EAST MARLBOROUGH—In typical years, the annual presentations Kennett Library officials make to municipalities such as East Marlborough Township don’t vary much, but this is not a typical year.
If this were a typical year, officials would explain how many people in the township use the library, they’d explain the ways, especially the less obvious ways, that it contributes to the community, and they’d warmly thank East Marlborough officials for their financial support.
But this year, the library has plans to build a new $15 million new facility and it’s in the middle of a capital campaign to raise the money needed. So this year’s presentation laid out the reasons the old building is inadequate, the benefits the new one will confer, and how much the library hopes East Marlborough can kick in.
Jeff Yetter, vice-chair of the library’s board of trustees, is making the rounds to every municipality the library serves, including East Marlborough, Kennett Township, Garden, Newlin, Pennsbury, Pocopson and West Marlborough.
Yetter said the current library was built in 1961, at a time when libraries mainly stored books. Today’s libraries not only have a variety of media to present but offer community and meeting spaces as part of their newest functions, and the old library simply doesn’t have the floor space or configuration to meet those needs.
“So the time has come for a new library,” Yetter said.
The current building served over 120,000 residents last year; the new one could be expected to draw some 250,000, Yetter said.
And the current library returns about $4.33 in value for every dollar donated, Yetter said. The new building would have a whole new array of resources to offer, he said. He showed artist’s renderings of a large, airy new building with a spacious reception area and service desk. The main collections would be downstairs, with children’s collections and activity areas on the main floor.
A 110-seat auditorium is planned for the new library that could offer free movie nights, lectures, and be available for corporate and community events. Currently space for such events is limited in the borough and can be expensive to rent, Yetter said, so this will contribute to economic development. Also contributing will be space planned for the library’s currently cramped adult literacy and citizenship classes, so new residents can contribute economically to their full potential.
“The library offers a lot of services that a lot of people don’t think about,” Yetter said.
Some of the $15 million building can be paid for with grants and various library resources such as real estate. But some will have to come from donations, and for that the library has mounted a capital campaign.
That campaign is asking the eight municipalities the library serves to contribute about 20 percent of the needed donations, in a formula based on their assessed valuations, Yetter said. By that standard, he said, East Marlborough would ideally contribute about 4.2 percent of the larger total, which comes to about $211,000.
The contribution could be spread out over time, Yetter said, and could come out of the township’s general or reserve funds or could be based on a temporary tax.
The supervisors thanked Yetter for the presentation but made no immediate commitment. Yetter said he understood that all the municipalities involved are currently working on their 2020 budgets.
In other business, the supervisors voted to create an employee recognition program so township staff members who completed a training or certification program that gave them valuable skills or status could get bonuses.