Thursday, February 25, 2021

Great Brook Valley Branch Celebrates 40 Years!


"Going Bookish," Worcester Telegram, March 3, 1981

The Great Brook Valley Branch (GBV) opened its doors for the first time on March 2, 1981 in this busy residential community. The space is provided by the Worcester Housing Authority and was initially located above the community daycare center. In the late 1980s, the library was offered an entire townhouse and relocated to 87 Tacoma Street. The kids in the community helped with the move, pushing book carts down the street into their new, larger library.

"Branch Library to Expand," Worcester Telegram & Gazette, April 27, 1993

In 1993, the library moved next door to its present location at 89 Tacoma Street, which had been renovated and made accessible. We are grateful for the Worcester Housing Authority's recognition of the need for library services in this community and their continued support!

"A 'Special Library' Opens at GBV," Worcester Telegram & Gazette, January 19, 1995

For 40 years, the GBV Branch has brought library services to the culturally diverse and multigenerational neighborhood of Great Brook Valley. The branch offers an array of library services other than just borrowing books, including programs, answering reference questions, internet service, and computer use. Although the branch was forced to close temporarily a few times over the years as a result of budget constraints, and even a fire in 1995, it always reopened thanks to the continued support of the City, the Worcester Housing Authority, and our library patrons, who recognize how important it is to have a library branch at this location.

While the GBV librarians mostly welcome kids and teens from the neighborhood throughout the day, there is material for all ages and everyone is welcome. A huge hit at this branch is the six public computers and two literacy stations for younger visitors. This branch may be small at only 900 sq. ft.; however, the impact of this public space is immeasurable! Some of the students living in Great Brook Valley became volunteers and found jobs as Pages at the library. Many other patrons who frequented the branch went on to serve the community, becoming teachers, firefighters, and a school principal. The library was a great stepping stone, and many of our patrons have wonderful stories about their time spent there.

The GBV Branch has also welcomed special guests to the library through the years, including City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr., “World Boxing” champ Jose Rivera, international journalist Erika Ayisi, and the Higgins Armory Museum, just to name a few. The librarians often collaborate with the Resident’s Services Department, the Boys & Girls Club, the GBV Health Center, and take part in other initiatives going on in “The Valley”.

City Manager Ed Augustus reading to young patrons, 2014

The size of the branch can be challenging when it comes to executing some of these programs, but a little creative thinking, including setting up folding tables amid the computers and the collection, does the trick. This space has served as a location for the free Summer Food Program in recent years, serving close to 800 free lunches on site each summer.

There are exciting things in store for this little library branch in FY 2022. The branch has been offered an opportunity to be housed in a new building, which will be constructed with funding from a grant the Worcester Housing Authority has received for the GBV community. Stay tuned for details!

Great Brook Valley Branch, December 2018

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

New Releases: March Edition

Did one of the book covers on our homepage catch your eye? They are all new titles being released in March 2021, and all are well-reviewed and anticipated. You can either watch the video below or read the description of each, then click the linked title to request a copy or get your name on the wait list. And don't forget to watch for more featured releases next month!

Featured Fiction Titles for March

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel
Talia is in a Columbian correctional facility for girls. She needs to get out and back home to Bogotá, where her father and a plane ticket to the U.S. are waiting. If she misses her flight, she might also miss reuniting with her family. How her family came to occupy two different countries and worlds comes into focus like twists of a kaleidoscope. We see Talia’s parents fall in love as teenagers against a backdrop of civil war and social unrest. We see them leave Bogotá with their firstborn in pursuit of safety and opportunity in the U.S. on a temporary visa, and we see the births of two more children, Nando and Talia, in America. We witness the decisions that lead to the family’s splintering - and how they’ve been living since. Rich with Bogotá urban life, steeped in Andean myth, and tense with the reality of the undocumented in America, this is the story of two countries and one mixed-status family.

Raft of Stars by Andrew J. Graff
It’s the summer of 1994 in Claypot, Wisconsin, and the lives of ten-year-old Fischer “Fish” Branson and Dale “Bread” Breadwin are shaped by the two fathers they don’t talk about. One night, tired of seeing his friend bruised and terrorized by his no-good dad, Fish takes action. A gunshot rings out and the two boys flee the scene, believing themselves murderers. They head for the woods, where they find their way onto a raft, but the natural terrors of Ironsforge gorge threaten to overwhelm them. Four adults track them into the forest, each on a journey of his or her own. Fish’s mother Miranda, a wise woman full of faith; his granddad, Teddy, who knows the woods like the back of his hand; Tiffany, a purple-haired gas station attendant and poet; and Sheriff Cal, who’s having doubts about a life in law enforcement. This story of loss, hope, and adventure runs like the river itself amid the landscape of the Upper Midwest.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
From her place in the store that sells artificial friends, Klara - an artificial friend with outstanding observational qualities - watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change forever, she is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans. In this luminous tale, Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro looks at our rapidly changing modern world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator to explore a fundamental question: what does it mean to love?

Featured Nonfiction Titles for March

The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free by Paulina Bren
Here is the story of New York's glamorous women-only hotel, and those who passed through its doors. World War I had liberated women from the home, setting them on the path to political enfranchisement and gainful employment. Arriving in New York to work, they did not want to stay in boarding houses; they wanted what men had - exclusive residential hotels that catered to their needs. The Barbizon would become the most famous residential hotel of all, with a residents list that reads like a who's who: Titanic survivor Molly Brown; actresses Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford, Grace Kelly, Tippi Hedron, Liza Minelli, Ali McGraw, Jaclyn Smith, and Phylicia Rashad; writers Sylvia Plath, Joan Didion, Diane Johnson, Gael Greene, and Meg Wolitzer; and more. Beautifully written and impeccably researched, this book weaves a tale that has, until now, never been told. 

Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green
This is the gripping true story of the Last Call Killer and the gay community of New York City that he preyed upon. The Townhouse Bar, midtown, July 1992: The piano player seems to know every song ever written, the crowd belts out the lyrics to their favorites, and a man standing nearby is drinking a Scotch and water. He strikes the piano player as forgettable, bland and inconspicuous. Not what you'd think a serial killer looks like. But that's what he is, and he has his sights set on a gray haired man. He will not be his first victim, nor his last. The Last Call Killer preyed upon gay men in New York in the '80s and '90s and had all the hallmarks of the most notorious serial killers. Yet because of the sexuality of his victims, high murder rates, and the AIDS epidemic, his murders have almost been forgotten. This gripping narrative tells the story of the Last Call Killer and the decades-long chase to find him. 

Driven to understand how nature works and to turn discoveries into inventions, Doudna helped make the most important biological advance since the discovery of the structure of DNA. She and her collaborators turned ​a curiosity ​of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: a tool known as CRISPR that can edit DNA. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer, and internet. Now we're entering a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code. Should we use our new evolution-hacking powers to make us less susceptible to viruses? What about preventing depression? Should we allow parents to enhance the muscles or IQ of their kids? After helping to discover CRISPR, Doudna wrestled with these questions and, with her collaborator Charpentier, won the Nobel Prize in 2020. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

WooReads Adult Challenge: Turn a New Page


If binge reading and binge watching weren't a thing before, they most certainly are now! In addition to our weekly adult patron book reviews, WPL has a lot of resources for those of you searching for your next book or movie. To access these resources, visit our Reader's Corner page on our website. Here you'll find books and films recommended by our staff, the latest information on author events and book clubs, and other resources such as reading group guidelines and book reviews. Remember to sign up for the WooReads Adult Challenge: Turn a New Page to log the books you've read. Each book helps us get closer to our community goal of 3,000 books read!

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty 

This book appealed to my love of time travel books without actually being about time travel. Alice learns to live in her current world without knowing what happened over the previous 10 years and how those events shaped her life. She realizes she has a "do over" on some things, if she chooses to do so.
~ Karen B.

Heart-wrenching account of racial tension spoken from a teenager's perspective. ~ Kelly M.
Vaccines: What everyone needs to know by Kristen A. Feemster

I'd suggest this book to someone that has questions regarding vaccines (i.e. history, manufacturing, safety, etc.). I felt this was an unbiased view towards the vaccine debate; both sides were presented to help individuals/families determine what is best for them/the community. ~ Mary T.

The author's experience as a poet shines through in this book. Whereas the beginning is highly descriptive of her surroundings, feelings, and family, the end hits you with the hard cold facts. It took many years before the daughter could read the details of her mother's murder by her stepfather. The evidence does most of the talking at the end of the book, and with it comes the realization that her mother did everything right in terms of the steps an abused woman should take when leaving her abuser - making a plan, going to a shelter, notifying police, providing evidence, and even so it was not enough. ~ Linda J.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Celebrating Black Romance Authors

The romance industry is finally seeing a growth in diversity. While this is long overdue, romance readers are eager for this change and ready to read new stories. Even though Black romance authors like Beverly Jenkins and Brenda Jackson have been publishing books for decades, the industry still remains predominantly white, female, and heterosexual. The #OwnVoices movement has helped to overhaul the publishing industry by providing stories written by authors from the same backgrounds as their characters. 

While some may consider the romance genre frivolous, it is important to recognize that in addition to portraying relationships from multiple perspectives, romance novels today are also tackling topics such as race, toxic masculinity, mental illness, and abuse. By telling these stories, romance authors show that healing is possible, love can grow from trauma, and that happily ever after is not out of reach. It’s time to give romance a chance! 

Check out these books and resources by Black romance authors to learn more about how the romance publishing industry is changing for the better. 

Recommended Reading

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert 

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a list of seven directives to help her "get a life.” Chloe needs help, and she knows just the man for the job. Redford Morgan is a dangerously handsome handyman with tattoos and a motorcycle. But when Chloe enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns what really lies beneath his rough exterior. 

About Talia Hibbert 

Confessions in B-Flat by Donna Hill 

Follows the 1964 Civil Rights-era relationship between a protégé of Martin Luther King, Jr. and a supporter of Malcolm X.

About Donna Hill

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole 

When Likotsi and Fab meet on a stalled subway train months after their breakup, Fab asks for just one cup of tea. Likotsi, hoping to know why she was unceremoniously dumped, agrees. Fab slowly reveals why she let Likotsi go, and both of them wonder if they can turn this second chance into a happily ever after.

About Alyssa Cole

A Duke, The Lady, and A Baby by Vanessa Riley

When heiress Patience Jordan questioned her husband's mysterious suicide, she lost her son, her fortune, and her freedom. When the Widow's Grace gets her hired as her own son's nanny, she learns that her son's new guardian, the Duke of Repington, is an ex-rake of unswerving honor and unexpected passion. 

About Vanessa Riley

The Business of Lovers by Eric Jerome Dickey

Brothers Dwayne and Brick aren’t looking for romance. When Dwayne tries to reconnect with his son, he finds himself fighting his attraction to his son's mother. When Brick's job as chauffeur/bodyguard to three female escorts opens up a world of possibility, the two brothers must decide if they're ready to love again. 

About Eric Jerome Dickey

Jeremiah by Jayce Ellis

Collin hates his job, but he doesn't know what he wants to do long-term and he won't figure it out by swooning over Jeremiah. When Jeremiah's faced with losing all he's worked so hard to build, he reluctantly accepts Collin's help. They're both determined to stay professional, which is easier said than done.  

About Jayce Ellis


Shondaland: Black Romance Novels Matter Too

NYT: In Beverly Jenkins' Romance Novels, Black History is Front and Center

O Magazine: Stacey Abrams Has Been Pivotal for Voter Turnout—But She's Also a Romance Novelist

Texas Monthly: Vivian Stephens Helped Turn Romance Writing Into a Billion-Dollar Industry. Then She Got Pushed Out.

NPR: For These 3 Writers, Black Love And Black Joy Take Center Stage


Black Romance Podcast

Black Chick Lit

The Nod: What's Wrong with a Little Romance? (Feat. Jasmine Guillory)

Momentum: Black Romance Literature


Celebrating 25 years of Brenda Jackson

Black Girls Read Books, Too: Interview with Farrah Rochon

Representation in Romance Novels: Celebrating Authors and Characters of Color

A Mighty Blaze: Interview with Denise Williams 

Social Distancing Book Fest: Diversifying Romance Author Panel

Romance at WPL

Romance Readers Book Club

Romance Book Discussion Group

Romance Booklists 

Staff Picks with Devon & Joy: Black History Month Edition

Join Librarians Devon and Joy for this month's Staff Picks review. This episode focuses on Black History Month and offers fiction and nonfiction recommendations. Books discussed include a coming-of-age tale set in Chicago's South Side, an award-winning biography about Malcolm X, the story of a seamstress in Ghana, an oral historian's search for her ancestors, a book that's being called part The Handmaid's Tale and part The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and the history of a travel guide for black motorists. 

Staff Picks for February: Black History Month Edition
Everywhere You Don't Belong by Gabriel Bump
Lakewood by Megan Giddings
The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President's Black Family by Bettye Kearse
His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcom X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne
Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America by Candacy Taylor

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

WooReads Adult Challenge: Turn a New Page


This week's adult patron book reviews are brought to you by the mystery genre. If you're looking for something to do from home this winter, try our Murder by the Book Mystery Book Club. They discuss a different type of mystery every month, from cozies to noir to everything in between. Browse the Thriller and Mystery booklists selected by WPL staff for a variety of stories including historical and paranormal mysteries. Sign up for the WooReads Adult Challenge: Turn a New Page to log your books and write a review about your favorite whodunit! 

When the Bough Breaks by Jonathan Kellerman

When a doctor is murdered, Dr. Alex Delaware gets involved because the only witness seems to be a 7 year old. He tries to unlock her terrible memories. It gets dangerous and he gets more involved than he means to. ~ Karen S.

The Egyptian Antiquities Murder by Sara Rosett

Olivia Belgrave is trying to earn her living as a lady detective in 1920's England. She is called to investigate a mystery involving Egyptian relics and a possible murder in the midst of London's high society. Fun cozy mystery. ~ Mary R.

An intriguing story about the relationship between two brothers in a small Norwegian village. A perfect blend of mystery, family dysfunction, and small town life. ~ Tara J. 

A story centered on race, long held secrets, love, and murder. Following the murders of a black man and white woman in a small Texas town, Texas Ranger Darren investigates the motive and possible connection between the two. I was pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed this book. I hadn't anticipated the ending, and was glad that it didn't end neatly packaged/"happily ever afterish." Highly recommend and will be reading more from Attica Locke. ~ Mary T.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

WooReads Adult Challenge: Turn a New Page


Curl up with a romance novel this Valentine's Day! We have plenty of ways for romance readers to indulge their love of the genre. If you want to join a discussion about romance books, join our Romance Book Discussion on Facebook. You can add this, along with the Romance Readers Book Club, to the WooReads Adult Challenge: Turn a New Page. Add three activities to be entered into a drawing for a  Kindle Paperwhite! Still can't get enough romance? Check our our romance booklists for suggestions on what to read next. If you're not sure what to pick, request a romance Book Bundle. A librarian will hand-select five titles for you based on your reading preferences. Check out these adult patron book reviews for even more romance suggestions!

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

I tried reading this shortly after its release; I couldn't get into it. So, imagine my reluctance when it was received from the library's Book Bundle service. This time around, I enjoyed it and couldn't remember what had deterred me before! The dialogue wasn't cheesy, the characters were relatable (minus the prince/royalty aspect haha), and it was hard to put down. If you're into romance novels and in need of escapism, read this! ~ Mary T.

Great historical romance novel with great characters and story line!
~ Joan M.

This was a great way to wrap up the trilogy despite being somewhat predictable. I've always loved Elin Hilderbrand`s books and this one did not disappoint! ~ Mary R.

Third book of the series and was as enjoyable as the first two. Very quick read. ~ Pam M.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Climate Crisis Resources


WPL Resources

Community Book Discussion: The Story of More: How We Got To Climate Change And Where To Go From Here Saturday, February 20, 2:30 - 3:30 

Join us for a community book discussion moderated by Ellis Jones, assistant professor at College of the Holy Cross, on Hope Jahren’s 2020 book titled, The Story of More: How We Got To Climate Change And Where To Go From Here. Jahren, an award-winning geobiologist, illuminates the link between human consumption habits and our imperiled planet.

Ellis Jones is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. His research is primarily focused on understanding the relationship between ethical consumers and corporate sustainability. He is the author of The Better World Shopping Guide (6th edition) and co-author of The Better World Handbook (2nd edition). He has more recently created a number of free smartphone apps (iOS/Android) for the general public focused on corporate, political, and media transparency including: Better World Shopper, Eco Report Card, Voter Glass, and Media Glass.

Click here to place a hold on this title.

Booklist - A selection of fiction and nonfiction titles to continue your education on the effects climate change has on our planet.

Watchlist on Kanopy - Learn more about climate change with Kanopy, a streaming service that is free with your WPL card. Their collection includes award-winning documentaries about how climate change is affecting the world and the actions taken to stop it.

How to Get Involved

Register to vote - One of the most important ways to make positive changes for the environment is to vote for candidates who will help pass legislation that is beneficial for the planet. This includes legislation that restricts large corporate polluters, the extraction and use and of fossil fuels, and the reduction of single-use plastics.

League of Conservation Voters Scorecard - Since 1970, the National Environmental Scorecard has been providing objective, factual information about the most important environmental legislation considered and the corresponding voting records of all members of Congress. Learn how your elected officials in 

Congress vote on environmental issues. 

Citizens’ Climate Lobby - A non-profit, nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change.

Green Worcester Plan - Worcester is working to become a more sustainable, resilient, and green city with benefits for everyone who lives, works, plays and studies here. Get involved.

How to Reduce Impact

The responsibility for reducing imapct mostly lies with large corporations who use fossil fuels and create waste on a large scale. These corporations need to be reined in, which is why voting is so important. It has been said that a fixation on personal actions takes the pressure off of the governement to create policies to hold corporations accountable. But this doesn't mean we are off the hook. We also need to make changes in our daily lives to address the climate crisis.

Change What We Eat for the Planet and for Our Health 

Overall, nutritionists say eating a diet that is more plant-based is healthier for our bodies and experts say eating less meat is healthier for the planet. Check out the resources below on why we should eat less meat for ourselves and the planet:

Analysis and Valuation of the Health and Climate Change Cobenefits of Dietary Change from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America - This study showed that dietary changes toward fewer animal and more plant-based foods are associated with significant benefits due to reductions in diet-related mortality and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Eat Less Meat: UN Climate-Change Report Calls for Change to Human Diet - Read this article from Nature about the special report on climate change and land by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describes plant-based diets as a major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to climate change ― and includes a policy recommendation to reduce meat consumption.

Meatless Meals: The Benefits of Eating Less Meat - Meatless meals are built around beans, lentils, vegetables and whole grains. These plant-based proteins tend to be less expensive and offer more health benefits than meat.

Ways to Change Consumer Behavior

Reducing energy use, reliance on single-use plastics such as straws and bags, and buying products from environmentally-friendly companies, can all have an impact on the planet without significantly changing our lifestyle. Below are some resources on how and why to make changes: 

Green Energy Consumers Alliance - Resources on how to make your home more energy effecient help connect consuemrs to resources to help reduce their carbon footprint. Purchase green energy and help pass laws to encourage renewable energy development

Mass Save - Get a home energy assessment through Mass Save.

Break Free From Plastic - A global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution.

10 Global Companies that are Environmentally Friendly - Article from Virgin highlighting a few standout green companies that deserve accolades. 

Safer Chemicals Healthy Families - An organization that fights for strong chemical policy, work with retailers to phase out hazardous chemicals, and educate the public about ways to protect our families from toxic chemicals. The prodcution of toxic chemicals is energy intensive and uses large amounts of fossil fuels. 

WooReads Adult Challenge: Turn a New Page


Get inspired this winter with these memoirs read by our adult patrons. Have you read any stories that you think others should read? Write a review for the WooReads Adult Challenge: Turn a New Page and let other readers know what you think. While you're there, log the books you've read and the activities you've attended with WPL. If you haven't created an account, now is a great time to create one and get connected with the Worcester community. 

Know My Name by Chanel Miller 

I admire Chanel Miller's willingness and ability to share her story so that we can all learn from what her and too many other's have gone through. I highly recommend this book.
~ Rebecca G.

Wonderful stories and well-researched information on how the human-animal bond can bring about amazing changes in the physical and emotional health of people and their pets. Every example, from pets to service animals to farm animals is included, taken from many families, individuals, and organizations. If you value animals, you'll love this book!
~ Linda J.

Incredible! Must read! This memoir made me feel things not many other stories have. It was shocking to learn how recent it all was. Fascinating accounts. Not for a weak stomach!
~ Mary R.

I'll be checking out more from Mira Jacob! Good Talk is a graphic novel memoir centered on conversations regarding race. Jacob's son, Z, asks hard to answer questions, and she tries to tell him the truth no matter how difficult it may be. It's thought-provoking, sometimes emotional, funny, and a quick read.
~ Mary T.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Community Book Discussion: Climate Crisis

Learn more about the climate crisis with Kanopy, a streaming service that is free with your WPL card. Their collection includes award-winning documentaries about how the climate crisis is affecting the world and the actions taken to stop it. With Kanopy, you can stream 3 movies per month and have 72 hours to watch the movie before using another play credit. Create an account here

Normal is over 1.1

An award-winning feature documentary about humanity's wisest responses to climate change, species extinction, resource depletion, income inequality and the connection between these issues. A film connecting the dots: A look at the financial and economical paradigm underlying our planetary problems, while offering various solutions to reverse the path of global decline.

Climate Refugees

The first feature film to explore in-depth the global human impact of climate change and its serious destabilizing effect on international politics. It turns the distant concept of global warming into a concrete human problem with enormous worldwide consequences.

Anthropocene: The human epoch 

This film follows the research of an international body of scientists, who after nearly 10 years of research, argue that the Holocene Epoch gave way to the Anthropocene Epoch in the mid-twentieth century as a result of profound and lasting human changes to the Earth.

An Inconvenient Truth 

This is a wake-up call that cuts through myths and misconceptions to deliver the message that global warming is a real and present danger. An Inconvenient Truth brings home Al Gore's persuasive argument that we must act now to save the earth.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to power 

Ten years after An Inconvenient Truth brought climate change to the forefront of mainstream culture, An Inconvenient Truth: Truth to power proves to be more relevant than ever today. Join former Vice President Al Gore as he continues his tireless fight, traveling around the globe to educate and inspire the next generation of climate champions.

War on the EPA

Discusses how Scott Pruitt went from fighting the EPA to running the agency and rolling back years of policy. An investigation into the conservative political forces and causes, like climate change skepticism, that propelled Pruitt's takeover of the EPA.