More Frequently Asked Questions

Next: General


What is an Athenaeum?

Athenaeum (ath·e·ne·um); noun

  1. An institution for literary or scientific learning

  2. A library or reading room

The Berkshire Athenaeum is a public library that serves the Pittsfield community. The word is rooted in Athena, the goddess of wisdom.

What are your hours?

We are open Monday through Thursday, 9am-9pm; Friday, 9am-5pm; and Saturday, 10am-5pm.

In July and August, we are open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 9am-5pm; Tuesday and Thursday, 9am-9pm; and Saturday, 10am-5pm.

The Library is closed on Sundays.

Can I bring food & drink into the Library?

A Food Zone furnished with cafe tables and chairs is available for those who want to bring food to the library. Beverages are allowed in many locations with patrons asked to refrain from having drinks near library computers or in our Local History Department.

Is there a designated smoking area near the Library?

The smoking area is on the south side of the building near the Wendell Avenue parking lot. Smoking and the use or handling of tobacco products is prohibited inside the Library, reading terraces, and within fifteen feet of a building entrance.

Is there parking at the Library?

The Library has two parking lots—one at each entrance on Bartlett and Wendell Avenues. Visit Downtown Pittsfield for maps and information on parking downtown.

What is the Morgan Room?

The Morgan Room is home to the Mary Rice Morgan Ballet Collection, one of the outstanding collections of ballet material in the country. In addition to artifacts, prints, and photographs, the collection is home to rare volumes of special interest to scholars and students of ballet and costume design. Due to the rarity and significance of items in the collection, access to the Morgan Room is restricted.

Next: Administration


How do I reserve a meeting room?

Fill out the Room Reservation Form, or email to reserve the Auditorium or the Athenaeum Room.

Is the Morgan Room available for meetings?

Due to the significance, rarity, and value of the Mary Rice Morgan ballet collection, access to the Morgan Room is restricted, and it cannot be reserved for meetings.

How do I donate to the Library?

There are several ways to donate to the Library. You can make a tax-deductible cash or check donation; make a memorial donation for the purchase of library materials in honor of or in remembrance of someone living or deceased; or donate your books, DVDs, or CDs.

Can I suggest a purchase of materials?

The Library welcomes requests for purchase of books, DVDs, CDs, and other library materials. Requests are subject to the criteria for selection outlined in our Collection Development Policy. Please send purchase requests to

How can I volunteer?

Volunteers provide important support to Berkshire Athenaeum staff and perform a wide variety of tasks critical to the mission of the Athenaeum. Fill out a Volunteer Application and we’ll match your skills and availability to our needs.

Next: Circulation


How do I get a library card?

You will need to show us a photo I.D. and identification with your name and current address on it, as well as fill out a Library Card Registration Form | Registración de membresía para tarjeta de Berkshire Athenaeum. Reasonable accommodations can be made if identification requirements present a hardship.

What does it cost for a library card?

A library card is free for Massachusetts residents. Out of state borrowers must pay an annual fee of $25; a replacement for a lost or stolen card costs $2.50.

What if I lose my library card?

Bring your photo ID and $2.50 to the Library to get a replacement.

How do I renew my library card?

Renew in person at the Library with your photo ID and library card.

How do I pay my fines?

You can pay your fines with a credit card by logging in to your account, or pay in person at the Circulation Department or Children’s Library. Only cash or check are accepted when paying in the Library.

How do I reserve a museum pass?

Visit our Museum Passes page to reserve a pass online, or call (413) 499-9480 ext. 201 or stop at the Adult Circulation desk during regular business hours. Pick up your reserved pass at the Circulation Department.

How do I place a hold on an item?

See Placing Holds in the Online Catalog to place holds, or visit or call the Reference Department during regular business hours at (413) 499-9480 ext. 202 for assistance.

How do I renew my library materials?

Renew your library materials by logging in to your online account, or call the Circulation Department during regular business hours at (413) 499-9480 ext. 201.

Can my family or friends use my library card?

The Athenaeum discourages the sharing of library cards between family members and friends. Exceptions may be made by the Circulation Supervisor or Children’s Supervisor in extenuating circumstances.

Can I check out materials if I’ve forgotten my library card?

If you’ve forgotten to bring your library card with you, present valid identification to check out materials. Your library account must be current and in good standing.

Can I return my library materials to another library?

Berkshire Athenaeum materials can be returned to any library in the CWMARS network, which includes most public libraries in Berkshire County.

How do I create an account?

If you have a library card, you automatically have an online account with CWMARS so you can manage your holds and renew books. Typically, your user name is initially set to be your library card number. If you find it difficult to remember your library card number, you can ask the staff to change this user name to something you can remember more easily. Once you have successfully logged in to the online catalog, you can also change your user name by yourself whenever you want.

How do I change my password?

Your password is set when you register for your library card; to change your password, click on the Forgot Your Password? link on the CWMARS account login page. Detailed instructions can be found in CWMARS Frequently Asked Questions. If you need additional assistance, visit the Circulation Desk.

Why is my card blocked?

A library card is blocked from use if there are overdue fines in excess of $10, billed items that have not been returned, or charges for damage to library materials.

Next: Reference


Do I need a library card to use a computer?

A current CWMARS library card in good standing is required to use the public computers; Computer Use Only cards are issued to Massachusetts patrons who do not qualify for a full service library card. Out of state visitors with a photo I.D. are signed in as guests.

How do I reserve a computer?

Computer reservations can be made at the Reservation Station computer in the Reference Department up to 48 hours in advance; reservations can also be arranged by calling the Reference Department at (413) 499-9480 ext. 202 during regular business hours.

How do I print?

Black and white printing is available from any public computer; to pay and release your printouts, use the Print Release Station in Reference (for prints sent from Reference, Children’s or Young Adult computers) or Local History (for prints sent from Local History computers).

Can I print from my mobile device or laptop?

Mobile printing is available through the PrinterOn app, which is available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Kindle, and Nook. On a laptop or tablet, visit, or send the print directly by emailing for 8 ½ x 11 or for 11 x 17. All mobile printing jobs have to be paid for and released at the Print Release Station in the Reference Department.

How much does printing or copying cost?

Black and white copies or printouts are 10¢ each.

What is the Library of Things?

The Library of Things is a collection of nontraditional items including board games, tools, ukuleles, Kindles, and sewing machines. Things can be checked out for one week with one renewal.

Can I check out a laptop or tablet from the Library?

Laptops, Chromebooks, iPads, and tablets can be checked out for in-library use through our Technology Lending Program for two hours with library card in good standing.

What library resources can I access from home?

The Library has eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines available through OverDrive and streaming video from Kanopy available for patrons who want to use the Library at home. We also have a variety of online databases that are accessible for home research.

Can I access the Library’s Berkshire Eagle database from home?

The Berkshire Eagle, Newsbank Edition is a searchable, full text database covering December 31, 2003-current, with selected coverage November 21, 1997-November 4, 2003. Use your library card to log in.

What is ComCat?

If a book, movie, etc. can’t be found in the Library catalog or in the CWMARS network, the Commonwealth Catalog (ComCat) extends your search to all participating libraries in Massachusetts. Log in and place your request, or see the Reference Department staff for help.

How do I use Interlibrary Loan?

Interlibrary loans are materials that come from other libraries for our patrons to check out. If an item can’t be found in the CWMARS network, or in ComCat, it can be requested through Interlibrary Loan; loan rules are set by the lending library and patrons are responsible for costs associated with lost or damaged materials.

Can I scan my documents at the Library?

Document scanning is available from the Reference copier to our Reference Department computers.

What resources or services does the Library offer people with disabilities?

Thanks to a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, the Library has a variety of devices available for people with disabilities, including JAWS software, Optelec magnifiers, and an iBill talking banknote identifier; we also have a collection of Talking Books and Talking Book players provided by Perkins School. Visit Accessibility to learn more.

Can I use Kanopy without a Pittsfield library card?

A Pittsfield library card is required to use the Athenaeum’s subscription to Kanopy. Massachusetts residents without a Pittsfield card can apply for a Boston Public Library e-card and access Kanopy through BPL’s website.

How do I borrow a WiFi hotspot?

Visit or call the Reference Desk at (413) 499-9480 ext. 202 during regular business hours to book a hotspot. WiFi hotspots are loaned for one week, and are first-come, first-serve.

How do I get eBooks?

Our eBooks are provided through OverDrive. Browse the Collection.

Next: Children's


When does summer reading begin?

Summer reading is in July and August. This year’s theme is A Universe of Stories. Visit the Children’s Library to learn more.

Where are the books for Battle of the Books?

Battle of the Books is an annual tournament for elementary school readers. The Library keeps a collection of the books in the Children’s Library for students to check out and read. They are located on the shelves by the Bartlett Avenue entrance, in front of the Children’s Desk. Visit the Children’s Library to learn more.

How does a child get a library card?

Children or a parent/guardian need to fill out the Children’s Library library card application. Children up to age twelve will need proof of current address and the signature of a parent or guardian. Young adults ages 13 to 17 will need proof of current address.

Next: Local History

Local History

Can I visit the Melville Room without an appointment?

You do not need an appointment to visit the Melville Memorial Room. Access to rare or research materials may be restricted. Visiting scholars or researchers should contact the Local History Department ahead of their visit and fill out the appropriate forms so staff can prepare any materials needed.

Is the Authors’ Room available for meetings?

Although classes are occasionally held in the Berkshire Authors’ Room, it is not available to reserve for meetings.

Do you have Ancestry?

The Library subscribes to Ancestry Library Edition, which can be accessed in the Library.

How do I get permission to use a photo of Herman Melville?

Writing a book or working on another project about Herman Melville? Fill out the Application for Permission to Photograph/Scan and Permission to Publish.

How do I access the NARA collection?

The Berkshire Athenaeum was given 71,000 reels of microfilm from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which can be searched in our CWMARS online catalog. Finding aids to these resources are also available in the Local History Department. The actual microfilm is located in a non-public area of the Library and must be requested. Requests are filled by Local History as time and staffing allow. Microfilm is unable to be retrieved on nights and weekends.

Do you have microfilm machines?

There are six microfilm machines available in our Local History Department. Scans of microfilm can be printed, saved to a flash drive, or emailed.

Next: Technology


How do I connect to the WiFi?

On your mobile device or laptop, connect to the network LibraryPublicHotspot. Open a browser and accept the terms of use, and enjoy the free internet connection. Learn more about the Library’s WiFi.

Can someone help me with my device?

Reference Department staff can provide limited assistance with devices such as Kindles, iPads, or Chromebooks.

Next: Friends

Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum

How do I join the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum?

Friends Memberships are available starting at $10. Membership includes quarterly membership newsletter, admittance to the Friends Book Sale Preview Night, and 10% discount at the Friends Store. Become a Member of the Friends.

When is the next Book Sale?

The Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum typically host Book Sales in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, usually in March, July, and November.

Does the Library accept book donations?

The Friends accept donations of books, DVDs, CDs, games, and more in good condition, which can be dropped off at the Circulation Desk or Children’s Desk during regular library hours. Magazines, textbooks, older encyclopedia sets, and mildewed items are not salable; we decline those items.

Still have a question? Contact Us.