Once upon a time, there was no public library in Boone County…

All stories have a beginning, and since I am the only surviving member of the first library board, I feel it is my duty to tell the tale. Once upon a time, there was no public library in Boone County. If someone wanted a book, one had to buy it or go to Covington to the Kenton County Library.

At the time, I was the president of the Boone County Jaycettes, the feminine arm of the Jaycees.  “Where is the library?” asked Mary Margaret Garies, a new member whose husband had been transferred with his job. She found it hard to believe that a county that was growing with new industries and a burgeoning population had no library. We agreed to do something about it.  We sat down and began to brainstorm.

Ted Bushelman

Ted Bushelman

Boone County needs a library. I knew we needed a go-getter, someone who was active in the community and got things done, someone who cared about the healthy growth of our county. Having worked with Ted Bushelman in the Jaycees, I knew he was that someone, and so I asked Ted to join us in our worthy endeavor.  He agreed, and we began to meet regularly.  We spread the word, and our group grew.  We chose the name, ABLE, the Association for Boone Library Encouragement. Through networking, others joined us from organizations like the Lions Club, Florence Women’s Club, Rotary Club and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Effective communication was a necessity, so we formed a speakers’ bureau.  Carol Ackley,
Don Ravencraft, Ted and I created a presentation that highlighted the reasons a library would be a boon to the county.  Persuading voters to agree to a new tax was paramount.  We were ready for any negative question wiable-ad-2th a positive answer and spoke to any group who would have us.

In order to get the library issue on the ballot, we learned we had to have 1500 signatures on a petition.  So, we walked door-to-door asking for support.  After reaching the quota, we spent many hours in the courthouse verifying that each signature was valid.

We needed a slogan, simple and direct.  “I Want a Library!” became our mantra. Many lapels sported our campaign buttons that had a white background with the slogan in bold, dark blue letters.

At the same time, there was a faction in the county that wanted a new jail.  That, too, was going to be on the ballot. A few of the politicians were not very happy with us.  One told me “…not to screw up his jail issue”.  Another warned me that my property value could easily be reappraised so I would have to pay a higher tax.  A local businessman angrily said, “My kids will never use a library, but they might be in a jail.”

In mid-September, I had to have back surgery and was hospitalized for 30 days due to complications.  It was a good thing I had a phone in my room, (no cell phones then) because Ted and I talked several times each day, planning and keeping track of how the movement was progressing.

As we neared election-day, we enlisted the help of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.  What a wonderful day it was as we watched those young people addressing postcards and folding pamphlets asking for support for the library issue.  I can still hear them cheering, “We want a library! We want a library! We want a library!”  The community had become involved, and “Library” was the buzzword wherever we went.  Many had gotten on-board promoting the issue;  many churches and organizations helped as the issue gained momentum.  Phil Carrico, the district librarian, was invaluable with his advice and support.

Election-day arrived.  I was on edge all day.  My mother and father, Roy and Elizabeth Nestor, kept our son, David, while I and my husband, Harold, went to the courthouse to wait for the votes to be tallied.  After the final count, Boone County WAS GOING TO HAVE ITS LIBRARY. The voters overwhelmingly supported the new tax that would pay for their own facility.  I remember crying and jumping up and down.  Two years of preparation and work had paid off.  A reporter from one of the radio stations came over to me and asked me to make a comment.  I remember saying, “I’m so thrilled the community wanted this. So many people of all ages worked long and hard for this cause. Now, Boone County is going to have its own library.”

The newly-appointed board consisted of Ted Bushman–president, Ginny Kohl–vice
president, along with Don Ravencraft from Hebron, Emily Reeves–Florence and Gertrude Matheny–Burlington.  Our financial advisor was John Brockett.  We interviewed applicants for librarian and hired Jane Smith, who worked for the library system until her retirement of recent.  With Phil Carrico’s help, along with Charles Hinds, the state librarian, we went to work to find a tegirard-stmporary facility.  Mr. Nelson Markesbery had a boat shop and garage on Girard Street that fit the bill.  He agreed to rent it to us, knowing that we would adapt it to accommodate our needs.  Kenton County gave us old shelves from its library, along with a desk, card catalog and books.  The state supplemented our supply of reading materials.  Soon, we were in business, and the Boone County Public Library opened its doors.

Thankfully, this library system’s story has no ending.  It continues to unfold with growth and great success.  I am sure we, Boone Countians, will enjoy its services and live happily together ever after.

 

Ginny Kohl laying the cornerstone of the library's first building (the Florence Branch) in 1976.

Ginny Kohl laying the cornerstone of the library’s first building (the Florence Branch) in 1976.

–Ginny

Virginia Nestor Kohl (Ginny) is a retired teacher and was instrumental in securing a library for Boone County. She served on Boone County Public Library’s first Board of Trustees.

 

Here we were on a highway we didn’t know, in a state we didn’t know….

After a week of vacationing at the Grand Canyon, my friend Trudy and I were driving back to Phoenix, and the airport, when we realized we hadn’t had breakfast or lunch — we were hungry! Here we were on a highway we didn’t know, in a state we didn’t know, wondering where we could find a good restaurant. We didn’t want to eat at a chain restaurant that we could find at home in Northern Kentucky (me) or Cincinnati (Trudy). We wanted a restaurant that we had never been to before, a unique place that we could find only in Arizona. And we wanted the restaurant to have good food and be clean and reputable. Hmm… How to choose?

“I know,” I said, “I’ll look in the travel book I borrowed from Boone County Public Library before we left home!” So I pulled out Arizona & the Grand Canyon and started searching for restaurants. We were almost to Flagstaff and were beginning to see signs for Route 66, so I Iooked for something near Route 66. Lo and behold – I found something! Apparently, Route 66 is a famous roadway in Arizona with lots of roadside attractions and quirky restaurants. We had to veer from our route to the airport a bit to get there – head east instead of south, but it was well worth it! We decided we’d go to Cruisers Route 66 Cafe. It had a lot of stars and a rave review and it sounded like it would fit into our meal budget.

Talk about quirky! We loved the place as soon as we saw it!

I really wish I had taken time to snap some photos of our meal, but I was just too busy stuffing my face with the most excellent food! Trudy had a bowl of their house chili which included jalapeno slices and wasn’t anything like Cincinnati chili! And I had the black bean veggie burger – it was to die for! I mean really, really good. I just wish Arizona was a little closer; I’d like to have one of those burgers for lunch today!

I might not have taken time to photograph my food, but I did snap some pictures of the bathroom. I know, weird, right? But the bathroom was just so unique – it had truck tailgates for stall doors!

And lots of interesting wall decor!

So as I wrap up this blog post, let’s recap – My friend and I were driving in a strange state on a strange road and we wanted to find an interesting, reputable place for lunch, so we pulled out a travel book and found just the spot! The moral of this story is, “Always check out a travel book from Boone County Public Library before you go on a trip!”

–Becky

Becky Kempf has been the Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator for Boone County Public Library for 16 years. When she isn’t evangelizing about the library and all the great things it has to offer, she’s out photographing her grandchildren, rusty old cars and anything else that will hold still for a moment!