Conrad, who has been involved with the Friends of Concord Pike
Library since soon after he retired from the Du Pont Co., traces
its gestation back 17 years. For him, the facility is something
of an $11.6 million testimonial to the power of suggestion.
It was in 1986 that Drew Doorey
bemoaned the fact that he could not find a place in the crowded
library in Talleyville to sit and read to his daughters, Kelsey.
2, and Jenni, 1. Rather than merely listen to his gripe and let
it pass, his wife, Nancy, decided to do something about it. Into
box she dropped a note which said, in effect, let's see if we
can't get a bigger place.
"When I read that, I phoned her and
asked her to be president of the Friends," he recalled. In that
capacity, she joined with Conrad and others to get the ball
rolling. Several studies followed, there was considerable public
discussion, but it generally is agreed that Conrad kept it
rolling and picked up many supporters along the way.
The Friends organization -- which
has, naturally, changed its name to Friends of the Brandywine
Hundred Library -- conducted the not-yet-finished fund raising
campaign to come up with the $3 million
Conrad (facing the camera) chats with Jane Ibost, one of
the library's long-time boosters; Richard Goode, site
superintendent for Wilson Construction; and Laura Campbell
before opening day ceremonies.
private-sector share of the cost to build and stock the new
Doorey is now a senior about to graduate from Brandywine High
School and her sister is a year behind her at Concord High.
Nancy Doorey is vice president of the Brandywine Board of
Education. At the event of Apr. 11, she pronounced the effort a
success, not only because it has produced a state-of-the-art
information palace -- specifically designed to, among other
things, foster story reading -- but also a community place.
"It's more than a library; it's a hub for Brandywine Hundred,"
speakers who preceded the traditional ceremonial ribbon cutting
hailed Conrad as the focal point for community involvement in
bringing about the library. When his turn came, Conrad
characteristically announced that there was plenty of credit to
pass around and plenty of people to whom to pass it.
important thing is we're here. It has been a long trail getting
here, [but] it's not any more just a dream," he said.
Executive Tom Gordon suggested it would be a good idea to move
the speeches along as quickly as possible to assure that Conrad,
who is 78, fulfilled his often-stated ambition to still be alive
to witness the parting of the ribbon. Gordon expressed the
feelings of many in the audience who were happy that he made it
with time to spare.
the early movers and shakers on the project, however, did not.
"Of all the dreams that Phil and I had together, the one at the
top of his list was to build a library on this very spot where
we are today," said Philip Cloutier's widow, state Senator Cathy
Cloutier. "I know that he's up there watching us."
library site in Talley-Day Park off Foulk Road has been
designated the Cloutier Complex in memory of the late civic
activist, state representative and County Council president.
current successor in the latter office, Christopher Coons,
called the library "the ultimate search engine."
Councilman Robert Weiner, who referred to Cloutier as his
mentor, said Cloutier would have been well pleased with the
outcome of his early efforts. "What a great idea it is to have a
library in a park. It is our community center; it is out
hangout," Weiner said.
recalled that bringing the project to fruition was not a trip
down a smooth road. The location, the design, the placement, the
financing, the timetable and other details all were matters of
considerable public controversy at the time they were open
questions, he noted.
result, however, is one that will be appreciated by countains not
yet born. "The thirst for knowledge in our community is
fabulous. ... We're leading the way in the information age
rather than trying to catch up or letting it pass us b," he
doesn't look like a library. We've made it a lot nicer than
anybody out there selling books," he added. Taking a cue from
some large commercial book chains, one of the features of the
facility is a snack and refreshment area and places where
patrons can sit and read -- either out of doors or before one of
two working fireplaces.
Congressman Michael Castle said that, as a youth he "was never
enthusiastic about going [to a library, but today kids were
pushing by me to get in."
Lieutenant Governor John Carney referred to the new library as
"a great example of how we in Delaware can get things done when
we work together."
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