeens on Instagram for more locations as books are added to local Little Free Libraries.  Thanks to the Friends of the Robbins Library for supporting the Summer Reading Challenge.  

Go forth and read diversely!

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Recommendations for Where To Go For Technology Reviews Online

There are many sources online to read reviews about all different categories of technology. Below are some FREE (to you) high quality review resources.

The Robbins Library subscribes to Consumer Reports online for all Arlington residents. In order to utilize this resource for free, you must use the link above or use the link on the Robbins Library Databases page.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit member organization that works side by side with consumers for truth, transparency, and fairness in the marketplace. Rating thousands of products and services annually: Consumer Reports tests, rates, and reviews thousands of consumer products and services at both its testing center in Westchester County, N.Y., and its auto test center in Colchester, Conn. The most up-to-date research is available through their website.

CNET tells you what’s new in tech, culture and science, why it matters, how it works and what you need. We recommend looking at both the Reviews section and the Best Products section to gather information about technology. They include news, commentary, analysis, features, FAQs, advice, hands-on reviews, buying guides, photography, and informative videos.

Gizmodo is a news and opinion website about gadgets, technology, science, environmental news, entertainment, and culture. From reviews of the latest phones, TVs, laptops, shows, and movies to the latest news about privacy, tech and environmental policy, and labor, they aim to cover the worlds of technology, science, and entertainment with transparency, accuracy, humor, and blunt honesty.

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Introducing Library Grab Bags

Grab Bag Logo FINALWe are excited to launch Library Grab Bags, a new service that aims to bring back some of the ease and joy of browsing library shelves even as library indoors remain closed for public safety.

Library Grab Bags are a perfect option for patrons who want books, DVDs, and other library materials but don’t have lists of specific titles to request. Fill out the new Library Grab Bag request form, and get a curated bag of library materials. 

Staff created the Library Grab Bag service with busy community members in mind. “We know people miss browsing and getting a bunch of books at a time, and we know the safest way to connect people with our collections right now is through contactless pickup. Grab Bags seemed like a logical next step for us,” says Andrea Nicolay, Director of Libraries. “I want to thank the residents of Arlington for being patient and supportive through all these changes. We hope this new service is a plus for our users.”

The Contactless Pickup system has definitely been embraced, with hundreds of books checked out from the library daily, however with contactless pickup you do need to make requests title by title. Grab Bags are perfect for families looking for picture books and easy readers, or for anyone looking for vacation reading or just some materials to browse.

To request a Library Grab Bag, fill out the request form available on the Borrowing Items page. When your bag is ready, a librarian will notify you and book your pickup time. During your assigned pickup hour, just stop by the library’s front entrance–your bag of materials will already be checked out to you, labelled and ready to go.

Posted in Books, Restoration of Services, Uncategorized | 3 Comments