60 Bridge St. * 413-625-0306 * Housed in the historic Pratt Memorial Library Building since 1914

Hours

  • Monday 1–7 pm
  • Wednesday 11 am–7 pm
  • Saturday 10 am–3 pm

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, December 13, 2017, 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Hours

  • Monday 1–7 pm
  • Wednesday 11 am–7 pm
  • Saturday 10 am–3 pm

Arms Around Us for the Next 100 Years

Our Community Coming Together for Phase II of the Capital Campaign

Perhaps you have visited our busy library in Shelburne Falls. While enjoying our library, you may have noticed that, well, we need some major repairs and system updates. To do this, we have set our sights on restoring the interior of the library.

There are many ways, small and large, to give to the Arms Library. Please look around our website for ways to do this, or click here to learn how to donate. If you have questions about our fundraising efforts, please call us or stop by the library. We would love to hear from you!

Our Beginnings

William W. Pratt deeded the building "....to the Inhabitants of the Town...to their use and behoof forever."

The 1914 Pratt Memorial Library Building was designed to hold the Arms Library Collection. It was built with a unique architectural conceit: shaped like an open book, the "cover" spans the corner of the first major intersection in our downtown. The "pages" form a beautiful great room lined with a curved wall of windows, and the "spine" forms a Beaux Arts rotunda, topped by a magnificent copper dome. It is the place where the pin drops in a search on Google Maps for Shelburne Falls, and it is the de­ facto gateway to our historic village center.

Our Present

The Arms Library is one of nine community libraries that serve the regional Hilltowns, of which the Arms has historically experienced the heaviest usage. Upkeep of the building has been a shared responsibility between the town and the Arms Library Association, the not-for-profit entrusted with the collection and staff. While it has been an integral part of our social and cultural landscape, apart from routine maintenance and the addition of accessible elements, the building has received much patching-up but minimal upgrading in its over 100 years.

In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene wreaked havoc on our community. The damage sustained by the library created an imperative: engineers advised that repairs and restoration had to be done...

...Or risk losing our landmark:

  • The copper dome had to be replaced
  • The rotunda had to be restored
  • The foundation had to be secured
  • Floors and walls had been damaged, putting historic architectural detailing at risk
  • An upgraded heating and cooling system has to be installed to ensure better air quality for library materials and patrons

...and more.

The price tag for a historic restoration of the building with upgraded systems was put at $1.5-$1.8 million.

The Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund has awarded the Arms $266,000 in matching funds to take our library into the 21st century with our history intact. It was a highly competitive grant process, and we are honored that the Fund recognized the historic and cultural importance of our institution and our community. We are looking for a select number of initial donors to launch this campaign by leading through example. Together we can meet the match and make the Arms' future a part of our joint legacy.

The Community Rallies...

This challenge created an imperative that we were determined to transform into opportunity. The Arms went into action. Grants were written and some awarded; the town contributed; the library sponsored forums and held events that resulted in over 740 individuals and families contributing from $10 to over $100,000 to the first phase of our effort. And, in 2015, we did it: we "Put a Roof on It;" our new copper dome gleams, and water no longer drips onto our books and our patrons when it rains.

Proposed architectural plans for Arms LibraryProposed architectural plans for the restored Arms Library (click to view a detailed PDF)A Building...For the Next 100 Years

In addition to the completion of foundation repairs, Phase 2 will address all issues with the building’s interior. Upon completion of the renovation, the library will not only be structurally sound first the first time in decades, it will be positioned to enhance and expand services to its broad range of constituents from families, students and scholars, to visitors and tourists—for the next 100 years.

The library will also be positioned to partner with other area cultural organizations to take full advantage of the facility as a nexus for access to local historical materials (in collaboration with the two area historical societies) and for community cultural programming.

Through these community partnerships, the facility will be used when the library is in service and also when it is closed, thus maximizing the community's benefit from our collective investment of time, money and volunteer labor.

In addition to overall restoration, our new facility will have:

  • Performance space for presentations by Mohawk Trail Concerts and others
  • A reconfigured children's room, with more space for story time and children’s programming
  • Public meeting space
  • A display area for local historical materials
  • An exterior kiosk with information on the history of our historic district
  • Energy-efficient electrical and systems upgrades...with air conditioning!

...and more.

Put Your Name On It!

The For The Next 100 Years campaign is a true community effort, and all donors who pledge or give at any level will be recognized in a commemorative book to remain at the library in perpetuity. Donors who pledge $1,000 or more over a three-year pledge period will be recognized in a group plaque at the front of the restored library.

For those who are able to make a Lead Gift, the library has identified key places in the renovated building where you, and those you wish to honor, can be publicly recognized.

We have been hearing from a number of people who would like to match or surpass what they have already given to the project; gifts and pledges for Phase 1 and Phase 2 will be combined to maximize the opportunity for recognition in the new building.