Ramsdell Library at risk — again

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By Monday, Apr 17 Letters  3 Comments

To The Editor:

Say goodbye to Ramsdell Library. The curtain is almost closed; it’s just a matter of time before naysayers will succeed in shuttering the 109 year old library.

Ramsdell Library in Housatonic.

Ramsdell Library in Housatonic.

A sharp reduction in hours (with a jumbled schedule that a spelling bee champion couldn’t remember) will hasten the demise of this venerable community beacon. Thank you, Ed Abrahams, for being the sole dissenter on the Selectboard.

Supporters have been trying to get the Town to be fair to the village of Housatonic by finally taking steps to make the library accessible to all, by putting its resources behind what is clearly much more than a library to residents. But over the last decade, concerted efforts by Trustees, Friends of the Libraries and and community members have been eroded by the stalling of projects to make the library handicap accessible, a reduction in spending for new library materials, a reduction in the Ramsdell slice of the programming pie and now, a substantial cut in hours.

Let’s not blame Housatonic residents for a decline in attendance at Ramsdell. They have already shown their enthusiasm for relevant programming and convenient hours with high attendance at the Sunday afternoon hours sponsored by The Friends two winters ago.

What Ramsdell needs is modernization (no AC in the community room for the last three summers isn’t much of a draw), accessible entrances and interiors, a fair division of material and programming budget and, crucially, leadership. It needs Sunday hours (approved in January) to begin before we all fade away. It needs active, committed library activists to follow in Ramsdell champion Alice Bubriski’s storied wake.

Holly Hamer

99 Seekonk Cross Rd.

Great Barrington, MA 01230

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3 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Carol Diehl says:

    Thank you, Holly! Housatonic is a community on its own, that deserves its own community center, which is what the library is to residents. So important to the well-being and education of our village!

  2. Michelle Loubert says:

    Thank you, Holly. I’m with you. Last year’s Sunday openings were a huge it! The Housatonic History Stroll was an incredible experience for me; very rewarding. This year, WGBY is doing a story on Housatonic (airs Wednesday night). Historically, Housatonic has been and continues to be a “spirited” community. Hopefully, this community spirit will be used to voice support for the Ramsdell. All I can say, take a look at the Housatonic School–do we really want another empty, falling apart building in our community?

  3. Mary Eastland says:

    While I love the convenience of Ramsdell Library the attendance numbers are very small compared to Mason. The town would be better served by opening Mason library on Sunday and longer hours on Saturday and hiring enough staff to cover those hours.

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