While there are small pockets of space in the current building that are less used than others, the square footage of the existing building is simply not sufficient to accommodate the detailed itemization of the activities – the “Program” – necessary to fulfill the historic mission of the library; the math does not add up. From its founding in 1928, the mission of the Jones Library has been to attract and introduce all of Amherst’s residents to the essence of Amherst’s unique culture of books, learning, and the life of the mind. The proposed “Program” is particularly aimed at attracting today’s residents for whom the present building does not serve that purpose. Amherst will continue to change as a result of larger economic, historic and demographic forces beyond its control; a renovated/expanded Library is an important way to preserve its essence.
And such a renovation would likely cost only a minimal amount less. The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) has made clear that an application for State funds would not be awarded for renovations alone. The true cost of this project, therefore is the difference between 100% Town funding of renovations that do not support that historic mission, and the Town’s share of the cost of a far superior building primarily funded from other sources.