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The original item was published from 8/25/2022 2:02:49 PM to 9/11/2022 12:00:05 AM.

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Posted on: August 25, 2022

[ARCHIVED] Funds Secured for Jones Library ESL Center Design

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The Jones Library English Language and Citizenship Program is one of the most utilized and valued of the Jones Library’s offerings. Thanks to advocacy efforts by State Representative Mindy Domb and Senator Jo Comerford, the Jones Library ESL Center is one step closer to providing a bright, welcoming space for English Language Learners in the heart of downtown Amherst. Rep. Mindy Domb, secured $50,000 in the FY 23 Massachusetts State Budget towards the design costs for the new ESL Center in the renovated and expanded Jones Library.  

The Jones Library ESL Program provides over 16,000 hours annually in conversation and language instruction, including assistance to citizenship, for immigrants in the region. In the existing building, ESL students are tutored at tables, in upstairs corners, even in stairwells. The dedicated ESL Center will allow staff conduct these offerings effectively in spaces designed for this purpose. 

“What we don’t have here now, and I have always dreamed of, is a place where waiting students and tutors can chat together without disturbing the people studying or having to stand in the stacks,” says Lynn Weintraub, Coordinator of the Jones ESL Program. “Our program helps people gain confidence about their speaking abilities, and you can’t do that without practice.  So, having centralized gathering space for the ESL Center will make that practice possible.”

The substantial addition of ESL classrooms and quiet study spaces will enable staff and volunteers to provide small group and one-on-one tutoring in privacy. Initial plans provide natural light in tutoring rooms and classrooms as well as a central gathering space for program participants. 

The Jones Library Building project is currently in the design development phase, turning the stated vision for the building into specific architectural plans. When completed, the simplified layout and improved signage will make the Jones Library easier for newcomers to navigate and fully accessible for everyone.

This commitment for the Jones Library ESL Center is one of multiple local investments secured by Representative Domb and Senator Comerford in the FY23 State Budget. 

Questions? Conact Library Director Sharon Sharry 

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