A Library for Our Time

Front coverA Library for Our Time

So much of Stockbridge life is embodied in our Library, where generations have come to browse, borrow, read, reflect, study, and socialize. Founded in 1862 by Nathan Jackson and a group of public spirited townspeople, the Library not only offers lifelong learning, it preserves the historical record of Stockbridge from its earliest days as an Indian mission town to the present.

From its collections to its programs, the Library seeks to serve all those who live, visit, and work in Stockbridge, a town whose illustrious history far exceeds its size. The Library embodies the best of Stockbridge—pride in our history, curiosity about the world, and love of knowledge.

But how do we keep this town treasure vibrant and growing as it continues to serve the diverse needs and interests of the community?


A Vibrant Resource for the Community

The public library has always been a democratic symbol of a learned, open-minded society. It is one of the few sentinels of learning still free of charge to all citizens, rich or poor, young or old. This is especially important for a community such as ours, which is culturally rich and places a high value on lifelong learning. –Duncan Pollack, Stockbridge resident

Over the years the Library has become far more than a repository for books. A 2012 survey conducted to help guide the Stockbridge Library Association’s future planning revealed that while borrowing books and magazines is still a primary reason for visiting the Library, many come for social or community reasons: to attend a lecture or exhibit; to participate in a group activity; or to visit the rich collection of historical artifacts in the Museum.

Many in our community cannot connect to the Internet in their homes, so the Library has become an essential resource for research, learning about job opportunities, securing government benefits, and accessing crucial health information. Contrary to the view that technology is rendering libraries obsolete, public library usage across the country has exploded along with overall computer use. A 2013 federal report indicates that visits to public libraries in the United States increased nearly 38 percent over a recent nine-year period. In Massachusetts, visits increased 50 percent over a ten-year span.  Maintaining current technology is an integral part of providing library service in today’s world.


Renovating & Revitalizing for the Future

The Stockbridge Library has not undergone a major renovation since 1937, when the Bement Wing was added—77 years ago!

Antiquated mechanical systems needed to be replaced to make the building more energy efficient and to enable the Library to offer enhanced services. An elevator and new restrooms were installed to provide access for all visitors; and we addressed patrons’ demands for more technology and more flexible space.

The renovation of the building added 2,437 square feet to the existing 10,310 square foot structure, most of it for the use of our patrons. The renovation did not radically alter the footprint or the façade of our beloved building. New lighting, comfortable seating, and other furnishings contribute to the welcoming atmosphere and character that our patrons cherish.


The renovation:

  • Converted underused space into more functional areas for ongoing daily activities
  • Expanded the display and storage space for the Museum &  Archives
  • Created a multipurpose space on the Museum Level for community programs and activities
  • Created new study, reading, and activity areas on the Upper Level for children and adults to work on projects
  • Provided 21st century technology capabilities in an energy-efficient building
  • Provided fully accessible facilities, from bathrooms to an elevator to bookstacks, for all patrons
  • Relocated the director’s office to the Main Level to allow interaction with visitors and staff

Why was this project important?

The updates and enhancements to the Library’s systems and infrastructure put us into a better position to:

  • Be a gathering place and information center for all Stockbridge residents and visitors
  • Support collaboration and sharing among community organizations with new tutoring and small group meeting spaces
  • Promote respect for others and enliven our shared history with expanded exhibits and symposia
  • Launch new initiatives such as film screenings, writing workshops, financial seminars, educational programming, distance learning, book groups, and other activities
  • Provide improved access to 21st century technology for everyone in our community