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Chester County Press

Library in Kennett Square gets new name

02/17/2015 02:20PM ● By J. Chambless

Library officials announced this week that the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library is changing its name to the Kennett Public Library.

The name change comes after months of research and work sessions by staff and board members who collected feedback from members and supporters of the library.

"This is an exciting change for a library that adds so much value to the community we serve," said library director Donna Murray. "We were encouraged by the positive response we received as we tested the change with a number of library members. It’s more than a name, but a symbol of how we want to evolve, in line with the best libraries in the country."

Murray said that that the new name reflects both the community the library serves—East Marlborough, Kennett Township, Kennett Square Borough, New Garden, Newlin, Pennsbury, Pocopson and West Marlborough—and the commitment to keep the library modern and accessible.

During the last year, the library hosted an award-winning Makerspace camp for teens, became a Family Place library, and announced plans for a new library building on a site on Waywood Road.

The library’s connection to Bayard Taylor, a poet who is one of the most prominent citizens in the town’s history, dates to September of 1896.

Susan Mackey-Kallis, the president of the Board of Trustees, said in a statement that Bayard Taylor will always be a part of the library. "Bayard Taylor was an important figure in Kennett history, and we will honor his memory in a number of ways here at the current site, and at the new Waywood Road site. We’re planning to include a Bayard Taylor Memorial Reading Room in the new facility. And we are considering a Bayard Taylor lecture series."

Staff and board members began discussing the possibility of a name change as part of a re-branding effort when it became increasingly clear that library users were confused by the old name and also by the municipalities that are served.

"People in the library were confused by the online catalog," Murray explained. "They would look at the list of libraries and say, ‘Where is the Kennett library?’ Or on the phone or in the community, when staff say ‘Bayard Taylor Library,’ people ask, ‘You mean the Kennett library?’"

Murray added, "This is not a decision we took lightly. This was a process that involved a lot of research. This was a staff-driven process. The board facilitated it and approved it, but it was driven by the staff. We’re not walking away from our heritage. We believe this is a forward-thinking decision, and one that clears confusion."

She noted that there are very few memorial libraries around, and it is much more common for a library's name to directly connect it to the community that it serves.

Along with the new name and the new building on the horizon, Murray said that some renovations are in the offing.

"We’re going to be doing some minor renovations that are long overdue," Murray said, explaining that the area in front of the large windows will be utilized as a space for people to sit and read, while some of the computers will be moved further into the building to avoid some of the afternoon sunshine that can make the screens hard to read.

During the renovations, the library is also hoping to create certain smaller spaces where patrons will be able to enjoy some quiet time away from community areas.

Murray said that there are also plans to increase the variety of materials that library members can borrow, and a self-checkout station is also expected to be added.

2015 will also be a busy year for Kennett Public Library officials as they make plans for the future home. Murray said that the library has selected an owner's representative to work on behalf of the library during talks with the architect and the construction team involved with the project.

A development director has been brought on board, and a feasibility study will soon be underway. That will set the stage for a capital campaign to raise the funding necessary to build the new library.

To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email [email protected]