Events

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tributes to Jones Library Head Bonnie Isman

Now that the public and press have had a chance to digest the unexpected news of Jones Library Director Bonnie Isman's pending retirement, the retrospectives and tributes are appearing.  Most pieces tread a fine line between, on the one hand, celebrating her career, and on the other, noting her recent clash with library trustees, which, in the eyes of many, contributed to her decision.

Friday's issue of the Gazette includes a tribute ("A librarian's legacy") by the editors.  Although alluding at several points to the controversy over the trustees' evaluation of her performance ("a nine-month soap opera"), the piece sensibly and calmly expressed the hope that "she will be remembered for her optimistic nature, the library's improvements and the crises she capably navigated."   In the course of some three decades, it says, she managed budgetary and political challenges alike with aplomb, making the Jones Library into "not only a treasured part of Amherst's cultural life but a model for libraries across the state." Among the achievements:

•  "Isman . . . coordinated a $5 million expansion and renovation of the Jones Library that greatly improved its services to residents"
• "Isman led the Jones through a communications revolution. She was an early advocate of bringing in computers and helped set up the regional online catalog and interlibrary loan system."
• "She has also been a library leader on the state level, serving on committees and keeping abreast of policies and grant possibilities."

It concludes, "she leaves a proud legacy at the Jones Library that should not be sullied by the contentiousness of her final year."  (read the rest)

Writing in the Amherst Bulletin (15 Oct.), Scott Merzbach summarizes her achievements in terms similar to those in the Gazette:
In her three decades at the helm of the Jones Library, Bonnie Isman led the system through the renovation and expansion of the main building, brought the libraries into the computer age and preserved the historic collections that recently earned the library recognition as a national literary landmark.
As a piece of reportage rather than an editorial, the article has the luxury of greater space for detail and background.  It cites both a generous tribute from current Trustee Chair Pat Holland and several voices critical of the trustee role in the recent controversy. (read the rest)


Finally, my own tip of the hat: no commentary, no editorializing, just best wishes:


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