| Debbie Gardner
SPRINGFIELD – From classic shows like “Sesame Street” and “Frontline” to the newest Civil War drama, “Mercy Street,” public television fans can now catch up on their favorite programming courtesy of the Springfield Central Library.
On May 24, local Public Broadcasting Service affiliate T.V. station WGBY and the staff of the Springfield Public Library’s Central Branch unveiled the new WGBY Collection in the first floor media room of the building.
“I’m really excited about this,” Molly Fogarty, director of the Springfield Public Library said just prior to an official ribbon cutting. “WGBY approached us about a year ago and wanted to know if we were interested in acquiring DVDs of the famous shows from PBS and we were thrilled to accept it.”
Fogarty said WGBY’s collection of 2,000 DVDs and Blu-ray discs had previously constituted the station’s Video Lending Library Service, which for years was accessible almost exclusively to educators for classroom viewing. WGBY Educational Programming Director Bess Kapetanis noted more than 4,500 teachers from throughout Massachusetts – and some in other parts of the country – had used the material since 2003, when then intern –and later WGBY video librarian – Bernie Michaels began overseeing the station’s lending service.
WGBY General Manager Rus Peotter said moving the station’s DVD collection to the Central Library would greatly expand the reach of PBS’ exceptional programming.
"We are excited to partner once again with the Springfield City Library on the WGBY Collection,” Peotter said. “Our work together will make this valuable video resource with all types of content and thousands of titles, once only available to educators, accessible to anyone with a library card.”
Fogarty noted that WGBY and the city’s library system have partnered on educational and public programming many times in the past.
Gayle Ball, supervisor of technology services said her staff spent several months cataloging the collection, which consists of about 12,000 titles, many of which have multiple volumes. Fogarty said access to the WGBY Collection will now be available to more than 1 million people across the state through the central and western Massachusetts online library catalog and borrowing privileges.
Fogarty noted public response to the WGBY Collection was big, even before the DVDs were officially unveiled.
“The minute we made [the collection] available online, over 100 inquiries arrived,” she said, adding she expects the new collection to prove very popular with library patrons.
Kapetanis said WGBY would be adding to the collection as new DVDs of programming become available. She added that the station’s collection of older programming available only on VHS video has been donated to Savers Thrift Stores, where it will be available for purchase by the public. Savers has locations on Memorial Avenue in West Springfield and Liberty Street in Springfield.
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