Voting “NO” on the library ballot question is not a vote against anything. It’s a vote for better planning for a post-pandemic renovation of the Jones Library that Amherst taxpayers can afford, a great library that will not deny us the other capital investments we need: new school, fire house, and public works buildings.
Don’t be fooled by the claim that only the grant money from the Mass. Board of Library Commissioners can give us the library we need. The plans underlying that grant proposal greatly understate the real costs of the proposed renovation and the future operating expenses that will follow. All those added costs will have to be paid by Amherst taxpayers, year after year. The proponents are so desperate for your vote that they pretend the “gift” of $1 million from the Community Preservation Act Committee is not Amherst taxpayers’ money at all, when that’s exactly what it is: funds taxed to us, appropriated to the CPAC, and not available for other things Amherst needs.
The Covid pandemic has revealed to us that information storage, retrieval, and use is very different now than it has been in the past. Amherst’s future library will operate very differently, and we all will use the Jones Library services much more remotely. The current plans, now approaching a decade old, will not meet the library’s needs, nor our own.
Your “NO” vote will tell the library trustees to take the opportunity hidden in this horrible pandemic, to seek the design help that will give Amherst the Jones Library that will serve us best, at a price we can afford.
Ken Rosenthal is one of the founders of Hampshire College and served as its interim President in 2019.