Betsy Hartmann: ‘Yes’ for the Jones Library

Thursday, October 14, 2021

On Nov. 2, Amherst voters will have the opportunity to deliver a resounding “Yes” for the renovation, expansion and greening of the Jones Library. The importance of winning big cannot be overstated. Voting yes is voting for the public good. Voting no is voting against the public good, no matter what the spin the “No” campaign chooses to put on it.

For spin it is, a strange mix of anti-tax fear-mongering and unwillingness to embrace necessary change, obscured by progressive-sounding arguments designed to appeal to a liberal Amherst audience. But the facts speak for themselves. Thanks to millions in state funding, an expanded, renovated Jones will get much more bang for the buck than the repair of the existing sub-standard addition for which the “No” campaign advocates.

For the same price to the town and taxpayers, that repair would offer no additional space and few improved amenities. Nor would it be climate smart — the new addition, by contrast, will greatly reduce carbon emissions. And lest we forget, the beautiful parts of the old building will be preserved in the new plan. Historic preservation and progressive change can go hand in hand.

A public library should be a centerpiece of the community, a testament to its values. A “Yes” vote is a vote for social justice, for meeting the needs and respecting the rights of a diverse community now and into the future. The renovation and expansion of the Jones Library will expand access to books, audiovisual materials, education, literacy, computers, public meeting spaces, and more — for everyone.

On Nov. 2, let’s turn the clock forward with an overwhelming victory for the public good by voting “Yes” for our public library.

Betsy Hartmann