Evergreen Upgrade: Sunday, April 19, through Monday, April 20


Our network, C/WMARS, will be implementing an upgrade to our integrated software system through which we offer access to the catalog, the holds system, and other library functions.

Evergreen will be unavailable on Sunday, April 19, and Monday, April 20. We look forward to an improved system at the conclusion of this process.

Thank you for your patience.

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Food for Fines: April 13 – 18


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 13, through Saturday, April 18. 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 twenty-first 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 12 through April 18.

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Power Struggles: Manage your energy usage with Kill A Watt!


The Berkshire Athenaeum is now lending  a Kill A Watt Kit, which assists homeowners in understanding and curbing their energy use. The kit includes a meter for measuring the electrical draw of household appliances. An instruction booklet provides further information on energy efficiency measures as well as cost saving tips and programs available through Mass Save. Library patrons may borrow the kit for 3 weeks using a CWMARS library card.

For further information, stop at the Athenaeum Circulation Desk during regular library hours. This initiative is sponsored by the Berkshire Athenaeum; Eversource (formerly WMECO); National Grid; and Mass Save.

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Cinema of Law returns: Tuesdays in March, 6 pm


The Cinema of Law returns for a ninth year, providing screening of films on legal topics with  commentary by law professionals.  Presentations by local attorneys begin at 6 p.m. and the movies follow. Join us for one or more – or the full series!

March 3 Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood (2008)
Attorney Lou Oggiani, speaker
A documentary about the history of the Hays Code, a set of moral guidelines instituted in 1930 by a watchdog group led by a former U. S. Postmaster General. In 1915, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that free speech protection did not extend to motion pictures, and this set the stage for the industry to police itself until the Court overturned the decision in 1952.

March 10 Runaway Jury (2003)
Attorney Michael McCarthy, speaker
Based on a novel by John Grisham, this is a film that examines the integrity of our jury system at a time when Massachusetts is about to introduce attorney and self-represented party participation in juror voir dire.

March 17 Rashomon (1950)
Honorable Joan McMenemy, speaker
Directed by Akira Kurosawa, this tale presents four witnesses’ accounts of a rape and murder that took place in a forest, each presenting a different point of view. The film examines how truth is viewed through different lenses, and the Judge will speak to this from her experience on the bench and as a prosecutor.

March 24 The Rape of Europa (2006)
Attorney Paul Rapp, speaker
A documentary which tells the story of “the systematic theft, deliberate destruction and miraculous survival of Europe’s art treasures during the Third Reich and the Second World War.” Paul Rapp is an adjunct professor of copyright and art and entertainment law at the Albany Law School.

A Collaboration

Cinema of Law exists due to the planning of Barbara Schneider and Gary Smith, Law Librarians of the Berkshire Trial Court Law Library. Gary and Barbara choose films which touch upon a point of law. Next they recruit volunteers from the Berkshire Bar Association to comment on the points of law portrayed in the films. The third organization instrumental in bringing the very popular series to the public is the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum who purchase the DVDs and the performance rights for each film. These DVDs will be added to the library collection after each featured performance.

Attention College Students: The Cinema of Law screenings have been recognized by Berkshire Community College as acceptable for Forum Credit.

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Full STEAM Ahead in the Athenaeum Children’s Library!

STEAM-Logo_Main (2)We are excited to announce  our Children’s Library has been awarded a “Full STEAM Ahead” grant by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC). The $7,500 grant, funded under the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA),  promotes libraries working within their community toward increasing children’s interest and skills in the important areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.


Athenaeum librarians are designing a STEAM activity station in the Children’s Library. (You may have already noticed that some  furniture has been rearranged in preparation!)  Moving forward, library staff will be collaborating with early childhood specialists in the community to incorporate more programming designed around the STEAM curriculum.

While families with young children are primarily targeted for these services, library staff are also reaching out to childhood educators with information about new  circulating STEAM programming kits stocked with books, music and learning activities intended for infants, toddlers and  early elementary school  students.

Be sure to stop in often and see the progress that is being made!

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Teen Book Giveaway Week: February 9 – February 14

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

Be ready for winter reading opportunities! During Teen Book Giveaway Week, Monday, February 9 through Saturday, February 14, stop in and grab a book or magazine from the free table in the Young Adults Department. We will offer paperbacks, popular titles, new and next-to-new. Limit one free item per teen.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum.

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Spring Genealogy Classes Announced

genealogy_treeThe Local History Department has announced the following schedule of spring Genealogy Classes.
Three Workshop sessions for Novices:

  • March 12, Thursday:
    10-12: Organizing your records and planning your research/Introduction to the Census
    1-3: Repeat of morning session
  • March 19, Thursday:
    10-12: Using Vital Records/Beginning Immigration Research
    1-3: Repeat of morning session
  • March 26, Thursday:
    10-12: Introduction to Ancestry.com
    1-3: Repeat of morning session

Instructors for these sessions will be Janet Rogge and Angela Rifkin, along with Vera Silva. It is highly recommended to attend all three session to get the most out of the classes. Please specify a time. You may bring your own laptop or use a library one.

4-week Workshop on Continuing your Genealogy Research using the Census and other Resources

Over 4 consecutive Tuesdays March 31st, April 7th, 14th, and 21nd. Instructor Alan Horbal will present techniques for continuing to pursue your genealogical research. Participants may choose either a morning session [10AM to noon] or an afternoon session [1PM – 3 PM]. You must have an established email as a pre-requisite for these sessions. We ask that you attend all four classes. You may bring your own laptop or use a library one.

Registration opens February 1st. Register online at http://www.eventkeeper.com/code/events.cfm?curOrg=PITTSFLD (on the Calendar of Events page on the Berkshire Athenaeum website) or call the Local History Department at 499-9480 x6.

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