Welcome to Robbins Library Business Series


logo350wideTo kick off this series, we want to share a couple of excellent resources provided by two local organizations. The Robbins Library has a strong relationship with Arlington’s Department of Planning & Community Development as well as the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

Both organizations have gathered together COVID-19 Business Resources that we highly recommend:

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The Big (library materials) Return!

The Big Return--Without Blog Post Ref (1)

Thank you for your taking good care of your library materials all this time! We are hosting an outdoor returns event on Saturday, June 20 for the community, with safety measures in place for staff and participants. Books and A/V materials from any Minuteman library will be accepted. The Robbins Library facility will remain closed to the public during and after this event.

Date: Saturday, June 20, rain or shine
Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Location: Robbins Library, 700 Mass Ave.

How to participate: 

  • You are welcome to arrive in your vehicle or on foot. We encourage walk-ins to reduce traffic congestion on Mass Ave. The key to this event’s success is keeping the line socially distanced and moving, which shouldn’t be difficult since it only takes a few seconds to drop items in a bin. Staff will replace the bins as they fill. Please wear a mask at all times.
      • If you walk: the line will form around the block on Mass Ave, and we ask that you socially distance as the line moves. 
      • If you drive: please park on Mass Ave. and walk in, or pull in front of the steps and hop out to return your items to the bins. Do not linger–traffic will need to keep moving. 
      • Return bins will be underneath tents on the sidewalk in front of Robbins. Library staff will be on hand to show you what to do. 
  • There will be four bins for returns: 
      • Books from ANY Minuteman Library
      • Media (CDs, DVDs, Playaways) from ANY Minuteman Library
      • Large items (American Girl dolls, Art Prints, etc.) borrowed from Robbins
      • Arlington Public School library books (no textbooks)

What if I can’t make it on June 20th? We are reopening the book drops after this event for the return of books and media. If you have non-traditional library materials to return, like American Girl dolls or art prints, call the Robbins Library at 781-316-3200 to arrange a drop off time. Please do not leave items outside near the book drops, and please do not return Arlington Public Schools materials. Donations are not being accepted at this time.

Why not reopen the book drops at Fox? Safety is our priority. In order to maintain the State-mandated safety and hygiene protocols, the Fox Library facility and book drops will remain closed.

We hope to see you on June 20 for The Big Return!


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Grownup Story Time

Copy of Copy of Virtual Grownup-2
Loved story time as a kid? No longer a kid?
We have a program just for you!
Grownup Story Time
Wednesday, June 17: The Brothers Grimm
Wednesday, June 24: Hans Christian Andersen

Wednesday, July 1: Utensile Strength by Patricia Wrede
Wednesday, July 8: The Golden Fish (Russian fairy tale)
Wednesday, July 15: Puerto Rican Folktales
Wednesday, July 22: Circe by Eudora Welty
Wednesday, July 29: Excerpt from The Palm Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola

1:00 p.m.
Join library staff for a half hour with faeries, deities, and magical creatures just for grownup patrons as part of this year’s Adult Summer Reading program.
For more info, visit the FB event page!
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Getting Uncomfortable

This month we’ve asked out librarians for books they enjoyed that are outside of their comfort zone. Check out their responses below!

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow: anything with the word “spies” in it, especially if it’s nonfiction, is kind of a turnoff for me. But I heard so many positive things about this book from friends that I decided to try it. It was fascinating! Ronan Farrow reads the audiobook himself and I highly recommend that version.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples: I read a little bit of graphic and a little bit of science fiction, but don’t naturally gravitate towards them, especially in combination. Something made me pick this up though, and I really loved it. I’m behind, but it’s time to go back and pick up at volume 6.

These Truths by Jill Lepore: hundreds of pages of U.S. history is very daunting, especially for someone who struggles with dense nonfiction. This book was on my radar and I heard great things about it, so when the library closed back in March I thought it would be the perfect time. It took me almost 2 months to read, but I finished and I learned a lot!

The Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo: I’m convinced that I’m not a fantasy reader and while a lot of these books sound good in theory, I rarely find myself picking them up. I don’t know what made me read this – I think I just wanted something different – but I’m very glad I did because it was incredibly engrossing!

On Immunity by Eula Biss: If I’m going to read nonfiction it really needs to have a story and this doesn’t really have a story. It’s basically a very long essay about the author’s experiences being a new mother and what she thinks and has learned about vaccination. Her writing was lovely and I was surprised to find myself enjoying this book.

I hardly ever read nonfiction. I started delving into it fairly recently trying to expand my tastes. 

Since I tend to enjoy suspense and horror, I first went for true crime nonfiction or historical books with suspenseful/scary undertones.
I prefer titles that read more as a narrative than just facts, so storytelling is also an important factor.
Some that I enjoyed include:

The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride by Daniel James Brown 

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

I read “Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster. Tollbooth is a children’s book “classic” that I have tried to read every year for 40 years- to no avail. Now! Today! Finally! I have finished reading it and it is fabulous! Funny word plays and complicated fantastical plot so you really have to pay attention but it’s so worth it!

Because I am running a Science Book Group (a field I have very little experience in) many of the books I have read for discussion have been particularly interesting with
The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Bloom and The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Colbert  are two standout choices.
 I don’t read YA very often but the Binti Series by Nnendi Okorafor and On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden feature Sci-Fi worlds I thought were very well executed.

I absolutely do not enjoy the experience of being afraid.  Haunted houses?  Horror films?  No thanks! When a librarian handed me The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson, I figured I wouldn’t last long; but, the story won in the end and it is one I love to recommend.  Larson tells this true story through two parallel narratives: the construction of the Chicago World Fair in 1893 and a serial killer who uses the fair to lure his victims to their end.  The planning, construction and opening of the fair was an incredible and impressive undertaking that dazzled the world.  Knowing from the beginning of the book it would also serve as a horrific backdrop to the work of a psychopath gave me chills from start to finish.  An excellent and terrifying tale from American history.  For two additional titles that thoroughly freaked me out, head back to this blog post: https://robbinslibrary.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/things-that-go-bump-in-the-night/

Generally, I stick pretty exclusively to the fantasy side of scifi/fantasy, but there are some others that I’ve enjoyed recently.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

I’m not a big fan of nonfiction books. I tend to think most feel dry, stuffy, and stuffed full of unnecessary detail. I’d rather read something essay length than book length. I push myself to read at least a few every year though and there have been a few over the years that don’t fall into those traps for me.
I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele

Here’s the secret, Cap, I don’t have a comfort zoneKaty

What books out of your comfort zone have you enjoyed?  Let us know in the comments below!
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Virtual Fox Festival


This year we will celebrate the annual Fox Festival with an at-home theatrical extravaganza: The Epic Adventures of Fox and Owl.  We invite people of all ages to participate by taking our two protagonists – Fox and Owl – on an exciting adventure.  All you need is your imagination to invent a truly fabulous adventure that can come to life in your living room or backyard, or in a world of your creation.  

We hope you will share your adventure with all of Arlington by making a short (20 seconds to one minute) video with our paper animals for our Fox and Owl Tiny Film Festival.

Come Join us on Zoom on June 10 and 11 at 4 PM for workshops on toy theatre and learn how to be part of this awesome tiny film festival.

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/virtual-fox-festival-tickets-108475497132

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Virtual Book Groups in June

We have a couple of virtual events just for you, including book groups!

71rl3UFZ0wLRobbins Library Book Discussion Group: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Zoom Event
Monday, June 1
7:00 p.m.

The Robbins Library Book Discussion Group has gone virtual. This month’s title is available for free download at hoopla with your library card.  Follow the group on Facebook at facebook.com/groups/212703859877372/ to learn more about joining the June Zoom meeting.

Book Chat
Zoom event: email ldyndiuk@minlib.net for meeting link
Thursday, June 18
2:00 p.m.

There’s no assigned book for this meeting – just come and talk about what you’ve been reading lately (or listening to or watching). We’ll talk about what we liked and what we didn’t like and swap book suggestions!

517noXV4izL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Not-So-Young-Adult Book Group Reads My Lady Jane
Zoom Event: email vrodriguez@minlib.net for meeting link
Monday, June 22
4:00 p.m.

The Not-So-Young-Adult Book Group is meeting online! We’ll be reading My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows (available on Hoopla).
This is a book group for adults, but we read books written for teens. Newcomers welcome!
We’ll be meeting via Zoom – email Verónica at vrodriguez@minlib.net for Zoom details.

91k8VjNDwYLVirtual Meeting: Queer Book Group (QBG) Reads Little Fish
Zoom Event: email rlorino@minlib.net for meeting link.
Wednesday, June 24
7:00 p.m.

This month QBG reads the 2019 Lambda Literary Award winner for Transgender Fiction, novel Little Fish by Casey Plett.
“Wendy Reimer is a thirty-year-old trans woman who comes across evidence that her late grandfather–a devout Mennonite farmer–might have been transgender himself.”
Copies of the book & audiobook are available instantly on Hoopla with your library card!
We’ll be meeting via Zoom – email Rob at rlorino@minlib.net and you will be sent the Zoom meeting link close to the time of the meeting.

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Rockin’ Robbins Book Cart(less) Drill Team – 2020

Book Cart Drill Team may not be happening this year officially, but we wanted to keep the spirit alive anyway!  Inspired by the Don’t Rush Challenge, created by Toluwalase Asolo, we made a (mostly) cartless, bookish version set to I’m A Believer by The Monkees.

(No librarians were harmed in the making of this video.)

What is a Book Cart Drill Team? From the DEMCO website: “People from all over the United States put together drill teams to represent their libraries. From just three people to as many as sixteen, librarians practiced dance moves with the aid of their book carts! Fun formations, music and crazy costumes made the competitions spectacular!”


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Contemporary Films & TV

This month we asked our librarians to share some of their favorite TV & movies that have come out in the past decade!  Here are their answers:

Fleabag: There’s this scene where the main character (Fleabag) is on a train and all of a sudden AWOL starts playing and she’s daydreaming that people around her are grimacing to the beat of “Sail.” I think that’s when I got hooked to the show. The rest was just great writing and my lure to Fleabag’s existential crisis.

Killing Eve: Probably the only show that kept me sane during social distancing. The cat-and-mouse chase between these two women, one a psychopath and one who may or may not identify with said psychopath, kept me hitting the play button.

American Horror Story: I’ve loved all the AHS seasons, although I’m partial to Coven because of the characters and the fashion.

Key & Peele: I can watch and rewatch this show and giggle for hours.

Broad City: A funny buddy comedy. Makes you want to make friends (or maybe not).

Watchmen: If you haven’t watched this show, do it. It’s so carefully put together, it will blow your mind.

Bob’s Burgers: Probably my favorite animated comedy.

Hannibal: I watched this show simply for how beautiful the visuals are.

Call the Midwife is such a comfort watch for me. I love anything historical, but these characters are especially wonderful with their different personalities and their shared sense of community. They are there to help and are so dedicated and empathetic.

The Great British Baking Show is the only reality show I’ll watch. I love that it’s a competition but everybody is friendly and supportive of one another. Plus, I love baked goods.

Schitt’s Creek has gotten me through the first several weeks of being closed and I’m very sad that I’ve run out of episodes. It’s hilarious and I love all the characters!

Another comedy I loved is the new version of One Day At a Time which is fun and hilarious and has made me extremely happy.

I don’t watch a lot of movies, but I love Pitch Perfect and its follow-ups. They can make as many as they want and my friends and I will be at the movie theater to see them. They’re just super fun and always have good music!

A couple of recent animated films I loved were Inside Out (what a great way to think about emotions!) and Zootopia which was about animals, but so much more than animals, and is worth watching for the sloth DMV employee alone.

Orange Is the New Black

Jane the Virgin

Better Things

The Good Place


What We Do in the Shadows

Nora from Queens



Bojack Horseman


Tigers are not Afraid






Perks of Being a Wallflower – I was sooooo worried when I heard the movie was being made as the book is life-changing. I should have trusted Stephen Chbosky more…it was razor sharp and close to perfection.

Selma – I would follow Ava DuVernay to the ends of the earth.

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – ok, it’s just plain FUN and funny!!


Games of Thrones

Parks and Rec

Black Mirror

RuPaul’s Drag Race

30 Rock


The Great British Baking Show

Broad City



Sorry to Bother You


Mad Max Fury Road


Uncut Gems

Frances Ha


The Book Thief

Downton Abbey (movie and tv series)

Kite Runner


Lady Bird

I Know a Man…Ashley Bryan
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Wild Nights with Emily
Indian Horse


1.       Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

2.       Downton Abbey

3.      The Great British Baking Show

4.       Mad Men

5.       Nurse Jackie

6.       One Day At a Time

7.       Mom

8.       Pose

9.       RuPaul’s Drag Race

10.   Schitt’s Creek

11.   Ugly Betty



1.       American Hustle

2.       Blue Jasmine

3.       Bridesmaids

4.       Can You Ever Forgive Me?

5.       Carol

6.       The Favourite

7.       Get Out

8.       I, Tonya

9.       Magic in the Moonlight

10.   Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

11.   The Wife



In A World

Man Up

Late Night


TV Series

Silicon Valley

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Great British Baking Show

The Durrells in Corfu



Steven Universe

Adventure Time

Killing Eve

Star vs the Forces of Evil


Sailor Moon Crystal


The Handmaiden

Portrait of a Lady on Fire


The VVitch


Get Out


What are your favorite contemporary movies & TV shows? Let us know in the comments below!

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Red Letter Poem #6

Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate, is today’s guest blogger.

The ties that bind.  As we all know, there’s a bit of the double-edged blade contained in the phrase – and Jean Flanagan has spent much of her writing life exploring the ways ancestry and cultural history both bind us to past circumstances and offer meaning and cohesion in our present days.  Focusing on Ireland and the Irish diaspora, her books Ibbetson Street and Black Lightning, portray a variety of familial relationships, from the utterly tragic to the joyous.  A poem like “Clap Your Hands…” feels to me like the sort of benediction you might have heard from your Irish grandmother (had you been blessed with one.)  Jean teaches in a variety of educational settings including an alternative sentencing program called “Changing Lives Through Literature.”  She is also one of the founders of the Arlington Center for the Arts – a linchpin of our cultural community and a physical manifestation of the ways our lives are inextricably bound.

Red Letter Poem #6:

The Red Letter Poems Project was created in grateful partnership with many of our town’s cultural resources: the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Robbins Library, the Arlington International Film Festival, and Arlington Community Education. We’ll send out a poem from a new poet every week. If you enjoy them, we encourage you to forward them to friends –  in Arlington and beyond –  or to post them on your social media platforms with the hashtags: #RedLetterPoems, #ArlingtonPoetLaureate. If you want to make sure you receive these poems directly – or to receive notices about future poetry events – send an e-mail to: steven.arlingtonlaureate@gmail.com with the subject line ‘mailing list’.

In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art – and, in truth, even the COVID-19 crisis itself – serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.

– Steven Ratiner

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Robbins Library Virtual Scavenger Hunt

Add a subheadingWe’ve created a virtual scavenger hunt involving our website’s resources and tools to help you practice responsible & safe social distancing while our physical locations remain closed.

If you finish everything in the virtual scavenger hunt, email us at arlington@minlib.net with your answers (all in one email, please) to be entered for a prize! We’ll buy the winner a gift card to the Arlington restaurant of their choice.
Last day to participate: May 31st.

Have fun!

  1. Find our Reader Preference Form and submit it.
  2. Find where on our website you can look at old yearbooks. Copy and paste the URL in your email to us.
  3. Find where on our website you can learn how to speak Bengali and access the resource. Tell us the name of the resource.
  4. Use Novelist to find a historical fiction novel that takes place outside of Europe before the 1900s. Tell us the title and author.
  5. Browse through our databases to find the resource that would allow you to find a Boston Globe article about the 1985 Boston Marathon. Read the article. Tell us the title and author of the article.
  6. Get Remote Access to NYTimes and read today’s issue. Tell us the date you accessed it and the title of one of the articles that you read.
  7. Sign up for our e-newsletter for updates. Let us know that you’ve done so.
  8. Find the tool you’d use to find the highest-rated vacuum available for purchase. Tell us the resource.
  9. Go to our events section and count our virtual events for the month of May. Tell us how many you found.
  10. Find a recipe for gazpacho using this often overlooked resource.Tell us the name of that resource.

If you get stumped, it’s ok to ask a librarian for help! You can email us at arlington@minlib.net for a hint or help with access.

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