A new chapter for the Kennett Public Library
By Steven Hoffman
The Kennett Public Library's board of directors has a new leadership team of president Thomas C. Swett, vice president Jeff Yetter, and secretary-treasurer Bill McLachlan. There are challenges aplenty in the weeks and months ahead for the new library board, starting with reestablishing the community's trust after a turbulent few years that included infighting among former board members and a spate of resignations.
In addition to reestablishing that level of trust, there are some weighty matters to consider. The name change from Bayard Taylor Memorial Library to Kennett Public Library remains a concern to some. Then there's the more significant question of how the library will meet its facilities needs. It's been 18 years since the library officials decided that the current building, which dates back to 1962, was no longer sufficient to adequately meet the needs of the community. On two separate occasions, more than a decade apart, a library board has voted to construct a new building on the library-owned Ways Lane property in Kennett Township. Library officials have also explored a variety of alternatives to locate a new library in the borough, including the borough-owned Weinstein lot. Library officials have been wrestling with the question of where to locate a new building for a long time, but that doesn't mean that the current board needs to make a decision in haste. Hopefully, the current board members will take the time to gather the information that they need to make the best decision for the community.
Once the decision is made on where to locate the new library, an even more daunting challenge awaits the library board: A capital campaign to fund the construction of the library will be needed. The capital campaign that was started shortly after the library originally purchased the Ways Lane site faltered when an economic recession took hold.
Bringing in a person with Swett's experience to serve as the president of the library board helps in a number of different ways. He brings instant credibility to the new board. He also has a long history of serving on the boards of non-profits in the area, including Historic Kennett Square, the Chester County Hospital System, and the Po-Mar-Lin Fire Company. He was also a member of the library board for more than a decade in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The challenges facing the new board are great, but so are the opportunities. The new board has a chance to work with local leaders to begin a new chapter for the Kennett Public Library.
We wish them luck throughout the whole process.