Talking Book Fair: Thursday, April 27, 10 am


The Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s Public Library, is pleased to announce a Talking Book Fair will be held at the library at 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 27, in the Main Reading Room. Erin Fragola, Library Outreach Coordinator from the Perkins Library will speak about the Talking Books program, a federally funded service that provides free reading material to those who cannot read printed materials because of blindness or other disabilities.

Talking Books are digitally recorded books or magazines in audio formats provided by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. They are available on free loan to people who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise unable to read or use standard printed materials. Talking Books can be played on customized digital players, supplied at no cost by the Library of Congress and its cooperating libraries, or via a free mobile app for iOS and Android devices. The Perkins Library in Watertown, Massachusetts circulates more than a half million accessible books, newspapers, and publications in braille, large print and digital audio formats annually to thousands of registered patrons in New England and beyond.


Reference Librarian Madeline Kelly explains, “Here at the Athenaeum we are working to improve our services to community members with disabilities. Sometimes that means being knowledgeable about and connecting people to available resources. The Talking Books program is a great resource! And we’re happy to be hosting Erin, who will talk about the service, how it works, how those who are eligible can register.”

Members of the public are invited to attend Fragola’s free presentation. No registration is required. Light refreshments will be served.

Attention Berkshire Community College Students: This program is approved for Forum Credit.

The April 27 Talking Book Fair is part of a two-year Athenaeum initiative made possible by a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC). LSTA is administered and funded on the federal level by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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3D Printing: From random thought to reality

Athenaeum patron Bill Macfarlane shares his experiences with our 3D printers in a recent post to his blog, Channeling Whittlin Jim. Want to be part of the fun of 3D printing? Join us!

mercury capsule


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T-shirt design contest: Cash prizes!

T shirt

The Berkshire Athenaeum and The Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum are pleased to sponsor a T-shirt Drawing Contest for children and youth. There will be two categories for entries: Children, ages 0 to 12, and Teens, ages 13 to 18. The winner in the children’s category will have their artwork printed on children’s T-shirts and the winner of the Teens category will have their artwork printed on adult sized T-shirts to be sold in the Friend’s gift shop at the library.

The contest opens Monday, March 27 and ends at 4:00 PM on Friday, April 28, 2017.  All participants or their parents must be a library card holder in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Artwork must include mention of Pittsfield or Berkshire Athenaeum or The Berkshires. Entry forms and complete rules are available at the Children’s desk of the Berkshire Athenaeum.

Prizes: First Prize, in addition to having the artwork printed on the T-shirt, is $50.00. Second Prize is $25, and Third Prize is $10.00 in each category. All winning entries will be displayed in the library display case and on a large format poster for community members to enjoy. All entries become the property of the Berkshire Athenaeum.

Winners will be notified by telephone, and a list of winners will be posted in the Children’s Library after May 8, 2017

Sponsored by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum.

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Upgraded Printing – and New Scanning Service


We are thrilled to announce improved public computing and printing service. Following an upgrade  on Friday, March 10, the library is providing better print management to the many patrons who visit to create and print resumes, research papers, and other personal or business documents.

As an added benefit, the library is offering, for the first time, public scanning service. Documents can be scanned as black and white images for attaching to email messages, saving to flash drives, and other purposes. This function complements existing library computer service providing access to desktop workstations with office software; laptop and mobile devices; and wireless internet service and printing from patron-owned devices.

Technical Services Librarian Becky McDole observes, “Patrons regularly clock a total of 2000 hours of desktop computer use per month. It’s gratifying we are able to offer this new service, which has been regularly requested, by leveraging existing technology.” Assistance with scanning is available at the Reference Desk.

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New Services for Children On the Autism Spectrum


The Berkshire Athenaeum is pleased to announce new services targeted to families with children on the autism spectrum. The Children’s Library has a new collection of sensory tools, including fidget toys and related items, for play in the library. Fidget toys, shaped as small frogs, balls or other simple configurations can be calming and promote focus, decrease stress and increase tactile awareness. Soft and cuddly weighted plush snakes are filled with 4 pounds of beads and can be hung on a child’s shoulders or coiled in their lap, providing calming pressure.

Also targeted to families with children on the autism spectrum are monthly Sensory Story Times. Customized to the children’s needs, these programs include prompts to provide a tangible way for children to follow a story line and a structure that helps with transition from one activity to the next.

Children’s Librarian Nan Pearson explains, “We’re aware our community includes families with children on the spectrum. We’ve learned these families often don’t feel comfortable in a traditional library story time. This was a gap in our services, a need; and we wanted to create a welcoming space for these kids and their parents.” Sensory Story Times for March are scheduled for 11 am – 12 noon on Tuesday, March 14, and Tuesday, March 21. No registration is required.

The library’s collection of sensory toys was purchased with funds provided by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum, an all-volunteer group that supports programming for children and adults; a technology lending service; additional library materials; and a wide variety of library improvements.

The Sensory Story Time is funded by a grant to the Athenaeum provided through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.


Nan Pearson
Supervisor, Children’s & Young Adults’ Services
(413) 499 9480 ext 203

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PJ Drive: through March 15



The Berkshire Athenaeum is teaming up with the Boston Bruins to participate in their annual pajama drive to benefit DCF Kids (Department of Children and Families) and Cradles to Crayons. The PJ Drive’s goal is to collect 10,000 pairs of new pajamas for children and teens in need across the Massachusetts Commonwealth.

“It’s hard to imagine that so many kids and teens don’t know the comforting feeling of putting on PJs before settling down to sleep. We’re happy to be part of an effort to change that” said Nan Pearson, Children’s and Youth Services Supervisor at the Berkshire Athenaeum.

The Boston Bruins PJ Drive runs from Wednesday, February 22, 2017 through March 15, 2017. The library will be collecting new pairs of pajamas for babies, children and teens.  Please bring new pajamas for kids in need to the Berkshire Athenaeum Children’s Department.


Bruins forward P.J. Axelsson and his wife, Siw, started the PJ drive during the Boston Bruins 2007-2008 season as a way to give to give back to their community. The couple collected 1,600 pairs of pajamas for Cradles to Crayons which connects with social service agencies across the state to identify specific children in need.

Amy Riley, a social service partner from MassSTART that benefits from the PJ Drive, spoke about the drive’s impact. “Mario, his mom and two brothers are living in an apartment that is not heated properly. The bedrooms are very cold at night, and as a result the children are often sick. Mario and his brothers were also not sleeping well and would end up sleeping together in order to stay warm. Cradles to Crayons was able to provide the family with pajamas, warm clothing, bedding and blankets. This allowed Mom to save money and focus on finding a new, better heated apartment.”
The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) works with the Boston Bruins to coordinate library participation in the drive.  Libraries from around the state use the Massachusetts Library System’s delivery service, typically used to move books and other library materials, for sending donated PJs to area collection locations, increasing libraries’ ability to participate in the drive. #PJDrive17

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Teen Book Giveaway


The Teen Book Giveaway table is stocked with free titles for the taking! From Monday, February 13, through Tuesday, February 21, young adults are invited to take a free book or magazine, one item per person, while supplies last. Grab some vacation reading: current offerings include Boys R Us by Lisi Harrison; speak by Laurie Halse Anderson; Black Ice by Lorene Cary; Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse; The Akhenaten Adventure by P.B. Kerr.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum.



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