Did you know that the Kenton County Public Library District might not exist without the work of a handful of very dedicated volunteers?
Prior to 1967, there were two libraries in the county – Covington Library and a library in Erlanger sponsored by the Erlanger Women’s Club. There was also a state-supported bookmobile that served rural Kenton County.
In 1967, Executive Judge Jim Dressman created a committee to obtain signatures from Kenton County residents to place a proposal on the ballot to establish a tax district to create stable funding for a library system. . Clyde Middleton and Larry Grause co-chaired this committee.
These two “Friends” recruited others to achieve their goal. The petition called for Covington Library and Erlanger Library to merge to create the Kenton County Public Library District. The ballot easily passed in the November election and the Kenton County Public Library District was created.
The Secretary of State approved the establishment of Friends of the Kenton County Public Library on April 7, 1980. And Friends have supported the library ever since.
Each year, the Friends have donated proceeds from book sales to meet staff demands that cannot be met by traditional funding. Examples include:
• Prizes for children for the Summer Reading Club
• Thanksgiving lunch for seniors
• Animal Care/Aquariums at Durr Branch
• Business center equipment
• Engraver/embosser and embroidery machine for the STREAM Center/makerspace
• Support for the Haunted Library event (over 1,000 attendees in two days)
• Maintenance of the reading garden
• Microfilm readers for local history and genealogy department
The Friends also provide an annual scholarship to a staff member pursuing their studies. This year, library historian Cierra Earl was the recipient. Cierra is attending the University of Kentucky for a master’s degree in library science.
“The Friends of the Kenton County Public Library are a small but very influential group,” says Dave Schroeder, general manager of the library. “Through their book sales and memberships, they are able to provide items that we may not otherwise be able to provide to the community. Book sales, the main source of income for Friends, are a lot of work, but it not only helps the library through sales, but also offers buyers the opportunity to create their personal libraries at home. It’s also a great source for freebies as you can often find near-new books.
The books offered for sale are either donations or objects removed from the library’s collection. Covid-19 has also affected Friends. As people were stuck at home, many used the time to clean up and declutter. And a lot of those items were books. Books that are donated to the library are kept in the basement of the Durr branch. At the height of the pandemic, around 20,000 books and other materials were donated or taken away. More than 1,000 boxes of books took up nearly a third of the basement, so much so that staff had to stop accepting them.
“We just ran out of space,” Schroeder said. “The Friends are starting their sales again this fall. Additionally, we offered teachers the opportunity to get free boxes of books for their classrooms. We just need to start clearing the space so we can start accepting donations again.
The Friends will be holding a book sale at the Durr Branch Library in conjunction with the Kenton County Farm Tour. Friends will have a sale starting Saturday, September 18, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Friends sale will continue all week. Hours of operation are Sunday 1-4:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday 9-8:30 p.m., and Friday 9-5:30 p.m. On Saturday, September 25, Friends will sell a bag for 5 $ that buyers can fill with books. .
“We are fortunate to have such a dedicated group of Friends volunteers,” said Schroeder. “But we are always looking for new Friends members. Membership is $10 per year and gives members early access to book sales. The Friends also have volunteer opportunities, including working in book sales. »
For more information on becoming a friend and for future sale dates, visit kentonlibrary.org. For more information, contact 859-962-4000 ext. 4329.
Kenton County Public Library