Library News

Forbes Library Holiday Toy Drive

We’re collecting new and unwrapped toys for kids ages 0-15, to benefit Berkshire Children and Families!

Toys can be dropped off in the Children’s Department or in the main lobby, from November 25th – December 15th

Thank you for your generosity!

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 C/W 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.

Franklin Hampshire Career Center Partners with Forbes Library for Satellite Services

The Franklin Hampshire Career Center and Forbes Library announce a partnership to provide Career Center satellite services at the Library. The Career Center will out-station staff on a weekly basis at the Library to continue providing Employment Services to job seekers in Hampshire County. Loss in federal funding is requiring the Northampton Career Center to merge its two full service career centers.

Lisa Downing, Forbes Library Director said “As the city’s public library, we are delighted to be able to provide a venue for the Career Center to continue offering core services in Northampton. We strive to support the community’s information needs in both traditional and innovative ways and this partnership will do just that. We see this as a way for the public to continue to have access to employment and training assistance that our community needs and will use it as an opportunity to introduce the library’s great services to an expanded audience.”

Career Center Executive Director, Teri Anderson, stated “We are excited to collaborate with Forbes Library on our first satellite service location in Hampshire County. Our overlapping mission, the generous use of space, and the easily accessible location all make the Library a good fit.” “We are grateful to the Library staff and board for welcoming us into their space. The Library satellite location will go a long way in retaining essential career services after the Northampton full service Career Center merges with the Greenfield office. Hampshire County residents that have difficulty getting to Greenfield should talk with Career Center staff. We will work with customers to find solutions to ensure they can receive services,” she said.

The Northampton office will close on August 25 and staff will move into the Greenfield office the following week. The Greenfield Career Center will be closed on Monday, August 28 for the move to take place. Full services will resume at the Greenfield Career Center on Tuesday, August 29. Out-stationed Career Center services will begin at Forbes the week of September 11th. Career Center Services to be provided at the Library include:

  • Mondays 9am-4pm: Assistance with Online Unemployment Claims – Mornings will be walk-in assistance on a first come first serve basis. Customers will be able to make appointments in the afternoon or walk-in if there are openings available.
  • Mondays and Wednesdays 9am-Noon: Career Center registration and online job search assistance in the Library Computer Area.
  • Wednesdays 1pm-2pm: Career Center Seminar introduction to Career Center services.
  • Thursdays 1pm-3pm in the Community Room: Workshops with rotating topics such as resume and cover letter writing, using LinkedIn, Online job applications, and interviewing skills.
  • Tuesdays once per month will be an information session to learn about subsidized job training programs and individualized career counseling.

Anderson also noted that Career Center Veteran’s employment services will still be available at various locations in Hampshire County. Veterans should contact the Veterans Employment Representative at the Greenfield Career Center.

Information about how to take advantage of Career Center services offered at Forbes Library can be found on the Franklin Hampshire Career Center website at: or by calling the Career Center at 413-774-4361. Event information will be posted on the Forbes Library website at:

Come with or without glasses to the Eclipse Viewing Party

Forbes Library has a limited number of eclipse viewing glasses set aside for families that have pre-registered for the Scientific Kids Club on Monday, August 21 at 2:00 PM. A limited additional number may be available for people who come to the event who haven’t pre-registered. Everyone is welcome to join the party, despite the fact that we won’t have glasses for everyone.

Staff members Ralph and Steven will be on hand to answer questions and help people to make simple pinhole viewing projectors, which are another way to safely enjoy the eclipse.

For more information about pinhole projectors visit has more information about safe viewing.

New streaming film database: Kanopy

Looking for something good to watch tonight? Forbes Library is excited to announce the addition of a new streaming film database, Kanopy, to our digital collection. We are the first public library in C/W MARS and one of only a few in the state to offer this service to our patrons.

All Forbes Library cardholders can now access Kanopy and watch popular films and documentaries anytime by visiting:

Kanopy is a video streaming platform for libraries with one of the largest and most unique collections in the world. It features over 26,000 feature films, documentaries, independent and foreign language films from hundreds of producers including The Criterion Collection, Great Courses, Kino Lorber, Media Education Foundation, PBS and thousands of independent filmmakers. Their collection is six times the size of Netflix!

Kanopy is committed to diversity, with an amazing array of foreign language films and films on race, LGBT, gender and international political issues. Recent categories on the Kanopy front page include “Immigration Stories”, “New York Times Critics’ Picks” and “Banned! Films from Countries in the U.S. Travel Ban”. Kanopy’s films are accessible for the hearing and visually impaired (Kanopy is compatible with technologies such as JAWS and all films come with optional captions and transcripts). All films come with public performance rights and can be used by teachers and community non-profits for free film events.

Kanopy films are free for Forbes Library cardholders, who can watch up to eight films a month. If library patrons need assistance creating an account, logging in with their Forbes Library card or have any questions, we encourage them to call, email or visit us at the library. Kanopy has just released apps for iOs and Android to go along with their previously released Roku app, giving the public even more ways to enjoy great films for free on their computer, tablet, phone or TV.

Please welcome our new Head of Reference, Alene Moroni!

Alene Moroni

Alene Moroni

Alene has worked at Forbes for two years as an Information Services Librarian, focusing on helping patrons, connecting people with books, making enticing displays, and maintaining the library’s collections. Her favorite thing about being a librarian is giving someone a book they will enjoy. In her new role, she looks forward to continuing to work with her stellar colleagues to improve the collections and Information Services department to best meet the needs of library patrons and the community at large. Before Forbes, Alene worked for the King County (WA) Library System​ as the manager of collection development. She began her library career at The New York Public Library.