Amherst’s State Representative Mindy Domb, has 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 English Language and Citizenship Program is one of the most utilized and valued of the Jones Library’s offerings. 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 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.