December 22, 2020

December 2, 2020

J.R.R. Tolkien House Comes on the Market


In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. But in a house on a lawn there lived an author. And YOU could live there, too...

November 16, 2020

Um, thanks, pandemic?

Research compiled by writing and proofreading service Global English Editing shows that 35% of people in the world have read more books than usual since COVID began.

November 5, 2020

A library brings hope in "The Book Collectors"


"It is heartening to remember that heroes emerge in unpredictable places." NPR reviews a new book depicting "the savagery of Syrian President Bashar al Assad's regime contrasted with the life-saving symbol of civilization: a library."

Available from the Jones here.

October 30, 2020

Because it's hard to read on an empty stomach.

From Amherst Regional Public School Superintendent Mike Morris:


(Click on image to enlarge.)

Posting it larger here. Because this is important:

"Since our schools first closed last March, our amazing Food Services team has worked tirelessly to ensure that our students have uninterrupted access to free, nutritious meals, distributing well over 100,000 meals to date. Thanks to the extension of the USDA's universal free meals program, the District can now provide free meals for any child age 18 and under throughout the 2020-2021 school year (until June 30, 2021).  I want to stress that any child (living in any location in our towns) is eligible for these free meals and participation helps not just the children, but the District benefits from increased reimbursements.  Meals are distributed for Monday and Tuesday each Monday, meals for Wednesday and Thursday are distributed each Wednesday, and meals for Friday, Saturday and Sunday are distributed each Friday. The pick-up sites are included in the newsletter below, and families are welcome to pick up meals at whichever site is most convenient for them."

October 29, 2020

How a Tiny Indian Publisher Brings a World of Comics to Tamil Readers


Chandamama, a children’s magazine, was published for 60 years in 13 languages in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. More than 70 million people speak Tamil, making it even more widespread than Italian, but many popular international comics were not being translated. 

M. Soundrapandian changed all that.

October 28, 2020

How well do you know your forms of government?


Take this quick Merriam Webster quiz to find out.

And if you find yourself needing to brush up on the American system, check out any of these books by Amherst author Joseph Ellis!

October 22, 2020

50 States, 50 Scares

BOO! To celebrate the spookiest season, the New York Times has made a list of the scariest novel set in every state.


Want to read the one for Massachusetts? The Jones has it.


October 18, 2020

Why It Is Important to Move Forward with the Plan to Renovate and Expand the Jones Library

by Austin Sarat and Sharon Sharry

On October 15, the Jones Library Board of Trustees unanimously voted to approve the library’s renovation and expansion plan. The Board also voted to request that the Amherst Town Council approve the plan by the end of April. Those votes were the culmination of more than a decade of careful planning, extensive deliberation and consultation, and continuing commitment to making sure that Amherst’s libraries serve the needs of all its residents.

They point us toward a bright future in which the Jones will continue to nurture democratic values and a vibrant and inclusive culture in our town.

But some might ask, why move forward with the plan now? And why ask for a vote in April?

As to the first question, the Trustees have completed all the work needed to move the plan to fruition. It is now ready for consideration by the people of Amherst and their elected representatives.

Our planning began when the Board of Trustees launched a long-range planning process. As part of that process, we surveyed library patrons and the public. We held focus group sessions and talked with the staff about the library’s needs as well as their own hopes and aspirations.

Those data collection efforts and conversations revealed that, while the Jones was functioning well in many ways, it also had some serious problems and pressing needs. High on that list was the physical condition of the building itself. 

Because we wanted to make a great library even better and sustain its greatness into the future, we asked the library director and staff to develop a proposal for improvements, which they did with their usual skill and acumen. That proposal, among other things, called for expanding the children’s room, providing a much-needed teen space, dealing with the inadequacies of our Special Collection and English as a Second Language facilities, and making the building accessible not just for those protected by law, but welcoming for all residents. It became clear that these vital improvements could not be accommodated within the existing facility or in a feasible expansion of the Jones.

So we sent the staff back to the drawing board with a mandate to move from a wish list to a needs list and to establish a clear set of priorities.

When the staff and library director did so, it was apparent that we needed help figuring out how to make this slimmed-down, but still ambitious, program work in our building. To find that help we undertook an architect selection process. We invited proposals and received many, from distinguished firms.

After an extensive public vetting of those proposals we chose Finegold, Alexander Architects (FAA), one of the best architectural firms in the state with long experience working with libraries and an outstanding record of historical preservation.

We asked FAA to study whether and how to realize the program within the current building by reorganizing existing spaces and/or expanding within the existing footprint. They showed us that even if we added several stories to the library we still would not be able to do all that needed to be done. They offered alternative suggestions that accommodated the program with a modest expansion of the building.

We created a Feasibility Committee including Trustees, library staff and members of the public to work with FAA and develop a detailed plan for the Jones.

After dozens of public meetings, in January, 2017 we submitted that plan and the proposed program to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners as part of an application for a state-funded library construction grant. After our proposal was carefully vetted by experts in libraries and library design, MBLC approved a $13.9 million grant and put Amherst on the waitlist for an appropriation of funds.

Between then and now the Trustees have worked with FAA to further refine the original design. We again have held numerous public meetings and considered and adopted several important suggestions from Amherst residents. We also profited from hearing about the experiences of the numerous neighboring western Massachusetts towns (including Athol, Granby, Greenfield, Holyoke, South Hadley, Hadley, and West Springfield) that have renovated and expanded their libraries.

Along the way, Amherst adopted a net zero bylaw.  While the Jones Library was exempt because the project started before the law changed, the Trustees responded to the town’s commitment to sustainability by rethinking the work that had already been done, in an effort to make the renovated and expanded library energy efficient and sustainable. We created a committee of experts and charged them to work with FAA to create a plan that would make the Jones a model of sustainability.

The design the Trustees approved achieves that goal. In addition, it will preserve the library’s historic spaces while being fully accessible to all who wish to use it. It is flexible enough to accommodate anything that needs to be done in Covid-19’s wake, and it rectifies problems that have created serious difficulties for staff and safety issues.

Most importantly, it will serve the needs of Amherst residents for decades to come.

The Trustees decided to ask the Town Council to vote on our proposal by the end of April realizing full well the fiscal challenges that Amherst now faces.

We do so now for multiple reasons, not the least because we expect to be formally awarded the MBLC grant in July, 2021 and because their rules allow towns to move forward in anticipation of state funding. Taking advantage of that funding is a once-in-a-decade opportunity.

We do so because we are convinced that we have a sound and feasible plan for financing the project, which includes a library commitment of $6,000,000 to help offset some of the town’s costs.

We do so because the serious maintenance issues and structural problems which plague the Jones
building urgently need to be addressed.

We do so because a detailed study requested by the Town Council of the cost of addressing those issues and problems by repairing the existing building showed that it would cost between $14 and $16 million, which is very close to the amount the town would have to contribute to achieve a renovated, expanded, accessible, and environmentally sustainable Jones Library.

We do so because delay risks both an escalation in costs and a further deterioration of the building.

We do so because children, teens, English language learners, immigrants, disadvantaged people, students of Amherst’s history, families, book lovers and all those who flock to the Jones deserve a facility that is as inspiring as their dreams.

But, most importantly, we do so because, in these dark and dangerous times, we do not want to put the future on hold. A renovated and expanded Jones Library will be a beacon of hope and a reminder that a great town deserves a great library.

We look forward to working closely with the Amherst Town Council as it determines when and how to consider our plan and our request.

Austin Sarat is President of the Jones Library Board of Trustees. Sharon Sharry is the Library Director of the Jones Library.

October 17, 2020

It's International Raw Milk Cheese Day!


Friends! The day you've been long awaiting is finally here! Happy International Raw Milk Cheese Day!

In addition to chowing down on your favorite local cheese, why not check out Jon Scieszka's Stinky Cheese Man tales?


October 4, 2020

A tactile version of Pride and Prejudice!


Ever wonder what it would be like to hold a letter from Mr. Darcy in your hands? A new book can bring that experience to you. "Newly released through Chronicle Books, it allows readers to pull 19 letters out of actual envelopes that are tucked into the text. 'Handwriting and letters are such strong personal connections,' the author says. 'For those of us who love Pride and Prejudice, those characters are your own friends.'"


October 1, 2020

Proven ways to detect whether web or social media news is deceptive or a hoax


Only 16% of Americans read newspapers but more than half of us get news from Facebook. Here are some easy tips on how to spot fake news

Read Roald Dahl’s heartbreaking 1986 letter about the importance of vaccinations


You may know Roald Dahl from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" or "The Fantastic Mr. Fox." But this letter he wrote may be his most important work ever.



September 30, 2020

Read Don Quixote for the first time

or revisit the classic for the umpteenth time. Either way, you'll get more out of it with the Jones Library classics book group. Come join.


September 21, 2020

The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival

The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival will celebrate its 20th birthday this year! And, for the first time in its history, the event will be completely virtual. Join us next weekend for an interactive, online celebration of American Ingenuity featuring more than 120 authors, poets and illustrators. The festivities will culminate with a PBS television special “The Library of Congress National Book Festival: Celebrating American Ingenuity,” hosted by Hoda Kotb on Sunday, Sept. 27, 6-8 p.m. ET/PT.


Register Today!  

Create your FREE account now at


September 9, 2020

Talking with Kids about Voting


At a charged time in politics, talking with young people about voting and our democracy in a non-partisan fashion is important. To that end, the Brookline League of Women Voters prepared, with support from the Lotte E. Scharfman Citizen Education Grant program of the LWVMA, a resource that might be helpful to educators and families. Three groups of books for young people ages 5-10 — on voting, voting rights in history, and government — provide information and inspiration for discussing fundamental elements of democracy, a great way to nurture future voters!




August 7, 2020

Restless Reads book discussion

Did you know that Chekhov was an etymologist,
accomplished master of espionage, and expert belly dancer?

Okay, not really. But he WAS a pretty good author.
Learn more about him and his short stories on Thursday.

(Click image to enlarge.)

August 4, 2020

Library Chat - Accessibility Study - This Thursday, August 6

From 7:00-8:00 pm

Join us as Library Trustees talk with special guest Aelan Tierney of Kuhn Riddle Architects about their Jones Library Accessibility Study

You will be able to utilize the ‘Q&A’ or 'raise hand' buttons built into Zoom to ask your questions or give your comments and concerns.  We will try to address all questions and acknowledge all raised hands as time allows.  You will also be able to phone in to hear the session. 

More info here:

August 3, 2020

Animal Farm turns 75!

And its story is as relevant as ever. Here are 10 interesting facts about it that you might not have known.

If you want to revisit the classic, the Jones has it for you. If you want to learn more about the evolution of its dust jacket, click here.

August 2, 2020

Four-year-old lands book deal for his 'astonishing' poetry

"Coming Home"
Take our gloves off
Take our shoes off
Put them where they’re supposed to go.
You take off your brave feeling
Because there’s nothing
to be scared of in the house.

July 28, 2020

Surprise! Ukes are on MONDAY!

Maybe you'll play "Just Another Manic Monday" by The Bangles or "I Don't Like Mondays" by The Boomtown Rats or "Monday Monday" by The Mammas and the Pappas!

July 21, 2020

Leaving the Big Apple?

Electric Lit has an article about how to write your "Leaving New York" essay with their handy chart.

You know where they're all coming?

July 20, 2020

Is 'Irregardless' a Real Word?

The Friends are big fans of the folks over at Merriam-Webster. 
Go read this article and you'll become a fan, too.

July 9, 2020

The Summer Reading Program is BACK!

Now that we can borrow books again from the library, we can read NEW books! 
And? We can get credit for them! 
 #SummerReadingProgram FTW

June 30, 2020

The Souls of Black Folks

Mark your calendars: July 16th.

(Click on image to enlarge.)

June 26, 2020

6 Obscure Words for Messes

Because face it, we're all kind of a mess right now.

And now we can have the vocabulary to describe it.

June 25, 2020

Don't feel bad

Even Real Live Librarians don't always read the books they're "supposed" to have read. The NY Public Library 'fessed up.

June 22, 2020

Research Shows Virus Undetectable on Five Highly Circulated Library Materials After Three Days

Hey Friends, as the town libraries slowly begin opening back up (the Jones is accepting returns right now!), this might allay some fears.

Little Free Library stewards for their dedication to the mission

In case you need some happy news, check out the 2nd annual Todd H. Bol winners for Outstanding Achievement. Todd Bol was the inventor of the Little Free Library movement and these are examples of people continuing his amazing work.

June 20, 2020

Books! Food!

The only thing better than books and food is books about food. Maybe your cookbook shelves, like some of ours, need a little diversifying? If so, here are a few suggestions to check out:

And hey, if you make any particularly tasty dishes, let us know!

June 19, 2020

Juneteenth Celebration 2020:

** African American History in Amherst **

A slide show of materials relating to the African American community in Amherst from the Jones Library Special Collections. 

Here's what the entire town of Amherst is doing to commemorate the day.

June 18, 2020

8 of the most beautiful Russian libraries

"As is well known, Russians are the most well-read of nations. And it goes without saying that throughout its vast territory Russia has lots of libraries, both old ones and trendy modern city spaces."
Plus? Their books are so LONG they need big libraries to house them all.

Looking at you, Tolstoy.