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Retired North Adams Librarian Pens Book About Renovation
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
08:09AM / Sunday, July 05, 2020
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The story of the modernization and expansion of the historic North Adams Public Library has been written by the library director who the led the project. 
 
"Preserving a Legacy: Building for the Future" was recently self-published by Marcia Gross, who was head of the library for the first decade of the century. 
 
"She was so heavily involved in the planning for the library and donated a substantial part of her professional life to the renovation and expansion," Richard Markham, former library trustee, said. "I think she wanted to tell that story."
 
Markham helped Gross with the book and is doing the marketing and press for her.
 
The Sanford Blackinton Mansion has been the home of the public library since 1898, when it was purchased by the city's first mayor, Albert Houghton, from Blackinton's widow and gifted it to the city in honor of his late brother. At the time it was referred to as the Houghton Memorial Library.
 
Markham said the building largely stayed as-is until Gross became the library director in the late 1990s.
 
"There were many efforts in the decades to follow to get the building up to snuff and meeting codes and there was money raised but it was only until Marcia came in," he said. 
 
She was the city's 10th librarian, and the ninth operating out of the mansion. Which she arrived the Milne Public Library, the operations in the 1865 Second Empire structure had changed little for decades. The only computer was locked in a cabinet because no one knew how to use it; there were few VHS tapes and no DVDs. The card cabinet was the only way to find out what was in the stacks.
 
She oversaw the computerization of the library with digital access to C/W MARS and added on new media for patrons.
 
But her real achievement was guiding the $4.3 million addition and renovation project through her tenure as director. She helped organize fundraising efforts, had a hand in successful grant applications, and was instrumental in gaining community support.
 
"This would not have happened without Marcia Gross," Markham said. "She is the hero of this story."
 
She retired in 2009 after the renovation was completed.
 
Markham, who was trustee during that period, said the story is told from Gross' perspective and was largely written in 2018. He compiled her notes and put them in order.
 
"That was my role to take what she had done and not change the text at all but to get it all organized," he said. "I think she tells a marvelous story and I think she goes through what brought this project into fruition."
 
The book highlights the "Folks That Made the Project Happen" and the many activities that were a part of the building project.
 
It also includes photos of the project and the many meetings and fundraising events over the years. 
 
A limited number of first editions may be purchased prior to the reopening of the library (it is currently closed because of the pandemic). The book can be purchased in softcover for $20 or hardcover for $30; all sales benefit the library.
 
Purchases can be made by calling 413-458-8427 or send payment to Marcia Gross, 651 Henderson Road, Williamstown, MA 01267. Arrangements can be made for pickup or delivery.
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