Creating your legacy at Forbes Library


Judge Forbes’s transformative gift to the City of Northampton established the Forbes Library as a public-private partnership in 1876. In his will, Judge Forbes asked the city to accept responsibility for many functions of its new public library, but he also assumed that his charity–and the generosity of others–would be required to sustain the institution for the future.

As a result, Forbes Library remains an independent public charity that works hand-in-hand with municipal government:

  • The city provides basic upkeep of the historical building, staff salaries and benefits, and operating expenses including utilities.
  • Endowment funds, as well as current donations from the Friends of Forbes Library and individuals, provide necessary funds for book and media purchases, technology, special collections, programming, and so much more.

“It has been my aim to place within the reach of the Inhabitants of a town…the means of learning… the marvelous development of modern thought…”
—Charles E. Forbes, Last Will and Testament, September 25, 1876

Priscilla Pike: A Friend of Forbes, Indeed


Today, the Forbes is a busy and welcoming community home, providing resources and spaces unique to Northampton. Your library card gives you access to more than 325,000 books, audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, instruments, puzzles, games, and downloadable eBooks, movies, and music. And Forbes Library means many things to many people: It’s a place of learning, a pathway to literacy and employment, a stepping-stone for educational success, and a community gathering place with a warm welcome for all. You are vital to that.

Doland Reference Room Fund
Established in 2010 with a bequest of $1,000,000 from Dilman Doland, retired Smith professor, “to be restricted to the endowment of Forbes Library with the income therefrom to benefit and support the ‘Doland Reference Room.’”


Please join the Judge Forbes Legacy Society and follow in the steps of Judge Forbes and others like him. Your generosity supports the resources and programs that ensure the Library continues to thrive, offering insights into the past while opening gateways to the future for everyone in our community.

Eric Klinenberg wrote on September 8, 2018 in a New York Times opinion piece: “Libraries are the kinds of places where people with different backgrounds, passions and interests can take part in a living democratic culture. They are the kinds of places where the public, private and philanthropic sectors can work together to reach for something which is higher than the bottom line.” We couldn’t agree more. Join us in making a better world possible.


Please fill in the form below or contact Lisa Downing, Library Director at 413-587-1016 or

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Forbes Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and all donations are tax-deductible. Our tax-exempt number (Employer ID Number (EIN)) is 04-6004208.

For more information and some language suggestions, please see Deferred Giving.

To learn more about Charles Forbes, please read this article by Richard Szlosek.