Results from our Quasquicentennial Challenge

We had 3 staff members, 2 children and 3 adult patrons participate. I realized after I started that I had forgotten to mention some basic rules: no words forming plurals by adding s, no proper names, no words that needed punctuation (a-sea, for example), no foreign words and no words that weren’t really words. The biggest problem people had was not adding extra letters (there is only one 1 that you can use, and no r or d.) What was surprising was how may new words showed up on each list that was submitted. I did accept cities (since you couldn’t make city) and its (since it isn’t a plural.)

Everyone who participated (and isn’t a staff member) will get a certificate to redeem at the book sale for either free books (the kids) or free raffle tickets to submit to the raffles.

Thank you — Maggie. I’m attaching the pdf of the entire list of 325 words we came up with.

Quasquicentennial Challenge Results


Electronic Resources? Why? What Are They?

At a recent book discussion meeting we somehow started talking about shows we liked from Acorn-TV and courses we’ve taken from The Great Courses. Only a few of the people knew that the library offered 7-day passes for several streaming services including Acorn-TV and The Great Courses. The others asked if I could do a program that showed how to access the wide range of electronic resources we offer. This made a lot of sense to me since we are adding Hoopla to our collection in July. The program will be held twice — once on Wednesday, August 21, at 2 pm and again on Thursday, August 22, at 6:30 pm.

Why do we have electronic resources?

One great reason is that it allows us to increase our collection without taking up any physical space at the library! Yay, less weeding for me!

Another is that we realize that people now are getting used to reading, listening, and watching on their televisions, tablets, computers and phones. Rather than buying books from Amazon, buying audio books from Audible, or subscribing to a streaming service, we can save you money by providing you with choices through the library. We’ve always been about FREE FOR EVERYONE!

Convenience is another reason. If you have a smartphone and bluetooth in your car, you can download an audiobook to listen on your commute. There is such a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction available through OverDrive/Libby that you can find the perfect book for your mood. Also if you are on vacation, or you finished your book on your way to work, or the book didn’t really fit your mood, you can find another one without actually going to the library. All you need is a connection to the internet with wifi or your data plan. Many people stock up on books to read when they go abroad so that they don’t have to carry the books themselves. My husband and I watched the Law School for Everyone course while on vacation because I could hook my laptop up to the hotel television. (Not on our 2nd trip, though. The television input links weren’t accessible.)

What does the library offer?

Our oldest offering is through OverDrive. There is an Overdrive app for Kindle and the newest version, Libby, for most every other device. You can use the app to download ebooks, eAudiobooks, and even magazines. This is offered by the SAILS consortium, but also has access to almost all of the other library groups in the state including Boston, Minuteman and more. This is available to all SAILS library card holders.

Another resource that is available to everyone is the databases that are accessible through Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. There is no special app for this and works best on regular computers. You can read full text magazines articles and newspapers from 36, 399 sources.

Other resources can only be used by Richards Memorial Library card holders. Your card has to say Richards Memorial Library on it.

  • (which is owned by Linkedin) has large series of video courses on most business applications, help for business owners and managers, music and photography resources and more. You take the courses at your own pace.  
  • RB Digital offers 7-day passes when you choose on of the seven offerings: Acorn-TV, Great Courses, Learn it Live, Method Test Prep, Stingray Qello (music concerts), IndieFlix and Pongalo Novelaclub (Spanish movies and tv.)
  • Hoopla can be accessed from the SAILS/Enterprise catalog or through the Hoopla app. Create an account with your library card. Learn about our limitations on our website.
  • Through Biblioboard you can find local Massachusetts documents, local histories, books, videos and more as well as a way to self-publish your own material.

Before This Library Existed

We recently ran across the “Catalogue of the Books belonging to the North Attleboro Library Association 1873″ which was in a collection of items donated owned by Mrs. Otis Stanley. Here’s what Elizabeth Mansfield wrote in the History of the Richards Memorial Library  about the town library before the Richards Memorial:

The plan for a library dates back to October 24, 1870, when a group, of interested citizens met to consider the feasibility of establishing a library. This was to be a subscription library with the membership fee being one dollar. The subscribers elected Rev. J. P. Pierce, President; S. S. Ginnodo, Vice President; F. G. Whitney, Treasurer; and O. C. Turner, Secretary.
This library was first housed in the private home owned by Willard Hall. The site was found to be inadequate as a need was seen for a reading room. The collection was moved to the Kendall Block, later to the Odd Fellows Hall, and then back to the Kendall Block. The next move was to the Boyle Block as the collection and patronage kept growing throughout the early 1870’s.
With $600 raised during the first year, the officers selected five hundred volumes of works on science and history. Mrs. Charles E. Smith thought this selection of reading material was not broad enough for the subscribers, especially the ladies. With $100 that she raised herself, she purchased a hundred volumes encompassing books on art, travel, memoirs, poetry, essays, and fiction. She was reaching out to the interests of the reading public. This was a policy that would govern the library throughout out the coming years.
What were these books that they bought? The Catalogue is listed by title or author with something called the accession number to indicate where is is on the shelf. The accession number gives the order the books were acquired. The very first book was the Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures and Mining by Andrew Ure in 3 volumes. We don’t know which edition, but you can read it online. Books 4 through 10 were a set of Modern British essayists including Macaulay, Allison, Mackintosh, Wilson, Talfourd, Jeffrey and Thomas Carlyle (who is the only one I’ve heard of.) The last book in the catalogue is Mother’s Recompense by Grace Aguilar.
The early fiction authors include Sir Walter Scott and James Fenimore Cooper. Fiction mostly appears in the later numbers:
Wilkie Collins’ Woman in White is #716
Washington Irving’s Salmagundi is #495
George Elliot’s Middlemarch is #710.
Some of the titles we still own, but not in the edition that was in the library:
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of Seven Gables
Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility
Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Most of Charles Dicken’s works
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre
I haven’t found any nonfiction books that we still own.  I suspect that our copy of The Portable Emerson by Ralph Waldo Emerson may have some of the essays that were collected by the original library.
The library at the time was not a free or public library. It costs one dollar to join each year or you could borrow a book for ten cents a week. You could only check out 2 books at a time and they had to be returned in 2 weeks. The hours were Monday evenings, six to eight and Saturdays, three to nine from October to April and two to eight, April to October.  I’m glad I wasn’t on duty then!

What Would You Have Read in the 1900s?

This is the 125th year that Richards Memorial Library has been serving the people of North Attleboro. Throughout the year we will be looking at activities and books that happened during the 12 decades that have gone by.

We have the Accession Book from August 1900 to 1902 which lists the books that were added to the collection during that time. Many of the books are new copies when the old ones wear out. We will be making a display each month of books that were popular during the decade assigned to the month (January is 1895 to 1904, February is 1905 to 1914, etc. with December representing 2005 to 2019.)

Here’s what one page of the Accession Book looks like:  You can see Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre was being read, and lots of biographies. K.D. Wiggins (Kate Douglas Wiggins) was a popular children’s author whose most famous book was probably Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Going over the book I found there were a lot of poetry collections. We have on display in the Downstairs Gallery snippets of some of the poetry that was popular then. If you are of a certain age, you will recognize many of the poets from school textbooks. We will also feature some of the children’s books that were popular then.

We hope you join us in the activities we are planning to celebrate READING throughout the years.


Curl up with your Comfy Reads

For some reason, the library’s book discussion books this year seemed to have been dominated by World War II historical fiction. I didn’t mean that to happen when I chose the books, but somehow that’s what we ended up with. Many of them were good — The Alice Network in particular — but I find I need to read books that are less stressful now.

If you are finding yourself looking for books to relax with, try some of these:

  • Anything by Terry Pratchett: his Discworld books are funny and full of endearing characters.
  • Good Omens by Neil Gaiman. This has been made into a series on Amazon Prime.
  • Many classic children’s books: the Harry Potter series, Secret Garden, Wrinkle in Time.
  • Most books by Jane Austen, but Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion in particular.
  • Anything by Carl Hiaasen. His very crazy criminals, politicians and environmentalists in Florida will take you to another world.
  • The Martian by Andy Weir. That really takes you to another world.
  • Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. One of the staff favorites and stands up to a re-read.
  • A good mystery! Since many mysteries have a definite conclusion and the bad guy usually gets his/her comeuppance in the end, these books make a good stress-reliever. Agatha Christie, Louise Penny, Spencer Quinn, and Tony Hillerman are some authors I would recommend. Stay away from those Nordic mysteries!
  • Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Series — especially the audio. Lisette Lecat captures the voices of the main characters perfectly.
  • Some of the classic westerns would also be relaxing for the same reasons as the mysteries.
  • Gayle G. finds thriller series relaxing. Maybe it’s because you know the hero will return in the next book!
  • While not all of Bill Bryson’s books are funny, several of them are. A Walk in the Woods and The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid are good reads.

Goodreads has a list with some more titles. What books do you find help you relax?

Share Your Memories of the Library


My husband holding one of my favorite books by Louise Penny, my favorite mystery author. Made with Publisher.

As part of our 125th Anniversary celebration, we are asking people to share their memories of our library. It could be just a note or letter, a poem or an essay, pictures or even a photo of your family showing their favorite books. I’m working on gathering documents of various activities we’ve done at the library such as our One Book/Town-Wide Reads, the North Needler activities, our Book plates we’ve placed in books in memory of particular patrons, as well as some of the information I’ve found while I was updating the history of the library.


We are looking for photos for events such as:

  • Act-Up Reader’s Theater that Miss Eunice started
  • Art work from one or more of the Pastel Workshops we and the Cultural Council have sponsored.
  • Summer reading certificates through the ages
  • Teddy Bear Sleep-overs
  • Meetings with outside groups
  • Craft projects you’ve made

What Goes into Creating a Display?

Every month the library has several displays of books, audios, and dvds to entice people to check them out. Browsing the books on the shelves throughout the library can be overwhelming, even in a small library like ours. It is easy to miss good fiction and nonfiction once they are no longer “new.”  Displays allow older books to find new readers.

Choosing a theme for the display is actually the hardest part. For the big display near the elevator, I need to be able to make a list of at least 50 items to keep it full for a month. Some themes are yearly repeats: Debut fiction in January, Blind Date for February, Thrillers for sometime in the summer. Often I think of some word that might appear in several titles. This month I saw the Easter eggs in a bowl downstairs and I remembered how much I enjoyed Easter Egg Hunts. So the theme is “A’ Hunting We Will Go.” There were plenty of books with titles or subtitles that featured hunt, hunting, hunter, hunted.

The smaller “Around the Staircase” display only needs 20-25 books so I can choose themes that are more focused. This month we are featuring books with libraries in them because April 7-13 is National Library Week. You may not know this, but many librarians are mystery fans, and many mystery writers have set their series in libraries — usually with cats!

After we did a serious weeding of the nonfiction books last summer, we created a new display space near the Large Print books. This usually features nonfiction titles and is a very small display. Since April is Poetry Month, we are displaying some of our poetry collection.