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Edwin W. Wilfert: ‘A de-Jonesing of the library we love’


Monday, February 03, 2020

What’s involved in moving the Jones Library to another location during the proposed $35.8 million construction of an expanded library as advocated by the Jones Library Trustees?

It will entail a long interval of disruption so far scarcely considered at trustee meetings and not advertised to the public, the users of the library. Prior to the projected demolition of the 1993 expansion of the building and the internal gutting of the 1928 building, the collections and furnishings must be packed, transported and relocated elsewhere, presumably in a public building with with adjacent parking space.

Behind-the-scenes workplaces must be set up for continued operation, the collections made available to the public, and the staff made sufficiently comfortable in the temporary location.

How much of the present services of the Jones Library would be offered? What services and materials would become unavailable until the library returns to its projected new building? How long would such a “Babylonian captivity” go on?

How much time is needed to destroy much of the present building, to haul the rubble away and to deal with unanticipated complications related to the land itself, the garden, trees and other vegetation on the property and to safeguard the safety and integrity of adjacent buildings, in particular the Strong House and Amherst Works?

How much time is required to move out and then move back in and set up the envisioned library, to get it open and functioning well? How long will the disruptions last as streets such as Amity and North Prospect are cordoned off or obstructed while large noisy trucks and other machinery command the street scene?

How long will the period of local ecological damage last and subsequent period of restoration? How long will all of this take? Two years? Three years? More?

There are many unanswered questions, particularly for those of us who feel the proposal is inappropriate, catastrophic and financially unfeasible — a de-Jonesing of the library we love.

Edwin W. Wilfert

Amherst