KENNETT SQUARE—Plans are in place for construction of a $15 million, state-of-the art library in downtown historic Kennett Square that will include a 110-seat auditorium. Ground will be broken in 2021 and the library will open in 2022 if funds can be raised.
“This is a very big deal,” said Jeff Yetter, vice president of the Kennett Library’s Board of Trustees. “This will raise the value of everyone’s house in town. With the services that will be offered, everyone will want to live here. It’s exciting.”
Yetter said it’s full steam ahead after Kennett Square councilors have approved modifications between the borough and the library.
The library will be built at the intersection of State Street and South Willow Street.
The new library will be 2 ½ times larger than the current library and have a full-time staff of 10. There will be 37 parking spaces. Currently, there are no spaces dedicated to the library.
A $12 million capital campaign to fund the project will be launched later this year. Library officials plan to use $3 million it has in reserves, which includes the recent sale of land the library owned in Kennett Township.
“Libraries are community centers, places for people to meet,” Yetter said. “If we moved it out of town, people wouldn’t walk to it. We think this will set the tone for Kennett Square.”
In addition to the auditorium, there will be two classrooms and two multi-purpose rooms to house the library’s Adult Literacy Program classes.The community's 170 tutors who work one-on-one with ESL (English as a Second Language) students will have the needed space. Currently, library officials must pay high schools for using their rooms for this service, a savings of about $3,000 per year.
“Right now at the library, tutoring takes place under stairways and in the halls," Yetter said. “The current library can not adequately accommodate the needs of our 170 tudors.”
Potential uses for the auditorium include concerts, Children’s Theatre presentations, TED talks, community panel discussions, career talks, talent shows, magic shows, author lecturers and book signings, local graduations and Hadley Fund presentations.
There will be a Bayard Taylor quiet reading room, a Maker Space to enhance the curriculum of neighboring school districts and storage areas.
The services for children and young adults will be on the second floor, a decision Yetter said was made out of safety. Elevators will make access easy.
And there is a possibility of a huge outdoor deck overlooking State Street on the second floor, above the auditorium. However, that would mean plans would need to be reworked to include wider steps, which could get expensive, Yetter said.
The new library will feature one to two movie nights per week, and the movies will be shown in the new auditorium. The library can show any movie for free, with the exception of current blockbusters.
Last year, the library served about 113,000 people, and the new library would likely serve double that number, attracting people to town and helping local businesses.
Yetter said the library will not only be a boon for Kennett Square, but for the other municipalities that support it, including East Marlborough, Kennett Township, Garden, Newlin, Pennsbury, Pocopson and West Marlborough.
“The Pennsylvania Library Association did a study and found that every dollar invested in a library brings back 5.5 dollars to the community,” Yetter said. The average person benefits $150 to $200 a year in free services. It’s unbelievable.”