Jane and David Lithgow: Tour opens eyes about what Jones does for community

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Having borrowed books from the Jones Library for over 40 years, we thought we knew it well.

During a recent “behind-the-scenes” tour sponsored by the board of trustees, however, we learned how much more than “book lending” this remarkable community resource provides annually to its quarter of a million visitors.

In addition to a circulation approaching 500,000 books, DVDs/videos, periodicals, magazines, and more (even seven ukuleles!), the Jones also provides youth programs serving over 2,000 preschoolers through teens; adult programs for almost 6,000; a Special Collections resource for more than 1,000 researchers and exhibit visitors from around the world; a program in which 188 volunteers tutor 2,500 ESL learners; and more.

We were stunned by how little we understood about the full scope of our library’s function as a cultural center for our vibrant, diverse community. We also came to appreciate, however, that as the Jones has increased its services to our growing community, it has encountered growing pains arising from space constraints: children’s books are distributed among three different locations, the special collections space is inaccessible and lacks environmental controls, navigating the four-floor maze with seven stairwells is a severe challenge even for those of us who are not disabled (try finding the Burnett Gallery on the top floor for the first time!) 

If our friends and neighbors were to take the same tour, we think they would agree with us that redesign and expansion of the Jones is an investment well worth making. We urge you to find out more for yourself.

Jane and David Lithgow