Jones Library Trustees Adopt Resolution On Racism And Inclusion


Photo: Creative Commons

Source: Jones Library Trustees

The Jones Library Trustees unanimously approved the following motion at their meeting on Monday, October 18, 2021.

MOTION – The Trustees of the Jones Library publicly announce their intention that the renovated and expanded Library be developed in such a way to assure all members of the Amherst community are and feel welcome, and that all members of the community feel that the Library belongs to them.  Such intention would be realized in the first instance through the work of the Building Committee, which work should be guided by a commitment to antiracism and include the perspectives of marginalized groups.  That Committee’s work must involve an examination of the way different communities in our town use and experience Library spaces and the iconography and representations contained in the Library.  Approved as amended, 6-0-0.

Spread the love

3 thoughts on “Jones Library Trustees Adopt Resolution On Racism And Inclusion

  1. The Jones Library has only recently started looking at its collections through a non-white lens. Adult programming has made some progress. Children programming is way behind the eight ball. Before COVID, there were still offerings of costumed tea parties and American Girl events. I’ve also thought that much of the kids’ programming has been oriented towards girls and seems to leave boys’ interests by the wayside. These issues coupled with an almost all-white library staff do not create a welcoming environment for all members of our town.

    Director Sharry wrote in her October Director’s report, “Over the summer, a fellow Amherst employee told me that members of this community do not feel welcome coming into the Jones Library; they feel it is a “white space.” p. 27

    Ms. Sharry has been the director for nine years. How sad and shocking that she has been so out of touch with our diverse community.

    Sharry then continued, “I will advocate for a community outreach process that decenters whiteness. I envision a Design Development process which evaluates all spaces in the building in terms of inclusivity. The square footage may be set, but many other decisions still have to be made.”

    The last statement is most telling. “The square footage is set…” Community outreach never occurred during the planning process, only standard presentations after each important decision was set in stone. Perhaps members of the community would have preferred mobile services and more laptops and hotspots which, of course, require less square footage.

  2. At Paul Bockelman’s Cuppa Joe two weeks ago, Library Director Sharon Sharry was on and a caller said that he really wanted to support the library expansion project but he said has heard from several folks in town that they felt unwelcome at the Jones and he was wondering what those planning the new library had done to ensure that the new library would be welcoming to all. What were they doing to reach out to folks who felt that they weren’t welcome there?

    Sharry responded that it was true that the library hadn’t done much outreach to diverse communities to date, and that was an oversight on their part, but that she was committed to changing that in the future and that she was now ready to listen.

    And so, the Trustees have just passed a resolution saying that they will undertake anti-racist programming and that they will work to reach out to diverse communities to ensure that the Jones will be a welcoming place for all. On the surface, this is an admirable action. That is, if it is not a cynical PR ploy aimed at winning over swing voters a week before the referendum. The all white Jones leadership have been planning this project for years and have not once made the slightest effort to reach out to BIPOC or underserved communities to seek their input on the project . Nor have they sought input from underrepresented people on any aspect of the library’s programming or operations.. So the claim that the Jones is now going to undertake anti-racist programing and listen to and include BIPOC people would have more credibility if that claim was made by people who had shown some interest in how folks unlike themselves experience the library or by folks who were the least bit open to having the oppressive whiteness of the place pointed out to them. The resolution would have more credibility if it were accompanied by proposed concrete steps that the Jones Trustees are taking right now to engage in the work of inclusion including a commitment to have that effort led by BIPOC people. Instead it comes off as an empty and cynical gesture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.