Counting pledges yet to be fulfilled, the Forbes For All Handicap Elevator fundraising campaign has reached its goal, fundraising committee co-chairs, Mike and Judy Ryan announced. The campaign began a year ago and since that time 700 individuals and businesses have contributed in addition to $100,000 in capital support from the City of Northampton and a $14,000 Community Development Block Grant.

"We are very grateful for everyone's support to make this elevator happen. Our community responded generously to this important challenge and we can't wait for the elevator to be installed," said Janet Moulding, Library Director.

Design work on the new elevator has already begun. Architect Thomas Douglas is preparing the documents to go out to bid for a contractor to install the elevator. The elevator, which will fit the architectural style of the building, is projected to be installed this summer in the library's front entryway. The hydraulic elevator will provide a comfortable and reliable ride from the ground level up to the library's first floor.

Donate Online or by Mail.

All donations are gratefully accepted and can be made online using PAYPAL, or by printing a DONATION FORM and sending a CHECK made payable to Forbes Library and mailed to Forbes Library, 20 West Street, Northampton, MA 01060.

You can pay larger gifts over time. Gifts of $500 and $1000 will help us meet our goal sooner. If you'd like to make a gift of $500 or $1000, you can spread your gift out over 12 months using the button below. Please contact Lisa Downing at 587-1017 to discuss other recurring gift options.

Choose a gift option:

You can make a gift of stock. For those who have stock which they would like to use to make a gift, there are significant benefits. Please contact Lisa Downing at 587-1017 to learn more.

Elevated Giving.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION will be given to those who make donations in the amounts listed to the left. A commemorative plaque will be installed in the elevator listing the names of people, businesses, and organizations making contributions that fall within these categories.

Help Fund the Elevator.

Forbes Library needs your donation to replace its unreliable lift with a new, dependable elevator. We believe that the library should be accessible to all, but when the lift is out of service, people who need it are unable to enter and use the library's resources.


We have already raised over $100,000 through donations, including generous gifts of $25,000 from the FRIENDS OF FORBES LIBRARY and $20,000 from SMITH COLLEGE.


Forbes Library received a $5000 matching grant from an anonymous donor for the "Forbes for All" elevator capital campaign that is currently underway. "We are so excited to report that within three weeks the library raised the funds to match this generous grant. The community continues to come forward with support for this very important handicapped accessibility project," said Lisa Downing, Assistant Director.

The library launched a campaign earlier this year to replace the lift in the front entry with a hydraulic elevator. The lift is very difficult to operate and is unreliable. It was out of service for seven months last year while costly repairs were being done. When the lift is out of service there is no way for people in wheelchairs or with limited mobility to access the library. It also makes deliveries and trips to the library with baby strollers very difficult. "We applaud Forbes Library for the upcoming elevator project. An elevator will provide so much more access to many patrons who have a desire to use the services and opportunities that Forbes offers," said Patricia Shaughnessy, ADA Coordinator for Northampton's Commission on Disability.

The library received a grant for one-third of the project from the city's Capital Improvements Committee and has privately raised $120,000 leaving $80,000 remaining to be raised before construction can begin. The library's fundraising committee is currently seeking another matching grant. "Matching grants are a great way to motivate donors and maximize gifts," said committee co-chair Judy Ryan.

For More Info

For more information about the project and about making a donation or pledge, please contact the Forbes Library Director, Janet Moulding at 413-587-1016 or at jmoulding@forbeslibrary.org.

The Story

Nearly everyone uses the lift at one time or another: seniors, the injured, the disabled, anyone on crutches, parents with strollers, delivery personnel, staff carrying in book from the book drops, anyone bringing in something large or heavy, such as canvases for the Hosmer Art Gallery and media equipment for a lecture or public event.

Unfortunately, the library's aging lift is no longer dependable and is difficult to repair. In 2012, the lift was inoperable for seven months and at least 1000 people were denied access to the library. Because the lift is outdated, it is difficult to find parts and can take months to schedule service because there are few companies that repair this lift. These problems contribute to long periods of inoperability.


In this period of economic hardship, Forbes Library is busier than ever. Circulation and the number of visitors was up 20% in 2012. Each day, about 1000 people visit Forbes Library and borrow about 1300 items. In addition to traditional library activities, such as borrowing books and conducting research, people visit the library to use the computers; attend programs; use the free wireless; visit the Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum, the Hampshire Room for Local History, and the Hosmer Art Gallery; receive help with homework; borrow e-books, e-readers, musical instruments, videos, and museum passes; conduct geneology research; and socialize.

The Forbes Library offers a wide range of programming and services for both children and adults, including author readings, lectures, book discussion groups, music and dance demonstrations, dramatic educational readings and performances, movies, writing workshops, computer help, knitting, chess and storytime.



"I think it's terrible that the lift is broken. I believe everyone should be able to come to this beautiful library."


Listen to a podcast of Mike and Judy Ryan's great explanation of the Forbes For All elevator campaign and our $5000 matching grant starting at minute 12:30 on WHMP's Bill Newman show.

Listen to the podcast of an interview with Mike and Judy Ryan on the Morning News program on WHMP with Bob Flaherty.


Hi, my book-loving friends:
    I have spent many a happy research hour at the Forbes Library in Northampton, MA over the past forty plus years, and I can truly say that some of my own best books had their feet firmly planted there. So I want to try and help Forbes and at the same time help any of my handicapped friends who want the same experience at Forbes that I have enjoyed.

The library has a plan to fix its longstanding handicap accessibility issues. Realizing that the library needs something more robust than an electric lift, it was decided that an elevator should be installed in the library’s front entrance in place of the lift. So Forbes has started a fundraising campaign called Forbes For All to raise the needed money to install this new elevator. The committee is chaired by my dear friends Mike and Judy Ryan of Northampton and they tell me the library needs to raise $300,000 to make Forbes accessible to all – all the time. 

In this period of economic hardship, Forbes Library is busier than ever. People need the library for more than the traditional purposes of basic research and checking-out books – they use computers, attend a multitude of programs (hey, I was on a panel and part of a poetry reading there this year), visit the Presidential Library and the Hampshire Room for Local History, get homework help, check-out e-books, museum passes, musical instruments or any of the iconic videos that were transferred from the former Pleasant Street Video Store. They use the free wireless, do genealogy research, have a cup of coffee, socialize. Circulation of materials and the number of visitors to the library increased by 20% last year over the previous year. 

Unfortunately, not everyone can take advantage of these services. The disabled, the elderly, the injured, parents with strollers, delivery people, and staff emptying the drive by book drops all need to use the handicap lift. When that lift is broken, an average of six people a day are left at the bottom of the granite steps with no way to enter the library. That was the case for nearly seven months in 2012.

The new elevator will serve not only those who need it now. It will serve all those who will need it, for many years and generations to come.

This is an ongoing campaign. The library has already raised $220,000 including a lead gift of $25,000 from the Friends of Forbes Library and $20,000 from Smith College, my alma mater as well as $100,000 from the city’s Capital Improvements committee. It's the next $80,000 that will be the hardest.

This, of course, is where you come in. And I come in. Small donations from the book community--whether near or far--can help push us over the top. Please join me in the effort.

Please Give the Gift of Access
    •    Donate online at 
    •    Send a check to Forbes Library, 20 West Street, Northampton, MA 01060

Your book friend (or as a child fan once wrote to me: Your book Fiend)

Jane Yolen

Elevator Plans

The library needs to replace its inadequate lift with a rugged, hydraulic elevator that can serve the people who need it. We issued an RFP to architects to submit plans for the installation of a new elevator and selected the local firm, Tom Douglas Architects, of Northampton.

Thomas Douglas has been practicing architecture since 1980 and has worked extensively in the Northampton and Amherst area participating in the renovation of many local landmark buildings. He is the recipient of both the Massachusetts Historic Commission Preservation and the Northampton Historic Commission Awards. He designed the elevator that will replace the handicap lift in the library's front entrance. The new elevator will look historically appropriate to the age of the building.

The total cost of this project is $200,000. We have already raised $50,000. The cost of this project reflects the work that needs to be done. To install a hydraulic elevator, the elevator must be retrofitted to the library's interior entryway. A hole must be dug into the ground to install the elevator's mechanics and the granite steps must be cut back to provide adequate room for the shaft.

Because the elevator will be located in an interior space, it can be installed any time of the year. As soon as we raise $200,000, we will go out to bid for a contractor. The elevator will take a few months to install. The front entrance will remain open during most of the installation.