Libraries to kick off week of climate change programs

  • Emily Williston Memorial Library is looking into funding options for a new building. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/19/2022 8:49:53 PM

NORTHAMPTON — As the changing climate increases the frequency, intensity and impacts of extreme weather, western Massachusetts libraries including Forbes in Northampton, Emily Williston Memorial in Easthampton and Westhampton Public Library are banding together to provide programming about emergency preparedness and the intersection of climate change and social justice.

Starting Saturday, Sept 24, and running through Friday, Sept. 30, the Pioneer Valley Library Collaborative will present Climate Preparedness Week, a national observance led yearly by the Boston-based nonprofit Communities Responding to Extreme Weather.

The collaborative is a partnership of libraries in western Massachusetts that combines ideas, materials and resources to help educate the public about the climate crisis.

“The idea is that by joining forces and providing different programming on climate change and resilience, there will be more opportunities for people to have access to information and inspiration on how to face climate change,” said Meaghan Schwelm, director of the Westhampton Public Library.

In addition to Westhampton, Forbes and Emily Williston Memorial libraries, participating libraries in the collaborative are Agawam Public Library, Granville Public Library, Milne Public Library in Williamstown, Southwick Public Library, Tolland Public Library, West Springfield Public Library and the Westfield Athenaeum.

During Climate Preparedness Week, the 10 libraries in the collaborative will offer a broad range of free programming for residents.

“Climate change is a topic that’s on a lot of people’s minds, and libraries are the purveyors of information in our communities,” Lynn Blair, director of Southwick Public Library, said in a statement. “Climate Preparedness Week allows us to join together to offer factual information through engaging programs.”

Joshua Rapp, a conservation scientist for Mass Audubon, will kick off programming with an introduction to climate-smart forestry at Westhampton Public Library on Saturday, Sept. 24, at 11 a.m. Rapp will discuss management approaches designed to help forests adapt to changing climate conditions as they remove carbon dioxide from the air.

Rapp’s research on the matter includes the impact of climate change on maple syrup production, of which there is much local relevance in Westhampton, Schwelm said.

Though programming is free, registration is required. To register for this event, call 413-527-5386 or email

Other events

On Monday, Sept. 26, Emily Williston Memorial Library, Granville Public Library and the Westfield Athenaeum will co-host a mindful outdoor experience led by Kripalu-trained instructor Colleen Mollica at the Japanese Gardens in Stanley Park, at 400 Western Ave. in Westfield.

At the event, participants will be encouraged to use present-moment awareness, deep breathing and conscious movement to help participants awaken their senses and receive the healing properties of nature.

Two sessions are available: 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. or 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Register at one of the three hosting libraries.

Also on Monday, Sept. 26, is the start of Emily Williston Memorial Library’s “Saving Us! Working Toward Climate Resilience,” a three-part virtual series. In the first part of the series, “Climate Change 101: What You Need to Know,” Carsten Braun, a geography, planning, and sustainability professor at Westfield State University, will review the science of climate change, discuss the impacts, and then explore practical solutions.

Parts two and three will be held Monday, Oct. 3, and Monday, Oct. 17, respectively.

All sessions will be held via Zoom and begin at 7 p.m., and are being held in partnership with grassroots citizens group Voices for Climate and funded in part by Emily’s Friends of the Library. Attendance at all three sessions is not required. To register, visit

Other events include take-and-make crafts, an adult nature-writing workshop and a renewable energy experiment that allows kids to roast marshmallows in a solar oven.

A full list of the week’s programs as well as some beyond Climate Preparedness Week is available at The website was created by Ben Kalish, a reference librarian at Forbes Library.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at
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