Food for Fines Week: Monday, April 14 – Saturday, April 19

As part of its celebration of National Library Week, the Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s public library, will offer a modified fines amnesty from Monday, April 14, through Saturday, April 19.   During this time the library will accept non‑perishable food items in lieu of paying fines for overdue books.

“While overdue fines are supposed to encourage people to bring their library books back on time,” explained Cathy Congelosi, Supervisor of Adult Circulation at the Athenaeum, “Sometimes the system doesn’t work, and things don’t get returned.” The food-for-fines program, now in its twentieth year, is the library’s attempt to create a more positive feeling about getting overdue library materials returned, and to get library borrowers to clean out their bookshelves and bring back library items that have been long forgotten.

Food will be collected in boxes located at the Adult Circulation Desk and at the Children’s Service Desk. When “paying” off a fine with a donated food item, a staff librarian should be alerted prior to depositing the item into the collection boxes. Food will be accepted not only for payment of overdue fines for items currently in circulation, but also may be applied to outstanding overdue fines from other transactions. The replacement costs of lost or damaged materials may not be resolved by donated food.

During the amnesty period, in addition to food brought in lieu of fines, the Athenaeum will encourage general donations of food not associated with overdue library books. All donated food will be turned over to food pantries in Pittsfield.

National Library Week is an annual celebration of all types of libraries begun in 1958 and this year runs from April 13 through April 19

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Teen Book Giveaway: Monday, April 14 – Saturday, April 19

teen book giveawayTeen Book Giveaway returns in April: Monday, April 14, through Saturday, April 19. All teens are encouraged to stop by the Young Adults’ Department and select a free book or magazine while supplies last. Limit of one free item per teen.
Grab some free reading material before Spring Break!

Sponsored by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum.

Teens choose their free book from a selection available in our Young Adults Department

Teens choose their free book from a selection available in our Young Adults Department

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Specialty items available at this week’s Booksale

booksaleDispatch just in from the Friends: this week’s booksale will include a large Civil War collection; an All-Things-Irish cart; an impressive selection of cookbooks; and a pricing special for Romance readers: all Romance mass market paperbacks will sell for 25¢.

Stop by for bargains!

  • Thursday, March 13, 5 – 8 PM *Friends Night* : Open exclusively to members. Not a member? Join at the door: $10 single or $25 family.
  • Friday, March 14, 10 AM – 4 PM Open to all.
  • Saturday, March 15, 10 AM – 4 PM Open to all.


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Spring brings…new Genealogy classes!

genealogy_treeThe Local History & Genealogy Department is pleased to announce a new crop of Genealogy classes scheduled for March and April.

  • Learn How to Use for Ancestor Research is scheduled for  10 am – 12 noon on Tuesday, March 25, and will be repeated at 4 – 6 pm on Wednesday, March 26. This workshop is intended for those who want to learn how to navigate and use the website. Interested individuals should register for one session only.

To facilitate the learning process, registrants are required to create a Family Search account prior to the class. (Navigate to the site; select Join for Free and enter the requested information.)

  • A four workshop series for novice researchers is planned for Thursday, March 27, and Thursday, April 3. The series includes morning and afternoon sessions with a noontime lunch break. Instructors for these sessions will be Janet Rogge and Angela Rifkin. No prerequisites required.

March 27

  • 10-12: Organizing your records and planning your research
  • 1-3:  Introduction to Census Research

April 3

  • 10-12: Using Vital Records
  • 1-3:  Beginning Immigration Research  
  • A third series, Continuing your Genealogy Research using the Census and Other Resources, is planned for four consecutive Tuesdays in April (April 8, 15, 22 and 29). Instructor Alan Horbal will present techniques for continuing to pursue your genealogical research. Participants may choose either a morning session (10 am – 12 noon) or afternoon session (1 – 3 pm). Prerequisite: An established email account. Prospective registrants should be prepared to commit to all four classes. Attendees may bring a personal laptop or use one provided by the library.

Space is limited. Registration is required and may be made with the Local History Department by calling 499-9480 ext. 6

These offerings are sponsored by the Berkshire Athenaeum and the Berkshire Family History Association.

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We’ll be texting you…

texting2Following recent network enhancements the Berkshire Athenaeum is now able to offer library patrons two new text services. Standard text charges will apply.


  • Text Notices for Holds Pickup: You can now opt to receive a text message notification when an item you reserved or requested is ready for pickup.  When placing your hold, check off the Notification option “Yes, by Text Messaging”; select your Mobile Carrier from the drop down list; enter your cell phone number; and click Submit. When a copy of your item becomes available, you will receive a text message.



  • Text call number to phone: Were you browsing the library’s online catalog and wanting to make note of an item call number? You’ll notice a new Text link on the record of each item in the catalog; click on that link to open a screen that prompts you to select your Mobile Carrier from the drop down list; enter your cell phone number; and click Submit. The library record for the item (Author, Title, Call Number and Location) will be sent to your cell phone.


Have questions about accessing this service? Ask at the Reference Desk.

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Cinema of Law: The Law as Seen by Hollywood Movies


Cinema of Law returns for an eighth season!

Sponsored by the Berkshire Law Library, the Berkshire Bar Association and the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum, each evening of this four-part series features a well-known film with a plot that involves a legal subject, introduced by a member of the Berkshire Bar Association. Join us for all four nights or just come for your favorite. Tuesdays in March, beginning at 6 pm.

  • Tuesday, March 4:  A Civil Action, starring John Travolta (1998), will be introduced by Attorney Chris Dodig. The families of children who died sue two companies for dumping toxic waste: a tort so expensive to prove, the case could bankrupt their lawyer.

  • Tuesday, March 11: Class Action, starring Gene Hackman (1991), will be introduced by Attorney David W Murphy. Jeb Ward is an attorney who specializes in whistle blower, David vs. Goliath, type cases.

  • Tuesday, March 18: The Other Side of Immigration, a documentary, (2009) will be introduced by Attorney Joseph Best. Based on over 700 interviews in Mexican towns where about half the population has left to work in the United States, The Other Side of Immigration asks why so many Mexicans come to the U.S. and what happens to the families and communities they leave behind.

  • Tuesday, March 25: The Rainmaker, starring Matt Damon (1997) will be introduced by Attorney Buffy Lord. An idealistic young lawyer and his cynical partner take on a powerful law firm representing a corrupt insurance company.

Program free and open to the public.

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Fore! Mini Golf course onsite!

bagsIn anticipation of  Saturday’s Berkshire Gas Links for Literacy Mini Golf Classic the Athenaeum has greens, holes, hazards, putters, obstacles and boundaries, ready for assembly.

clubsshutesTomorrow evening helpful elves will transform the library’s three floors into an 18-hole course, ready for play. Make plans to join us for affordable family fun: Saturday, February 22, 10 am – 4 pm. Cost: $5  Adults; $2 for Children <12. Proceeds benefit Literacy Volunteers of Berkshire County.


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