Libraries Matter

Carrie Herrmann has 25 years experience in libraries, most of those in Northern Kentucky. A Graduate of University of Kentucky, Carrie is Library Director of Boone County Public Library.

I hear it in the media and I even hear it from family and friends—why do you work in a library? Nobody uses a library anymore.  Why do I work in a library?  I work at Boone County Public Library because libraries matter.  They are important to so many people in our community.

Have you ever been at the Library on a Sunday when we are opening the doors?  There is always a line of people waiting to enter – you would think we were giving away a huge prize!

Maybe that huge prize we are giving away is our trained staff to help answer questions.  You never know what kind of question you will be called upon to answer. My two favorite questions can be found at both ends of the age spectrum.  I once had a little boy and his Mom come up to me at the desk.  Mom needed my help proving to her son that the world is not flat.  When I first heard the issue all I could think was that old poem I learned when I was a little girl, “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”  After a conversation with the five year old I realized the problem was that every time he saw a map of the world it was flat.  No one had shown him a globe or picture of earth from space.  It took some convincing, but I think he left the library with a better understanding of the world he lived in.  And, yes he did know that the world is round.

On another occasion, I was working with an older gentleman I had come to know well over the years.  On this particular day he seemed down and I finally asked him if everything was okay.  After a moment he said he did not think his grandkids liked him.  I was dumbfounded.  He is one of the nicest people I have ever met.  I asked what made him think that his grandkids did not like him.  He told me that he called and left messages and he emailed them but they never answered him back.  After a moment I asked if he could text with his phone.  He said he knew his plan allowed texting but he did not know how to do that.  I told him I bet if he texted his grandkids they would answer him back.  We spent a few moments “playing” with his phone while I showed him how to text and answer back.  His first couple of texts were to my phone so we could make sure he understood.  He left the library with a plan to try texting.

A few weeks later he walked up to me and without a greeting said, “What do you know?  They do love me!  Now I have another problem.  I don’t understand what they are saying most of the time.”  So, I spent some time decoding the texts with him.  The last time I saw him he was heading out the door armed with a link to a website to translate those texts and a big grin.  He was on his way to meet a grandson for lunch.  It may seem small and it may seem insignificant, but the library mattered to him that day.

For a very long time, a library’s primary goal was to make sure its shelves were full of books by every author, and on every subject, so you could find the information and the materials you wanted and needed. In the last twenty-five years, still trying to give you what you want and need, libraries have added magazines, music, DVDs, audiobooks, digital materials, Internet access, classes, workshops, festivals, art shows, concerts and so much more!  Some libraries even offer cake pans and fishing poles for checkout. In keeping with this shift in the library world, BCPL updated its mission statement this year from “working to connect you with the books you love, the information you need and the world you live in” to “discover, explore, experience a lifetime of learning.”  This mission statement is more about what the community can do or become at the Library.  Whether for personal enrichment or professional development, learners can turn to Boone County Public Library to meet their lifelong learning and continuing education needs and goals.

Libraries operate on fiscal year calendars, so I gather statistics every year from July 1 to June 30. These statistics help us measure how well we are doing at meeting the needs of Boone County. They also help us compare our work from one year to the next and  measure how we stack up against the other libraries in Kentucky as well as across the nation.

Looking back over Fiscal Year 2013 – 2014  at Boone County Public Library:

  • The library checked out 1,675,157 items, 48% of which were children’s materials.
  • 1,053,295 visits were made to the Library’s website.
  • 96,607 people were educated and entertained at 5,562 programs. This is a 5% increase over the previous year.
  • For the third year in a row, more than 1 million people (1,107,074) walked through the doors of Boone County Public Library.
  • 2,128 meetings were held by 824 community groups in the Library’s meeting rooms.
  • The Library’s computers and Wi-Fi were used 220,243 times.
  • 169,926 in person, telephone and email reference questions were answered by library staff.

As a library staff member, I am very proud of the work we did to achieve these numbers, but I know the real reason they are so high is because the library matters to you, Boone County! Thank you for allowing us to serve you.


Take a Trip on Us!

Are you thinking about taking a trip? It’s not only fun to explore new places, discover unique foods, and experience a different culture, it’s actually enriching for all your senses. Travel is an exciting way to create lasting memories. Need some inspiration? Not sure where to go? We have plenty of books like 1000 Places to See Before You Die, Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships 2014, and The Backpacker’s Bible. Aside from traditional travel books like Frommer’s and Lonely Planet, we have many other helpful sources.

Don’t speak the language? You can check out an audiobook on a wide variety of languages or use Mango, our online language program. It’s free and there’s even an app for your smart phone. Whether listening to the audiobook or practicing with Mango, you can learn the conversational basics to make travel easier.

Have a long car ride or flight? Check out audiobooks on CD, Playaways (pop in a battery and headphones to hear a pre-loaded book) or use Kentucky Libraries Unbound to download e-books to your tablet or smart phone. You can even download movies or stream them with Wi-Fi. Like magazines? Use our Zinio subscription to read magazines on your device, including National Geographic Traveler to check out new and interesting places to go.

Need help choosing a place or finding lodging? There are tons of travel websites:

  • Trip Advisor and Yelp let you check out ratings for places to eat, stay, or visit. Reviewers add their two cents to help you make better decisions. Should you stop and see the largest ball of string? Is the food really good at that expensive restaurant? Was the bed and breakfast clean? Find out before you go. You can add your thoughts about places you visit.
  • Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz,, and Travelocity are all websites that can help plan your trip if you’re looking for airfare, hotels, and rental cars. They offer package vacations and even travel insurance, in case you need to cancel. It’s nice to check prices on these sites, and then check the individual airline, hotel, or rental car company to see if they are offering a better deal.
  • Flights with Friends is terrific for making travel plans with a group. You can add flights from different locations and let others have their say on the flight and lodging choices that appear for your destination.
  • VRBO, Airbnb, and HomeAway offer nice options for those who would rather stay in a house, condo or apartment instead of a hotel or resort. They have properties all over the world and can be anything from minimal to extravagant. Choose the time you wish to travel and add filters to specify pet friendly, number of guests or bedrooms, swimming pool, or handicap accessible. Guests who stay can add reviews, so you know right away if there are issues with a property, like odor or a poorly stocked kitchen.
  • Google Maps and MapQuest will help you find your way from here to there, even locally. You can add additional stops, choose the shortest or fastest routes, avoid toll roads, include gas stations or restaurants or even find biking paths, walking distances or bus routes.

Is there an app for that? Most websites have them! Here are some cool apps you might explore on your smart phone or device’s app store:

  • CheckMate takes your preferences to help find you a room in hotel, like one that’s away from the elevator or close to the pool, let them know when you’ll arrive, and some hotels let you check-in without having to stand at the counter.
  • Flashlight is a handy app that is free and can light your way!
  • WhatsApp Messenger lets you text or chat and avoid international charges. If Wi-Fi is available, you can send photos, too.
  • City Guides is a way to create your own guide for a city that includes places to visit or eat and then tracks where you are at any moment in relation to those places. Friends can add their favorite places or use a guide someone else has created.
  • XE Currency lets you know the current exchange rate for money around the world.

Traveling locally? We have a great way to break up a humdrum weekend – take a day trip using one of our Road Trip kits. Stop by and pick up a bag for the city of your choice! Each bag is filled with brochures, maps, guide books, a family DVD for the kids to watch, and games to entertain the whole family. We have kits for Cincinnati, Louisville, Lexington, Columbus, Indianapolis, Cleveland, and more.

While on the road, most libraries will let you have free Internet access. Look at our parking lots on any given day and you’ll see out-of-state license plates. Plenty of people stop by to check email, print maps, and update reservations from our locations. Whether locally or abroad…we can help you have the vacation of your dreams.


Jinny Ussel is the Training and Design Specialist for Boone County Public Library. She loves to travel and in her next life, she’d like to be Samantha Brown.