Who is that lady standing out in the cold in front of the Library?

Have you ever noticed the woman depicted in bronze in front of the Main Library? We get lots of questions and comments about her. The plaque by her feet reads Mary Draper Ingles.  Children often read her name and then come into the library and ask us if she’s from Little House on the Prairie.  We’ve also been asked, usually by older children, if she is the grim reaper.

Kids are really concerned about her in the winter. They worry about her bare feet being cold. A lot of them also comment on the size of her feet. They want to know if the real Mary Ingles had feet that big. Halloween 2014 four (1 of 1)-3Most often, however, people ask us who she is and then want to know if we have a book about her. Yes, we have books about her; the most popular is probably the historical novel, Follow the River by James Alexander Thom. If you are interested in her story, you might want to reserve the book in our catalog, in the meantime I’ll share the highlights of her story with you.

Mary Draper Ingles was a strong, courageous woman best-known for escaping from Indian captivity at Big Bone Lick in Boone County, Kentucky. Most of what is known about her comes from a narrative account of the Ingles family written by Mary’s son, Colonel John Ingles.

Mary lived with her husband in a place called Draper’s Meadows, a Halloween 2014 four (1 of 1)-2small settlement of ten people in August County, Virginia. On Wednesday, July 30, 1755, the Shawnee attacked Draper’s Meadow. Mary was taken prisoner along with her two sons, Thomas and George. Mary’s husband was away at the time and was not captured. The Shawnee headed for the Ohio River and the Shawnee town of Sonnontio. When they reached the town, the two boys were taken from Mary and adopted into the tribe. Mary was taken to Big Bone Lick, more than 100 miles further west, to help make salt.

Sometime in October, Mary decided to escape. Because the prisoners were allowed to roam the camp at will, Mary and another woman simply left camp taking with them two blankets and two tomahawks. After four or five days, the women reached the junction of the Ohio and Licking Rivers, near present-day Cincinnati. There they found an abandoned cabin, which contained a supply of corn. According to the narrative, when the corn ran out, they survived on “black walnuts, grapes, pawpaws, etc.” The women crossed at least 145 creeks and rivers and traveled five to six hundred miles. They separated near the end of the journey and Mary arrived home on or about December 1, 1755. She reunited with her husband and had four more children before she died in 1815 at the age of 83.

Halloween 2014 four (1 of 1)Mary Draper Ingles was chosen as the subject of the Library statue because part of her story took place in Boone County and because she was a strong heroic woman who never gave up. She endured great hardship to achieve her goal of returning home.

The Mary Draper Ingles sculpture was created by Matthew Scott Langford. Largely self-taught, Langford has been a professional sculptor since 1991. Born in Cincinnati, but raised and educated in Northern Kentucky, Matthew Langford lives in Union, with his wife and two daughters, in an antebellum log cabin, not far from the site of Mary Ingles’ escape.


Becky Kempf has been the Public Relations Coordinator at Boone County Public Library for the past eleven years. A graduate of Wright State University, she previously worked for Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana and the Association for the Advancement of Arts Education.

To shush or not to shush. That is the question.

We all know the stereotype.  When I say the word “librarian” everyone sees the bun wearing, shushing, stern woman.  Jocasta Nu, the Chief Librarian of the Jedi Archives, has a bun. jocasta There is even a Librarian Action Figure with Amazing Shushing Action.  So, if that is the stereotype, what happened to all the quiet in the library?

About 10 years ago libraries began to change, not just in Boone County but around the country.  There is no one thing people want their libraries to be. They want their libraries to be lots of things, a place where they can study and meet with friends and attend meetings — and more. And different customers want different things.

The Pew Research Center published a report called, “Library Services in the Digital Age.”  (You can access the whole report at http://libraries.pewinternet.org/files/legacy-pdf/PIP_Library%20services_Report.pdf)  One of the questions asked, “What do you think is important for libraries to offer?”  The top three answers were:

1. Librarians to help people
2. Books to borrow
3. Free access to computers and books

These answers didn’t surprise libraries.  The answers that surprised them, were the fourth and fifth most popular responses.  About 75% of respondents said they want quiet study spaces available, but a similar percentage said they want programs and classes for children and teens.    One is a very quiet need and the other an unquiet service.  The question for libraries becomes how do we balance these two very different needs?

Some of BCPLs locations are better designed to meet these conflicting requests.  The Main Library and the Scheben Branch have smaller, independent study rooms.  The children’s and teens’ areas are a more reasonable distance from areas designated as quiet zones.  But older buildings, like Florence, Lents and Walton, do not always retrofit well to the changing needs of our library populations.  One of the solutions we offer at these older, smaller locations is the use of the meeting room as a quiet space.  If, at any time, you need a quiet place to study or read, please do not hesitate to ask at the desk.  If we do not have programs scheduled these locations will open the meeting room for you.

Matthew Battles, author of Library:  An Unquiet History, wrote, “In their long history, libraries have been models for the world and models of the world; they’ve offered stimulation and contemplation, opportunities for togetherness as well as a kind of civic solitude.  They’ve acted as gathering points for lively minds and as sites of seclusion and solace.  For making knowledge and sharing change, we still need such places…”

We know that quiet spaces are still an important part of what people expect from their libraries.  Just as we know that people want libraries to be bustling centers of classes and workshops.  Libraries in Boone County and across the nation are working to meet these two very different needs. We’d love to hear from you; what do you want your library to be? Quiet and sedate? Or busy and loud?

nancyThis Librarian Action Figure was modeled after librarian, Nancy Pearl, former Executive Director of the Washington Center for the Book.



Carrie Herrmann has 26 years of experience in libraries, most of those in Northern Kentucky. A Graduate of University of Kentucky, Carrie is the Library Director for Boone County Public Library.