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New Assistant Director Ryan Miller is introduced to the trustees on Wednesday by Library Director Veronica Clark.

North Adams Library Hires Assistant Director

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The library trustees welcomed new Assistant Director Ryan Miller, who started on Feb. 21.
"We are happy to have him here," Library Director Veronica Clark said at Wednesday's meeting. "He has been meeting with patrons and making connections in the community." 
Miller comes to North Adams from New Jersey, where he primarily dealt with adult services and outreach at the New Brunswick Library.
He is originally from West Virginia but actually went to high school in Dalton. 
"I am here because I wanted to make it to the Berkshire for many years," Miller said. "So here I  am, and I hope to be a valuable asset to this library and the community."
He said he came into the profession later in life and went back to graduate school in 2014. He became a librarian in 2019.
Miller said he is still reading the community and figuring out what the community wants in North Adams in regard to the public library and programming.
He said he was encouraged by the open communication throughout the building and enjoyed the freedom to explore different and new programming. He said he was especially excited about an upcoming job fair in the building. 
"A job fair is something that I have wanted to do for years but just never could do," he said. "It seems communication is just much more open here. It is a relief to me."
He said he is not only impressed with the staff and patrons but the physical building and its location in the heart of downtown. He felt this helped make the space a true community hub.
"There is a real pride here in the library, and I am already catching that here," he said.
Also during the meeting, Clark gave a budget update and noted currently the budget is on track. Although, the technology budget seems to be missing.
Chairwoman Tara Jacobs affirmed that the trustees did present this aspect of the budget to the City Council during the last budget cycle.
Clark said she will continue to work with the city to locate the budget line.
She added that she has also blown through the supplies line item. However, this is not a surprise because the line item has not increased since the pandemic.
"We are over budget on supplies and costs are exponentially increasing," she said. "We never raised our supply budget and now we have people in here again. Before we didn't need as much paper products because it was just staff in-house." 
Looking forward, Clark said she is working on the fiscal year 2024 budget. Budget requests are due this month.
"I have been digging deep looking for where we have to increase line items," Clark said.
Jacobs advocated at the very least Clark aims for funding levels that will maintain accreditation with the state.
She did acknowledge that the current administration has been supportive of the library budget and hopes that continues.

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MCLA Considering Temporary Homeless Housing on Campus

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is considering turning the vacant Berkshire Towers dorm into a temporary homeless shelter.
President James Birge said on Friday that the college is considering a partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development that would supply needed housing for 50 homeless families.
"I look at the mission of the institution, and we talk about educating students to be responsible citizens," Birge said. "I think this models that mission."
Birge said residents would be mostly younger families. He assumed 50 families would generate 25 school-aged children in the Berkshire Towers.
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