Author Archive

We’re still getting responses to our question about how the Library has impacted your lives. Some are short and simple, like this one:

The Library has taught me the invaluable lesson of research and how to learn something new by gathering the books to collect and learn. Whether it be the law, electrical, carpentry, computer knowledge, etc. And of course the simple pleasure of reading a good book.

and this one:

It’s great to be able to request books and DVDs through the Minuteman Network and have it delivered to the closest Library to my house. It helps as I’m on a budget and couldn’t afford to buy all that I want. Also, we walk our dogs on the grounds.

Others are filled with detail, like this one:

Each time I visit the Somerville Central Library I discover a book on a topic that I never would have found anywhere else but in this very well-stocked, fabulous library. I have learned of many different cultures and their ways of life. This promotes understanding of other peoples, which certainly helps us to live and work harmoniously with those of different cultural backgrounds. I’ve discovered novels, short stories, biographies, and cookbooks of many cultures, which has educated me profoundly about our varied world. I’m very thankful to our library for the opportunity to gain such knowledge.

The library also sponsors holiday-themed events, such as the “Snowflake Workshop” instructed by Thy in December, before Christmas. Both young and old learn, in a relaxed and joyful environment, how to make colorful snowflakes based on Asian art-forms. In his workshops, people from all walks of life work cooperatively in fabricating lovely holiday decorations. Refreshments are often included as well.

Whether it’s fiction, science, or politics, the library has helped greatly to educate me about the surrounding world. I learned many things I never knew about prior to coming here, although I’ve been to college!

We love them all!

Would like to share your story (and qualify for a chance to win a $25 gift card)? Email Glenn Ferdman, Director of Libraries, or click here to fill out a short online form. You can also fill out a paper form at any SPL location.

We’re looking forward to reading your story soon!


Comments No Comments »


You might already know about Hoopla, the online service that allows you to instantly borrow free digital movies, music, eBooks and more, 24/7 with your Somerville Library card.  But did you know that the service just keeps getting better and better?  Now you can even download and read comic books on Hoopla, including titles from DC (The Dark Knight, The Flash, Wonder Woman) and Vertigo (Sandman, V for Vendetta, Fables)  There are tons of others too, including comics for kids (Adventure Time, Pocket God, Classics Illustrated), sci-fi titles (Doctor Who, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes), humorous comics (Lumberjanes, Tank Girl, Teen Dog), and many more! Browse by genre or collection and see what you can find.

You can also have fun playing around with the display. Want to read page by page? Or would you rather zoom in close and go panel by panel? Your choice!


Additional titles are added every week so there’s always plenty to explore – have fun!


Comments No Comments »

First, the Library has allowed me to break the habit of overbuying books. In the last five years I’ve learned to ask the Library for a book, and wait, rather than to just buy a book and then have to store it, give it away, or chuck it. The Library always comes through.

Second, the Library takes gifts of books and videos and puts them to good use – in circulation, offered in twice-a-year sales, or to recycling. It’s allowed me to slowly cull my book count by at least a bookcase worth. I hope to do much more, and in that reduction enrich Somerville Library’s circulation.

But last, and most importantly, my household borrows videos from the library. My spouse has a vestibular (dizziness) disorder which precludes him from public places with a lot of people – restaurants, concerts, theatre – and movie theaters. Getting films on video from the library, he can sit in our carefully controlled living room environment and enjoy a film with me. He even gets less dizzy as the film progresses (we don’t understand this outcome, since often films have special effects which should make him more dizzy, not less). It allows him to feel part of the culture of films; to enjoy himself; and for us as a couple to have happy time together.

Being on a careful budget, we couldn’t do it without Somerville Library. Thank you.

And this:

Without the library there’s a distinct possibility I would be the worst father in the world. All the kid’s librarians and all the kids books have given my kids all kinds of love and attention and help. Couldn’t have raised my kids without your help. Thanks!

And finally, this, from one of our younger patrons:

The library impacted my life because I got to read books that taught me stuff.

Would like to share your story (and qualify for a chance to win a $25 gift card)? Email Glenn Ferdman, Director of Libraries, or click here to fill out a short online form. You can also fill out a paper form at any SPL location.

Thank you so much for telling us your stories, and please, keep them coming!


Comments No Comments »

Here are a few more stories you’ve shared with us about how the Library has affected you:

I am a life-long library goer, but it is only recently that I have really dug into the amazing resources available to me through my local library in Somerville. Six months ago, I started a blog about Somerville’s history. The library’s archive of Somerville Journal newspapers (going back to the late 1800s) has been invaluable and the librarians have been extremely helpful, showing me how to use the card catalog, microfilm reader and online databases. It’s also thanks to the Somerville Library’s genealogical resources that I have been able to learn more about my own family and find relatives I never knew existed.

And this one: brief, but music to our ears:

The library and librarians taught me the value of exploration, imagination, and self-education at a young age and sparked a love of reading I still carry to this day.

Would like to share your story (and qualify for a chance to win a $25 gift card)?  Email Glenn Ferdman, Director of Libraries, or click here to fill out a short online form. You can also fill out a paper form at any SPL location.

Thank you so much for sharing your stories, and for making our day once again.


Comments No Comments »

As promised, here’s another tale of library love, recently submitted by a Somerville Library user.  We’ve been absolutely delighted by the stories you’ve been submitting and would love to hear more.  If  you would like to share your story (and qualify for a chance to win a $25 gift card) email Glenn Ferdman, Director of Libraries, or click here to fill out a short online form.  You can also fill out a paper form at any SPL location.  Thank you!

The public library has been a crucial part of my life for all of my 50 years. My library experience started when I was very young and my mother would take me and my sister to the children’s section of the JP library on a regular basis. I was thrilled to be able to pick out multiple books to take home – what a treat!

As I grew older I used the library (pre-internet) for school research projects and personal reading material. And now I use the Somerville library’s Minuteman online system to request books for my e-reader — how times have changed! I love the library and would not have had the life of reading adventures I’ve had without it.

Thank you to all the librarians out there – your work is so appreciated!


Comments 1 Comment »

Last week we asked you to share your stories of how the Library has impacted your life or the life of a loved one.  Over the last few days we’ve received some amazing responses, and they’re too good to keep to ourselves.  Here’s one for a start, and we’ll post more soon!

When I was a senior in Somerville High School in 1957, I applied for a job as a librarian in the Somerville Public Library on Highland Avenue near the high school.  I was hired part-time to help repair the plastic covers of the records in the library’s music department.  Although my parents loved music and were knowledgeable about classical music a young man who also worked in that department introduced me to modern composers I did not know.  He showed me their albums – Bartok, Schoenberg, Bloch and Mahler.  When he talked to me about Mahler a darkness passed over his face, and his gaze deepened inward in front of me.  Music had not been introduced to me like that before.  He told me to take the records home and listen to them. I never forgot the names of these composers.  Another time, someone else in the library pointed out where the banned books were kept.  Peyton Place by Grace Metalious was off limits, high on a shelf in a librarian’s office.  The women who worked as librarians at the check out desks were polite when they asked people to lower their voices.  The library was a very quiet place, people were reading there by the slant of light that came through the old windows on the top of the hill.  We lived next door to the library director, Mr. Kelly, on Central Street in Somerville.  My father was the Rabbi in Somerville.  He had great respect for Mr. Kelly and was always reminding us to play quietly outside, so not to disturb the Kelly family.  Among the many things learned that summer, were the music of those composers, the fact that books were banned, and the value of quiet. 

Would you like to share your story (and qualify for a chance to win a $25 gift card)?  Email Glenn Ferdman, Director of Libraries, or click here to fill out a short online form.   You can also fill out a paper form at any SPL location.  Thank you!


Comments No Comments »

Sign up for Free Technology Instruction at the Somerville Public Library!  Book a half hour one-on-one lesson for any technology device or program:
• Setting up an email account
• Introduction to Facebook
• The Internet
• Microsoft Office
• Applying for a job online
• Using a laptop/computer
• Smartphone
• eReader
• Tablet
To schedule an appointment, call Heidi Downing, Technology Librarian, at 617-623-5000 x2920, or email her at


Comments No Comments »

Red Tailed Hawk
Power. Ferocity. Majesty and mystery.

Human beings have invested birds of prey with these qualities for thousands of years. Their abilities to do the amazing continue to inspire our thoughts and excite our imaginations. But which ideas about these birds are facts and which are fictions?  Come to the Central Library this Sunday (March 22nd) at 2:00 p.m. to find out!  This program uses live birds of prey to explore what makes a “bird of prey,” the role they play in the environment, and how humans affect their ability to survive. Audience members will be able to see the birds up close, handle touchable natural history artifacts, and ask an experienced naturalist their questions.

This presentation is brought by Mass Audubon’s Blue Hills Trailside Museum. Located in the Blue Hills Reservation outside of Boston, the Blue Hills Trailside Museum features exhibits on the natural history of the Blue Hills and Massachusetts. To help tell the story of the nature of Massachusetts, the Museum uses native wildlife which cannot be released back into the wild due to permanent injury or parental loss. Thousands of people enjoy and learn from the educational programs and events offered by the museum each year.

Mass Audubon works to protect the nature of Massachusetts for people and wildlife. Together with more than 100,000 members, we care for 35,000 acres of conservation land; provide school, camp, and other educational programs for 225,000 children and adults annually; and advocate for sound environmental policies at local, state, and federal levels. Each year, our statewide network of wildlife sanctuaries welcomes nearly half a million visitors of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds and serves as the base for our work. To support these important efforts, call 800-AUDUBON (800-283-8266) or visit

This free program is limited to 30 people on a first come, first served basis.  It is recommended for children ages 5 and older and families.


Comments No Comments »

Please join us as we celebrate Women’s History Month by welcoming performer Rita Parisi of Waterfall Productions for a theatrical storytelling (not a reading) of three weird tales by Sarah Orne Jewett. The program will be held at the Central Library on Saturday, March 21st at 2:00 p.m.

Sarah Orne Jewett, a native of South Berwick, Maine, was one of New England’s most prolific female authors of the nineteenth century.  Her stories highlight the everyday lives of New Englanders at this time, often reflecting the mysterious and supernatural atmosphere of this region.

In this presentation, you will meet a father and daughter embroiled in a family curse, a stranger who comes to a small town and lives in the local haunted house, and a very old lady with a mysterious past.

Following the show, Ms. Parisi will give a short talk on how Miss Jewett’s characters reflected a very different lifestyle than that which was generally accepted during the Victorian Era.

This program is funded through the generosity of the Friends of the Somerville Public Library.


Comments No Comments »

Here is part 2 of the Q & A with Dr. Alice LoCicero, who will be at the Central Library on Thursday, March 19th at 7:00 p.m. to discuss her new book, Why “Good Kids” Turn Into Deadly Terrorists: Deconstructing the Accused Boston Marathon Bombers and Others Like Them.

Aren’t you afraid that people will disparage you for writing about the perpetrators?

Yes. And I hope people will understand after talking with me for a few minutes that my goal is prevention, plain and simple. As a social scientist, I believe that the best way towards prevention starts with knowledge.

The events surrounding the Marathon attacks shook me, just like it did all who live and work in the Boston area. There were so many losses of young people that especially tore at me. The loss of a promising young officer in the MIT police, a young man close in age to my own son and who, I learned, was a lot like many of the sincere and caring students of criminal justice I have taught over the years. Lingzi Lu, an international student from China who had just passed an important exam in statistics, who had made new friends in Boston, and who loved music. Active and engaged eight year old Martin Richard, a lovable child who advocated for peace, from a family who gave much to their community. Krystle Campbell, who was known as caring, reliable, life-affirming, and generous. Thinking about them leaves me, and all of Boston, in tears and grief at the promising young people we as a community have lost. The impact of the bombing did not end with those lives lost. Hundreds more were injured, and many of their injuries are so severe that their lives are changed forever. The Boston community has shown tremendous care and support, helping to lessen, as much as possible, the devastating impacts of the bombings. If only we could have protected those affected, and their families, by preventing the attacks.

Cambridge, Massachusetts has been home to me for decades. My children went to school in Cambridge. I worried, along with my neighbors, about whether the school our children had gone to and the city had somehow failed these young men. I remember being haunted by the question that President Obama, on April 19, asked: “what would bring these young men, who had lived in our communities and studied in our schools, to resort to violence?” I was challenged by that question. I strongly felt that it was a question that had to be answered and could be answered. And that I was in a position to help.

While none of us could undo the horror of April 15, 2013, together, I believe we can shape the future to reduce the likelihood of such horror occurring again. From 2002 to 2006, I had worked on research on terrorism. In 2006, I co-founded an international organization we call the Society for Terrorism Research, as a forum to collaborate with colleagues with similar interests. That society is still going strong. For my personal contribution to ending terrorism, I did something that several colleagues considered rash: I traveled to a country where a civil war was going on, to talk to kids about the war and about why kids would choose to fight as part of one of the world’s most notorious terrorist groups, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the LTTE.

I wrote about the results of that research in the book, Creating Young Martyrs. As I explored and researched the events in Boston, I found that some of what I had learned in Sri Lanka was parallel to what I was learning about the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing. I started to write. My editor at Praeger and I decided that this research, too, should turn into a book-length report.

All the while I was studying terrorism, I was also working with those affected by it: The 9/11 families, teachers and child care workers in Sri Lanka, and refugees from many parts of the world. Each encounter with someone affected strengthened my determination to do what I could to prevent these events. I am hopeful that my book will help.

My work has included conversation with other psychologists in the EU and the US who are pursuing similar paths. We have all, separately and without prior consultation, come to similar conclusions. Preventing young people from radicalization, recruitment, and terrorist acts is a function of the community—parents, teachers, coaches, neighbors, friends. Law enforcement and government have their role, but they cannot do this alone.

How can ordinary citizens be expected to prevent terrorism?

It all begins with listening, being interested in the experiences of kids. Virtually every teenager I talk with tells me that neither their parents nor their teachers really know about the pressures they face. They try to protect their parents by keeping things private, not wanting to worry them. My colleagues and I believe that parents need to be aware and proactive in making time and creating conditions to talk to kids. Some kids are more private than others, and some would rather talk to recruitment is not an aberration. Attempts to recruit kids to illegal and often violent actions are common. And in today’s globally connected society, recruiters and the recruitment process can be virtually invisible to families and loved ones.

How can you refer to people like the accused Boston Marathon bombers as “good kids”?

When the Tsarnaev brothers were younger, all reports from teachers, peers, and others indicate that they were good kids. One of the younger brother’s teachers referred to him as having a “heart of gold.” Their friends were horrified and also totally surprised that they could do such a heinous act. The same is true for kids around the world who later became terrorists. The Norwegian who participated in the Nairobi mall bombing was planning to be a physician and was viewed as a good kid. The Tunisian boy who put on a suicide vest was successful and sociable. The Tamil girl who was featured in a film about kids who joined a terrorist organization had wanted to be a nun. It is these very kids—caring, altruistic—who are targeted by unscrupulous recruiters who then manipulate the truth, bringing them to believe that the best, most caring, and most altruistic thing they can do is to bring attention to causes of concern by engaging in terrorist actions.

Is your approach likely to help prevent kids from joining ISIS?

Yes. The ISIS force is no different in the sense that it presents an image that is hideous to most, but can be presented to naïve youth as an opportunity to fight against the most powerful forces in the world, to fight for the “underdog.” Especially kids who have seen, in news report after news report, American forces fighting in dominantly Muslim countries, can easily believe that someone should “level the uneven playing field.” Recruiters use a lot of psychology and sophisticated marketing, designed to appeal to a teenager.

We have a huge task ahead: to present a realistic picture, providing time and space that will enable kids to re-evaluate the story being told by recruiters.

Dr. Alice LoCicero is a clinical and research psychologist who lives in Cambridge. She is core faculty at the Center for Multicultural Training in Psychology at Boston Medical Center. In addition to this most recent book, she is also the author of Creating Young Martyrs: Conditions That Make Dying in a Terrorist Attack Seem Like a Good Idea (Praeger, 2008).


Comments 1 Comment »