BOSTON (WWLP) – Amherst and Deerfield libraries have been awarded additional funding to provide enhancements to the facilities.

In a collaborative effort with the Healey-Driscoll Administration, Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton), Representative Mindy Domb (D-Amherst), and Representative Natalie M. Blais (D-Deerfield) have successfully secured additional funding amounting to $2,165,861 for pending library construction projects in Amherst and Deerfield.

The funding will address pandemic-related cost escalations that had placed these projects in jeopardy. Following months of coordinated advocacy by library stakeholders and the concerted efforts of over a dozen state legislators, the Executive Office for Administration and Finance approved the request by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) on Thursday, May 11. The approved funding will cover cost escalations and pandemic-related overages that could have derailed the library construction projects in Amherst, Deerfield, and ten other communities across the state.

The Jones Library in Amherst will receive an additional $1,694,158, while the Tilton Library in Deerfield will benefit from an extra $471,703. The MBLC Board of Commissioners unanimously approved and finalized this funding on Thursday, June 1, ensuring that these projects, along with nine others statewide, can proceed as planned.

Senator Jo Comerford expressed her appreciation for the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s response to the urgent call for assistance from libraries and municipalities across Massachusetts. She praised the collaborative partnership with Representative Domb and Blais, emphasizing their shared dedication to securing the necessary funding. Comerford commended the successful outcome of their joint efforts, stating, “I fight smarter and harder when we’re together.”

Representative Mindy Domb emphasized the power of partnership and the collective efforts of legislators, library advocates, and community members. Domb highlighted the successful collaboration with Senator Comerford and Representative Blais, as well as the support received from House and Senate colleagues and the Healey-Driscoll Administration. She expressed pride in their collective focus on protecting and advancing these vital infrastructure projects.

Blais underscored the multifaceted role of libraries in the community, serving as more than just book repositories. Blais cited their significance as gathering spaces for various activities and events, including knitting, coffee, yoga, Qigong, and even concerts and art exhibitions. She stressed the urgency of finding a solution that would enable these critical infrastructure projects to move forward, while also acknowledging the dedication of constituents, community leaders, and colleagues across the commonwealth.

The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) plays a crucial role in assisting communities with improving their public library facilities through funding and technical support. The initial grants awarded to Amherst and Deerfield aimed to finance major capital improvement projects from planning to construction stages. However, due to pandemic-related challenges such as supply chain disruptions, inflation, and labor shortages, libraries throughout the state faced extraordinary cost increases that local communities were unable to absorb without state support.

The additional funding secured by Senator Comerford, Representative Domb, and Representative Blais will ensure the timely completion of the Amherst and Deerfield library construction projects, providing enhanced library facilities that meet the needs of their respective communities. The successful outcome of this collaborative effort highlights the importance of government support and collective advocacy in advancing essential infrastructure projects throughout Massachusetts.