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$10,000 grant will assist Athenaeum on expanding programming

WESTFIELD-As staffers at the Westfield Athenaeum continue to find innovative ways to meet the nutritional, health, and wellness needs of the community, a $10,000 grant just received from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners will assist in those efforts.

At its July 8 board meeting, the commissioners awarded $350,410 in 35 grants to public and special libraries across the state under the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) which is funded through the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The Athenaeum’s $10,000 grant in the “At The Table” category focuses on culinary literacy and nutrition, and is the first year the library has received a grant award for the program.

“LSTA funds help us bring innovative programs to our library’s patrons and the Westfield community,” said executive director Guy McLain, in a statement. “We are excited to expand our programming with these funds to provide educational opportunities for the town.”

McLain noted the Athenaeum will partner with the Westfield Food Pantry and the YMCA of Greater Westfield on a variety of culinary and health-based offerings, and will be offering additional nutrition, cooking, and health books and resources to circulating collections to better serve the library’s patrons.

“After a year like the past one, we knew that it would be vital to focus our services on bringing folks together,” said Becky Blackburn, programming and outreach librarian. “What better way to do it than focusing on food? We couldn’t be more excited to build these partnerships, and make our community even stronger.”

Kelsey Socha, head of adult services, shared a similar sentiment.

“We want to bring home the ideas that you can eat well on any budget, that food and agriculture are really local, and that food and nutrition can bring people together,” said Socha, adding, “We couldn’t be more excited to start this project.”

Robert Favini, head of library advisory and development at the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC), noted the past year has shown the importance of libraries to the communities they serve.

“These grants allow libraries to address specific local needs,” said Favini in a statement. “They demonstrate libraries’ commitment to serve all members of their communities, to education at any age, and to make local history accessible to everyone.”

In addition to the direct library grant program, the MBLC uses LSTA funds to support statewide programs and services including summer reading programs, research databases, the statewide eBook program, the Commonwealth Catalog, and which has information and resources for residents.

LSTA is administered on the federal level by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in the state by the MBLC. For more information, visit

In Southwick, the Southwick Public Library received a $7,500 grant in the “Pathways to Success” category.

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