Amherst’s Jones Library will take up temporary quarters on University Drive

The building at 101 University Drive in Amherst, known as the Slobody Building, will be the temporary home of the Jones Library for the next year and a half.

The building at 101 University Drive in Amherst, known as the Slobody Building, will be the temporary home of the Jones Library for the next year and a half. Colebrook Realty photo—

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 04-02-2024 3:39 PM

AMHERST — A University Drive office building will be the temporary location for the Jones Library during the renovation and expansion of the library’s home at 43 Amity St. over the next year and a half.

Trustees for the Jones Library and town officials announced Tuesday that 101 University Drive, known as the Slobody Building, will be used as the temporary home for library services, likely beginning sometime in July.

Located about a mile from the current library and next to the U.S. post office, the building is on the as route and has a large parking lot. It was selected via a municipal procurement process, with lease documents being finalized. Amherst Media, the local community access station, already uses a portion of the Slobody Building.

Library Director Sharon Sharry said in a statement that members of the staff are excited to begin the next phase of the $46.1 million expansion and renovation project and to be at a temporary space that is convenient and close to the current site.

“We know there will continue to be twists and turns in the process, and our team is ready for that,” Sharry said. “Relocating a library is complicated, and we’re grateful for the support and patience of our patrons as we figure it out.”

Sharry added, “During this transition, our focus will be where it’s always been: on providing exceptional customer service and important resources and collections to our community.”

Most library services will continue, including browsable collections, children’s services, public computers, reference assistance, English as a Second Language programs and access to historical collections. Most of the library’s books and other holdings are expected to be accessible to patrons during construction. 

With a mid-May closing of the 43 Amity St. building likely, the timeline allows about two months for library staff to pack up and move collections, technology and furnishings into the new University Drive location.

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The town this week began soliciting bids for commercial moving services that are due April 18.

During the transition, the library will expand open hours at the two branches, the Munson Memorial Library in South Amherst and the North Amherst Library. In addition, digital collections and resources will continue to be available through the library’s website, and as a member of the CW MARS library consortium, Amherst cardholders can request, borrow and return items at CW MARS member libraries in neighboring communities.

Library staff will provide further information on the move in the coming weeks, including answering questions about returning and requesting items during the period of transition and how to ensure continuity.

The library’s Summer Reading Programs are continuing, with a kickoff party for children and teens scheduled at The Drake on June 29 at 10:30 a.m. With limited room for events and programs at 101 University Drive, other options are being explored to offer in-person programming, likely at other venues in town, as well as transitioning some programs to Zoom.

More information will be available at www.joneslibrary.org.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.