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From the May 23, 1957, Eagle

Eagle Archives, May 23, 1957: Athenaeum's record-lending specialist offers borrowers 'music to live by'

Dolors Mogan is a young woman with a name printers and proofreaders can’t seem to believe — it always comes out Dolores Morgan — who presides over the Berkshire Athenaeum’s lending library of records with the dedication of an accomplished musician, which she is, and an experienced librarian, which she also is.

Miss Mogan loves her work. If Berkshire County is inundated with beautiful music, she has certainly done her share. And if, occasionally, her beloved discs come back with fingerprints or the interesting part of a jelly doughnut, she just sighs, cleans them up and tucks them lovingly back on her shelves, until the next time.

On those shelves, waiting for a diamond stylus or a beat-up old steel phonograph needle, reposes the glorious music of the world, plus recitations of Kipling’s “If” and other deathless prose and poetry. Miss Mogan loves them all like a mother, and wants everybody else to love them too.

Sometimes people come in and say, “Give me something loud and noisy — I’ve got a new loudspeaker and I want to try it out.” Miss Mogan shudders, but she gives them something loud and noisy and says a silent prayer for their musical souls.

Sometimes housewives come in looking for something to iron by. Miss Mogan gives them good ironing music, something with a steady beat and no long pauses.

Sometimes men come in looking for something to paint the kitchen by. Miss Mogan got her revenge on one of these. Whenever he hears “Tales of the Vienna Woods” his arm goes back and forth.

Sometimes dentists drop in for drilling music. Miss Mogan swears to this. The patients like something soothing, hypnotic. So Miss Mogan prescribes anesthetic-type music, like “Sleeping Beauty.” The drillees also seem to go for Chopin — the etudes and preludes, not the mazurkas.

Life is never dull on the second floor balcony. Especially, not with the listening booth. Tales of that booth have long lightened the labors of the library staff. Occasionally Miss Mogan has to lower the boom on teen-agers who go in, find that music is the food of love, and play on. But usually the offbeat goings-on in the booth are provided by more mature members of the community.

There was the woman who came up one afternoon and went in without taking any records or even turning on the light. Miss Mogan couldn’t restrain her curiosity. She peeked in and saw the lady calmly changing her stockings.

And then there was the elderly man — a wanderer with a knapsack — who paused for two weeks in Pittsfield to realize the ambition of his life — to learn to play “The Flight of the Bumblebee” on the harmonica. He did. Unfortunately the listening booth is not completely sound-proof and it was a long two weeks for Miss Mogan.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.

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