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The mural provides a more welcoming aspect to the children's library.

Berkshire Athenaeum Unveils Mural Inspired by Ty Allan Jackson Book

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Library Director Alex Reczkowski approached Ty Allan Jackson with the idea about a year ago.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Athenaeum Director Alex Reczkowski has found a fitting way to make the library more fun and welcoming to children. 
 
The library unveiled on Monday a massive mural inspired by local author Ty Allan Jackson's book "When I Close My Eyes." Jackson is a nationally recognized author and founder of Big Head Books. 
 
"This space in particular for our children is in need of refresh, excitement, and enthusiasm and who better to deliver that than our friend Ty Allan Jackson, who is a legendary Pittsfielder, the biggest cheerleader you could ever imagine, travels around the United States promoting his books, talking about literacy and he comes right from our own city," said Mayor Linda Tyer.
 
Reczkowski had approached Jackson about a year ago with the idea. He was looking for a way to spruce up the children's section. The book's illustrator, Jonathan Shears, designed the mural and Massive Graphics created it. Joined by a team of children, Jackson, Reczkowski, and Tyer ripped down the cover and unveiled it. 
 
"I couldn't be more humbled and honored to represent this building, this institution, and this community. With one of my creations, to have it grace the walls is really is nothing less than humbling," Jackson said. 
 
The book was published about six years ago but Jackson feels it is still fitting. The story is about a young girl who uses her imagination to go to faraway places.
 
"It is an example of what I believe reading should be. It should be fun. It should be imaginative. It should allow us to explore even if we do it simply by closing our eyes," Jackson said. 
 
Reczkowski praised the Pittsfield native's work that has led him to be featured on CNN, NBC Nightly News, the "Steve Harvey Show" and PBS, among others. In 2011, his books were gifted to former first lady Michelle Obama. 
 
"Ty is taking his message not just here, not just in his books, but everywhere. He is teaching kids about financial literacy, about success," Reczkowski said. 
 
Reczkowski rhetorically asked "who better than Ty Allan Jackson" to be so prominently featured in the library.
 
"When I close my eyes at night I dream about my library and how great we are and how important we are in the community. What better, for me, what a gift, that we can have a piece of 'When I Close My Eyes' up on our wall," Reczkowski said. 
 
Following the unveiling, Jackson stuck around to sign books.

Tags: berkshire athenaeum,   books,   children,   murals,   

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BIO Appoint New Director

Pittsfield, Mass. — The Berkshire Interfaith Organizing has appointed Dondei Dean as its director and lead organizer.
 
"I'm excited to develop the work that Wendy and BIO leaders have done to build a network of residents throughout the county who are eager to work together on real life issues faced by the most vulnerable among us," Dean said. "Particularly in the urgent areas of racial justice and immigrant justice. Together we've made progress on these fronts, but there's still so much more that we can and must do."
 
Dondei Dean has been a community organizer at Berkshire Interfaith Organizing (BIO), involved in all aspects of the group's work. She has been particularly focused on organizing residents harmed by issues of racial injustice and immigrant injustice. 
 
Her efforts helped lead to the recruitment and training of more than 70 volunteers who are now prepared to accompany local immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) appointments and appearances in immigrant court and to better outreach from schools to families of the children hardest hit by the move to remote learning.
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