Jones Library Announces 2018 Samuel Minot Jones Awards for Literary Achievement

sammysThe Jones Library proudly announces Madeleine Blais and the Amherst Regional High School Theater Program as winners of the Fifth Annual Samuel Minot Jones Awards for Literary Achievement. A gala event, the Sammys, will take place on April 26, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. at the Mead Art Museum on the Amherst College campus to recognize and celebrate the award winners.

Now celebrating its 5th year, the Sammys is Amherst’s signature event honoring the community’s remarkable and vibrant literary heritage. The evening will feature a lively awards presentation, food and drink provided by local artisans, and live music. Past events have been remarkably successful, with more than 200 community members gathering each year to honor Cammie McGovern and Arthur Kinney in 2017, Polly Longsworth and Aaron Lansky in 2016, Julius Lester and Pat & Peter Schneider in 2015, and Norton Juster and Amherst Books in 2014. Proceeds from the Sammys provide considerable support to the Jones Library and its branches.

This year, the Sammy for local literary achievement will be presented to Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author Madeleine Blais, of the University of Massachusetts journalism department. Her book about Amherst Regional High School’s 1995 state champion girls’ basketball team, In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle, was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and named one of the Top 100 sports books of the 20th Century by ESPN. Ms. Blais’s other books include The Heart Is an Instrument: Portraits in Journalism; Uphill Walkers: Portrait of a Family; and her well-reviewed new book, To the New Owners, an evocative memoir about her family’s deep connection with Martha’s Vineyard.

The Sammy for significant contribution to Amherst’s literary culture will be presented to the Amherst Regional High School Theater Program, currently being led by John Bechtold. At ARHS’s Theater Department, students have the opportunity to take coursework in both the academic and practical applications of theater, participate in acting classes, write new works, direct plays, and work on the design of lighting, sound, and set plans for productions. Illustrious alumnae can be seen in many venues, from professional stages (playwright Annie Baker ’98, actor Libby Woodbridge ’05) to Hollywood (screenwriter/director Tom Bezucha ’82, actor Erik Mabius ’86, playwright Madeleine George ’92).The ARHS Theater Company was recognized by American Theatre magazine in 2012 for its innovative staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In keeping with tradition, The Sammys is honored to feature the work of a local artist. Illustrator Micha Archer, whose most recent book is Daniel Finds a Poem, has donated her talents to the Sammys. Working with oil, watercolors, pen and ink, and collage, Archer creates vibrantly layered pieces from various materials that jump off the page to inspire the imagination. Attendees purchasing tickets at the $100 and above level will receive a signed and numbered print of Archer’s work.

About the Jones Library

The Jones Library’s mission is to serve and inspire people of all ages and from all walks of life by providing multicultural resources for lifelong learning. An Amherst treasure, the Jones Library contributes to the educational and cultural landscape of the area. The Library provides adult, family, and children’s programs to the public, as well as heavily used community meeting rooms. The availability of resources to all, partnerships with area organizations, and numerous community events ensure that the Library receives more than 250,000 visits every year.

About the Samuel Minot Jones Awards for Literary Achievement

The Sammys are named for Samuel Minot Jones, the Library’s first benefactor and namesake. Jones contributed the initial funding for the endowment that continues to provide a portion of the Library budget annually. The Sammys are our way of honoring the legacy of Jones’s commitment to the community.

Over the past 4 years, the Sammys have brought in over $100,000 in support for the Jones, Munson, and North Amherst Libraries. All proceeds from the awards ceremony will be used to support Library collections, purchasing materials in all formats and for all ages. Budget constraints this year mean that philanthropic dollars are even more critical for buying the Library materials on which our community depends.

Sammys tickets are available and can be purchased at the Jones Library or online at Tickets will be offered at $60, $100, $150 and $200, allowing people to choose their level of support for the Library’s collections.

For information on sponsoring this event or to volunteer, please contact Sharon Sharry at

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