Great American Solar Eclipse Safety Guide

We’ve been overwhelmed with the response to our solar eclipse viewing party and distribution of free glasses. Due to our limited quantity of 40 glasses, we wanted to provide you with some resources on where to buy ISO certified and safe glasses.

Where to Buy Glasses

  • The American Astronomical Society (AAS)  has a page that lists Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers. This list of manufacturers and authorized dealers of eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers verified to be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for such products. It may be difficult to purchase glasses so close to the eclipse and counterfeit items have been reported on Amazon.

Safe Viewing Tips 

  • How to View a Solar Eclipse Safely
  • Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (“totality”), when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality.  (Note: Arlington is NOT in the path of totality).  (
  • The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses”.
  • Always supervise children using solar filters. For more safety viewing tips, please visit: NASA Total Eclipse 101

An alternative way to view the eclipse is through a pinhole projector, which are very easy to make with household items, or use your hands.

More Information about the Eclipse and interactive sites: 

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Why do you go to the library?

Your Voice Your Library button

Su Voz Su BibliotecaPatron survey button in Chinese


Do you enjoy giving your opinion about library services? How about taking this short survey from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, your state agency?

The purpose of the study is to help them understand who uses which library and why, with the goal of leveling the playing field for all sizes of libraries in the Commonwealth.

It should take 8-10 minutes to complete, and is completely anonymous. Survey is open through September 8, 2017. The survey is also available in Spanish and Chinese.

Participants have the option to provide their email address and be entered into a drawing for an iPad Pro, to be awarded on September 15, 2017. Three iPads will be given: one to a patron who lives in the eastern part of the state, one in the central area, and one in western Massachusetts.

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Robbins Library Book Discussion Group: “The Bookseller of Kabul” on 9/6

The Robbins Library Book Discussion Group will next meet on Wednesday September 6 at 7 pm in the Robbins Library Conference Room.

The group discusses “The Bookseller of Kabul” by Åsne Seierstad . New members are welcome. Book will be available at the Circulation Desk after August 7.

Here’s the description from publisher:

With The Bookseller of Kabul, award-winning journalist Asne Seierstad has given readers a first-hand look at Afghani life as few outsiders have seen it. Invited to live with Sultan Khan, a bookseller in Kabul, and his family for months, this account of her experience allows the Khans to speak for themselves, giving us a genuinely gripping and moving portrait of a family, and of a country of great cultural riches and extreme contradictions. For more than 20 years, Sultan Khan has defied the authorities-whether Communist or Taliban-to supply books to the people of Kabul. He has been arrested, interrogated, and imprisoned, and has watched illiterate Taliban soldiers burn piles of his books in the street. Yet he had persisted in his passion for books, shedding light in one of the world’s darkest places. This is the intimate portrait of a man of principle and of his family-two wives, five children, and many relatives sharing a small four-room house in this war ravaged city. But more than that, it is a rare look at contemporary life under Islam, where even after the Taliban’s collapse, the women must submit to arranged marriages, polygamous husbands, and crippling limitations on their ability to travel, learn and communicate with others.
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The Great American Solar Eclipse

Credit: Rick Fienberg / TravelQuest International / Wilderness Travel

In 11 days, a total solar eclipse will transverse the continental United States.  While Arlington is not in the path of totality, we can expect to view the moon obscuring 63.2% of the sun.

Join us in garden between Robbins Library and Town Hall on Monday August 21 as we attempt to view the total solar eclipse from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

We are receiving glasses from the The STAR Library Network (STAR_Net), with support from the Moore Foundation, Google, NASA, the Research Corporation, and NSF, which has distributed over 2.1 million safe eclipse glasses to 7,000 unique locations including public library branches, bookmobiles, tribal libraries, library consortia, and state libraries in all 50 states!


The first 40 attendees will receive solar-viewing eclipse glasses, while supplies last (limit 1 per person / 2 per family). Glasses will be distributed at 2:00 p.m. in the Winfield Robbins Memorial Garden. Look for the library staff member wearing a blue Robbins Library apron Prime viewing time for the Boston area is about 2:46 pm.

The Children’s Room will have pin-hole cardboard viewers available.

For more information, please email


Credit: Courtesy Mark Margolis / Rainbow Symphony

Safe Viewing Tips from NASA 

  • Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (“totality”), when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality. (
  • The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses”.
  • Always supervise children using solar filters.For more safety viewing tips, please visit: NASA Total Eclipse 101

An alternative way to view the eclipse is through a pinhole projector, which are very easy to make, or use your hands.

More Information about the Eclipse and interactive sites: 

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Not-So-Young About Book Group Meets on 8/16

The Not-S0-Young Adult Book Group is back from its July hiatus! We’ll be meeting next week on August 16 at 7pm in the 4th floor conference room.

We’ll be talking about The Good Braider by Terry Farish, a novel in verse about a young refugee from Sudan who comes to the US with her family and makes a home in Portland, ME. It’s a short, quick read but packs a powerful emotional punch. Stop by the front desk to pick up a copy if you haven’t already.

Copies of the next book, In the Shadow of Liberty, are on their way and should be here by the night of our meeting. Hope to see you next Wednesday!

The Not-So-Young Adult Book Group is for adults, but we read books written for teens. It’s a casual, friendly discussion and newcomers are always welcome.


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Fall Book Buzz!



Looking for something good to read in the next few months? Fall is such a huge time for publishing it can be hard to keep up with the onslaught of new books. But never fear: your friendly local librarians have you covered!

Come join us on Friday, August 25 from 12-1 in the Community Room and we’ll give you the scoop on a whole slew of exciting new books from your favorite authors as well as some authors who will be new to you.

Feel free to bring a bag lunch, and a pen to take notes. You’ll leave with a whole list of exciting new titles to curl up with this fall!

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Saturday hours for Fox Library begin September 9

Starting on Saturday, September 9 the Fox Branch Library will be open on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The new Saturday schedule parallels that of the Robbins Library, which is open on Saturdays from September through June. This expansion of weekend library service is a response to needs identified through library user surveys and feedback from the community, and is made possible by municipal funding and funding from the 0502Friends of Fox Library.

Weekend library hours are a critical resource for working parents, their children and all those who are unable to access library services on weekdays or evenings. The value of weekend library services is reflected in foot traffic, circulation numbers and children’s program attendance. Last year the Robbins Library circulated an average of 140 items per hour on weekdays, and an average of 200 items per hour on Saturdays. Weekend children’s programs are regularly at capacity.

“Over my five-year career in Arlington’s Libraries, the desire for access has been the main theme in community forums, conversations with library users, and in suggestion box comments,” says Director of Libraries, Andrea Nicolay. “I am thrilled that we’re in a position to expand weekend hours and I hope we see many new faces as a result.”

Each year, the Library Board of Trustees determines goals and objectives for the year ahead with input from library administration. A perennial objective is to ensure that the library’s hours of operation and staffing levels meet the needs of the community. There are competing views of where additional library hours are most needed; for example the Robbins Library has been closed on Thursday mornings since 2004. In the case for Saturdays, it came down to the fact that weekend hours are useful to more people.

The neighborhood surrounding the Fox Library has seen other investments and

photo credit: Bram Berkowitz for the Arlington Advocate

developments in recent years: streetscape improvements along Mass Ave, the addition, expansion and renovation of neighborhood schools, and a number of new businesses. Saturday hours at Fox Library translate to more activity and foot traffic for the entire Capitol Square business district. In addition, families can look forward to a monthly Saturday children’s program at the Fox.


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Now You’re Cookin’

Whether you’re a pro in the kitchen or a total amateur, our librarians have you covered with these cookbook recommendations!

My go-to cookbooks are The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (otherwise known as “the big red binder one”), The New Best Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (and blog) by Deb Perelman, and Flour by Joanne Chang. I’m also a fan of Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce and Martha Stewart’s Cookies. I love the scientific approach of the ATK books; they’ll tell you exactly what they were looking for in a recipe and how they got it, so in addition to having a recipe that really works, you know where you can tweak it and take shortcuts (and where you can’t). Smitten Kitchen’s results are always delicious, but usually take a long time to prepare. Flour has my all-time favorite oatmeal cookie recipe, among others. Good to the Grain is a good introduction to different types of flours, and I love the peach ginger muffin recipe, though it’s more work than I’d usually put into making muffins. Martha Stewart’s Cookies has the best table of contents I’ve ever seen: organized by type of cookie (light and delicate, soft and chewy, etc.) with photos of each cookie right there.

I forget where I learned these, but my two best kitchen tips are: (1) if a piece of eggshell gets into your mix by accident, the best way to get it out is with another piece of eggshell, and (2) chill your cookie dough, unless the recipe specifically says it should go right into the oven. It really does make a difference!

Baking is science for hungry people!

Mary Berry’s Baking Bible (Available to request through the Commonwealth Catalog!) – Have an indulgent time with the kinder side of the former dynamic-duo of the Great British Bake Off! Mary Berry is more than sweet in this full-color look at her favorite bakes! As someone without an extreme baking background and little cooking experience, I can tell you that Mary’s Bible is foolproof. The blend of classic British bakes is brilliant! This includes flapjacks, fairy cakes, and hot puddings! Don’t worry, she also tackles more established favorites, including cheesecakes, classic cakes, scones, and even baking for children! This baking bible is classic just like Mary Berry. Long-live the queen of British baking!

PS. My favorite recipe in the bible is the Coffee and Walnut Cake! The flavor is fantastic, and the icing is so easy to make! 🙂

 My all time favorite is All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art by Molly Stevens. It’s my go-to during the cooler months for delicious roasted meats and vegetable sides. Not only are the recipes outstanding, her review of the science (and art!) of how meat cooks is informative and has made me a more confident cook. Stevens provides pan sauce recipes and carving technique tips to ensure the finished product is excellent.  There is a chapter on roasted vegetable sides to round out the meal. I’ve used my copy so much the binding has broken, the pages are splattered, and it opens up right to my favorite recipes. The 150 recipes cover everything from classic simple roasted chicken and meats to more fanciful meals. I can’t wait for cooler weather to start using it again!

I am not a baker. I enjoy cooking more, as it seems more forgiving. The preciseness of baking scared me off for many years. Until I found Baking Illustrated : A Best Recipe Classic from America’s Test Kitchen. I’ve borrowed this from Robbins so many times I should just buy a copy.  America’s Test Kitchen is a great resource for any baker or chef, no matter the experience level. However, for newbies in the baking department reading about why things work and the science behind baking helped me understand my ingredients and the various techniques. In fact, I need a blueberry muffin recipe, so off to grab it! 

Although I’m not paleo, I’ve been enjoying Nom Nom Paleo, which shows recipes in cartoon form, plus they are delish!

I love eating, but I don’t like cooking, so most of my cookbooks are for simple and straightforward everyday fare. My two go-to cookbooks are Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison (which includes a lentil soup recipe I make several times each winter) and How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman (a favorite is the Hot and Sour Braised Tempeh.) I’ve gotten a ton of use out of my copy of the less comprehensive but super delicious Vegan With a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I love the Mashed Potatoes with Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy, and the Beet, Barley, and Black Soybean Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons is another winter favorite. The only specialty cookbook I have is Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas, which was totally worth the price just for the Kale Salad with Dried Fruits & Nuts and the Spinach and Mango Smoothie, both of which I eat regularly. Before investing in any cookbook, I always grab a copy from the library and try out a couple of recipes to make sure it’s worth paying for and taking up space on my kitchen shelf!

My pick is “Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook” ‘written’ by one of the characters from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.  Nanny Ogg is one of the witches of Lancre, and she has a very robust personality.  The book is written as if she sent her recipes in to be published, with notes from the editors discussing the submissions.  She has such recipes as “Bananana soup surprise” which involves half a banana placed upright in the bowl with the soup poured in around it, and “Celery astonishment” which is a stuffed whole celery stalk served with suggestively placed potatoes ;).

There are also many recipes that have been mentioned throughout the Discworld books, and a section on Discworld etiquette (mostly fun ways to deal with all the different groups and species).

All in all, a very fun read, with a bunch of tasty recipes mixed in.

Do you have a go-to cookbook?  Let us know in the comments!

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Readers’ advisory: Connecting readers with books

“Readers’ advisory” is a term that no one out outside of the library profession probably uses. Most of us don’t really like it either – it kind of sounds like we’re warning people away from books, when in fact it’s the opposite; we’re giving advice based on readers’ individual preferences to help connect people with books we think they’ll love. But we have yet to come up with a replacement term, so “readers’ advisory” it is. (Please, if you have a better idea, leave a comment!)

NYPL What would you like to read?


While the name might be uninspired, the different approaches can be wildly creative. Here are a few methods of readers’ advisory we’ve found other libraries or bookish websites offering:

As you may have gathered by now, most librarians are book lovers and we really, really enjoy helping people find books they will love. However, we can’t help you with the next problem…too many books, too little time!


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Adult Summer Reading Challenge going strong

Lego blocks with the words Build A Better WorldOver 100 people have signed up for the “Build A Better World” adult summer reading challenge at the Arlington libraries. If you’re one of them, well done! If you’re not, don’t worry, there’s still time!

Sign up online or in person at the library to collect your bingo sheet and start checking off boxes. You earn a raffle ticket for each box you complete; some examples are “recycle” (simple! you’re probably already doing this at home), “read a dystopian book,” “watch a TED Talk,” and “Check out a Thing from the Library of Things.” Some boxes, like “listen to an audiobook,” “read a book set in another country,” or “watch a documentary,” you can do more than once; these say “1 each.”

Collect your raffle tickets at the reference desk, write your name on the back, and drop them in the prize boxes on the display table. The “Build A Better World” challenge continues through Labor Day weekend, so there’s still more than a month to go. Sign up now if you haven’t already!

Learn more on our Summer Reading page.

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