The Berkshire Athenaeum is a public library (1872) based on a previously private athenaeum, and now at 1 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, Massachusetts in the Berkshires, United States. Like many New England libraries, the Berkshire Athenaeum started as a private organization. A private Public Library Association was founded in 1850. The name was later changed to the Berkshire Athenæum. Later still, Thomas F. Plunkett, Calvin Martin and Thomas Allen, were "instrumental in forming it into a free library." "In 1874, by means of a bequest from Phinehas Allen, and the gift of [the 1876] building from Thomas Allen, the Berkshire Athenaeum was placed upon a firm foundation." In 1903, the Berkshire Athenaeum assumed the responsibility for the newly created Berkshire Museum, and was both a public library and museum until the museum spun off in 1932. The Berkshire Athenaeum is now Pittsfield's public library and contains a collection of more than 150,000 items. The library's special collections on local history, genealogy, local author Herman Melville, and other Berkshire authors are some of the best in the northeast.