Editor’s note: A copy of this letter was sent to the Amherst Town Council. It appeared previously in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
The Jones Library is one of the most important buildings in our town and yet, in its current state, it is unable to meet the needs of our Town residents.
When I read people’s letters in support of the delightful “nooks and crannies” I cringe because these “quirky” spaces are the dark corners that actually stopped me from encouraging my teens from going to the library after school. A lot of unsupervised potentially dangerous things can happen in these spaces. Let us trust our librarians when they say that they should have a sightline to every area of the library building.
When I went looking for a letter I may have written in support of the Jones upgrades I found a letter I wrote in 2003 concerning children’s programs. In the letter I asked the library administration to consider expanding their morning programming due to the crowding in the rooms. I remember loving the opportunity to get out and meet my other stay at home friends, my children loved the music and the story times, but no matter how creative the librarians were, they could not make the spaces larger. Twenty years later our librarians and young families are still dealing with these issues.
I am of average height and I can not read the book titles on the top shelves. Every time I reach for a book I think about how it must feel for someone in a wheelchair. Our library should be completely accessible to everyone. There are so many issues to address: the height of the shelves, the space between shelves, the maze you must learn to get from one section of the library to the next and to the bathrooms.
As a parent I have used the children’s spaces for more hours than I can possibly begin to estimate. As an artist, I have exhibited in the Burnett gallery a couple of times. As an adult, I take advantage of the incredible collection and as a professional, I use the librarians’ expertise on a monthly basis. In all of these roles I see how important the Jones Library is to our community. Please support the library upgrade proposed by the library professionals and the Friends.
Rebecca Fricke is a resident of Amherst