Posts by: Sarah Passinhas-Bergman

On Tuesday, July 6th, we re-opened the Library Service Desk! For students who haven’t been to the library in a while (or at all), this will be an adjustment for us all. Our hours will be truncated while we transition to coming back to the desk full-time.

Beginning Sunday August 1st, our hours will be as follows:

M-Thu: Desk 7:45 am – 8pm

Fri: Desk 7:45 am – 7 pm

Sat: Desk 10-3; online staffed hours 3-6 pm

Sun: Desk open 12-5; online staffed hours  5-8 pm

The building will remain open until midnight, with last entry at 11pm.

The lockers for “curbside pickup” will stay where they are for now, still only usable for book requests. For more about requesting books, or checking out books when the desk is not open, please visit our page about distance checkout.



It is writing season! Between personal statements and thesis-writing, the realm of written word can be especially daunting. Plagiarism can occur in every part of academia, from grade school up to tenureship. It happens—sometimes intentionally and sometimes accidentally—to any type of writer. What’s important is taking responsibility for your own academic integrity when possible.

A quill writing on paperIn our plagiarism LibGuide, our librarian Amy Lapidow has outlined some excellent resources for the purposes of plagiarism checks. One of these is DupliChecker, which is a free online service that checks your work for copied material. Another is TurnItIn.Com. Below is Amy Lapidow’s instructions:

  • Turnitin
  • Check your paper! Look for “Open Class for Students” Class ID 20577570 with keycode “Capstone”
  • You should be able to add yourself to the class.
  • If you cannot add yourself to this class, please let us know and we can help.

Remember, if you’re having trouble during the writing process, you can make an appointment with Christine Smith, who is our writing consultant for the Boston campus.

Best of luck with all of your writing!



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Tax season is happening here in the United States! If you’re like me, and this is your first year filing your taxes as an independent (and you’re hoping for that sweet stimulus check this time!), then filing your taxes can seem like a complicated project. It is not as painful as you might expect. If you’ve just realized that you haven’t filed your taxes, these links below should help you navigate this process.

If you need free filing, this is the TurboTax Free File link; here is the H&R Block Free File link. These should cover both federal and state taxes. Depending on your income level and your student status, these should be free filing options for you. (I used one of them this year).

If you are filing in the state of Massachusetts, among other things, you’ll need to fill out a Schedule HC form. This proves you have health insurance. The vital numbers you’ll need is the name of your insurance, their Federal ID number, and your subscriber number. This is the form here.

For more information about the Federal Tax Filing, please visit their website here.

For more information about the Massachusetts State Tax Filing, please visit their website here. For questions about what and how you should be applying, you can call them directly.

The deadline for the 2021 Federal Tax return is May 17th, but if you start now you’ll be able to put it out of your mind! If, for any reason, you need an extension to file your taxes, you should make the request as soon as possible. You can do that here.






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Instead of a prank for you, we have true fun facts about April Fools!

In France, they say “Poisson D’Avril” or April Fish! This same thing in Italy is “Pesce d’aprile.”

Do you have any “April Fools” phrase equivalents in your country or culture? Leave a comment down below!



This Sunday is Pi Day!

Every March 14, mathematicians and pie aficionados alike celebrate the rich history of π by making and eating different types of pie. But we don’t need to be mathematicians or pie aficionados to celebrate!

In the United States, since our dates read month/day/year, March 14 reflects the first few digits of pie. But since π is also related to calculating dimensions of circles, the parallel between dessert pie and the mathematical constant inspires people to make their desserts in honor of the holiday.

So, here’s a quick tip if you’re making a pie this weekend: use refrigerated, unsalted butter. Rather than letting it thaw, cut up your cold butter into tiny cubes. This makes the pie crust easier to mix, and eventually, flakier after baking.

Enjoy your weekend!

Pie with sparklers lit on top

Photo by Lucy Heath on Unsplash




Sometimes, it can be overwhelming when you’re staring at a messy spreadsheet of data for your research. Data Carpentry is here to help make that less overwhelming!

The Carpentries is an organization that aims to create a community of people who “share a mission to teach foundational computational and data science skills to researchers.” These skills range from organizing spreadsheets to programming languages, like R or Python.

Hirsh is hosting a two-day Data Carpentry workshop on Tuesday (3/9) and Wednesday (3/10) from 10am – 3pm all online. So if you’re hoping to learn more about organizing data in spreadsheets, data cleaning with OpenRefine, and gaining an introduction into R, please register at this link!

All learners, including those with little to no prior experience with these tools, are welcome to participate. If you have any questions about the workshop, please contact Andrea Kang. We look forward to seeing you all there!


February has been American Heart Month. To raise awareness about cardiovascular health, we’d like to provide resources and information about donating blood.

Last summer, the Red Cross announced it would start testing blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies. They still offer this service. To book an appointment with the Red Cross, sign up here and schedule your visit. One facility is here on Tremont Street, near the COVID testing site, but you have to schedule an appointment because no blood donation sites take walk-in visits.

If you don’t want to donate blood, you may donate platelets or plasma instead. This is a longer procedure where the nurses filter the blood, and makes some patients feel less tired. In order to donate blood, donors are required to be:

  • Over 16 years old
    A man's arm in the middle of donating blood, holding a stress ball

    Photo by LuAnn Hunt on Unsplash

  • Over 110 lbs.
  • Feeling well and in good physical health, with no fever for 7 days prior

To prepare for a blood donation, donors should:

  • Eat a healthy meal and drink an extra 16 oz. of water before your appointment
  • Bring a photo ID
  • Arrange for a ride home so you’re not behind the wheel after your appointment

During your appointment, the Red Cross nurses will test your hemoglobin levels and ask you a series of questions about your travel habits, sexual behaviors, and medications. After your donation, you will have to stay on site, in a rest area, for 15-20 minutes. Here, you can hydrate yourself, eat snacks to increase your blood sugar, and arrange your ride home.

After donating blood, the Red Cross recommends no intense physical activity for 24 hours, and no alcohol or recreational drugs for 48 hours. We recommend you take the rest of the day to nap, eat another hearty meal, and bask in your act of generosity for the day. In the meantime, the center will test your blood for COVID-19 antibodies, among other diseases like HIV or Hepatitis B.

The benefactors of blood donations include cancer patients, serious injuries, people with chronic anemia, and more. Pints of blood are shipped all over the country. Your blood can even be split among patients, where one person receives the white blood cells, and another receives the platelets. The Red Cross, with your permission, will even notify you when your blood is sent to another hospital for use.

And donating blood has its benefits. It lowers your blood iron stores; your liver cannot handle high levels of iron in the body. Some studies say that donating blood reduces your chances of cancer or a heart attack. You may find out about health concerns, like high blood pressure or an infection, during the donation. My favorite part are the free snacks.

You can schedule an appointment through the Red Cross here!


February is African American History Month, and recently the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. While we want to celebrate African American excellence year-round, this month we would like to congratulate the countless Black people who, throughout history, have sought to make their communities and the world better, despite the systemic racism they struggle through daily. ​The month should be about highlighting Black excellence and reflecting on our roles in contributing to anti-racism.

One person we’d like to highlight is Ayanna Pressley who, in 2018, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, making her the first woman of color to represent Massachusetts in that role. In 2009, she was the first person of color to be elected to the Boston City Council. As City Councilor, she formed the Committee on Healthy Women, Families, and Communities; she implemented initiatives for better sex education and family planning programs in public schools; and she is a proponent for progressive policies in climate change and Medicare now as a House Representative. You can read more about her mission here.

Another person we’d like to highlight is Maria Baldwin. In 1889, Maria Baldwin became the first Black principal of any school in the state and Northeast, at the Agassiz school. Her students were all middle-class white children, and many of her staff and faculty were white as well. Regardless, she worked hard as an educator, and became the master of a new Agassiz school erected in 1916. She is the only Black woman of color—one of two women ever—to be a school master in Cambridge. She was an activist, and educator, and a valuable Bostonian mind. You can visit her house.

To connect with the various organizations documenting and promoting African American excellence, check out this hub for exhibitions and teaching guides.

Part of African American History Month should not only be reflecting on the history of African Americans, but also reflecting on our contributions to anti-racism. Last year, during the protests seeking justice for George Floyd, our library staff began compiling anti-racism resources, especially those about race-based medical discrimination. You can go through that LibGuide here. The Anti-Racism Resource Guide includes information about documenting and addressing race-based medical disparities, resources for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and co-conspirators to engage in anti-racism work, and tons of reading material. This LibGuide is a living document, so if you don’t see something you expect to see, let us know here.

Our previous post was about our anti-racism reading group meeting on February 19. For the readings and registration links, check out the post here.

A crowd of people at a BLM protest

Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash



This semester, the library service desk will not be open for course reserve and technology check-out. But even if your professors have required textbooks, you may not have to buy them. We’ve been hard at work finding electronic copies or occasionally scanning chapters of textbooks for your hybrid or remote courses this semester.

Where your textbooks are:

  • Under the Reading List tab in your Canvas course
  • In a module or under the Files tab in your Canvas course

If you can’t find them there, you can always look for the book on JumboSearch. Type the title of the book in quotations, or the course code for your course.

You may also be added to Box folders with scanned chapters of your course’s required textbooks. In that case, you should receive a request to be a previewer.

Please reach out to if you cannot find a copy of a required book for your course, if you have trouble accessing it, or if you have any other concerns throughout this process.



Happy New Year!

Now that many of you are coming back to campus, you may notice the library is still only providing remote services. Our Library Service Desk is closed, but you can still check books out, or return them. (We outlined this in more detail a month ago.) Below is an overview of these policies in case a book on our shelves catches your eye.

The aisle between two shelves of library books

Photo by Shunya Koide on Unsplash

If you would like to check out a book, you may:

  • Request it through JumboSearch, and pick it up at the Library on the fourth floor. We will send an email to you, telling you your books are in a specific locker, with a specific combination.
  • Check it out yourself through the MeeScan app, or by emailing us the barcodes.
  • Request it through JumboSearch, and we can mail it to you.

If you would like to return a book, you may:

  • Drop the book in our book drop on the fourth floor, beside the Library Service Desk.
  • Return our books at either Tisch or Ginn libraries on the Medford campus.
  • Contact us about mailing your books back.

Physical course reserves and electronics (chargers and laptops) are still not available for check out this semester. Stay tuned for information about electronic course reserves.

If you’re looking for a specific book, you can find it through JumboSearch today!

Feel free to contact our Circulation Department at if you have any questions or concerns about checking out or returning items, or about JumboSearch.

Best of luck with beginning this semester!

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