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April 23rd 2018

April 23 is the date traditionally observed as the birthday of William Shakespeare, an occasion celebrated wherever English is spoken with performances, readings, parades and other events. In Oxford today there was a parade and performances by school children. At Vanderbilt University in Tennessee there are jugglers, troubadors, puppet shows and performances of favorite scenes from the plays. Pittsburgh has declared April 22-28 "The Week of Will," with events ranging from plays in parks to... Read Post

January 24th 2018

Ursula Le Guin, the acclaimed author of The Earthsea Trilogy, The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness and more than 40 other works of science fiction and fantasy, died this past Monday. She was the recipient of numerous awards, including being declared a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress. Le Guin was 88.

Yale professor and literary critic Harold Bloom called her a “major stylist” who “raised fantasy into high literature.” It’s almost impossible to imagine science fiction... Read Post

January 7th 2018

Normal hours resume tomorrow.  We apologize for any inconveniences caused by the power outage.

January 5th 2018

The East Branch is currently closed. Stay tuned for updates.

Power will be back on as soon as possible.

November 21st 2017

Yesterday the current occupant of the White House pardoned two turkeys. The annual ceremony during Thanksgiving week in which the President spares a turkey's life is one of the more bizarre moments in our national life. It's unclear why the act is even called a "pardon," since the definition of the word is "a release from punishment for an infraction of the law," and no one ever says what these turkeys are guilty of other than being  ridiculous-looking.

The first president to spare a... Read Post

November 6th 2017

This past weekend we set our clocks back one hour as we do every year. Ideally when we get up in the morning it will be a little lighter, and, not so ideally, after we work we'll all be stumbling home in the dark.  But why do we do this? Supposedly Benjmain Franklin first proposed daylight saving time (DST) as a way to save candles, but he also suggested waking the public by firing cannons at sunrise, so it's difficult to say how serious he was. The idea in its modern systematized form was... Read Post

March 21st 2017
The Hate U Give book cover

First time novelist Angie Thomas has made a big splash with her young adult novel, The Hate U Give.  Released last month, the novel has already topped the New York Times's Best Seller List for Young Adult Hardcover Books, been optioned for a Hollywood film, and been acclaimed by critics and in numerous articles, such as this one in New York Magazine, this one on Fusion.net, and this one in the New York Times.  It is also currently one of the most requested books in the Minuteman Library... Read Post

June 8th 2016
Last Sunday marked the beginning of Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim year.  If you're a non-Muslim and don't know anything about Ramadan, this brief article at Vox.com covers the essentials. Muslims believe Ramadan  to be the month God revealed the first verses of the Quran to Mohammed. It's a time of contemplation and celebration. There are an estimated 3.3 million Muslims in the United States, so there's a possibility you know someone or will run into someone who's observing  it. As a... Read Post
March 3rd 2016
A few weeks ago I posted about resources to help you determine the truth of what you see, hear or read in the media. Here are 3 more fact-checking resources to consider: Media Matters for America, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, and The Washington Post's Fact Checker.
October 2nd 2015
Earlier this week, NASA announced the discover of water on Mars.  However, the Curiosity rover is banned by treaty from analyzing it. The Mars Orbiter spotted a dry-ice avalanche on the planet. Over at Space.com, staff writer Mike Wall outlines the various ways NASA might get a manned mission to Mars. And over at Wired.com, Angela Watercutter explains why the movie is better than the book.
October 1st 2015
In light of ongoing national conversations surrounding this topic, the City of Somerville invites residents to share their experiences, concerns, and ideas on race and racism in a new round of its Community Conversations Series beginning on Monday, October 5th. Organized by the Office of Health and Human Services, ‘conversations' will be held in each of the City's seven wards. Residents are invited to join these small-group discussions to share their experiences and learn from their neighbors... Read Post
June 3rd 2015
Today is the last day of work at SPL for Eileen F., who starts a full-time reference job at the Thomas Crane Library in Quincy next Monday. During her time at SPL Eileen shelved, worked circulation, helped write press releases, contributed to the blog, and volunteered with StoryCorps. At left is a photo of Eileen with one of her parting gifts of gourmet chocolate. Good luck, Eileen! You will be missed.
April 1st 2015
The cruelest month (as T.S. Eliot called it) has officially begun, and many people will doubtless play silly pranks on others today. But why? Nobody really knows  the origins of April Fool's Day. But we do know that holidays associated with jokes have been around a long time. In Ancient Rome the December festival of Saturnalia was distinguished by a Carnaval-like atmosphere in which tricks and hoaxes were par for the course. As for modern April Fool's Day, one of the earliest mentions in... Read Post
March 14th 2015
..may well be the most popular collective destination in the world.
February 22nd 2015
For today, February 22. Happy Birthday, Edna St. Vincent Millay: the poet was born in Rockland, Maine in 1892. She grew up in a home that valued books and learning: her mother Cora read Shakespeare and Milton to the Millay children. The family was very poor, but a wealthy patron of the arts who heard the teenage Millay recite some of her poetry offered to pay for her to attend Vassar. After Millay's graduation in 1917, she moved to Greenwich Village and moved in a circle that included the... Read Post

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