Consumer Reports available for home use


Whether you are purchasing for yourself or shopping for gifts, you want to select reliable products that are worth  your hard-earned dollars. The Berkshire Athenaeum offers access to Consumer Reports, a go-to source for product testing and evaluation. From headphones to dishwashers, car batteries to humidifiers, laundry detergents to slow cookers – Consumer Reports tests, rates and reports. CR also provides timely advice on topics as varied as finding cheap airfares, deciding if a robotic vacuum is right for your home, spending less on food.

Access Consumer Reports from the Online Databases page of the library’s website, when you visit the Athenaeum or from your personal computer or device, which will prompt for your Berkshire Athenaeum library card number if you are researching from your home or office.

Having trouble logging in? Contact the Reference Department at  or 413 499 9480 x202 during regular library hours.

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New Genealogy Class offered Tuesday, December 11, 2 – 4 pm

One Family’s History from 1840 to 1940:
Using the Census and

In this never before offered class you will learn how to search for relatives listed on the US Census using the Library Edition of A single family will be traced from 1940 back to 1840, and a sketch of their lives will be constructed using the census and additional documents found on Ancestry.

Computer literacy and an email account are required. A personal account is not necessary to take the class.

 The class is presented by the Western Mass Roots Events team and is free of charge.

Space is limited. Registration is required and can be made at the library’s website Calendar of Events or by contacting Ann-Marie Harris during regular library hours at  413 499 9480 x107  or


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Food For Fines: November 1 – 30


The Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s public library, will offer a modified fines amnesty
from Thursday, November 1, through Friday, November 30. During this four-week period the library will accept nonperishable food items in lieu of paying fines for overdue books. According to Library Director Alex Reczkowski, “This ‘Food for Fines’ initiative has become an annual tradition at the Berkshire Athenaeum, and it is wonderful to see the responsive community support.”

“While overdue fines are intended to encourage people to bring their library books back on time,” explained Cathy Congelosi, Supervisor of Adult Circulation at the Athenaeum, “Sometimes our fines generate the opposite reaction, and borrowers become reluctant to return library books because of the fines attached.” The food-for-fines program 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 may have been long forgotten.

“With a Thanksgiving holiday coming up that encourages Americans to reflect on all we
have to be thankful for, donating food in lieu of fines is a feel good solution that’s a perfect fit for this holiday,” says Reczkowski. “It’s a win, win, win situation because the borrower wins by clearing up an overdue fine record, the library wins by getting overdue our items returned, and neighbors win by getting donated food at a time when the food supply is short.”

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, patrons should
alert staff 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 the Rotary Club of Pittsfield as part of that organization’s annual food collection drive that distributes non-perishable food to area food banks.

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“Pittsfield is my Home” Community Project

The Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s Public Library, invites the public to submit photos and short written pieces to our “Pittsfield Is My Home” project. Photos and writing will be displayed on the Community Bulletin Board through the end of December.

Picture of a bulletin board. A compass made from black, red, orange and green paper forms the shape. Images of Pittsfield surround the compass.

Pittsfield is my Home Community Bulletin Board

We are looking for photos that reveal the multiple aspects of Pittsfield from as many different view-points as possible. Show us your Pittsfield! Photos may be submitted for printing by the library by emailing the photos to Materials are available for the public to post their own photos on the Community Bulletin Board. Cut-out shapes are available for jotting down thoughts or poems to be posted on the board.

For more information, please contact Andrea Puglisi at the Reference Desk (413) 499-9480 ext. 202 or by email at:

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Genealogy with Alan Doyle Horbal


Join volunteers, Cathi Iuliano and Susan Bedard and learn the basic outline and
instruction on researching the 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940 U.S. Census. Learn how to
find your ancestors’ immigration to the U.S. using the website and the website, along with several other databases.

Discover how to search for family members outside of the U.S. using  We will explore England, Canada, Poland and other countries.

All students must have an email account and be computer literate. We ask that you commit to all four classes.

Classes will be held on Tuesday, October 23, October 30, November 13 and November 20. Two sessions are scheduled: afternoon (2-4 pm) and evening (5:15 – 7 pm) There is no class on November 6, Election Day.

Space is limited and registration is required. Registration may be made at the Calendar of Events on the library website or by contacting Ann-Marie Harris  499-9480 x6


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Herman Melville Memorial Room: Closed Monday, October 1, through Friday, October 5


The Berkshire Athenaeum is in the midst of an extensive project to replace all of the lighting fixtures throughout the library with energy efficient alternatives.  Most of the work has been proceeding without disruption of services. However, in order to protect the valuable collections housed in the Athenaeum’s Herman Melville Memorial Room, the room will be closing for the week of October 1st to allow for the completion of installation in that area. The room will be closed, and most of the collection will be inaccessible, beginning on Monday, October 1st.  We expect to reopen to visitors on Saturday, October 6th. Inquiries concerning the Melville Collections may be directed to the Local History Department staff either in person or by calling 413-499-9480 x 6.

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Friends of Libraries Week: October 22 – 27


Mark your calendar for National Friends of the Library Week, Monday, October 22 –  Saturday, October 27. We’ll be wishing a Happy 80th Birthday to our own dedicated Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum with a variety of activities:

  • Monday, October 22: Free cookies!
  • Tuesday, October 23: Half Price Library Store Items and a Special Free Evening Program
  • Wednesday, October 24: Half Price Friends’ Membership and a Free item with every Membership sign up.
  • Thursday, October 25: The Friends Annual General Meeting at 3 pm and an 80th Birthday Cake
  • Friday, October 26: Free cookies!
  • Saturday, October 27: Pumpkin carving

Who are the Friends and what do they do?
The Friends are an all-volunteer organization that raise money to support so many library services which would otherwise not be possible. From the Children’s Summer Reading Program to Ukuleles for Loan;  copies of bestselling book titles to updated technology; an aquarium for the Children’s Library and Electronic Bulletin Boards at library entrances; cultural, musical and educational programs for adults and landscaping on the library grounds; and so much more. And, of course, those wonderful book sales (Next Book Sale: Thursday, November 8 – Saturday, November 10) which provide great shopping opportunities and raise the funds to support it all.

How can you help?
Join the Friends. Membership starts for as little as $10. Membership benefits include entry to the Friends only day at book sales and discounts on Friends merchandise.
Volunteer to help with tasks that are comfortable to you. Let the Friends know you can assist by contacting them (413) 400-9480 x150 or




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