Additional Information about our Building Project

Town Council Greenlights Building Project!

After nearly ten years of planning by staff, Trustees and dozens of other volunteers; countless public presentations; numerous iterations in schematic design aided by the Massachusetts Library System and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (including the provisional award of $13.8 million toward its cost); and a protracted and exhaustive analysis of its costs, the Amherst Town Council, on Monday, April 5, 2021, took the historic step of decisively (10-2-1) approving 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.

In approving the project, Councilors particularly noted how it will advance the Town’s climate goals with a net zero ready building; make the building accessible to all citizens of the Town; provide safe and workable spaces for all of the Library’s childrens’ programs, including those for teens who have no space of their own; expand computer access for those without computers; provide adequate space for those served by the Library’s ESL program; and revive the Jones as the center of a community that, as proven during the pandemic, craves the kind of civic life that only a library can provide.

By acting now, the Town Council will allow a June 30 distribution of the first $2.7 million from the MBLC grant, allow design development to begin immediately, and construction to begin in mid-2022. Every year’s delay adds approximately $1.6 million in construction escalation costs.

All of us at the Jones look forward to welcoming all Town residents to a library that, once again, meets their needs.

February 22, 2021 — Building Project Presentation to Town Council

NOTE: This video was created by the Jones Library's IT Specialist Hank Allan – Thanks, Hank!


Town Council Public Fora — Jones Library Expansion & Renovation Project

View recordings of the March 3, 2021 forum and the March 6, 2021 forum.

February 25, 2021 — Town of Amherst Community Chat about the Library Building Project
Library Director Sharon Sharry, Library Trustee Alex Lefebvre, and Capital Campaign Chair Kent Faerber discuss the Jones Library building project with Town Manager Paul Bockelman and Communications Manager Brianna Sunryd.

January 22, 2021 — Fireside Chat with the Jones Library
Library Director Sharon Sharry and the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce's John Page discuss our expansion and renovation project and the many roles a library plays in a community, including as an economic driver.

 See also:


January 28, 2021 — The Public Library Construction Grant Program
with special guests Andrea Bunker and Lauren Stara, Library Building Specialists from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC)

January 7, 2021 — The Library's Role in Economic & Social Justice
with special guests Lev Ben-Ezra (Director of the Amherst Survival Center), Judith Roberts (Director of the Literacy Project), and Lynne Weintraub (Jones Library ESL & Citizenship Coordinator)

December 3, 2020 — The Significance of Historic Preservation
with special guests Steve Schreiber (Professor and Chair of the Department of Architecture at the UMass Amherst) and Eldra-Dominique Walker (Assistant Professor, M. Design Graduate Program Director at the UMass Amherst)

November 10, 2020 — Library Services during COVID-19
with library staff

October 22, 2020 — Let's talk about historic preservation!
with special guests Jane Wald (Executive Director of the Emily Dickinson Museum), Robin Fordham (from the Amherst Historic Commission and Community Preservation Act Committee), Mike Kelly (Director of the Amherst College Special Collections department), and Cyndi Harbeson (Head of the Jones Library’s Special Collections department)

October 8, 2020 — discussing the latest designs
with special guests Finegold Alexander Architects

September 23, 2020 — discussing the latest designs
with special guests Finegold Alexander Architects

September 3, 2020 — with our Sustainability Committee

August 20, 2020 — The Renaissance of Public Libraries
with special guests Toni Golinsky-Foisy (Library Director in West Springfield), Joe Rodio (Library Director in South Hadley), and Jean Shaughnessy (Library Director in Athol)

August 6, 2020 — The Jones Library’s Accessibility Report
with special guest Aelan Tierney of Kuhn Riddle Architects

Grant Application Designs

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Reasons to expand our Children's Room (Part 1) – with Head of Youth Services Mia Cabana.
Reasons to expand our Children's Room (Part 2) – with Head of Youth Services Mia Cabana.
Reasons to expand our Interlibrary Loan space.
Reasons to expand our Special Collections space – with Head of Special Collections Cynthia Harbeson.
Below are brief video testimonials from Rizwan, Jenny, and Ping — participants in our ESL & Citizenship program — about the value of the program and the need for an expanded/renovated Jones Library building.


In January 2014, the Jones Library applied to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) for a Planning & Design Grant — the first step toward a building renovation and expansion project. In June 2014, the MBLC awarded Amherst a $50,000 grant.

We hired Finegold Alexander Architects to deliver a completed set of schematic drawings — as well as a cost estimate — for a renovated and expanded library building by October 2016. We submitted an application for an MBLC Construction Grant in January 2017 and created a detailed Project Timeline (PDF) and an outline of Key Milestones for our Building Project (PDF) shortly thereafter.

On July 13, 2017, 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 was 9th on the wait list. (See the MBLC’s Press Release for more information.) This was excellent news for Amherst as it gave us plenty of time to work with the community to determine its design priorities.

In July 2019, we moved up to 2nd on the wait list for a construction grant. We expect the state to award us the grant in the summer of 2021!



Design Subcommittee Meeting (July 19, 2016)

Building Forum (June 28, 2016)

Building Forum (May 10, 2016)


For more information, see also: Board of Trustees Meeting Agendas & Minutes (in particular: Buildings & Facilities Committee, Feasibility Committee, and Design Subcommittee).

Draft Designs

Our architects have created initial design drafts. These are by no means final drawings! Click the diagrams below to open up a larger PDF version of these designs. Additional information can be found in the Jones Library Building Program (Revised July 12, 2016) (PDF).

Update: These initial designs have been revised. Please see the most recent presentations by Finegold Alexander Architects (under Related Documents), which include updated designs.

Massing Models

To help people visualize the project, our architects have created two "massing models." These are by no means final drawings! These illustrations show the relationship of the building on its surroundings. (Click the diagrams below to open up a larger PDF version of these models.)

  • Option one shows no re-zoning, and no sale of land. Thus the Library would expand onto its property only.
  • Option two shows successful re-zoning, and a Library expansion closer to the Strong House, making collaborations easier, such as the sharing of artifacts and documents.
  • The third drawing shows the elevations. Whether we expand onto only our property, or use a small portion of the Historical Society’s property, we plan to go no higher than three stories.
Update: These models are outdated. The Library is planning to expand onto its property only.