Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Letter to the Editor: Sarat seeks re-election to the Jones Library Board of Trustees

Sarat has been a library trustee since 2011.

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(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

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To the Editor:

I am running for re-election to the Jones Library Board of Trustees because I love our libraries. This is an important moment for the Jones, the North Amherst and the Munson Memorial Libraries. I have the experience and judgment necessary for this moment. University of Massachusetts students, faculty and staff have an important stake in the future of the town and its libraries. I offer a vision for our libraries, a record of accomplishment and a plan for moving forward.

I have been a library trustee since 2011 and trustee president since 2012.  At a time of increased polarization in town politics, I have provided leadership that helps maintain a cooperative spirit on the Board and a sense of shared mission with library staff and town leaders.

Our libraries should be a crossroads for the community where children, teens, seniors, the mobility impaired, English language learners and people of all backgrounds share a common space. All deserve equal access to library resources and to feel that libraries are their own places. As Amherst’s diversity increases, libraries must meet the changing needs of our population. Yet they must remain welcoming places for people who love books. The Jones, the North Amherst and Munson Memorial Libraries all play important roles in realizing these aspirations, and I have initiated a comprehensive planning process to support our branch libraries and help them continue to work well for all members of our community.

We have developed a thoughtful plan for the renovation of the Jones and secured authorization of a $13 million state grant to help fund the renovation. This plan preserves the historic nature of the Jones building, while making it fully ADA compliant and accessible at long last. Facing budget pressures, we have almost doubled our revenues from private fundraising while protecting our superb staff from layoffs and providing the resources they need

If re-elected, I will continue to consult with the community about the needs of our three libraries. I will prudently manage our budget and endowment. I will ensure that the library continues to meet the needs of our changing community and that the Board functions smoothly and effectively.

I ask for your vote on in the town election on March 27.

Austin Sarat

Professor at Amherst College

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