Remembering the Library’s Early Days

As an associate in the Local History Department, I focus on Boone County’s history throughout my workday. When the occasion of the library’s 40th anniversary grew near, I began to look at the history of this institution and its impact on me personally.  There is a full-circle feel to what I do, that has not escaped me since my tenure as an employee of the library began.

A lot has changed in Boone County since my family moved here from Louisville in the early 1970s. At that time in our county, we were definitely gearing up for growth.  The industrial park was flourishing, bringing businesses to the area, the airport was expanding, and the Florence Mall was on the verge of being born.  Though all of these things were important community builders, I was not even old enough to go to school yet, so they didn’t make my top ten list.  Trips to the library, however, rank very highly.

My memories of our earliest years here, spent in a tiny house on Girard Street, revolve around typical childhood experiences: learning to ride a bike, playing in the (equally tiny) back yard, and going to the library.  girard with GS aged photo rgb As luck would have it, in 1974 the first library was opened in the feed store, directly across the street from our little house.  If I’m honest, I really don’t have clear memories of the opening, what I remember is the excitement of all of the adults.  For years, I’ve heard family and friends affectionately joke about the chosen location of the first public library.  The funny thing is, it was always spoken of with pride of accomplishment, not criticism.  My takeaway from these comments has always been that we wanted this library system, no matter where it was.  It was really a brilliant choice, given the agricultural nature of our community. Why not pick up a book when you stop for sweet feed?

Until the opening of the first public library here, residents would need to go to Covington or Cincinnati for library services, so this was a huge development in Boone County. Thanks to the 1973 grass-roots effort of a few very determined folks in the citizen’s group A.B.L.E. (Association for Boone Library Encouragement), a library tax was placed on the ballot, and the wheels were set in motion. With the approval of the tax, funding was in place to hire young librarian Jane Smith, and set up the temporary branch. The planning of the first permanent structure began on U.S. 42 in Florence.

When the Florence Branch was open for business in 1976, my friends and family became regular visitors. My family loves to read, so having access to so many books was fabulous, but the choices didn’t end there.  There were story times, craft projects and albums at the library.  Yes, kids, vinyl albums. My brother and I reached our maximum item limit easily with everything from top 40 collections to one very scary Halloween album; we each checked that one out multiple times.  My mother was in graduate school at the time, so the library offered her valuable resources and even more valuable entertainment for the kids.

Our experience surely mirrors that of other Boone County families through the years, as our library system has grown with the community. We now have six branches to reach the folks in all corners of Boone County, as well as outreach programs.  We offer access to: history and genealogy research, technology and instruction, a variety of programming for all ages and interests, and a dynamic collection that is always adapting to community wants and needs.

Forty years later, here I am, as a library associate and loyal patron, enjoying an unbelievable amount of resources and programs with my own children.

–Hillary

Hillary Delaney is a Local History Associate at Boone County Public Library. She is a Boone County native, but has also lived in Richmond, VA, where she attended Virginia Commonweath University to study journalism. Hillary moved back to her hometown of Florence in 2007, with her husband and two children. Her lifelong love of all things historic brought her to her current position at BCPL.

 

We can help you find your ancestors

When most people think of BCPL’s Local History Department, they think that there are only resources for researchers of Boone County history. In reality, the Local History (and Genealogy) Department serves the family research needs of anyone who emails, calls, writes or stops by. It is true that the majority of our microfilm and family files focus on Boone County, and the book collection emphasizes the genealogical history of the region. However, BCPL’s online genealogy databases are appropriate regardless of where your family is from- the United States, Canada, Europe or even, South America.

Ancestry Library Edition, the library version of Ancestry.com, offers a wide range of information to the family history researcher without the cost of a personal subscription. This database is a great resource for anyone starting their genealogy research. Not only do you get access to a wide variety of records including: census; birth/marriage/death; military; directories; and user-submitted family trees, Ancestry also offers free downloadable research forms and a Learning Center with Research Guides and How-To videos from leading genealogists. This database can only be accessed inside the Library, but it is available on all public computers at all six library locations.

Heritage Quest is a great database for the extra tidbits of information sought after by more experienced researchers. Used as a companion to Ancestry, Heritage Quest offers digitized Revolutionary War records, full text family histories, an index of genealogical and historical society newsletters and journals and Freeman’s Bank records (an essential African American heritage resource). This database may be accessed from home with your BCPL library card.

Genealogy Connect is a database of over 570 digitized books and genealogy resources from both Clearfield and Genealogical Publishing. Fully searchable, this database is essential for all genealogy researcher- novice and expert alike. Topics include: American Colonists & the Revolution; Aristocracy; How-To & Reference; Immigration; Native North Americans; and various regional U.S. records. This database may be accessed from home with your BCPL library card.

America’s Genealogy Bank is an American newspaper and document database which spans from 1690 to 1999. Ideally used once a researcher finds a specific ancestor name to focus on, this database will provide newspaper accounts of your early relatives, as well as, congressional records for anyone petitioning for a veteran’s pension. This database may be accessed from home with your BCPL library card.

Regardless of where your family is from, the Local History Department team feels it is important for you find your family roots and connect to your past. You are not alone on this journey! We are available by phone (859)342-2665 x8134 or by email localhistory@bcpl.org. Most importantly, we offer One-On-One appointments with a team member to help you get started, tear down that brick wall, or even to give you feed back to make certain you are following the right trail to your ancestors. It is our pleasure and our commitment to help you with your family history and we look forward to meeting you!

–Bridget

Bridget Striker, graduate of the University of Kentucky, has been with BCPL since 2001 where she uses her background in archaeology, historic preservation and GIS mapping to ferret out elusive bits of Boone County history as the Local History Coordinator. Bridget serves as Vice-Chair of the Boone County Historic Preservation Review Board and Executive Board Member of the Rabbit Hash Historical Society.