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Forest’s appointment took effect on Feb. 5.

Dalton Public Library Hires New Library Director

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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Forest hopes to bring back community-loved programming including the adult reading challenge, and summer reading program for kids.

DALTON, Mass. — The Dalton Public Library welcomed its new Library Director, Janet Forest, in February after an approximately three month long search

For the last four weeks, Forest has been settling into the position by getting to know the library and its patrons.

"Something that's interesting about public libraries is they are a hub for the community and people actually feel a sense of ownership over them," Forest said.

"Even since I was a little kid, I was like a big library user like all through high school, all through college, wherever I went, like the first thing I did, I went and got my library card…I like that it's a very dynamic place to work," Forest added. 

In August, Robert DiFazio left his position as library director. For the last six months Assistant Library Director Kim Gwilt has taken the reigns of interim director. 

Forest's appointment took effect on Feb. 5.

Forest highlighted the library's offerings, ranging from a wide selection of books to technology resources such as computers and programming assistance. Additionally, the library provides customer support, ensuring a positive experience for its patrons.

"The library is such an ideal place to reach people because it's some place that they know they can go in for free, and they're welcomed to ask questions. There are no dumb questions. We'll help you find what you want," Forest said. 

"I think I like just being so in touch with so many different types of people and being able to help them with so many different problems that maybe they've never even thought to go into a library for."

Since she started, patrons have been very curious and eager to get to know Forest, she said.

Although the library was without an official director the library was in good hands, she said. 

"We have a great staff. I'm very fortunate because when [DiFazio] left in August [Gwilt] was here to just step in." Forest said. "Which is really great for me because it's not like I walked into a disaster. It's not like I walked into a place that didn't have leadership for six months… I really walked into a very stable, functioning, wonderful community library, and I'm very grateful for that."

When she settles in, Forest hopes to bring back community-loved programming including the adult reading challenge, and summer reading program for kids. One library patron has volunteered to run a book club, which will start next month. 

In addition, Forest hopes to bring some other programming including film screenings and staged readings. 

"One of the reasons I stood out as a candidate was because I have a background in programs and outreach. So I really want to try to do more activities," Forest said. 

She also intends to collaborate with local organizations and committees. 

Forest earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and communications from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, and later worked for a television station in Quebec City. 

She remained there for a year and a half but quickly realized she didn't want to work in television news. So she returned to Massachusetts and began to work for a small newspaper company in Eastern Mass but started to realize that this was not her ideal career. 

"I had this opportunity to go to Nantucket just for the summer to work at a youth hostel, and I did that and never left Nantucket," she said. 

While living in Nantucket, she worked various jobs including office manager and pet sitting. She briefly left Nantucket to go to New York for life coaching training. During the summer she would return to Nantucket to work in house management. 

Eventually, tired of commuting between New York and Nantucket, she relocated to the island permanently. There, she secured a position as an adult programs coordinator at the Nantucket Atheneum. She held that role for four years and eventually rose to become the program's head.

With a career spanning various industries and a diverse range of experiences, she has encountered a spectrum of individuals. She said this unique background allows her to view the library from multiple perspectives, enabling her to comprehend how different users would utilize it and tailor her approach accordingly.

Forest has not lived in the area long so she is conscious that she is coming into a new community. She moved to Dalton in October of 2022, just four months after vacationing in Great Barrington for her honeymoon. 

She visited the area with her husband in February. In the winter when there was not a lot going on.

"We came in February, the coldest, worst time of year, and we loved it. We just got our dogs in the car and just drove from Williamstown down to Great Barrington, and back and forth. And it had a lot of what we loved about Nantucket, which was the natural beauty," Forest said. 

"It had a lot of cultural activity, we could tell that, even though nothing was going on, we loved all the small towns like having a sense of community because that was really important to us." 

Although there wasn't much going on, the duo started to think that one day they would like to move to the Berkshires. 

In April of the same year, fate appeared to align when they received the unfortunate news that they would no longer have access to their residence on Nantucket.

As the plan began to take shape, her husband returned to the area during Memorial Day weekend to assess the available options. He discovered a suitable house in Dalton, submitted an offer, and successfully closed on the purchase in July, bringing their plan to fruition.

At the time, Forest found a position quickly at Williams College as a classroom coordinator in the registrar's office.  

"It was a great opportunity. It was a very interesting place to work," she said.

She added that it was hard to feel fully part of the Williamstown community because she lived in Dalton and she struggled to feel part of the Dalton community because she spent so much time in Williamstown. 

Now that she has this position, just a few minutes away from her home, she feels she can become part of the Dalton community. 


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Dalton CRA May Day Races Return May 5

Community submission
DALTON, Mass.  — The 47th annual Community Recreation Association May Day Races will be held Sunday, May 5, at Nessacus Middle School, with major sponsorship by Greylock Federal Credit Union.
Races include 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer, the Obstacles & Popsicles kids’ races for ages 8 and under, and a 1-mile Splatter Sprint for ages 8 and up, all with chip timing by Berkshire Running Center, along with an untimed fun walk.
The 5K road/trail race, 10K road race and fun walk begin at 9 a.m. The Obstacles & Popsicles races begin at 10 a.m., with the Splatter Sprint immediately following.
The first 100 runners to register (combined 5K/10K) will receive a long-sleeve wicking T-shirt. Every participant in the Obstacles & Popsicles kids’ races will receive a ribbon and freeze pop at the finish line. All proceeds benefit nonprofit CRA and Dalton Youth Center programs.
For more information or to register, visit or contact the CRA at 413-684-0260. Online registration is also available at
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