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Chester County Press

Editorial: Just imagine…a library

06/27/2023 12:53PM ● By Richard Gaw

“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”  Walter Cronkite

They say it could not be done but they have done it.

They have really and truly done it.

They have turned skepticism into hope and carved possibility into the stone of the new library on State Street in Kennett Square.

For the past several years, side-stepping mockery, turning the other cheek to the public ridicule they faced from the naysayers of doubt and defying non-believers, the Kennett Library & Resource Center’s Capital Campaign team -- led by Collis Townsend and inspired by Chairman Emeritus Thomas Swett -- have raised most of the $21.7 million needed to construct the new Kennett Library & Resource Center, which enjoyed its soft opening on June 26.

Through it all, they were accompanied by angels along the way: Dansko founders Mandy Cabot and Peter Kjellerup, and Longwood Gardens President and CEO Paul Redman, who served as honorary co-chairs of the campaign.

From visits to municipal meetings to hard hat tours, Library Director Christopher Manna has generated an infectious enthusiasm throughout the community.

During what must have appeared as a never-ending tour of meetings, leaders like Jeff Yetter, president of the Library’s Board of Trustees, and his fellow board members continued to witness the wellspring of support the new Library received from businesses, foundations and from philanthropists and local residents who selflessly donated anywhere from ten dollars to over one million dollars.

Consider for a moment the imprint of their generosity, both immediate and lasting. This past Monday morning, children accompanied by their parents became the first to walk through the doors of the new library, and were followed by curious teenagers anxious to use the technology that is now available to them there.

There is a larger truth, however lingering now as a far-off blueprint – that will last far more than just the first day of this library’s opening. Its realization will be found in the minds, curiosities and ingenuities of those of future generations, who will step into the Kennett Library & Resource Center for the first time in search of questions and answers and solutions, and feel that nothing is finite – not dreams, not education, not the limits of their individual reach.

They will look around at the 33,400 square-foot center of learning and see it as far more than a library, but as a place where anything is possible, a gift that was given to them by a group of people who first imagined a library, and then made one.