Archive for the “News You Can Use” Category

imagesNone of us has as much money as we would like. And most of us don’t do a great job of keeping track of what we have. Have you ever withdrawn some cash from an ATM and a day or two later found yourself wondering, where did it all go?

The state of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Financial Literacy Trust want to make that feeling going away by helping you learn to manage your money better. The Money Conference: Financial Empowerment for Individuals and Families is a one-day annual workshop that teaches basic financial literacy and budgeting. This year it’s Saturday, May 17, 8:30-3:00 at Everett High School, 100 Elm Street, Everett, MA. You can register here.

It’s fun, educational, and free!

As food for thought, check out this USA Today feature, 20 Ways Americans are Blowing Their Money .


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Flags will fly at half mast around the City today in remembrance of the victims and families of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings.  For details about support services available to community members on the one-year anniversary of these tragic events, click here.

In Boston, a tribute ceremony for survivors and first responders will be held at the Hynes Convention Center at 12:00 p.m.  You can watch the ceremony online here.  Community members are also invited to gather along Boylston Street this afternoon, and to share in a moment of silence which will take place at 2:49.


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April 10th-13th is  the 14th annual  Boston National Poetry Month Festival, hosted primarily by the Boston Public Library in partnership with Tapestry of Voices and the Kaji Aso Studio.

The Festival begins on Thursday evening, April 10th, with a program of Poetry, Music & Dance at Old South Church, produced by Berklee College of Music professor, Lucy Holstedt.  Friday, April 11, National Book Award winner David Ferry is just one of 15 prominent “Keynote Poets” reading in the Commonwealth Salon room.  Saturday and Sunday, 60 established and emerging poets read in Rabb Lecture Hall: they range from Boston Poet Laureate Sam Cornish and State Rep. Denise Provost to gifted students from Boston Latin High School and Boston Arts Academy as well as a Harvard University student.

The entire Festival is Free, and includes two Open Mics, plus a workshop with noted poet Tom Daley.  For specifics on times, locations, and more, click here.


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Based on values identified in SomerVision, Mayor Joe Curtatone invited residents to share their ideas for investing in four key areas:

  • Public Health
  • Arts and Culture
  • Community Engagement and Immigrant Outreach
  • Recreation

The City held three Community Budgeting meetings and solicited ideas online.  Now, they’ve gathered all the ideas and need need your help to prioritize them!

Click here to see the list of ideas that were generated by the community.  If you see an idea you like, vote it up. If you see an idea you’re not keen on, vote it down.

And if you’re interested in learning more about Somerville’s budget, click here.


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You know how sometimes all you want to do is celebrate the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter?   Well tomorrow is the perfect day to do exactly that: it’s March 14th, aka Pi Day!

Here in Somerville there are a few events planned that should make this Pi Day the best one ever.

  • Petsi Pies is having their annual Pi Day celebration.  Recite the digits of pi from memory and win free pie!  More digits = more pie!   Starts at 1:59 p.m.
  • The East Somerville Community School is hosting Pi Night for SPL students in grades 6-8 and their families.  Win a pie at various pi-related activity stations, eat pizza pie, and take home a small pie of your own!
  • Artisan’s Asylum is hosting a Pi Potluck.  Bring pie and eat pie!  Prizes will be awarded for people’s choice and most pi inspired.  This is an unofficial event, so if you’re not a member of the Asylum, you’ll need to coordinate with someone who is to go as their guest.

For more Boston-area Pi Day options, click here or here.  Happy Pi Day!



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Check out staff suggestions in the Teen Room's Women's History Month display.

Check out staff suggestions in the Teen Room’s Women’s History Month display.

by Eileen and Sujei

March is Women’s History Month, and teens can find plenty of inspiration in the stacks of the SPL. Understanding the impact and achievements women have had in many fields – science, the arts, politics, religion, to name a few – is important for not only girls but also boys to keep in mind. What these women have accomplished have enhanced and enriched the lives of both men and women, boys and girls. And this impact isn’t limited to the stuffy old past either. Today’s women and girls are still working toward social and economic justice. Although women have come a long way this past century, women and girls around the world still struggle for rights to control their bodies, to be respected when they walk on the streets, to choose their careers or goals and other everyday actions.

Here we list some items to get you started on learning about women’s great contributions to world society – and some books about strong female characters to give you some inspiration. Also, check out the Teen Room display for staff picks of interesting movies, music and books.

Letters to a Young Feminist by Phyllis Chesler
Women’s rights : changing attitudes 1900-2000 by Kaye Stearman
Women’s rights by Jennifer A. Hurley
Keeping corner by Kashmira Sheth
Mujeres: crónica de una rebelión histórica by Juan María Alponte
The Yellow wallpaper and other writings by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Blueprints for building better girls: fiction by Elissa Schappell
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
How I live now by Meg Rosoff
Dueled by Elsie Chapman
Blood red road by Moira Young
If I stay by Gayle Forman
The miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Use your Minuteman Library Card to download audio and e-books for your device from the Minuteman Virtual Catalog. Here are some suggestions:
Full frontal feminism: a young woman’s guide to why feminism matters by Jessica Valenti
Almost astronauts: 13 women who dared to dream by Tanya Lee Stone
The gender knot: unraveling our patriarchal legacy by Allan G. Johnson
Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington
When you reach me by Rebecca Stead

If you need to do some research for a school paper, or just want to read about famous women without committing to a book, explore the Somerville Library databases. We suggest starting with the Biography in Context or Opposing Viewpoints databases.

And don’t hesitate to ask a librarian for help!


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Neil deGrasse Tyson How much do I love astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson? Well for starters, I forgave him for the part he played in the demotion of Pluto.

Why do I love Neil deGrasse Tyson?  One reason is because he’s an eloquent advocate for science education (and for learning in general),  and a fierce warrior in the modern fight against ignorance.   Another is that he has such an abundant sense of what is wonderful in the universe and that he communicates that to anyone who is willing to listen.  Below are a few of my favorite Tyson quotes.

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” [source]

“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” [source]

“Curious that we spend more time congratulating people who have succeeded than encouraging people who have not.” [source]

Many of Tyson’s books are available in Somerville and throughout the Minuteman Library Network.  Here are the past decade’s worth:

Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier

The Pluto Files: the Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet

Death by Black Hole: and Other Cosmic Quandaries

The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist

Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution

One Universe: at Home in the Cosmos

Tyson also appears on TV frequently (he formerly hosted PBS’s Nova scienceNOW).  He has a new show coming out next month – an update of Carl Sagan‘s beloved 1980s series Cosmos.  I can hardly wait!


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As part of our ALA/NEH sponsored series Muslim Journeys we are pleased to host a screening of the documentary Dear Bawa Muhaiyaddeen by filmmakers Kythe Heller and Peter McMurray. This event will take place on Thursday, February 27th at 7:00 p.m. at the Central Library.

How can one film something that cannot be seen? Unlike traditional documentaries, which typically view religious experience as a metaphor for something else–whether socially or psychologically construed–this experimental film explores religion on its own terms by engaging the formal possibilities of filmmaking to consider the contemporary Sri Lankan Sufi teacher M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen and the trans-national and inter-religious community that has grown up around him in the U.S. and Sri Lanka.

Following the screening, filmmaker Kythe Heller will lead a discussion.

This program is free and all are welcome to attend.


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The Somerville Public Library will be closing at 6 pm today. And the snow emergency begins at 3 pm today, which means residents who own cars have until 7 pm to move them to the odd-numbered side of the street or a city lot. More details here.

Tuesday evening classes and city activities have been canceled. Somerville Public Schools are closed tomorrow.

Stay warm.


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First there was the news that the NSA was violating federal privacy rules thousands of times a year to monitor our online activity, phone calls and emails (and if you use a smartphone, you’re basically doing the NSA’s work for them). Then we found out that they were even monitoring online games.

And that Bank of America employs full-time social media spies.

Perhaps you think you don’t have anything to fear from government or corporate surveillance. You’re wrong.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a quick guide here to protecting data stored on your computer. They also have a readable, approachable guide to protecting your emails from snoops.

And just FYI, at SPL we do everything possible to protect your privacy. When you log off our computers, they reboot,  and every file you saved is deleted,  your web browsing history erased. Unless you take active steps to preserve your borrowing history, there’s no way anyone can find out what books you’ve been reading, movies you’ve been watching or recordings you’ve been listening to.

To learn more about current privacy issues in the news, check the Massachusetts ACLU blog Privacy Matters, particularly their top twelve posts of 2013.


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