Letter: Thoughts On The Library

Jones Library. Photo Wikimedia Commons.

In the 1990’s, the Jones Library had major work done to it to meet the needs of the community. Since then the population of year round residents hasn’t gone up that much. Those most in need of a library are our elementary and high school students, and the number of those students has also been stable, if not declining. 

Back then, I went to the library to do research. At present I use a computer. Books are being taken out less and electronic materials more, which means less space is needed at the Jones. 

An article in the Amherst Bulletin dated October 11, 2021 estimated that our taxes will increase more than $400 per household.  And that’s before accommodating funding of the four building projects. Let’s make sure we pay for what we truly need. This year’s school budgets were cut by almost $1.5 million. I worry about fire and DPW services, too. 

I am happy with the size of the library we have. While it needs a tune-up to meet some of our needs, it is not a Model T and it is not a Tesla. We need a Prius. We don’t need a shiny new Mack Truck. 

Mark Johnson 

Mark Johnson is a resident of Amherst

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6 thoughts on “Letter: Thoughts On The Library

  1. Thank you for your letter. As a nearly 50 year resident of Amherst I also remember when I used to go into the library. I am one of the 19,000 card holders and I access the library only remotely. I read books from the library. I just don’t go there. It has seemed to me during this whole discussion of the need for a new library that there has been no mention of how many card holders actually ever physically go to the library building and the age of the ones who do. I wish that instead of forecasting how many people might need a bigger library in the future we had some demographic information of those who physically use the building now as opposed to just numbers. I am guessing that younger people are more likely to use the library remotely. If that is true then we would be building a larger library for ever smaller numbers of people who use the building.

  2. I think Sarah Lambdin raises an excellent point about whether a larger Jones will result in more usage of the building.

    Data from every other library construction project around the Commonwealth demonstrates significant growth in patron usage. Please feel free to go to the MBLC website to view annual usage data.

    Locally, Holyoke, West Springfield, Ware, Springfield, South Hadley and Chicopee have all seen substantial increases in use and visitation subsequent to expansions or new construction.

    In Chicopee, for example, the summer reading program expanded from roughly 300 kids per summer to over 1,300….

    In West Springfield, young adult use, program attendance and children’s usage all skyrocketed. Similarly for Holyoke.

    The expanded Jones will be able to do all of this. By improving reading rooms for adults, seniors will have a place to come and relax and socialize comfortably. Quiet study rooms will facilitate students collaborating, serve as a place for entrepreneurs to work on their ideas or hold an in-person or virtual meeting, the expanded children’s library will make it easy for different age groups to have programs, ReadAlouds, etc, and the teen room will serve as a vital after-school and weekend gathering place – a safe and welcoming place that we simply do not have today.

    Certainly technology, remote access to materials and of course COVID will continue to change the world. An expanded Jones will definitely be able to handle those challenges and more and serve more people face-to-face as well as virtually.

    The whole concept of a 21 st Century Library is to create a community center that is based upon bringing people together around the transfer and exploration of information. And to do so for the whole community. A great library facility partially mitigates the need for other community gathering places, which creates efficiency while building community.

    Please vote “Yes” for the Jones Library, and consider making a gift to the capital campaign or annual fund as well.

    Thank you.

  3. As a Realtor driving new buyers through Town, none say anything negative about the size of our town library. JONES LIBRARY comments are usually “beautiful building”.
    However, I do get many negative comments about the conditions of our roads. One buyer even said “these roads are like third world roads” and another asked “doesn’t AMHERST have money to keep up the roads?”
    In speaking with Jason Skeels, Town Engineer, Jason told me 5% of the Town budget goes to roads. I said “really”?😳.
    I think we need to prioritize more resources to road repair. Many roads in Echo Hill and other neighborhoods are in pathetic condition. Roads service many and we pay some of the highest taxes in the State. Let’s consider this as a budget priority. 🙏

  4. I say here, here! to Nancy Hamel’s remarks about the roads in Amherst. An avid bike riding friend has told me more than once that the Amherst roads are far worse than any abutting towns. Indeed, why can’t we make this more of a priority?

  5. Thank you Nancy! I’ve always believed that, as with one’s body and soul, no amount of bells and whistles will ultimately win out over keeping the basics in good repair. Amherst is quickly becoming a shell of itself as we continue to disregard adequately maintaining our infrastructure, public safety systems and schools. Will it matter if we attract people to the downtown with a very costly, out of scale and character library if they have to: traverse dangerous roads and sidewalks, often approach through neighborhoods that are blighted, have a significant wait for an appropriately staffed ambulance if needed or learn that “that” library took precedence over the health and safety of our school children?

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