Q&A: What Do You Love About Western MA Libraries?


This past week was National Library Week, and if there’s anything that can be said about Hilltown Families readers it’s that they LOVE their local libraries! We invited readers to tell us about their favorite Western MA library.  Take a peek at what they had to say, and share your own love for your favorite library too!

  • Phoebe Shaw writes, “Needless to say it’s Meekins Library in Williamsburg, hands down!”
  • Shannon Kopacz writes, “Porter in Blandford.”
  • Emily Bloch writes, “In Shutesbury we’re collecting responses to the question: Where would you be without your library? Chime in!
  • Tina M Schall writes, “Forbes Library in Northampton!”
  • Heather Dunham Katsoulis writes, “I like ’em all now that they’re all so connected.”
  • Robin Morgan Huntley writes, “I generally stick to my college library, but the kiddos I babysit love Forbes Library (Northampton)! The children’s department staff are super friendly and helpful – they know the kids by name and always have new book and movie suggestions for them.”
  • Anne Dempsey writes, “West Springfield Public Library is the best! Wonderful collection of children’s books, great service, an active Friends group. Working on a wonderful expansion – the result of a generous construction grant from the state Board of Library Commissioners. Come check us out!”
  • Abbe Laine Schiowitz writes, “The Wendell Free Library of course! I hear the teen program is out of this world…wink wink.”
  • Meagheanne Donahue writes, “The Adams Free Library! It’s our favourite place to go! Just got back from an art opening there tonight!”
  • Barbara Dunn writes, “It doesn’t get better than the Meekins Library in Williamsburg… Literary- media bliss, amazing staff & volunteers and a welcoming gathering place for the community.”
  • Melissa Wells Flynn writes, “For the children’s room, our favorite is the Palmer Public Library. It’s absolutely beautiful with space, luxurious space! The “Imagination Station” play room, a beautiful children’s book and materials collection, a lovely fish tank, other amenities for little kids through teens, and the ultimate: a working model train suspended near the ceiling.”
  • Zoe Wright Johnson writes, “We LOVE Meekins Library in Williamsburg!”

Western MA Library Issues Town a 100,000-Page Challenge!

Hatfield Public Library Host Town-Wide Reading Challenge

Families can participate in this town wide challenge by reading to their children and recording the pages share together!

Cheri Hardy, Children’s Librarian at the Hatfield Public Library writes:

Starting January 3rd, 2012, the town of Hatfield is being issued a challenge by the Hatfield Public Library: 100,000 pages to be read in 5 months. Citizens of the town, as well as school-choice families, start reading January 3rd and finish May 31st. Participants read as much or as little as they are able, logging the page counts as they go on a custom bookmark. Those “reading” by audio book are given minute-to-page conversions on their bookmark logs.

Every time a participant enters the library, he or she may approach a staff member with bookmark in hand. He or she receives one dot sticker per 100 pages read to add to the page-gauge. If the page-gauge is filled on or before May 31st, the Omulu Guanabara Capoeira group of Northampton has pledged a subsidized performance at the Summer Reading Program Kick-Off Party on June 30.

Children who read over 1000 pages and adults who read over 5000 pages will also have their picture taken and displayed in the library and on the library website (no child’s photograph may be used without parent permission).

Some library events throughout the Winter and Spring of 2012 will provide opportunities to earn extra pages, such as the Thursday Preschool Story Time and the Story Maze in April. For more details about the 100,000-Page Challenge or other programs at the Hatfield Public Library, visit the library website: hatfieldpubliclibrary.org or the children’s website: hatfieldkids.wordpress.com.

[Photo credit: (ccl) marysia]

Holiday Sharing and Caring at the Meekins Library

Join the Holiday Sharing and Caring at the Meekins Library now through December. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Daria D’Arienzo of the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA writes:

The Meekins Library in Williamsburg is the place to find a gift for someone special, donate a coat or sweater to keep someone warm, add some hearty food items to the Hilltown Food Pantry and Northampton Survival Center, and bring a treat for our furry friends at the Dakin Animal Shelter. Stop in for these gifting and giving opportunities.

The seasonal Meekins Market is back! Do your holiday shopping here. Look for the bright red and green signs as you enter the library. Children and adults will find lots of small, and not so small, inexpensive gifts to give friends and loved ones. Kids, don’t know what to give your parents or grandparents? Grandparents, want something for the grandkids? Looking for an idea for your best friend, but your budget is limited? Find it at Meekins Market. Most items are between $.05 cents and $5 dollars. Find stuffed animals, decorative objects, household items, jewelry, office supplies, holiday items and of course books! Perfect presents for family and friends—all lovingly donated to the Meekins Market. Think of it as the newest trend in recycling. Fun stuff and a good deal!

The Library is collecting warm clothes and food good for the Hilltown Pantry and the Northampton Survival Center. We are also collecting blankets, toys and food for our animal neighbors, who are looking for new homes, now living at the Dakin Animal Shelter. Help Meekins staff, volunteers and friends to the Meekins fill the big table in the Helen Bacon Rotunda to the brim. Drop off your donations soon. Let’s keep everybody warm and fed!

“Move it For Meekins” long sleeve and short sleeve T-shirts are always a big hit. They come in kids and adult sizes and in a range of colors, including blues and gray. They feature Sadie, the late Library cat—who won the hearts of all Meekins visitors. The Friends of the Williamsburg Libraries have them available sale.

Don’t forget to get and give the gift that keeps giving—a library card. It’s free and lasts a lifetime and is good for books, magazines, DVD’s, CD’s, provides access to the virtual world, serves as a passport to all library programs and so much more.

Explore the Meekins Library in Williamsburg this holiday season. Shirley Cranston’s Winter Wonderland Scene will be on display in the Hawks~Hayden Community Room during December. Read holiday classics on December 5, 2010. Check the website at www.meekins-library.org for our seasonal programs and stop by any time the library is open: Tuesdays from 12Noon-5pm; Wednesdays from10am-8pm; Thursdays from 3pm-8pm and Saturdays from 9am-3pm.

Bread and Books Benefit Hilltown Libraries

Bread and Books at Bread Euphoria: A Fundraising Benefit for the Williamsburg Libraries

Bread & Books, a benefit for the Meekins and Haydenville Libraries. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Join local writers and readers for good food and good conversation on Monday, November 8th, 2011, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Bread Euphoria, in Haydenville, MA to support the Meekins and Haydenville libraries. Enjoy hot soup and home-cooked casseroles and of course bread and treats provided by Bread Euphoria and friends, on a cold autumn evening for Bread and Books, a fundraising event.

Find out what Patricia Maclachlan, Ann Turner, Ellen Wittlinger, Rochelle Wildfong, Erica Verillo, Jack Barry and Jim Cahillane love to read. Talk with them about their books, your books and more books! Come to Bread and Books!

Do you have a beloved book that you read again and again? Is there a special book that you read to your child or grandchild each night? Have you ever wondered if your favorite author has a favorite book?

Enjoy hot soup and home-cooked casseroles and of course bread and treats provided by Bread Euphoria and friends. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Bring your favorite book and be among the first people to have your picture taken with your all-time favorite book and inaugurate the dynamic “Williamsburg Reads” portraits that will be on display in the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA.

This fundraising evening with our community authors will benefit the Meekins and Haydenville Libraries. Seating is limited.  Neighbors are ready to help with rides so everyone who wants to can come. For information call: 268-7472 or email ddarienzo@me.com.

Cartoon-a-Palooza: Fundraiser of the Forbes Library Children’s Department

Click Here Listen to PSA

Cartoon-a-Palooza: May 23rd in Northampton

Mark your calendars for Mo Willems’ Cartoon-a-Palooza on May 23rd, 2010 at 2 p.m. at the Academy of Music in Northampton, MA.  An afternoon of award winning animation to benefit the Forbes Library children’s department.

The Forbes Library Children’s Department was last spruced up 18 years ago and the space is showing wear. The paint is peeling, the carpets are fraying, even the bookshelves are collapsing. The homework center is sorely lacking adequate study space and the technology available to help the library’s young adult patrons stay academically competitive is sorely lacking and out of date.

As part of the fundraising effort, the library will be having an afternoon of award winning animation by Mo Willems on Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 at 2pm at the Academy of Music called “Cartoon-a-Palooza”. This family show will present a screening of a collection of his animated cartoons ranging from early Sesame Street and Nickelodeon shorts to the Carnegie Award winning animated adaptations of his beloved picture books, including the world premier of The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog!

All proceeds from this one-time only, special event will go directly to improvements and renovations to the Forbes Library’s Children’s Department. Mo will be on hand to answer questions and sign limited edition Forbes Library posters featuring the New York Bestselling duo Elephant and Piggie.

Tickets are available at the Forbes Library, 20 West Street, Northampton or online http://www.forbeslibrary.org or at the Academy of Music. For more information contact Jude McGowan, Children’s Librarian, 413-587-1010 or jmcgowan@forbeslibrary.org.

Summer Reading Programs

Encourage Young People to Have Fun and Learn at Museums and Libraries This Summer!
By Don Wood, ALA Chapter Relations Office

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

For over 100 years, one of the most popular means to keep young people engaged in reading—and enjoy it!—is the summer reading program.

Not only are they fun, but summer reading programs (SRPs) are particularly important to a young person’s continuing education, according to the Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA):

  • Reading gets better when you practice it;
  • Without SRPs, kids lose reading gains over summer. (Especially true for disadvantaged kids.);
  • SRP kids more likely to read well than non-SRP kids;
  • SRP kids read better than those who go to camp; and
  • SRP kids who visited libraries and did free reading gained more than those in a traditional language arts summer program.

In fact, students who don’t read or engage in other educational opportunities can lose as much as 2.5 months of learning over the summer, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the primary source of federal support for our nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Read the rest of this entry »

Take Action: Exempt Books from the CPSIA!

Exempt Books from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act!

Take Action Now

ALA American Library Association

The ALA American Library Association writes: As you may know, Congress passed legislation titled “The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008” last August.  This legislation seeks to decrease the levels of lead and phthalates in products intended for children 12 years of age or younger and will be enforced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).   This legislation was misinterpreted by the CPSC to include books.

Thankfully, U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) recently introduced legislation to amend the CPSIA to exempt ordinary books from the lead limits within the bill.  This legislation specifically exempts books and would ensure that children continue to have access to safe, educational and entertaining reading materials.  Mr. Fortenberry cannot do this alone, and he needs our help to ensure that his colleagues understand books are indeed a safe product, but our children’s access to them is threatened because of the CPSC’s current interpretation.

Take Action NowAction Needed:

In order to gain the attention this legislation deserves, please call or write your Representatives and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 1692.

Time is of the essence; we have less than 11 months before the new implementation date arrives, and it is critical that we convince as many Members as possible to sign onto this legislation.  Without our advocacy, this legislation will not move forward!


Currently, books are considered an unregulated product.  This means they are generally considered safe and are not subject to the same rules and regulations as toys and other objects on the U.S. market.  Under the new interpretation of the CPSIA, books would be subject to the same testing standards as children’s toys and clothing.

Very few recalls have actually involved books; in fact, the recalls surrounding books have not happened because of the books themselves but rather the toys that were attached to the books that were considered potential choking hazards.  In spite of this information, the standard hardcover and paperback books would be subject to the same testing standards as children’s toys under the new legislation.

As a result, publishers have tested the components of books and found that the levels of lead in children’s books were far below the future legal requirements at the full implementation of the regulations three years from now.  However, the advisory opinion from the CPSC says that not only must the testing be done by one of their certified labs but that this legislation also is retroactive, and every book currently in use must be tested.  This situation will become even more complicated because the CPSC has not certified any labs to administer the lead testing.

At this point, the CPSC has issued a one-year stay in implementation – meaning, the legislation will not be implemented until February 10, 2010.  However, the CPSC has indicated that they will not permanently exclude books without some sort of clear Congressional action.  Read the rest of this entry »

I (Heart) My Local Public Libraries!

How will the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Assist Libraries?

Forbes Library in Northampton, MA

Forbes Library in Northampton, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

I (heart) my local public libraries!   Don’t know what my family would do without them. How amazing is it to have access to more than 8 million items through the Western Massachusetts C/W MARS Libraries Catalog, a network of public, academic, school, regional, and special libraries in Central and Western Massachusetts.  Through a quick search we always find titles or movies on subjects we are interested in. And I love having free museum passes to area museums available to check out from our library too!

Teachers and home-schooling/after-schooling families can find great resources too, including curriculum kits available to check out, like the Discovery Kits at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA.  Families can also find social opportunities, like family game night on Friday night at the Chesterfield Library, Music Together Classes at the Milo M. Belding Memorial Library in Ashfield, MA, evening hours in the winter time, and free family concerts at the Jones Library in Amherst.  A couple of years ago we saw The Nields for the first time during the Jones Library February Family Concert Series … for free!

Ice Storm 2008-14

Chesterfield Library in Chesterfield, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

And if we find ourselves with overdue fines (which we often do!), we wait for the Forbes Library’s annual “Food for Fines” program where we can donate food to local food pantry to waive our fines.  It gives my daughter a way to give back to her community, along with other community service programs, including the Annual Giving Tree that happens every holiday season, also at the Forbes Library. It was the high speed internet we have access at our libraries that enabled the volunteer development of the Hilltown Families web site.

With all these wonderful resources and enrichment programs, we should all be thrilled to hear that the $787-billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed by President Obama included several economic-stimulus provisions that could directly benefit many programs that will benefit libraries, including $130 million for the Rural Community Facilities Program and $7.2 billion for BroadbandClick here to read more about how libraries will be assisted at the ALA web site.

HFVS Library Cat Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

Listen to Podcast:


(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA
Saturday mornings from 9-10am
June 7th, 2008

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  • Bill Harley – “At Your Library” [I Wanna Play]
  • Billy Jonas – “What Kind of Cat Are You?” [Nappa Presents: Classic Animal Songs]
  • Andre 3000 – “Cool Kitty” [Class of 3000: Music Volume One]
  • Wendy Gelsanliter – “Itty Bitty Kitty in NYC” [Ants Wear Underpants]
  • Diana Decker – “Kitty in the Basket” [The Complete Diana Decker]
  • Twink – “Pussy Cat” [The Broken Record]
  • Dog on Fleas – “Plenty of Cats” [Fairly Good Songs for Fairly Good Kids]
  • Stray Cats – “Stray Cat Strut” [Stray Cats: Greatest Hits]
  • Ernie & Neal – “My Cat” [Rock the House]
  • Mr. Ray – “I’m Gonna Read a Book Someday” [Family Ride]
  • Storytelling ID: Steve Weeks www.steveweeksmusic.com
  • Jay Mankita – “The Day the Library Went Wild” [The Day the Library Went Wild]
  • Steve Songs – “Library” [Little Superman]
  • The Jellydots – “Ralph the Cat” [“Hey You Kids!”]
  • Recess Monkey – “Kitty Sister” [Tabby Road]
  • Various – “Sadie Green” [Sweet Georgia Brown]
  • Ralph Covert – “Malcom McGillikitty” [At the Bottom of the Sea]
  • Gunnar Madsen – “Library Party” [I’m Growning]
  • Dan Zanes – “So Long It’s Been Good to Know Yuh” [Night Train!]


This week’s episode is dedicated in memory of Sadie the library cat at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA. Click here to read more about Sadie.

My daughter and I attended Sadie’s memorial service a couple of weeks ago. The library staff, along with a few patrons who also felt a loss with Sadie’s passing (after twelve years at the library), gathered to share kind words, good-bye tokens and singing. Before we left home, my daughter took a red pipe cleaner and formed it into the shape of a heart and then taped two blue craft feathers to either side to bring as a gift, “… because I know cats like birds,” she explained. My family is really grateful to the staff for allowing us to attend the service and to say our good-byes.

Sebago & my daughter in Maine.

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)


My daughter LOVES animals (and insects) and is the first to let you know about her greatest disappointment in life… not having a pet. She does have a goldfish named Rosevine (pictured above), who’s more than a year old, but nothing warm and fuzzy for her to hug and hold and dress in scarves and stuff in boxes … Having animal friends like Sadie gave her the opportunity to spend time with other people’s pets. Two other animal friends she is very attached to are Sebago (pictured here) and Delilah (pictured up top) – animal friends she either gets to visit or babysit, and who she is always excited to see, and sad about when she has to go back to her cold, lonely, petless-home. But all that has recently changed …


Violet the Kitten (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)


Introducing Violet, our newest family member! I think my daughter’s sadness over Sadie’s passing, along with her constant complaints of being the only kid in her class who does not have a pet, prompted her daddy to do something totally out of character. Without consultation or inquiry he adopted this beautiful nine week old black kitten from the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society in Levertt, MA. It was a BIG surprise! I screamed when I unexpectedly saw her dash out from under the couch and cross the living room floor. I don’t know what I thought it was. And my daughter’s reaction was priceless – the excitement and joy she shared was well worth the next twelve years of vet bills, cat fur and litter box shifting. I’m sure we’ll be sharing all sorts of stories about Violet in the months to come.

National Library Week – April 15-21, 2007

Celebrate Library Week!

Chesterfield Library (c) Hilltown Families

Library in Chesterfield, MA - (c) Sienna Wildfield

April is a special month for libraries. It’s School Library Media Month, and April 15-21, 2007, is National Library Week.

In celebration of Library Week, Education World editors have gathered from their archives more than 30 articles that offer dozens of great lessons, book-related projects and activities, and other resources for bringing literature to life in the classroom (or homeschool)! Browse through the entire list of resources, or click on the heading below to skip directly to the section you are most interested in.

Read the rest of this entry »

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