FAQs/Latest Updates

This page will provide

I. Late-breaking conference updates and travel advice
II. Weather Forecast
III. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs” in the American vernacular)

FAQ Topic List
(scroll down to III. for details)

  • Accessibility
  • AV and IT in Conference Venues
  • Campus Conference Registration (packets, programs, tickets)
  • Electrical Current and Your Devices
  • “English” vs. Metric Measurement
  • Food at the Conference
  • Housing Check-in (the other kind of registration)
  • Money Matters (ATMs, Banks)
  • Parking
  • Printing
  • Receptions and Registration
  • Safety (Amherst and UMass)
  • Safety: Emergency Telephone Numbers
  • Transportation to, From, and in Town
  • Twitter
  • Visas, Customs, and Immigration
  • Water Bottles and Sustainability
  • WiFi
  • [if we’re missing a major topic that you think would be of interest to other attendees: please tell us]

I. Latest Updates

Late-Breaking News Topics

  • Housing
  • Pre-Conference Activities
  • Post-Conference Excursions


Late check-in

Hotel UMass

The reception desk in the lobby always offers 24-hour service.

North Apartments

Because some of you have asked about late arrivals, the University has made sure that 24-hour check-in service will be available. It has therefore changed the check-in location from Building A (where you will be residing) to Building C.

North Apartments

Because some of you have asked about late arrivals University has made sure that 24-hour check-in service will be available. It has therefore changed the check-in location from Building A (where you will be residing) to Building C.

As we announced on SHARP-L during the third week of June, Hotel UMass and the North Apartments are fully booked.

If you visit our “Staying Here” page and scroll down to the bottom, the list of inns and bed-and-breakfasts supplied by Amherst College will point you to the other opportunities in town (as opposed to the larger chain hotels in nearby Hadley).  Although we do not make official recommendations, we are happy to tell you what we know if you would care to contact us.

Some SHARPists have also found lodging on their own through Airbnb.

Pre-conference Activities

  • We regret to inform you that the Sunday visit to the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester has been canceled due to low registration.
  • The other activities will go ahead as scheduled and space remains (June 30) (Register)

Post-Conference Excursions

  • We regret to inform you that the local book arts tour has been canceled due to low registration. The other excursions will go ahead as planned:

    • All other excursions are now full (29 June).

    If you would like to be placed on a waiting list, please contact us.

    Now that the conference date is near, we will also be updating this website with information on other activities and points of interest in Amherst and beyond, which you may wish to visit on your own.

II. Weather Forecast

That German student movement poster from 1968 (Latest Updates, above),  notwithstanding, we do have to talk about the weather. In fact, we’ve been thinking constantly about it ever since we proposed a conference here. Even the best intellectual experience can be diminished if the weather is unkind.

Ours is a temperate climate, but contrary to what visitors might expect of the northeastern region of the United States, we can have harsh summers (like what Europe is experiencing now) as well as harsh winters: our location in a river valley can produce some very hot and humid weather conditions, especially in parts of July (which tends to be the warmest month) and August. 

Usually, though, the summers are pleasant. Average conditions in July:

  • Average high temperature: 82 degrees F/ 28 C
  • Average low temperature: 59 degrees F/ 15 C
  • Average rainfall: 4.02 inches/ 10.2 cm

Since last fall, the long-range July 2019 forecast in The Old Farmer’s Almanac has been: slightly cooler, slightly less rain than normal. At the beginning of July, we wrote: “As things are shaping up, that turns out to be pretty accurate. The latest forecasts show a slight uptick in the temperature predictions (though still close to the typical monthly average), but also moderate humidity and no rain.
“In other words: SHARP19 can look forward to generally pleasant weather.”

Update 14 July

We are going to revise that now, as we enter the last weekend before the conference begins. The weather forecasts of the last week showed a rise in predicted temperatures, with an average of about 89 F/ 32 C. The latest now moderate that somewhat: 88/31. There is a good chance of some thunderstorms on Wednesday and Thursday. Fortunately, the weather will be most temperate on Monday (when we hold our opening event followed by an outdoor reception) and Tuesday. 

Weather Forecast for the Conference Week
Prediction as of 12 July

Day  Date          Hi/Lo    Rain      Snow       General conditions       Historical Average Hi/Lo

Fahrenheit to Celsius Conversion

On several days, as you see, the sun will be strong, and the UV index high. American advice to children in a book for beginning readers, anno 1858:


Are conference venues accessible?

We have done our best to group panel presentations on most days in two modern buildings, about 400 feet/122 m apart. Distances to keynote and reception venues are somewhat longer (0.3 to 0.4 miles/482-644 meters).

The main conference venues are fully accessible.
Campus accessibility maps: pdfonline interactive.

We will provide transportation from the UMass Campus Center to Amherst College for the opening ceremonies and keynote (shuttle buses should run approximately 3:00-4:30). The second floor of Johnson Chapel where they will take place, is accessible by elevator.

The distance between Johnson Chapel and the Emily Dickinson Museum, where the opening reception will take place, is approximately 0.6 mile/1 km.

Because we assume that many participants will wish to dine in town, most SHARPists will make their own way back to their accommodations, whether on foot or in vehicles. (We are trying to provide one bus for those who wish to return directly to UMass after the reception.)

(see also: Transportation, below)

AV and IT issues

The Call for Papers stated, “Basic audio-visual technology will be provided for paper and panel sessions.” What does this mean?

Simply put, it means that all conference venues have basic projection equipment (e.g. with VGA or HDMI connections etc.), including sound amplification. Specific equipment will vary from site to site. Venues in the Integrative Learning Center and Library are state-of-the-art/ very up to date and may include computer terminals. Those in Hasbrouck are older/simpler.

If you will be making an audiovisual presentation, we suggest that you bring both your digital device and your files on a flash drive. You may also wish to familiarize yourself with the room prior to your actual session.

Note: We have hired UMass IT staff to be on call to address any problems or other needs for assistance. Feel free, of course, to contact us with specific questions.

Campus Conference Registration
Where do I pick up packets, programs, tickets, parking passes?

14 July
Early Arrival Registration,  1 to 6 p.m. 
UMass Lincoln Campus Center Hotel lobby (map)

15 July
Registration & Information Desk Open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
UMass Lincoln Campus Center Hotel lobby (map)

16-18 July
Registration & Information Desk Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Integrative Learning Center (ILC), Main Commons
 (C3 on the campus map)

Will my electronic devices work here?
What do I need?

Normal American consumer electrical outlets are 120 volts, whereas European are 220-240 volts. Fortunately, most devices of the sort you would need—laptops, smartphones, tablets, shavers, battery chargers etc.—are nowadays dual current. That is, the charger knows how to read the voltage and adjust automatically. Check your chargers: if they say something like “AC 100V-240V,” you should be fine. The voltage is the key.

However, even if you do not need a voltage adapter, you will need an adapter plug to fit US electrical sockets. Most US plugs and sockets are “Type A” (2 flat pins) or “Type B” (2 flat pins and 1 round). Modern buildings will have “Type B” sockets, which fit both “Type A” and “Type B” plugs.
World electrical plug and socket types.

English vs. Metric System:
How Do I Figure This Out?

The United States was revolutionary and ahead of the rest of the world when it declared independence in 1776. Today, by contrast, it is behind the times in being among the few nations that still resist adoption of the metric system. What to do when confronted with all these unfamiliar old-fashioned “English”/”Imperial” measures? Fortunately, it is not too hard to make sense of them.


  • 1 mile= 1.6 km 
  • 1 yard is nearly 1 meter
    1 yard = 3 feet or 36 inches / .91 m
    1 meter = c. 39 inches / 1.09 yards
  • 1 inch = 2.54 cm (1 foot = 12 inches / .3 meter)


  • 1 kg = 2.2 pounds
  • 1 pound = 454 g, so not too different from the metric pound


  • 1 quart is slightly more than 1 liter (1.06); there are 4 quarts in a gallon 
  • If you go into a restaurant or pub and order a pint / 16-ounce drink, that’s close to half a liter (.55, to be precise). A 12-ounce drink is similar to 33 cl (35.5 to be precise)


  • The Fahrenheit and Celsius systems were invented a few decades apart, in the first half of the eighteenth century. The generally used Centigrade or Celsius system is eminently rational and decimal-based and thus meshes well with the metric system, invented later in the century: water freezes at 0 degrees and boils at 100.

    The Fahrenheit system, which the US persists in using, may be less intuitive but has the advantage of greater granularity (water freezes at 32 and boils at 212, thus offering 180 degrees where Celsius has only 100).

    – “Room Temperature,” 68 degrees Fahrenheit, is 20 Celsius
    – 81 Fahrenheit, the average July temperature in Massachusetts, is 27 Celsius

    You can convert Fahrenheit to Celsius by subtracting 32 and then dividing by 1.8, but as that is rather cumbersome, you may find it easier to consult a conversion table–or just adding a convenient app to your phone.

Food: Which meals will the conference provide,
and where do I get the rest of my meals?

Your SHARP 2019 registrations includes

receptions (light food & drinks) on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday evenings 
• the informal banquet on Wednesday evening (full meal)
• coffee breaks

The University of Massachusetts Amherst has for three years in a row been recognized as having the best campus food in the United States, and the establishments in the Campus Center as well as student dining commons offer a wide variety of excellent, affordable food for every taste. We concluded that having SHARPists purchase lunch on their own would cost them less than having to pay for catered lunches (with fewer choices) via a higher registration fee. 

SHARPists will likewise have the option of eating at the above facilities.

SHARPists may dine at the above facilities or (as we expect more will choose to do) explore the many restaurants in downtown Amherst.

Please see our Eating Here: Food and Drink page for details.

Campus Housing Check-in

I am staying on the UMass campus. Where do I go to check in to my room?

– In the case of Hotel UMass: registration desk in the lobby

– In the case of the North Apartments: Building A, Main Lobby
(residential service desks, summer hours)(North Apartment A desk)

Money Matters

Stores and restaurants will of course accept credit and debit cards as means of payment. However, if you need to obtain cash or do formal banking business, this, too, is easy.

ATMs (Automated Teller Machine, like AUM/DAB, Geldautomat/Bankautomat ) on campus
ATMs in town (also here and here)


I am not staying at Hotel UMass or the North Apartments (which provide for guest parking). Instead, I’ll be coming by car for the day. Where should I park?

The best value at this time: the University will provide participants with a discounted pass for the Campus Garage (B3 on map), the closest parking to the conference venues, for $6.50 per day. You would simply park there and then insert the pass in the pay station when leaving.

Note: If you know you will be coming with a car and wish a discounted parking pass for the Garage, please contact us.

• See our “Getting Around Here” page for further details on this and other parking options, as well as parking in downtown Amherst.

• Parking tips for those who will be driving to opening events at Amherst College on Monday evening or the welcome event in town on Tuesday evening can be found in the relevant entries on the Schedule Overview page.

Are there facilities for printing my paper or other documents?

There are

printers in the Library for photocopying or printing from laptops (details, including payment and downloading printer software). 

• two commercial establishments in town within walking distance:
– Amherst Copy & Designworks , 37 East Pleasant St. (about 18 minutes on foot: 0.9 mile/1.45 km from main conference venues) map
Collective Copies, 71 South Pleasant St. (about 26 minutes on foot: 1.2 miles/2 km from main conference venues) map

Receptions, Registration, and the Like

I did not register for the receptions or informal banquet. May I still attend?

Of course! All are welcome. We asked people to register in order to get a rough attendance count that would enable us to order appropriate amounts of food and drink (we want to avoid both the inadequate and the wasteful), but a few persons more will be no problem.

Is Amherst/the University Safe?

Yes. Amherst is generally very safe: safer than about 60 percent of the other communities in Massachusetts, whose crime rate is in turn lower than the national average. Crime rates in both Amherst and Massachusetts as a whole continue to decline.

The pedestrian route between the University and downtown is safe, with lighted sidewalks at night.

– Federal Bureau of Investigation Crime in Massachusetts cities, 2016
– University of Massachusetts (2018) Annual Security Report for 2017

Safety: Emergency Telephone Numbers

Emergency 911
UMass Police (UMPD) Non-Emergency Dispatch (413) 545-2121
Student Security/Walking Escort Service *7pm-3am (413) 545-2123
University Health Services (413) 577-5000
*After-Hours Emergencies (413) 577-5000
Town of Amherst Police Department (413) 259-3000

Will I need a car to get around?

As noted above (Accessibility), we will provide buses to take people from UMass to the Monday evening opening events at Amherst College and back.

Buses will run between UMass (Campus Center Circle) and Amherst College/downtown from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

UMass Campus Center Circle is located west of Campus Center: between Parking Garage, Flint Lab, and Stockbridge Hall (B3 on campus map).

(We expect many many SHARPists will choose to remain in town for dinner and make their own way back to their lodgings.)

The Amherst downtown area is small and compact. For details on getting to and from Amherst Center (about 1.1 to 1.8 km) see our “Getting Around Here” page (under the “Travel” tab in the drop-down menu bar at the top of the web page). See also “Parking,” above.

Check your conference registration packet and program for latest details.


The conference hashtag is #SHARP19

Useful handles and hashtags:

SHARP 2019 conference: @SHARP_2019

UMass: @UMassAmherst
Amherst College: @AmherstCollege

@TownofAmherst is the Town’s official government account
– We use #AmherstMA for general references to the town
– We use #westernma for western Massachusetts

Visas, Customs and Immigration

Traveling to the US has, for a variety of reasons, become somewhat more complicated than it used to be.
The website for Logan airport provides basic information on visas, customs declarations, entry procedures, and the like:
Information on International Arrival and Departure

We have in particular received some questions about the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) process for residents of Visa Waiver Program countries. Here is the official Homeland Security website with forms and instructions. Frequently asked questions, from the Homeland Security website.

A common question involves the need to provide a US point of contact This is basically just what US residents, for example, are asked when entering the UK: it will suffice to list the place where you will be staying (e.g. Hotel UMass, etc.). It should not be an issue for concern. And if you have an existing ESTA, it is valid for 2 years: no need to update the contact information. If you wish to list one of the conference organizers, just contact us.

Water Bottles and Sustainability

So, you gave me this cool water bottle in my conference tote. Why? (it is just useless swag?) Now what?

We are very aware–and wary of–the tendency to fill conference bags with useless swag as well as paper, much of which promptly ends up in the garbage/recycling. We have therefore tried to be very deliberate in our choices. 

Our main interest is in the environment. If you have read our descriptions of special event venues, you will see that we took pains to describe their sustainability and energy efficiency. The University of Massachusetts is committed to doing its share of work to fight climate change, preserve the environment, and secure a sustainable future. In 2018, it was ranked #7 in 2018 Sierra Magazine Cool Schools, rated a STARS Gold University by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE; placing UMass Amherst within the top 10 doctorate-granting institutions in the United States), and ranked among Top 50 Green Colleges at #27 by Princeton Review.

We therefore saw no point in providing bottled water in wasteful single-use plastic containers for breaks. In addition to the traditional water fountains, there are many “hydration stations” specifically designed for the filling of reusable water bottles. (map)


1) The University of Massachusetts has WiFi throughout the campus academic buildings and residence halls, and in the hotel.

Use the following instructions to log on as a guest.

  • In the WiFi settings on your phone/computer/tablet select the UMASS network
  • Open up a web browser (IT suggests using Safari or Firefox)
  • Manually type in the address bar: http://www.umass.edu
  • Either a page telling you that this site is not secure will present itself OR the UMass wireless login page will appear
  • If it is a page telling you the website is not secure, click “More Details” or “Advanced” at the bottom and click on the link to visit the page anyway 
  • You should then be on the UMass wireless network login page
  • Enter the credentials
    Guest Username:  07095138
    Guest Password:   51073322
  • IT recommends that you save the guest ID and password in your browser to shorten the process for future logins
  • The UMass home page should load and from this point you can type in any search query/website name you wish to visit
  • further guidance

2) You may also use the secure global academic WiFi network Eduroam.
Note: you first need to register by logging on with your device at your home institution.

3) The Town of Amherst also has a free public WiFi network in the downtown. Coverage map.