Community Preservation: Your input requested before November 20


city seal

The Community Preservation Committee of the city of Pittsfield has released a public input survey as part of its efforts related to the development of a Community Preservation Plan.

The survey is designed to be completed in less than five minutes, with the ability to provide substantive input, if desired.  The results of the survey will be incorporated into an overall plan that will assist the committee in decision making as to the allocations of Community Preservation Act funds.  The committee plans to complete this work by early 2018.

The plan is a required step that allows the community to develop priorities in how Community Preservation Act funds are spent within four allotted categories: parks, open space, historic preservation, and community housing.

A link to the survey is located on the home page of the city’s website,, and through the Community Preservation Committee’s page also through the city’s website.  Paper copies are also available at the Berkshire Athenaeum.

For more information, please call CJ Hoss, City Planner, at 413-499-9366 or

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Holiday Joy: Providing warm clothing, food, toys


The Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s Public Library, is proud to join the Berkshire Community Action Council, the Salvation Army, The Christian Center, and the Eagle Santa Fund on Monday, November 27, from 10 a.m.. to 12 p.m, for the Holiday Joy Program’s kickoff event at the Library.

The Holiday Joy Program is a collaboration among many local businesses, organizations, and members of our community to provide warm clothing, toys, and food, to low-income families who struggle to meet their basic needs.

At the kickoff celebration, the Library will decorate a giant tree in our main reading room with tickets that list children’s names to sponsor. Sponsors purchase gifts for children and return the new, unwrapped items to the Salvation Army at 298 West Street or the BCAC at 1531 East Street in Pittsfield. There will be carolers, an acting troupe from the Berkshire Theatre Festival, refreshments, and special guest star, Mrs. Claus. The Library will also accept donations of slightly used children’s winter clothing, which we will donate to the Christian Center at 193 Robbins Avenue in Pittsfield.

For further information contact Lauri Eulian, BCAC Program Planning Administrator, (413) 822-3015 or Alex Geller, Berkshire Athenaeum Outreach Librarian, (413) 499-9480 ext. 202

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Food for Fines returns for November



The Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s public library, will offer a modified fines amnesty from Wednesday, November 1, through Thursday, 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” 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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Be Amazing with Us

What did you do last week? Here at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield, we were carving pumpkins.


We have a sweet terrace just off of our Children’s Library, which made for a very sincere pumpkin patch. At craft tables filled with pipe cleaners and googly-eyes kids and adults cut pumpkins in original designs.



Luckily, we have an awesome team here at Pittsfield’s Public Library, so we had this event under control – and attracted over 200 attendees. But what was missing was … a Children’s Librarian!

There are so many other projects we want to accomplish — like adding a mural from a local author’s children’s book, collecting the best children’s and YA books to fill a book bike, and encouraging patrons to play with our Nintendo switch.  Oh, we’re also reading stories at our local museum’s PJ Night and signing up families for library cards at the Head Start’s Thanksgiving luncheon.

If you have the interest and energy to join in on all of the excitement, please consider applying to be our next Children’s and Youth Services Supervisor at the Berkshire Athenaeum.  The job is listed on the MBLC site and directly on the City of Pittsfield job site.

If, by chance, you aren’t lucky enough to want this job, maybe you know someone else who would be perfect:  we would be grateful if you would please pass along this opportunity.

Reach out and ask us you have any questions. We can’t wait to meet our next team member!

The Staff of the Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s Public Library




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“Let’s Talk 3D Printing” Program Celebrates Library Patron’s Creativity, Ingenuity & Success Using the Berkshire Athenaeum’s 3D Printers!

The Berkshire Athenaeum has been offering programming on 3D Printing to all ages using our 2 Ultimaker 2’s and SeeMeCNC Orion models. On October 25, 2017, The Berkshire Athenaeum and the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum were pleased to host a panel of library patrons who have been exploring 3D Printing via our library’s Self-Guided Program.

Library patrons Thomas Sullivan, Bill MacFarlane, Tim Laporte and Andrew Neiner shared their experiences and projects in a series of individual presentations, and fielded a variety of questions from our excited, engaged audience.

Thomas Sullivan, a local engineer, spoke about coding and 3D Printing topographical maps. During Thomas Sullivan’s presentation (which can be found here), Thomas spoke about how he share his designs on Thingiverse for free and open use. Thomas also referenced at-home projects which include building robots and drone trackers; all of which he creates during his free time.

The Library has a printed Thomas Sullivan’s topographical map of Mount Greylock and of the Hoosac Tunnel (a 3D Printed topographical map of Berkshire County is upcoming!…). We invite you to give these objects a look on line or see them in person at the Reference Desk during your next visit to the library.

Bill MacFarlane, a local Scoutmaster and blogger of “Channeling Whittlin Jim“, shared with us designs of slides and Space Shuttles that he has been 3D Printing and hand painting (shown in slideshow below).

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Bill also shared with us that when designing and researching his Space Shuttle Slides, that he learned that Alexei Leonov, the first man to walk in space, almost got stuck out there. Bill recounted the story, which we have adapted from Gizmodo’s article for those of you who are unfamiliar:

Once in orbit, Leonov strapped on an EVA (extra-vehicular activity) backpack to his spacesuit. It provided him with just 45 minutes of oxygen, which would allow him to breathe and keep cool; meanwhile, heat, moisture, and carbon dioxide would be vented into space via a relief valve.

Belyayev pressurized the inflatable airlock, which took seven minutes to fully inflate. Everything went smoothly at first and Leonov spent a total of 12 minutes and 9 seconds out on his space walk. He described the experience by saying he felt “like a seagull with its wings outstretched, soaring high above the Earth.”

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and he needed to get back inside the spacecraft before he ran out of air. But getting back inside proved to be a problem.

He maneuvered himself back to the airlock, but then realized that his suit had become incredibly stiff. Due to the lack of atmospheric pressure, it had bloated with oxygen. His feet and hands had pulled away from his boots and gloves, and he knew it was going to be incredibly difficult to get himself back into the ship safely.

There was only one way to do it: wriggle in head-first while bleeding off the oxygen in his suit.

In addition to learning about Leonov’s historical walk in space, Bill shared that this story gave him some insight into his own projects and work. A lesson that Bill learned from this story is that it is important to account for tolerances within one’s design; in other words, to think about how pieces fit together and any extra room that you may need to account for in your project. 3D Printing is taking Bill to all sorts of new universes, and we were more than happy to join him on his journey.

Our third presenter, Tim Laporte of local business Recompute, spoke about how 3D Printing has allowed him to make parts that fit into his larger projects. Tim is working on creating a cart that will help him during his volunteer shifts at Tanglewood in the summer. The yellow pieces featured in the image above are 3D Printed objects such as a custom washer pump power connector. Tim’s washer pump power connector is a custom piece that allows for wires to pass through and plug into a larger object. Tim has also as been printing plugs and rods to keep his cart design together.

We benefited from hearing Tim’s sound advice about being careful about what makers decide to print. The library is using polylactic acid (PLA) material to print which is made from cornstarch, and is a form of plastic. Tim correctly noted that PLA melts at high temps (210*C), and would not be the best material for every project– like car parts (a dream of his!), and correctly noted that there are other materials out there (such as aluminum) which can be used with 3D Printers.

Our fourth and final panelist, Andrew Neiner, shared his experience learning about 3D Printing at the library via our Self-Guided Program. Andrew Neiner, an active Young Adult library patron, shared with us his experience of being scanned and printing a 3D model of himself.


Andrew Neiner’s 3D Printed Model of Himself

He highlighted the importance and value of 3D Printing to his education and growth. Andrew shared an example of a carabiner clip that he designed with the audience and is currently working on lazer show project. Andrew acknowledged that without the library, he would not be able to have access to this exciting technology which encourages him to innovate by himself and with his friends.


Our 3D Printing Panel was amazing! Attendees (45+ people) were encouraged, inspired and had an opportunity to learn from local maker’s, innovators, hobbyists and educators. The Berkshire Athenaeum is proud to promote life long-learning and offer 3D Printers to the public. Thanks to the hard-work and generosity of the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum, we able to offer free printing to our community as part of our Self-Guided Program.

We encourage members of our community to get involved! For more questions about our 3D programming opportunities, please do not hesitate to e-mail us ( and/or ask us at the Reference Desk.

Posted in 3D Printing, Children's Library, Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum, Library Program, Reference, STEAM, Technology, Young Adults | Leave a comment

The Friends: Moving us from Good to Great!

As part of this week’s celebration honoring the many contributions of our Friends, just before 3 pm today we host a reading of Mayor Linda Tyer’s Proclamation of Friends of Libraries Week, followed by the Friends’ Annual Meeting. All are welcome!




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Celebrate the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum: October 15 – 21


The Berkshire Athenaeum will be spending the week of October 15-21, 2017, celebrating its Friends of the Library group as part of the 12th annual celebration of National Friends of Libraries Week.

The Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum was established in 1938 and  has been an invaluable source of support for our library.

Please join us for a week of activities!

Monday: Commemorate Friends’ Week by choosing 1 item from the Friends’ Lobby Store.  It is free today.

Tuesday: Enjoy a sweet treat from the Friends.

Wednesday: Commemorate Friends’ Week by BOGO select items from the Friends’ Store.

Thursday: You are invited to the Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum at 3 PM in the auditorium.

Friday: Enjoy a sweet treat from the Friends’.

Saturday: Free program, “The First Big Dig: Building the Hoosac Title” by Anne O’Connor in the auditorium at 2 PM.

Visit the Friends’ table all week to learn more about the Friends, join the Friends, or learn about volunteer opportunities.

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