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The old wallpaper in the Sanford Blackinton Mansion's front parlor is being replaced.

North Adams Library Parlor Closed For Renovations

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The parlor is a favorite place for library patrons to sit and read. The wallpaper will be blue and 'less busy.'
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city's "front parlor" is getting a makeover next week. 
The reading room at the public library will be closed for wallpapering work that will begin Monday.
Library Director Sarah Sanfilippo told the trustees Wednesday that they have already begun removing books to accommodate the update to the parlor in the historic mansion.
"We plan to remove all of the books and put them in various places on the first and second floors," she said. "We don't think we will have to put anything away but things will be in strange places."
The Sanford Blackinton Mansion has been the home of the public library since 1898, when it was purchased by the city's first mayor, Albert Houghton, from Blackinton's widow and gifted it to the city. The $4.3 million addition opened in 2005 but much of the original building — including the parlor — has changed little in the past 120 years.
The Friends of the Library hired an interior decorator and will use a bequest from the estate of Evelyn Gooch to refresh the room with new wallpaper. Gooch, who died in 2018, was a longtime secretary of the Friends and left $10,000 to the group to be used toward the library.
The current wallpaper is nearly 40 years old and not original to the 1865 room.
"It will be much less busy and very blue," Sanfilippo said. "I think it will make the dark bookcases and the white woodwork and gold mirror pop a lot more."
Sanfilippo said the room will be closed off for the time being.
"The wallpaper guys want to be able to get in and out but they want to keep the dust out," she said.
Sanfilippo did not know how long the work would take.
In other business, acting Chairwoman Tara Jacobs asked if the library was meeting state spending obligations in terms of materials.
"I am still struggling to understand it and what our responsibility is," she said. "Are we on track this year?"
Libraries have to meet funding standards to be accredited with the state. Accredited libraries receive state aid and state resources. 
Typically North Adams has struggled to meet these standards because the city does not fund the library to the level the state deems necessary. Because of this, the library has to apply for waivers and show that the city is disproportionately funding it.
The city will have to apply for another waiver but has been successful in doing so over the years.
The library itself also has to spend down a certain amount of money on materials to be accredited. Sanfilippo did not know the specific amount but felt they were in good shape because they are on track to spend what they have budgeted. 
"It is a formula based on averages and past years but we are spending what we budgeted and meeting our obligation," she said. "We are on track for that."
This funding gap has been a concern of the trustees but they have noted that the city is doing the best they can to increase the budget a little more every year.
Upated to note the reading room funds were provided through a bequest from Evelyn Gooch. Thanks to those in the comments who reminded us of that fact.

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Berkshire Food Project Recognizes Hours Put in by Volunteers

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Three generations of volunteers with Linda Palumbo, left, Cindy Bolte, Alicia Rondeau and Cassandra Shoestack.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Five days a week a troop volunteers helps the small staff of the Berkshire Food Project feed hundreds of people. 
On Monday night, the tables were turned. 
More than 30 volunteers and attending family members were served up a choice of beef wellington and potato, salmon and rice, or a vegetarian meal, along with appetizers, dessert and beverages.
"Just from 2018 to 2019, [we served] 10,000 more meals, right, a 28 percent increase in 2019. So the numbers on the stove, same amount of counterspace. The only thing that changed is the capacity of our volunteers. So thank you, guys," said Executive Director Kim McMann. 
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