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Chester County Press

Kennett Public Library Board of Trustees responds to concerns

03/03/2015 01:13PM ● By Steven Hoffman

The Board of Trustees for the Kennett Public Library (KPL) recently made a big decision—two decisions in fact. The first decision, made last year, was to build a new library on property the library already owns at Waywood Road, eight-tenths of a mile from the library’s current location. The second decision, made at our January Board meeting this year, was to change the name of the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library to the Kennett Public Library.

We are pleased by the strong support we have received for both decisions; however, we also understand that the decisions may not be popular to some in our community. They were extremely difficult decisions for the board that were debated for months with careful consideration given to both supportive and unsupportive viewpoints.

Some of the recent criticism leveled at us has been very fair and sadly some has been extremely offensive.

We wanted to set the record straight and tell our story, as there have been some incorrect accounts of what is happening and how we made the decision.

We made the decision to change the name based primarily upon the following: The library is based in Kennett. It is a public building where all services are free to the public. Most customers already call the library by this name anyway. Kennett Public Library is clearly a more modern name than Bayard Taylor Memorial Library and heralds many changes that we need to make if we are to serve our customers properly. Libraries across the world are going through a complete transformation. We are always going to lend books, but we are increasingly becoming social hubs. That is why our new tagline is “Community, Creativity, Connectivity.”

We are not abandoning our heritage, discarding the books of Bayard Taylor, or severing all links with this important heritage. Far from it.

Indeed, we are planning a Bayard Taylor Reading Room in the new library and will continue to store the great collection of his books entrusted to us. Indeed, we would love a major benefactor to step up to endow this reading room and ensure Mr. Taylor’s legacy. The bust of Bayard Taylor will have pride of place in our reading area and near to it you will be able to find books about the great traveler. One of our staff members has even written a book about him that will have pride of place in the new library.

The feasibility study for this new library begins this March and we will decide as a board on key parameters in July of this year. Please note that this move depends on donations, and we need to ensure that we have sufficient private funds to complete the new library we all so desperately need. We will be looking for community input in the fall from patrons in all the townships we serve so stay tuned for more information.

The staff and director of the Kennett Public Library, who are second to none, are totally on board with all the positive changes. Many of our staff won awards last year. We received several national grants for our innovative programs, and we are way ahead of the national level on book and e-book lending.

We are running more library programs than ever before. These include teen clubs, Valentine's Day and special date nights for adults, reading clubs for children, reading with dogs for small children, language clubs, cooking classes, 3D printing camps for kids and entrepreneurs, e-book program expansion, expansion of adult literacy programs, expansion of pre-K learning club.

The list is almost endless. Please follow us on Facebook/ Twitter to find out more.

We at the Kennett Public Library need a community that supports us. Our staff and customers deserve a great working environment. Our local populations in eight municipalities need the best library they can get. That library is the Kennett Public Library.

We should all remember that we have the same goal.  We all care about our community.  We all care about our library.  We are all trying to find the best path forward and need to stop criticizing each other and start helping each other.

There will never be 100 percent consensus, and you know what?  That’s okay. We all need to keep an open mind and be respectful of opposing viewpoints. 

The board wants the community to be involved, whether you agree with the name change or not. We have many citizens who have been extremely vocal. That’s great. You're passionate about your library and community.  Come join us and help us move the library forward.

Be part of the discussion, the decision-making, and the solution.  Don’t just sit there on the sidelines criticizing the coach. Help. Come to the board meetings. Become an adult literacy tutor or a library volunteer. Come to the next community conversation about the move and the name change on Tuesday, March 10 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the library.