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You can always ask a librarian at the Reference Desk when you are in the library. The best times to visit are Tuesdays from 11 to 1 or Wednesdays from 4 to 6. Since there is not a staff member permanently assigned to the Local History Room, we may not be able to provide in-depth assistance at all times. Please consider contacting us in advance (617-972-6436 or firstname.lastname@example.org) to make an appointment or tell us more about how we can help.
The Local History Room is on the second floor of the library at 123 Main Street. It is open to the public during regular library hours, and accessible via elevator and ramp. Some of the rarest materials are stored in locked cabinets, but can be retrieved upon request.
Our collection consists of family histories, resident lists, photographs, maps, town records, a variety of Watertown histories (as well as histories of other towns in Massachusetts and New England), and much more. Print materials are cataloged and searchable in the online catalog.
The library has vital records on microfilm from 1630 through the 1980s. Other sources for vital records include the Watertown Town Clerk’s office (617-972-6486) and the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records & Statistics in Dorchester.
The library owns almost every copy of The Annual, Watertown’s high school yearbook, from 1925 to the present. Every yearbook we have has been digitized. See the Yearbooks page for a listing by year, or to browse by last name. We would love to complete our collection of yearbooks. If you own a copy of the 1928, 1929, 1960, or 1961 Annual, we would greatly appreciate a donation (or a loan long enough for us to scan a copy).
Rev. Edward A. Rand, president of the Historical Society of Watertown, collected newspaper articles, photographs, postcards, handwritten notes, letters and speeches, etc. concerning the history of Watertown Massachusetts and the surrounding area. Everything was pasted on paper in what came to be known as the Rand Scrapbook. Other highlights include sculptures and personal effects of artist Harriet Hosmer, some of the books that the library owned when it opened in 1868, and a selection of titles by local authors.
The best place to start is the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS), a database of historic properties and areas maintained by the Massachusetts Historical Commission. You can also view digitized photographs of houses from the library’s collection, or consult resident lists, town directories, maps, and valuation reports. Beyond the library, you might continue your research at Town Hall (ask about zoning records, building permits, and assessment records) or the Registry of Deeds for Southern Middlesex County.
The library offers free access to several online resources that normally charge a fee. You’ll find links to these resources, along with other helpful sources, on our genealogy page. When researching local ancestors, keep in mind that Watertown used to encompass areas that are now Weston, Waltham, Lincoln, Belmont, and Cambridge. It is possible that information you are seeking about former Watertown residents may be found through libraries and historical societies in those communities.
Yes, depending on content, format, and condition. Please see the library’s current Local History Collection Development Policy, and contact us (617-972-6431 x17160 or email@example.com) with questions.
We appreciate your feedback! Please contact Jill Clements (617-972-6431 x17160 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or email the library director with suggestions, comments, and questions.
As long as your holds are not yet in transit, their pickup location can be changed online. You can switch your automatic holds pickup location to our 24/7 Holds Lockers in 4 easy steps:
Hold lockers are located outside of the Library on the parking lot side of the building. Scan your Library card or MLN app barcode to open your locker and retrieve your materials.
That can happen! Especially if your card is worn out. Using the touchscreen select the option to type in your barcode manually.
That’s okay. If you’d like help changing your hold pickup location, or have any questions, please call the Circulation department at 617-972-6431.
Our learners are adult English language learners who want to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Some are immigrants learning English and about American culture. Some are preparing to become U.S citizens. Some already speak English but want to improve their language skills.
We offer free classes and continued education support for adult learners. Our focus is on English learning for non-native English speakers, but we also provide GED/HiSEt help, and citizenship and TOEFL/IELTS classes.
You can stop by our office located on the second floor of the library, fill out our online student form or call us at 617-924-8797. Once registered, students will be asked to come in to talk about learning opportunities.
Over 450 students study with Project Literacy. Half are in classes taught by professional teachers and the other half work one-on-one or are in small groups facilitated by our tutors. We have over 150 volunteers.
Ways to help include:
Complete a volunteer application, give us a call at 617-924-8797, or contact our tutor coordinator, Jacky Van Leeuwen. Tutor training generally takes place twice a year and consists of 3 two-hour sessions.
You need to speak, read, and write English, be a good listener, and be able to spare 1.5 to 2 hours a week. That's it!
The city of Watertown contributes approximately 80% of the budget and the Friends of Project Literacy raise 20% of the budget through grants, corporations, and individual donations.
Computers log off users automatically after 10 minutes of inactivity, and when your session ends early because of a queue or library closing, the same “Deep Freeze” process takes place. Please note that if you forget to log off (or are logged off by the system), your privacy will be protected, but you will most likely not be able to log in again without asking a staff member to reset your status.
We do keep track of which card numbers use the computers and when; however, the information that gets logged does not reveal any detail about your activity. It is purely for diagnosing and troubleshooting IT issues, and it is never shared.
The web browsers on library computers are equipped with two tools to protect your privacy. The first is a plugin called HTTPS Everywhere that provides an encrypted connection whenever possible. The second is a plugin called uBlock Origin that prevents banners, pop-ups, and tracking. The library has also enabled Do Not Track settings in browsers where possible.
It’s still a good idea to check for a secure connection (HTTPS rather than HTTP at the beginning of the web address and/or a green padlock icon in the address bar) before entering sensitive information.
No: unfortunately, HTTPS Everywhere is only available for Firefox and Chrome.
Sites that have built certain pages to use HTTPS will provide encryption on those pages in Internet Explorer, but without the plugin, their HTTP pages will not provide that extra layer of security.
HTTPS Everywhere can be turned off by clicking the icon in the browser’s toolbar (a blue square with a white S in it), then “Disable HTTPS Everywhere.”
uBlock Origin has a reputation for independence. It also performs well in speed tests, pulling less memory and processing power away from the browser's other tasks (like loading the content you want).
The question of whether or not blocking ads is ethical is up to each user, as there are valid arguments from both sides of the debate. If you would like to disable uBlock Origin during your computer session, either for ethical reasons or because it interferes with how a site functions, click on the shield-shaped logo in the browser’s toolbar, then follow the instructions printed beneath the large power icon.
There are some lists of compliant sites, e.g. http://donottrack.us/implementations, but since the policy continues to evolve, the library believes it’s best to combine Do Not Track with other privacy defenses, such as uBlock Origin.
The secure network encrypts communications and is much safer than the free network. It isn’t the password that protects users so much as the encryption key (the value applied to data to encrypt or decrypt it). Since a different key is used each time, there is no need to ration the password. However, we do change to a new password once every six months or so. Library staff members can provide you with the current password.
We do not keep privacy screens in the library because of their tendency to interfere with screen visibility. You can check out a laptop on the first floor and use it in a location where no one can see your screen.
We use Faronics Antivirus, which proactively scans for all kinds of potentially unsafe applications: adware, Trojans, spyware, keyloggers, and other forms of malicious software. ESET Endpoint Antivirus gets consistently positive ratings from IT professionals, who particularly appreciate its speed and accuracy.
All library computers have the same IP address and use random ports for each request. Computer users may download the TOR browser on library PCs and use it during their sessions. It will be removed during the Deep Freeze reset between sessions.
The library is evaluating the possibility of enabling HTTPS on the watertownlib.org website. Our catalog is administered via the Minuteman Library Network (MLN), so we cannot control its use of HTTPS. On that site, HTTPS only takes effect once you have logged in with your library card number and PIN. However, MLN has strong privacy practices, as detailed on this web page: http://www.mln.lib.ma.us/about/privacy.htm. Here is an excerpt from its policy: “MLN keeps no permanent record of sites visited by library users, the electronic databases accessed, or the searches performed by individual users. While we may disclose information about use of our website in aggregate (such as server use statistics), we will not disclose to third parties any information that could be used to identify individuals or their use of MLN resources, except as required by law or appropriate law enforcement procedures.”