Library Offers Hands-On Pastel Painting Workshop for Adults

April 10th, 2017

Award-winning Pastelist Gregory John Maichack to Instruct

Saturday, April 15, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Central Library Community Roo
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The Springfield City Central Library on 220 State Street in Springfield will host award-winning pastel artist Gregory John Maichack to present an adult hands-on workshop, “Pastel Paint the 45-Million- Dollar Flower,” on Saturday, April 15th, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. This pastel painting workshop is designed for beginners up to experienced artists. Seats may fill quickly so please call (413) 263-6828 ext. 221 to pre-register. Participants will freely experiment with hundreds of the artist’s professional grade pastels, pastel pencils, and pastel paper, in this fun pastel painting workshop.

In this new, highly researched workshop, participants have fun producing their own pastel painting of Georgia O’Keeffe’s elegant Jimson flower that sold for $45.4 million. Jimson Weed/White Flower No.1 has been described as a vehicle for pure expression. Mr. Maichack will demonstrate how beginners to accomplished artists can pastel paint easily using techniques of masters such as O’Keeffe. As always, participants will keep their pastel paintings.

Mr. Maichack has been a faculty member of the Museum Studio School in the Fine Arts Museum Quadrangle in Springfield, MA; and taught at Holyoke and Greenfield Community Colleges, Westfield State University, East Works, the MFA, Boston, and The Guild, Northampton. Winner of the Award of Merit from the Bennington Center for the Arts: Impressions of New England Show 2003, he also was awarded the Savoir-faire Pastel Award from the Great Lakes Pastel Society. Maichack has been commissioned to paint portraits of past Westfield State University president Doctor Frederick Woodward, as well as dictionary great Charles Merriam for Merriam-Webster Co.

Mason Square Branch Seed Lending Library to Re-Open

March 27th, 2017
MS seed library

Welcome to the Mason Square Branch Seed Lending Library!

Made possible through a grant from Vermont-based seed company, High Mowing Organic Seeds, the seed library features a great variety of %100 organic, non-GMO seeds for vegetables, greens, herbs, and flowers. With multiple varieties of tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, peas, pumpkins, and watermelons, there’s something for everyone!

How do I sign up?

Anyone interested in borrowing seeds must fill out a membership form, located in a binder at the branch. Though you’ll only need to give us your name and contact information once, we ask that you record which seeds you’ve taken every time you borrow from us.

So I can supply my entire garden this summer from your seed library?

Well, to some extent. There’s a limited supply of seeds, so we prefer that patrons be reasonable about how many they take overall. You CAN take a whole seed packet, but if you don’t think that you’ll use all the seeds inside, then grab an orange envelope and take just what you need.

But wait, how do you “lend out” seeds?

Though we don’t expect patrons to save seeds, we do take donations of non-GMO commercial seeds in an effort to make this project more sustainable. When you bring seeds in, please make a record of it on your membership form. We’ll also take gently-used garden tools!

I’m a first time gardener!

Great! We’re here to support you. The library works with the Springfield Food Policy Council and the Mason Square Community Garden Group to provide Springfield residents with hands-on gardening workshops led by experienced gardeners. See our workshop schedule for details. We also have a variety of gardening books, covering urban gardening, vegetable gardens, container gardens, flower gardens, and more!

You didn’t answer all my questions!!!

Oh, okay. Branch supervisor, Caitlin Kelley, would be happy to answer any further questions. She’s probably sitting right behind you (if you’re at the branch).

Women’s Leadership Panel to be Held in Mason Square

March 21st, 2017
My Beloved Springfield- Honoring Pioneering Librarians and Women's Leadership Panel

Event Also Honors Pioneering Mason Square Librarians
Thursday, March 30, 5:30 – 7:30 PM

The Springfield City Library is reprising one of its most popular events, entitled “My Beloved Springfield: Honoring Pioneering Librarians and Women’s Leadership Panel”. Attendees can explore local leadership development opportunities for women and girls at an information fair from 5:30-6 PM, and help honor two pioneering librarians, Mrs. Bettye Webb and Mrs. Sylvia Humphrey-Spann. Mrs. Webb and Mrs. Humphrey-Spann led the Mason Square (formerly Winchester Square) Branch Library and made it a welcoming, educational, and motivational cultural center for neighborhood residents.

The final part of the evening includes a panel of local women who will discuss their different paths to leadership. Panelists include The Rev. Catharine Cummings, activist and pastor with Wesley UMC in Springfield and Christ UMC in Northampton; Chrissy Howard, Instructional Leadership Specialist with Springfield Public Schools; Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, trial attorney with the Law Office of Tahirah Amatul-Wadud; Natasha Clark, writer, publisher, entrepreneur and founding partner of Lioness, the digital magazine for female entrepreneurs; and Ivette Ramos, Director at MassMutual Financial Group. The panel will be moderated by Decorti Rodgers-Tonge, Chair of the Accounting Department for Bay Path University. The panel will be followed by a Q&A session and light refreshments will be served.

The event is scheduled from 5:30-7:30 PM on Thursday, March 30th and will be held at the Mason Square Branch Library, located at 765 State Street in Springfield. Parking is available in lots on Hawley and Monroe streets, and overflow parking at the adjacent Wesley United Methodist Church, accessible by State Street and Monroe street.

Celtic Concert to be Held at the Central Library

March 16th, 2017

“The Softer Side of Celtic: Music and Stories” Features Guitarist Jeff Snow
Sunday, March 26, 2 – 3 p.m.
Central Library Rotunda

The Springfield City Library will be hosting “The Softer Side of Celtic: Music and Stories”, performed by Jeff Snow, on Sunday, March 26th from 2-3 PM. Mr. Snow is a highly regarded guitarist who also plays the autoharp, bouzouki, and other instruments. He weaves the stories of music from Scotland, Ireland and England into a unique program that includes plenty of singing, laughter, and clapping.

The concert is part of the Rotunda Rhythms monthly musical series, hosted in the Central Library at 220 State Street in Springfield. Programs in February-April will feature local musicians in performances well suited for a general, all-ages audience. Each concert includes a free attendance raffle for the audience, sponsored by the Friends of the Library. “The Softer Side of Celtic: Music and Stories” is supported in part by a grant from the Springfield Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Castro Documentary to be Screened at Sixteen Acres Branch

March 6th, 2017
Clodo Concepcion hi res.

Film Screening with Discussion of the Documentary The Castro Tapes
Saturday, March 25, 3:15 p.m.
Sixteen Acres Branch Library

Please join us for a free showing and discussion of a fascinating PBS documentary, The Fidel Castro Tapes. According to the producer: “To some an icon of resistance and to others the very face of dictatorial oppression, Fidel Castro was one of the most provocative political figures of the 20th century. The Fidel Castro Tapes chronicles how his drive and charisma catapulted him to power in Cuba and how he used these traits to maintain control of his country for nearly five decades and capture the attention of the world.”

There will be a discussion after the documentary that will feature a special guest, Sixteen Acres resident and former Springfield City Councilor Clodo Concepcion. Clodo grew up in Cuba, the second of 12 children, on a tobacco farm under the Batista government. He came to the United States in 1956.

“Health in the Square” Grant Funds Gardening Workshops

March 1st, 2017
Kiosk Image Gardening Workshops

Springfield Residents Can Grow Seedlings, Have Soil Tested, and Plan Gardens


Springfield City Library’s Mason Square Branch was lucky enough to win a “Health in the Square” grant from the National Library of Medicine a few months ago. However, the real winners are Springfield residents who can now attend a variety of free gardening workshops, many of which are funded by the grant.

Events include Garden Planning on March 9th from 5-6:30 PM, Soil Health and Soil Testing on March 25th from 11 AM – 12 PM, Community Garden Get Together on March 25th from 12:30-2:30 PM, and Bring Your Soil on March April 13th from 5-6:30 PM. All events listed above will be held at the Mason Square Library, located at 756 State Street in Springfield.

Many additional gardening-related workshops are planned at various city locations. For more information, please visit the Springfield Food Policy Council website or call them at 413-263-6500 ext. 6539. Those interested in attending workshops may also contact workshop coordinator Anna Muhammad at or call 413-214-1237.

March Brings Talented Authors to Springfield City Libraries

February 28th, 2017
Kiosk Image Author Fair

Libraries Host Events Showcasing Local Writers

The Spring Local Author Fair
March 4, 2017, 12:30 – 3:30 p.m
Central Library Rotunda

Katherine Kraver Book Signing
Wednesday, March 29, From 6:00-7:00 p.m. East Springfield Branch AND
Saturday, April 1, from 1:00-2:00 p.m., Sixteen Acres Branch

Katherine Kraver II

The Springfield City Library is honored to host a large number of authors this spring. On March 4th from 12:30-3:30 PM the Central Library will host the Author Fair, which features talented local and Massachusetts-based writers. The authors will be on hand to discuss their books and their writing, and to sign copies of their novels, nonfiction works, poetry collections, and children’s books. The Central Library is located at 220 State Street. A full listing of featured authors and genres can be found on our website.

On Wednesday, March 29th from 6-7 PM, the East Springfield Branch Library will host Katherine Kraver, A globetrotter who has visited Jordan, Haiti and two dozen other countries, she is dedicated to raising awareness about the plight of refugees and hardships that children face across the globe. Ms. Kraver will be reading from her newest book, The Boy with the Red Shoes. The program will also include crafts, a slide show on the author’s travels and writing process, and a book signing. $1.00 from the sale of each of her books will be donated to The Red Cross to help children. The East Springfield Branch Library is located at 21 Osborne Terrace.

Mardi Gras Concert to be held at Mason Square Library

February 23rd, 2017
mardi gras MS Poster

“Krewe Les Gras” to Perform Cajun Rhythms and Funky Jazz Grooves
Thursday, March 2, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Mason Square Branch Library

The Springfield City Library’s Mason Square Branch will transform into a music hall on Thursday, March 2nd from 5:30-7:30 PM. Join us for an evening of funky, jazzy tunes with Krewe Les Gras and students from Springfield’s Community Music School.

Inspired by the sounds of the Crescent City, the birthplace of so much American music, Krewe Les Gras seeks to bring the New Orleans experience to the masses. Cajun rhythms, funky grooves, and wild improvisations are sure to keep you on the dance floor all night and day. Participants can enjoy bead necklaces and king’s cake during the performance. The concert will be held at the Mason Square Branch Library, located at 765 State Street in Springfield.

Jazz Concert to be held at Central Library

February 21st, 2017
B&W of Rotunda Rhythms Spring 2017

“Jim Argiro Jazz Trio” Also Features Andrea Niki and Jason Schwartz
Sunday, February 26, 2 p.m., Central Library Rotunda


The Springfield City will be hosting an exciting musical performance by the Jim Argiro Jazz Trio on Sunday, February 26th from 2-3 PM. Featuring Jim Argiro on piano, Jason Schwartz on bass, and the vocals of Andrea Niki, the trio will perform original arrangements of jazz standards and upbeat, toe-tapping numbers. Stories of Jim’s work in show business, as well as how he approaches the arrangements of the songs performed, will offer insight into the life of a jazz musician.

The concert is part of the Rotunda Rhythms monthly musical series, hosted in the Central Library at 220 State Street in Springfield. Programs in February-April will feature local musicians in performances well suited for a general, all-ages audience. Each concert includes a free attendance raffle for the audience, sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

From Madness to Music Screening at Sixteen Acres

February 14th, 2017

From Madness to Music: Film and Discussion
March 1, 6-7:30 p.m., Sixteen Acres Branch Library
Sign up online

March 1 is Zero Discrimination Day. Please join us for a free showing of a thought-provoking documentary “From Madness to Music.” It is a timely and poignant response to the world’s imminent need for change and healing during heightened tensions between faiths and cultures across the globe. Culling from 10 years of video archives recorded by volunteers, students, and professionals, the film explores the challenges facing youth in conflicted communities in the U.S. and Middle East. Their intention is “to shine a light on the work and the people who, given a chance, are committed to building a stronger, more peaceful world because the world needs some GOOD NEWS!”

The documentary is followed by a q&a and community conversation with Music in Common founder and director Todd Mack.

Please note that the branch will be closed to the public at this time. Come to the main door for entry.

Consumer Protection Information Desks at Library

February 14th, 2017

Be Aware, Be Smart: Consumer Protection, Good Credit, and You
Central Library Rotunda: Monday March 6, 12-2 p.m.
Mason Square Branch Library: Thursday, March 9, 5-7:30 p.m.


Stop-by the Central Library on March 6 from 12 – 2 p.m. or the Mason Square Branch Library on March 9 from 5-7:30 p.m. and see how consumers can protect themselves against fraud, identity theft, and scams.

Natalia Shtrom from the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Information will be available at the Central Library to answer questions about using credit wisely, shopping well for a used car, maximizing your security when shopping online and more. On the 9th she’ll be joined by Milagros Johnson also of the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Information at the Mason Square Branch.

Free literature and informative handouts will be available to take. Bilingual services (English and Russian) will be provided at the Central Library, and trilingual services (English, Russian, and Spanish) will be offered at Mason Square. This service is offered in recognition of National Consumer Protection Week.

The Electoral College – Keep It or Dump It? A Public Discussion

February 1st, 2017

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 6:30-8 p.m., at the Brightwood Branch Library, 359 Plainfield St., Springfield

Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election marked the second time in 16 years that the winner of the popular vote has lost the election in the Electoral College. This disconnect between winning the vote of the nation’s electors and winning the vote of the nation’s people has prompted renewed calls to abolish the Electoral College.

All 50 states and every other democracy in the world directly elects its leaders by popular vote. So, keep the Electoral College or dump it? The League of Women Voters/Springfield and the Springfield City Library bring together a panel in a free public forum to explore this important question Tuesday, Feb. 7, 6:30-8 p.m., at the Brightwood Branch Library, 359 Plainfield St., Springfield.


Doing a deep dive into the pros and cons of our unique American institution will be State Senator Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow), who has called upon the state Senate to petition Congress to abolish the Electoral College, and political scientists Amel Ahmed and Jesse Rhodes from UMass Amherst, and Adam Hilton from Mount Holyoke College.

“The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that the direct-popular-vote method for electing the President and Vice-President is essential to representative government,” says panel organizer Linda Matys O’Connell, convener of the League of Women Voters/Springfield. “We also believe people need real information to make good decisions about our government, so we are eager for an in-depth airing of the issues surrounding the Electoral College with our thoughtful panelists.”

Senator Lesser also hopes to spur an exchange of ideas: “Given the importance of empowering voters to believe every vote counts in a presidential election, the repeal of the Electoral College merits a thorough discussion and examination. My hope is that this Resolution contributes to such a discussion,” he said in a statement when he filed his Senate resolution.

To kick off Tuesday’s discussion, Professor Rhodes will lay groundwork and provide context by presenting a short history of the origin and functioning of the Electoral College, and Senator Lesser will present his rationale for calling for its abolishment.

Professor Ahmed, will speak in its defense. She argued recently in the journal “The American Prospect”: “While the disconnect between the electoral and popular votes may be cause for alarm, abolishing the Electoral College poses even greater dangers, particularly for liberals. . . . Indeed, the Electoral College is one of the greatest guarantees our system delivers to ensure that minority interests are represented in the office of the presidency.”

Mount Holyoke’s Hilton notes that one of his students described the hybrid American presidential election system as a “Frankensystem.” While he acknowledges that the system is “needlessly complicated, and operates in a way now that it was not designed to do,” he will focus on the pitfalls of substituting what he calls “technical solutions” like Electoral College reform for solutions to social-political problems.

“I think the grievances of the citizens are something we have to think really carefully about—what kinds of political arrangements, compromises, and deep fundamental changes need to happen for those grievances to be addressed in a positive way,” he said in an interview with Mount Holyoke’s Keely Savoie.

About the panelists

Jesse Rhodes is an associate professor of political science at UMass Amherst. His major areas of scholarly interest are social policy, voting rights policy, economic inequality and political behavior.

Amel Ahmed is an associate professor of political science at UMass Amherst. Her main area of specialization is democratic studies particularly the politics of institutional choice in the process of democratization.

Adam Hilton is a visiting instructor of political science at Mount Holyoke College. He focuses on electoral history and practice.

State Sen. Eric Lesser is co-chair of the Senate’s Millennial Engagement Initiative. He represents parts of Springfield and Chicopee, and East Longmeadow, Hampden, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Wilbraham, Belchertown and Granby.

About the LWV/Springfield
The League of Women Voters is a political organization that encourages informed and active citizen participation in government with the goal of helping the people access their power to shape better communities. It does not support candidates or parties. The LWV/Springfield is a unit of the Northampton Area LWV.