Why History Matters

(Tracey Howerton is a Local History Librarian at Boone County Public Library)

In the past three long weeks, during this challenging and unsettling COVID-19 crisis, we have heard frequent, daily references to historical events to help us make sense of things. First and foremost, we have heard many references to the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. We have heard medical professionals, politicians, historians, military leaders and journalists describe the current crisis as “the worst the world has seen in 100 years,” meaning since 1918.

Medical experts like Dr. Amy Acton of the Ohio Dept. of Health, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH, and others, have used the “St. Louis vs. Philadelphia” comparison in their news briefings. They have explained that a historical data analysis revealed that the response to the 1918 influenza epidemic varied in these two cities, and that one community (St. Louis) fared much better than the other (Philadelphia) due to their quick and collective response.

More symbolically, Queen Elizabeth’s recent speech to her nation invoked history, reminding modern day Britons, and the larger world, of their resolve during the Nazi air raids of World War II.  And with each day also comes uncomfortable references to the Great Depression and the New Deal of the 1930s and 1940s.

Put simply, these are all examples of “history in action.” They are just a few examples of leaders utilizing history as a tool – both as a communications and an educational tool – to help frame the discussion, and help explain the potential gravity of this current health care crisis, and its related economic fallout.

In the midst of this crisis, of course, we also have seen how critical investments in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine) education and research will be to our future. But as we look to, and rely heavily upon, experts in science and medicine as we move forward through the coming days and weeks, those of us in humanities-related fields such as history hope that it won’t be forgotten.  This crisis is evidence that to get a fuller understanding of a complex situation, to get a fuller picture, we need input from experts in both the sciences and the humanities.

History can inform our thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving, but only if we value it and allow it a seat at the table and a place in the discussion. Please let us not forget this as we move forward.  As the saying goes, “The Past is the Present and the Future.”


-Tracey Howerton, BCPL Local History Librarian

Letter to the Community from Library Director Carrie Herrmann

We miss seeing you!

Boone County Public  Library will continue to be closed until the Governor rescinds his Executive Order that closed all government agencies not deemed life supporting.  No matter how essential I find libraries and reading, I cannot argue that we are a life supporting entity as defined during this pandemic.  But here’s the thing – our buildings are closed; our digital branch is still open.  You might not be able to come into the library but you can still use us from the comfort of your home.

Here’s what we are doing (at the moment – again, things could rapidly change):

  • Our website is still available.
  • We are creating new content for the website. Check out our Covid-19 page. This page gathers information from reputable sources about Coronavirus and includes some websites to keep you educated and entertained.
  • You can still use our digital content—eBooks, movies, magazines, research tools, etc, and a lot of these have mobile apps.
  • We raised the limit on how many items people can check out from our eBook collection, Kentucky Libraries Unbound, from 10 to 15 items.
  • We have research tools to help your students complete their NTI. Including two new tools added to help with this—Niche Academy and NewspaperArchive.
  • Our social media team has kicked into high gear. They are posting links and resources to keep you and your family educated and entertained while you are staying home.
  • Questions—we are answering them! We have questions coming in through our contact us links on the website, and through posts and messages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Here are 12 online resources from Boone County Public Library to keep you entertained and help with school work at home. You will need your library card to access most of these services.  If you do not have one, please use 204022614405 to access services from home.  Some sites may require creating accounts.

  1. Kentucky Libraries Unbound—for downloading ebooks, e-audiobooks and magazines for adult, teens and children. Just download the book to your phone or other device.  If you do not have a library card, you can use your cell phone number to check materials out.  For those people using a mobile device I highly recommend downloading the Libby app on Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes.
  2. RBDigital– Stream videos from Acorn TV, IndieFlix, Pongalo (Spanish language telenovelas and translated Hollywood movies), Qello Concerts, and Great Courses. Titles are always available.
  3. Freegal–Download and keep five songs per week. Stream up to 3 hours of commercial free music per day.  Listen to whole albums, featured playlists, or build your won playlists from over 15 million songs that are updated daily.
  4. Creative Bug – Access to instructional videos for arts-and-crafts projects that you can watch on your favorite device. Projects include art and design, sewing, quilting, paper crafts, knitting, crochet, food, jewelry, and holidays and parties.
  5. Mango Languages – Learn one of 70+ languages online at your own pace.
  6. Universal Class– Access to over 500 online instructor led courses for lifelong learning. This includes computer courses, job search classes, ACT and SAT prep, business and graphic design courses and much more.
  7. Learning Express – Get homework help and take practice tests.
  8. Access Video—Stream hundreds of nonfiction videos on many subjects.
  9. Just for Kids – Stream many favorite children’s programs and PBS favorites, such as Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Arthur, Reading Rainbow, and many more.
  10. Chronicles of Boone County – Is a repository of local history research. Look at thousands of photos of our community.
  11. Underground Railroad—A collection of information about Boone County’s role in the Underground Railroad.
  12. Tumblebooks—A collection of over 1,100 children’s ebooks for grades K-6. Many of the titles are animated, talking picture books, read-along chapter books, National Geographic videos, nonfiction books, and graphic novels, as well as books in Spanish and French.

Check our website and social media for updates. We look forward to serving you in person again soon!

–Carrie Herrmann, BCPL Library Director