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Library news

'Elevating Voices of Color' held

UPDATED, Feb. 25: As Arlington and the nation grapple with our history of systemic racism and structural inequity, the Robbins Library and the town's Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are creating a new collection to give voice to the experiences of people of color in Arlington.  Through a community-sourced collection of personal stories and other documents, this archive will serve as a place for underrepresented voices to be heard today and preserved for the future.  

Jillian Harvey, director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, says in a Feb. 1 news release: “Too often community members of color are spoken for or about; the purpose of this project is to restore the power of sharing one’s own narrative. This collection will be available via the library’s website for easy access for community members today and for years to come. We hope that this collection can serve as an #OwnVoices survey of life in Arlington including the joys, frustrations, and hardships of living as a black, indigenous, person of color (BIPOC) in our community.”  

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Robbins Library open for short-term browsing by appointment

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Effective Monday, April 5, the Robbins Library is expanding services to include short-term browsing on all floors. The hours for browsing and all other library services will be Monday - Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday - Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

To book a pass for the General Collections (all floors except Children’s) or the Children’s Room and to learn more about other services available in this phase of reopening, visit "Get a Browsing Pass” at

All visits are limited to 15 minutes and the maximum number of passes complies with the state's Phase III Step 2 indoor capacity guidelines. Passes must be reserved at least one day in advance. 

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Suspended library materials pickup resumes

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UPDATED, Dec. 10:  The library is restoring drop-in materials pickup services and contactless pickup on Monday, Dec. 14, on the basis of further testing for Covid-19 among staff and negative results.

The library closed Dec. 7 because a staff member had tested positive for Covid. The closure was a safety precaution, but there is not a concern over public exposure to Covid at the library.

Items that were on hold when the library closed Dec. 7 will be available for pickup until Dec. 28. Outdoor book returns are open.

Residents can find information about Arlington’s Covid response at

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Do you miss browsing? Robbins offers Book Packs

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The Robbins Library staff knows that many of you miss browsing our collections in person. One way we are helping to simulate the browsing experience is with our Grab Bag service. Now we have added another way: our new Book Packs.

 You can now request a tote bag with items in a specific topic or genre and take home an array of titles to peruse. Find Book Packs by searching “book pack” in the library catalog.

Click on each record to see the titles included in that Book Pack. We’ll be continuing to add to this new collection, current Book Packs are listed here: 

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Library Grab Bags: Joy of browsing returns

Grab Bag logo

Library Grab Bags, the new service available at the Robbins Library, aims to bring back some of the ease and joy of browsing library shelves even as library indoors remain closed for public safety.

Andrea Nicolay, director of Libraries, call this a perfect option for those who want books, DVDs and other library materials but don’t have lists of specific titles to request. Just fill out the new grab-bag request form and receive a curated bag of library materials. 

“We know people miss browsing and getting a bunch of books at a time," she said in a Aug. 6 news release, "and we know the safest way to connect people with our collections right now is through contactless pickup. Grab bags seemed like a logical next step for us. I thank the residents of Arlington for being patient and supportive through all these changes. We hope this new service is a plus for our users.”

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LIVE: Library archive helps us keep track after pandemic hits home


UPDATED, Sept. 18: Years from now, when the pandemic is a distant memory (and yes, it will be one day), Robbins Library wants to tell people what life was like when this worldwide event was happening here. 

Robbins Library Covid-19 archive logo“Libraries have a place in the community as a repository of information,” said Anna Litten, the library’s assistant director. “This seemed like such a unique moment that I wondered what role the library could play in terms of understanding what life was like in Arlington during this time.”

Since July, the Covid-19 Archives sought photographs, documents, diaries, signs and anything else that shows day-to-day life in town. “We’ll start by collecting town notices, making sure all the information is there in one place,” said Litten. “Then we’ll take videos, snapshots, and everything we collect will be in a digital file.” Send submissions here >>

There could be photos of businesses that say “closed” or pictures of Arlington’s car caravan for the Arlington High School graduation or a drive-by birthday celebration. “I personally have a file of my own of signs I’ve seen from local businesses,” said Litten.

The effort is now live.

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Guidelines to use town libraries: Tune into Acorn TV

UPDATED, April 18: Robbins and Fox libraries' physical locations are closed, but they are here to help connect you with some high-quality, content-rich online resources. For some, you'll need a library card. Others are free and open to all. Here is a guide from Andrea Nicolay, director of libraries:

Andrea NicolayNicolay

As for physical library materials you currently have checked out -- please hold onto them for the time being. Our outside book drops at Robbins and Fox are locked, and we do not have personnel on-site to manage returns.

Need help with a digital device, or need help with another library question? Call us at 781-316-3233 and leave a message, or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Introducing Acorn TV: Thanks to generous funding from the Arlington Libraries Foundation, we are introducing a new service this month: unlimited access to British shows and film through Acorn TV. Enjoy world-class mysteries, dramas, and comedies from Britain and beyond, on any web-connected device.  Find information about using your library card to set up your Acorn TV account at

We are a fine-free library, so you will not incur overdue fees on any materials that were checked out at Robbins or Fox Library. Don't Robbins and worry about fines even if you didn't check out in Arlington-many libraries will be waiving fines. If you have holds currently ready at Robbins or at Fox, we'll save them for you.

We cannot predict when items "In Transit" will become available for pickup after we open due to inevitable delivery delays.

Your key to online library resources is your library card.  

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Town libraries ring in 2020 with automatic renewals

Do your New Year’s resolutions include “read more books”? Good news, library book renewals just got a lot more convenient.

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 Thanks to a Minuteman Library Network-wide change, your library checkouts will renew themselves.

As of Jan. 1, Arlington’s Libraries and the 40 other Minuteman Library Network member libraries pout into effect automatic renewals. Library borrowers no longer have to manually renew books, videos or other library items (with some exceptions, such as art prints). Items will automatically renew two days before they would be due, and borrowers will receive an email with the new due date.

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Robbins' new reading subscription for teens: 'Library Loot'

Millions of unboxing videos on YouTube can’t be wrong: People love opening packages. For book lovers, what could possibly be better than a package with a surprise book inside?

Katy Kania
Katy Kania, head of teen services at Robbins.

The Robbins Library’s new subscription box program for teens brings the joy of opening presents to readers in a program called Library Loot, a partnership between the Robbins Library and Arlington High School.

Like other subscription box programs, Library Loot features selected items, and boxes will be delivered to Arlington High School for convenient pickup.

Katy Kania, Robbins Library head of teen services, is the brains behind the “loot” and selects titles for each box.

“I think a program like this is a great way to make reading fun,” she says. “There’s no requirement for the program. You don’t have to write a book report at the end. You don’t have to even READ it!”

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New Fox manager: From Brooklyn to Brookline to here

Fox Branch Manager Amanda Troha.
Amanda Troha

A new face graces East Arlington’s Fox Library. Branch Manager Amanda Troha joined the library at the end of July, and immediately got to work making sure that the Fox remains a destination for fun, learning and community connections in East Arlington.

The previous branch manager was Ashley Waring, who was in the position from August 2018 to May. Before that, Anna Litten, current assistant director at Robbins Library, held the job.

Troha grew up in Brooklyn and received her MLS from Pratt Institute. After graduation, she worked as a school librarian at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in Manhattan.

While Troha enjoyed working at a school, her heart was always in the public library world. Three years ago, Troha and her husband decided to move to the Boston area, where she accepted a position at the Coolidge Corner Library in Brookline.

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