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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Preschool Halloween Parade at the Library


The Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s Public Library, is pleased to host our Annual Preschool Halloween Parade on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.!

Library Staff will be giving out treats (no tricks!) as kids trick-or-treat across all three floors of the library. Kids are encouraged to dress up and wear Halloween costumes. Our Annual Preschool Halloween Parade is intended for babies and children up to age 5. Groups are welcome, and registration is not required. We require that Children under the age of 10 to be accompanied by an adult age of 18 or older at all times.

We thank the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum for sponsoring this spectacular event.

For more information, please contact the Children’s Library at 413-499-9480, ext 5.

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Halloween at the Library: Saturday, October 28


carving tools

The Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield Public Library, is proud to host “Halloween at the Library,” a day of spooky-themed events for all ages on Saturday, October 28, from 10:00AM to 2:00PM.

Please join us in the Auditorium starting at 11:00 AM for a pumpkin-carving party. The Library will provide the pumpkins, courtesy of Taft Farms, carving tools, and stencils. Library staff will give out prizes for the most creative pumpkin designs. Also, instead of throwing out the pumpkin seeds with the rest of the guts, why not give seed saving a try! Seeds saved at the party will be included in the Athenaeum’s new Seed Lending Library, which will open in February 2018. What is a Seed Lending Library, you ask. Seed Lending Library’s make seeds available for patrons to “borrow.” Patrons then plant the seeds in their garden, enjoy the fruits of their labor, and at harvest time collect seeds from some of their plants and return these seeds to the library for other patrons to checkout.

Pumpkins cannot be reserved, and will be available on a first-come-first served basis. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Do you know where the most haunted places in Berkshire County are? Come to the Local History Department all day to find out. You can read about the eerie events that happened around Western Massachusetts, see the Library’s display of hauntings, and take home a free map of the spookiest places.

The program is sponsored by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum and Alchemy Initiative.

Refreshments will be served. Costumes are encouraged. No registration required. For more information, please call Alex Geller, Outreach Librarian, at 413-499-9480, ext. 202

Posted in Childrens Events, Family Events, Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum, local history department | Leave a comment

Forum credit for Berkshire Community College students


Year round the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum offer a variety of programs, generally on weekday evenings or Saturday afternoons, that take the form of author talks; informational lectures; musical performances; and other events of interest for their educational or cultural value. Library events are free and open to the public; and, with some exceptions, generally require no preregistration. Berkshire Community College students may find it useful to know that many library programs are approved for Forum credit.

The Athenaeum website calendar provides dates, times and descriptions of library events  and generally includes announcement of whether the event is approved for Forum credit. Students with additional  questions about whether a specific  program is credit worthy are encouraged to contact the college’s Office of Assistant Dean of Students (413-236-1601).

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