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Within Reach by artist Jordan Casteel

July 7th, 2020 · Art Room, City Library, Main Branch

I always love discovering my next favorite new artist. Most days at work a small part of my job is to collect the new art books that have just been purchased, processed and added to the library. I bring them to the Art Room, check them in, quickly flip through them to get a feel for the art and the subject matter and then shelve them.

Today in my pile of new art books was an art exhibit catalog called “Within Reach” by artist Jordan Casteel. Flipping through the book I quickly fell in love with the bright colors, the honesty, beauty and vitality. The way she sees and captures the essence of the everyday, the unnoticed, “the easily unseen” on the outskirts, just within reach. My two favorite paintings, Lean and Her Turn, are part of this exhibit and were inspired by subway trips in Harlem.

To quote, “Published for Jordan Casteel’s major New Museum show, Within Reach surveys her paintings exploring the nuances of Black subjectivity.” I just had to share this book with you and I urge you to check out this wonderful book. I hope you enjoy her art work as much as I do.

Jordan Casteel: Within Reach

ART 759.13 CAR

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Make Your Own Cloth Face Mask

July 6th, 2020 · Children, City Library, Main Branch, News, Teens

With masks now strongly recommended by NH pandemic guidance, and many businesses requiring them, you may be figuring out how to make your own. The very first step of mask-making is deciding what pattern to use. This is, of course, the most difficult step! It depends entirely on the purpose of the mask and the preferences of the wearer. I’ve made and tested a bunch of free patterns for you and will discuss their strengths and weaknesses. While these are all free some may require that you sign up for a newsletter, make a $0.00 purchase, or join a Facebook group to obtain the pattern.

If you’re making masks for donation, your choice of pattern is simple: whatever the recipient organization is asking for. Manchester has three major medical providers each asking for a different pattern because their teams have determined what will best suit their needs and resources. These needs may change, so please check the latest updates to their websites. Dartmouth-Hitchcock is asking for surgical-style masks with no pocket. The Elliot Hospital needs masks with filter pockets. The Catholic Medical Center is in need of covers to extend the use of N95 masks and headbands to protect workers’ ears from the mask straps.

If you’re making masks for yourself or other individuals then personal preference will have the greatest role. But there’s so many patterns it’s hard to narrow down the field! Ultimately any cloth mask is better than nothing and the best one is one that works for you. Remember that the goal of this type of face covering is to be a barrier to droplets, not to filter the air you’re breathing. You may find that the ubiquitous surgical-style pleated mask works just fine! But if you want to get a bit fancier, try some of these patterns.

My family all wears glasses, and we found that the Elderberry Blossoms pattern had the best fog reduction. It uses a soft band of stretchy knit cotton along the top of the mask as well as a nose wire. This combination worked like a dream! I highly recommend altering any pattern you use to include this nose band. We did find that this particular pattern is tight on the nose and mouth, but it includes many children’s’ sizes.

In contrast, the roomiest mask design was from Made By Barb. This Darth-Vader-like design is so comfortable! There’s zero pressure on the tip of the nose or the mouth. This would be a great design for those who feel claustrophobic or short of breath in a mask. A close second was the Suay design which leaves plenty of room around the mouth.

If you’re just starting out sewing, the absolute easiest pattern to try is the Pretty Handy Girl Best Fit Face Mask. This pattern also has the least fabric waste but despite the name we didn’t find the fit particularly exceptional. However, it is VERY easy!

If you really want to focus on filtration, we found that the only design with a good seal was the University of Florida’s Prototype #2. This link goes directly to the pdf file. This small but well-fit pattern is tight, uncomfortable, and completely seals around the face.

What about securing the mask on your head? Any of these designs can be modified with either ear loops or ties behind the head. Most call for quarter-inch-wide elastic, but that’s in short supply right now. Fortunately there’s many alternatives! For ties you can substitute fabric bias tape, cotton twill tape, or strips of t-shirt yarn. As far as length goes, a single mask will use 40 to 60 inches of tie material. Plan accordingly!

Many people have been dealing with irritated ears or masks that just fall off due to single-sized ear loops. It can be easier to just tie a knot and get going! I recommend two different ways of making ties. One requires a casing (a tube of fabric on the edge of the mask) but the other can simply be four 15” lengths of tie material sewn to each corner of the mask. If using a casing, you can make a single 40-42” tie and pass it through both sides of the mask. This will make a loop and a single tie closure.

There’s also several ways to make adjustable ear loops if you don’t have stretchy elastic available. By adding ties to only the top corners of the mask and adding tight loops to the bottom edge, the tie can be drawn through the bottom loop and adjusted as needed. Pony beads can also make a tightening mechanism; by threading the first normally, then putting both ends of the tie through a second bead from the same side, both ends of the tie can be secured to the mask. Perhaps the easiest method is often used to make adjustable bracelets: just tie two sliding knots. (In the example photos colored yarn was used for clarity; yarn is not an appropriate material for ties.)

One of the keys to avoiding dry eyes and foggy glasses is nose wires. These wires can be adjusted to form to your face and create a better seal, preventing your breath from blowing into your own eyes. If your mask pattern allows for removal of the wire you can use steel – just remember to take it out before washing or it will rust! For this reason I recommend aluminum. It doesn’t rust and it’s less likely to cause an allergic reaction than copper jewelry or electrical wire. Nose wires can be purchased pre-cut or you can make your own from 16-gauge aluminum wire. To form the nose bands you’ll need a wire cutter to snip the length you need and needle nose pliers to curl the ends safely. You can find those tools at most craft or hardware stores.

For the material of the mask itself it’s hard to keep up with all the latest recommendations for fabrics and filtration. However, if you’re making masks for a hospital, your selection is simplified: use only 100% new cotton. Hospitals sanitize the masks at a temperature that will melt polyester. Check what materials are in your thread as well as the fabric! Most all-purpose thread is poly or a poly mix. If the thread melts, the mask will fall apart.

Ultimately, when selecting fabric for your personal use, use your best judgment. The CDC does not currently have guidance on mask materials. Remember that the purpose of the mask is to prevent droplet spread and not to filter out airborne virus. (COVID-19 is not airborne.) Two layers of cotton works well, and so does an outer layer of poly/cotton blend and an inner layer of cotton. Duck cloth is extremely difficult to breathe through and tulle won’t stop a single droplet, but just about anything between those two extremes will be perfectly adequate. If you’re shopping online and can’t check the fabric in person just look for quilting cotton. Always pre-wash the fabric in hot water! Cotton shrinks and it’s better to get that shrinking out of the way before cutting and sewing.

Wearing a mask is straightforward. Keep your mask over both your mouth and nose. Touch the mask as little as possible. Definitely don’t eat or drink through the mask, and don’t take it off to answer the phone or talk to someone! Wash your mask between every use. It’s best to have 2 to 3 masks per person so that you can go out with a clean one on and a spare for if the first mask gets damp. Remember that wearing a mask is not a substitute for physical distance and hand washing.

Above all, stay safe.

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July 6th, 2020 · Ages 0-2, Ages 2-3, Ages 4-5, Ages 6-13, Bookmobile, Books, Children, City Library, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-12, Grades K-2, Teens

The Bookmobile will be on the road this summer. We are very excited to show our new Bookmobile that was donated by Quirk Automotive to everyone. The set up at each stop will look very different than previous years. The final details on the set up and schedule are being worked on; more information will be released shortly. Look for the Bookmobile on the road in early July.

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Celebrate the 4th with an Independence Day Read

July 3rd, 2020 · City Library, Main Branch, West Branch

Celebrate the 4th of July by reading one of the following books on American Independence and the Revolutionary War to learn more about what that date really means.


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Curbside Service Update

July 2nd, 2020 · Books, City Library, Main Branch

The Manchester City Library is extending the Curbside pickup hours starting on July 6th.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 AM to 4 PM.

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 AM to 7 PM.

Please click here for more information about the process for contactless curbside service.

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The History of Lake Massabesic – Manchester’s Water Source

July 1st, 2020 · City Library, Local History, Main Branch, Virtual Programs

Wednesday, July 8, at 2:30 PM

Zoom Link:

Meeting ID: 979-1842-7538

Password: 562844

Call-In: +1 929-436-2866

One Tap Mobile: +192943628666,,97918427538#,,1#,562844#

Manchester, NH, boasts some of the cleanest tap water in the country, but it wasn’t always so! Join John O’Neil, from Manchester Water Works for a history of the Massabesic lakes and surrounding area from the founding of Manchester to today!

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Library Museum Pass Program

June 30th, 2020 · Children, Museum Passes

A quick update on the library museum pass program.  As museums and attractions are beginning to reopen, we are keeping an eye on those that are a part of our museum pass program.  The New England Aquarium, Museum of Science and Museum of Fine Arts have not set a date to reopen; they are still closed to the public.  We are getting constant emails from them.  As soon as a date is announced for their reopening, we will let you know.  Some others have begun the process of slowly reopening.  We are working to update their information about new hours, procedures and guidelines in our system.  We will keep you posted.  

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Independence Day – Services Closed on the 3rd of July

June 29th, 2020 · City Library, Main Branch, West Branch

Manchester City Library services will be closed on Friday, July 3rd in observance of the Independence Day holiday. There will be no curbside pickup on Friday, July 3rd, as well.

The library staff hope that you and yours have a safe, relaxing and happy 4th of July weekend.

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Staff Picks Part 2

June 29th, 2020 · Books, City Library, E-Books, Main Branch, Movies, Teens, West Branch

Hi folks! It’s time for another round of Staff Picks – Virtual Edition!

Today we are going to post a few films that MCL staff have enjoyed that are available through our online streaming service Kanopy. Click here for more information:

James Burke, known as the Sherlock Holmes of science, lead us through eight life changing inventions like the computer, the jet aircraft, and television. Recommended for those who enjoy history, science, and the intersection of the two.

This Oscar-award winning film examines three chapters in the life of a young man living in Miami. His journey to adulthood find love and support in unexpected places. Winner of multiple Oscars including Best Picture, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Adapted Screenplay. Golden Globe winner for Best Motion Picture – Drama. Winner of Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Editing at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. This film is a moving and emotional journey that is beautifully filmed.

A wonderful film filled with the joy of cooking, this is a big-hearted exploration of relationships and food. High energy and high spirits mark this tale of two brothers prepping for the biggest night in their restaurant’s history. Highlights include great music and great food .Winner of Best First Screenplay at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

This is the story of thousands of cats that roam freely around the ancient city of Istanbul. They have become a big part of the community and are part of what makes the city’s history so rich. A philosophical tribute to the therapeutic power of pets. Winner of Best First Documentary and nominated for Best Documentary at the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards. Fourth Place for Best Documentary (2017) in the Indiewire Critics’ Poll.

For anyone who is interested in bees or beekeeping, or just wants to know why these insects are so important to our lives and our foodchain. An eye-opening film that may make you appreciate these tiny creatures!

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Teen Summer Reading

June 28th, 2020 · Books, City Library, Grades 6-12, Main Branch, Teen Summer Reading Program, Teens, Virtual Programs, West Branch

The Teen Summer Reading program is designed for teens ages 13-17 to encourage lifelong reading habits. Earn points for reading and participating in library programs. Once you’ve earned 1,000 points and Level 5 status, you’ll be entered into a prize raffle for one of three $75 digital gift cards of your choice! Continue on to 2,000 points, and you’ll receive a completion certificate you can print and share. Register online through READsquared. The program will run July 6 – August 15, 2020.

Questions, concerns, or comments? Contact Alex at

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