Photo Gallery | Ramsdell Library celebrates Sunday hours

GREAT BARRINGTON — Elle Uselton squeezed the little containers of liquid green, yellow and blue onto a sheet of paper towel. The three-year-old, with the help of Lydia Uselton, sprayed a water/vinegar mixture onto the towel — lined underneath with plastic. The daughter-mother team then wrapped the colored paper around a hard-boiled egg, squeezed off the excess dye into a bowl, wrapped the plastic around the paper towel and egg that was held tight with a twist-tie. After an hour, unwrap to find a tie-dye Easter egg.


The hands-on activity was one of several held at the Ramsdell Public Library on the last Sunday of a pilot program library supporters hope becomes a fixture in Housatonic.

"It's incredibly helpful to have a place to go on a winter [Sunday] afternoon — art for Elle and coffee for me," Lydia Uselton said.

The Useltons were regular attendees for Ramsdell's experiment of being open on Sundays from 1- 4 p.m. to increase foot traffic for the quaint learning space in the heart of the village.

From Jan. 10 through March 20, the Friends of the Great Barrington Libraries, that includes the town's flagship Mason Library, offered three hours of origami, storytelling, various workshops and other special programming. Ramsdell open on a Sunday gave patrons the freedom to return borrowed books and DVDs, as well as borrow anew, without having to rush to do so during the work week.

"The object of the [Great Barrington library] trustees and Friends is to keep this library thriving," said Friends member Holly Hamer, architect of the Sunday opening.

Based on usage during the 11 Sundays and that area public libraries rarely open on Sundays, Hamer hopes Ramsdell being open on the first day of the week eventually becomes permanent.

Elle Uselton, 3, and her mom Lydia have enjoyed the Sunday hours at the Ramsdell Library in Housatonic, the last of which were on Sunday.
Elle Uselton, 3, and her mom Lydia have enjoyed the Sunday hours at the Ramsdell Library in Housatonic, the last of which were on Sunday. (Gillian Jones — The Berkshire Eagle |

"Consistency is important as it's hard sometime to know when people will regularly use the library," she said. "Maybe we could open on Sunday and have a weekday off."

Except for the town hiring Michelle Raczkowski with unspent funds to cover the library desk for the Sunday shift, volunteers staffed the three hours and raised funds to provide the programming and light refreshments. Raczkowski is the librarian at Mount Everett Regional School in Sheffield and frequents Ramsdell as her family lives nearby, making her a natural to take the temporary job.

"It is kind of weird being on this side of the desk," she said while checking in several returned items.

The final Sunday opening — for now — allowed Ramsdell to showcase the village to locals and visitors alike. Author and hisrotian Gary Leveille and Housatonic native Michelle Loubert led about a dozen people on an informal historical and architectural tour of the downtown. Once an active "mill town," Housatonic still has a thriving economy with a mix of multiple-generation families and recent newcomers, according to Leveille

"Housatonic sometimes feels like the forgotten stepchild, but quietly, their is business going on and a small, growing arts community," he said.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.