Before 1974, Boone County residents had no public library to call their own. When people needed information or wanted a book, they went to Covington or Cincinnati. Most people did without.
Beginning in the early 1940's, citizen groups tried to garner enough public support to establish a full-service, county public library. Each attempt met with defeat until 1973, when a citizen organization called ABLE [Association for Boone Library Encouragement] successfully collected the required number of signatures to place the question of a library tax on the ballot. On November 6, 1973, the voters of Boone County established the Boone County Public Library District.
Ted Bushelman presided at the first meeting of the Boone County Public Library Board of Trustees on December 17, 1973. Central to the business of that meeting was discussion of providing a facility for the new library and the first official action of the Board was to apply for a state construction grant. By July 1974, temporary quarters had been found, negotiations for the site of the new library building were underway and the first staff members were on the job.
On October 14, 1974, under the direction of Jane Smith, Librarian, Boone County Public Library opened its doors at 2 Girard Street in Florence. That day, more than 180 Boone County residents visited the library.
In the meantime, work on the new library proceeded according to schedule. After several months of meetings with architect, Robert Ehmet Hayes, a final design was accepted and the library broke ground on July 17, 1975. Eleven months later, in June 1976, Boone County Public Library moved to its new permanent location at 7425 U.S. 42 in Florence.
In its first year at the new location, circulation exceeded 100,000 items. Children's programs filled quickly and waiting lists were long. By the early 1980's, circulation figures had doubled. The library provided full reference service, a full time Children's Librarian and a growing local history and genealogy collection. Popular new formats such as videos and audio books were added to the collection. In 1983, the library joined the Greater Cincinnati Library Consortium providing Boone County residents with free access to more than thirty area academic, public and special libraries.
Like the rest of the rapidly growing county, the library struggled to keep pace with the needs of an expanding population. The Board began planning for new facilities and services that would bring convenient library service to all Boone County residents.
With funds from a generous bequest from Mr. and Mrs. R.V. Lents, long time library supporters, a site was purchased and plans were drawn for a branch to serve the northern section of Boone County. On April 23, 1989, the Lents Branch Library opened for business.
Soon after, the library acquired a site in Walton to serve southern Boone County and construction of a second library branch was under way. Library staff, meanwhile, had converted the library's records to computer readable format and were preparing to automate. Both projects reached their conclusion in the first half of 1994. On April 15, computers replaced the card catalog. On June 25, county residents and officials turned out for the dedication of the Walton Branch Library.
The addition, in 1996, of public Internet stations at all library branches brought the largest single source of information in the world to the citizens of Boone County. Library customers of all ages and from all walks of life took their first trip on the information highway. A library Web page made it possible to "visit" the library from home or work.
On March 4, 2000, after more than two years of planning and construction, the 35,000 square foot Scheben Branch Library opened. Offering a 6,000 square foot Children's Center, 20+ public computer stations, a 10-station computer lab, 160 parking spaces, and a collection capacity exceeding 150,000 items, the Scheben Branch became the flagship of the Boone County Public Library system.
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