×

Major donors to Jones in line for naming rights

  • Patrons enter the Jones Library in Amherst on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO



Staff Writer
Monday, May 09, 2022

AMHERST — When the renovation and expansion of the Jones Library is complete in 2024, the children’s library within the building will be named after the donor who makes a $1 million contribution.

The special collections room, though, can be named after a benefactor who gives $500,000, while naming a quiet study room can be purchased for $25,000, and $2,500 will get donors’ names on a study carrel or a computer station.

Those are among the naming opportunities, and donation levels, that the trustees for the Jones Library have approved, following a recommendation from the trustees’ Development Committee and advice from the Capital Campaign Committee.

The committees are aiming to raise $6.6 million from public and private sources to go toward the $36.3 million project. Pledges and giving already totals $1.71 million, said trustee Lee Edwards, who is part of the Development Committee.

Trustees President Austin Sarat said the idea of publicizing naming opportunities is to honor generous philanthropists for assisting with the project.

While fundraising can be delicate, Edwards said that honoring people who contribute is not incompatible with a civic project.

“We’re hoping to attract people we have not yet met, some of whom will want to take advantage of the naming opportunities,” Edwards said.

The plan excludes renaming three sections of the building that already have been named, including the long-running Burnett Art Gallery, the Goodwin Room, named after longtime Friends of the Jones Library members Ellen and George Goodwin, and the Woodbury Room, named after benefactors Richard and Nathalie Woodbury.

Some trustees expressed discomfort with the plan prior to approving it.

Alex Lefebvre said she worries about the precedent of having people’s names spread throughout the building, and wondered if there were more subtle ways to recognize gifts.

The lone member to vote against the plan was Robert Pam, who said he worries about commoditizing the library, and having too detailed a list of naming opportunities.

“This is really beyond where I would go,” Pam said.

He said he appreciates that people who give at least $1,000 will be honored, likely similar to the wall of names at the nearby Amherst Cinema that lists donors, but Pam notes that the cinema doesn’t have each of its four theaters named after a benefactor.

Having people give at a certain level to get a special space named after them “strikes me as inappropriate,” Pam said.

Anyone who makes any contribution at all to the campaign would be recognized in a digital manner

Trustee Farah Ameen said she is OK with the plan. “I want to trust they know what they’re doing,” Ameen said of the Development Committee.

The naming opportunities list made trustee Tamson Ely nervous, “but having an extensive list doesn’t mean everything is going to be named,” Ely said.

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