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Bernard archives newest addition to historical collection

Date: 11/7/2012

By Carley Dangona

HOLYOKE — The Holyoke Public Library (HPL) will host a reception to honor journalist Barbara Bernard and to unveil the addition of her personal archives to the collection on Nov. 8 at 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Holyoke City Hall.

Bernard started assembling her scrapbook archive years ago, which encompasses thousands of articles chronicling her illustrious career.

"I'm delighted that I'm 85 and I've had all these experiences," Bernard said. "It's wonderful to be able to work at something I love doing. I've had a marvelous life. I'm very blessed."

Walter Haggerty, HPL director of Public Relations, explained the importance of the chronicles. "The collection spans so many years and includes so many people — it's a fantastic edition to the library. The HPL puts a great deal of emphasis on the history of Holyoke and those who've contributed to it. The archives are extremely important [to this focus]; it's a real highlight to have this material in the library."

According to Bernard, her hometown of North Adams had approached her to donate her collection upon her passing, but she felt otherwise.

"I wanted to do this while I was alive," she said. "Holyoke is my city, has been for more than 60 years and my first columns, which I have preserved in those heavy scrapbooks, are from Holyoke publications, The Holyoke Transcript-Telegram and Hello Holyoke."

Haggerty added, "The new library will have a specially designed room for the historical collection, which is temporarily housed at Holyoke Community College during the construction [of the new library]. Until its opening, the archives will be unavailable, but will be displayed in that room. We are also digitizing the entire collection so that it will be readily available."

Bernard admitted, "I didn't think they were going to make a big deal out of this.

"I have tons of this stuff. It's really cleaning out my house. Now, if I could just find someone interested in my paperweight collection," she added jokingly.

When describing the archive Haggerty said, "Barbara's scrapbooks contain hundreds, probably even thousands of columns that Barbara has written concerning local events, personalities, observations on local happenings, commentary on food and health issues, fashions, recipes, and countless other subjects.

"Throughout her life she has been a familiar and greatly loved writer as well as a popular radio and television personality. In addition to her local work, throughout her career has been, and still is, a much sought after writer by several advertising and public relations firms and publishing houses for commercial copy, captions for fashion and food photos as well as ghost writing and editing for those companies," he continued.

Another scrapbook is in the works. Bernard said she began the current one in April 2011 and that is almost full and will be added to the collection.

Bernard still serves as a freelance columnist for The Republican.

In addition to a preview of the compilation, Mayor Alex Morse will honor Bernard as a "Holyoke Treasure."

The HPL event is free and open to the public.