The Rural We: Alex Reczkowski
Alex Reczkowski’s career as a librarian has been in the cards since the age of five when he would play pretend library. His childhood interest lead to his present day job as supervisor of technical services at The Berkshire Athenaeum where his department acquires, catalogs, and processes all of the new materials for the library. He’s also responsible for managing nearly 100 computers in the building and still finds time to volunteer with a host of community programs.
I grew up in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, home of Yuengling beer and Mrs. T’s pierogies! When I was five years old, I had a small bookshelf that I considered my library. Each book had a little slip in the back, I knew if anything was out of place and I even had a date stamp and stamp pad. My great aunt was murdered over rumors of being a witch, so I liked to pretend that my bookshelf was her library of spells. College equipped me with degrees in Applied Mathematics and Fine Arts but the magic of libraries pulled me back in so I got my master’s degree in Information Science.
In 2009, I was working at a university library about an hour south of Macon, Georgia. I felt like I wasn’t thriving in the cultural tenor there. While at an American Library Association conference in Boston, I met a lot of Massachusetts librarians who planted the seed of the idea that I would be much happier in the Bay State. At first, I looked at a lot of jobs in Boston; I interviewed in Worcester; but it wasn’t until Pittsfield that I knew I had found my place. It’s a bit funny, I suppose; during my undergrad years at a small, conservative, all-male college in the South, I wanted nothing more than to break out to a big city. Then, after summers living near Washington Square Park, an internship at a California theater and a year in Hungary, my priorities and perspectives changed. Of course, considering my home town has a population of about 850 people, Pittsfield is a “big-city” setting for me.
We have it all right here. In high school I spent my summers working on a cousin’s farm harvesting produce and I would save up my wages to escape to the city. I would go just to visit museums, to hear concerts, to see theater. But in Berkshire County, I can have it both ways. There is no need for escape. I love that I can make a summer day of art and nature at Chesterwood or Hancock Shaker Village then a hike at Mount Greylock and picking raspberries at Lakeview Orchard. Then we have a full menu of entertainment options, from world-class Tanglewood concerts to unbeatable theater.
I’m just finishing my first tax season working with the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program: we completed over 700 tax returns to bring nearly $750,000 in refund dollars back to the Berkshire economy. For the past year, I’ve been volunteering with the Berkshire Immigrant Center. And theater groups (New Stage Performing Arts, Berkshire Theatre Group, Made in the Berkshires and Berkshire Playwrights Lab) have also been kind to me as it has been a major thrill to work and perform on a stage like The Colonial Theatre. I also had a lot of fun working on events with the Berkshire Museum’s pajama parties, which promote literacy in our schools. Finally, I’ve recently joined Pittsfield’s Artscape committee and I’m excited about how we can change the face of our town.
Support Rural Intelligence
We have always kept Rural Intelligence free for all our readers but the reality is that we do need the support of readers like you. Did you like what you just read? Do you value the unique content Rural Intelligence provides? Please consider making a donation to support us. Even a small donation helps secure our future!Support Now