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Athenaeum programs set for school vacation week

WESTFIELD-With Love Your Library Month in full swing, librarians at the Westfield Athenaeum report they are busier than ever.

“We are busier this week because we always provide extra programming for school age kids during vacations to support families,” said Becky Blackburn, public services librarian. “It is also Love Your Library Month and we like to do something fun for that too.”

Planning has been ongoing for librarians as they anticipate more families tuning in to the varied programs scheduled during school vacation week, Feb. 15-19.

“We expect kids and even more so their parents will be looking for things to do,” she said, noting there are several live programs as well as pre-recorded content being released.

While supplies last, Blackburn noted a special giveaway is also planned for patrons.

“Since February is Love Your Library Month, we will be showing our appreciation for our patrons with a giveaway at Library to Go on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,” said Blackburn. “Pick up your holds or just pick up a present anytime during those days while supplies last.”

Since the Athenaeum will be closed on Feb. 15 in observance of Presidents’ Day, events kickoff Feb. 16 with Ms. Mary in a recorded storytime around noon, ”for all those young and young at heart,” said Blackburn.

“These stories are posted to our Facebook page at and then click on our videos tab,” said Blackburn, adding all prior story times will remain on the page for as long as COVID copyright allows.

“Don’t forget that Ms. Mary also does live virtual story time once a month,” said Blackburn.

Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the Westfield Athenaeum group, a teen craft is also slated Feb. 16 to create a donut squishie.

“You will receive an email from Olivia explaining how you can pick up the materials,” said Blackburn, adding that registration is required for the program geared for students in grades 5-12.

Closing out the day is a live teen paint afternoon program from 2-3:30 p.m.

“Join us over Zoom for a paint afternoon,” said Blackburn. “Together we’ll go through the steps of painting an out-of-the-world galaxy. All materials including a canvas, paint, and paint brushes will be provided for participants.”

Blackburn noted that the materials must be picked up at the Athenaeum before the event that is also geared for students in grades 5-12.

“You will receive an email notification to let you know when the materials can be picked up,” said Blackburn.

On Feb. 17, a “rousing game of bingo” begins at 6:30 p.m. for all ages.

“Everyone in the family can join Game Night on Zoom,” said Blackburn, adding, “register to receive copies of your bingo cards and online access for the game.”

DVD prize packs will be awarded to several lucky winners.

On Feb. 18, The Book Club goes live at 1 p.m. for a discussion on “Hillbilly Elegy” by J. D. Vance.

“The book is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis – that of poor, white Americans – from the inside,” said Blackburn.

For persons interested in participating in the discussion, email Anne at [email protected] to be placed on the email list for the Zoom links. 

“The Athenaeum will be requesting copies for Book Club members, so please do not place your own hold,” said Blackburn. “Please call or place a Library to Go via the Google form on our website. A limited number of e-books are also available through the Overdrive app.”

A Teen Writing Group gathers live at 3:30 p.m. and is open to students in grades 5-12.

“Each meeting tackles a new topic – suggested and voted on by group participants – with fun activities and writing prompts,” said Blackburn. “In this class, you help pick what we learn and work on your creative writing skills.”

The Teen Writing Group is for students in grades 5-12 and participants do not have to read their work unless they choose to do so. The class takes place on Zoom on the first and third Thursdays of every month.

Thursday’s special programming closes out with “Trivia Thursdays” at 6:30 p.m., centering on U.S. presidents for this session.

“Play with friends and family from the comfort of your own home,” said Blackburn. “This event will take place over Zoom and use Kahoot. You will need an extra internet connected device, for example, a smartphone, tablet, or laptop.”

Blackburn said in honor of Presidents’ Day, history buffs will enjoy this trivia night.

“This will be an all-ages event covering all the presidents you always hear about and the ones you always forget about,” she said, adding, “Slides will include fun extra tidbits to amuse the whole family.”

A new pre-recorded series by four Athenaeum librarians will be featured Feb. 19 titled “Good Book Hunting” at 1 p.m.

“Librarians will show you how to use a variety of book resources to find read-a-likes for the top requested titles by you, our patrons,” said Blackburn. “We will provide you with a list of books you might want to pick up while you wait – and show you how to replicate what we do to do the same for your own favorite books.”

The videos will be available to watch on the Athenaeum’s Facebook page by clicking on the “videos” tab and look for the Good Book Hunting playlist.

Also throughout the week, a new video series by Alex Thomas and Friends titled “Oliver’s Animal Adventure,” will be available for all ages.

“Each day a new video featuring an animal will be available,” said Blackburn. “Children and their families will be delighted by the silliness of the puppets and fascinated by the real animals.”

Lastly, librarians are excited to thank their patrons with the “Blind Date with a Book” program.

“Visit Library to Go pickup anytime Feb. 19 from 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and get your Blind Date with a Book,” said Blackburn. “Just like a blind date, these books are somewhat mysterious – they are wrapped and have a couple of words to describe them on the outside. You may find a dud or the new love of your literary life.”

Westfield Athenaeum patrons are being thanked for their support with the “Blind Date with a Book” program – while supplies last. (BECKY BLACKBURN PHOTO)

Blackburn noted that the blind date books are for patrons to keep or pass on to a friend – while supplies last.

For more details on any of the programs and to register for specific programs, visit or call (413) 568-7833.

“Since we don’t have patrons in the building we wanted to bring Love Your Library Month to them and say thank you for all their support,” said Blackburn.

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