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Five College Consortium Agrees to Purchase Library Annex Land

HADLEY — The Five College Consortium has signed an agreement to purchase 46 acres of land in Hadley as the site of a 2.5 million-volume Library Annex that will provide shelving to supplement the capacities of the collaboration’s on-campus libraries. Most of the land, which lies between North Maple Street and Rocky Hill Road in an area of mixed retail, residential, and light industrial uses, will be preserved as open space, with about 20% of the site used for the project.

The initial phase of the annex is a 38,000-square-foot facility that includes 30,000 square feet for shelving and approximately 8,000 square feet for processing intakes and retrievals. The consortium is pursuing approval for a shelving facility that might grow to 150,000 square feet — a size not expected to be reached for several decades.

Five Colleges has selected Cutler and Associates of Worcester as the project’s design-build firm. Groundbreaking is planned for July, with the facility expected to open in May 2016. The annex will address space requirements identified in the master plan of the UMass Amherst Libraries and the projected needs of Smith College during an anticipated major renovation of its Neilson Library.

The annex will also be available to serve the shelving needs of all Five College libraries for print materials. Primarily intended to house infrequently used print materials, the annex will benefit from climate-controlled conditions that are better for long-term preservation of print materials than the conditions in the on-campus library stacks.

The next stages in the project are for the land’s current owner to pursue removing the property from the state’s agriculture program and for Five Colleges to develop a conservation-management plan to protect endangered-species habitats on the site.

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