Girls Who Code – Open House 9/28

Girls-Who-Code-Facebook-LogoRobbins Library is launching a Girls Who Code club this fall and will be hosting a Girls Who Code Open House and lottery on Wednesday, September 28 from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Robbins Library Community Room. The program will run on Wednesdays, except for vacation weeks, from October 19 through June 14 from 3:30-5:30 p.m in the Community Room.

Girls Who Code is a national non-profit organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology. Area girls in grades 6-12 and their guardians are invited to attend this open house to learn more about the club and to be entered into a lottery to receive one of the 24 available spaces. Attendance at the open house is mandatory for lottery participation. The first part of the evening will go over club specifics and introduce the volunteer instructors. The second part of the evening will be a lottery for the 24 available spaces in the club.

Girls Who Code is a group for girls who want to learn coding skills, meet others with similar interests, and discover how these skills can lead to a job in the tech industry. The program is run by three instructors who will help answer questions students may have and help guide them through the curriculum, which is provided free of charge by the organization Girls Who Code. Students will work at their own pace on a project, and prior experience is not required.

Click here to register for the Open House. Registering for the Open House does not enter you into the lottery. We just want an estimate of how many people might show up for the Open House.

To learn more about the Girls Who Code organization, please visit their website.

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Next NSYA Book Group

We had a great discussion about Judy Blume’s Tiger Eyes last week. Thank you to everyone who came!

feverOur next meeting is actually pretty soon, on October 5 at 7pm. This time of year our meeting schedule gets a little wonky because of holidays, so be sure to check the book group page. We’ll be discussing Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson, a historical novel set in Philadelphia during an epidemic of yellow fever. Fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook is ambitious and adventurous and has grand plans for her life. But when everyone around her begins falling gravely ill, she must put her plans aside and simply survive.

The Not-So-Young Adult Book Group has read this author before, but it was a very different kind of book. Back in the spring of 2013 we read Wintergirls, a contemporary novel about eating disorders. It will be interesting to see how this historical novel compares!

As always, copies are available at the front desk at Robbins, and newcomers are encouraged to come.

At this meeting we’ll also be voting on upcoming books, as we only have one more chosen after this one. If you have suggestions, please share them in the comments!

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Last day for Arlington Book Festival applications!

arlington book fest_final_color_croppedmoreWriters, it’s deadline time! Applications are due today, Sept 19 for the the 2016 Arlington Book Festival. Arlington Book Festival will be held on Saturday November 5, 2016 at Robbins Library.

Local authors can apply online or in the library.

The number of applications we receive and the areas of interest and expertise among our applicants will help determine the festival format, and preference will be given to Arlington-based authors.

Last day to submit an application is Monday September 19, 2016. Late applications will not be accepted. Applicants will be notified by Friday September 30.

Questions? Please contact Maura Deedy at 781-316-3202 or


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Banned Books Week 2016: Spotlight on Diversity

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read

Defend the First Amendment Read A Banned Book

This year, the focus of Banned Books Week is on diversity.


“It is estimated that over half of all banned books are by authors of color, or contain events and issues concerning diverse communities, according to ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. This year’s Banned Books Week will celebrate literature written by diverse writers that has been banned or challenged, as well as explore why diverse books are being disproportionately singled out in the first place.”

What does “diverse” mean in this context? Author Malinda Lo defines it as:

“non-white main and/or secondary characters; LGBT main and/or secondary characters; disabled main and/or secondary characters; issues about race or racism; LGBT issues; issues about religion, which encompass in this situation the Holocaust and terrorism; issues about disability and/or mental illness; non-Western settings, in which the West is North America and Europe.”

Indeed, the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2015 reflect many kinds of diversity. Click on any of the links below to read more about each book in the library catalog, and request any you’re interested in.

I READ BANNED BOOKS white text inside red circle

Have you read one of these, or another frequently challenged title? Come tell us about it at the reference desk and get an “I READ BANNED BOOKS” button (while supplies last).

Banned Books Week posts from previous years

Next: “Banned Books” is a bit of a misnomer, since books aren’t banned in this country as often as they are “challenged” (for example, moved from the children’s or teen area of the library to the adult section, or removed from a school’s required reading list). Internationally, however, censorship remains an issue. We’ll collect a few related stories from around the world – a reminder of the importance of the freedom to read.

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What makes a good book club book?

Many book club members get their books from the library. Hurray! Many book club members also come to the library for help choosing their next book club book. Hurray again! We love to help, so please stop by the reference desk, call, or use the chat feature on our website to ask us for suggestions anytime. Here are a few general tips to start:

  • Where to begin?: Does your book club have a theme or guidelines (e.g. do you only read fiction, only biography, only mysteries, only works by diverse authors)? Try to choose a book that everyone in the group is willing to read, even if not everyone ends up loving it. (Sometimes the best discussions occur when people have different opinions about a book!)
  • Reviews and awards: If you’re still not sure where to start, read some reviews or look at some awards lists. We have lots of resources on our Book Recommendations page. Remember that awards are a good guideline, but they are also subjective. Reviewers might disagree (and you might disagree with them!), but if reviews are universally terrible or terrific, that can give you an idea of whether a book is a good choice – or not.
  • New vs. re-reading: Sometimes in a bookish group it’s difficult to find a book that is new to everyone. Are your members open to re-reading? Some people might like to revisit books they’ve already read. On the other hand, book clubs are a great place to try new things and tackle challenging works that you might not pick up on your own.
  • Page count: Everyone seems to be pretty busy these days. Before you pick a 700-page doorstop of a book, consider whether that’s a realistic choice – will your book club members be able to finish the book in time? If you decide to choose a longer book, think about adding some extra time between meetings so everyone has a chance to finish.
  • Availability: Are your book club members willing to buy the book, or is everyone going to get it from the library? We do our best to purchase lots of copies of popular books, but there is often a wait. If you look in the catalog, you can see how many copies are in the library system and how many people are waiting.
    Screenshot of catalog record for The Girls by Emma Cline with holds and copies circled

    There are 526 people waiting for 274 copies of this book.

    Are you in a book club? How do you choose your books? Which ones have prompted great discussions? Please share in the comments!

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Everything bird is on display at Little Table



A new Library display (on the Little Table) could  pique  your interest in these amazing winged creatures.

Are  you  into…

bird photography?

painting or drawing birds?

Bird poetry?

Falconry!  with goshawks!

birdhouse building?

bird gardening?

bird migration?

books or music  with bird in the title?

bird/mindfulness coloring book?

bird origami?

taxidermy anyone?

raising backyard chickens?

Or perhaps you just feel like viewing them from your window or yard?  We have bird guides galore.



Plus if you like to sketch or draw or color  –    grab some paper and pencils.



         The following is a smattering of some materials you might discover

Alex and me: how a scientist and a parrot discovered a hidden world of animal intelligence – and formed a deep bond in the process by Irene M. Pepperberg.

Beaks, bones, and bird songs:  how the struggle for survival has shaped birds and their behavior by Roger J. Lederer  

Bird,  bee, and bug houses:  simple projects for your garden by Derek Jones

Bird by bird: some instructions on writing and life by Anne Lamott

The birds.  [videorecording] Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.  

Color me mindful:  Birds  (a coloring book) by Anastasia Catris  [uncatalogued]

The Firebird (sound recording) complete version.  By Stravinsky

Red bird: poems by Mary Oliver 

The Sibley guide to birds.  Written and illustrated by David Allen Sibley.

A spicing of birds: poems [poems for birders] by Emily Dickinson. 

The Goshawk by T.H. White   

H is for hawk by Helen Macdonald.  

The painted bird by Jerzy Kosinski

Watercolor basics: Drawing and painting birds by Shirley Porter

Winged migration [videorecording]  















Let us know if you’ve encountered any                                                                                    unusual birds this summer.


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NSYA Book Group Meets on 9/14

tiger-eyesThe Not-So-Young Adult Book Group will be meeting next week on Wednesday 9/14. We’ll be talking about the classic Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume.

Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Davey has never felt so alone in her life. Her father is dead (shot in a holdup) and now her mother is moving the family to New Mexico to try to recover. Climbing in Los Alamos Canyons, Davey meets mysterous Wolf, who seems to understand the rage and fear she feels. Slowly, with Wolf’s help, Davey realizes that she must get on with her life. But when will she be ready to leave the past behind? Will she ever stop hurting?

If you haven’t grabbed your copy yet, there are still copies available at the front desk at Robbins.

The Not-S0-Young Adult Book Group is a group for adults in which we read and discuss books written for teens. It’s a casual friendly group and newcomers are always welcome!

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Adult summer reading update

Arlington is full of readers! Participation in this summer’s adult summer reading program was overwhelming and we are still counting sign-up forms. We will be contacting winners next week (the week of September 12), so stay tuned.

Want to tell us about a great book you read this summer? Leave a comment below! Here are a few I enjoyed:

  • My Real Children by Jo Walton begins with an elderly woman who remembers two distinct lifetimes; she knows she can’t have had both, but which was her real life? A pair of alternate histories run parallel, like the movie Sliding Doors; at the end, the reader knows the character so well it’s possible to guess which life was the real one.
  • The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith is a must-read for fans of B.A. Shapiro’s The Art Forger and Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist. This novel shifts between three settings: Holland in the 1630s, New York in the 1950s, and Sydney, Australia in the early 2000s, tracing the path of a painting from creation to museum.
  • Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett is a stunning portrait of a family of five, two of whom struggle mightily with depression. Both parents and each of the three grown children take turns telling the family’s story.
  • The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson is a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, complete with beautiful writing – my copy was sprinkled with bookmarks – and well-rounded characters with comprehensible motivations.
  • Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West is a series of articulate, forceful, and fiercely funny essays about fatness and feminism, the perfect collection for those who liked How to Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran, Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit, and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson.

We hope you had a wonderful summer of reading, and that the good books keep coming throughout the year! Reading once, reading twice, reading chicken soup with rice

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Let’s Get Schooled

With back to school season rapidly approaching, the librarians here at the Robbins Library sound off on which fictional school they’d most like to attend!

AndreaWilliam McKinley High is easily the perfect fictional high school for me. At first I was thinking of McKinley because of Glee, the show that depicts high school as a four-year rollicking a cappella performance. Not that I could match their pipes, more because I love a cappella. McKinley also turns out to be the fictional high school in two more of my all-time favorite shows: Freaks and Geeks and The Wonder Years. What are the chances?

AimeeXavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters sounds pretty awesome. Somehow that seems like it would be like a high-tech Hogwarts without having to worry about Voldemort.  Death Eaters attacking the school is just too terrifying to me. I know that only happens a few times in Hogwarts history, but that is enough for me.

RobI’m going to have to say Gekkoukan High School from Persona 3 for the PS2/PSP!   The school seems pretty standard (I mean, aside from the fact that it transforms into the monster filled tower, Tartarus, at midnight…) but I’d really love to hang out with the main characters!  They’re really well written and seem like they’d be a blast to spend time with.  Getting to see my Persona, an entity you can summon from your mind to defend you from aforementioned monsters, would be pretty awesome too!

After graduating from Gekkoukan High, I’d go on to Brakebills, from Lev Grossman’s The Magicians series (now a TV series too!) for college.  What I like about Brakebills is that it seems exactly like what a magical college would be if they actually existed in our world. It makes magic into a kind of science to be studied and understood.  Things are dangerous, but much in the same way that things are dangerous in the real world.  Mess with something you don’t understand and you could end up dead.  (Heck, mess with something you *do* think you understand and you might end up dead.)  Add to that magical field trips & the Neitherlands, a magical world filled with fountains that take you to *other* magical worlds, and I’m sold!

JennyOf course Hogwarts (Harry Potter) comes to mind first, and Brakebills (The Magicians) is tempting, but my choice would be the Watford School from Rainbow Rowell’s novel Carry On. I love the way that magic works in Rowell’s world: it’s all based on words, and the words that have more cultural weight – nursery rhymes, Shakespeare, Prince songs – make more powerful magic spells.

MauraIf you asked 5th grader me, I’d say Sweet Valley High, because it seemed so glamorous at that age. The much older me would like to matriculate at Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy as featured in Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. Who wouldn’t want to learn a new magic skill?

Wish you were attending a fictional school this fall?  Tell us which one in the comments!

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QBG reads All I Love and Know

QBGAllLoveAndKnowJoin us tonight for a discussion of All I Love & Know by Judith Frank!  There’s definitely A LOT to talk about!  Even if you haven’t finished (or even started) feel free to join us for good company, snacks, etc.

August 31st @ 7pm in the 4th floor Conference Room.

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