Molly Turner: North Amherst Library needs many friends right now

  • North Amherst Library

Friday, April 12, 2019

In the book “History of a New England Village Library,” author Patricia Holland writes, “The center of North Amherst is marked by a church (1826), a school, (1870) and the library (1893)... What is it in the human spirit that makes such institutions possible? They do not make money, they only sustain the soul.”

The North Amherst Library needs many friends. While the Jones Library trustees advocate for a new building with many bells and whistles in the center of town, the poor cousin in the north part of town goes without. Without toilets or handicap access, or adequate open hours, essentials when providing library services there. These needs have existed for decades. With rapidly expanded housing, there will be even more need.

The trustees of the Jones Library have noted on many occasions that the North Amherst Library is owned by the town.

At a special Town Meeting in the fall of 2017, voters agreed to provide $50,000 to design a modest addition to the North Amherst Library that would remedy these problems by providing a restroom and handicap access.

The results of a study by selected architects are now available with three options. Residents recently applied for funds to the Joint Capital Plan Committee to fast track the project.

A library in North Amherst has had long and strong support from its residents since the founding of the North Amherst Library Association in 1869. Its early supporters included Civil War veterans and young students at the Agricultural School. The books were kept in the post office and the postmaster was the first librarian.

By 1893, the North Amherst Library building commanded a central place in the center of the village and became a free public library with support from the North Amherst Library Association, the North Amherst Village Improvement Society, the town, and generous resident and business donors.

The North Amherst Library is an iconic public building in the North Amherst Historic District, a gateway to Amherst. This gateway now needs attentive solutions to its aesthetic decline and restoration of what was once typical of New England villages.

The library is a delightful example of the work of architect Roswell Field Putnam, a town asset and an historic treasure. 

Molly Turner


The author is a former president of the Jones Library.