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Chester County Press

Planning for Bayard Taylor Memorial Library's future

10/16/2013 02:35PM ● By Acl
By Steven Hoffman

Staff Writer

In 1998, there were 97,368 visitors to the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library. That number soared to 125,781 by 2012, just one illustration that libraries are as important a community resource as ever.

Another illustration is that in just one year, from 2011 to 2012, the library increased its circulation by 9 percent—from 165,188 items to 180,513 items. Participation in children’s programs jumped from 8,573 to 10,421.In the last six months along, Kennett Square residents have borrowed more than 11,200 books, movies, audio books, e-books, or magazines from Chester County libraries. The library system has saved Kennett Square library users $224,000.

Donna Murray, the director of the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library, presented the annual report to Kennett Square Borough Council on Oct. 7, including an update on the efforts to find a new home.

Bayard Taylor Memorial Library officials started discussing the possibility of a new library more than a dozen years ago. The library even purchased some land on Way’s Lane in neighboring Kennett Township, but plans for constructing a 40,000 square-foot library on that property stalled.

Within the last year, Murray said, the library’s board of trustees has voted to make an effort to keep the library in the borough. They have a real estate agent who is actively working to sell the Way’s Lane property and identify a new location in the borough.

“We definitely want to sell the Way’s Lane property,” Murray said.

The library partnered with several entities—the Kennett YMCA, Anson B. Nixon Park, and Kennett Square Borough—on a fundraising enterprise that worked collaboratively on the Kennett Area Community Development Plan. Under one proposal, the library would have built a new facility on the borough-owned Weinstein property on East State Street. While each of the entities has moved forward with expansion plans on their own, representatives of each are still having discussions, Murray said.

The current library building was opened in 1962 and is 11,000 square feet, and Murray said that they would like a new facility with twice the amount of room to meet the needs of the community.

“Our research is indicating that we need to double that size,” Murray said. “That is the minimum for what we would need.”

Murray said that they have put a lot of effort into researching what the library of the future should look like, especially with the impact that ever-changing technology has on the library’s place in the modern world.

“Planning is tricky,” Murray said. “Libraries have changed more in the last 25 years than {ever before}.”

It wasn’t that long ago that libraries were hoping to increase the number of desktop computers available to patrons, but now laptops, iPads, and eBook readers are what patrons need.

“We want to try to plan for the future in a way so that we have flexibility,” she said. “When it comes to technology, who knows what’s going to be the next thing?”

Murray said that the library has a building committee working on plans for the future library. She has visited new libraries and met with their directors to discuss what they included in the plans.

Murray said that libraries in the 21st century can no longer be simply a repository for books and periodicals.

“One thing that a new library will have will be fewer books,” she said.

The modern library needs to have more meeting spaces—and a diversity of spaces because people are using the library for different reasons. Students might come to take online courses. People who have home offices rely on the library for a change of scenery so that they can continue to do their work. Others want space to collaborate on projects. Business people use the library as a place to schedule meetings. Groups in the community need larger spaces for meetings.

While it’s a challenge to prepare for the library of the future, Murray said that she’s enjoying the process.

“It’s very exciting,” she said. “We’re rebuilding ourselves better than we ever were before.”

Murray said that they are taking into consideration the characteristics of Kennett Square and the surrounding community as they plan the new library. For example, eBook usage has increased by about 200 percent over two years and Bayard Taylor Library has the second-highest user of eBooks in the county system.

She thanked borough council for the support during the last 12 months, specifically mentioning that council gave its approval to the library’s community shred event and a Rock the Lot concert.

She also thanked Kennett Square officials for the financial support that the borough gives to the library.

“It’s not the fair-share amount, but it is pretty close,” Murray said.

Per-capita contributions from the eight municipalities in the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library service area ranges from a high of $21.54 for Kennett Township to a low of 87 cents per capita for New Garden Township. 


Bayard Taylor Memorial Library

Per-capita support*

Kennett Township $21.54

East Marlborough $17.37

Pennsbury $7.21

Newlin $7.00

Kennett Square $5.92

Pocopson $2.83

West Marlborough $1.84

New Garden $ 0.87


*(2012 budget figures) 


Bayard Taylor Memorial Library

Library card holders by municipality

Kennett Township 32 percent

New Garden 18 percent

East Marlborough 18 percent

Kennett Square 11 percent

Pocopson 9 percent

Pennsbury 8 percent

Newlin 3 percent

West Marlborough 1 percent