Tamson Ely: Jones Library work is needed

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Published: 12/28/2020 8:53:52 PM
Jones Library work is needed

A recent guest column (12/8) and letters (12/10) are misleading in suggesting that the Jones Library need only renovate its existing space and all will be well.

Along with making the library accessible, that process would cost between $15 and $16 million, which would come totally from town funds. The town would most likely be paying a comparable amount of $ 16 million, with the remainder of the match needed for state funds coming from private donations and historic tax credits. We cannot renegotiate with the state for the project they accepted for funding. It is a take it or leave it situation. Hence, for that same amount of money Amherst would have a renovated and expanded library to better serve all of members of the community who depend on the library for its many services, programs and collections.

Yes the 1997 addition with its leaking roof must be removed, as was an earlier addition when that project was completed. This is not a pie in the sky project, as these writers imply but rather one based on careful staff analysis of their departments and what they need to serve patrons now and for years to come.

Open, flexible space could be better managed by current staff than the building as configured now. Children, teens, immigrants, homeless, seniors — all depend on the library. Suggesting moving a library department like ESL out of the library does not serve that growing population well and could viewed as discrimination.

As a librarian, I know libraries transform lives. I saw it as a community college library director and I see it repeatedly at the Jones Library where I am honored to serve as a trustee. I know, as many in town do, that the library as it exists now is woefully inadequate to serve a growing and diverse community. To forfeit state funds now is to pass up an opportunity that will not come for at least another decade. Libraries are not static organizations; we have a wonderful library with an honored past, now looking to an exciting future.

Tamson Ely



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