What do the start of World War I, the designation of the Mohawk Trail as a scenic tourist route by the Massachusetts legislature and the dedication of the Milo Belding Memorial Library to the town of Ashfield have in common?  They all happened one hundred years ago, in 1914.

As we plan the centennial celebration of our Library, we appreciate this continuing gift of knowledge, literacy and recreation to our community.  We also recognize the ways library service has changed in those hundred years, from card catalog to online catalog, from only written materials to books available in audio, visual and electronic formats, from sharing only local and regional resources to sharing state, national and global resources.  And as we look back, it is a good time to look forward as well…to consciously face the beginning of the next hundred years of our Library.

The Library Centennial Committee, undaunted by the snowstorm that postponed its first meeting, will be gathering in March to consider ideas for the one hundredth birthday celebration of the Library.  If you have any suggestions for Centennial activities, please drop by the library and let us know or contact any of the Library Trustees.

Changes are often both exciting and confusing and one recent change in our Library is the CW Mars automated catalog.  It allows residents of Ashfield free access to books, CDs and DVDs in over 150 libraries, and along with the additional online resources provided by the Massachusetts Library System (MLS) and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC), access to resources in almost any public library in the state including the Boston Public Library. Sometimes, however, it is not easy to figure out how to take advantage of all these resources, to actually access all the literary wealth that is out there.

That is where your trusty library director and library staff come in handy.  If you run into any difficulty or have any questions about using the CW Mars catalog, please call, drop by or email (mcohen@cwmars.org)  the library so we can answer your question!  Some questions come up frequently and I will try to answer them in this column.  Here are two recent questions:

1)      Where can I find a list of the newest materials added to the Belding library collections?

This can be found in two places, at the top of the CWMars home page where it says “New Titles” and at the bottom of page where you search for titles where it says “See New Titles at your library”. Choose either button and a list appears of all the CW Mars libraries…choose Ashfield Belding Memorial Library and voila, a list of our newest titles in all formats will open for you to look at.

2)      Where can I find reviews of Books, CDs and DVDs in the catalog?

When you search for a title and the list of relevant titles appears, look at the far right-hand side of the page. You will see three options:  Place a Hold, Add to my list and Reviews and More!

Choose “Reviews and More” and follow the Reviews option until a list of reviews appears. If the review you are reading says *Starred Review* at the beginning, it means the reviewer thinks the book/CD/DVD is exceptionally worth reading, listening to or watching.

One of the most cheerful activities of the last cold snowy  weeks has been sharing Story Times with the children at the Ashfield Community Preschool. We have been reading a lot of tales about the winter happenings of families, friends and animals inside cozy houses and outside in snowy woods and backyards.  Somehow it all seems much more magical in books than in real-life!  After each Story Time, I display all the books we’ve read in the children’s room at the Library. If any parent would like a list of the Story Time books we have already shared, please contact me at the library for a copy. If parents would like to have a list of books sent to them by email after each Story Time, please contact me with your email address.

Also, the Library Meeting Room is available for cultural, educational and civic community programs.

The Library Trustees and the Friends of the Library would like to encourage programs presented by the community for the community.  If you have an idea for a program, forum, lecture, discussion group, poetry reading or literary celebration, please drop by the library to discuss your ideas.

Thank You!

A Selection of New Materials at the Library this Month:


After I’m Gone  by Laura Lippman

*Suspenseful crime novel interwoven with insightful  psychological character studies.

The Good Lord Bird  by James McBride

*Historical fiction involving abolitionist John Brown and the raid at Harper’s Ferry.

The Luminaries  by Eleanor Catton

*Complex historical suspense novel from New Zealand

Red Moon  by Benjamin Percy

*Spellbinding literary horror novel, described as a mix of Stephen King and Michael Chabon.

Signature of All Things  by Elizabeth Gilbert.

*Sweeping  19thcentury saga, full of characters, ideas, history and action.


Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life: the plants and places that inspired the classic children’s tales

by Marta McDowell

George Washington’s Secret Six: the spy ring that saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade

Little Failure: a memoir by Gary Shteyngart

*Award-winning Russian-American novelist writes entertainingly about his life so far.

Monkey’s Voyage: how Improbable Journeys Shaped the History of Life by Alan DeQueiroz

*An evolutionary biologist presents amazing stories to illuminate the effects of biogeography.

One Summer: America, 1927  by Bill Bryson

*Find out what made this an amazing season in the eyes of this popular historical humorist.

The Resilient Farm and Homestead by Ben Falk

*Recommended in last month’s SHARE THE WARMTH column

The Sixth Extinction: an unnatural history by Elizabeth Kolbert

*A science journalist’s inquiry into the hows and whys of Earth’s vanishing species.

What Doctor’s Feel: how emotions affect the practice of medicine  by Danielle Ofri

The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Garden:  how to grow food in harmony with nature   by Tammi Hartung


Lee Daniel’s The Butler

*(Historical drama; Forrest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey and other well-known  actors in presidential cameos

Blue Jasmine   

*Personal drama; award-winner Cate Blanchett, directed by Woody Allen

Captain Phillips   

*True-life suspense, Tom Hanks and first-time Somalian actors from Minneapolis

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Dallas Buyers Club   

*Drama; Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto in award-winning performances

Doc Martin Season 6

Enough Said 

 *Comedy; Julia Louise Dreyfus, James Gandolfini

In A World

                *Independent feminist comedy about Hollywood’s highly competitive voiceover profession

The Master        

*Drama; great performance by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman

Monster’s University  

*Comedy for all ages; sequel to Monster’s Inc


*International award winner; a Saudi Arabian girl challenges her country’s gender-based traditions.

 Books on CD

The Chaperone   by Laura Moriarty

*Historical fiction about  actress Louise Brooks’rise to fame in New York City in the 1920’s, read      by Elizabeth McGovern who plays Lady Cora in TV’s  Downton Abbey

David and Goliath: underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants   by Malcolm Gladwell

The Kill Room   by Jeffrey Deaver

*Exciting mystery featuring wheelchair-bound detective Lincoln Rhyme

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulk

*Delightful homage to the stories of PG Wodehouse featuring Jeeves and Wooster

Where’d You Go Bernadette   by Maria Semple

*Humorous tale of a daughter’s search for her wild and crazy mother who has gone missing

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

*Literary detective fiction; ninth in the Quebec/Three Pines series.

 Picture Books

Catching Kisses   by Amy Gibson

The Day the Crayons Quit   by Drew Daywalt

Farmer Allen and the Growing Table   by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Junkyard   by Mike Austin

Once Upon a Northern Night  by Jean Pendziwol

We Shall Overcome: the story of a song  by Debbie Levy

 Martha Cohen

Library Director