Plans for library task force move forward
By Steven Hoffman
Plans for a library task force are moving forward as Kennett Square Borough Council formally voted to participate in the effort at its meeting on Monday night.
The vote comes after a series of seemingly positive developments for the Kennett Public Library’s board after officials from Kennett Square Borough and Kennett Township expressed concerns about the direction that the library board had been taking.
Kennett Square Mayor Matthew Fetick first proposed the formation of the task force in July in response to a large number of residents who were sharing their concerns about the direction of the library. Fetick also wanted Kennett Square Borough to have the opportunity to appoint a member to the library board.
Library director Donna Murray, who was in attendance at Monday night’s meeting, offered an update to borough council. She said that the library board’s policy committee acted quickly to change the bylaws to ensure that each of the eight municipalities would have representation on the library board, regardless of how much the municipality contributes to the library’s operations each year. The library board subsequently approved those changes to the bylaws at a meeting in September.
“I think this shows how open the board is to working with the community,” Murray said.
Fetick said that he was pleased when he learned that the library board had, in fact, made the changes necessary to ensure that officials from Kennett Square Borough and the other municipalities would be able to appoint representatives to the library board.
The mayor also noted the need for adequate representation on the library board was what prompted him to ask borough council to consider withholding the borough’s funding of approximately $37,000 a year to the library. Because of the library board's responsiveness, borough council has not had to act on that request. And now, the situation seems to have improved so much that Fetick talked about Kennett Square boosting its funding for 2016 to reach the “fair share” level that would give the borough two designated representatives on the library board.
Fetick said that he sees the task force as a short-term endeavor that could serve for three months or six months or longer, and that it would work to clear the air of all the questions that have been surrounding the library board.
Some local residents have been concerned about the number of library board members who have resigned during the last two years, the behind-the-scenes turmoil that has hindered the library board’s efforts in the recent past, the name change from the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library to the Kennett Public Library, and the planned construction of a new library on property in Kennett Township.
Fetick has previously said that the task force's goal is not to micromanage the library board as it makes decisions, but rather to serve to bring library officials, municipal leaders, and the community together to address any of the issues that need to be resolved.
The library board recently received the results of a study that showed that a capital campaign would not garner adequate support right now because of some of the unresolved issues.
According to Fetick, the library task force could help serve a very useful purpose of putting an end to the ongoing disconnect that has existed between the library board and the community. After the task force does its work, elected officials in the municipalities would have confidence in the library board moving forward, and the leaders in the eight municipalities and the local residents would be able to fully support the capital campaign that the library wants to do as it plans for the future.