Arms Library time capsule flung toward future

ARMS LIBRARY DIRECTOR Laurie Wheeler shows off the goodies bound for the future — possibly as far as 100 years — in a community time capsule, which was promptly stowed within the library’s shiny new copper dome. Roof renovations, years in the making and achieved in 2015, were powered by volunteers.
ARMS LIBRARY DIRECTOR Laurie Wheeler shows off the goodies bound for the future — possibly as far as 100 years — in a community time capsule, which was promptly stowed within the library’s shiny new copper dome. Roof renovations, years in the making and achieved in 2015, were powered by volunteers.

SHELBURNE—Hannah-mugFriends and supporters of Arms Library put together a special box of memories called a time capsule and sent it to the future. It might be opened in 50, 75, or 100 years, making it to 2115.

According to Laurie Wheeler, the executive director of Arms Library and a member of its building committee, the box contains things that will help future generations figure out what today’s generation was all about. It was sealed up in the new roof of the library on Sept. 17 around 7:30 a.m. It will be seen next when the roof is opened up for repairs it might need many decades from now.

“A time capsule is a box or metal tube — a container you specially decide you’re going to put away for the future, and then they’ll see the items we put in there. It’s items that are important to this time right now,” Wheeler explained.

The roof replacement is part of a $670,000 “Put a Roof On It” project that took volunteers three years to complete. The roof that was replaced was built in 1914 with the rest of the library building. It is made of copper, slates, and very heavy, chalky limestone. You can touch pieces of it in the library. Pieces of the old roof copper will be turned into gifts you can buy.

Contents of the packed time capsule include children’s handprints in paint; books, newspapers, magazines, and artwork; letters; and a library card.

Fifth-grader Hanna Chase reports downtown news and features for The BSE Flow. We welcome your news tips at news@bseflow.com.


Plenty to love
in Arms Library’s time capsule

WITHIN A SNUG WOODEN BOX made by local resident Frederick M. Burrington, a trove of goodies gathered this summer waits to be discovered in what Arms Library Executive Director Laurie Wheeler calls “the tippy top” of the library’s rebuilt dome some 50, 75, or even 100 years hence. Those Shelburne Falls denizens of tomorrow will be surprised when they open the box to find:

  • A piece of MUSIC for Native American flute that Sarah Pirtle wrote just for the roof raising;
  • BOOKS: “Quickening,” Susie Patlove’s book of poetry; “In a Wild Place: A natural history of High Ledges” by Ellsworth Barnard, illustrated by Charles H. Joslin; “A Jewel in New England” by Philip Bilitz; and a copy of “The Little Yellow Trolley” from the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum, signed by many of the museum’s guests;
  • PERIODICAL PIECES: Local newspaper articles on the Bridge of Flowers turning 85 and the restoration of the library roof; the first seven issues of The BSE Flow; two recent issues of Ginny Ray’s Shelburne Falls & West County Independent; a recent copy of the Greenfield Recorder; a Time magazine from April 20, 2015 (“Black Lives Matter”); and a New York Times front page article on the recent landmark Supreme Court decision upholding marriage equality; a Times opinion piece from Shannon O’Neill, archivist and reference librarian at the Atlantic City Free Public Library, on libraries in transition; and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 33, excerpting D. K. McCutchen’s “Jellyfish Dreaming”;
  • AN AUDIO RECORDING AND COLLECTION OF PHOTOS of Laurie Wheeler at the library, discussing libraries, time capsules, and local history, conducted by John Snyder;
  • ART AND EPHEMERA: “Come to the Dark Side,” paper cut art by Sun James; Mohawk graduation program, June 8, 2015; a bookmark by local artist Polly French; a paper bead necklace by Miss Read’s Beads; a Christmas card from Lisa Walker showing the Buckland side of the village and the Bridge of Flowers in the snow; a hand print from Alexis J., who is 3, and hand prints from Elizabeth, Joshua, and Elizabeth Cerone; a postcard of a dry brush watercolor by Frederick M. Burrington; a box and tiny brochure from Jane Beatrice Wegscheider’s The Art Garden; and many tiny items, donated at the last minute that Laurie Wheeler says she considers sacred;
  • BUSINESS HANDSHAKES: A Massachusetts Cultural District pin; brochures from the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association; local business cards; and a Shelburne Falls Co-op bumper sticker;
  • JUST FOR FUN: a “Minions” movie character and Doctor Who “The Day of the Doctor” DVD case; “Popular Items 2015” stickers;
  • LETTERS from Laurie Wheeler and the Shelburne Selectboard; and, of course,
  • An Arms Library CW/MARS LIBRARY CARD.

— Sidebar and photos by John Snyder


What would you stash in a time capsule to help future generations understand our life and times? We’d like to share your answer with our readers — those today and those in the future. Please write letters@bseflow.com.

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