As Five Colleges Inc. enjoys its 50th year of collaboration among the county’s institutions of higher education, the consortium celebrated a “milestone” Thursday when it broke ground on a new library annex that will one day house 2 million volumes.
The 35,000-square-foot building is being built on a 12-acre parcel off Plain Road, adjacent to Interstate 91 at a cost of between $12 million and $12.5 million.
The annex will house rarely circulating books and journals from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College and Smith College.
Such volumes are currently housed in a former military bunker on Bare Mountain in South Amherst. The bunker was renovated and opened as a book depository in 2002. Since then, the growing collection, which now stands at 600,000 volumes, has outgrown the space.
Officials expect the annex to be completed by the end of next May, when Smith College will begin transferring over 1 million titles to Hatfield. Those volumes will be stored there until August 2019 as its Nielsen Library undergoes renovations.
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