Jones Library has a Plan B. Now what?

  • Patrons enter the Jones Library in Amherst. FILE PHOTO

Thursday, December 08, 2022

The Jones Library in Amherst already has its Plan B, its roadmap to a modern renovation that it can achieve and we can afford. It can begin to implement Plan B right away. Thanks to Jeff Lee’s guest column (“Unpublished Jones space plan offers alternatives to expansion,” Nov. 25), we know that the library’s leadership has on file an affordable alternative to the unaffordable renovation it has been proposing. It’s a space study prepared for the library’s board by Anna Popp, a consultant with Massachusetts Library System, that the board has not released to the public.

It’s never easy to admit a mistake. The Jones Library Board worked for years to correct some problems in the existing building, and produced a design that many people in Amherst support. Whatever you think of that design, we all know that it is beyond our reach financially. The library’s own estimators said so. Since their price estimate became public last summer an alternative plan has been required, and it turns out that we already have it.

Unless something is done, the Jones will be spending up to $1.8 million for the design development of their current plan to the point where it can be put out for bids. The library’s leadership should stop that development work right away. Instead, it should ask its planners to spend that money to develop the detailed suggestions in the Anna Popp report. If they have the courage to do that, it’s likely that we’ll be able to look forward to a renewed Jones Library that Amherst can afford, and we all can be proud of.

Ken Rosenthal