Join us for our book launch of Bernard A. Drew’s new work, “Literary Luminaries of the Berkshires”!

, Literary Luminaries of the Berkshires: From Herman Melville to Patricia Highsmith

Literary Luminaries of the Berkshires by Bernard A. Drew

The Berkshire Athenaeum on is adding a new book to its collection of works by local authors. History Press and local historian Bernard A. Drew will launch his newest work, Literary Luminaries of the Berkshires: From Herman Melville to Patricia Highsmith, with a talk and book signing in the auditorium at the Athenaeum on Thursday, July 23rd, at 6 p.m.

The Massachusetts Berkshires has long appealed to talented writers, from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Edith Wharton to Sinclair Lewis and Joan Ackermann. The Green River in Great Barrington inspired William Cullen Bryant’s poetry. Charles Pierce Burton’s childhood hometown of Adams became the setting for his frolicking Boys of Bob’s Hill juvenile books. Patricia Highsmith, during an interlude in Lenox, quizzed her undertaker-landlord for information she might use in The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Drew, who lives in Great Barrington, has collected information about local fiction writers and poets for more than 30 years. In this, his latest book, he chronicles some 250 wordsmiths who took inspiration from these hills and valleys. “Don’t expect encyclopedia entries,” the author said. “This is written from a local historian’s point of view, looking closely at the relationship of these writers to the landscape and culture of the Berkshires.”

Ronald Latham, director of the Berkshire Athenaeum, wrote in the foreword of the book, that Drew’s arrangement of material by theme gives him “the opportunity to digress beautifully into more extensive background notes, contextual anecdotes and humorous jibes that allow him to play to his strengths as the foremost historian of the Berkshires.”

The Berkshire Athenaeum’s Berkshire Authors Room is the area’s largest accumulation of works – fiction, poetry, non-fiction – by writers who have lived or worked here, or who have written about the Berkshires.

The public is invited to this free event, which will be held in the library’s auditorium. Light refreshments will be served and signed copies of Mr. Drew’s book will be available for purchase. We hope to see everyone there!

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Summer Reading: It’s not just for kids!

summer reading This year the Athenaeum  offers Summer Reading for all ages! In addition to our well attended program of reading incentives and themed programs for children, this year separate reading programs will be offered for Teens and Adults. Circulation Services Supervisor Catherine Congelosi explains, “Our Summer Reading Program for Children has been wildly popular for so many years. This year we just decided, Why should the kids have all the fun?”
Readers of all ages are encouraged to register for Summer Reading at the library’s homepage on or after June 27 and set personal reading goals. The Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum, perennial supporters of the Children’s Summer Reading Club, are providing Friends memberships as raffle prizes for Adult readers. The raffle prizes for Teens are gift baskets containing movie tickets to the Beacon Cinema or gift cards to the Berkshire Mall.

To qualify for the raffle, registered readers should pick up a BINGO style card at the Athenaeum, customized separately for Teens and Adults, with suggested reading genres. Completed cards are dropped off at a library service desk; each completed card qualifies as a raffle entry. Participating readers have the option of sharing reviews and comments on their reading progress through the online program; online recommendations and other interaction is encouraged.
Questions about the Summer Reading Programs for Teens and Adults, as well as assistance with registration should be directed to the Reference Desk. The Summer Reading Programs will run June 27 through August 22.

The Summer Reading Program is sponsored by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum; Taco Bell; Ben & Jerry’s; Burger King; The Beacon Cinema; TD Bank; Massachusetts Library System; and the Collaborative Summer Reading Program.

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Thursday, May 28: Learn about the Last Destroyer Escort Afloat, the USS Slater

slaterJoin us at 7 pm on Thursday, May 28, when Steve Long, a member of the Board of Directors for the Destroyer Escort Foundation for the USS Slater, will speak about the war ship, now a WWII vintage museum berthed on the Hudson River in Albany, NY. The Slater, a cannon class, destroyer escort, has been lovingly restored and maintained. Designed as an anti submarine warship, ships like the Slater served in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.

Learn of her history, service, and preservation in this free lecture with PowerPoint presentation. During World War II, 563 Destroyer Escorts battled Nazi U-boats on the North Atlantic protecting convoys of men and material. In the Pacific they stood in line to defend naval task forces from Japanese submarines and Kamikaze air attacks. Today, only one of these ships remains afloat in the United States, the USS SLATER.

Moored on the Hudson River in Albany, New York, the USS SLATER has undergone an extensive fifteen-year restoration that has returned the ship to her former glory.

Students who attend the lecture will be eligible for BCC Forum credits.
This program free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum.

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Short Story Writing Contest for Children and Young Adults


The Berkshire Athenaeum and  Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum are pleased to announce the 37th Annual Short Story Writing Contest for Children and Young Adults. Contest opens Monday, May 4, 2015. Forms available at the Children’s desk. There will be five divisions (Aged 5 – 6 years as of June 1, 2015; Aged 7 – 8 years as of June 1, 2015 and Aged 9 –10 years as of June 1, 2015; Aged 11 – 14 years as of June 1, 2015; and Aged 15 – 18 years as of June 1, 2015). If there are not at least ten (10) entries in a division, it may be combined with another. Depending upon entries received, the following prizes will be awarded in each division: First Place will receive a $35.00 cash prize, Second Place will receive a $25.00 cash prize, and Honorable Mentions will receive $20.00 cash prizes. Prizes are donated by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum, whose generous and continued support make this contest possible! Stories will be judged on their originality, appeal, and writing style. Each contestant should submit her/his story to the Berkshire Athenaeum Children’s Library (1 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, MA 01201); and all entries, whether delivered in person or by mail, must be received by 4:00 PM on Monday, July 20, 2015. Winners will receive their awards at a special ceremony which will be held Friday, August 21 at 1:00 PM in the auditorium of the Berkshire Athenaeum.

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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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