You probably know that the Kenton County Public Library has three locations to serve the public –Covington, Erlanger and the William E. Durr branch in Independence. The library also has an Administration Center which houses the executive director’s office, Information Technology, Human Resources and Public Relations Departments. It’s also the first stop for every new item that shows up on the library’s shelves. The library’s Collection Services Department is responsible for ordering and processing the more than half million items on the shelves and thousands more online. But did you know that library also has service areas in the community including five little libraries and a tool lending outpost? Let’s take a look at each one.
Each of the three Branch locations houses the following materials and services:
- Adult and Young Adult fiction and non-fiction
- Children’s fiction and non-fiction
- Large Print
- Reference materials
- Graphic Novels
- Public computers
- Computer Lab
- Meeting and conference rooms
- Drive-thru window
The roots of the Kenton County Public Library can be traced back to 1899 as several distinguished citizens of Covington, Kentucky, convened to discuss the need for a public library for its citizens. In 1901 a newly appointed library Board passed rules that declared there be free library service to every man, woman, and child in Covington, making the Covington Library one of the first in the south to provide racially integrated service. With a $75,000 contribution from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie the new Carnegie Library opened on March 16, 1904 to the citizens of Covington. After many decades of service at the Carnegie, the library moved to it’s current location at 502 Scott Boulevard.
Of note in the Covington location:
- First opened in January, 1974
- Renovated and rededicated in October, 2013
- Local History and Genealogy occupy the top floor and offers the largest collection of local history in the state
- Public Services occupies the main floor
- Children’s Services and Outreach Services occupy the lower level
- Houses a variety of original artwork
Artwork includes the mosaics located in the Children’s Services area, which were created by local artist Suzanne Fisher. The mosaic art was created with input from the community, including themes and artwork inspired and submitted by local schools and children. Children were asked what they would expect to see in and around a river, and many of those ideas were included. Community members donated special pieces that became part of the art, including broken family china, a mug with “Read” printed on it in multiple languages, and more. Similarly, local artist Ben Shaw incorporated community feedback, images of downtown Covington, and the idea of old + new in the designs of the shades located in the Young Adult section on the main floor. The Covington location also houses and displays a collection of original art from the American Master painter and Covington native Frank Duveneck.
And on to…
In 1914 the Erlanger Library was established by the Erlanger Women’s Club. This library was operated by volunteers and one librarian. Despite its struggles and many location changes over the years, the community embraced the Erlanger Branch Library.
Of note at the Erlanger branch:
- Located at 401 Kenton Lands Road
- Branch building was dedicated and opened in October, 2002
- Major addition housing meeting space and the STREAM Center of Learning opened in 2018
- Includes an enclosed outdoor Reading Garden
- Campus includes the Administration building
- The Erlanger Branch continues to be the busiest library in the state of Kentucky
And moving on, we visit…
Prior to the 1990’s, the middle and southern portions of the county were served by a bookmobile. In the November 1992, the Board proceeded with the purchase of land on Taylor Mill Road for a southern branch library. The construction of this long awaited facility began in 1994. The branch thrived at this location until outgrowing its space. In 2007 a new branch was constructed at 1992 Walton-Nicholson Road.
Highlights of the Durr Branch include:
- Children’s area is home to tropical fish and live rabbits
- Outdoor garden space includes a chicken coop
- Enclosed Reading Garden with large picnic/play area
The Empower Tools service location has a new home, The Hellmann Creative Center.
- Located at 321 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, (12th Street) in Covington
- First opened in 2017
- Partnership with the Center for Great Neighborhoods and J Grey Holding, LLC
- Provides lawn equipment and tools for household projects for check out
- Full list of the tools and equipment that is available for checkout can be located on the library’s website, here, and Empower Tools Facebook page
Beyond these building locations, KCPL has partnered with the City of Erlanger, The City of Covington, Kenton County Parks and Recreation, and The Carnegie to provide Little Free Libraries for the community. Ironically, The Carnegie building was originally a Carnegie Library and home to the Covington Library, opened on March 16, 1904!
Little Free Libraries are also located at:
- Middleton-Mills Park (Independence)
- Spring Valley Park and Rainbow Park (Erlanger)
- Barb Cook Park (Covington)
The addresses for all 5 Little Free Library locations can be found here.
The Little Free Libraries are stocked monthly by KCPL, with materials sourced from a variety of places, including the Friends of the Library, donations, and materials removed from the library’s collection. When the Libraries were installed in late 2020, the initial book collections included materials purchased through I’m Your Neighbor Books, with a grant from Save the Children. Find more information about I’m Your Neighbor Books here. The public is encouraged to share materials at each location. There are materials included for all ages.
Can’t make it to a physical location? Check out our online services at KentonLibrary.org. Visit kentonlibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/libraryhistory.pdf to read more about the history of the Library.