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GOSHEN — Former Library Director Martha Nell Noblick, affectionately known as “Marty”, passed away 13 months ago, but continues to influence life on the second floor of Town Hall, home of the Goshen Free Library.

Before her death, Noblick began the adoption of the CWMARS library sharing service. Noblick hired Julie Cavacco, recently retired from Deerfield’s library, to help with the transition. Last July 1, Cavacco became Goshen’s new library director.

Cavacco accomplished the transition to the Central and Western Massachusetts Resource Sharing program, or CWMARS, last fall, fulfilling Noblick’s plans for expanding the library’s services. Since then, she also came up with a few ideas of her own.

“It was a pretty intense process to get our items loaded up with such a small staff, but we successfully went live in October,” Cavacco said. “Now, folks in Goshen can place holds for other libraries. Then they can just come and pick it up at the library in their own town, instead of going out of town” to get a book or movie.

The Library Board of Trustees is extremely pleased. Board of Trustees Chair Andrew Watt said traffic and borrowing have picked up since Cavacco arrived at the circulation desk. It’s due, he said, to Cavacco’s work in making the CWMARS membership happen, but also her efforts on social media, changes in programming, the addition of drop in activities, a free coffee station and a new meeting space.

“We’re going to do some fundraising … to increase the number of hours that the library is open,” Watt said. “We’re seeing a significant increase in the number of people using the library as a result of Julie’s efforts … A lot more people are showing up. A lot more people are taking out books.”

Traffic increased partly because people are coming for a meeting. A small nook in the library, a bit apart from the stacks, was cluttered with old shelving and books. Cavacco cleaned off the table and cleared the space. A group working to rehab the Williams-Boltwood House, a historic property in Goshen, called to ask if they could use the table.

“They said, ‘this space is really lovely. We should come back more,’” Cavacco said. “The bones of it are so wonderful [and] the layout is set up so it’s flexible and we can get shared spaces out of it.”

There’s a new coffee station where visitors can pour a free cup. The library also started hosting tea parties.

Cavacco loves to see people of different ages hanging out together. She responded to a patron’s suggestion to host a tea party and saw a bigger gathering the second time around. Granddaughters take a star turn among the seniors, nibble cookies and sip.

Seniors may have benefited most from Cavacco’s new ideas. The town’s primary center for senior housing sits across the street. The town has no senior center, seniors lacked a place to gather, so Cavacco responded.

“One of our regular patrons … looked up at me and said, ‘What we needed is a place where seniors can gather in town and that’s what we have here now,’” Cavacco recalled. “That made me very happy. The COA does a tremendous job with individual programs, but the seniors don’t have a space.”

Libraries run out of space for books, the stacks need to be culled. When Cavacco took on that challenge the result was a display, ranged along one wall, featuring the books most borrowed from the library in the past. Watt was pleased to see Malcolm X’s “Soul on Ice” in the display, a sign of the diversity of voices past residents have wanted to hear.

Crafts and games are a new draw for seniors at the library. A book group meets during the day and in the evening too. Attendance is growing. Take and makes are another programming option patrons of all ages can enjoy. On Feb. 10, for example, kids and parents have the chance to make a tasty treat for Valentine’s Day, a cookie with custom decorations.

Watt was pleased to report the Board of Trustees have two new members, Roxanne Cunningham and Jane McGrath, and a new policy on banning books. Combined with new programming, a new meeting space for the town, more open hours and Cavacco’s new ideas, the Goshen Free Library is going through a renaissance.

Watt received four thank you notes from members of the community who appreciate the changes. One resident, Watt recalled, was “tickled pink … and grinning from ear to ear” because of all the new energy among the stacks. For Watt, the new traffic and activities at the library hark back to the reason libraries were created.

“Libraries came into existence as a way of helping towns and communities build their intellectual resources and provide opportunities for adult education when there wasn’t much else available,” Watt said. “Any library is capable of being a place where adults of all kinds get together and discuss the ideas that are important to them. Our library can be that for them again too.”

dpruyne@thereminder.com | + posts