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Harold F. Johnson Library at Hampshire College

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Hampshire Library Extends Five College Partnerships

The libraries of Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges partner to publish a digital archive, while a new Five College Library Annex will store up to 2.5 million items

The partnership among the libraries of the Five Colleges continues to strengthen and expand for the benefit of students, employees, and the public. Three of the colleges joined to launch an online archive this summer, and all of the libraries — representing Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith and the University of Massachusetts Amherst — united in May around the opening of a shared annex administered by Five Colleges, Inc. 

The libraries of Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges have partnered to publish a digital archive of collections of letters, photographs, oral histories, campus newspapers, and student research at a site called Five College Compass: Digital Collections, bringing together digital scholarship and cultural and historical materials.

Compass represents an ongoing commitment among the institutions to showcase and preserve their unique digital materials. With more than 3,000 items currently available and thousands more to be added, Compass enables users to easily search across institutions or browse through the materials of a specific collection or school. Most of the content on the site is publicly accessible.

Compass will soon become the sole location for accessing Hampshire’s digital library resources, such as student Division IIIs and College archives. The library will be moving its collections out of its popular DSpace repository after its contents have been migrated to Compass.

Compass was developed by project teams at the three colleges, with administrative support from staff at Five Colleges, Inc. Working with engaged Common Media, a digital firm, the project teams will develop and grow the site and collections, and opportunities for expanded content from the Five College community will be considered for the future.

“This project has two aspects that are innovative,” says Hampshire College Library Director Jennifer Gunter King. “One, this is a three-college initiative that sets the stage and opens possibilities for Five College and Museums10 to explore. Two, this project integrates our archives collection–management database to our online repository. Integrating these two systems brings the archives much further along, improving online access to unique, digital archives in a way that will open the ‘vaults.’ This is an example of twenty-first-century library innovation.”

On May 26, Five Colleges held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the Library Annex. The building is on a 12-acre parcel at the junctions of the Interstate 91 exit 22 ramp, West Street (Routes US 5 and MA 10), and Plain Road in Hatfield.

The 35,000-square-foot annex will provide shelving for up to 2.5 million items from the Five College Repository Collection and from libraries of the campuses of the consortium, freeing up space on the campuses for new materials and other academic needs. In addition, it will serve as a temporary home for much of the collection of Smith College’s Neilson Library while it undergoes a major renovation.

Under climate-controlled conditions suitable for long-term preservation of print materials, the $14 million annex will house a part of the Five College Library Repository Collection, which already holds almost 600,000 items for the consortium’s five campuses.

King sees the project as an example of Five College collaboration. “The annex gives us the ability to solve large-scale problems together,” she says. “High-density storage enables each of the libraries to maintain its collections even when library space on our campuses is at a premium. The cooperative agreements in place that allow for shared governance and management strengthen our ability and capacity to problem-solve.”

For many years, the Five College integrated library system, ALEPH, has provided access to the collections of the Five Colleges to students, employees, and public users through one online portal. Users at one college have been able to request that books from the other institutions be sent to their home library for borrowing, and could view and/or renew the books they checked out from each of the libraries.

The Five College Consortium, based in Amherst, is celebrating more than 50 years of advancing the extensive educational and cultural objectives of its associated institutions.


Five College Library Annex announcement

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