Bingo Square: Nonfiction Books About Endangered/Extinct Species

Are you participating in Adult Summer Reading and stuck on this bingo square? We’ve got some suggestions for you! Links go to the catalog so you can see if the books are available now and request them if they’re not.

The Great Auk by Errol Fuller

This is a comprehensive account of much of the known historical information concerning the great auk, a large, flightless, penguin-like bird, now extinct. The fate of few vanished species have been traced in much detail. Tradition has it that the last two great auks seen alive were found on June 3, 1844, when three Icelandic fishermen, part of a 14-man expedition, killed them on the remote Icelandic island of Eldey. (Choice Review)

A Gap in Nature by Tim Flattery

Since humans first wandered from their original habitat in Africa, over fifty millennia ago, they have radically altered the environment wherever they have gone, often at the cost of the animals who’d ruled the wild before mankind’s arrival. Humanity’s spread throughout the globe has begotten what paleontologist Richard Leakey has termed the “sixth age of extinction” — the most deadly epoch the planet’s fauna have seen since the demise of the dinosaurs. And in the last five hundred years, since the dawn of the age of exploration, this rate of extinction has accelerated ever more rapidly. In A Gap in Nature, scientist and historian Tim Flannery, in collaboration with internationally acclaimed wildlife artist Peter Schouten, catalogs 104 creatures that have vanished from the face of the earth since 1492. From the tiny Carolina parakeet to the majestic Steller’s sea cow, which was over twenty-five feet long and weighed ten tons, all of these animals have become extinct as a direct result of the European expansion into every corner of the globe. Flannery evocatively tells the story of each animal: how it lived and how it succumbed to its terrible destiny. Accompanying each account is a beautiful color representation (life-size in the original painting) by Schouten, who has devoted years of his life to this extraordinary project. Animals from every continent are represented — American passenger pigeons, Tasmanian wolves, and African blaauwboks — in this homage to a lost Eden. This extraordinary book is at once a lament for the lost animals of the world and an ark to house them forever in human memory.

Beloved Beasts by Michelle Nijhuis

In the late nineteenth century, humans came at long last to a devastating realization: their rapidly industrializing and globalizing societies were driving scores of animal species to extinction. In Beloved Beasts, acclaimed science journalist Michelle Nijhuis traces the history of the movement to protect and conserve other forms of life. From early battles to save charismatic species such as the American bison and bald eagle to today’s global effort to defend life on a larger scale, Nijhuis’s “spirited and engaging” account documents “the changes of heart that changed history” (Dan Cryer, Boston Globe).

With “urgency, passion, and wit” (Michael Berry, Christian Science Monitor), she describes the vital role of scientists and activists such as Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson, reveals the origins of vital organizations like the Audubon Society and the World Wildlife Fund, explores current efforts to protect species such as the whooping crane and the black rhinoceros, and confronts the darker side of modern conservation, long shadowed by racism and colonialism.

As the destruction of other species continues and the effects of climate change wreak havoc on our world, Beloved Beasts charts the ways conservation is becoming a movement for the protection of all species including our own.

How to Clone a Mammoth by Beth Shapiro

Could extinct species, like mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life? The science says yes. In How to Clone a Mammoth, Beth Shapiro, evolutionary biologist and pioneer in “ancient DNA” research, walks readers through the astonishing and controversial process of de-extinction. From deciding which species should be restored, to sequencing their genomes, to anticipating how revived populations might be overseen in the wild, Shapiro vividly explores the extraordinary cutting-edge science that is being used–today–to resurrect the past. Journeying to far-flung Siberian locales in search of ice age bones and delving into her own research–as well as those of fellow experts such as Svante Pääbo, George Church, and Craig Venter–Shapiro considers de-extinction’s practical benefits and ethical challenges. Would de-extinction change the way we live? Is this really cloning? What are the costs and risks? And what is the ultimate goal? Using DNA collected from remains as a genetic blueprint, scientists aim to engineer extinct traits–traits that evolved by natural selection over thousands of years–into living organisms. But rather than viewing de-extinction as a way to restore one particular species, Shapiro argues that the overarching goal should be the revitalization and stabilization of contemporary ecosystems. For example, elephants with genes modified to express mammoth traits could expand into the Arctic, re-establishing lost productivity to the tundra ecosystem. Looking at the very real and compelling science behind an idea once seen as science fiction, How to Clone a Mammoth demonstrates how de-extinction will redefine conservation’s future.

Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams

New York Times bestselling author Douglas Adams and zoologist Mark Carwardine take off around the world in search of exotic, endangered creatures.

Join them as they encounter the animal kingdom in its stunning beauty, astonishing variety, and imminent peril: the giant Komodo dragon of Indonesia, the helpless but loveable Kakapo of New Zealand, the blind river dolphins of China, the white rhinos of Zaire, the rare birds of Mauritius island in the Indian Ocean. Hilarious and poignant–as only Douglas Adams can be–Last Chance to See is an entertaining and arresting odyssey through the Earth’s magnificent wildlife galaxy.

The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen

David Quammen’s book, The Song of the Dodo, is a brilliant, stirring work, breathtaking in its scope, far-reaching in its message — a crucial book in precarious times, which radically alters the way in which we understand the natural world and our place in that world. It’s also a book full of entertainment and wonders.
In The Song of the Dodo, we follow Quammen’s keen intellect through the ideas, theories, and experiments of prominent naturalists of the last two centuries. We trail after him as he travels the world, tracking the subject of island biogeography, which encompasses nothing less than the study of the origin and extinction of all species. Why is this island idea so important? Because islands are where species most commonly go extinct — and because, as Quammen points out, we live in an age when all of Earth’s landscapes are being chopped into island-like fragments by human activity.
Through his eyes, we glimpse the nature of evolution and extinction, and in so doing come to understand the monumental diversity of our planet, and the importance of preserving its wild landscapes, animals, and plants. We also meet some fascinating human characters. By the book’s end we are wiser, and more deeply concerned, but Quammen leaves us with a message of excitement and hope.

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

New Yorker staff writer Kolbert (Field Notes from a Catastrophe) accomplishes an amazing feat in her latest book, which superbly blends the depressing facts associated with rampant species extinctions and impending ecosystem collapse with stellar writing to produce a text that is accessible, witty, scientifically accurate, and impossible to put down. The eponymous extinction refers to the fact that the current rate of species loss is approaching that of the mass extinctions that ended five previous geologic epochs. Kolbert’s reporting takes her from the Andes to the Great Barrier Reef, and from a bare rock island off the coast of Iceland to a cave near Albany, N.Y. Throughout, she combines a historical perspective with the best modern science on offer, while bringing both scientists and species to life. As dire as our problems are today, Kolbert explains that they did not begin with the industrial revolution: “Though it might be nice to imagine there once was a time when man lived in harmony with nature, it’s not clear that he ever really did.” Kolbert, however, offers some optimism based on the passion the concept of extinction evokes: “Such is the pain the loss of a single species causes that we’re willing to perform ultrasounds on rhinos and handjobs on crows.” (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

End of the Megafauna by R.D.E. MacPhee

The fascinating lives and puzzling demise of some of the largest animals on earth.

Until a few thousand years ago, creatures that could have been from a sci-fi thriller¯including gorilla-sized lemurs, 800-pound birds, crocodiles that weighed a ton or more¯roamed the earth. These great beasts, or “megafauna,” lived on every habitable continent and on many islands. With a handful of exceptions, all are now gone.

What caused the disappearance of these prehistoric behemoths? Paleomammologist Ross D. E. MacPhee explores that question, examining the leading extinction theories, weighing the evidence, and presenting his own conclusions. He shows how theories of human overhunting and catastrophic climate change fail to explain critical features of these extinctions, and how new thinking is needed to elucidate these mysterious losses. He comments on how past extinctions can shed light on future losses, and on the possibility of bringing back extinct species through genetic engineering. Gorgeous four-color illustrations by Peter Schouten bring these megabeasts back to life in vivid detail.

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Bingo Square: Fables


Are you participating in Adult Summer Reading and stuck on the Fables bingo square? We’ve got some suggestions for you! 

Reach for the classics, browse children’s titles or consider a more contemporary tale. These stories feature animals behaving as humans and are meant to teach the reader a lesson. 

Links go to the catalog so you can see if the books are available now and request them if they’re not.

Fifty fables of La Fontaine

Although he had a degree to practice law, La Fontaine does not seem to have done so but, rather, spent his life in Paris dependent on aristocratic patrons. His principal contribution to literature was his 12 books of Fables, to which he devoted 30 years of his life. They were published from 1668 to 1694 and are universally appreciated in France by children and adults alike. In drawing on a tradition of the fable going back to Aesop, La Fontaine created a portrait of human life and French society through the representations of animals. His work is marked by great insight into human moral character, while it preaches the value of the middle road. (Bowker Author Biography)

Arctic Aesop’s fables : twelve retold tales  by Susi Gregg Fowler

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” “Practice what you preach.” Join the wolf, polar bear, raven, and many more as they learn (and teach!) many of life’s invaluable lessons in this arctic retelling of the classic Aesop’s Fables. A ringed seal discovers that the truth can be a powerful friend; an Arctic Ground Squirrel learn to be careful what she wishes for; and the porcupine knows that slow and steady wins the race. With beautiful illustrations by Alaskan painter Jim Fowler, the twelve fables here are uniquely set in the landscape of the Alaskan wilderness.

The complete tales of Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris

A classic book compiling the complete tales from eight books, with the original illustrations. It’s been more than a hundred years since the publication of the first Uncle Remus book, and it was in 1955 that all of the delightful and inimitable tales of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Bear, and Brer Wolf were gathered together in one volume. All of the animal tales from eight books are here, along with the illustrations which originally accompanied them.

Tales of Kalila and Dimna : classic fables of India

The tales of Kalila and Dimna originated almost 2000 years ago in a Sanskrit collection of animal stories called the Panchatantra, and have influenced modern fables from The Arabian Nights to The Canterbury Tales. Graced with Margaret Kilrenny’s beautiful illustrations, the first two books of the Panchatantra’s five are brilliantly rendered here by Ramsay Wood.

Bingsop’s fables : little morals for big business by Stanley Bing

From celebrated business writer and Fortune columnist Stanley Bing, the bestselling author of What Would Machiavelli Do?, Throwing The Elephant, Sun Tzu is a Sissy, and more, comes a collection of playful fables poking fun at corporate archetypes while imparting useful and humorous lessons for anyone striving to make it big in big business.(Goodreads.com)

Fables for our time and famous poems illustrated by James Thurber

“These tiny stories, in which a wide variety of animals show us humans how we really are, are completely uproarious.” –The Saturday Review of Literature

Squirrel seeks chipmunk : a modest bestiary by David Sedaris

Featuring David Sedaris’s unique blend of hilarity and heart, this new collection of keen-eyed animal-themed tales is an utter delight. Though the characters may not be human, the situations in these stories bear an uncanny resemblance to the insanity of everyday life. (Goodreads.com)

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Bingo Square: Animal-Related Media on Hoopla

Are you participating in Adult Summer Reading and stuck on this bingo square? We’ve got some suggestions for you! Links go to Hoopla so you can borrow the materials!

First things first, Hoopla is awesome! This web and mobile library media streaming platform provides access to audiobooks, comics, e-books, movies, music, and TV – all without waitlists. You can download or stream three items each month!

Need help getting started? Check out our eGuides!

Ebooks

WORLD OF WONDERS
by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Fumi Nakamura

In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments

From beloved, award-winning poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil comes a debut work of nonfiction-a collection of essays about the natural world, and the way its inhabitants can teach, support, and inspire us.

As a child, Nezhukumatathil called many places home: the grounds of a Kansas mental institution, where her Filipina mother was a doctor; the open skies and tall mountains of Arizona, where she hiked with her Indian father; and the chillier climes of western New York and Ohio. But no matter where she was transplanted-no matter how awkward the fit or forbidding the landscape-she was able to turn to our world’s fierce and funny creatures for guidance.

“What the peacock can do,” she tells us, “is remind you of a home you will run away from and run back to all your life.” The axolotl teaches us to smile, even in the face of unkindness; the touch-me-not plant shows us how to shake off unwanted advances; the narwhal demonstrates how to survive in hostile environments. Even in the strange and the unlovely, Nezhukumatathil finds beauty and kinship. For it is this way with wonder: it requires that we are curious enough to look past the distractions in order to fully appreciate the world’s gifts.

Warm, lyrical, and gorgeously illustrated by Fumi Nakamura, World of Wonders is a book of sustenance and joy.

MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS
by Gerald Durrell
Part 1 of the Corfu Trilogy series

The inspiration for The Durrells in Corfu, a Masterpiece production on public television: A naturalist’s account of his childhood on the exotic Greek island. When the Durrells could no longer endure the gray English climate, they did what any sensible family would do: sold their house and relocated to the sun-soaked island of Corfu. As they settled into their new home, hilarious mishaps ensued as a ten-year-old Gerald Durrell pursued his interest in natural history and explored the island’s fauna. Soon, toads and tortoises, bats and butterflies-as well as scorpions, geckos, ladybugs, praying mantises, octopuses, pigeons, and gulls-became a common sight in the Durrell villa. Uproarious tales of the island’s animals and Durrell’s fond reflections on his family bring this delightful memoir to life. Capturing the joyous chaos of growing up in an unconventional household, My Family and Other Animals will transport you to a place you won’t want to leave. This book features an illustrated biography of Gerald Durrell including rare photos from the author’s estate.

FIELD NOTES FROM AN UNINTENTIONAL BIRDER
by Julia Zarankin
A Memoir

When Julia Zarankin saw her first red-winged blackbird at the age of thirty-five, she didn’t expect that it would change her life. Recently divorced and auditioning hobbies during a stressful career transition, she stumbled on birdwatching, initially out of curiosity for the strange breed of humans who wear multi-pocketed vests, carry spotting scopes and discuss the finer points of optics with disturbing fervour. What she never could have predicted was that she would become one of them. Not only would she come to identify proudly as a birder, but birding would ultimately lead her to find love, uncover a new language and lay down her roots.

Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder tells the story of finding meaning in midlife through birds. The book follows the peregrinations of a narrator who learns more from birds than she ever anticipated, as she begins to realize that she herself is a migratory species: born in the former Soviet Union, growing up in Vancouver and Toronto, studying and working in the United States and living in Paris. Coming from a Russian immigrant family of concert pianists who believed that the outdoors were for “other people,” Julia Zarankin recounts the challenges and joys of unexpectedly discovering one’s wild side and finding one’s tribe in the unlikeliest of places.

Zarankin’s thoughtful and witty anecdotes illuminate the joyful experience of a new discovery and the surprising pleasure to be found while standing still on the edge of a lake at six a.m. In addition to confirmed nature enthusiasts, this book will appeal to readers of literary memoir, offering keen insight on what it takes to find one’s place in the world.

OCEAN ANATOMY
by Julia Rothman
The Curious Parts & Pieces of the World under the SeaPart of the Anatomy series

Julia Rothman’s illustrated Anatomy series takes a deep dive into the wonders of the sea with Ocean Anatomy. Follow Rothman’s inquisitive mind and perceptive eye along shorelines, across the open ocean, and below the waves for an artistic exploration of the watery universe. Through her drawings, discover how the world’s oceans formed, why the sea is salty, and the forces behind oceanic phenomena such as rogue waves. Colorful anatomical profiles of sea creatures from crustacean to cetacean, surveys of seafaring vessels and lighthouses, and the impact of plastic and warming water temperatures are just part of this compendium of curiosities that will entertain and educate readers of all ages. 

Also available in this series: Nature Anatomy, Farm Anatomy, Food Anatomy, and Nature Anatomy Notebook

H IS FOR HAWK
by Helen Macdonald

ON MORE THAN 25 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR LISTS: including TIME (#1 Nonfiction Book), NPR, O, The Oprah Magazine (10 Favorite Books), Vogue (Top 10), Vanity Fair, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Seattle Times, San Francisco Chronicle (Top 10), Miami Herald, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Minneapolis Star Tribune (Top 10), Library Journal (Top 10), Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Slate, Shelf Awareness, Book Riot, Amazon (Top 20).

The instant New York Times bestseller and award-winning sensation, Helen Macdonald’s story of adopting and raising one of nature’s most vicious predators has soared into the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. Fierce and feral, her goshawk Mabel’s temperament mirrors Helen’s own state of grief after her father’s death, and together raptor and human “discover the pain and beauty of being alive” (People). H Is for Hawk is a genre-defying debut from one of our most unique and transcendent voices.


FIND MORE ANIMAL EBOOKS HERE!


Audiobooks

THE SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS
by Sy Montgomery
read by Sy Montgomery
A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness

Sy Montgomery’s popular 2011 Orion magazine piece, “Deep Intellect,” about her friendship with a sensitive, sweet-natured octopus named Athena and the grief she felt at her death, went viral, indicating the widespread fascination with these mysterious, almost alien-like creatures. Since then Sy has practiced true immersion journalism, from New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, pursuing these wild, solitary shape-shifters. Octopuses have varied personalities and intelligence they show in myriad ways: endless trickery to escape enclosures and get food; jetting water playfully to bounce objects like balls; and evading caretakers by using a scoop net as a trampoline and running around the floor on eight arms. But with a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake, and a tongue covered with teeth, how can such a being know anything? And what sort of thoughts could it think? The intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees was only recently accepted by scientists, who now are establishing the intelligence of the octopus, watching them solve problems and deciphering the meaning of their color-changing camouflage techniques. Montgomery chronicles this growing appreciation of the octopus, but also tells a love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about consciousness and the meeting of two very different minds.

THE LIVES OF BEES
by Thomas D. Seeley
read by William Hope
The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild

How the lives of wild honey bees offer vital lessons for saving the world’s managed bee colonies.
Humans have kept honey bees in hives for millennia, yet only in recent decades have biologists begun to investigate how these industrious insects live in the wild. The Lives of Bees is Thomas Seeley’s captivating story of what scientists are learning about the behavior, social life, and survival strategies of honey bees living outside the beekeeper’s hive-and how wild honey bees may hold the key to reversing the alarming die-off of the planet’s managed honey bee populations.
Seeley, a world authority on honey bees, sheds light on why wild honey bees are still thriving while those living in managed colonies are in crisis. Drawing on the latest science as well as insights from his own pioneering fieldwork, he describes in extraordinary detail how honey bees live in nature and shows how this differs significantly from their lives under the management of beekeepers. Seeley presents an entirely new approach to beekeeping-Darwinian Beekeeping-which enables honey bees to use the toolkit of survival skills their species has acquired over the past thirty million years, and to evolve solutions to the new challenges they face today. He shows beekeepers how to use the principles of natural selection to guide their practices, and he offers a new vision of how beekeeping can better align with the natural habits of honey bees.
Engagingly written and deeply personal, The Lives of Bees reveals how we can become better custodians of honey bees and make use of their resources in ways that enrich their lives as well as our own.

BICYCLING WITH BUTTERFLIES
by Sara Dykman
read by Xe Sands
My 10,201-Mile Journey Following the Monarch Migration

Outdoor educator and field researcher Sara Dykman decided to do something no one had ever done before-pedal along with monarch butterflies over the entire length of their 10,201-mile migratory journey. She did it alone, on a hand-built bicycle, through three countries. In Bicycling with Butterflies, Dykman recounts her incredible journey and the adventurous ups and downs of her ride-follow her along through a Midwestern thunderstorm, a field of zombie corn, and multiple trips across the border. Along the way, we meet a cast of characters that includes devoted citizen scientists, skeptical bar patrons, farmers, and fellow bicyclists. Dykman weaves a tale full of humility and grace, all while sharing the science that underlies the urgency of saving the monarchs and why we all should care. Bicycling with Butterflies deftly combines memoir, travel, and popular science. It is a must-read debut if you are looking for an uplifting story filled with optimism, energy, and hope.


FIND MORE ANIMAL AUDIOBOOKS HERE!


Movies

CREATURES OF THE DEEP
Tiger Predator Shark Revealed


Infamous for its unmistakable stripes and indiscriminate appetite, the tiger shark is one of the most ferocious sharks in the sea. Now, get closer than ever for a most intimate glimpse of this fearsome yet fascinating predator. Witness spectacular shark’s-eye views of the underwater action through the lens of National Geographic’s revolutionary Crittercam, which has been attached to a free-swimming tiger shark.


BLACKFISH
Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Killer whales are beloved, majestic, friendly giants, yet infamous for their capacity to kill viciously. Blackfish unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of the notorious performing whale Tilikum, who, unlike any orca in the wild, has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. Blackfish expands on the discussion of keeping such intelligent creatures in captivity.


WOLVES
A Legend Returns to Yellowstone

This classic, beloved National Geographic special was four years in the making and this amazing film invites you to run with the pack for a wolf’s-eye-view. Witness the unfolding saga of hardships and affection, losses and triumphs, and the controversy surrounding the decision to reintroduce wolves back into the heart of the West.




FIND MORE ANIMAL MOVIES HERE!


Television

BIRDING IN NORTH AMERICA
Cast James Currie
Writer James Currie
Birds Origins and Taxonomy
Part of the Great Courses series

Birding offers direct contact with one of our primary treasures of wildlife. Learn core elements of birding and methods for observing birds in the field. You’ll also take a panoramic look at the bird species of North America, and visit 23 of the top North American birding sites. These lectures are your doorway to an endlessly rewarding pursuit, and a lifetime of enjoyment and discovery.

GREAT MIGRATIONS
Part of the National Geographic series

Three years in the making, and from award-winning National Geographic cinematographers, Great Migrations takes viewers around the world on the arduous journeys millions of animals undertake to ensure the survival of their species.

Shot from land and air, in trees and cliff-blinds, on ice floes and underwater, Great Migrations tells the formidable, powerful stories of many of the planet’s species and their movements, while revealing new scientific insights with breathtaking high-definition clarity. Narrated by Alec Baldwin.

BABY PLANET
Cast James Nesbitt, Alison Tunnicliffe, Anna McVey
Directors Barry Hecker, Sue McGregor
Writers Alison Tunnicliffe, Anna McVey
Producers Molly Fry, Karen Partridge
Part of the Baby Planet series

Exploring maternal instinct, human intervention and saving species, “Baby Planet” confirms there is a future for the world’s endangered species.



FIND MORE ANIMAL TV HERE!

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Bingo Square: Nonfiction books about human-animal relationships

Are you participating in Adult Summer Reading and stuck on this bingo square? We’ve got some suggestions for you! Links go to the catalog so you can see if the books are available now and request them if they’re not.

How to be a good creature : a memoir in thirteen animals by Sy Montgomery ; illustrated by Rebecca Green

Understanding someone who belongs to another species can be transformative. No one knows this better than author, naturalist, and adventurer Sy Montgomery. To research her books, Sy has traveled the world and encountered some of the planet’s rarest and most beautiful animals. From tarantulas to tigers, Sy’s life continually intersects with and is informed by the creatures she meets.

This restorative memoir reflects on the personalities and quirks of thirteen animals–Sy’s friends–and the truths revealed by their grace. It also explores vast themes: the otherness and sameness of people and animals; the various ways we learn to love and become empathetic; how we find our passion; how we create our families; coping with loss and despair; gratitude; forgiveness; and most of all, how to be a good creature in the world.

When Harry met Minnie : a true story of love and friendship by Martha Teichner

There are true fairy tales. Stories that exist because impossible-to-explain coincidences change everything. Except in real life, not all of them have conventional, happily-ever-after endings. When Harry Met Minnie is that kind of fairy tale, with the vibrant, romantic New York City backdrop of its namesake, the movie When Harry Met Sally, and the bittersweet wisdom of Tuesdays with Morrie.

There’s a special camaraderie among early-morning dog walkers. Gathering at dog runs in the park, or strolling through the farmer’s market at Union Square before the bustling crowd appears, fellow pet owners become familiar-as do the personalities of their beloved animals. In this special space and time, a chance encounter with an old acquaintance changed Martha Teichner’s world. As fate would have it, her friend knew someone who was dying of cancer, from exposure to toxins after 9/11, and desperate to find a home for her dog, Harry. He was a Bull Terrier–the same breed as Martha’s dear Minnie. Would Martha consider giving Harry a safe, loving new home?

In short order, boy dog meets girl dog, the fairy tale part of this story. But there is so much more to this book. After Martha agrees to meet Harry and his owner Carol, what begins as a transaction involving a dog becomes a deep and meaningful friendship between two women with complicated lives and a love of Bull Terriers in common. Through the heartbreak and grief of Carol’s illness, the bond that develops changed Martha’s life, Carol’s life, Minnie’s life, Harry’s life. As it changed Carol’s death as well.

In this rich and touching narrative, Martha considers the ways our stories are shaped by the people we meet, and the profound love we can find by opening our hearts to unexpected encounters.

Buddy : how a rooster made me a family man by Brian McGrory

Brian McGrory’s life changed drastically after the death of his beloved dog, Harry: he fell in love with Pam, Harry’s veterinarian. Though Brian’s only responsibility used to be his adored Harry, Pam came with accessories that could not have been more exotic to the city-loving bachelor: a home in suburbia, two young daughters, two dogs, two cats, two rabbits, and a portly, snow white, red-crowned-and-wattled step-rooster named Buddy. While Buddy loves the women of the house, he takes Brian’s presence as an affront, doing everything he can to drive out his rival. Initially resistant to elements of his new life and to the loud, aggressive rooster (who stares menacingly, pecks threateningly, and is constantly poised to attack), Brian eventually sees that Buddy shares the kind of extraordinary relationship with Pam and her two girls that he wants for himself. The rooster is what Brian needs to be – strong and content, devoted to what he has rather than what might be missing. As he learns how to live by living with animals, Buddy, Brian’s nemesis, becomes Buddy, Brian’s inspiration, in this inherently human story of love, acceptance, and change.

In the tradition of bestsellers like Marley and Me, Dewey, and The Tender Bar comes a heartwarming and wise tale of finding love in life’s second chapter – and how it means all the more when you have to fight for it.

Dog Songs : Thirty-five Dog Songs and One Essay by Mary Oliver

Beloved by her readers, special to the poet’s own heart, Mary Oliver’s dog poems offer a special window into her world. “Dog Songs “collects some of the most cherished poems together with new works, offering a portrait of Oliver’s relationship to the companions that have accompanied her daily walks, warmed her home, and inspired her work. To be illustrated with images of the dogs themselves, the subjects will come to colorful life here.

These are poems of love and laughter, heartbreak and grief. In these pages we visit with old friends, including Oliver’s well-loved Percy, and meet still others. Throughout, the many dogs of Oliver’s life emerge as fellow travelers, but also as guides, spirits capable of opening our eyes to the lessons of the moment and the joys of nature and connection.
“Dog Songs “is a testament to the power and depth of the human-animal exchange, from an observer of extraordinary vision.

A shape in the dark : living and dying with brown bears by Bjorn Dihle

In A Shape in the Dark, wilderness guide and lifelong Alaskan Bjorn Dihle weaves personal experience with historical and contemporary accounts to explore the world of brown bears–from encounters with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, frightening attacks including the famed death of Timothy Treadwell, the controversies related to bear hunting, the animal’s place in native cultures, and the impacts on the species from habitat degradation and climate change. Much more than a report on human-bear interactions, this compelling story intimately explores our relationship with one of the world’s most powerful predators. An authentic and thoughtful work, it blends outdoor adventure, history, and elements of memoir to present a mesmerizing portrait of Alaska’s brown bears and grizzlies, informed by the species’ larger history and their fragile future.

No ordinary dog : my partner from the SEAL Teams to the Bin Laden raid by Will Chesney, with Joe Layden

Two dozen Navy SEALs descended on Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011. After the mission, only one name was made public: Cairo, a Belgian Malinois and military working dog. This is Cairo’s story, and that of his handler, Will Chesney, a member of SEAL Team Six whose life would be irrevocably tied to Cairo’s.

Starting in 2008, when Will was introduced to the DEVGRU canine program, he and Cairo worked side by side, depending on each other for survival on hundreds of critical operations in the war on terrorism. But their bond transcended their service. Then, in 2011, the call came: Pick up your dog and get back to Virginia. Now.

What followed were several weeks of training for a secret mission. It soon became clear that this was no ordinary operation. Cairo was among the first members of the U.S. military on the ground in Pakistan as part of Operation Neptune Spear, which resulted in the successful elimination of bin Laden.

As Cairo settled into a role as a reliable “spare dog,” Will went back to his job as a DEVGRU operator, until a grenade blast in 2013 left him with a brain injury and PTSD. Unable to participate in further missions, he suffered from crippling migraines, chronic pain, memory issues, and depression. Modern medicine provided only modest relief. Instead, it was up to Cairo to save Will’s life once more–and then up to Will to be there when Cairo needed him the most.

Wild ride home : love, loss, and a little white horse : a family memoir by Christine Hemp

Christine Hemp’s debut work of nonfiction, Wild Ride Home, is a brilliant memoir, looping themes of finding love and losing love, of going away and coming home, of the wretched course of Alzheimer’s, of cancer, of lost pregnancies, of fly fishing and horsemanship, of second chances, and, ultimately, of the triumph of love and family–all told within the framework of the training of a little white horse named Buddy. 

Wild Ride Home invites the reader into the close Hemp family, which believes beauty and humor outshine the most devastating circumstances. Such optimism is challenged when the author suffers a series of blows: a dangerous fiancé, her mother’s dementia, unexpected death and illness. Buddy, a feisty, unforgettable little Arabian horse with his own history to overcome, offers her a chance to look back on her own life and learn to trust again, not only others, but more importantly, herself. Hemp skillfully guides us through a memoir that is, despite devastating loss, above all, an ode to joy. 

Half broke : a memoir by Ginger Gaffney

At the start of this remarkable story of recovery, healing, and redemption, Ginger Gaffney answers a call to help retrain the troubled horses at an alternative prison ranch in New Mexico, a facility run entirely by the prisoners. The horses are scavenging through the dumpsters, kicking and running down the residents when they bring the trash out after meals. One horse is severely injured.

The horses and residents arrive at the ranch broken in one way or many: the horses are defensive and terrified, while the residents, some battling drug and alcohol addictions, are emotionally and physically shattered. With deep insight into how animals and humans communicate through posture, body language, and honesty of spirit, Gaffney walks us through her struggle to train the untrainable.

Gaffney peels away the layers of her own story—a solitary childhood, painful introversion, and a transformative connection with her first horse, a filly named Belle—and she, too, learns to trust people as much as she trusts horses. As her year-long odyssey builds toward a dramatic conclusion, the group experiences triumphs and failures, brave recoveries and relapses, as well as betrayals and moving stories of trust and belonging. 

Where the lost dogs go : a story of love, search, and the power of reunion by Susannah Charleson

One in six dogs go missing at some point in their lives, leaving bereft owners to search high and low, hang missing posters, check shelters, and hope for good news. But amid these grim statistics, countless happy endings are forged. Tails wag again. Best friends are reunited.
 
In Where the Lost Dogs Go, Susannah Charleson, author of Scent of the Missing and a trusted chronicler of the human/animal bond, dives headlong into the world of missing dogs. The mission to reunite lost pets with their families starts with Susannah’s own shelter rescue, Ace, a plucky Maltese mix with a mysterious past who narrowly survived months wandering lost. While Susannah formally studies animal behavior, lost-pet search tactics, social media strategies, and the psychology of loss, Ace also steps up for training. Cheerful and resourceful, Ace has revealed a nose for the scent of lost pets, and together they help neighbors and strangers in their searching.
 
In Where the Lost Dogs Go, readers take to the streets beside Susannah to bring home a host of missing pets. Along the way, Susannah finds a part of herself also lost. And when unexpected heartbreak shatters her own sense of direction, it is Ace—the shelter dog that started it all—who leads Susannah home. Inquisitive, instructive, heartrending, and hopeful, Where the Lost Dogs Go pays tribute to the missing dogs—and to the found—and to the restless space in between.

My life in a cat house : true tales of love, laughter, and living with five felines by Gwen Cooper

Gwen Cooper—author of the blockbuster international bestseller Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life With a Blind Wonder Cat—returns with the ongoing adventures of her much-beloved, world-famous fur family. Ideal for new readers and longtime fans alike, this collection of eight purr-fect cat stories is filled with all the humor and heart Gwen’s devoted readership has come to know and love.

An adorable, five-week-old rescue kitten slowly learns to trust the woman who saved her. An obsessive cat teaches himself to play fetch and demands it morning and night from his hapless mom—whether she’s working, sleeping, eating, bathing, or trying to enjoy some “alone time” with her husband. And Homer, the Blind Wonder Cat himself, returns triumphant in a new story about life and love after worldwide fame.

Read all eight stories in one sitting, or savor each gem of a “tail” on its own. My Life in a Cat House will leave you laughing out loud, shedding an occasional tear, and hugging your own cat a little bit closer.

The thing with feathers : the surprising lives of birds and what they reveal about being human by Noah Strycker

The Thing with Feathers explores the astonishing homing abilities of pigeons, the good deeds of fairy-wrens, the influential flocking abilities of starlings, the deft artistry of bowerbirds, the extraordinary memories of nutcrackers, the lifelong loves of albatross, and other mysteries—revealing why birds do what they do, and offering a glimpse into our own nature.

Noah Strycker is a birder and naturalist who has traveled the world in pursuit of his flighty subjects. Drawing deep from personal experience, cutting-edge science, and colorful history, he spins captivating stories about the birds in our midst and reveals the startlingly intimate coexistence of birds and humans.

Oogy : the dog only a family could love by Larry Levin

In 2002, Larry Levin and his twin sons, Dan and Noah, took their terminally ill cat to the Ardmore Animal Hospital outside Philadelphia to have the beloved pet put to sleep. What would begin as a terrible day suddenly got brighter as the ugliest dog they had ever seen–one who was missing an ear and had half his face covered in scar tissue–ran up to them and captured their hearts. The dog had been used as bait for fighting dogs when he was just a few months old. He had been thrown in a cage and left to die until the police rescued him and the staff at Ardmore Animal Hospital saved his life. The Levins, whose sons are themselves adopted, were unable to resist Oogy’s charms, and decided to take him home.

Heartwarming and redemptive, Oogy is the story of the people who were determined to rescue this dog against all odds, and of the family who took him home, named him “Oogy” (an affectionate derivative of ugly), and made him one of their own.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator.

When Helen Macdonald’s father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she’d never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk’s fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White’s chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself “in the hawk’s wild mind to tame her” tested the limits of Macdonald’s humanity and changed her life.

Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer’s eccentric falconry. Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator.

Grayson by Lynne Cox

Grayson is Lynne Cox’s first book since Swimming to Antarctica. In it she tells the story of a miraculous ocean encounter that happened to her when she was seventeen and in training for a big swim (she had already swum the English Channel, twice, and the Catalina Channel).

It was the dark of early morning; Lynne was in 55-degree water as smooth as black ice, two hundred yards offshore, outside the wave break. She was swimming her last half-mile back to the pier before heading home for breakfast when she became aware that something was swimming with her. The ocean was charged with energy as if a squall was moving in; thousands of baby anchovy darted through the water like lit sparklers, trying to evade something larger. Whatever it was, it felt large enough to be a white shark coursing beneath her body.

It wasn’t a shark. It became clear that it was a baby gray whale—following alongside Lynne for a mile or so. Lynne had been swimming for more than an hour; she needed to get out of the water to rest, but she realized that if she did, the young calf would follow her onto shore and die from collapsed lungs.

The baby whale—eighteen feet long!—was migrating on a three-month trek to its feeding grounds in the Bering Sea, an eight-thousand-mile journey. It would have to be carried on its mother’s back for much of that distance, and was dependent on its mother’s milk for food—baby whales drink up to fifty gallons of milk a day. If Lynne didn’t find the mother whale, the baby would suffer from dehydration and starve to death.

Something so enormous—the mother whale was fifty feet long—suddenly seemed very small in the vast Pacific Ocean. How could Lynne possibly find her?

This is the story—part mystery, part magical tale—of what happened . . .

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Bingo Square: Fiction Books Featuring an Animal Character

Are you participating in Adult Summer Reading and stuck on this bingo square? We’ve got some suggestions for you! Links go to the catalog so you can see if the books are available now and request them if they’re not.

The Bees by Laline Paull

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive’s survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw but her courage and strength are an asset. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect pollen. She also finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous.

But when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all–daring to challenge the Queen’s fertility–enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, her society–and lead her to unthinkable deeds.

Firmin by Sam Savage

“I had always imagined that my life story…would have a great first line: something like Nabokov’s ‘Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins;’ or if I could not do lyric, then something sweeping like Tolstoy’s ‘All happy families are alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’… When it comes to openers, though, the best in my view has to be the first line of Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier: ‘This is the saddest story I have ever heard.'”

So begins the remarkable tale of Firmin the rat. Born in a bookstore in a blighted 1960’s Boston neighborhood, Firmin miraculously learns how to read by digesting his nest of books. Alienated from his family and unable to communicate with the humans he loves, Firmin quickly realizes that a literate rat is a lonely rat.

Following a harrowing misunderstanding with his hero, the bookseller, Firmin begins to risk the dangers of Scollay Square, finding solace in the Lovelies of the burlesque cinema. Finally adopted by a down-on-his-luck science fiction writer, the tide begins to turn, but soon they both face homelessness when the wrecking ball of urban renewal arrives.

In a series of misadventures, Firmin is ultimately led deep into his own imaginative soul–a place where Ginger Rogers can hold him tight and tattered books, storied neighborhoods, and down-and-out rats can find people who adore them.

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton

S.T., a domesticated crow, is a bird of simple pleasures: hanging out with his owner Big Jim, trading insults with Seattle’s wild crows (those idiots), and enjoying the finest food humankind has to offer: Cheetos ®.Then Big Jim’s eyeball falls out of his head, and S.T. starts to feel like something isn’t quite right. His most tried-and-true remedies–from beak-delivered beer to the slobbering affection of Big Jim’s loyal but dim-witted dog, Dennis–fail to cure Big Jim’s debilitating malady. S.T. is left with no choice but to abandon his old life and venture out into a wild and frightening new world with his trusty steed Dennis, where he discovers that the neighbors are devouring each other and the local wildlife is abuzz with rumors of dangerous new predators roaming Seattle. Humanity’s extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a foul-mouthed crow whose knowledge of the world around him comes from his TV-watching education.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Nearing the end of his life, Enzo, a dog with a philosopher’s soul, tries to bring together the family, pulled apart by a three year custody battle between daughter Zoe’s maternal grandparents and her father Denny, a race car driver.

I am a Cat by Soseki Natsume

Written from 1904 through 1906, Soseki Natsume’s comic masterpiece, I Am a Cat, satirizes the foolishness of upper-middle-class Japanese society during the Meiji era. With acerbic wit and sardonic perspective, it follows the whimsical adventures of a world-weary stray kitten who comments on the follies and foibles of the people around him.

A classic of Japanese literature, I Am a Cat is one of Soseki’s best-known novels. 

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

Nana the cat. and his owner, Satoru, take to the road on a journey with no other purpose than to visit three of Satoru’s longtime friends. Or so Nana is led to believe. With his crooked tail– a sign of good fortune– and adventurous spirit, Nana is the perfect companion for the man who took him in as a stray. And as they travel in a silver van across Japan, with its ever-changing scenery and seasons, they will learn the true meaning of courage and gratitude, of loyalty and love.

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The Stonewall Riots: A Library Guide

 Stonewall Inn, a gay bar on Christopher Street in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. A 1969 police raid here led to the Stonewall riots, one of the most important events in the history of LGBT rights (and the history of the United States). This picture was taken on pride weekend in 2016, the day after President Obama announced the Stonewall National Monument, and less than two weeks after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

Picture by Rhododendrites

Robbins Library and the Town of Arlington have been busy this year celebrating Pride 2021. We can’t end the month without talking a bit about the historical event known as the Stonewall Riots or the Stonewall Uprising. Even though it took place over 50 years ago, its impact can be felt to this day. Starting as a protest against police harassment and discrimination, this event became a catalyst to the LGBTQ+ rights movement.

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“Tails and Tales” Summer Reading for Kids, Teens and Adults

Over 250 children signed up to participate in the library’s “Tails and Tales” themed Summer Reading program kick-off and book giveaway in the Winfield Robbins Memorial Garden on Saturday, June 19. From now through the summer, children aged 0-14 are welcome to sign up, and when they do they’ll get to choose a free book “for keeps,” in the Children’s Room or at one of five more Book Giveaways in the garden this summer. There’s also an online signup option at robbinslibrary.org, look for the “Summer Reading 2021” link.

In keeping with the Tails and Tales theme, kids can support an endangered animal through their summer reading: a red fox, a snowy owl or an octopus. All participating children track their reading hours with a bookmark chart, and for each hour spent reading or listening earns kids one online vote for their favorite animal. 

The library’s summer calendar is packed with music, storytimes, and special programs featuring friends with tails. All programs are virtual except for the garden giveaways. Find the full calendar at robbinslibrary.org/events

“Research shows that Summer Reading is important to continue growth in reading from year to year,” says Pam Watts-Flavin, Head of Children’s Services at the Robbins Library. For Watts-Flavin, keeping Summer Reading fun is equally important, “For us, the Summer Reading program is also all about fabulous fun! It’s designed to be a non-competitive program that encourages kids of all ages plus their families to read for fun.”  

Summer Reading programs for teens and adults give everyone in the community a chance to join in on the fun. Teens and adults can sign up on the library’s website or in person, and can either download and print a Summer Reading Challenge bingo card or pick one up for free at the Reference Desk at Robbins or Fox. For each bingo square completed, teens and adults receive raffle tickets to enter in the Summer Reading raffles.  

Bingo challenges for teens and adults range from “Read a book with sea animals on the cover (doesn’t have to be about animals),” to community focused topics like “Make Arlington safer for animals–pick up any litter you see!.”  

Special thanks to the Friends of the Robbins Library and the Arlington Libraries Foundation for supporting summer reading book and raffle prizes for kids, teens and adults. Additional thanks goes to the Russell Fund for supporting summer reading programs for children.  

Summer Reading program kick-off and book giveaway in the Winfield Robbins Memorial Garden on Saturday, June 19.
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Robbins and Fox Libraries Resume Full Hours and Most Services

Effective Monday, June 21, the Robbins Library and Fox Branch Library resume normal hours and most services, no appointment necessary. Arlington requires unvaccinated people to wear masks inside public facilities, but the library is asking all visitors to keep masks on inside regardless of vaccination status. Children ages 2-11 are required to wear masks, and library staff will continue wearing masks at public service desks in solidarity with young patrons.

Patrons who wish to resume picking up holds at Fox must log into My Account on the MLN Catalog and select Edit to choose Arlington/Fox as the default pickup location.  

There are changes to the physical space at both libraries. At Fox, new carpeting was made possible through a generous grant from the Friends of Fox. A fresh coat of paint and some comfortable new seating options complete the mini-reno of the beloved East Arlington branch. 

At Robbins, the Teen area sports shiny new booths and seating options. There are upgraded laptops to check out and use in the library and Children’s Room, plus 14 additional Chromebooks available to check out and use at home. Patrons will have to wait just a little longer for the Reading Room to reopen; that is set for Thursday, July 1.

“We’re excited to fully restore hours, but that’s not the bookend of our pandemic year,” says Director of Libraries, Andrea Nicolay. “The pandemic showed us new ways of serving the community, so as part of our long-range planning we’re putting out a town-wide survey this month to find out how we can do better than before. Look for it in the library e-newsletter and on our website.” 

The library acknowledges the Arlington Libraries Foundation, the Friends of the Robbins Library, and the Friends of Fox for helping make the reopening of Robbins and Fox a festive occasion for the entire community.  

For full information on hours and available services available on our blog.

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Juneteenth: A Library Guide

Juneteenth band. Photograph by Grace Murray Stephenson of celebrations in Eastwoods Park, Austin, 1900.

The Town of Arlington is celebrating Juneteenth Independence Day on June 19, honoring the day (June 19, 1865) when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas were made aware of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth has been celebrated in African-American communities since 1866, but wasn’t officially recognized as a state observed holiday in Massachusetts until recently.

Want to learn more about Juneteenth?
Continue reading for more resources!

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Nominate a Title for Arlington Reads Together Book Pick

The Arlington Reads Together (ART) selection committee is seeking book nominations for the 2022 community-wide read. Have you read a book that explores the issues Arlington is facing? Have an idea for a great community read book?  Please share it with the committee via the 2022 ART Title Nomination form at https://forms.gle/h6B324YQNcAjG6Ty6 by July 9.

Since 2003 the annual Arlington Reads Together program has inspired the community to come together to talk about inspiring ideas through book discussions, author talks, and events for children, teens, and adults. In March 2021, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum drew hundreds of readers and participants in community programs. Over 200 people attended the feature presentation “A Conversation on Race and Racism with Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum.”

Arlington Reads Together is a joint project of the Robbins Library and Envision Arlington’s Diversity Task Group, and is sponsored by the Arlington Libraries Foundation with additional partner support. Addressing issues of diversity is a theme the committee looks for in books and places at the center of the community read program. Arlingtonians are encouraged to think about the diversity issues the town is facing: racial, religious, immigration, population transition, changing socioeconomics, cultural competence, etc.  

Now entering its 20th year, the Arlington Reads Together program strives to connect people through shared experiences, strengthening bonds within our town, exploring ideas to break down preconceptions or stereotypes and giving people the opportunity to explore one topic–together. 

Suggestions and questions can be directed to Anna Litten at alitten@minlib.net or 781-316-3202.

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