Tag Archives: Library Tools

Tax Forms and Assistance at the Peabody Library

January has arrived, bringing freezing temperatures, resolutions, and, whether we like it or not–tax season.

Fret not, the Library is here to help you!

The Peabody Institute Library has a helpful page chock-full of resources to assist you in making taxes as painless and safe as possible. Find out where to get local services, downloadable forms and instructions, free online filing, updates and more.


Every year, as online filings increase, the library receives fewer and fewer tax forms and instruction booklets from Massachusetts and the IRS. Unfortunately, this year will be no exception. Mass resident forms will be reduced by 10% and non-resident forms by about 40%, according to the Commonwealth Department of Revenue. We expect these by the last week of January.

IRS federal forms are expected to arrive mid-to-late January. This year, the library will have a limited supply of basic 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ forms and instructions.

But don’t worry! Even though supplies will be limited, the library staff will be here to offer you assistance in photocopying or printing necessary items online, as well as accessing important sites and reference guides to help you get started filing.

Tax Assistance

The Peabody South Branch was unfortunately unable to secure AARP volunteers for its free tax help this year, and will not be offering free filing assistance. The Peabody West Branch will offer appointments on a first-come, first-serve, limited basis. Call (978) 535-3354 or stop by the West Branch at 603 Lowell Street to find out more.

Several other area agencies, including the Torigian Senior Center, will be offering assistance too. Check out our resource page for more information.

Did you know the IRS works with efile.com to offer free tax assistance for your important questions? Call the hotline Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. during filing season: 1-800-829-1040

More info here.

And get help with Massachusetts State taxes, too, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at the Commonwealth Department of Revenue: (617) 887-6367 or (800) 392-6089 (toll-free in Massachusetts)

We’re here to get you through tax season, and while we can’t offer financial advice, the library is always happy to help you find resources that can get you from start to finish. Have questions? Give us a call!

Main Library: (978) 531-0100

West Branch: (978) 535-3354

South Branch: (978) 531-3380

And just a friendly reminder, Federal Tax Day this year is APRIL 17.  This is not a typo.  The regular tax return filing deadline is April 15. However, due to April 15 being on a Sunday and the Washington D.C. Emancipation Day holiday being observed on April 16 instead of April 15, 2018, Tax Day is on the following Tuesday.

Access The New York Times Online! (Yes, you can do that with your Library Card)

In our quest to bring you ever better service, and even more nifty digital tools, we are proud to announce, beloved patrons, that you can now access The New York Times online with your library card!

You will need to have a current Peabody Library Card in order to access the NYT, but if you have that, the process is quite easy:

You can click on the banner on our homepage, which looks identical to the image above.  Alternatively, you can click on this link to get started.  Alternatively (again), you can click on the “eLibrary” section of our homepage, select “Articles/Databases”, and, finally, select “New York Times”

Any of these options will take you to a registration/login screen, where you will be asked to enter your Library barcode and “online catalog password”, which is the pin number you use to log into your Library Account.  If you aren’t sure what you pin is, give us a call at the Library and we can sort you out.
(Again, you can click on these images to enlarge them)

Click “Login”

You will be taken to a screen that has an offer code.  Mine is below, but that code won’t work for you:

Click “Redeem”

This will take you to a screen where you can complete your NYT account:

Enter your email address and create a password.  When you click “Sign Up”, you may see one of those pop-up windows where you have to prove you’re not a robot by clicking on picture, like this one below:

Once you’ve proven your humanity, you will be taken to a welcome screen from which you can access the New York Times.  An email confirmation will also be sent to the email you provided.

*An Important Addendum*:  When you redeem your offer code, you will see a message that says your account is only good for three days, like this one below:

Please know that this 72-hour window applies only to the amount of time you can access the portal without having to log back into your account.  Once the 72 hours expires, you can access it again by re-entering your Library Card Number and password.  When you see the registration screen, click “Log In”, where you can enter your email and password.  You will then be given another 72 pass. This allows the good people at The New York Times to monitor usage of the service.  Our apologies to anyone who may have found this part of the process confusing or misleading.

If you have any questions, or need some help with the set-up process, please give us a call or stop in and chat with one of your friendly Information Librarians.

We hope you enjoy this new digital resource!  Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to serve you best!


Yes, You Can Do That With Your Library Card!

Do you enjoy reading ebooks?  Do you enjoy listening to e-audiobooks?  Do you enjoy downloading titles from the Library?  (You probably should…we have oodles and oodles of titles, and are eagerly adding more regularly!)

If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions…Have you met Libby?

Libby is the bright, shiny, surprisingly easy-to-use and comprehensive app designed to help you access all the fantastic e-titles available from the Library!  It (she?) was developed by the good people at Overdrive, and allow you to access all the phenomenal titles available via Overdrive in just a few easy clicks.

Check it out:

Here are some of the neat things Libby can do:

If you have a card from more than one Library system, like the Peabody Library and the Boston Public Library, you can save both your card numbers in one app for easy use.

You can keep track of your reading history to remember authors or narrators you particularly enjoyed.

Libby also allows you to read zoomable graphic novels, or a picture book with read-along audio.

And the best part is that it’s really, surprisingly easy to down-load and use…take it from me, who openly bickers with computers on a regular basis.

We have lots and lots of information on Libby and on Overdrive–just come in and ask!  And for those of you looking to get started, click the links below to get the Libby app for your phone or tablet!

Click to access the Apple App Store

Click to access via Google Play

Click to access Microsoft (for Windows 10)

Fun With Your Library Catalog…

Our Library Catalog is a terrific resource for those of you looking for titles of books, movies, audiobooks, music, or other items you can check out from our Library and others in our system.  But did you know how much more you can discover through our catalog?

Evergreen, which is the system that supports our catalog, has a number of really interesting and helpful search features that can help you pinpoint the materials best suited to your needs, and we love taking the opportunity to highlight some of those.  But Evergreen is also fun for those who are just looking for something totally new and different, as well.  The “Subject” searches can sometimes be really illuminating–and sometimes a little strange.

In searches, “Subject” represents the Library of Congress Subject Headings–they are various terms and categories assigned to all books in order to help patrons find other books with similar subject material ( you can learn more about them here!).  You can find these subjects on the left-hand side of the screen any time you perform a search, like this one here that I ran on “Louisa May Alcott”:

Note: Click on these images to see larger, better quality versions!

You can also see the subject of a specific work at the bottom of that item’s page.  For example, here is are the subject headings for Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air:

These Subjects can be enormously helpful when you’re looking for another book like one you just finished, or you need to conduct research into a specific topic.  They are also really handy for playing “Fun With Your Library Catalog”.  In this game (which is, admittedly, a little nerdy), you try to find some very random, unexpected, but nevertheless, interesting Subject Headings in our catalog.

It’s a fun game, let me tell you, but it’s also quite time consuming, because I usually end up requesting the books I find, and then reading them, and then going off to find more…..Ok, so maybe “Fun With the Library Catalog” is a lifestyle, and less of a game.  But I can guarantee you, it’s one of the best ways to get to know the materials and the Libraries in our system, and also an inexpensive way to acquire a whole head-full of knowledge!

So here are a few of my favorite finds from “Fun With The Library Catalog”–feel free to let us know about your most random/entertaining/enlightening Library finds, or use these as your jumping off point for your own explorations!

SUBJECT: Potatoes>Social Aspects

Because social potatoes are the best kind of potatoes!  Under this subject heading, you’ll find Dr. Redcliffe Salaman’s The History of Social Influence of the Potatothe result of a lifetime of research into the history of this starchy treasure, and historian Larry Zuckerman’s The Potato: How the Humble Spud Saved the Western World.  The truth is, the potato, subterranean and dirty though it may be, has had a long and exciting history, and influencing culture and sustaining human beings in a way that I promise will surprise you!

SUBJECT: Food Habits>United States

Reading about the potato got me thinking about more cultures of food, which led me to this subject heading, which deals with what Americans eat, but also why they eat it, and how that food shapes American culture.  Within this subject heading, you’ll find The Taste of America, a book that travels the country to find the best foods in America, from spicy cheese to the juiciest oysters (talk about a fantastic form of wanderlust!).  You’ll also find Dethroning the Deceitful Pork Chop : Rethinking African American Foodways from Slavery to Obama, a book that looks at how Black people in America have used food as a kind of subversion and resistance–a fascinating series of well-researched articles that will help you rethink the power of food in our identity and culture.

“SUBJECT: Antarctica>Fiction”

This is actually a useful subject search for those who want to explore fiction from other places.  Simply enter the place you’re looking for in the space where I put “Antarctica”.  But if you, like me, are looking to get as far away as possible on your literary adventures, then use this subject search to find books like Cold Skin by Albert Sanchez Pinol, a chilling (har, har) tale about a young weather who finds no trace of the man whom he has been sent to the Antarctic to replace–just a deranged castaway who has witnessed a horror he refuses to name.  Or perhaps you’d enjoy Bill Evan’s Dry Ice, a techno-thriller about agribusiness, machines that can control the weather, and the woman sent to Antarctica to ensure the world’s safety.

Happy Reading, beloved patrons–and have fun!

In praise of distractions

Last week, we mentioned that you, our dear readers, might need a distraction.  And, in typing that, it made me consider how many times we use the word “distract”, and all its grammatical forms (distraction, distracting, etc.,) to refer to something in a negative light.

But the truth of the matter is that distractions can often be a good thing, and a positive addition to your work, learning, or daily life.  This is especially true if, as in so many things in life, you are healthy and mindful about your distractions.

Studies have shown that people who open themselves up more to sensory perceptions and engagement–listening to other people talk, hearing music, touching different surfaces and textures–actually engage more of their brain, and thus, their creativity, than people who force their brain to focus, without any outside input.  Distractions can also give your lizard-brain–the part of your brain always on the lookout for threats, danger, and stampeding elephants–a break, lowering generalized anxiety, and aiding in relaxation.

But distractions don’t just have to be mental.  They can be physical.  Getting up and moving engages muscles, and our bodies work better when more than one muscle group is engaged at any one time, usually doing the most mundane of tasks.  This is why you get your best ideas in the shower.  Or while going for a walk.  Or gardening.  You get the idea.

Finally, and this may be more a personal observation than a citeable fact…life is too short.  There are flowers blooming out there.  There are cat videos that will make you laugh.  There are interesting people doing interesting things, and your brain is wired to want to take those things in.  So rather than deny you, your mind, and your heart all those great things that make them happier, work better, and feel more fulfilled, why not just be more mindful of your distractions?  Perhaps plan them out?

Perhaps, let the Library help you find a few terrific distractions!  Here are some that I’ve come to appreciate enormously:

Making things:

Knitting is one of the few things in my life that I am totally confident in doing.  Thus, when I’m really stressed, or facing a particularly intimidating challenge, I usually bring my knitting along with me.  Taking a few minutes to walk away and knit, and get a few rows finished, gives me the morale boost I need to finish.  And best of all, when all is said and done, I actually have something to show for it!

If you, like me, finds solace in a ‘maker’s break’, then use your distraction time to try a new craft, like Brioche Knitting, Soutache (orate braided craftwork), or even baking eclairs!  A note: as ever, the Library Staff are more than happy to taste-test any pastries that you make using Library materials.

Listening to music:

I have music playing almost constantly while I’m working, as to many of the people I know.  But how often do you really, actually hear the music in your ears?

One day, when I was in the middle of Academic Writing and wishing I were somewhere and someone else, I read this post from Michael J. Nelson (yes, of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame), that not only gave me pause to think, but provided one of those pieces of music that I just love to sit and hear.  Here is his post below:

Full text of the post, in case you need it:

Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” is so obviously great you are tempted to think that it’s always existed and take it for granted. It’s like Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”: you so want to dismiss it because it’s been around too long and you’re supposed to like it.

But listen to it in its original form before he expanded it; the 2nd movement of his Op. 11 string quartet and you may hear it with fresh ears, to use a term that is anything but fresh.

Incidentally, the story goes that Barber sent the only existing score to Toscanini who returned it without comment. They met later and a visibly irritated Barber snubbed Toscanini, who caught up with him and said, “I know you’re angry because I sent the score back to you, but I plan to premiere it with the NBC Symphony.” A dumbfounded Barber asked how that was possible as it was the only score. Toscanini tapped the side of his head with a finger and said, “It’s all up here.”

True? Hell, I don’t know. But that’s the story and I’m sticking with it.

(if the link doesn’t go to the 2nd movement, it’s at about 8:40)


Watching Things:

Let’s be honest; sometimes there is nothing whatever to be done but just let your brain rest and enjoy some quality tv or movie time.  And here, the Library is also the perfect place to feed your need!  Check out Hoopla for free streaming videos, and our extensive DVD collection.  Might I recommend Fortitude, a phenomenally weird murder-mystery series set in the Arctic?  Or perhaps Pretty Little Liars, a show that has captivated patrons of all ages?  Or a raucous spoof like Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles?  Whatever your tastes, we are here, and delighted to help you find the perfect productive distraction for your busy lives!

Consumer Reports Now Available Online!

We here at the Library are always looking for shiny new items, services, and technology for you, our beloved patrons.  And this week, we are delighted to tell you about just one of those terrific resources: Consumer Reports!

Consumer Reports has been published since 1936 by Consumers Union, a nonprofit organization dedicated to unbiased product testing, consumer-oriented research, public education, and advocacy.  They deal in reviews and comparisons of consumer products and services based in part on reporting, but mostly on results from its in-house testing laboratory and survey research center. The magazine accepts no advertising, pays for all the products it tests, and, as a nonprofit organization has no shareholders.  So, essentially, you can count on what they say.  Take it from me.  I bought the washing machine they told me to.  I love it.

So if you, too, are looking for some product advice, here’s a quick guide to accessing Consumer Reports via the Library website.

Start at the Library’s homepage.  Click on the “eLibrary” tab, then “Articles/Databases” Note: Click on any of these pictures to enlarge them for easier viewing:

From there, navigate down the list to Consumer Reports:

The list is alphabetical

When you click on Consumer Reports, you will be redirected to a page where you will enter your Library Card number Note 1: This page will not appear if you are using a Peabody Library Computer.  Note 2: This service is only for Peabody residents with Peabody Library Cards.   Sorry about that one!

From there, click on “ConsumerReports.org”:

This will launch the Consumer Reports website.  From here, you can utilize all the resources that Consumer Reports has to offer, including a product-specific search option, articles on home improvement and DIY projects, news, and product comparisons that can help you with purchases from digital cameras to dryers, from laptops to blenders.  Click on the three little lines in the upper left-hand corner of the Consumer Reports home page to see all the super features they offer!


We truly hope this feature proves helpful to you, beloved patrons.  Feel free to give us a call, or stop in and chat with one of us at the Information Desk to see how Consumer Reports can help you, and about all the other terrific resources on offer!


On Book Stagnation and Readers’ Advisory

Did you ever have one of those days (or weeks….or months…) where you just couldn’t find anything to read?  Where every book you started failed to hold your interest through the first fifty (or twenty…or three…) pages?  Where even the covers annoyed you because you knew they weren’t the book  for you?   Where you genuinely begin believing you will never find another book to read ever again and there is no joy left in the world and all is darkness?

I’ve been there.

We’ve all been there–to a greater or lesser extent.  Your addiction to reading might not be quite as strong as mine, but I think you know what I mean.  It’s a more common issue for readers than we like to discuss.  Sometimes it’s a condition that Lady Pole has described here as a book hangover, when the last book you read was so good, so immersive, so engaging, that you don’t want to leave it’s spell once the final page has turned.   But sometimes, it has nothing to do with the last book you read.  Sometimes, it’s book stagnation.

We haven’t really discussed that one too much, but book stagnation refers to that feeling when you just can’t find a good book; when the publishing market and your personal tastes seem to be on very different pages (proverbially speaking).  Like when every romance novel I picked up wanted to be Fifty Shades of Grey.  If that was your thing, I’m very happy for you.  It just honestly did nothing for me.  Or every mystery I picked up featured a highly-detailed and gruesome murder, as told by the murderer, in the first pages (in italics, because all murderers talk in italics).  Again, if you enjoy these books, then I rejoice for you.  It’s just not my cup of tea at all.  Or when history books don’t have proper citations/footnotes/bibliographies.  That’s one that I refuse to tolerate, sorry.

But, thankfully, there is a remedy to both book hangovers and book stagnation.  And both can be found at the Library.  More specifically, from the people working at the Library.

Speaking for myself, one of my most favorite parts of the job is when a patron comes up and says that they like a certain author, or genre, or topic, and that they don’t like another genre, or a theme, or a type of plot, and asks me to help them find a new book based on that criteria.  Not only is it a fun challenge to find the bookish needle in the bookish hay of our stacks, but it’s also a true, heart-swelling moment of joy to talk about books and stories with another person, and connecting with another reader.  We may not see eye to eye about what makes a ‘great read’…in fact, we usually don’t.  And that makes it so much more fun, because it helps me appreciate the elements of a story that much more.

For example, I’ve had a long talk with patrons about scary stories.  And it was fascinating to learn what scares people in fiction.  For me, as we’ve discussed here, it’s a lot about the unknown, and the unexplored.  For others, it’s haunted houses.  For others, it’s true crime novels.  And for another, nothing was scary unless it had a soundtrack (so we headed to the DVD section of the Library).  Similar things happen with ‘funny’ books.  I delight in absurdities, while some patrons prefer black-as-night humor, and still others prefer humorous non-fiction like Erma Bombeck’s work, because the laughs come from empathy, rather than absurdity.

So imagine my joy when a fellow librarian friend of mine sent out a note to the Social Media last night saying that she was suffering from book stagnation and needed help!

I provide the recommendations she received in this hopes that it might encourage you to come in and find some new books for yourself, as well.

Here were the guidelines:

Books Recently Enjoyed:
The Rosie Project
A Man Called Ove

Military History, Contemporary Romance, Gruesome Details in general (though mysteries are ok in theory), scenes of animals or children suffering

(These are just a few of the huge pile that were suggested–feel free to check them out, or bring in your own list of ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ to get some more personalized recommendations!)


Joe Gould’s TeethJoe Gould believed he was the most brilliant historian of the twentieth century. So did some of his friends, a group of modernist writers and artists that included E. E. Cummings, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, John Dos Passos, and Ezra Pound. Gould began his life’s work before the First World War, announcing that he intended to write down nearly everything anyone ever said to him. “I am trying to preserve as much detail as I can about the normal life of every day people,” he explained, because “as a rule, history does not deal with such small fry.” By 1942, when The New Yorker published a profile of Gould written by the reporter Joseph Mitchell, Gould’s manuscript had grown to more than nine million words. But when Gould died in 1957, in a mental hospital, the manuscript was nowhere to be found. Then, in 1964, in “Joe Gould’s Secret,” a second profile, Mitchell claimed that the book had been, all along, merely a figment of Gould’s imagination. Lepore, unpersuaded, decided to find out.

The Soul of an OctopusSy Montgomery’s popular 2011 Orion magazine piece, “Deep Intellect”; about her friendship with a sensitive, sweet-natured octopus named Athena and the grief she felt at her death, went viral, indicating the widespread fascination with these mysterious, almost alien-like creatures. Since then Sy has practiced true immersion journalism, from New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, pursuing these wild, solitary shape-shifters. Octopuses have varied personalities and intelligence they show in myriad ways: endless trickery to escape enclosures and get food; jetting water playfully to bounce objects like balls; and evading caretakers by using a scoop net as a trampoline and running around the floor on eight arms. But with a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake, and a tongue covered with teeth, how can such a being know anything? And what sort of thoughts could it think?

Hidden Figures : the American dream and the untold story of the Black women mathematicians who helped win the space raceStarting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the civil rights movement, and the space race, [this book] follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades they faced challenges, forged alliances, and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future.


Miss Jane:  Brad Watson has mad his career by expanding the literary traditions of the South, in work as melancholy, witty, strange, and lovely as any in America. Inspired by the true story of his own great-aunt, he explores the life of Miss Jane Chisolm, born in rural, early-twentieth-century Mississippi with a genital birth defect that would stand in the way of the central “uses” for a woman in that time and place–namely, sex and marriage. From the country doctor who adopts Jane to the hard tactile labor of farm life, from the highly erotic world of nature around her to the boy who loved but was forced to leave her, the world of Miss Jane Chisolm is anything but barren. Free to satisfy only herself, she mesmerizes those around her, exerting an unearthly fascination that lives beyond her still.

The Spellman FilesIn San Francisco, 28-year-old private investigator Isabelle “Izzy” Spellman works for her parents’ detective agency as does her 14-year-old sister Rae (their brother, the perfect and non-nosey one in the family, is a lawyer). The fact that the Spellmans are outlandishly dysfunctional, have trouble with boundaries, and are prejudiced against dentists (including the one Izzy starts dating) just adds to the fun–but then things take a bit of a serious turn when a family member goes missing.

Good luck, and good reading!