2018-03-29 / Editorial

Library trustees still stuck on same note

In this space in July 2016, we noted the library indeed was in need of updates and better allocation of its space. We also urged its board of trustees make an actual needs case — not a rambling 6,000-word manifesto filled with generic library use numbers, but one that actually laid out specific programming and services that would be provided if such an expansion was to occur — to the town’s residents to garner their support and, possibly, financial backing.

Twenty months — and several pricey iterations of a renovation plan later — the trustees have submitted a plan to the town that includes $1 million in maintenance costs and $1 million to expand the footprint by 1,700 square feet. Yet, they still have not released the results of the survey they took in spring 2016 or made any direct pitch to the public as to what benefits an expanded library would have for residents.

Yes, there are repairs that need to be made.

Yes, additional space for staff would be a welcome addition.

Yes, there is even a case to be made for expanding the building’s footprint, adding an elevator and making the basement space usable.

So far, instead of doing the work to make that case to the public, the trustees have resorted to the “think system” from the musical “The Music Man.” If they think they need a larger library, they’ll get a larger library. That mindset is out of tune with many Jamestowners, many of whom believe the library serves their needs as currently constituted.

That may change as the trustees have said they do plan on having some public meetings in about a month to get input from the community. A more direct and transparent pitch to residents about the added benefits of a larger facility — much like the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum folks did during their recent capital campaign — could give a boost to a group that needs to show a more demonstrable capacity to raise money than it has in the past if the town is going to back this play.

Just like we appreciate a good boys’ band, we want the library to maintain its integral and central role in the community. Better outreach and transparency by the board would go a long way to help its case. If they don’t take that path, the trustees may find themselves the victim of another Harold Hill bon mot:

The board — with a little ‘b’ and that rhymes with “T” — will be in Trouble. Now, that’s something to think about.

Return to top