Library News

Forbes Library seeks applications for next Writer In Residence

About the Writer in Residence Program

The WIR is a professional writer who furthers the library’s fundamental mission by volunteering approximately five hours each week creating, offering and promoting library programming. The intention of the WIR program is to further the engagement between the library and the community’s writers and readers.

We are accepting applications for the position of Writer in Residence for the time period of July 2018 – June 2020.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Published author residing in the greater Northampton area
  • Experience with facilitating or teaching preferably in a public setting

Position Expectations:

  • Development and execution of a literary based program series consisting of 6-8 events created in collaboration with the library’s programming staff
  • Regularly scheduled “hands on” programming for the public. Examples include writing workshops and discussion groups
  • Promotional engagement of Forbes Library and its programs and services through social media networks as well as traditional media

Forbes Library Will Provide:

  • $2000 annual stipend upon completion of a successful year
  • Forbes Library parking permit
  • Free photocopies for use at programs or to promote programs
  • Limited administrative support
  • Public profile page on the library’s website
  • Forbes Library email account



Please submit a letter of interest with your programming ideas and your resume to Molly Moss, Assistant Director, by email:
Deadline to apply is March 16, 2018.

HVAC Upgrades for Local History/Special Collections areas

Forbes Library’s Special Collections areas including local history, photography and the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum are having a new HVAC system installed. This will provide more efficient and accurate climate control for the library’s unique and historic collections. The project is anticipated to be complete by mid-April. The Hampshire Room for Local History will be closed starting January 29 and it is expected to reopen on April 26. Access to local history materials and photograph collections is limited during construction. Staff are available by appointment. Please call 413-587-1014 or 413-587-1013 for more information and access during construction. The Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum will remain open during most of the project.

The City of Northampton is funding this project through its Capital Improvement Program. Jones Whitsett Architects from Greenfield is overseeing the project and Kleeberg Mechanical Services is managing the project.

Library Legislative Breakfast on Friday, February 2

Forbes Library is hosting a Library Legislative Breakfast on Friday, February 2, 2018 at 7:30 AM. This free event is open to the public and is a great opportunity to show support for adequately funding libraries and an opportunity to speak with elected officials. A buffet breakfast begins at 7:30 AM in the beautiful Forbes Library supported by the Western MA Library Advocates and the Friends of Forbes Library.

State funded programs are critical to the provision of library services. Citizens of Massachusetts rely on the links between libraries provided through state funding for interlibrary loan delivery, research databases, e-book collections, grant funds, professional development opportunities, and automated networks that provides modern access to and between libraries. State support for public libraries continues to be down. This has placed immense burdens on local library budgets at a time when demand for services is at an all-time high.

To register or for more information about the breakfast, contact

2018 Music Residency Series begins January 31 with Rub Wrongways Records

Jason Mazzotta

Jason Mazzotta

Henning Ohlenbusch

Henning Ohlenbusch

2018 Musicians in Residence at Forbes Library

The members of Rub Wrongways Records, an independent record label from Northampton, are embarking on a musical odyssey in 2018 as the Forbes Library Musicians in Residence. The label’s Jason Mazzotta and Henning Ohlenbusch, two well-known staples of the area’s music scene, will curate a series of performances and workshops.

Six events over the course of the year will each feature live music and an informative piece related to the life of an active musician. Learn how to write a song, make a music video, become a rock ‘n’ roll podcaster, and more!

The opening event will take place on Wednesday January 31 at 7:00 PM on the second floor of Forbes Library in the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Museum.

This concert will consist of brief mostly acoustic performances by The Fawns, Beach Honey, Gentle Hen, Andy Goulet, and Sitting Next To Brian. It is free and open to all ages.

Musicians in Residence Program

Food For Fines is January 2-20

donation box
It’s Food for Fines time! From January 2-20 you can clear overdue fines and support the needs of people in our community at the same time! Donated canned goods and healthy non-perishable food items will be distributed by the Northampton Survival Center.

Suggested donation is one item for each $2 waived in fines.

Forbes Library re-grows Outreach Delivery Service

Forbes Library in Northampton has delivered library materials to homebound residents for decades. Due to budget constraints the service was at risk of being cut. Thanks to generous gifts by the Friends of Forbes Library, Lilly Library, several individual community members, and many volunteers the program is growing again. The Outreach Delivery Service uses volunteers to bring books, movies, CDs and magazines to those who are physically unable to access the library to patrons in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and private residences.

Lilly Library in Florence recently became a contributing partner organization for Outreach Delivery Service, allowing volunteers to borrow materials on behalf of their homebound patrons from Lilly’s collection and helping to identify prospective volunteers and patrons.

The Outreach Delivery Service currently serves 76 patrons in Northampton, Florence and Leeds and is coordinated by Maria Sperduti, who assigns 3 patrons per volunteer, based on the information gathered through the intake process. The volunteers, once trained and cleared via CORI/SORI background checks, give an average of 2 hours a week and visit each patron at their home or facility for an initial conversation about the patron’s interests and then agree upon the delivery schedule. Volunteers then come to the Forbes or Lilly, pick out items for each patron and check them out for three weeks using the patron’s library card.

There are currently 28 volunteers who offer services to those enrolled in the program. Sperduti and other members of the library staff provide informational sessions to the volunteers focusing on the additional resources that are available to help them choose the most enjoyable and relevant materials for the patrons they serve. Volunteers and patrons may apply on the website:

Lisa Downing, Director of Forbes Library, said, “The Outreach Delivery Service brings the joy of reading to many people in our community that would otherwise not have access but it is so much more. The personalized visits by our volunteers not only bring books, but companionship.”

Forbes Library, the public library for Northampton, Massachusetts, provides a wide range of information, materials and services to all of the people of Northampton and Massachusetts. Forbes Library is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and is governed by an elected Board of Trustees. It is funded by a combination of City appropriation, endowments, and other gifts and grants. Forbes Library is a member of the Massachusetts Library System and the CW MARS network of libraries in Central and Western Massachusetts.

Five year plan for Forbes Library aims to provide greater access to all library services for all members of the Northampton community

Strategic Plan

Forbes Library completed an eight-month planning process that culminated in the creation of a strategic plan for fiscal years 2019 through 2023 (July 2018-June 2023). The library submitted the plan to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, which is a requirement for eligibility for certain grants. Katy Wight, Trustee of Forbes Library, chaired the planning committee. “It is an exciting and ambitious plan that provides a framework for the library to meet the needs of our community and deliver higher levels of service,” said Wight.

The plan was developed based on input from the community that was gathered through a survey, focus groups, conversations with community leaders, and a working committee comprised of community members. The result is a plan with five goal areas that largely focuses on themes of access, community, preservation, education, and innovation. “What we heard time and time again is that the community values the library but wants more access to it. We will strive to improve access by increasing hours, providing more digital content and reaching out to new and underserved audiences. We also plan to address the community’s growing income gap by emphasizing free access to technology, educational resources and recreational reading and viewing,” said Lisa Downing, Library Director.

The plan is available to view on the library’s website,, and a printed summary is available at the library. A public presentation about the new plan will be given on Monday, November 13 at 5:30 PM at the library. Call 413-587-1011 or email for more information.

Archival photos of Vietnam in 1967 on display

At a river crossing where the Viet Cong have blown up the bridge, the people take to sampans or wade across.

A collection of 34 photographs taken in 1967 in South Vietnam is on display in the Forbes Library lobby through the end of October.

These photographs were taken in Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam, in 1967, by a photographer with the United States Information Agency. Quang Ngai is the 5th province south of the De-militarized Zone that once divided South and North Vietnam. In 1967 David Entin was an Assistant Provincial Representative with the United States Agency for International Development and took the photographer around the province for a day or two in order to photograph these scenes. David lives at Rocky Hill Cohousing in Northampton and served as the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Holyoke Community College before his retirement. These photographs were donated by David to the University of Massachusetts and are now part of the David Entin Papers at the Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst. These photographs are part of a larger collection and are on loan for this exhibit.

Home Movie Day at Forbes Library

October 21st, 2017 12-3 PM

Do you have old 8mm, Super 8mm or 16mm home movies you haven’t seen in years? Bring them in to the Forbes Library Arts & Music Department by October 13th and we will have them inspected by a film conservator and show them at the big event 10/21!! Come watch home movies together and learn how to best preserve your film treasures!

For more info contact Dylan at or call us at 413-587-1013.

For more info on the national Home Movie Day event, now in its 15th year, visit

We’d love to see your treasures!

Gazette Op/Ed: Celebrating the oak trees in front of Forbes Library

by Lilly Lombard

The iconic row of shade trees lining the front of Forbes Library is grand and stately like the building itself.

In 1897, four years after the library’s completion, one of Forbes’ founding trustees, Arthur Watson, planted 13 pin oak trees precisely along the property line, fulfilling the Greek proverb, “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.”

Indeed, over the 20th century, the trees reached skyward, spread their shady limbs, and gradually became the defining feature of the library’s inviting grounds. As they grew, their trunks swelled onto the public right of way, legally converting the oaks to “public shade trees” protected under Massachusetts General Law 87.

It is hard to overstate the emotional impact these trees have had on library patrons, pedestrians and neighbors over the decades. As a longtime citizen tree advocate and now chair of Northampton’s Public Shade Tree Commission, I hear regularly how beloved these trees are, how much they enhance our sense of place, and how saddened people are about their recent, obvious decline.

The library staff and trustees also feel the loss. Forbes Library Director Lisa Downing said, “We see the property as an extension of the library itself and are very sad to lose these gorgeous shade trees that have been a part of the library’s history practically since the beginning.”

My first encounter with these majestic oaks is as memorable as it was transformative. Sixteen years ago, weary of our shallow-rooted life in suburban Washington, D.C., my young family went “community shopping” throughout New England to find a better place to settle.

In every town we visited, we spent time in the children’s section of the public library and asked fellow parents what they valued in their community. After such a visit to Forbes, I vividly remember lying on the library lawn with my infant daughter, staring in wonder at the column of mighty oaks, and having instant clarity of thought, “I want to live in a place where people value trees like these and a library like this.” Six months later, Northampton became our permanent home. Today, Forbes remains tied for first place on my teenage kids’ list of favorite places in town.

Tragically, in 2006, the Forbes Library oaks sustained critical root damage when the state widened Route 66, an action that is allowable under the law. Local tree advocates wrung our hands helplessly as we witnessed the careless shredding of major roots and the removal and compaction by heavy machinery of the trees’ life-supporting soil.

I remember one arborist friend shaking his head at the sight and saying, “I’ll give those trees five years.” Well, most have lived 10 more years, but their rapid decline is unmistakable. Three dying trees have already been removed, and half of the remaining trees are clearly terminal. They have dropped large limbs over the public sidewalk, lawn and road, creating unsafe conditions.

After extensive evaluation, Northampton’s tree warden, Richard Parasiliti, is recommending that five of the remaining oaks be immediately removed. He has scheduled a public tree hearing at 6 p.m. Sept. 13, 2017, at the site of the trees, giving the community an opportunity to share feelings about the removals and to hear a more in-depth explanation from our tree warden why the trees must go.

Thankfully, members of Northampton’s Public Shade Tree Commission, the trustees of Forbes, our city’s tree warden, and Mayor David Narkewicz strongly agree that we should replace the dying pin oaks as soon as possible with a new generation of shade trees.

We have selected scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) as the replacement species because of its many strengths: it is urban tolerant, has no serious pests, has bright red autumn foliage, and assumes a tall, spreading canopy at full maturity. Further, its native range extends from Mississippi to Maine. Thus, as the planet warms, scarlet oaks should continue to tolerate the climate of our western Massachusetts city.

This fall — stay tuned for the date — we enthusiastically invite members of the public to help us plant eight young scarlet oaks, returning us to the original 13 oaks that lined our library’s sidewalk. A final benefit of scarlet oaks: they are fast growing, which means that, unlike Forbes Trustee Arthur Watson, we just may live to sit in the shade of these magnificent trees.

Lilly Lombard, of Northampton, chairs the city’s Public Shade Tree Commission.