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Made in Covington: The Aqua-Cycle

Twenty-five year old Phyllis Brawley was installed as a living window display at Cincinnati’s Hotel Sinton on the day of Aquacycle’s debut. Clad in a “beach costume,” the blonde model peddled the newly-patented marine invention that allowed users to propel boats and canoes by foot power.
Spectators congregated around the window in such numbers that Cincinnati patrolman, Charles Ray, ordered that the live window display to cease–a proclamation that was met with jeers. Ultimately, the authorities demanded that manager of the Aquacycle Company, Earl Metcalfe, either stop the demonstration or be cited for interfering with pedestrian traffic. Metcalfe, a self-employed business consultant and manager of the Aquacycle Company of Covington, stated that he intended to defy police orders to meet public demand for the demonstration continue the next day. Arguably, their interest was likely inspired more by the visible shins and shoulders of Miss Brawley than the newfangled contraption upon which she was perched.
Metcalfe, who lived on a farm in Morning View in southern Kenton County, was not the inventor of the Aquacycle, but was assignor to the company when the trademark was registered in 1948. He was involved with the contraption as early as 1947, when the Aquacycle Company of Covington was chartered and valued at an eyebrow-raising $100,000 (over $1,300,000 today). The design for the “pedal or mechanically propelling and steering mechanism for boats” was the work of Dr. Byrel Billman, a physician of physiotherapy and proctology, educated at the Eclectic Medical Institute of Cincinnati. Billman created the Aquacycle as a device to propel and steer boats in places where motorized watercraft were either outlawed or impossible operate. Sportsmen were potential clients of interest, especially those who enjoyed hunting and fishing in marshy areas. Instead […]

Maker Space Coming to Your Library

If you have visited or driven past the Erlanger Branch Library lately, you might be wondering what is being built. There are two projects. One is an administrative center to house Collection Development, Human Resources, Public Relations, Information Technology and the Business Office. The other is an addition to the current facility that will include a meeting room that can hold 450 people and a 1700 square-foot STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Education, Art and Math) Center, most commonly known as a maker space. Everything is expected to be completed by January, 2018.


The Digicart was a huge success. However, with that success came a demand for a more expansive selection of technology in the Digicart. The Digicart quickly became Digicarts as we expanded our services to include a VHS to DVD conversion service, record to CD conversion service, and a vinyl cutter. While the Digicart was mostly focused on STEM, we still wanted to be sure to include the arts and a love of reading. Thus, the STREAM Center began to take shape.

However, while we will soon have a large space to house all of our maker space materials, we still need to be mobile since we visit local schools. The current Digicart has visited over 1,000 students at five area schools. I see this as an important part of what we do here. We make these materials available to local school teachers because we realize their resources are limited. This allows teachers to give their students more thought provoking interactions in the classroom.

Visiting schools isn’t the only thing I do as an Emerging Technology Programmer though. I do normal library things like help patrons find books and movies. I also get to do a […]

Welcome to Brown Town…Decorating out of the Dark

My family and I just moved into a new house. Initially we thought, “hey, this is the first house we’ve lived in where we don’t have to do anything.” What do they say – famous last words?


The house we moved into has good bones. However, despite the large windows, it is so dark inside. The previous owner, though lovely, had a very different decorating style than we do.

We are more “beach chic.” By this I mean we like lighter blues, greens, white, with a pop of color here and there. Pictured below is the same living room as above but with a completely different feel. Ditto with the dining room.

The house we purchased though is about the furthest thing from beach chic. For one, it’s a Tudor. Now I don’t know about you, but I rarely see Tudors on my beach vacations.  The rooms all had dark paint, dark wood windows and dark brown hardwood floors. Knowing our style, a book that caught my eye is Pale & Interesting: Decorating with Whites, Pastels and Neutrals for a Welcoming Home. If you are a fan of either Shabby Chic or HGTV’s Fixer Upper, this book seems to be a blend of those two styles.


That being said, we will work with what we have. We have only been in the house since last September. The main focus has to been to paint. Out of curiosity, I searched the phrase “paint your home” on the Library’s card catalog. Nearly 40 titles popped up! Some are new and some are older but all can provide some inspiration.

As of this writing, nearly every room in the house with exception of the kitchen has been repainted. However, I am really […]

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Courting of Ginny Hilton


Hail February, the month of roses and lace and stamps on Valentine cards; a prime time for a story of Northern Kentucky Love!

Here’s one: Bernard Wright Southgate Jr., son of Bernard Wright Southgate Sr. and Lallie Kennedy, married Virginia D. Hilton on the 17th of September in 1929.

Romantic, I suppose, if a bit dry. One can sit at any of our computers and find that information on for free, like I just did.


However, what Ancestry doesn’t have is much more interesting. Now available on geNKY, the Southgate courtship letters tell a much more relatable tale. Virginia Southgate (at the time, a Hilton) kept all the letters Bernard sent her through their extensive five-year courtship, even as they both attended school and changed residences. Even though we can only hear his half of the conversation, we have a unique look into the fancies and follies between postmarks and biographical milestones.

The first letter is dated the 11th of May, in 1924, from Buffalo, West Virginia, and in it, he writes that he was surprised to receive her letter. It is quite possible (and in fact, likely, from the way he describes her personality in his future notes) that Virginia wrote first.  He does tell us she even illustrated her letters! Unfortunately, we do not possess any of those, though there are a few doodles to be seen at the bottom corner of some pages, like a Tokyo sunrise, and a black cat in a dark cellar at midnight. Bernard is modest about his artistic talents.

Virginia, or, as he refers to her, “Ginny”,  starts out in her family home at 15 Calhoun St., in Cincinnati, which is now a parking lot. Most of his letters are addressed […]

Galentine’s Day at the Library

Attention world, Galentine’s Day is fast approaching! You may have already marked the occasion on your calendar or you may be scratching your chin in confusion at this turn of phrase. For those that have not already embraced this beautiful land mermaid of a holiday let me give you a brief history. 


A little show known as “Parks and Recreation” let it be known to all us mere mortals that Galentine’s Day would forever and always be February 13th; otherwise known as the day before Valentine’s Day. Traditionally, the second week of February has been devoted to celebrating romantic love but the glory of Leslie Knope’s creation is that it celebrates the awesomeness of female friendships. Our gal pals are with us all year long. They listen to us complain, they shoulder our tears, they dance it out with us, and they make us laugh harder than is probably healthy. Why haven’t we already been celebrating them!? 




This year you can celebrate with us! The Erlanger Branch Library is having a Galentine’s Day celebration February 7th at 7:00 PM. We’ll be making our BFFs Galentine’s Day cards, watching the two hilarious Galentine Day episodes of Parks and Rec as well as stuffing our faces with waffles at our waffle bar. 




After you hang out with us at Erlanger you can wander over to the Durr Branch on the actual Galentine’s Day, February 13th, for a full day of galentine shenanigans. Starting at 11:00 AM with everyone’s favorite meal: brunch with (you guessed it) waffles! Movies will be playing through the afternoon with an enviable array of crafting choices until 4:30 PM when you’ll be able to paint ceramic dessert plates, followed by an appetizer aficionado’s dream cooking […]

Throwing the Perfect Super Bowl Party

If I asked you what the Super Bowl is about you’d probably answer with one of the following: 1. football, 2. the half time show or 3. the commercials. All of those answers are WRONG! The Super Bowl is about the food. It’s that simple. You must have good food to have a good party. Think chili, wings, nachos, buffalo chicken dip, sandwiches, sliders, meatballs, pizza and mini hot dogs. The greasier the better. We have LOTS of cookbooks you can borrow, as well as magazines you can download from our website for free. They are filled with yummy recipes. But our staff members also have their Super Bowl favorites that we are going to share with you.

“Baked Chicken Wings! The key for me is to bake them on a wire rack in the oven. Toss them in some oil and seasoning beforehand then bake until nice and crispy. I don’t like really saucy wings as they get too soggy, so I lightly toss them in sauce afterwards.” – Seth L., adult programmer at the Durr Branch
Best Spinach Artichoke Dip Ever made with garlic, spinach, artichoke hearts, garlic Alfredo sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan and cream cheese is Durr Branch Teen Librarian Jessy G.’s favorite.
“Keep it simple and classy with popcorn. I also love  good fresh veggies and several flavors of hummus-especially if somebody else cuts up the veggies,” – Julia A., Covington branch manager.
“My favorite was thick, cheesy chili dip.” – Gary P., adult programmer at the Covington Branch
“Boneless wings and nachos.” – Angela P., Erlanger Branch Manager
“Meatballs soaked in mild salsa and apricot jelly in the crock pot all day.” – Gina S., Public Relations Coordinator
“I love loaded […]

William E. Durr Branch Library Celebrates A Decade of Service

On a cold Sunday in January in 2007, the William E. Durr Branch of the Kenton County Public Library opened to an enthusiastic crowd. “It was so cold that the instruments of the band playing started to freeze up,” stated Executive Director Dave Schroeder. Ten years later, the staff at the library continue to engage, and sometimes surprise, the community through its programs and services.
Since January 28, 2007 more than 3.8 million items have been checked out. More than 1.4 million people have visited in the past 10 years. There have been 13, 614 programs with 351,930 people in attendance. The following are some of the highlights over the past decade:

Currently the library boasts of its very own Elf on a Shelf. Joel Caithamer, known as the singing librarian most of the year, magically turned into the library Elf in December of 2017. He is featured on social media doing all kinds of shenanigans including drinking syrup, pulling books off the shelves and feeding the fish Fruit Loops.

Annually each October, the Durr Branch turns into a Haunted Library. Guests can walk through a not-so-scary maze where they could be met by zombie babies, a hatchet carrying Abe Lincoln and numerous other creepy characters.


One of the most popular programs was a visit by GRAMMY-winning artist and extraordinary guitarist Peter Frampton. More than 2,000 visitors came to hear Mr. Frampton as he performed a rendition of the children’s book, “Peter and the Wolf,” with accompaniment from the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra.

Funk-master Bootsy Collins visited the branch to read the children’s book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” by Dr. Seuss and sign autographs for the crowd.
Acclaimed […]

Caledcott & Newbery Awards


The Youth Media Awards took place on January 23, 2017 at 8 am in Atlanta, Georgia at the American Library Association’s Midwinter meeting. Every year the ALA honors books, videos and other outstanding materials for children and teens. Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, the ALA Youth Media Awards, including the prestigious Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpré, and Printz Awards, guide parents, educators, librarians and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Awarded annually, these awards are the highest honor for the winners. Winning one of these awards generally ensures that a book will remain available at libraries and bookstores for years to come, and that it will be read by vast numbers of children. To children’s and young adult librarians, the YMAs are like the Oscars of children’s and YA literature. As two seasoned children’s librarians and children’s literature enthusiasts, we anxiously await this awards presentation each and every January. Throughout the previous year we’ve read the new books, compiled our own lists of contenders, and even held and attended mock award discussions and celebrations.

And now for the results:

Perhaps the most prestigious of all the awards is the Caldecott Medal and the Newbery Medal. Both are the oldest of all the awards, dating back to 1938 and 1922 respectively. The Caldecott Medal is given to the artist or illustrator of the most distinguished American picture book for children. It is named after nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. The Newbery Medal, named after the eighteenth-century English bookseller John Newbery, is given to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Honor books or runners-up, if you will, are given distinction as well. The Caldecott Awards […]

Arjay to Zag: a Brief Collection of Strange Kentucky Places

While doing your family research you might come across some towns you have never heard of. But have you ever really given any thought to where the names of towns come from? In modern times, town names come about when a post office is established. As such, it was often the post master, or someone close to them, that submitted town names to the Post Office Department. Here are 26 towns (one for each letter of the alphabet) in Kentucky with unusual names and their origins. These are certainly not the only unusual towns in the state, but a small selection. What strange town names have you come across in your research?

Arjay (Bell County): A coal town located along KY 66, 3 miles north east of Pineville. The name was created from the initials of coal operator R.J. Asher. The post office was established on Feb. 23, 1911.

Bachelors Rest (Pendleton County): 5 miles east south east of Falmouth is Bachelors Rest, so named because of the bachelors that spent time sunning themselves in front of the local store. The post office was established in 1870 (as “Batchelors Rest”) but renamed Mains in 1887 after Sarah Mains became the post master. The post office was closed in 1903

Canoe (Breathitt County): Named for the nearby Canoe Creek, this post office, 7.5 miles south by southwest of Jackson was named Canoe Fork on Aug. 14, 1891. It lost “Fork” becoming the simpler “Canoe” in 1894. Story of the creek’s name says that the creek waters got so low that a person’s canoe couldn’t be floated out and was abandoned there.

Democrat (Letcher County): Located on KY 7, 8 miles north of Whitesburg, this settlement was first named Razorblade. […]

Learn Something New Today with Free Online Classes From the Library!

Learn something new today with Gale Courses, an instructor led online course.

Why take a Gale Course:

Easy: Sign up with your Library card
Free: No fees required
Accessible: Courses can be accessed anywhere, any time, on any computer with internet access.
Engagement: Online discussion areas bring the learner and instructor together for feedback and encouragement.
Flexibility: Learn on your own time
Recognition: Patrons receive a “Record of Completion” certificate after successfully finishing a course.

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Children, Parents and Family
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… and hundreds more!

By |January 18th, 2017|Categories: Featured Post, KCPL|Tags: , |0 Comments