The Center for Humanistic Inquiry is located in the Frost Library in the heart of campus. It serves as a workspace and venue for humanities-related research and activities on campus. We have two spaces that are available to faculty and staff by reservation for humanities programming: The CHI Think Tank and the Seminar Room.
CHI Think Tank (Frost Library 210)
The Think Tank is our main space. It is a multi-functional space that can be used for nearly anything, but is most ideal for events and gatherings such as lectures, panel discussions, book talks, receptions, symposiums and small conferences, presentations, concerts, faculty retreats, and film screenings. The room is designed to allow for flexibility with lay-out and crowd sizes. When not reserved, the space is open to all faculty and staff to use as a quiet retreat and workspace.
Please note that there are offices located within the space, so it may not be suitable for major events or meetings requiring confidentiality occurring during normal work hours.
CHI Seminar Room (Frost Library 211)
The Seminar Room is a smaller space than the Think Tank and functions as both a classroom and a conference room. It is a private space and is most ideal for meetings, workshops, and trainings, but it is nearly as versitile s the Think Tank and can be used for smaller talks, panel discussions, and presentations that don't necessitate a formal space. Similar to the Think Tank, the room is easy to manipulate, allowing for flexibility with the lay-out of the space.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I reserve CHI?
The CHI spaces may be reserved for humanities programming for faculty and staff. If you're not sure if your occasion fits in with our mission, please always feel free to discuss it with Heather Grimes. We may also make occasional exceptions on usage requirements on a case-by-case basis.
We have google calendars for our spaces to assist you with planning:
Check availability for the Think Tank.
Check availability for the Seminar Room.
To reserve a space, please contact Heather Grimes. The CHI spaces may also be requested through EMS. Please note that any requests made through EMS must be approved first and aren't officially reserved until they've been formally confirmed. You will receive a confirmation email when this happens.
What AV/tech is available in CHI?
The CHI spaces come equipped with most modern, updated AV technology:
• Projector with speakers
• Desktop computer
• Multiple HDMI and VGA outlets to hook up a laptop
• Apple TV
• Multimedia player
If you need other equipment including microphones or amps, please send a request to IT in advance.
If you're not familiar with our AV and would like guidance on how to use it, please get in touch with Heather Grimes. If you might need technical assistance at a higher capacity, please contact IT and ask if they have a tech person available to support your event.
Can CHI be reserved when the library is closed?
Unfortunately, no. Because the Frost Library is considered a public building, it requires additional security. Unlike most buildings on campus, it can't be unlocked when the library is closed. Keep in mind that the library doesn't typically open until 10:00 AM on weekends. You cannot enter the building before then.
What is the maximum capacity for CHI?
For the Think Tank, legally, 150 is the capacity for standing and 110 for sitting. However, the space starts feeling uncomfortably cramped once you hit 100 people for standing receptions and 70 for sitting lectures. We recommend no more than 25 attendees for conference room-style gatherings, but there is wiggle room if you have a bigger group. The space is equally suitable for smaller crowds and groups and can be rearranged so it doesn't feel so large.
For the Seminar Room, the legal capacity is 49 for both standing and sitting room. Smaller groups and audiences are most ideal for the room. More than 30 starts to feel a little tight, but is possible.
What furniture is in the Think Tank?
The Think Tank by default has 24 chairs, 10 tables, 12 arm chairs, 3 round coffee tables, and white boards. We also have a beautiful grand piano on wheels, which is kept covered and locked when not in use.
The Seminar Room by default has 24 chairs, 9 tables, and white boards.
Please send Heather Grimes an email if you may need additional chairs or other furniture, or if you will be using the piano for your event.
How is the space set up?
The rooms can be manipulated however you desire, but by default, the Think Tank and Seminar Room are set up conference style with the tables arranged in a square. Most of the furniture is on wheels and easy to move around. If you move any furniture around, please be sure to return the room back to its original state (conference style) after your event concludes. If you plan to manipulate the room yourself, we recommend allowing at least 30 minutes on both ends for room set-up/tear down. If you need assistance with room set-up, please make arrangements in advance with the Supervisor of Special Services, George Shaheen.
Is food allowed?
Yes, food is allowed in the CHI spaces. There is a small counter in both spaces. Tables already in the space may also be rolled to any part of the room and used for catering. There is a small kitchen in a separate space within CHI that guests are welcome to use. We have a full-sized refrigerator, sink, microwave, kettle, K-cup machine, and various kitchen utensils. If you wish to make use of the kitchen, we recommend giving Heather Grimes a head's up in advance so she can make sure space is freed up and ensure the kitchen is unlocked. If you use an outside caterer, we ask that you kindly clean up after your event.
Is CHI accessible?
The CHI spaces are accessible to people with disabilities. All service animals are allowed and welcome in CHI. There is a ramp for wheelchairs at the entrance of the Frost Library. There are two elevators in the building that will take you right up to CHI. The chairs in the spaces are on wheels and simple to move around, so people using mobility aids such as a wheelchair may sit wherever they desire at events. There are wheelchair accessible and gender-inclusive restrooms around the corner from CHI. There is a quiet classroom and a lounge space connected to CHI and numerous spaces to retreat to in the library if an individual needs to step out to take a break. If you may need other accommodations, please contact the event coordinator. (You may always contact Heather if you're not sure who to get in touch with.)
HELP! An emergency has arisen!
If you have an EMERGENCY!!! type emergency, call campus police: (413) 542-2111.
If you have a different sort of emergency and Heather isn't available for support, here are possible solutions for common things that go wrong:
For tech nightmares:
1. Call the IT Help Desk - 413-542-2526. They nearly always have someone on call, even after work hours.
2. Various cables, adapters, and remotes may be found in the AV cabinet. If you can't find what you need, ask the front desk downstairs in the library. They have various adapters, laptops, and other computer equipment available to check out.
For catering nightmares:
1. Call Amherst College Catering. They will always try to help you if they are able to.
• Greg Wardlaw: 413-542-5783
• Molly Venne: 413-542-2844
• Meagan Champoux: (413) 542-2842
2. If you have a small group, the Frost Cafe downstairs sells an array of drinks, pastries, and sandwiches.
3. For larger groups, ordering pizza is a quick and simple solution that most people will be perfectly content with -
Bruno's: (413) 256-0222
Excellent turnout - ran out of chairs!
1. There are spare chairs that are typically kept behind the divider wall in the Think Tank. If they aren't there, it's possible they are in the storage closet of the Seminar Room. A librarian downstairs can help you unlock the closet.
2. If there are no classes, meetings, or events happening in the other CHI space, it is acceptable to borrow those chairs so long as you return them as soon as you're done. Check the digital screens with the room schedules located just outside the doors of the Seminar Room and Think Tank to make sure you won't be inconveniencing anyone. Please do not borrow the chairs in the library.
2. The library has a set of spare chairs that they keep locked up on the first floor. If they don't have any events of their own that they're using them for, they are usually very gracious and allow us to borrow them for event emergencies. Search downstairs for either Suzie Bradley, Cindy Lepage, or Susan Kimball and ask if you can borrow them. If you use them, remember that they are doing us a favor and we want to remain good neighbors, so please be absolutely sure to return them as soon as you are done. Please note that their chairs are slightly different from the ones in CHI, so make sure to return the correct ones. (The library chairs have black legs, ours are grey.)
Supply shortage/Forgot to bring something:
You may be able to find what you need in the cabinets above the counter in CHI. If not, ask around downstairs in the library. Frost staff are exceedingly helpful when it comes to unexpected emergencies!