United for Libraries to dedicate Berkshire Athenaeum (Mass.) a Literary Landmark

For Immediate Release
Tue, 07/23/2019


Trish McFadden

Program Coordinator

United for Libraries



EXTON, Pennsylvania — United for Libraries will dedicate The Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 Wendell Ave, Pittsfield, Massachusetts as a Literary Landmark™ in honor of Herman Melville’s 200th birthday on August 1. The Literary Landmark program was spearheaded by Rocco Staino, director of the Empire State Center for the Book.

The dedication ceremony will take place as part of The Berkshire County Historical Society’s third annual Moby-Dick Marathon, a four-day event at Herman Melville’s Arrowhead, 780 Holmes Road, Pittsfield, in the historic red barn where he often met with Nathanial Hawthorne.

The event will begin at noon on August 1 at The Berkshire Athenaeum in downtown Pittsfield, with tours of the Melville Room, where Melville scholars from around the world visit to research. A Literary Landmark plaque will be unveiled at 1:00 PM, sponsored by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum.

The Historical Society will conduct tours of Arrowhead (Herman Melville's home) from 2 to 4 p.m. with musical performances by Woody Printz. There, Melville wrote “Moby-Dick, or The Whale” (1851), “Pierre, or The Ambiguities” (1852), “Israel Potter: His Fifty Years in Exile” (1855), “The Piazza Tales” (1856), “The Confidence Man” (1857), and began his work “On Battle Pieces and Aspects Of War,” “Clarel, A Poem And Pilgrimage In The Holy Land,” and other works.

A birthday party hosted by the Historical Society at The Country Club of Pittsfield will begin at 4:30 p.m., featuring a cash bar and hors d’oeuvres, a special program with Tina Packer, Founding Artistic Director of Shakespeare & Company at 5:30, and a Prosecco toast, and birthday cake at 6:30. This is a ticketed event that benefits The Berkshire County Historical Society at Herman Melville’s Arrowhead.

The four-day event continues on Friday, August 2 with the annual marathon reading of “Moby-Dick.” The reading continues throughout the weekend (during museum hours) until its completion on Monday, August 5.

The Literary Landmark program is administered by United for Libraries. More than 150 Literary Landmarks across the United States have been dedicated since the program began in 1986. Any library or group may apply for a Literary Landmark through United for Libraries. More information is available on the United for Libraries website.

Herman Melville Memorial Room at the Berkshire Athenaeum
The Herman Melville Collection, housed in The Herman Melville Memorial Room, is a unique research collection of works by and about Herman Melville, who lived in Pittsfield from 1850 until 1863. The collection includes family correspondence, legal papers, annotated volumes from Melville’s library, first editions of the author’s works, family photographs, framed and unframed prints from the author’s personal collection, family portraits and a large collection of personal memorabilia, considered to be the largest of its type in the world, including the desk at which Billy Budd was written.

United for Libraries: The Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations, is a division of the American Library Association with approximately 4,000 personal and group members representing hundreds of thousands of library supporters. United for Libraries supports those who govern, promote, advocate, and fundraise for libraries, and brings together library Trustees, advocates, Friends, and Foundations into a partnership that creates a powerful force for libraries in the 21st century. To join, please visit www.ala.org/united or call (800) 545-2433, ext. 2161.