Dale Peterson: A ‘Yes’ vote makes sense

Thursday, September 30, 2021

What is it that the opponents of the Jones Library project do not, or choose not, to understand?

The expansion of the current building is characterized as “grandiose.” This is to ignore the inadequate square footage to meet the needs of the library’s clients and programs. The children’s section needs to be located on one floor; Special Collections cannot presently house or display the growing number of historic archives and objects. The award-winning ESL program is cramped for space and the number of accessible computers needs to be tripled to meet the demand for information and public documents.

Any suggestion that a space for teens or adult learners preparing for citizenship be outsourced to other buildings shows a restrictive attitude that is incompatible with the founders’ vision of the Jones as a community resource open to all. A contemporary library is not simply a repository of information; it is, and must be, an agency of individual and social betterment.

The renovation of the Jones has been called “extravagant,” too costly for the taxpayers. That is to ignore the lesson of deferred (and delayed) maintenance as in the sad history of Amherst’s elementary schools. A rejection of $20 million in state funds, private grants, and capital campaign donations will result in the town burdening the taxpayer with an equivalent debt for a much-needed repair of the present building with none of the spatial and environmental improvements for future users of Amherst’s main library.

Vote “Yes” for the new Jones Library.

Dale Peterson