(Carrie Herrmann is Library Director at Boone County Public Library)
I view everything Boone County Public Library does through the lens of our Strategic Plan.  This plan emphasizes two areas of direction—Customer Experience and Lifelong LearningLifelong Learning specifically addresses early childhood, retired adults, and local history.  Customer Experience involves surveys and conversations with you, our customer, to determine which experiences, learning opportunities, materials and services you would like us to provide.  In both areas the plan is structured around an infrastructure of staff, spaces, collections and events.
When thinking about Customer Experience, we believe that “Everything starts with you.”  Planning services and experiences begins with staff thinking about the customers we serve in Boone County.  BCPL continues to provide services to the public by constantly monitoring changes, or improvements to evaluate and re-evaluate internal processes and procedures.  One of the experiences we have begun to offer are traveling Exhibits.  During this last year, the Library hosted the Science in Play2Go Exhibit aimed at children 8 and under.  Over the three months it was installed at the Scheben Branch 10,770 people visited the exhibit.  In addition, we hosted 770 children during field trips to the Library for this exhibit.  Most recently, the Main Library hosted an educational traveling exhibit by the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Hands-On Harley Davidson.  This exhibit illustrated science, technology, engineering, and math through hands-on activities created for children ages 3 to 12.  The Main Library also hosted Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nations Armed Services by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.  This exhibit featured the contributions of Native servicemen and women in the United States’ military.
A big part of Customer Experience is communication. One of the many ways we engage with Boone County residents is through social media. We post regularly on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Good Reads and Linked In. In an effort to better reach the community this past fiscal year, BCPL entered into a partnership with the County and the Boone County School District to offer one unified online newsletter called Your Boone County.  To view this free e-newsletter and/or subscribe go to https://cerkl.com/Your-Boone-County.
At BCPL, we believe that Lifelong Learning means “You never stop learning” whether you are in a formal setting or independent setting.  Our strategic plan emphasizes work with Early Childhood.  BCPL works with children, parents and caregivers to help prepare children for kindergarten.  For the school year 2016-2017 (the last year data is available) 56.7% of children entering school in Boone County were ready for kindergarten.  When the Library saw the kindergarten readiness scores, we knew that this was an area where we could help.

**Information from the Kids Count Data Center, a Project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. (https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data#KY/5/0/char/0)
Staff are trained so that every Early Childhood storytime is carefully planned to include activities to help children be ready for kindergarten.  All of the storytimes emphasize the 5 practices, Read, Sing, Talk, Write and Play, from http://everychildreadytoread.org as well as activities parents can do at home with their children.  During fiscal year 2017/2018, we offered 2,115 storytimes that were attended by 42,805 children and their caregivers.  In addition, several Youth Services Staff are trained as ASQ (Ages and Stages Questionnaire) Evaluators.  This helps parents/caregivers to know if their child is at a developmentally appropriate level.  For any concerns found during the ASQ evaluation, staff can make the appropriate referrals.
Last fiscal year, we purchased a new library bus that travels to childcare centers providing early literacy enhanced storytimes to children and resources that can be used in the classrooms.  The Library bus served 18,188 people.

We are starting to look at what is next for Boone County Public Library and Early Childhood.  How can the Library help the community move that needle on kindergarten readiness?  Family Engagement is one strategy we are considering to help children learn.  Ongoing research shows that family engagement improves student achievement.  Children with involved parents or other caregivers earn higher grades and test scores, have better social skills, and show improved behavior.  During Fiscal Year 2017/2018, 9.5% of our programs were family programs accounting for 26% of our attendance.  This is a strategy we intend to continue.
The more research I do into the topic, the more I believe that we need to extend our definition of Early Childhood to the end of third grade.  The ability to read on grade level by the end of third grade is critical to a child’s success in school, and to their life-long earning potential.  As I mentioned earlier, in Boone County kindergarten readiness is 56.7%.  By the end of third grade 58.1% of students are reading on grade level.  This is an area that the Library can help with by offering our Read with A Teen Program, Read to Dogs Programs, and participating in the Northern Kentucky Education Council One-to-One Reading Program.

**Information from the Kids Count Data Center, a Project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. (https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data#KY/5/0/char/0)
Read with a Teen, now in its tenth year, partners a teen in 8th–12th grade with a younger child going into kindergarten–3rd grade.  These “reading buddies” come together at the Library to share books, games and activities in both a group and one-on-one setting. Through the sharing of books, games and activities, the teen helps the younger child maintain or build upon reading skills.
Reading with Dogs happens at several of our locations.  Many of the children who participate in this program have difficulties reading and as a result have developed self-esteem issues. They are often self-conscious when reading aloud in front of other classmates.  By sitting down next to a dog and reading to the dog, all threats of being judged are put aside. The child relaxes and focuses on the reading. Reading improves because the child is practicing the skill of reading, building self-esteem, and associating reading with something fun.
BCPL staff volunteer at Boone County Schools through the Northern Kentucky Education Council One-to-One program (https://www.nkyec.org/programs).  One-to-One pairs a struggling student in grades 1 to 3 with a trained volunteer to practice reading.
BCPL’s Strategic Plan also emphasizes services to Retired Adults.  13% of Boone County’s population is 65 and older.  The Library’s Adult Community Events Team has been putting together programs specifically targeted to retired adults.  Of course, adults of all ages are welcome to attend.  Some of the programs are offered during the day when driving after dark is not an issue.  The Serve and Socialize Fair is an example of one of these programs.  Held in the morning, the fair helped to connect people with social clubs and organizations looking for volunteers.  The Health Fair is designed to help retired adults find the resources they need to maintain their health.  A new series targeting retired adults called Ready to Travel? Let’s Go! will begin in February.  Watch for details in our monthly newsletter or on our website.
During fiscal year 2017/2018, the Library purchased a new Adult Outreach Vehicle.  The AOV is designed to provide programs and to take a large number of items to assisted living centers, nursing homes and senior centers.  Boone County has seen an increase in the number of senior living facilities and there are plans for even more.  The Library is now positioned to serve those centers when they need us.

BCPL’s Strategic Plan also highlights Local History.  For the Library that means tying national events to local history to make history come alive and enhance our connection to those who lived before us.  BCPL’s Underground Railroad Tour has been named part of the National Parks Service Network to Freedom Trail.  The National Parks Service has also recognized our Local History Department as a Regional Research Institute for African American History.  The Local History Department won the Community Empowerment Award from the NKY NAACP for Outstanding Community Service for the work they have done on the Underground Railroad and African American research.
The Local History Department worked on two grants during FY2018.  The NEH Collection Assessment Grant had a consultant develop long and short term recommendation for the direction of BCPL’s archival, physical collection.  This will be the basis for future grant requests and the Local History Department’s strategic plan goals.  The National Parks Service Network to Freedom Grant covers FY2018 and FY2019.  This grant assessed BCPL’s African American Research Collection and creates curriculum content for k-12 teachers to use in the classroom. It will include a five-day lesson plan with associated lectures, discussion questions, activities, and reading lists for an Underground Railroad in Boone County Teacher Workshop to be debuted in FY2019.
BCPL’s Local History Department also hosted the 25th annual Northern Kentucky History Day at the Main Library. Two hundred historians, researchers, and genealogists attended the event.
Several Capital Projects took place at the Florence Branch.  A new HVAC system was installed, all new carpeting was installed, and the parking lots were resurfaced.  Plans continue to progress on the new Hebron location.  Ground was broken in FY2018.  You can follow the progress at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrdh5SOWsB59JjTjcJynl1ZvCJNF6dwjK  Current targeted date to open is late spring 2019.
All of this work and more is supported by local tax dollars.  Boone County Public Library’s tax rate is 5.2 cents per $100 of assessed property value. This dropped from a high of 8.7 cents in fiscal year 2005. While the county has continued to grow between 2005 and 2018, the lower tax rate does not bring in more tax revenue to the Library. In fact, in FY2005, the library received $10,574,491 in taxes. Given the current tax rate of 5.2 cents, we anticipate receiving $7,800,000 in tax revenue in the current fiscal year. BCPL has the lowest tax rate of any Northern Kentucky Library.
For every $1 of tax monies received from Boone County residents the Library returned $4.15 of value when you look at items borrowed and services used.  If you want to see the value to you personally, check out our Library Tax and Value Calculator at https://www.bcpl.org/about/calculators/
We want to hear what you have to say.  Please send your comments or suggestions to director@bcpl.org
*Based on the 2018 Annual Report of Libraries to the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives
Carrie Herrmann has 32 years of experience in libraries, most of those in Northern Kentucky. She graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Masters in Library and Information Science.  Carrie Herrmann has worked for Boone County Public Library for nineteen years, the last three as the Library Director.