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North Adams Hires New Library Director

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The trustees are preparing for a transition as Mindy Hackner is replaced by a new library director.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Southern Vermont College's director of library services has been hired to run the North Adams Public Library.
The college's Sarah Sanfilippo will replace retiring Library Director Mindy Hackner. 
"I think we are very, very lucky ... and I think we will be in good shape," Hackner told the library's board of trustees on Wednesday. 
Mayor Thomas Bernard made the announcement at Tuesday's City Council meeting. The trustees have been searching the last few months find a director who could be in place before the Hackner leaves this spring. A first round of applications failed to attract enough qualified candidates to pass on to the mayor and the posting had been advertised nationally. 
The impending closure of the financially troubled college in Bennington turned out to be the city's gain. 
Sanfilippo has been with the college since 2001 and before that was assistant librarian for the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vt. She graduated from the State University of New York at Fredonia, earning a degree in English and literature, and received her master of library science from SUNY at Buffalo. She is chairman of the board of the Solomon Wright Public Library in Pownal, Vt., and a member of several library associations. 
Hackner plans to stay on until May 31. She said this will allow some overlap and make the transition easier. Sanfilippo is expected to start April 29.
"We will have a month to work together," Hackner said.
She said she will attend the next meeting but this would likely be her last report. She said she will miss the library, where she's worked since 2014. 
"You have been a tremendous board to work with ... it has been a pleasure," she said. "I will miss the staff terribly and I am glad I am going to be able to work with Sarah. I think the library is in a good place."
Hackner told the trustees to expect some changes from the city and when Sanfilippo comes on.
"I think the mayor is going to ask the board to be far more advisory than policy making," Hackner said. "I think the mayor wants to train Sarah as a city department head so everything is done from the city down ... I think you are going to have to feel your way through that."
She said this conversation with the mayor was prompted by the trustees' decision to install a sharps dispensary in the public bathrooms and to lock doors to prevent drug use and and the improper disposal of sharps in the library.
"The mayor was not happy that we interviewed Tapestry [Health] and the reason being that any opioid issue is a city problem," she said. "He did not think that we should jump ahead and make plans ... he wants a citywide approach."
Hackner said they also reviewed her report template and he inquired about how the agendas were formed.
"We are here and we are a bit removed from City Hall and we don't always know what is going on with City Council," she said. "We are sort of in our own little space and I think he wants to tighten things up."
The trustees were not immediately opposed to changing but wanted to know how the city charter or state dictates their position in the city.
Trustee Robin Martin added that in her years at the library, the trustees' duty was often dictated by the director and the administration.  
"When I started here we were told the trustees were advisory ... they were the go-between the library and City Hall," she said. "Then we had a new director and it all changed and was more hands on and it depends on the mayor." 
Hackner said either way she thought regular communication and education between City Hall and the library was important. She noted that in the past she has only gone to City Hall to discuss problems and every time she taught the mayor something new about library and she learned something new about government.  
The trustees agreed to invite Bernard to an upcoming meeting once the new director is aboard.
"We have a new mayor and a new director," Trustee Donald Pecor said. "We have to see how it goes."
In other business, the library received a $10,000 gift from the Evelyn Gooch estate to overhaul the library reading room/cafe. Gooch was a former Friend of the North Adams Public Library.
A bronze statue was also donated to the library by the family of the late Judith "Jody" LaFortune Gottwald, who began her career in the library at age 14. The North Adams native had lived in South Bend, Ind., since 1971 and had retired after 22 years as librarian at Indiana University at South Bend. 
The statue is of a boy and girl reading and will be placed outside.
Before closing Chairman Rich Remsberg said he has informed the mayor that he plans to step down from the trustees because of increasing work duties. He said he would stay on until a replacement was found.

Tags: library director,   NAPL,   

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Drury Graduate to Direct Horror Film in North Adams

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A Drury High School graduate is hoping to bring his dream — or, more appropriately, his nightmare — to film life. 

The horror film "The Uncredited," written by Nick Burchard, will be filmed in North Adams this spring, pending fundraising and the COVID-19 pandemic. Burchard's Tiny Viking Productions is making the film in conjunction with Sancha Spiller and Kasey Rae of Skylah Productions of New York City.

"I grew up in the area, and I've always appreciated the historical places, in particular the Hoosac Tunnel, Mohawk Theater, and the old mills," Burchard said. "I think North Adams has a very unique setting, with the mountains surrounding the city and of course, all the steeples.

"The Uncredited" follows a young woman who appears in an independent film. While watching it, her friends notice something disturbing in the background of her scene. This leads to rumors and distrust in even the closest group of friends.
"My goal is to make great characters, and even though it's a spooky thriller the characters in it are just friends sitting down to watch a movie together," Burchard said. "They crack jokes, roast each other, and are all collectively trying to have a good time … but that juxtaposed with the realization that one of them might be hiding something is what creates the thriller edge to this. I think it's really fun."
Spiller added that the film does not rely on horror tropes such as jump scares. She said the screenplay is character-driven.
"It showcases our greatest fear of not knowing the people around us as well as we think," she said. "It makes us second guess who we trust and remember that just being in the wrong place at the wrong time can have horrifying consequences."
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