Kennett Library seeking to make more friends

The Kennett Library Board of Trustees found much to celebrate during its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 20 – ranging from the launch of a process to explore a new building to a go-ahead for investigating the prospect of a Friends of the Library group.

New signage showcases the Kennett Library's branding initiative as it pursues options for a new building.

New signage showcases the Kennett Library's branding initiative as it pursues options for relocating from its overcrowded building.

In June, the library board received approval from the eight municipalities it serves – Kennett Square Borough and East Marlborough, Kennett, Newlin, New Garden, Pennsbury, Pocopson, and West Marlborough townships – to determine the feasibility of combining borough and library functions in one new building.

The possibility of capitalizing on economy of scale made sense since both entities need to expand, officials said. Growth has outpaced the present library location in the 200 block of East State Street in Kennett Square.

On Tuesday, board member Carolyn Nicander-Mohr, who heads the library’s New Building Committee, introduced representatives of the Lukmire Partnership, an architecture firm that was hired to assess the requirements for a new library building, including the efficacy of sharing space with the borough. The study will be funded in part through a Vision Partnership Program grant from Chester County.

Greg Lukmire said his team arrived in the borough with no preconceived ideas. “Our responsibility is to design sustainable buildings that look like they belong here,” he said, adding that his firm has created 40 community libraries.

He said he expected a four-month process that would involve multiple meetings with the staff, public, and stakeholders as well as surveys. He said he and his colleague hoped to foster excitement and involvement by getting the community engaged. “We’re looking forward to the process,” he said.

Board Vice President Jeff Yetter introduced Sara Leff, a Kennett Township resident who is interested in starting a Friends of the Library (FOL) group. Yetter explained that Leff first broached the idea earlier this summer and that she provided fabulous refreshments on Monday for the debut of the library’s new logo and tribute to Bayard Taylor, the library’s former namesake.

Food for special occasions is just one of many possible benefits, Leff explained, defining an FOL group as an expansion of services. She said such a group would enable the library to tap into resources and expertise that might not otherwise be available.

“Friends of the Library are advocates for the library,” she explained. “Volunteers can help out when the staff is spread thin.”

But Leff stressed that the group has to be organized carefully to ensure that services don’t overlap and that volunteers don’t get in the way. She said on Monday alone she got the names of nine people interested in participating, but she wanted board approval to continue exploring the concept.

Board President Tom Swett expressed immediate affirmation and appreciation. “Thank you so much for coming forward,” he said as the other members nodded in agreement. Swett said he would put the group on the October agenda for a vote.

Board member Brenda Williams Mercomes, who is heading the search committee for a new library director, said she hoped to have candidates for the board to review before the end of the year. Donna Murray, the director since 2003, resigned last month to take a position as the director of the Ridley Township Public Library.

Mercomes said Debbie Kellar, an eight-year employee who is the library’s circulation manager, had agreed to serve as interim director. With Jim DiLuzio, the newest board member, abstaining, the board voted unanimously to approve Kellar’s status as acting director. DiLuzio explained that he had not seen Keller’s resume and was not familiar with her.

Swett said the board was saddened by the recent resignation of Stan Allen for personal reasons; Swett expressed hope that Allen might be able to return at a future date, adding that he has been gratified by the outpouring of interest in serving on the board.

Only West Marlborough Township remains unrepresented, and board member Karen Ammon said she has had discussions with a possible candidate.

For more information on the library, its history, and its many programs, the board urges the public to visit its new website at http://www.kennettpubliclibrary.org.

 

 

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About Kathleen Brady Shea

Kathleen Brady Shea, a nearly lifelong area resident, has been reporting on local news for several decades, including 19 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer. She believes that journalists provide a vital watchdog service in the community, and she embraces that commitment. In addition to unearthing news, she also enjoys digging up dirt in her garden, a hobby that frequently fosters Longwood Gardens envy. Along with her husband, Pete, she lives in a historic residence near the Brandywine Battlefield, a property that is also home to a sheep, a goat, and a passel of fish.

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