Library Blog

April 29th 2016 available for public review  at the Central Library, 79 Highland Ave. Ask at the reference desk for help finding it.
April 20th 2016

NBC nightly news correspondent Richard Engel has written an intriguing book, And Then All Hell Broke Loose: Two Decades in the Middle East, about his experience living in the Middle East.

From witnessing bomb explosions, kidnappings, and briberies, meeting Saddam Hussein, and at one point was the only living American reporter in Baghdad during the Iraq War, Engel has shared a great and fascinating experience with us that all American should read.

The book begins with... Read Post

April 16th 2016
Somerville's annual Patriots' Day celebration will be held at Foss Park on Monday, April 18 10-11:30 am. There will be a Colonial Fair with games, music by the Somerville High School band, period refreshments, and colonial reenactors. If you play your cards right, you might even get to meet Paul Revere's horse (she has a very busy social schedule; she can't make time for everyone). If you are interested in reenactments of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the National Park Service has a... Read Post
April 15th 2016

One of SPL's most valuable resources for Somerville history is the Somerville Journal, the city's oldest newspaper. We have the complete run of the paper in hard copy and microfilm from the 1870s to the present. Reading old issues is fascinating. Not only do they give a sense of how important newspapers were for news and entertainment before competition from radio, television and the Internet, they also reveal the issues that were on people's minds that seldom make it into the history books... Read Post

April 8th 2016

On this day 81 years ago Congress passed the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935, the law that created the Works Progress Administration, an unprecedented effort by the federal government to provide employment during an economic crisis. At its peak the WPA employed over 8 million people on public projects ranging from building roads and making parks to creating public works of art and interviewing former slaves about life before Emancipation.

If you would like to know more... Read Post

April 7th 2016
I'm sure you've all been following the news about the conflict between the FBI and Apple, and how the FBI managed to break into the San Bernadino shooter's iPhone without Apple's help. Interestingly, the tool the FBI used appears to work only on iPhone 5cs or earlier models. In any case, the company WhatsApp changed the game entirely this week when it finished end-to-end encryption for its messaging app. You can read more about that and why it matters here. And there's good news for PC users... Read Post
April 1st 2016
One of my favorite websites for online learning (or amusment) is It offers short and free introductions to a variety of subjects.  Courses are usually 3 to 5 weeks and average about 3 hours a week of work. You can learn about everything from mobile programming to introductory Italian. Or you could inform yourself about nuclear energy, Japanese philosophy, cardiovascular disease, or Roman archaeology. Check it out.
March 25th 2016

According to the Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans surveyed consider themselves lifelong learners. Many of them are "professional learners:" they take courses or attend trainings to enhance their job skills and career prospects. However, the vast majority are "personal learners:" they learn skills or subjects that personally interest them.

And while the Internet can be an indispensable tool for learning, a majority of personal learners say a physical space (such as a... Read Post

March 19th 2016

By the reference desk in the Central Library is a statue of an Ancient Greek boxer known to history as Damoxenos.

However, for as long anyone can remember he's been known around Somerville as Clarence. And like all Ancient Greek athletes depicted in sculpture, Clarence isn't wearing anything.

A few days ago a woman who was clearly in a hurry came into the main reading room with two small children. One of them, a boy who looked about five or six, pointed to Clarence and asked... Read Post

March 17th 2016
It's St. Patrick's Day. For some that might mean drinking some Guinness or listening to Irish folk music, but for enthusiastic readers it's an occasion to add some books by Irish writers to their reading list. I am steering clear of the usual suspects (e.g., Ulysses) to point out some books that might be under the radar of many readers. John Banville is a prolific writer of both beautiful, challenging literary fiction and of mysteries (the latter under the name Benjamin Black). He's also... Read Post
March 15th 2016

On this day in 44 BC the Roman dictator Julius Caesar was assassinated. His murder and the ensuing warfare and chaos has been written about by historians, poets, playwrights and novelists.

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Cambridge classicist Mary Beard, is a highly regarded and compulsively readable work in which she discusses the significance of Caesar's life and death, as well as other important figures in Roman history such as Cicero, Hannibal and Augustus.

If you're... Read Post

March 10th 2016
First the good news:  it seems to have infected relatively few computers. To find out if your Mac has been infected (and learn how to remove it) go here.
March 7th 2016
Transmission, a popular Mac application for downloading videos and music, has been infected with ransomware. It encrypts the data on users' Macs and demands they fork over roughly $400 in bitcoin. Apple took steps to neutralize the malware over the weekend, but some Macs may have been infected as of today. You can read more about the problem here and here. Stay tuned.
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.
February 24th 2016

Fates & Furies- Lauren Groff’s third book, describes marriage over a 23 year period, very vividly. The book illustrates marriage from two different perspectives, the husband and wife, seemingly, somewhat realistic, but who really knows for sure? After all, how many of us are completely honest in marriage? I enjoyed the book immensely; many reviews compared the book to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. I see where some readers may contrast character’s Amy Dunne (Gone Girl and Mathilde (Fates and... Read Post