Life Through a Rose Colored Lens

(Becky Kempf is the Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator at Boone County Public Library.)

Sibling models

I grew up as a child model – for my father. I don’t have any modeling talent, but I must have been in thousands of his photos. I remember being mortified as a teenager at a family reunion when my father pulled out his slides and projector and proceeded to bore everyone for at least an hour with photos of my childhood. My sister and brother were forced to model, too! Here is a picture of the three of us. Not only did my father take these pictures, he developed them in his own darkroom and built the frame.


My granddaughter, Sylvie


I bring up my father’s photography hobby because it’s obvious that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree – I bribed my own children to model for me and now I expect my grandchildren to smile for the camera, too. My oldest grandchild, Sylvie, is ten and I introduced her to photography with a Little Tykes camera when she was two. Here she is today, using one of my cameras.


Daisy spent three days posing!

My poor dogs have been pulled into this madness, as well. My little dog, Daisy, had to endure three photo shoots on three different days for me to get this picture of her and my books! And you can imagine how much Daisy and Maggie enjoyed being told to “stay” while standing in a flower pot!



Maggie and Daisy


My father gave me a Kodak Pony camera when I was in high school and taught me how to use a darkroom. He claimed a bathroom in our house as his darkroom and filled it with strategically placed equipment and an enlarger. He even rigged a red light bulb outside the door that would light up when he was using the bathroom, I mean darkroom. Actually, the bathroom was never used in the traditional way, you would have had to move the table with the heavy enlarger off of the toilet! (For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about – google it! Before digital cameras were invented, creating photos was a long involved messy business in the dark with trays of water and nasty, smelly chemicals.)

Back to high school – did I mention that I was a military brat? My dad was a Colonel in the Air Force and we traveled a lot. I attended two high schools – I went to Goose High School in Labrador (Canada) for 9th and 10th grades and then my dad was transferred to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and I graduated from Beavercreek High School in 1976. I worked on the school newspaper and yearbook while in high school and wrote articles, roamed the halls taking pictures and did layouts for the yearbook pages.

I graduated from Wright State University in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts. I majored in physical geography (basically meteorology) and minored in communication. I took all of the public speaking, writing, journalism and television broadcasting classes I could get. My plan at that time was to be a weather girl, but I fell in love, got married and worked for awhile for my father’s side business, Deerbrook Industries. My dad built furniture and I drew the plans and wrote the instructions so others could make the furniture themselves. We sold the plans through a little mail order catalog.

My four children – yep, I still photograph them and tell them how I want them to pose

Long story, short, I had four children and I was a stay-at-home mom for the first three. I went to work for Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana when the youngest of the three started school. I used my photography, editing, writing and communication skills as a Membership Development Specialist and handled PR and recruitment for a four-county area as well as the cookie sale, the newsletter and even some programming and training.

A picture of me from my recent photography trip to Alaska.

Fast forward…after the birth of my fourth child and two jobs later, I saw the posting in the Enquirer for a Public Relations Coordinator at Boone County Public Library and I said, “I’m going to get that job!” I took a vacation day and worked all day on my resume, cover letter and portfolio of work, dropped the packet off at the Scheben Branch, and voila – I got the job and here I am today. I’ve been with BCPL for 15 years as of August 6.



If you’d asked me fifteen years ago what my favorite thing about the library was, I’d have said books. I’ve been a power reader ever since I read my first word and I still love reading as much as I ever did, but now I appreciate the library for the way it brings the community together. Because we depend so much on texting and social media to communicate today, we have lost some of the face-to-face communication we used to have. The Library is a place where you can interact with your friends, neighbors, and people in the community you’ve never met before, while attending programs, using meeting rooms, browsing the stacks, eating in the cafe or even just reading in a corner. The library is one of the few places you can go where you don’t need money in your wallet. You can come here for free entertainment and free education, no matter your age, your status in life, your race. Everyone is welcome at the library and I’m proud to work here and know that all of us together have enhanced people’s lives and made a difference in our community.

You can view more of my photography at

Becky Kempf – Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator

Chelsea’s first job was so great that she never left!

Chelsea Swinford-Johantges, Youth Services Associate, near her Sunflower House at the Scheben Branch

Killing plants! Yes killing plants is something I always thought I did very, very well. But recently I was inspired by a Pinterest post and Eve Bunting’s book The Sunflower House that gave me the opportunity to prove myself wrong. A few years ago I started growing a Sunflower House and Monarch Waystation at the Scheben Branch. To this day, it remains my most successful Pinterest project ever. We occasionally hold storytimes or
special preschool programs in the Sunflower House. Patrons often stop by to check it out and just recently some storytime regulars were spotted
having a picnic in the garden.

I’ve been with BCPL for ten years this September! Other than a paper route and some babysitting and tutoring gigs, BCPL was my first job. I started volunteering at the library regularly during my early teen years and was a member of the Teen Advisory Group (TAG) which brainstormed ideas for teen programs. When the Main Library opened, the teen librarian at the time recommended I apply for one of the new page positions. I’ve been working in different departments at BCPL since I was 16! I spent time in Circulation and Reference before landing happily in Youth Services at the Scheben Branch.

As a Youth Services Associate, I have an eclectic collection of responsibilities. Storytimes and special programs take up a good chunk of my time. Many of my programs focus on physical literacy defined as “the ability, confidence, and desire to be physically active for life”. One of my favorite programs is my Stories and Stretches series, which incorporates elements of yoga and mindfulness into storytime. In addition, I am a member of the Let’s Move in Libraries advisory board. This international initiative “focuses on supporting health and wellness with physical activity in public libraries”.
I love a good STEM program as well. From fizzing, bubbling chemistry experiments to pre-K computer classes to promoting environmental literacy with gardening, my programs cover a whole range of STEM and 21st century skills. Summer Reading is another major project of mine. Even in the dead of winter, when summer seems like a distant memory, I’m sure to be found wrangling up prizes or running reports. I schedule field trip requests, and I make monthly visits to the first grade classes at Yealey Elementary.

Chelsea Swinford-Johantges, Youth Services Associate

Working at BCPL renders a long list of great things! I love working with books and having access to all of our digital resources. As great as our collection is, though, it can be easy to take it for granted because you expect a library to have those things. What really drew me to a career in library sciences, and especially a career at BCPL, is all the fantastic, free programs we provide. Attending these programs as a tween and teen helped me develop a real sense of community (even when I was at my most jaded), and I am so grateful to be able to pass that feeling on to the children and families who come to my programs.

In addition to my time at BCPL, I worked part-time at Cincinnati Museum Center, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, a health food store, and as a barista (which is probably why I’m so thoroughly addicted to coffee). For most of my undergraduate career, I thought I was going to be a teacher, but at the last moment I decided to switch my major from English education to English literature, and now I’m pursuing my MLIS online through San Jose State University.

I am originally from Iowa, but only have a few memories of our home. My family moved to Florence when I was five. I have an older sister and two younger sisters (the youngest of whom–Nadine–also works at BCPL) as well and three sisters-in-law and two brothers-in-law. I also have two nieces and a brand-new nephew who seems to double in size every time I see him. I feel incredibly lucky to have such a large, loving family.

Chelsea’s Sunflower House at the Scheben Branch

Spare time isn’t something I have too much of, but I try to take some time for myself. I run and do yoga, and I’m planning to take my first (very short) backpacking trip soon. I’ve also really enjoyed taking my nieces to the awesome programs offered by the Boone County Parks and Boone County Conservation District. I dabble in a fewhobbies. Every once in a while I try to pick up knitting or photography, though the end product is never very satisfying. Right now I’m trying my hand at birding and mycology.  There isn’t much I can recognize without a guide, but it’s a big thrill when I can.

So check out any of my programs or stop by the Scheben Branch to say hello!