Shutesbury library lands $10K accessibility grant

The M.N. Spear Memorial Library in Shutesbury

The M.N. Spear Memorial Library in Shutesbury STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 04-01-2024 11:45 AM

SHUTESBURY — A project to improve accessibility for patrons at the current Shutesbury library and the new library building that will break ground in June is being supported by a $10,000 grant from the American Library Association.

Library Director Mary Ann Antonellis recently announced that the M.N. Spear Memorial Library was one of 310 across the country that will be able to create a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for residents with disabilities by using the money from Libraries Transforming Communities: Accessible Small and Rural Communities, an initiative of the American Library Association in collaboration with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries.

The initiative provides community engagement and accessibility resources to libraries to help their staffs better serve people with disabilities and engage and welcome neuro-diverse community members.

As part of the grant, library staff will take an online course in how to lead conversations and will then host a conversation with residents about how to best serve neuro-diverse children.

Neuro-diverse community members and their families will be encouraged to participate in the project by suggesting and commenting on various aspects, including programming opportunities, as well as the choice of equipment and furniture for the new library. That will help create spaces, collections and ongoing programs tailored to the needs of neuro-diverse individuals.

Construction of the new, 4,400 square foot building, at a cost of around $8.55 million, is scheduled to begin this spring at 66 Leverett Road and open in July 2025.

The town was awarded a state Small Library Pilot Project Grant in spring of 2022. That $5.64 million grant is being supplemented with $2.44 million from the town, approved at Town Meeting and a Proposition 2½ debt-exclusion vote, and various other sources.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Susan Tracy: Support Ukraine funding
Police investigating bullets striking homes in Belchertown
In federal lawsuit, teacher accuses Amherst schools of violating civil rights, other district policies
Amherst officials cool to bid to double spending hike for regional schools
Amherst police chief finalists stress anti-racism cred, discuss other issues in separate meetings with public
Water rate hike eyed to fund new tanks in Hadley

Staff Writer Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.