Engaging Methuen Readers

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NL Staff: What We’re Listening To

One of my favorite designations for the month of June is National Audiobook Month.  Audiobooks, you kept me from helpless rage when I was stuck in traffic commuting to work, kept my mind engaged when out for a walk.  Thank you for the bibliotherapy when I needed it and for a way to “read” even more books. –Your Editor

Now, let’s hear from the staff of the Nevins Library and see what they have been listening to:

Cover image for Children of virtue and vengeanceAlison, our new Young Adult Librarian, is currently listening to Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Toni Adeyemi and narrated by Bahni Turpin. It’s the sequel to Children of Blood and Bone.  “I like to listen to audiobooks on long drives or when I’m doing chores around the apartment. I get to learn how names and foreign or made up words are pronounced when listening to them.”

Kathleen, Literacy Coordinator and Reference Librarian, latest audiobook was You by Caroline Kepnes, the basis for the Netflix series. The darkly funny inner monologue of villain/protagonist Joe make for a very addictive and compelling listen! 

Cover image for The book of lost friends :Great minds must listen alike, as both Sue and Kirsten from the Reference Department recently enjoyed The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate, as well as her previous novel, Before We Were Yours.  Sue: “They are both historical fiction which is my favorite.  Both books follow dual time periods which making listening to the books interesting since there is a narrator for each time period.  I enjoy the way her writing intersects the storylines and connects the characters.  I also enjoy hearing about the true historical inspiration for the story as well.  Did I also mention that in both books, all four main characters are strong women?”

Kirsten’s previous audiobook was The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, which was “very good and out of character for me since I’m usually drawn to Historical Fiction.  Was a real psychological thriller.  Thank goodness for audiobooks, I’ve listened to them on the way to work and now will listen on my walks in the neighborhood.  Better way to get me out and walking, give me a good book for the trip!!”

Cover image for The Black DahliaSarah, Head of Readers’ Services, has been getting an earful:  “I’m currently listening to The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy and read by Stephen Hoye.  Even though I own a copy in paperback, I don’t think I could read this at home at night…  and am glad to listen while driving or painting or whatever!  Also, listening to a story from a police officer’s perspective with all the racist and stereotype-filled slang of the period is eye-opening right now.  Previously I listened to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman read by Cathleen McCarron and that was an absolutely wonderful book!   That narrator was perfect – accents and emotional intonations were spot on.”

Our Business Manager, Brenna, has been listening to Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race written and narrated by Debby Irving (local, from Winchester, MA) “I am on Chapter 10 so far and it is enlightening, details and history I was unaware of.”Cover image for Waking Up White

Tatjana, Reference Librarian, has been enjoying Heartland : a memoir of working hard and being broke in the richest country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh, read by the author.  “Quite an informative memoir and social commentary on the working poor of the MidWest!  Eye-opening.”

Remember, you can always access audiobooks in several different formats, including cd, e-audio, and PlayAway, through our catalog.  Happy Listening!

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In the Garden

If you are like me and are seeking solace in gardening, you may be chomping at the bit to start planting vegetables and flowers.  New England’s Spring weather is iffy at best, and this April was the coldest on record, complete with frost warnings and even snow.  Cold weather vegetables can be cautiously planted earlier in the Spring, but traditionally, New England gardeners wait until after Memorial Day to start planting their warm weather vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.  The following are some books (ebook and print) that can help inspire you and answer your gardening questions.  Ready, set, go — get your hands dirty!

Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening by Deborah Martin
A beginner’s guide to starting a healthy garden.  This is a classic in the field!

All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew
Ten new features in this all new updated edition.  Anyone anywhere can enjoy a square foot garden!

Pollinator Friendly Gardening by Rhonda Fleming Hayes
Gardening for Bees, Butterflies, and Other Pollinators.  Help protect threatened butterflies, bees and other pollinators and have an alluring colorful garden, too.  It’s a “win-win” solution!

Container Gardening Secrets: tips for the beginner by Danielle Long
A great tool that will help the novice gardener to learn the techniques that are required to have a successful container garden. It is also a great text for those who have limited or no garden space that wants to grow some vegetables and herbs for home consumption or simply want to add some color to their home with some great flowers.

Grow Food for Free by Huw Richards
The sustainable, zero-cost, low-effort way to a bountiful harvest.  Grow your own vegetables from kitchen scraps!

Covering Ground by Barbara Ellis Unexpected ideas for landscaping with colorful, low-maintenance ground covers.  A pretty, practical and sustainable way to transform your ordinary lawn.

All titles are available in ebook format through Overdrive or it’s app, Libby

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Try our new library app: MVLC Mobile

Introducing our New App!

Can’t come to the library?  That’s okay, we have a new way to have the library right at your fingertips!

It’s called MVLC Mobile. (You can get it either on Google Play or the Apple App Store)

It will let you search our catalog (you can even scan an ISBN at the store and search for the book that way). You can see what our upcoming Events are. What our Hours are. Or if you’re out and about, find where the closest library is and if they’re open.

If you’re a member here at Nevins Library, or one of the other MVLC libraries you can also sign into the App with your library card number and pin/password. Then you’ll be able to check your library account and renew books if needed. As well as put all those books you looked up at the bookstore (and didn’t buy, don’t worry, I won’t tell) on hold.

In addition, you can link all your family members accounts. All managed from just one app! And, if you tap on the little card that says ‘My Barcode’, well, you don’t have to worry about forgetting your card at home anymore! Just, don’t forget your card and phone.

As the pictures show, you can connect to our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. And follow us if you’d like, there’s lots of good stuff on all three! Just tap on Social in the menu.

You can read and listen to (or place on hold) Overdrive books, right from the app. (For eBooks I recommend choosing the HTML option unless you have Adobe Digital Editions or the Kindle app on your phone/tablet). Or log into some of our Online Resources like Flipster & Freegal.

Honestly, this App really has everything but the Librarians.

But, have no fear, if you need a librarian to get this set up, to log in, or figure out how to use any part of it, we’re still here! Come on in and see us in person, give us a call at 978-686-4080, or Contact Us through our website if you need a hand.

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Staff Favorite Titles Read in 2019

Before we jump into the new year, let’s take one last look at 2019 and some of the Nevins Library staff’s favorite books:

Cynthia from Readers’ Services starts us off with these three winners:
Cover image for Olive, againOlive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
A wonderfully written story about a “red blooded original” woman.

Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
A page-turner of family secrets, love and loss

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
A beautifully written and heartbreaking coming-of-age story set in the Carolina marshes.


Danielle, from Reference Services, loved these media tie-ins:
A Study in Honor by Claire O’Dell
Yes, it’s another take on the Sherlock/Watson characters, but, it manages to be both very different and quite like the original source material.

Cover image for The rise of KyoshiThe Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee
For those who loved Avatar: The Last Airbender (i.e. not the Avatar with the blue people) this book is 11 out of 10 amazing. But, even if you’ve never watched or read anything related to the show, this is a pretty good introduction to Avatar’s amazing universe.

And now an audiobook from our Administrative Assistant, Barbara:
Nanaville: An Adventure in Grandparenting, a memoir by Anna Quindlen.
Recommended for anyone trying to be the “perfect grandparent” in today’s changing world.  Based on the author’s experience with her first grandchild Arthur, she humorously yet poignantly warns grandparents to “hang back” in matters of giving child-rearing advice. Every grandparent will smile or tear up while reading episodes so common to all with the cherished title of “grandparent.”

Kathi, from Childrens’ Services, loved these adult books:
LCover image for Never have I ever :ady from the Black Lagoon:  Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick by Mallory O’Meara
This was very eye opening book about the early days of Hollywood and an amazing artist, who was almost lost to history.

Who Slays the Wicked by C.S. Harris
The 14th book in one of my favorite historical mystery serieses, featuring an aristocrat detective in Regency England.  (“What Angels Fear” is book one in the series)

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson
The best woman-with-secret-being-blackmailed book I’ve read in a while.

Amy, our Teen Librarian, heartily recommends:
Cover image for Red, white & royal blueRed, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
The son of the American President and an English prince fall in love. What could go wrong? This romance was fun, upbeat and incredibly sweet. I was hooked from the start, and rooting for the couple through all of their ups and downs. In addition to the main heroes, the supporting cast is equally lovable and help to create a fully realized story.

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
I listened to this as an audiobook and fully recommend the format in addition to the title itself. Darius is doing his best to figure out his place in his family, his school and the world. When he and his family travel to visit his Persian relatives Darius faces struggles old and new in this coming-of-age story. Darius is a sweet kid with a great sense of humor and a thoughtful disposition. The narrative focuses on many different relationships in his life, and all are fleshed out and unique. Darius is a hero you’ll connect with whether you’re sixteen or sixty.

Cover image for Making space, clutter free :Tatjana, from Reference Services made great use of:
Making Space, Clutter Free: The Last Book on Decluttering You’ll Ever Need by Tracy McCubbin.
One of my favorite clutter books because it addresses the emotional blocks behind clutter, why it happens and what you can do about it,  in addition to dealing with the physical items.

Cover image for The library bookAnd finally, a favorite too many librarians to count (see LibraryReads Voters Favorites 2019) including Nevins Library’s own Cynthia and Kathi:

The Library Book by Susan Orlean.
The story of the Los Angeles Public Library fire that burned 400,000 books and damaged 700,000 more.  More than 30 years later, the mystery of how the fire started remains.  A must read for anyone who loves books!!!

Happy Reading to All in 2020!



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New Books for the New Year!

Would you like to hear about exciting bestsellers, movies, music, and audiobooks almost the very moment they arrive at the library?

If the answer is yes, sign up for our new email newsletter from Wowbrary!

Each week an email is sent to you with a list of the new materials as well as a link so that you can view on the website if you prefer.

You’ll be one of the first to know when we get the Thor: Ragnarok DVD, or when Janet Evanovich’s next Stephanie Plum novel arrives in Methuen (I know, I know, Hardcore Twenty-Four only just came out).

Then, whenever you spot something of interest, you’ll be able to click instantly, reserve it, and check it out at your convenience. And of course, like everything else in the library, this service is free!

To get started and see what the emails look like, click on either of the Wowbrary Logos in this post, or visit (and enter our zip code 01844).

And rest assured you can quit the weekly emails any time you wish. Also, please note that by signing up for this service you will not be signed up for any of the Nevins Library’s other email newsletters (you can do that here if you want to sign up for Nevins News and stay up to date on our programs and events!)

I know that I’m excited about this new service, and I hope that you will enjoy it and the library’s many new books, movies, and music too!

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New Symphony Catalog: Music to Our Ears!

When you think of a symphony, an auditory extravaganza probably rises to the top of your mind. Personally, I think of Schubert’s 8th Unfinished Symphony and Megadeth’s haunting Symphony of Destruction. Coincidentally, those are both pieces of music that you’ll be able to order through our new Online Public Access Catalog, which is also called Symphony, later this month.

What’s a catalog and why do you have one?

A catalog is a list of all the items that our library system, the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium (or MVLC for short) lends. Every time you look up a book on our website, you’re accessing our catalog. Unlike other lists, a library catalog includes a lot of detail about each entry, including title, author, subject, and location information. Libraries use these to keep track of, and check out, their items.

Why are you changing to a new catalog?

That’s a great question, reader! Well, until now we’ve used a catalog system called Evergreen. This was an open source system, meaning that we didn’t pay a company to engineer it for us, but rather used a free system that had been created by library employees. Our group of affiliated libraries, which is called the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium (MVLC,) installed this system and hired people to fine-tune and maintain it about five years ago.

Evergreen worked pretty well, but there were some important things that it couldn’t do. For example, if you spelled something wrong while searching the catalog, Evergreen wasn’t smart enough to correct you. Instead of knowing that “Alise in Wonderland” was supposed to be “Alice in Wonderland,” it would just search for the incorrect entry and that would be that. Symphony is a lot smarter. If you make a mistake while you’re searching, the new catalog will catch it. Symphony will also tie in to Google results so that you’ll see library books pop up next to Amazon results when you’re looking for something to read on the Internet.

There are a lot of other neat things that Symphony will do, although most of the changes will only impact librarians. The biggest change you’ll see is that your service will get faster and more efficient.

What will happen to the links in this blog?

Sadly, the links in our old blog posts won’t translate to the new catalog. Happily, the new catalog website will be much easier to search.

What about my holds?

They’ll still be there!

What about my fines?

They’ll be there too.

Will there be any interruption of service?

Currently, our member libraries can’t order or receive any items through the Commonwealth Catalog, our statewide library catalog. This service will resume on May 22.

Between May 15th and May 17th, the library will still be checking out books, but there are a few things that won’t happen:

  • You won’t accrue fines. Hooray!
  • Holds won’t come in. Unfortunately, this is just part of the process of switching to a new catalog. They should arrive after the 17th just like normal.
  • New patrons will have to wait and register library cards on the 17th.
  • Dinosaurs will not return to rule the Earth. This is just nuts. I wish people would stop asking me about the dinosaurs. I assure you: they’re not coming back.

Anything else I need to know?

Just that change is good, and this change is going to be fantastic. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at (978)686-4080. We’re ready to answer all your questions during and after this switchover.

Thanks for sticking with us!

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Teen Reads

Over the past several years, the teen fiction section has grown by leaps and bounds. What once was a niche area is now spreading across generations. Now granted, not every book written for a teen audience is going to appeal to an adult reader, but there are plenty that do. Check out some of these Teen Reads that are sure to appeal to you at any age.

For a look into the contemporary, there’s:

We Were Liars We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

After a mysterious accident that she can’t remember, Sloane returns to her family’s private island for Summer vacation. Only there is she able to put the pieces together of what happened to her privileged yet shattered family.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds All American Boys

After an accident Rashad is accused of stealing and is brutally beaten by a police officer for it. His white classmate saw it all happen but what is he supposed to do with that information?  In this very timely novel, Reynolds explores the racism still lingering in a post-civil rights America.

For something a bit more fantastic, check out:

The Graveyard Book The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is a master of fantasy for audiences of all ages, and The Graveyard Book is no exception. Pulling on concepts and ideas from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, this is the story of Nobody Owens who is adopted and raised by the ghostly residents of the local graveyard after his family is murdered. He grows up learning the ways of the graveyard, but must soon figure out what life will mean outside of it.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)

The first in a masterful trilogy, this is they story of Lyra, a young orphan who lives in a world where everyone has an animal familiar known as daemons. When children begin disappearing from the streets Lyra is whisked away into an adventure that will change everything she knows about the world around her.

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1) Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Pulling from classic fairy tales, Meyer weaves a futuristic story where Cinderella is just Cinder, a cyborg mechanic with a robotic foot and no hope at a future. When a deadly plague claims the life of the Emperor Cinder gets tangled up in the future of her nation and her planet. Filled with unique and clever twists on the classic tale, Cinder is the first in an imaginative series that can’t be missed.

Looking for some romance? Try:

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell  Eleanor & Park

Set in the not so distant 80’s, Eleanor and Park meet on the bus on Eleanor’s first day at school. Slowly they find kindred spirits in each other while escaping the problems of their individual lives in music, comics, and each other. Realistic and heartbreaking, this is a romance to remember.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

And who doesn’t love a good laugh? Check out:

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray  Beauty Queens

When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island’s other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

So no matter what sort of book you’re in the mood for, there’s a teen book waiting for you!

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The Commonwealth Catalog is coming!

“One Search. All Stacks.”

The Nevins Library is pleased to announce that later this week we will be participating in the Statewide Commonwealth Catalog System.  In addition to the current Merrimack Valley Library Consortium Catalog, you will be able to search for books throughout the state of Massachusetts.  Our patrons can find all kinds of materials from books to audiobooks to DVD’s and more.  This new interface is easy to use and only requires a valid Massachusetts library card.  The new Commonwealth Catalog is meant to replace the Virtual Catalog, so those who have used VC in the past are encouraged to switch to the new system to access materials not available in our local library consortia.

If you conduct a search in our MVLC Catalog and the item is not available in the consortium, you will get a message on the search screen suggesting you try the Commonwealth Catalog with a link to its portal.

For more information or help in using the Commonwealth Catalog, contact the Reference Department at  978 686-4080 x12.