Photo of Dylan Gaffney
Dylan Gaffney, Senior Library Assistant at the Forbes Library, has been awarded the 2018 Paralibrarian of the Year award by the Massachusetts Library Association. This competitive annual award is given to one library support staffer who has gone above and beyond. Dylan impressed the nominating committee with his work at both the local and statewide levels, and received a complimentary 1 year membership to the American Library Association.

Dylan was born and raised in Northampton. He brings the passion he has for his hometown to his work every day. He does this by using his community connections, and his extensive local history knowledge to strengthen the library’s role in the community. He was appointed by the mayor to the Northampton Historical Commission, and has collaborated with Northampton Community Television, the Northampton Arts Council, the David Ruggles Center and Historic Northampton to bridge the needs and resources of the community with the needs and resources of the library. One example of this is the “Throwback Thursday” Facebook series of historic photos that he selects from the collections and posts with, well-researched and well-written annotations. [Example: — reach of almost 4000] These have engaged thousands of viewers and are our most popular online content.

He always volunteers to serve on committees, attend community outreach events, mentor new staff members, or help the library reach its mission in any way he can. One important role he has taken on is the library’s video collection development which is especially significant in Northampton, because many of our patrons come to the library for our outstanding film collection. He gained the necessary skills for this by listening to patrons, learning from other staff members, and paying close attention to what is circulating and what is happening in the community. He took his passion and knowledge one step further and created outstanding film programming in collaboration with others on staff and in the community, and helps to organize the free outdoor Cinema Northampton screenings and curate the Northampton Film Festival each year. Our film programming brings in large audiences with high expectations, and these expectations are frequently exceeded.

Dylan applied for and received a very competitive grant from the Internet Archive for a project called Community Webs. The grant provides the software and training for Forbes Library, one of only 27 public libraries selected nationwide, to begin archiving local internet content for permanent preservation via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Dylan wrote the grant and is taking the lead writing a collection development policy, making community connections, and creating the archive.

Dylan saw that our archives are very rich in documenting our community’s past but were losing ground developing a collection that reflects contemporary Northampton. He became interested in the ephemeral nature of online content, and when a grant opportunity arose, he sought permission and jumped on it. We are so proud of Dylan, and all of the Forbes Library staff, who work so hard to meet the needs of the community of Northampton.