Friday, August 27, 2021

New Releases: September Edition

Did one of the book covers on our homepage catch your eye? They are all new titles being released in September 2021, and all are well-reviewed and anticipated. You can watch the video or read the description of each below, 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 for September

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian
Chloe is a freshman, a legging-wearing hot girl next door, who also happens to be a psychopath. She spends her time on yogalates, frat parties and plotting to kill Will Bachman, a childhood friend who wronged her. Chloe is one of seven students at her college who are part of a clinical study of psychopaths—students like herself who lack empathy and can’t comprehend emotions. The study requires them to wear smart watches that track their moods and movements. When one of the students in the study is found murdered, a game of cat and mouse begins, and Chloe goes from hunter to prey. 

House of Ashes by Stuart Neville
Sara's husband has uprooted them from England and moved them to his native Northern Ireland for a “fresh start” after her nervous breakdown. Sara, who knows no one in Northern Ireland, is jobless, carless, and friendless. When a blood-soaked woman beats on the door, insisting the house is hers before being bundled back to her care facility, Sara begins to understand the house has a terrible history her husband never intended for her to discover. As the two women form a bond over their shared traumas, Sara finds the strength to stand up to her abuser, and Mary—silent for six decades—is finally ready to tell her story.

Harrow by Joy Williams
Khristen, her mother believes, was marked by greatness as a baby when she died and came back to life. After Khristen’s boarding school closes, and she discovers her mother has disappeared, she travels across a dead landscape and washes up at a “resort” on a putrid lake the elderly residents call “Big Girl.” In a honeycomb of rooms, they plot to punish corporations and people they consider guilty for the destruction of nature. What will Khristen and Jeffrey, the ten-year-old boy she meets there, learn from this “seditious lot with kamikaze hearts, an army of aged, determined to refresh, through violence, a plundered earth”?

Featured Nonfiction for September

Conquering the Pacific: An Unknown Mariner and the Final Great Voyage of the Age of Discovery by Andrés Reséndez
It began with a secret mission. Spain, plotting to break Portugal’s trade with the Orient, set sail from Mexico to cross the Pacific—and then try a never-before-accomplished return. Four ships set out, each with a team of navigators. The smallest ship, guided by Lope Martín, a mulatto who was one of the most qualified pilots, pulled ahead and became lost from the fleet. So began an epic voyage, featuring mutiny, murderous islanders, physical hardships—and at last a return to the New World. But the pilot of the fleet’s flagship, the friar Andrés de Urdaneta, later achieved a return, too. It was he who basked in glory, while Martín was sentenced to be hanged. Here, historian Reséndez sets the record straight.

Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach
What to do about a jaywalking moose? A bear breaking and entering? A murderous tree? Roach follows animal-attack investigators, human-elephant conflict specialists, and "danger tree" faller blasters. She travels from leopard-terrorized hamlets in the Himalaya to St. Peter’s Square before the pope arrives for mass, when vandal gulls destroy the floral display. She taste-tests rat bait and gets mugged by a macaque. Combining forensic science and conservation genetics with laser scarecrows, langur impersonators, and trespassing squirrels, Roach reveals much about humanity and nature. When it comes to "problem" wildlife, she finds, humans are often the problem—and the solution. 

Beautiful Country: A Memoir by Qian Julie Wang
In Chinese, the word for America means “beautiful country.” Yet when Qian arrives in New York City in 1994, she finds fear and scarcity. In China, her parents were professors; in America, her family is “illegal" and her parents work in sweatshops. Shunned at school, Qian goes to the library and learns English through books. She relishes delight when she finds it: her first greasy pizza, “shopping days” when she finds treasures in the trash on Brooklyn’s streets, and a Christmas visit to Rockefeller Center. But then Qian’s Ma Ma collapses, revealing an illness she has kept secret. Qian holds onto her father's refrain: Whatever happens, say you were born here, you’ve always lived here. This is an American story about a family breaking under the weight of invisibility, and a girl coming of age in the shadows.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Chilton Library for Auto Repair and Maintenance

Check out Chilton Library, the online version of the Chilton auto repair manuals. This database is a one stop destination for all your auto repair and maintenance needs. You no longer need to look through thick bound volumes of auto repair manuals! Although, we still have those for those of you who prefer paper format. 

It has extensive search features to narrow down by year, make and model of your vehicle and you can get information on the following topics:

  • Maintenance and specification tables that provide the unique data you need for each specific vehicle.
  • Step-by-step service and repair procedures, and labor estimating tool to help you confidently determine your next move.
  • Vacuum diagrams to simplify troubleshooting.
  • Wiring diagrams to help explain system operation.
  • Close-up photographs and illustrations for visual support.
  • ASE test prep quizzes for the most popular certification exams
  • Select vehicle recall information.
  • A print button which allows you to easily print out what is needed, so you can keep it right next to you as you work on your vehicle.

Wiring Diagram for 1971-72 Cadillac DeVille 
This resource can be freely accessed from any of the computers in the library. To access from home, go to our databases page and under Chilton's Auto Repair, click on home. A Worcester Public library card is required for remote access.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Tails & Tales Adult Summer Reading 2021: Weekly Book Reviews


You did it, WooReaders! You read a total of 3,551 books and wrote 343 reviews during our Tails & Tales Adult Summer Reading Challenge. Because you did such a great job logging your books, The Worcester Public Library Foundation will be donating a total of $1,000 to the shelter animals at Worcester Animal Rescue League! Stay tuned for our grand prize drawing for a Kindle Oasis. Keep on reading and look out for our next adult reading challenge this fall. 

If you like a really suspense filled murder mystery, this is the book for you! So many twists it's impossible to put down one you start! I am excited to read the next thriller from this author. ~ Missy C.

This is a very clever book. It's both a fun book for babies and small children and a very concise guide to parenting in an anti-racist way. I think it's going to be one of my standard new baby gifts! ~ Dale R.

Superstorm plus maximum security prison breach? Check! This novel is amazing! It goes at a break-neck speed and you won't be able to put it down! ~ Cara Y.

A story written so well, you don’t even realize you are reading a nonfiction. It is amazing to think that a father and son survived for so long under conditions and circumstances that many did not last for three months. You will be constantly in awe at how such good luck could carry this father and son through unimaginable hardships. A must read to put your own life into perspective. ~ Briana B.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Tails & Tales Adult Summer Reading 2021: Weekly Book Reviews


Attention WooReaders! We have one week left of summer reading! There's still time to log the books you've read since June 7 for the Tails & Tales Adult Summer Reading Challenge. Prizes include a water bottle, tote bag, or t-shirt. You'll also be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card to a local restaurant and the grand prize drawing for a Kindle Oasis! 

Still looking for animal themed events? 

Attend our Tails & Tales Book Club on Wednesday, August 18 @ 2:30-3:30 pm on Zoom for a discussion about The Darkest Evening of The Year by Dean Koontz. Register here

Try our Animal Origami on Thursday, August 19 @ 3:00-3:30 pm on Zoom. Register here

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart 

At the core of Shuggie Bain is a dysfunctional family. Shuggie Bain is set in 80s Glasgow and tells the story of Agnes Bain, an alcoholic mother, Big Shug, her abusive husband, and Leek and Catherine, Agnes's children. The story navigates the meaning of family, mental health, sexuality, drug abuse, and many other traumatic themes in its expansive 430-page length. It's a sad, sad novel, but very well crafted and written. ~ Tochukwu O. 

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah 

Character studies were excellent. The research was excellent in regards to this piece of American history during the Great Depression and especially in the Great Plains valley. I learned much of the suffering of the farmers. ~ Jane O. 

Piranesi by Susanna Clark 

Lyrical fantasy. Beautifully written. I don't often love first person narration but this was so well done! ~ Nicole E. 

The Summer of Lost and Found by Mary Alice Monroe

This is a great summer read! l have read pretty much all her books regarding the Rutledge family, and l loved the story she told as they experienced the pandemic of 2020! I stayed up late to finish it in one sitting. Couldn't wait to read what happened next! ~ Sophie F.

Worcester Public Library vs. the Red Scare

The stereotypical depiction of libraries and librarians is that of a quiet temple of knowledge, filled with musty books, and overseen by a bun-wearing, shushing librarian. There certainly have been instances where real-world libraries identified a little too closely to that stereotype but the truth is that libraries have also been accused of being subversive! Today we examine a period of Worcester history when community members accused the Worcester Public Library of disseminating propaganda and questioned the loyalties of our fifth head librarian, Thurston Taylor. Most of the articles below came from clippings and scrapbooks in our Worcester Room. 

"Red Propaganda at Library," Worcester Life, May 1951

The second Red Scare of the late 1940s-1950s pervaded all aspects of American life. Anticommunist sentiments took hold in the United States with accusations of espionage and disloyalty to the United States directed at government officials, members of the entertainment industry, union organizers, teachers, and ordinary citizens. In the case of libraries, book lists, displays, and acquisitions of pro-Soviet Union materials were considered suspicious.

In 1944, Worcester Public Library celebrated Russian Book Week with an exhibit of prints, photographs, children's books on Russia, and even Russian peasant dolls in the library's Boys' and Girls' Room. Miss Maude E. Wesby, the head of the Social Sciences and History Division, and Thurston Taylor, then the assistant librarian, also created a booklist, "The Soviet Union in Books." 

Except for a feel-good article in 1945 about WPL serving as a collection station for English language books being sent to Russia to replace their English language library books that had been destroyed by the Nazis, our library scrapbooks barely had any articles relating to communism and the Soviet Union until towards the end of 1948. That's when things got heated!

In November 1948, the Worcester Telegram and Worcester Evening Gazette reported that the City Council's Municipal Affairs Committee voted to hold a hearing in response to an article in a Worcester weekly publication, the Catholic Messenger. The Catholic Messenger alleged that a report of a loyalty check on head librarian Thurston Taylor by the FBI and the police had been submitted in February 1947 by Mayor Charles F. Jeff Sullivan to WPL's board of library directors. As a result of this accusation, Councilman Harry P. McGrath and Alderman-at-Large George A. Wells co-sponsored the hearing. Wells claimed that the Committee would "not indulge in any type of witch hunt." On the other hand, "If [the charges against Taylor] are correct, Mr. Taylor should resign immediately as librarian." McGrath was more forceful by calling for Taylor's removal. Seven aldermen voted in favor of the order asking Taylor to attend the hearing and three voted "present." The order was later amended to include the full City Council at the hearing.

The following recap of the hearing is from the December 22, 1948 edition of the Worcester Telegram.  On the evening of December 21, 1948, the joint session of the Board of Aldermen and Common Council met to hear from Thurston Taylor regarding the charges that a loyalty check had been made against him. Over 150 spectators attended the somewhat raucous 2.5 hour meeting.

"Among Speakers at Loyalty Meeting," Worcester Daily Telegram, December 22, 1948

Wells called Philip M. Morgan, library director, to testify first. Morgan reported that he and library's Finance Committee attended a meeting with Mayor Sullivan in January 1947, wherein "The Mayor indicated he was suspicious of our librarian." Morgan then stated that he Committee was called back to meet with the Mayor at the end of March 1947, wherein Sullivan recommended that the head librarian be investigated further because "he felt our librarian was of a subversive nature." Morgan and the Finance Committee agreed but did not hear of any further substantiation to any investigation. 

Homer P. Little, the chairman of the library board of trustees, stated that Chief Finneran of the Worcester Police Department told him "there was nothing on Taylor in his files" and the FBI had not yet responded to his inquiries into whether there was a file on Taylor. The memo below details the meeting between Little and Finneran.

WPL memo dated December 15, 1948
Thurston Taylor read a statement reiterating that he was not and had never been a Communist or a member of the Communist Party, and that he was as loyal to the government as everyone else at the hearing. He also surmised that the question of his loyalty arose due to the booklist he had created four years prior, as well as the library's book display based on that list displayed at the Communist Party's meeting in 1945 at Washburn Hall in Worcester. He claimed that the book display was created with the approval of the then-head librarian as well as the president of the library's board. Taylor then fielded questions from the councilmen and aldermen, including whether he had ever attended other Communist meetings, taken a trip to Russia, and even if he had asked a library employee to remove a Christmas display featuring the Madonna and Child even though he had put up a book display at the Communist Party's meeting. 

Throughout the hearing, there was back and forth between members of the City Council, including a comment from Alderman Alexander M. Naylor stating, "I don't believe in scandal and gossip. That's all this is - just what was printed in the Catholic Messenger."

At one point J. Edmund Sullivan, editor of the Catholic Messenger was called to answer a few questions but he refused to divulge his sources.

"Council Clears Taylor at Loyalty Hearing," Worcester Telegram, December 22, 1948

By the end of the meeting, the following votes were taken but ultimately failed: the Mayor should be brought into the next meeting to "state his side," the City Council should apologize to Taylor, and the Mayor should make a public apology to Taylor. Instead Councilman Clarence T. Rolander suggested that a vote of confidence be taken. The ayes won without any voice of opposition.

The Worcester Evening Gazette proclaimed that "It was pretty obvious that the case was being used for personal political exploitation, regardless of whose reputation got stepped on."

We found the below letter from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. in a file in our Worcester Room. Hoover's letter is dated from after the City Council's loyalty check hearing and notes that "no Agents of this Bureau have furnished any information whatsoever concerning Thurston Taylor to any individual or organization." This seemed to officially conclude the loyalty check question against Taylor.

Letter from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., January 4, 1949

Even after Worcester Public Library and Taylor were victorious against the charges of being disloyal, the library continued to freely share books and other materials with communist ideas. Of course some community members and publications were not thrilled with the dissemination of "red propaganda" as evidenced by the article at the beginning of this blog post! On the other hand, the Worcester Evening Gazette reported in 1955 that Worcester Public Library had 5 "Red-tainted" publications on their shelves but that was a smaller number than what was available in other cities. According to the Worcester Evening Gazette, these magazines contained mostly dry but well-written articles with some propaganda mixed-in and were mostly read by people actively seeking out the publications instead of accidentally stumbling upon them. The five titles were as follows: Hungarian Bulletin, New Hungary, Marxist Quarterly, New Times, and News.

"No Censorship of Leftist Books at the Public Library Here," Worcester Evening Gazette,
September 30, 1952

The end of McCarthyism and the Red Scare led to a decrease in articles pertaining to the library and the Soviet Union. One notable exception is below but Worcester Public Library ultimately fulfilled this interlibrary loan request!

"Library is Puzzled by Soviet Request," Worcester Evening Gazette, June 2, 1980

Further Reading:

The Attack on Librarian Taylor. (1948, November 30).  Worcester Evening Gazette.

City Librarian Taylor Will Get Hearing. (1948, November 30).  Worcester Telegram

Congratulations Where They Are Due. (1948, December 22). Worcester Evening Gazette. p. 6.

Council Clears Taylor at Loyalty Hearing. (1948, December 22).  Worcester Telegram.

Council is Divided on Loyalty Check. (1948, November 30). Worcester Evening Gazette.

Hafey, R. (1955, January 22). Soviet Propaganda Only a Trickle in City. Worcester Evening Gazette.

Library Heads to Ask Mayor for Taylor Data. (1948, December 7). Worcester Telegram.

Library Loyalty Check Hearing Due Tomorrow. (1948, December 20). Worcester Evening Gazette.

Melody, M. (1951, May). Red Propaganda at Library. Worcester Life.

No Censorship of Leftist Books at the Public Library Here. (1952, September 30). Worcester Evening Gazette.

Public Hearing for Librarian to be Held Tonight. (1948, December 21).  Worcester Telegram.

Receiving Station for Books to Soviet Established. (1945, September 16). Worcester Telegram.

"Red Scare" Hearing in Worcester Backs Librarian, Trustees. (1948, December 22),  Boston Globe.

Rosenberg, C. (1980, June 2). Library is Puzzled by Soviet Request. Worcester Evening Gazette.

Southwick, A. (1997, September 28). Worcester Librarian Taylor Caused Ruckus. Worcester Telegram & Gazette. C1.

Stedman, D. (1944). Books on Russia to Be Featured. [unknown Worcester newspaper].

Taylor Silent on Alleged Loyalty Check. (1948, December 1). Worcester Telegram.