Letter: The Technological Library Of The Future Requires Less Space


Jones Library computer room. Photo: Art Keene

Ironically, some of the best arguments for voting No on the Jones Library project come from a large postcard from the Jones Library. It was sent to all Amherst residents and outlines how the Jones is functioning in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, presenting an impressive array of free services using the internet. In fact ,the services are so attractive that they can easily be substituted for a large part of the proposed demolition/expansion approved by the library trustees and town council. The postcard’s futuristic services will provide exceptional aids for all patrons including: filling requests for books for pick up and even home delivery; get help from a librarian by phone or on-line; get ESL and citizenship help; print from home for free; get unlimited internet for free; download e-books; and much more.     

The future points to  the use of ever-expanding electronic technology, where library users will be very pleased to have a vast array of aids at their finger tips. It must be admitted that most of us already have too many projects demanding too much of our time and an electronic library will be a real help for busy people. 

 If voting No on November 2 wins, the Jones needs to get funding from the Mass Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) for the kind of upgrading the Jones has neglected for decades. There is a hurdle to be overcome. The MBLC will only provide funding for projects which increase the size of the library. Our answer must be the minimal increase in space allowing for State MBLC funding. Finally, with reduced library spending, the Amherst Schools’ building project will be the Town’s top priority, as was shown in polling of the public.

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2 thoughts on “Letter: The Technological Library Of The Future Requires Less Space

  1. Thanks, Irwin, you made many excellent points. However, I’d like to offer one correction to an often repeated misconception. The MBLC states that a construction project IS eligible for a grant without requiring an increase in size IF the project includes a significant reorganization of space. Here’s the MBLC quote: “A construction project may either be a project to construct a new facility, an addition/renovation to an existing building that may or may not add space, but does involve a significant reorganization of functional space…” (Quote from MBLC agenda “Construction Projects Application Round 2016-17, Waiting List,” July 13, 2017.) 

  2. Peggy Matthew-Nilsen is correct that one type of project in the Library Improvement Program at Title 605, Code of Massachusetts Regulations, Section 6.00 is:

    “Alteration. Work required to modify or adjust the interior space arrangement or other physical characteristics of an existing public library facility so that it may be more effectively utilized for its present designated functional purpose.” See 605 CMR 6.02: Definitions.

    However, the grant for which the Jones Library Trustees and the Town actually applied comes under:

    “Addition, Expansion or Extension. Work which will result in an increase in the overall external dimensions of a public library facility.” See 605 CMR 6.02: Definitions.

    Please note: The Library Improvement Program regulations do NOT require any minimum “increase” in the size of a library. An increase resulting, e.g., from a new Atrium roof that “increased … the overall external dimensions” of the Jones Library would have qualified for a construction grant in the present grant round. An architect on the staff of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners confirmed this for me several years ago. She was familiar with the Jones Library building and its Atrium.

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