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.


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.


Jenny Walsh: Purveyor of Unlikely Treasures

Jenny Walsh

It’s kind of a coincidence that I was asked to tell my story at this particular moment in time, because as a newly minted empty-nester, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about things–the past, the future, roles, dreams, goals, legacy (basically, the whole enchilada). That said, I’ll spare you the tortuous-introspection parts and keep it to a few (hopefully interesting) tidbits about my life.

I was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up, the second of three sisters, in an old house just across the District line in Maryland. My parents were collectors of many things — antiques and books, primarily — and enthusiasts of many more. My father, a sometime potter and consummate DIY-er, worked for the Smithsonian Institution at the Freer Gallery of Art, which housed the Asian collections. My mother was an ardent reader of mysteries whose anglophile tendencies meant that there were always books by the likes of Dorothy Sayers, Josephine Tey and Georgette Heyer lying about. A favorite piece of family lore recounts the time that Dad chauffeured Agatha Christie and her archaeologist husband from the airport to the Freer for a private tour of the museum’s Persian antiquities. Mom treasured the personally inscribed copy of Curtain she received on that day.

We were lucky to have family friends who lived on a farm in south central Pennsylvania, and some of the best days of my childhood were spent trekking through the fields among the cows and horses and conducting amateur archaeological digs among the ruins of an old stone house on the property.

I studied English literature at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania (not far from my beloved farm) and fell in with a bunch of history majors whose favorite pastime was walking the battlefields at all hours of the day and night in search of respite, relaxation, and, occasionally, good-natured mischief. I highly recommend living adjacent to a national park, if you can manage it.

After graduation, I worked for a legal services firm in D.C. for a few years before pulling up stakes and moving to New York to join friends from college. I was a copy and features editor for a weekly trade publication for a while, then got married and decided to completely change things up by simultaneously enrolling in library school and taking a role at my husband Kendall’s start-up software company.

Just about ten years, one recession, and four kids later, we found ourselves pursuing a new job opportunity for Kendall in greater Cincinnati. We built a home in Walton, and I focused mainly on getting the children fed and where they needed to be for the next few years.I started working at BCPL in 2011, when our youngest entered middle school. I was a page at the Main Library for five weeks before moving to the book sale room (now the Book Cellar), where I’ve been ever since and never intend to leave. In June of this year, coinciding nicely with my youngest’s graduation from high school, I became a full-time employee when interlibrary loan duties were added to my job description. Thus, I have two official titles: Circulation Assistant – Book Sale Room and Collection Development/ILL Assistant.

What I love most about my job is filling the often very specific needs of patrons and customers while at the same time extending and expanding the life and purpose of the library’s collection. I call myself the Purveyor of Unlikely Treasures.  Another plus is getting to live out the fantasy of running a little used book store in a friendly, helpful, generous, tight-knit community–which is basically what I consider Boone County Public Library to be.

With all four kids out of the house, I talk to our long-suffering cat, Charlie, way too much, but I’ve also started gearing up to act on some of the armchair plans and dreams of the past couple decades: gardening more, traveling more, reading more, restoring an Irish cottage…

Just about anyone who knows me is aware of two obvious passions: Music (especially Bruce Springsteen) and Ireland. I have been to almost 50 Bruce shows in the past 40 years and visited Ireland twice; I fully expect that both of those numbers will go up in the not-too-distant future.