Jones Library Building Project

DECEMBER 20, 2023Amherst, Massachusetts - Town Seal

Amherst Town Council amends bond cap for Jones Library Building Project

On Monday, December 18, 2023, the Amherst Town Council voted 12-0-1 to increase the borrowing cap for the Jones Library Building Project.

The Council vote follows 5 weeks of deliberation on the Town Manager's November 13, 2023 request to the Town Council to amend their April 5, 2021 decision to reflect the current project budget of $46.1 million, up from $36.3 million approved previously. This Council action was necessary because the MA Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) requires towns to authorize borrowing for the total project cost, not simply the municipal share.

Speaking after the vote, Trustees President Austin Sarat expressed his confidence in the process. "I thank the Town Council for their thoughtful deliberations and support of the plan to renovate and expand the Jones Library. Councilors, Trustees, and members of other Town bodies have been diligent in their efforts to clarify the financial commitments involved."

"If Council had not amended the borrowing cap, the project could not proceed, and we would have forfeited over $23 million in public and private funding commitments." Sarat continued. "The Council's action allows us to move to the next phase of the project, soliciting construction bids and then breaking ground."



Support Our Project

A significant portion of the funding for the Building Project will come from contributions from supporters of the Jones Library via The Jones Library Capital Campaign, being conducted by the Friends of the Jones Library System, Inc. You can support the Jones Library Building Project by making an online gift designated for the Capital Campaign, or by printing a contribution form, designating your gift for the Capital Campaign, and sending your check and the form to the address indicated.

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Thank you for doing your part! We are building together for culture, climate and community.


DECEMBER 2, 2023

Fact Check 2023 Jones Library Bond Authorization

On Monday December 4th, 2023 starting at 6:30 pm, the Amherst Town Council is scheduled to vote whether to increase the borrowing cap for the Jones Library Renovation and Expansion. (Access the Meeting Agenda for Monday 12/4/23, including the Zoom link for remote participation, here.)

In the current discussion about raising the borrowing cap, many questions and claims have surfaced about the project, process, and financing. In her staff role with the Friends of the Jones, Capital Campaign Manager Ginny Hamilton has pulled together this fact check, with descriptions and links.

Note: A previous version of this article was originally posted on the Amherst Current, a local blog covering topics that impact the Amherst community and its future.

CLAIM: If the Town Council authorizes borrowing, the Town will be financially responsible for the full project cost, plus interest. Not true.

The Library Trustees guarantee that the higher project cost won’t fall to the Town. The Trustees and the Town Manager have signed binding agreements that any costs beyond the MA Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) and Town commitments are the responsibility of the Trustees.

If fundraising falls short, it is the responsibility of the Trustees to make up the difference. If the Trustees determine that a loan proves to be wiser than drawing from the endowment, the Trustees would be responsible for interest on such borrowing. The Trustees have received indications of willingness and eligibility from area lenders.

SOURCES:
• 2022 Memorandum of Agreement
• November 27, 2023 Revised Cash Flow Projection
Finance Committee on November 28, 2023: Trustees Lee Edwards and Bob Pam discuss lending options at 45:34-47:55

CLAIM: Interest costs are hidden costs in the project. Not true.

The Town’s budget has always included borrowing costs for the project. Furthermore, with fundraising success to date and the MBLC payment schedule, current estimates for borrowing needs are more limited than originally anticipated. The MBLC pays pre-set amounts each year. Currently, the town is earning interest on Library building project funds already received and not yet spent.

SOURCE:
Cash flow and interest costs were discussed by the Finance Committee on 11/17/23 and 11/28/23

CLAIM: Continuing with the Library delays the DPW & Fire Station. Not true.

As presented to the Finance Committee at their November 28, 2023 meeting, Library funding will be resolved before the DPW and Fire Station projects will need to borrow funds. The Library building project is farther along than the other two projects because of state funding. Capital planning depends on leveraging state grants where possible. Rejecting state funds for the Library now harms our Town’s fiscal position rather than strengthening it.

SOURCES:
Councilors Cathy Schoen and Ellisha Walker discuss the impact of library borrowing on the DPW and Fire Station at 1:15:30 - 1:17:00 of the Finance Committee on Nov 28, 2023
For 10 year projections, see page 28 of the FY24 Capital Improvement Presentation
2019 Capital Investments presentation

CLAIM: Current building plans are significantly different or diminished compared to what voters approved in 2021. Not true.

The changes made to address the 2022 cost spike are all aesthetic in nature and do not impact climate benefits or programming goals. These changes include eliminating the saw tooth roof, using brick instead of stone on the building exterior, and reusing some existing furniture rather than purchasing new.

As recently as the November 27 Building Committee meeting, architects confirmed that the current renovation and expansion plans meet or exceed project sustainability goals. The 2023 Tally Report shows that current renovation and expansion plans are more sustainable than when assessed in 2020.

SOURCES:
• Accepted modifications September 2022 presentation to JLBC
• Sustainability target discussion begins at 12:00-15:30 on the video timer
• Updated Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment November 2023

CLAIM: The Jones Library does not belong to the Town. Misleading.

Ownership of the Library is akin to the Town supporting capital improvements for the middle and high schools, even though both buildings are owned by the regional school district.

Samuel Minot Jones' bequest in 1912 was to build a free public library for the Town of Amherst. Town officials placed the funds into a non-profit trust with the Library Trustees as directors. In the 1920s, funds from the trust were used to build the library at 43 Amity Street. The Trustees are both elected Town officials and elected Board members of the nonprofit entity which owns the property.

SOURCES:
• History of bequest
• Amherst Town Charter
• Trustee Bylaws

CLAIM: Cost estimates rose from $36M (2017-2021) to $46M (2022-present). True.

April 2021 Budget:   $36,279,700
November 2022 Budget:   $46,139,800
June 2023 Budget:   $46,139,800
November 2023 Estimate:   $46,507,500

SOURCES:
Library Director’s response to Questions from Town Councilors regarding the Library Renovation and Addition
November 2023 cost estimate figures are presented in the Town Manager’s memo to the Town Council requesting the borrowing amendment

CLAIM: Fundraisers are now further away from having the money than they were six years ago. Misleading.

When the Town Council approved borrowing for the project in April 2021, Jones Library Capital Campaign efforts had secured $2M of the $6M remaining funds needed, or 30.4%. As of November 1, 2023, JLCC has secured $9.1M, 150% of the original goal and 55.2% of $16.5M needed. 84% of the total project funding has been secured.

SOURCE:
JLCC Presentation to Town Council November 13, 2023

CLAIM: If the project cannot proceed, we will forfeit over $23 million in public and private funding commitments. True.

Funds raised for the renovation and expansion cannot be transferred to pay for repairs. The funding commitments are specific to details of the renovation and expansion plans:

  • the HUD grant secured by Rep. McGovern is for sustainability measures;
  • the NEH grant is for more meeting space, improvements to Special Collections, and a permanent home for Amherst’s historic Civil War tablets;
  • The same is true for foundation and corporate grants.

Applying these funds to repairs would be in violation of funding agreements.

SOURCE:
Questions from Town Councilor November 2023 [See question 9]

CLAIM: It is premature to vote before we get bids. NOT TRUE.

There are multiple reasons for the Town Council to vote now.

  • We have a strict June 30, 2024 deadline with the MBLC to sign with a General Contractor.
  • We are required to have a Bond Authorization to sign a contract.
  • Potential contractors need to know that the project is guaranteed before we post the RFP in early 2024. The dollar figure provides them with a sense of the ceiling for their bids.
  • We need time to outfit and move into the temporary space.
  • The Council vote provides confidence to potential donors that the project is moving forward.
  • Current donors are waiting to make their pledge payments until the project is confirmed by the Council vote.

SOURCE:
Library Director’s response to Questions from Town Councilors regarding the Library Renovation and Addition


DECEMBER 1, 2023

Tally Report shows current renovation and expansion plans more sustainable than 2020 assessment

The Finegold Alexander architectural team used a Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to compare the embodied carbon of the current design to the equivalent assessment completed in 2020. While some measures have increased and others decreased, the availability of more refined design documents shows that the overall Global Warming Potential is reduced from the earlier assessment, along with other improvements within the overall measurement.

The November 17, 2023 assessment is known as the Tally Report, because it uses the Tally LCA software to assess plan impacts. Read the report.


Jones Library - Second Floor RenderingNOVEMBER 20, 2023

The current Town Council debate about the Library Project is underway

Amherst Town Council needs to amend their April 2021 decision (PDF) to authorize borrowing to reflect the current project budget. This Council action is necessary because the MA Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) requires towns to authorize borrowing for the total project cost, not simply the municipal share. Acting now improves our position with potential project bidders.

The Town’s share of the project, $15.8 million, has not changed and will not change even with the cost increase from $34.3 to $46.1 million. The difference will be borne by the Trustees and Friends fundraising efforts, as committed by the Trustees in their 2021 (PDF) & 2022 Memoranda of Agreement (PDF) with the Town. Increasing the bond authorization does not mean increasing the actual amount borrowed, nor will the Town pay interest on the entire project budget. In fact, Amherst is currently earning interest on MBLC funds already received and not yet spent.

Town Council’s Monday, November 20, 2023 at 7 p.m. Public Forum on Supplemental Budget Appropriations includes the Library Bond discussion. This meeting is hybrid: you can attend in-person in the Town Room at Amherst Town Hall or virtually. Meeting links and materials can be found on the Town Council website.

On Monday, November 13, Town Council referred the borrowing question to the Finance Committee, who began their discussion on Friday, November 17. At the Town Council Budget Forum on Monday, November 20, Council President Griesemer announced that Town Council will likely vote on the borrowing question at their Monday, December 4 meeting.

For more information about project funding and financing, please visit these sources:

Renovation & Expansion plans continue to progress

Our municipal Design Review Board and Historical Commission have both voted unanimously to approve project plans, and their input has made those plans stronger. Project architects are preparing the construction documents to go out to bid in January. This keeps the project on schedule to break ground in the spring, so the Library can reopen in late 2025.

Costs have stabilized and fundraising remains strong. In addition to $1 million grants from Amherst College and the National Endowment for the Humanities, individual donors have pledged over $2.7 million. As of November 1, 2023, we have secured over $38.7 million from all sources, representing more than 84% of the estimated cost of $46.1 million.

For more details, please visit JonesLibraryCapitalCampaign.org, where you can view architectural floor plans, explore details on funding, and find answers to Frequently Asked Questions.


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Jones Library Circulation Cafe RenderingNOVEMBER 2, 2023

Jones Library Building Project receives $1 million gift from Amherst College

On Tuesday, Amherst College announced a gift of $1 million to the Jones Library Building Project. We are thrilled to have the College join its neighbors in supporting this critical project so enthusiastically. This is yet one more confirmation of the value of both the Jones Library generally and the proposed project to our shared community.

As Jones Library Trustees President Austin Sarat shared with the press,

"Public libraries, like the Jones, are critical to the democratic architecture of any community. They knit communities together and open up the world for ourselves and our children. Amherst College's incredibly generous gift to the Jones Library Capital Campaign is a wonderful affirmation of that vision and our determination to realize it in a renovated and expanded library. It is also a sign of the College's deep commitment to the town. All of us working on the Jones Library Building Plan are energized by that commitment and enormously grateful for all that the College's generosity will make possible."

This gift from Amherst College represents the largest contribution to date from a private source, whether individual or institution. And the College's investment is made even more effective because it will leverage funds through the National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant received in May. We are lucky to count the College among our Town's leading citizens.

Combined with other fundraising commitments, including over $3.7 million from the community, the Jones Library Capital Campaign has secured over $9.1 million for the renovation and expansion to date. These commitments are in addition to the initial $13.8 million grant from the MA Board of Library Commissioners and the $15.8 million committed by the Town of Amherst in 2021. The Town's committed amount has not changed and will not require a tax override. With a projected project cost of $43.9 million, commitments from all sources represent 88% percent of funds needed for the project.

When complete, the renovation and expansion will make the Jones Library one of the most climate-friendly buildings in Amherst, restoring most of the original 1928 building, expanding programming space to meet current and emerging needs for all ages and multiple populations, while improving the layout to be fully accessible, functional, and welcoming for everyone.

Want to learn more about this vision of an expanded, welcoming, accessible, and climate-friendly library? Please visit www.JonesLibraryCapitalCampaign.org where you can find building plans, answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and sign up for news updates.


OCTOBER 20, 2023

The Jones Library Capital Campaign website is live!

Visit www.JonesLibraryCapitalCampaign.org for

  • answers to your questions about the project financing & impact
  • updates on what's happening
  • ways to contribute

Building together for culture, climate, and community

www.JonesLibraryCapitalCampaign.org


AUGUST 10, 2023

Jones Library Closed for 2 Days due to Storm Flooding
Closure underlines urgent need to move forward with renovation and expansion

The Jones Library was forced to close for two days, July 31 and August 1, due to heavy flooding from a rainstorm on Saturday evening July 29, 2023. (The library is closed Sundays during summer months.)

Library Director Sharon Sharry informed the Trustees and staff about the flooding in an email Saturday night. According to Sharry's initial report, the leaking atrium led to flooding on the main floor as well as into the lower level. Water flooded the fire sensors, causing the sprinkler system to charge in case of fire. There was no fire, but because the sprinkler pipes have surpassed their usable life, a large pipe in the basement burst, flooding a basement hallway and the basement stacks.

The Amherst Fire Department arrived on the scene quickly. They shut off the water and the fire alarm and moved a computer station out of the way of the dripping water in the basement. Maintenance staff were called in and began work immediately to clean and dry the building.

Inspections by the Fire Alarm Technician, Building Inspector, and Electrical Inspector showed the building's systems were fully functional. However, the building needed to remain closed to the public until the fire suppression system was back online. The Fire Suppression Technicians arrived late Monday afternoon and temporarily patched the corroded pipe. The length of corroded pipe will be replaced permanently in the coming weeks. With the temporary repair, the Library was able to reopen to the public on Wednesday, Aug 2.

In addition to the damage to the building itself, one online public access catalog computer was damaged, along with dozens of books. Special Collections was not affected.

"While I am relieved that the damage was not worse, the Jones Library is more than our collections." said Trustees President Austin Sarat. "Closing the library disrupts ESL conversation classes, children's story time, teen lounge, coding club for girls, just to name a few programs scheduled for this week. Our community relies on the Jones as a place to gather and learn."

The atrium, part of the 1993 addition to the library, has been problematic for much of its lifespan. Despite repeated repair attempts, the leaking atrium threatens building integrity. In the plans for renovation and expansion, the atrium will be replaced by multi-level program space. Plans also include necessary fire alert and suppression system upgrades.

"This incident underscores the urgent need to renovate," Sarat said. "Delays not only make the project cost more but put our collections and programs at ever increasing risk."

Sharry expressed her relief that the damage wasn't worse. "As I reflect on the past few days, the biggest point I need to highlight is the fact that we are very lucky that a smoke detector got wet. Had the Fire Department not been notified, I can only imagine the level of water damage that would have occurred because the water would have kept pouring in."

Sharry praised town building and facilities officials, especially the Amherst Fire Department, as well as library staff. "Our maintenance team performs daily inspections on all systems and are constantly repairing, fixing and servicing each of these systems. In other words, everything is being done that can be done to keep these obsolete systems operable and safe."

Read local media coverage: Daily Hampshire Gazette (July 31, 2023)  |  WWLP 22 News (July 31, 2023)


JULY 31, 2023

Sustainability remains at the core of the Jones Library Building Project

Curious about the sustainability measures inherent in the Jones Library Renovation and Expansion? Please take 10 minutes to watch clips from the July 27, 2023 Jones Library Building Committee meeting and learn how our town and our library are leading the way with our net zero ready, climate friendly building.

At 1.06.26, the architects address the "stretch code", new state building code requirements regarding climate which went into effect July 1;

At 1.11.46, Sustainability Committee member Todd Holland explains the nuances of energy use, carbon friendly materials, and climate focused design.

Full video: Jones Library Building Committee – July 27, 2023


JULY 26, 2023

Historic Tax Credits for the Jones Library Renovation & Expansion

What are Historic Tax Credits (HTC)?
A historic rehabilitation tax credit (HTC) covers a portion of the costs to restore historic buildings like the Jones Library. The building must be listed in, or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The Jones Library is located within Amherst Central Business District, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

Where do HTCs come from?
Federal and state HTC programs exist with distinct requirements. For the Jones Library renovation and expansion project, including restoration of the 1928 portion of the building, the Jones Library is applying for state HTCs through the Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program. This program is administered by the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC), under Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin, who serves as MHC Chair. The MHC program typically has $50 million dollars available annually statewide for certified rehabilitation projects.

How are HTCs calculated?
Under the program, completed projects are eligible to receive up to 20% of the cost of certified rehabilitation expenditures in state income tax credits. For example, if the total Qualified Rehabilitation Expenditures (QREs) are $10 million, the Jones Library would be eligible for up to $2 million in HTCs.

How can the Jones Library receive tax credits since it is tax exempt?
HTCs can be used as a credit on a taxpayer’s state income tax return, or, since it is a certificate, HTCs can be sold to a for-profit entity that can claim the credit. For the Jones Library, the credits will likely be sold to a business such as a bank or insurance company, that will use them to offset their state tax obligation. In this way, Massachusetts helps incentivize historic preservation.

What is the process to apply for HTCs?
There are three application cycles per year and three parts to the application process. For a first-time applicant, it is common to complete Parts 1 and 2 together in the same application round. Part 3 completes the process and is filled out and submitted when construction is complete.

For the Jones Library Building Project to take advantage of the MHC Program, it will likely be necessary to submit multiple applications. It is quite common that the first application will be denied. When this occurs, MHC provides substantive comments that will guide a successful resubmission.

Once the application is approved, the Jones Library will likely continue to apply for additional credits for the length of the construction project.

If approved, how much will the Jones Library receive from HTC funds?
There is an annual cap on the total amount of tax credits given statewide, so there are selection criteria that ensure the funds are distributed to the projects that provide the most public benefit. The MHC certifies the projects and allocates available credits. Certifying eligible costs is one important part of the application review process. The ceiling for total allocation will be 20% of the eligible rehabilitation costs for the building, including design and engineering. Eligible rehabilitation costs refer to specific expenses related to restoration and rehabilitation of the 1928 building, not the full renovation and expansion project. By current estimates, the Jones Library Building Project can expect to receive a total of approximately $1.8 million dollars from the sale of HTCs.

If approved, when will the Jones Library Capital Campaign receive HTC funds?
HTCs can only be claimed after the project is complete and the building is back in use. For the case of the Jones Library Building Project, current estimates show the grand re-opening in winter 2025-2026. Working with legal and architectural consultants who specialize in HTCs, the Trustees will develop the necessary agreements for transfer and complete the sale of credits.

Note: This information is intended for general information about the program and process. For a more technical description, please refer to information on the state website.


JUNE 16, 2023

Latest Jones Library Building Project estimate shows $2M decrease in anticipated costs

At the June 15 meeting of the Jones Library Building Committee, Project Managers presented the most recent reconciled cost estimate for the proposed renovation and expansion. The current cost estimate is $43.9 million, which is $2 million lower than the reconciled estimate from September 2022. With this information, the Building Committee voted unanimously to move to the next phase of the project, during which architects prepare detailed construction documents.

Project funding remains anchored by a $13.8 million grant from the MBLC and $15.8 million committed by the Amherst Town Council in April 2021. In addition, the Jones Library Capital Campaign has secured just over $7.5 million in government and private funding commitments as of June 1. Based on this current cost estimate, we have secured over 84% of the funds needed to renovate and expand the Jones Library.


JUNE 6, 2023

Jones Library Capital Campaign clears $7.5M
Renovation & Expansion funding 80% secured

On Thursday, June 1, the MA Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) approved additional funds up to $1.69 million for the Jones Library renovation and expansion project. With this increase and additional private fundraising in May, the Jones Library Capital Campaign has now secured commitments of just over $7.5 million. A full 80% of the total project costs are now committed.

"We are grateful to the MBLC for this increase to help close the gap and see our project through. Their support is essential for every library in the Commonwealth." Library Director Sharon Sharry said. Amherst's Jones Library is one of ten library construction projects across the state hit hard by pandemic-related delays and cost escalations. Others include Deerfield and Orange, both in Sen. Comerford's district.

"The Jones Library is an anchor to civic life in downtown Amherst," said Kent W. Faerber, co-chair of the Jones Library Capital Campaign. "As with many efforts to invest in our communities during the pandemic, Sen. Comerford and Rep. Domb deserve credit for working with the MBLC to take this critical step to mitigate the cost escalation. We are grateful for their leadership and for the support of the Healey Administration."

"Thankfully, officials at all levels have seen the value of our beloved library." Referring to over $2.1 million in federal funding secured for the renovation and expansion, Faerber noted, "we've secured funding from sources that weren't even on our radar screen. We have already exceeded our original goal and are over the halfway mark of what we now expect to raise. From lemonade stands to six figure contributions, the Amherst community has committed over $2.3 million in donations for an expanded, welcoming, and climate friendly library."



Architect Renderings

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MAY 3, 2023

Jones Library receives $1 million National Endowment for the Humanities grant
Challenge grant to fund garden level Humanities Center in renovated and expanded building

On Wednesday, May 3, Congressman James McGovern joined dozens of Jones Library supporters to celebrate the receipt of a $1 million challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Additional speakers included State Rep. Mindy Domb, Amherst Town Councilor Anika Lopes, Library Director Sharon Sharry, and Library Trustees President Austin Sarat.

The largest of twenty-four NEH Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants given nationwide, the NEH grant will leverage funds to create a Humanities Center on the ground floor of the renovated and expanded Jones Library, including:

  • Additional, fully climate-controlled collection space for the historical and literary materials housed in our world class Special Collections;
  • ADA & public access to our Special Collections;
  • New Special Collections Exhibit Gallery, a permanent home for Amherst’s Civil War Tablets; new space for our Burnett Art Gallery; and
  • Additional, flexible program space for internal and community-based programming, including after-hours access.

The purpose of the Humanities Center is to create a facility that can serve broader audiences with these collections and programs. From creating engaging exhibits from our Special Collections that make local history artifacts more visible and accessible to young people to providing program spaces for the Library and community partners to bring the community together, these purpose-built spaces will enable the Library to serve as the fulcrum for broader community-wide humanities events such as performances and lectures by community partners such as the Emily Dickinson Museum, Poetry and Art Walks, the Juneteenth celebration, and more.

In this grant round, NEH awarded 24 capacity building challenge grants nationally. NEH reviewers rated the Jones Library’s application with the highest marks. One reviewer commented, "This proposal and the project Amherst is working towards are excellent. They clearly identify challenges, offer well-thought-out plans to address them, and create positive impact to the community while doing so. They've made a very compelling case for funding."

ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at www.neh.gov, including a list of all 2023 NEH Grant Awards and Offers (PDF).

ABOUT THE JONES LIBRARY CAPITAL CAMPAIGN

A project of the non-profit Friends of the Jones Libraries, the Jones Library Capital Campaign (JLCC) is raising funds to renovate and expand the historic Jones Library building. Combined with other fundraising commitments, including over $2.3 million from the community, the JLCC has secured over $5.79 million for the renovation and expansion as of May 1, 2023. The JLCC contributions are in addition to the $15.8 million committed by the Town of Amherst and the $13.8 million grant from the MA Board of Library Commissioners.

When complete, the renovation and expansion will make the Jones Library one of the most climate-friendly buildings in Amherst, restoring most of the original 1928 building, expanding programming space to meet current and emerging needs for all ages and multiple populations, while improving the layout to be fully accessible for people with disabilities and more functional for everyone.


MARCH 16, 2023

Trustees stay the course with Jones Library Building Project

At their meeting on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, the Jones Library Board of Trustees voted unanimously to stay the course with efforts to renovate and expand the Jones Library.

The motion, offered by Trustees President Austin Sarat and seconded by Trustee Lee R. Edwards, reads as follows:

Moved: The Trustees reaffirm our commitment to the Jones Library Building Project and support the ongoing work of the JLBC.

We do so because:

  1. Addressing the programmatic and space needs identified at the start of the project is as urgent today as it was then.
  2. Despite increased access to library collections made possible by technology, the library building remains an important resource for many residents of Amherst, especially economically and socially disadvantaged populations, as well as teens and children.
  3. It is not financially responsible to incur the cost of addressing existing problems in the Jones building without adding additional needed space.
  4. The JLBC has made prudent design decisions to reduce the anticipated cost of the building project and is developing a compelling architectural plan.
  5. Amherst has a unique opportunity to take advantage of financial support provided by the state and federal governments as well as the extraordinary generosity already shown through the community campaign.
  6. Of the urgent need to make the Jones Library environmentally sustainable and to preserve the uniquely valuable historic aspects of the building.
  7. Of the need to keep faith with the more than 65% of the voters who endorsed the Jones Library Building project at the ballot box.

The Jones Library Building Committee was formed by Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman in July 2021 to oversee the design and construction of the Jones Library renovation and expansion. Shortly thereafter, the Trustees entered into a memorandum of agreement with the nonprofit Friends of the Jones Libraries to spearhead fundraising efforts via the Jones Library Capital Campaign (JLCC). 

Combined with other fundraising commitments, including over $2.25 million from the community, the JLCC has secured over $4.65 million as of March 1, 2023. Capital Campaign contributions are in addition to the $15.8 million committed by the Town of Amherst and the $13.8 million grant from the MA Board of Library Commissioners.


FEBRUARY 7, 2023

Building Committee approves schematic designs, moves to design development phase

The Jones Library Building Committee is currently engaged in the nitty gritty of the Design Development stage. This involves details such as sustainability measures as well as the Library's look and feel, inside and out. These final decisions are being made in February and March and will move swiftly this spring to stay on track to break ground in early 2024.

These about-to-be-final architectural plans show a bright, safe, accessible, and welcoming library with features including a prominent ground floor spot for the Burnett Gallery and a permanent home for Amherst's historic Civil War Tablets.

When complete, the building project will make the Jones Library one of the most climate-friendly buildings in Amherst, restoring most of the original 1928 building, expanding programming space to meet current and emerging needs, while improving the layout to be fully accessible for people with disabilities and more functional for everyone.

To view the design development timeline and recent progress on the floor plans, please see the Jones Library Capital Campaign's Design Development Presentation (PDF).


FEBRUARY 7, 2023

Rep. McGovern secures $1.1M in federal funding for the Jones Library Building Project

Advocating on behalf of capital needs in the district, Rep. Jim McGovern secured $1.1M in economic development funding in the Dec 2022 Omnibus spending package for the Jones Library renovation and expansion. As Jones Trustees President Austin Sarat told the Gazette, "this infusion of federal funds puts wind in the sails of the work we are now doing to turn vision into reality."

A project of the Friends, the Jones Library Capital Campaign (JLCC) is raising funds to renovate and expand the historic Jones Library building. Combined with other fundraising commitments, including over $2.1 million from the community, the JLCC has secured over $4.5 million as of February 1, 2023.


DECEMBER 14, 2023

Jones Library Director: 2012 Library Space Report a Poor Plan B

Excerpted from an article by Scott Merzbach in the Daily Hampshire Gazette from December 13, 2022: 

AMHERST – Aggressive weeding of library assets to reduce the collection, centralizing storage spaces and having special collections off site were among recommendations offered to elected trustees and staff at the Jones Library a decade ago as means of improving operations at the 48,000-square-foot building at 43 Amity St.

While the 2012 report from Anna Popp, a representative of the Massachusetts Library System, describes a roadmap for changes that could be undertaken, Library Director Sharon Sharry said in an interview Thursday that the space-optimization information provided in the 15-page document should be seen largely as a precursor to decisions trustees made to seek financing from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners for a renovated and expanded building.

"This was used in the process of leading up to whether to make an application for a construction grant," Sharry said. Noting that the report was completed within her first year as director, she said library trustees opted against "moving furniture and walls (which) would do little to address larger safety and operating issues the library needs to address."

Read the full article  |  Read Anna Popp's Space Planning Recommendations (PDF)

Space Planning Recommendations by Anna Popp (MLS) - April 2012 (PDF)

Space Planning Recommendations - Prepared by Anna Popp (MLS) - April 2012 (PDF)



Project Newsletter
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Community Chat: Jones Library Building Project
With Town Manager Paul Bockelman, Library Director Sharon Sharry, Library Trustee Austin Sarat, and Town Communications Manager Brianna Sunryd  |  Recorded March 25, 2022


From the Director

On behalf of Board of the Trustees of the Jones Library, I want to thank everyone in this community who participated in the planning of this project over the past decade. Whether you were for the project, against the project, or somewhere in between... your thoughtful input helped bring us here today. The project will continue to evolve and improve because of your engagement.

Over the next several months, we will complete the Schematic Designs, and enter into the Design Development phase of the project. Public outreach will resume as we look to design a Library for EVERYONE in our community. Your voice continues to be an important piece of this process.

Special thanks to the following groups of people for their hard work, support, persistence, and passion:

  • Staff of the Jones, North Amherst, and Munson Memorial Libraries
  • Friends of the Jones Library System
  • Friends’ Development Committee
  • Feasibility Committee
  • Sustainability Committee
  • Gardens Advisory Committee
  • Burnett Art Gallery Committee
  • The Literacy Project
  • Capital Campaign Committee
  • Amherst Town Manager & Finance Director
  • Amherst Downtown Business Improvement District
  • Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Financial Development Agency
  • Finegold Alexander Architects
  • Kuhn Riddle Architects
  • Colliers Project Leaders
  • Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
  • Amherst Historical Society
  • Amherst Media
  • Amherst Town Council, Finance Committee, JCPC, CPAC, & Historic Commission
  • Congressman James McGovern, Senator Jo Comerford, & Representative Mindy Domb



Our Project at a Glance

Thank you for your interest in our building project. We plan to improve the safety, efficiency, and user-friendliness of the Jones Library, while also restoring our original 1928 building and honoring our past. We recommend the following presentation for those interested in an introduction to our project:

And if you'd like to learn more, we recommend the following resources:



Full Project Timeline




Key Topics & Resources

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY

Recommended Resources

SOCIAL JUSTICE & ACCESSIBILITY

Recommended Resources

Additional Articles about the Role of Libraries in Social and Economic Justice

SUSTAINABILITY

Recommended Resources

THE NEEDS OF TEENS, CHILDREN, AND FAMILIES

Recommended Resources

HISTORIC PRESERVATION

Recommended Resources



Informational Handouts
Select each one to view a larger PDF version



Recorded Library Chats & Presentations


Library Chat: Staff Talk about the Building Project
October 21, 2021

Building Project Presentation to Town Council
February 22, 2021

The Public Library Construction Grant Program
January 28, 2021

The Library's Role in Economic & Social Justice
January 7, 2021

The Significance of Historic Preservation
December 3, 2020



Project Updates

October 27, 2022: The Town Manager and Library Trustees signed an Amendment to Memorandum of Agreement (PDF).

September 13, 2022: Library Trustees prepared a packet of information (PDF) for the Town Council.

June 10, 2022: Members of our Building Committee toured the new public library buildings in Holyoke, Medford, and Woburn and recorded these video tours.

May 23, 2022: Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF) awards $200,000 to the Jones Library Capital Campaign; read the press release (PDF).

January 24, 2022: The Town's Historical Commission has created a webpage with information about the Jones Library Historic Structure Report.

August 4, 2021: The Town Manager has issued a memo announcing his appointments to the Jones Library Building Committee (PDF).

July 12, 2021: The Town Manager is seeking members to serve on the Jones Library Building Committee (JLBC), which will oversee the design and construction of the Jones Library Restoration and Expansion.

April 5, 2021: The Amherst Town Council decisively approved the Library’s renovation/expansion plan by appropriating the Town’s $15.8 million share of the cost. The Council also authorized the Town to enter into an agreement with the Library’s Trustees to supply the remaining $6.6 million of the total cost of the project.

March 29, 2021: The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce sent us this statement of support for our project. Many thanks to the Chamber staff and Board of Directors!

February 22, 2021: View the Library Trustees' video presentation to the Town Council (~65 mins) about the building project. (This video was created by the Jones Library's IT Specialist Hank Allan.)

January 27, 2021: Read Sustaining the Future by Revisiting our Historic Properties (PDF), an article by Finegold Alexander Architects about the Jones Library building project which will appear in February 2021 edition of High Profile.

December 12, 2020: Read Amherst Can't Afford to Reject the Jones Library Renovation/Expansion Project by Lee Edwards, Trustee and Co-Chair of the Development Committee for the Friends of the Jones Library, and Kent W. Faerber, Co-Chair of the Development Committee for the Friends of the Jones Library.

November 26, 2020: Read Urging Amherst Town Council to vote for Jones Library renovation (Daily Hampshire Gazette) by Nancy Campbell and Marian Walker, Co-Presidents, Friends of the Jones Libraries.

October 22, 2020: Read a Memo to the Community Preservation Act Committee regarding our Revised CPA Grant Application (October 22, 2020).

October 19, 2020: Read Why It Is Important to Move Forward with the Plan to Renovate and Expand the Jones Library by Trustee President Austin Sarat & Director Sharon Sharry.

September 10, 2020: See the updated presentation entitled Schematic/Sustainability Study (September 8, 2020) (PDF) prepared by Finegold Alexander Architects. UPDATE: See the revised presentation (October 8, 2020).

September 1, 2020: Read our Revised Community Preservation Act (CPA) Grant Application Packet (August 25, 2020) (PDF).

August 25, 2020: Read the Revised Jones Library Sustainability Goals Schematic Design Package (PDF) prepared by Finegold Alexander Architects.

July 2, 2020: Today's Joint Jones Library Feasibility & Design (agenda & packet) / Sustainability Committee Meeting (agenda & packet) included a discussion of the sustainability and accessibility reports linked below. UPDATE (July 24, 2020): View a video recording of the meeting.

July 1, 2020: Read the Jones Library Sustainability Goals Schematic Design Package (PDF) prepared by Finegold Alexander Architects. NOTE: This document has been updated; see the revised package above (August 25).

June 10, 2020: Read the Jones Library Accessibility Review and Recommendations (PDF) prepared by Kuhn Riddle Architects.

May 8, 2020: Listen to Designing for Sustainability: An Interview with Finegold Alexander Architects, the first podcast in a series called "Building Literacy: Public Library Construction" from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

February 27, 2020: See the full presentation by Finegold Alexander Architects of their Revised Schematic Concept (February 26, 2020) (PDF). Or the abridged version (PDF).

February 11, 2020: Read our Proposal for an Accessibility Study and Review of Required Building Improvements (February 5, 2020) (PDF).

January 23, 2020: Read our Community Preservation Act (CPA) Grant Application Packet (January 23, 2020) (PDF).

January 22, 2020: Here are 2 new documents: Town of Amherst Capital Investment Projects - December 2019 Listening Sessions Report (January 21, 2020) (PDF), Sustainability Memo from Finegold Alexander Architects - with Sustainability Committee Comments (January 8, 2020) (PDF).

December 2, 2019: The Town posted a video overview of the four proposed capital investment projects. Watch the video (22:48) from the beginning or go directly to the portion of the video about the library project (starting at 5:19).

November 4, 2019: The Town Council will hold four Listening Sessions to collect comments from the public on the need for four major capital investments facing the Town and to provide guidance to the Town Council in setting priorities. Members of the School Committee and Jones Library Trustees have assisted in development of the information for these sessions and will be present at each session. The Listening Sessions will be held on the following dates and times:

  • Tuesday, Dec 3rd at 3:30 p.m. at Bangs Center, Large Activity Room
  • Tuesday, Dec 3rd at 7:00 p.m. at Bangs Center, Large Activity Room
  • Monday, Dec 9th at 3:30 p.m. at Fort River Elementary School, Library
  • Monday, Dec 9th at 6:00 p.m. at Wildwood Elementary School, Library

July 2019: The Jones Library moved up to 2nd on the wait list for a construction grant.

February 27, 2018: See the Construction Fact Sheet (PDF) for our project from the Masschusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

February 26, 2018: See the General Conditions of the Interior of the Jones Library (PDF).

July 31, 2017: The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners recently posted a resource guide entitled Libraries on the Waiting List for a Construction Grant: What now?

July 13, 2017: Today, we learned that 9 libraries were awarded a construction grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners for FY2018, and 24 libraries were placed on the wait list. The Jones Library is 9th on the wait list. (See the MBLC’s Press Release for more information.) This is excellent news for Amherst as it will give us plenty of time to work with the community to determine its design priorities. We look forward to the next stage of this process. Please stay tuned for further details.

May 1, 2017: See our Deferred Maintenance Estimate (PDF).

April 28, 2017 (Updated): Many thanks to the Amherst Historical Society (PDF letter), the Friends of the Library (PDF letter), the Burnett Gallery Committee (PDF letter), the Literacy Project (PDF letter), Amherst's institutional librarians (Amherst College, Hampshire College, and UMass Amherst; PDF letter), Amherst's public school librarians (PDF letter), and our ESL students (PDF letter) for their support of our project.

February 15, 2017 (Updated): See our updated Space Needs Table (PDF), Key Milestones (PDF), our application designs and renderings (below), and our mailing to Town Meeting – Narrative (PDF), Floor Plans (PDF).

January 26, 2017: We have submitted our 2016-2017 Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) Construction Grant Round Application (PDF)!



Designs & Documents

Design Process & Building Program

  1. Latest Construction Documents (December 8, 2023) (PDF) (Large File - 80 MB)
  2. Jones Library Updated Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment ("Tally Report") (November 17, 2023) (PDF)
  3. Jones Library 100% Design Development Drawings - Finegold Alexander Architects (May 3, 2023) (PDF)
  4. Revised Schematic Designs - Finegold Alexander (December 15, 2022) (PDF)
  5. Space Planning Recommendations - Prepared by Anna Popp (MLS) - April 2012 (PDF)
  6. Project Schedule - Prepared by Collier's Project Leaders (November 30, 2022) (PDF)
  7. Contract Amendment - Finegold Alexander Architects (November 7, 2022) (PDF)
  8. Project Schedule - Prepared by Collier's Project Leaders (September 16, 2022) (PDF)
  9. Value Management List - Prepared by Collier's Project Leaders (September 9, 2022) (PDF)
  10. Schematic Designs - Finegold Alexander (July 1, 2022) (PDF)
  11. Revised Schematic Designs and Exterior Materials Presentation - Finegold Alexander (June 24, 2022) (PDF)
  12. Building Committee Presentation - Updated Schematic Designs and Inclusive Restroom Designs (June 2022) (PDF)
  13. Exterior Materials Rendered Options - Finegold Alexander (June 7, 2022) (PDF)
  14. Exterior Materials Presentation - Finegold Alexander (June 2, 2022) (PDF)
  15. Revised Schematic Designs (May 27, 2022) (PDF)
  16. Jones Library & Kestrel Land Trust Proposal - Presentation to Amherst Historical Commission (May 18, 2022) (PDF)
  17. Jones Library & Kestrel Land Trust Proposal (April 20, 2022) (PDF)
  18. Building Project Schedule from Colliers International (May 9, 2022) (PDF)
  19. Jones Library Preservation Restriction Agreement - Acceptance Letter from the Massachusetts Historical Commission (April 29, 2022) (PDF)
  20. Jones Library Preservation Restriction Agreement - Signed (March 16, 2022) (PDF)
  21. Jones Library Preservation Restriction Agreement (February 16, 2022) (PDF)
  22. Jones Library Historic Structure Report (PDF)
  23. Jones Library Historic Structure Report Presentation to Historical Commission and Library Trustees (PDF) (January 12, 2022)
  24. Finegold Alexander Article - Sustaining the Future by Revisiting our Historic Properties (PDF)
  25. Schematic/Sustainability Study - Updated Presentation by Finegold Alexander Architects (October 8, 2020) (PDF)
  26. Schematic/Sustainability Study - Updated Presentation by Finegold Alexander Architects (September 8, 2020) (PDF)
  27. Jones Library Sustainability Goals Schematic Design Package - Revised (Aug 30, 2020) (PDF)
  28. Sustainability Committee Recommendations (August 26, 2020) (PDF)
  29. Jones Library Accessibility Review and Recommendations (June 10, 2020) (PDF)
  30. Finegold Alexander - Abridged Presentation - Revised Schematic Concept (February 26, 2020) (PDF)
  31. Finegold Alexander - Full Presentation - Revised Schematic Concept (February 26, 2020) (PDF)
  32. Proposal for an Accessibility Study and Review of Required Building Improvements (February 5, 2020) (PDF)
  33. Sustainability Memo from Finegold Alexander Architects - with Sustainability Committee Comments (January 8, 2020) (PDF)
  34. Jones Library FY2017 - FY2021 Plan for Library Service (October 6, 2016) (PDF)
  35. FY2018 Action Plan (PDF)
  36. Hazardous Materials Inspection Report (September 29, 2016) (PDF)
  37. Existing Conditions Report and Concept Design Structural Narrative (August 23, 2016) (PDF)
  38. DRAFT Building Project Budget Summary (August 15, 2016) (PDF)
  39. DRAFT Building Project Budget (August 15, 2016) (PDF)
  40. Presentation by Finegold Alexander Architects (October 26, 2016) (PDF)
  41. Presentation by Finegold Alexander Architects (August 11, 2016) (PDF)
  42. Presentation by Finegold Alexander Architects (July 27, 2016) (PDF)
  43. Presentation by Finegold Alexander Architects (July 19, 2016) (PDF)
  44. Presentation by Finegold Alexander Architects (May 10, 2016) (PDF)
  45. Jones Library Building Draft Designs (July 8, 2016) (PDF)
  46. Jones Library Building Program - Space Needs Table (Revised November 2, 2018) (PDF)
  47. Jones Library Building Program - Space Needs Table (Revised December 2016) (PDF)
  48. Jones Library Building Program - Space Needs Table (Revised August 11, 2016) (PDF)
  49. Jones Library Building Program - Space Needs Table (Revised July 12, 2016) (PDF)
  50. Jones Library Building Program - Space Needs Table (Revised April 13, 2016) (PDF)
  51. Jones Library Building Program (July 2, 2015) (PDF)
  52. Service Population Calculation (PDF)
  53. Square Footage Changes (May 12, 2016) (PDF)
  54. Project Timeline (April 7, 2016) (PDF)
  55. Building Program Acceptance Letter (July 17, 2015) (PDF)
  56. Long Range Plan for the Amherst Town Libraries: FY2017 - FY2021 (June 4, 2015) (PDF)

Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program

  1. Construction Fact Sheet - Jones Library Project - Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (PDF)
  2. General Conditions of the Interior of the Jones Library (February 13, 2018) (PDF)
  3. Grant Review Team - Review Worksheet
  4. Grant Review Team - Tally Sheet
  5. Grant Certification Letter to MBLC (May 24, 2017) (PDF)
  6. Deferred Maintenance Estimate - Jones Library Building (May 1, 2017) (PDF)
  7. Town Meeting Mailing - Narrative (March 27, 2017) (PDF)
  8. Town Meeting Mailing - Floor Plans (March 27, 2017) (PDF)
  9. Key Milestones for our Building Project (February 15, 2017) (PDF)
  10. Jones Library 2016-2017 MBLC Construction Grant Round Application (January 26, 2017) (PDF)
  11. Color Version of Designs Included in our Grant Application (January 26, 2017) (PDF)
  12. Jones Library Building Program - Space Needs Table (Revised December 2016) (PDF)
  13. Statement of Support from Amherst's Institutional Librarians (March 13, 2017) (PDF)
  14. Statement of Support from the Literacy Project (February 24, 2017) (PDF)
  15. Statement of Support from the Amherst Historical Society (February 6, 2017) (PDF)
  16. Statement of Support from the Burnett Gallery Committee (January 3, 2017) (PDF)
  17. Statement of Support from the Friends of the Library (December 5, 2016) (PDF)
  18. Massachusetts Historical Commission Project Notification Form & Quad Map (October 31, 2016) (PDF)
  19. LEED Project Checklist (October 28, 2016) (PDF)
  20. Jones Library Letter of Intent (October 6, 2016) (PDF)
  21. Statement of Support from Jones Library ESL Students (April 28, 2017) (PDF)
  22. Statement of Support from Amherst's Public School Librarians (March 20, 2017) (PDF)



Additional Information

For more information about our project, including additional video recordings of "Library Chats" and presentations, see our additional information page.