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Arms Library renovations to start in Sept.

  • The Arms Library in Shelburne Falls received a $266,000 grant for interior restoration and renovation. Staff photo/Paul Franz



Staff Reporter
Thursday, August 09, 2018

SHELBURNE FALLS — Three years after the Arms Library replaced its copper-dome roof, work will begin on a major interior restoration of its historic Pratt Memorial Library building.

The extensive renovations will begin Sept. 17, according to Library Director Laurie Wheeler. The work will include window improvements, interior mural restorations, energy-efficient and electrical improvements that will make the library wired to meet the needs of 21st century technology.

In 2016, the library received a $266,000 Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund grant for this second phase of work, and part of that grant will be used to develop more exhibition space and community meeting areas. When the library reopens, more programs, presentations and lectures can be given there, outside of regular library hours.

“Shelburne Falls is one great village — literate and generous,” said Karen Sheaffer, who chairs the Arms Library board of trustees. “There are three libraries and three bookstores and we all support one another. Pretty amazing for the combined population of Buckland and Shelburne.” She said the fundraising for the matching grant was a success because of devoted patrons, businesses and banks who responded to the library’s capital campaign.

Floor plans, developed by Jones-Whitsett Architects, show new flooring for the lower level, which will house a children’s library, young adult books and a community meeting room. All adult books, both fiction and non-fiction, will be housed on the first floor. The first floor will have energy-efficient windows, air-conditioning, new lighting, and a local historical display area.

In September, the library’s downstairs will be closed, but the upstairs will remain open, and the building will remain handicap-accessible. The library building will be closed completely for renovations October through December.

Until the restoration work is complete, Arms Library will provide services in the Greenfield Cooperative Bank’s community room at 33 Bridge St. Arms will hold library hours there on Mondays from 1 to 7 p.m., Wednesdays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Greenfield Cooperative Bank is excited to help provide a temporary home for the Arms Library during its renovation,” said Casey Cusson of the Shelburne Falls branch of the bank. “We love to partner with community organizations whenever we can and the Arms Library has been an important part of Shelburne Falls for generations.”

While the library will have limited services, it will still offer interlibrary loans, along with a small children’s browsing collection, new titles, DVDs, audiobooks, and publications. Wheeler said the library will have a small browsing collection, and she is encouraging people to make more use of other local libraries, interlibrary loan system and electronic media. “If anyone needs help with any of the systems, we are here to help,” said Wheeler. “I know it’s a long time to be without our library, but the renovated building will be worth the wait.”