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Chester County Press

Kennett Library holds 3rd annual 'Bad Romance' event

02/18/2020 01:12PM ● By Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

Normally, libraries are defined by their ability to provide information and resources in the catacombs of mostly quiet and dignified reserve.

Leave it to the continuing ingenuity of the Kennett Library, therefore, to break the mold.

On Feb. 12, before a packed house at the Kennett Brewing Company that had all of the looseness of a cabaret show, the library held “Bad Romance 2020,” its third annual tribute to the romance novel.

For nearly three hours, more than two dozen volunteer readers hopped on the small KBC stage and read from several romance novels. Some readers brought their own selections from home or what they found online, while others read from nearly 40 books that were chosen by the library staff.

“This is our third year of 'Bad Romance,' and the hype that has been leading up to it has been big,” said Laura Florence, the library's collections development coordinator, who helped organize the event with other library staffers. “We have collected stacks of paperbacks and reading passages and marking each passage 'Mild' or 'Steamy.'

The concept of the “Bad Romance” series began three years ago, when Florence was rifling through the stacks at the library in order to remove outdated books that had not been circulating. Several of them were paperback romance novels, and she admired their beautiful covers. She spoke to Alex Caliva, the library's program coordinator, about what to do with the books – when the idea of reading them aloud in front of an audience came up. After a hearty reception to the idea was received by Jossy Osborne of the Kennett Brewing Company, “Bad Romance 2018” was launched.

“We had such a great reaction that first year, we decided to do it again in 2019, with t-shirts and magnets and another huge crowd that laughed until they cried,” Florence said.

The event also serves as an informal fundraiser for the library, and several in the audience made contributions into containers that were placed at each table.

Florence gave credit to Kennett Library Director Megan Walters for championing the “Bad Romance” event. “Megan is super supportive of our efforts, because she knows that while a library is a transforming entity in every community, it constantly has to regroup and address new audiences that it now serves that it didn’t used to serve years ago,” Florence said.

“At the end of the day, it’s important for the Kennett Library to take itself out of the library and into the community, and get beyond many of the stereotypes that traditionally define a library,” Walters said. “A program like ‘Bad Romance’ tells everyone that we’re not taking ourselves too seriously.

“Even though this event is incredibly irreverent, it’s still about literacy. It’s saying that you can still have fun with words and that not everything in literature has to be serious. No to sound cliché, but the library is what you make of it, and you have to be the one to utilize it.” 

The plans to construct the new $29,257-square-foot, $15 million Kennett Library are expected to begin this August, with a projected completion date of December 2022. Meanwhile, the number and variety of programs at the library continues to increase, despite the fact that they’re being offered in the library’s vastly undersized and outdated 11,000-square-foot location.   

“We are definitely limited in our capacity, but not in our imagination,” Florence said. “When the new library is complete, we are going to show so many more things that are possible, through additional space, materials and the commitment that the community will bring through our programming. We wish to inspire them through these ideas.

“'Bad Romance' just happens to be one of the cooler ideas, but there are more ideas like this yet to come.”

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email rgaw@chestercounty.com.