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Annual fund for Jones Library in Amherst outpacing previous year

Halfway through the budget year, an important funding source for enhancing the collection at the Jones Library is on track to surpass last year’s total.

Library officials this week said that contributions to the annual fund are at $42,194, as compared to $30,553 as of Jan. 1, 2012, when the fund reached just $44,000.

While it is uncertain if the fund will reach the goal of $85,000, both Library Director Sharon Sharry and members of the trustees are attributing the better community response this year to stability in the library system.

“People are seeing the positive direction the library is going,” Sharry said.

Sharry began her job in October 2011, less than a year after the retirement of longtime director Bonnie Isman. Isman departed after controversy over a performance evaluation by a subcommittee of the trustees.

Austin Sarat, president of the trustees, said he and other elected members are working together with library staff and the Friends of the Jones Library to give the public more confidence in the future of the institution.

“We continue to conduct business in a cooperative and constructive way with each other,” Sarat said. “That has benefits to what we’re here to do: support the library.”

Last year, the composition of the board changed, as Sarah McKee opted against seeking a second term and Carol Gray lost a re-election bid.

Sharry and trustees said they appreciate that the public is providing more support and observed there will be other opportunities to give, including the annual Valentine’s Day baskets that will be auctioned off in the Jones Library atrium.

The annual fund is a small portion of the fiscal year 2014 budget approved by the trustees. If financial projections hold, the budget will be presented to annual Town Meeting in the spring. The $2.29 million budget proposal includes a $20,000 increase in the annual fund over the current year, from $37,500 to $57,500.

The $2.29 million budget is $56,119, or 2.59 percent higher than this year’s $2.24 million budget. It was built using several sources, including a $1.74 million town appropriation, up 3 percent over the $1.69 million this year, as well as $372,779 from the Jones Inc. endowment.

Sharry said the budget proposal doesn’t call for any new staffing or hours at the Jones or the branch libraries, North Amherst and Munson Memorial.

Anyone wishing to support the annual fund can drop off a donation at the library or make a contribution online.

— SCOTT MERZBACH

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