Don't demolish 40%
for an UNNEEDED
Happy 100 Anniversary
WHY "SAVE" JONES LIBRARY?
The Jones Library, located in Amherst, Massachusetts, is a public library unlike any other across the country.
In 2019, the Jones Library celebrated 100 years of serving Amherst residents and being part of this community.
While nearly everyone agrees the historic Jones Library needs to be renovated and its infrastructure upgraded, expanding the Jones Library building is based on a preference, not need. The design of the currently proposed Jones Library expansion would forever alter the Jones Library's home-like interior that makes it unique among public libraries.
This website represents Amherst residents who oppose the Demolition-Expansion of Jones Library, which requires demolishing more than 40% of the building, including all of the ADA compliant 1993 brick addition, as well as gutting significant parts of the historic 1928 structure. The Demolition-Expansion would also destroy the Kinsey Memorial Garden, the public garden with a canopy of mature trees behind the Library. See photo below of the 1993 brick addition.
The ADA Compliant, 24-year-old brick addition was built with a metal roof that has a 50+ year lifespan. In Spring 2017, Jones Library Trustees asserted that this addition was designed to last only 20 years.
Architect's drawing of massive $37 Million Demolition-Expansion of Jones Library.
10 REASONS TO RENOVATE NOT EXPAND JONES LIBRARY
1. BORROWING LIMIT AND PRIORITIES: The State set a $105 million cap on Town borrowing. The 4 capital projects are estimated to cost more than the State would allow the Town to borrow. This fact makes prioritizing capital projects a necessity. Three of the 4 capital projects, Schools, Fire Station, and DPW Headquarters represent the values of education, public safety and maintaining Town infrastructure. The 4th capital project, the expansion of Jones Library is controversial. There is broad agreement that the Jones Library needs to be fully renovated and its infrastructure upgraded, but there is disagreement about the need for an expansion.
2. LIBRARY BORROWER DATA INFLATED: The justification for the proposed Jones Library expansion is based on a grossly overestimated user population of 51,000 borrowers, while the actual number of Jones Library users is closer to 25,000 borrowers.
3. EXPANSION IS NOT NEED-BASED: The currently proposed design was developed from a wish-list of everything library staff could imagine wanting in the Jones Library and is based on the Library Director's preference to locate all enhanced library programming under the single roof of the Jones Library. The Initial design included items such as a cafe, boutique, popcorn-machine, expensive book sorting machine etc. and ballooned up from the existing 48,000 square feet (SF) to 110,000 SF. The architects scaled back the square footage to the currently proposed 65,000 SF. A full renovation that included reorganizing existing space at the Jones and use of the North Amherst and South Amherst branch libraries would allow enhanced library programming, along with increased access to residents outside the Town center with the added benefit of decreasing demand on downtown parking.
4. AFFORDABILITY: The Jones Library is already struggling to financially manage its current building size, operating at a $100,000 annual deficit and drawing down its endowment to meet its financial shortfall. Additionally, pursuing all 4 capital projects as proposed would require two tax overrides, which would increase already high property taxes, resulting in Amherst becoming more unaffordable for more people.
5. UNSUSTAINABLE DESIGN: Re-purposing and re-using are cornerstones of sustainability and green design. Demolishing 40% of the existing Jones Library building would create 1,660+ TONS of demolition debris. The Demolition-Expansion design did not seek "green library" funding (forfeiting up to $450,000 in grant funding) and contains no LEED certification and no solar panels.
UMass Amherst author and preservation expert, Max Page, describes an environmentally sustainable approach:
"In addition, saving historic places and reusing them must be a cornerstone of environmental sustainability. Nearly half of all greenhouse gases are produced in the construction, demolition, and operation of commercial and residential buildings. We need to find ways that the preservation movement can join the conservation movement to achieve more sustainable communities. For the preservation movement to fully embrace its role in the fight against global warming, we must jettison some of our concern with aesthetics. We must change what we mean by "value" in old places. We need to save and reuse even "ugly" old buildings because demolishing and replacing them contributes to the problem of climate change." Quote from "Why Preservation Matters", Max Page, Yale University Press, 2016.
6. WASTEFUL APPROACH: Demolishing the 27-year-old, brick addition that is compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) with a metal roof that has a 50+ year life span is financially and environmentally wasteful. Using a professional space planner to reorganize the interior space, replacing the leaking atrium and upgrading infrastructure systems as part of a full renovation would be a green, cost-effective approach.
7. LACK OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION: The Demolition-Expansion design did not include historic preservation as a goal in its original contract with the architects. Many historic features including the walnut staircase, walnut paneling, and historic fireplaces would be destroyed in the proposed design. Alterations proposed to the exterior facade of the historic 1928 structure would violate the Historic Preservation Restriction Agreement signed by the Town and Library Trustees. Further, as of October 2019, a required Historic Structures Report has not been completed, making premature any redesign of the Jones Library.
8. OUT-OF-SCALE/OUT-OF-CHARACTER DESIGN: The proposed Demolition-Expansion would expand the building size to the edges of the property boundary and dwarf the Library's historic neighbors, including the 1750s era Amherst History Museum next door. The modern design would not harmonize with the historic district. (See architects drawing above.) In contrast, the 1993 brick addition harmonizes in both scale and character with surrounding buildings and Amherst's historic district.
9. LOSS OF GREEN SPACE: The Demolition-Expansion would destroy the canopy of mature trees in the Kinsey Memorial Garden behind the Jones Library, and would result in the loss of this rare downtown green space. (See the Kinsey Garden page on this website for more information.)
10. NEW DESIGN REQUIRED: In 2018, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) announced the Jones Library project must be redesigned to be eligible for grant funding. This requirement is an opportunity for Amherst to hit the re-set button on this unsustainable design. By starting over, Library Trustees could work with the community on an environmentally sustainable approach to renovate and upgrade Jones Library within the existing building footprint. A scaled-down building project would still be eligible for an MBLC Construction Grant (see MBLC quote below).
The State library funding entity, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) states, "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.)
An Opportunity for a Green Design
In 2018, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) announced the Jones Library project must be redesigned to be eligible for its grant funding. This required redesign is an opportunity for Amherst to hit the re-set button on the Demolition-Expansion and develop a design for an environmentally sustainable full renovation that would upgrade Jones Library within the existing building footprint. Renovation instead of demolition would avoid the environmental impact of 1,660+ tons of demolition debris and allow Amherst to create a green, sustainable design that preserves the uniqueness of the Jones Library.
If you oppose the Demolition-Expansion of Jones Library, let Library Trustees and Town officials hear from you that a full renovation instead of an expansion is the reasonable approach. Voicing your priorities can make a difference!