In Amherst, Jones Library trustees lay out goals for director

  • Jones Library JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Friday, November 10, 2017

AMHERST — Trustees for the Jones Library are asking Library Director Sharon Sharry to re-examine the roles and needs of the two branch libraries, which could lead to improvements at both buildings.

At Thursday’s board meeting, trustees unanimously approved three goals for Sharry to pursue during the coming year.

Trustees President Austin Sarat said with the preliminary plans for expanding and renovating the Jones Library approved by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, Sharry can put some focus on the branches.

The idea, Sarat said, would be for Sharry to engage in a systematic process for improving the branches, including making the North Amherst Library handicapped accessible, adding a public restroom and creating new space and undertaking space planning at the Munson Memorial Library.

The other two goals include closing the budget gap through fundraising, expense cuts and a higher “draw rate” from the endowment, and to continue making progress on the main library building project.

The goals were unveiled after the board unanimously gave her a positive performance review and approved a new contract with Sharry, who is entering her seventh year at the helm.

Trustees have also approved an action plan that maintains the mission to have the library remain a “community hub to a diverse population of Amherst residents, where books are celebrated and all members of the community can enhance their educational, cultural and lifelong learning pursuits.”

The goals were finalized in time for Town Meeting on Monday to consider a petition article that seeks $50,000 to have designs completed for a series of improvements to the North Amherst building.

Trustees earlier this week voted not to support the measure. Though they appreciate that the town-owned building needs work, there are significant complications with the petition, based on information from facilities supervisor George Hicks.

These challenges include the structural beams in the attic that would need to be modified before the space could be used by the public, the elevator shaft that would penetrate the roofline and trigger the need for a waiver from historic requirements, and numerous changes to the building’s utilities.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.