Patricia Holland: Supports money for North Amherst Library

Wednesday, November 08, 2017
Supports money for North Amherst Library

The beautiful, small Queen Anne-style North Amherst Library, designed by Leverett architect Roswell F. Putnam, was built in 1893 and featured a fireplace, but no bathroom.

And, sad to say, it has never been accessible for  handicapped people who wish to use it. Its only entrance has seven steps, making entry impossible for people in wheelchairs. Climbing those steps is also difficult for anyone using walkers, canes or pushing strollers.

Library staff members generously take books outside to patrons who ask for them, but browsing is impossible for people who cannot get up the stairs.

The building has a full-size basement with a staff-only bathroom down a steep, narrow stairway and an attic with full height in the center of the room. An elevator, located at the back of the building, would allow the use of both these rooms with the attic becoming a convenient and much needed meeting place for North Amherst.

Although the North Amherst Library is staffed and managed by the Jones Library, it is owned by the town of Amherst. When the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 took effect, the town immediately began to bring Town Hall into compliance. Twenty-seven years later, the Friends of the North Amherst Library are asking Town Meeting for $50,000 for an architect to design a fully accessible building.

For the sake of library patrons and staff, I urge Town Meeting to pass Article 14 for improvements to the North Amherst Library.

Patricia Holland