Cinema of Law returns for March: Film, History, Politics, Drama 

The Cinema of Law film series is back with  screenings in the Berkshire Athenaeum auditorium each Tuesday evening in March at 6 pm. Presentations are co-sponsored by the Berkshire Bar, the Berkshire Law Library and the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum. Free and open to the public. No registration required. Join us for one or more!
Tuesday, March 6 The Crucible (1996) 6 pm
The Crucible is an American historical drama about the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials, based on the play of the same title by Arthur Miller. In 1953, Miller saw his play as a comment on the repressive tactics used by the House Un-American Activities Committee, in their effort to root out Communists from American society. Miller wrote the screenplay for the 1996 film.
The film will be introduced by Veronica Van Tol, Assistant District Attorney for Berkshire County.


Tuesday, March 13 The Salem Witchcraft Trial of George Jacobs: Art and Legal History Lecture by Gary Smith, Librarian and Art Historian 6 pm
Focusing on a nineteenth century painting of The Trial of George Jacobs by Tompkins Matteson and related art works, this presentation will examine the value of visual imagery in the study of legal history. George Jacobs was tried as a witch in Salem in 1692. Smith will examine how artistic representations of witches and witchcraft trials changed over time, and what this tells us about changing attitudes about witchcraft and the law.
Gary Smith has a M.A. and A.D.B. in the History of Art, as well as an MLS (Master of Library Science), and is particularly interested in the intersection between art and law.
scarlett letter

Tuesday, March 20 The Scarlet Letter (1926) 6 pm
The Scarlet Letter is a silent film based on the famous novel (1850) by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Set in the strict Puritan society of Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1640s, the film stars Lillian Gish as Hester Prynne, whose affair with her minister leads to the birth of a child. Hester refuses to reveal the name of the father, and Reverend Dimmesdale suffers over what to do. For her adultery as prescribed by law, Hester is publicly shamed and sentenced to wear a scarlet A on her clothing for the rest of her life.
Marilyn Manning, member of the Executive Committee of the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum and Events Chairperson, will be introducing the film. For this assignment, she is drawing upon knowledge from her time as a teacher at Crosby Junior High and Pittsfield High School.
Mike Schiffer, Berkshire County pianist, will perform live improvised music for the silent film. Schiffer performed his first music for a silent film in the late 1940s at Kenyon College.
bob roberts

Tuesday, March 27 Bob Roberts (1992) 6 pm
This film is a satire about a political campaign, seen by many reviewers as shockingly prophetic of the current political situation in the United States. The film follows the political career of the fictitious Robert “Bob” Roberts, a millionaire businessman and musician who runs for the U.S. Senate with an ultra-conservative populist campaign. Written, directed and starring Tim Robins, the film also features Gore Vidal, Giancarlo Esposito, Brian Surray, Susan Sarandon, James Spader, Ray Wise, and John Cusack.
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Family Scavenger Hunt: Saturday, March 17, 10:30a – 3:30p


Join the Family Scavenger Hunt this St. Patrick’s Day! The fun and hunt for prizes starts in the Children’s Library and will continue throughout the Library!

Registration is required due to staggered start times. Please call (413 499-9480 ext 203) or stop by the Children’s Library to register.

Children under age 10 must be accompanied by an adult, age 18 or older, at all times. Attendance at library programs constitutes consent to be photographed; photos may be used in print or electronic publicity for the Berkshire Athenaeum.

Sponsored by the Berkshire Athenaeum.

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Family Movie Night: Wonder



Join us at 6 pm on Wednesday, March 14, for a screening of Wonder. Based on R J Palacio’s  best selling novel of the same name, Wonder tells the story of ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive. Auggie goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.

The New York Times observed, “Wonder” is that rare thing, a family picture that moves and amuses while never overtly pandering.

This event is free and open to the public. Popcorn will be served!

Children under age 10 must be accompanied by an adult, age 18 or older, at all times

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Spring Book Sale: March 8, 9 & 10

2018 Spring booksale

The Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum Spring book sale is scheduled for Thursday, March 8 (4 – 8 pm); Friday, March 9 (10 am – 4 pm); and Saturday, March 10 (10 am – 4 pm). Thursday hours are reserved for Friends members only and those interested in joining can purchase a membership at the door for as little as $10.

Books on a dizzying array of subjects including cooking, biography, sports, science are meticulously organized for easy browsing. Special features of the March sale include All things Irish; short story collections, and photography books. As always, sale inventory includes vinyl, VHS, sound cassettes, books on tap, puzzle, games, baby books, and self-help. Cash, credit/debit and checks are all accepted.

Where else can you find such an array of merchandise, such delight in shopping and walk out with a fine selection of reading for mere dollars?

Lovingly sponsored by Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum, making Pittsfield’s library even better for over 75 years.



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♥ Love Letters for your Library ♥


Massachusetts Libraries play a vital role in ensuring all residents have equal access to information. Libraries are meeting places, community centers, and resources free for all.

Here at the Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s Public Library, we ask you to consider taking a minute to share what you love about your library, what critical service it provides to you or your family. You can do that here  or by completing a paper form at one of our service desks.

Submissions will be accepted through February 28 and then shared with state legislators whose funding decisions impact the ability of libraries to thrive.

Thank you.



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Bruins Annual PJ Drive

The Berkshire Athenaeum has teamed up with the Boston Bruins to participate in their annual pajama drive to benefit DCF Kids and Cradles to Crayons. The PJ Drive’s goal is to collect 15,000 pairs of new pajamas for children and teens in need.  “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 Samantha Ceresio, Supervisor of Children’s and Young Adult Services.

The Boston Bruins PJ Drive runs from February 1 through March 15, 2018. We will be collecting new pairs of pajamas for babies, children and teens. We are also pleased to be hosting a special kick off event on Tuesday, February 20th from 2-3. Blades from the Boston Bruins and Lauren Baker will be visiting us, reading stories and growing excitement about this initiative. Throw on your favorite pair of pajamas, comfiest slippers and bring your snuggliest stuffed friends and join us in the Children’s Library as we kick off school vacation week in with the Bruins!


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 to identify specific children in need.

In 2017, the drive expanded to benefit DCF’s Wonderfund. DCF estimates that at any given time the agency is working with 45,000 babies, children and teens. DCF’s participation helps ensure that PJs stay in the area in which they were collected, benefitting local kids and teens.


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 send books and other library materials, to send their PJs to area collection locations which increases libraries’ ability to participate in the drive.

Questions? Please contact the Children’s Library for more information: (413) 499-9480, ext 203.

Attendance at library programs constitutes consent to be photographed; photos may be used in print or electronic publicity for the Berkshire Athenaeum.

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Income Tax Wednesday’s: Free Tax Preparation at the Library by appointment only!


The Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s Public Library is pleased to announce we have partnered with Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC) to offer free Federal and State tax preparation services on Wednesday’s from 1-3 p.m. To qualify for VITA’s free tax preparation services, your household income must be under $54,000.

Beginning on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 through Wednesday, April 11th, 2018, Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC) will be providing appointments to work with taxpayers to file their taxes. Tax Preparation Services are available by appointment only; to schedule an appointment in advance with Berkshire Community Action Council at: (413) 418-3685.

To guarantee that you are adequately prepared for your session with Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC), please consult BCAC’s Tax Prep Checklist to ensure that you have all of the materials needed for your appointment.

If Wednesday afternoon’s are not convenient for you, Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC) will be available at a number of locations throughout Pittsfield and Great Barrington.

For additional program location, hours and contact, please consult the list below.


To schedule an appointment; learn about any documents that you will need for your tax preparation; or, to learn more information about this service, please contact Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC) directly at: (413) 418-3685.

If you prefer to file your own taxes, please keep in mind:

  • All Federal forms, publications and instruction booklets are available on line at  to view and/or download;
  • Tax products can be ordered for delivery by mail at or by calling 1-800-829-3676;
  • Massachusetts State forms and instruction booklets are available on line at:;
  • The Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s Public Library does participate in the IRS Tax Form Distribution Program. However, supplies are limited and we typically receive only basic forms such as: 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, no instruction booklets. The Berkshire Athenaeum does not guarantee availability of any forms, and all materials are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

As always, Athenaeum internet computers are available to patrons for use in viewing or printing tax forms or publications; the library’s standard copy charge of 10 cents per page applies.

For assistance with accessing IRS websites or using library computers generally, please contact the Reference Department at: or (413) 499-9480 x202 during library hours.

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