The Amherst Town Library shall strive to provide all community residents with materials and services for their information, education and entertainment needs.
The Amherst Town Library is an essential, innovative community service and an accessible resource for people of all ages and backgrounds, enhancing our quality of life and affirming our sense of community.
As Trustees and Staff we strive to accomplish the library’s mission and commit ourselves to the following:
Library services will be guided by a sense of caring with consideration to the needs of the individual and the community at large.
Technology will maximize access to information resources. The staff will respond enthusiastically to changing community needs and demands.
The Library will contribute to the overall quality of community life by its commitment to quality in the development, selection and delivery of materials and services to library users. A wide variety of educational and leisure resources in accessible formats will meet diverse community needs.
The staff will conduct themselves in a manner that creates confidence among library users and the community.
On April 30, 1892, the first library building in the Town of Amherst was dedicated. Under the leadership of Rev. Josiah G. Davis, D.O., $2800 was raised by voluntary subscriptions for the construction project. The site chosen for the new library "was Judge Parker's garden, maintained by this distinguished gentleman with rare fruits and flowers, and one of the most attractive spots on the Plain."
Reverend Davis's efforts were prompted by the Amherst Library Association's burgeoning book collection. The collection which was begun in 1859 with 600 volumes had grown to 2000 volumes and could no longer fit into the room in the town hall given to the Association by the selectmen.
The Boston firm of Means and Gilbert drew up plans for the library building, and proceeded rapidly. The building which was dedicated in 1892 was one story high measuring 44 by 22 feet with a 30 by 10 foot annex. Because the healthy sum of $2800 was available for construction, handsome and sturdy local granite was used for the exterior. The metal roof sloped down over the large windows.
By 1907 the library had outgrown the 1892 building. Mr. James W. Towne of East Orange, New Jersey offerred to expand the library if the town would agree to increase the budget for its maintenance by $100 per year. At the 1909 town meeting, citizens accepted the offer, and in 1911 the first renovation of the library was completed. The name of the library was decreed to be none other than the Amherst Town Library.
The 1911 renovation tripled the available space inside the library and added a great deal of decoration both inside and out. The roof was torn out and raised four feet three inches. Decorative windows were added, and a new red tile roof was installed. The exterior walls were extended eight feet in one direction and sixteen feet in another. The interior was redone in Mexican mahogany with terrazo marble floors and green marble trim. A fireplace of yellow brick bounded in dark mahogany was added. With the added height, a mezzanine was added to one side of the building for stack area. A handsome copper and glass marquee was added over the front entrance.
At the dedication of the renovated building, Dr. Edward Spalding presented the library with a portrait by Gilbert Stuart of Charles H. Atherton, a prominent lawyer and politician.
In 1971, the second renovation modernized the library and extended the building to the rear adding a large reading room. The basement was finished into a meeting room which was later turned into the children's library.
In 1987, the third renovation and addition of the Amherst Town Library was completed. The Boston firm of Stahl Associates designed the new building which was to be in excess of 13,500 square feet in interior space with attention both to modernization and preservation. The east wall was removed and, following patterns of history, the new section was built in Mrs. Hopkins' garden. Mimicking the architecture of the 1911 building a mezzanine was added for stack room. Many architectural features which had been lost behind walls and dropped ceilings in the 1971 renovation were recovered. The building was wired for automation and made completely accessible to handicapped patrons. The cost of the 1987 expansion and renovation was $1,100,000.
Because the building is protected by a security system and is completely climate controlled, the Gilbert Stuart portrait of Charles Atherton which had been on loan to the Currier Museum for many years was returned to hang over the circulation desk.
A public library is a long-term investment for a town. It provides entertainment and enlightenment, and it demonstrates a community’s commitment to providing unbiased information and opportunities for life-long learning, as well as access to recreational reading and cultural programming. The library fosters a sense of community through shared public space, and as the needs of that community change, the library must evolve in furtherance of its mission.
At the Amherst Town Library, we are committed to providing the highest quality service in a warm, respectful, and professional environment. While we will continue to offer traditional library services, we will also explore trends that may lead to new and innovative offerings. I welcome your feedback. It you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to stop by or send me a note.