Posted tagged ‘Pittsfield’

Going Public

August 31, 2009

I Twittered this earlier, but it certainly bares repeating.  The Berkshire Eagle has finally decided to cover our budget cuts, and our hours reduction in particular.  Although as a commenter points out, the article never mentions what that reduction is (a gold star to the commenter who guessed we’ll be closing at 5, albeit only on Mondays).

So there it is, read the comments, and puzzle over why exactly someone thinks we should start selling lottery tickets.

On Decertification

August 27, 2009

The word is finally out.  In a report in the Boston Globe, nine Massachusetts libraries have been decertified by the Mass. Board of Library Commissioners due to the recession (four were named in an earlier article).  In Mass. decertification means that those libraries are inelligble for state aid and for membership in the regional resource sharing consortia.  It is also highly suggested that other libraries refuse to issue library cards to residents of decertified communities.

Before continuing, I think a moment of silence for the fallen is in order:

Besides these communities there are also two long standing one, Hancock was decertified back in 1975, and Tyringham’s decertification goes all the way back to 1961.  Then there are also the handful of towns that have simply never had a library.  These last two categories are the ones that give us pause at my own library.

I’m a supporter of the decertification blacklist, it gives an incredible incentive for municipalities to want to fund their libraries, some of which (I’m looking at you Fitchburg) really need the kick in the teeth.  However, my library is uniquely situated right by both Tyringham and Hancock, as well as 2 more towns that simply don’t have libraries.  We’re also often thought of us a county library, although we’re not (this is why our website is and all our stationary strongly proclaims us to be Pittsfield’s public library).  But as the largest library in the region we sort of are by default, and we still receive many patrons from these neighboring towns who have always considered us to be their library.

Turning away a patron from a town that has never had a library is very different to doing so to one from a city that thought it could cut 68% of the budget without repercussions.   And unfortunately the way the system is built refusing service to decertified communities really has to be an all or nothing prospect.  But by and large libraries across the state have shown a lot of solidarity on this issue, and the blacklist has remained.  This is probably as it should be, but it does leave a few towns unfortunately screwed, and they will stay screwed even when the economy turns around and budgets start increasing again (so I’m an optimist).

Twitter Talk

July 16, 2009

Once again I have cleverly scheduled one of my computer workshops opposite Third Thursdays here in Pittsfield.  But that’s OK because people have signed up anyway, we’re actually on track for this to be my largest workshop to date.  Very exciting.

But there are still a few seats left.  So people of Pittsfield, the forecast tomorrow is calling for rain, you don’t want to be outside for that.  Instead, come to the Berkshire Athenaeum at 6 p.m. and learn all about Twitter, the hottest site on the internets.

And for any Twitterers out there, I’ll be giving a live demo.  So follow me between 6 and 7 and contribute to the conversation.


May 20, 2009

Tonight at 7 at the Berkshire Athenaeum, I’ll be talking about the current state of video games, and what they have to offer libraries.  Tonight is also the first of Pittsfield’s 3rd Thursdays for the year.

So for everyone in the Berkshires, forget about spending the evening enjoying the gorgeous weather, the live performances, and supporting the local economy downtown.  Who needs that when you can listen to a fine talk on why video games matter, and then try out the library’s Wii for yourself.  All sponsored by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum.

Happy 35th Anniversary

March 27, 2009

The current building for the Berkshire Athenaeum turns 35 this year, and to celebrate the Friends have commissioned a portrait of the building.  The artist Marguerite Bride, will work on the painting within the library, and has begun a blog to document its progress.


March 24, 2009

Yesterday was yet another one of our Rock Band nights, but something felt different this time.I think we’ve finally crossed the tipping point.  Turnout was great!  And we were on an off day thanks to being kicked out of the auditorium to make room for our book sale.  A few regulars were absent, but we retained all the new faces from the last one, and picked up more through word of mouth (our advertising really isn’t doing anything).  I particularly liked that we had one group come simply because they were following some of the others to see what was going on, and they stayed for all three hours!  

I think more fun was had by all this time too.  There was tons of socializing, a surprising amount of headbanging (unfortunately literally in one instance), and just a great vibe in the air.  Everyone asked about next time, three people volunteered to bring extra equipment (including an x-box), and one even offered to make a donation.  By the time it was over I felt completely and totally elated (and subsequently had trouble falling asleep, but still managed to wake up at 6 am like usual).

Legislative Breakfast

March 6, 2009

Today my library hosted one of a number of statewide legislative breakfasts, this one was very well attended both by concerned members of the library community and by members of the state’s Berkshires delegation.  It was informative, it was a wonderful experience, it was depressing as hell.  The state of the state is clearly awful.  

Two of my favorite people in the library community had to speak of our current hardships.  Janet Schraeder from C/WMars told the story of the Fitchburg library, one of my favorite cautionary tales.  A library that suffered an over 60% budget cut, and which was briefly reduced to serving as a pet shelter.  And Jan Resnick from my consortia, WMRLS, used the opportunity to announce their first (and hopefully [but unlikely] only) round of layoffs.

Afterwards the legislators themselves spoke, quite frankly of the state’s current economic climate.  These are not good times.  We’re looking at record deficits, some cuts have to be made and there is not any fat left to trim.  Libraries are likely going to be in a lot of pain in the next year, but everyone else will be too.

Dueling Guitars

February 26, 2009

Another month, another Rock Band night.  But this time we brought back the guitar tournament from our first event, and everyone has improved a lot since then (I was only able to go 4-4).  

We had a few new faces this time too from the second high school in town, all of who fit right in and swore they’d bring more friends next month.  I’m really hoping to start up some sort of rivalry between the two schools over this.

Dueling Guitars

A Glutton for Punishment

November 20, 2008

Recently at my library I helped to put together a brand new computer lab.  Now we’re just about to put it into use.

Computer Lab

Computer Lab

 So after building the damn thing, how could I resist the urge to use it.  Thus I’m now working on creating a series of 1-hour workshops for our patrons (and no I haven’t finished preparing my first workshop yet that I started a month ago).  After some brainstorming with our reference staff I’ll be doing a few advanced classes on the catalog (after a colleague covers the basics), an introduction to LibraryThing, a bit on the current state of video games that’ll partially serve as a plug for our Wii nights, and eventually one on web 2.0 applications.

More to come.

Rock Band: the Aftermath

September 24, 2008

Our first video game night was a huge success.  We drew a crowd of 86, which was incredible compared to the rest of our teen programing events.  But man am I exhausted .  We went all out for this event.  Four of us kept things running, with some extra help from the youth commission.  Our director and a rep from the friends were also in the audience to keep an eye on things (and in the case of the friends to see how their investment panned out, they were happy).

We drew a great crowd too.  I’ll admit to having been a bit worried, partly because we had no idea how many people to expect, and partly because of worries over the vastly different skill levels of those who came.  The later actually did pose some problems as the less skilled players tended to fail out of their turns quickly.  But the kids we got were great, with many of the better players chipping in to help the others.  I began the night by playing a tech support role, which was quickly rendered unnecessary.

Which was great for the second half of the night when (after a little coaxing from our childrens librarian) I challenged anyone who was willing to a guitar dual.  I was really surprised by how much the audience actually got into this.  The biggest cheers of the night came from this portion actually.  For quite a few the people there this seemed to be the highlight.  But despite the fact that I’ve already been issued challenges for the next time, we may change how we run it again.  Too few people get to play, and after playing 12 of the hardest songs on expert in a row I can barely feel my arm.  The current thinking is that we’ll just do it as a winner stays on sort of thing.  But then maybe I’ll be recovered in time for next month.


We’ve got a few other glitches to work out as well.  We could probably use to do a better job of organizing the order of play.  We also really need to improve the sound.  We tried to tap into the speakers in our auditorium and we failed compleatly.  We wound up having to use the ones embedded in our projector, which worked okay for the people playing, but was nearly impossible for the audience to hear.  Although it may have worked out okay for the radio broadcast in the back of the room (getting interviewed live with a time limit was a bit weird).

But we’ve got a month to improve on that and we’ve got an incredible base to build on right now.  Despite my current exhaustion, I can’t wait for next month to come.