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BCPL receives national recognition for program on County’s African Americans that fills gap in history

NKyTribune staff and BCPL

Boone County Public Library (BCPL) has been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo).

The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents. 

NACo recognized Boone County Public Library’s Local History Department with a 2019 Best in Class Achievement Award for its program titled African Americans of Boone County Initiative in the category of Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation.

“Our Boone County Library system is a leader in so many ways and I am pleased to hear of this recognition from NACo, the National Association of Counties,” Boone County Judge Executive Gary Moore said. “I am thankful for the outstanding leadership our Library board and administration provide to our community.”

Moore is also Second Vice President of NACo.

The African Americans of Boone County Initiative fills the gap in knowledge regarding enslavement, the Underground Railroad (UGRR) movement, and African American history as a whole in the county. BCPL’s Local History Department recognized the need to acknowledge the African American experience within Boone County and to assist descendants and researchers in uncovering the past.

For the past decade, Boone County, Kentucky has been moving towards a greater awareness of enslavement and the struggle for freedom within its history.

Although a slave-holding county in a border state and while Boone County’s records are replete with information regarding enslavement, the information was not acknowledged. Through the project, launched in 2014, several projects have been developed to connect the community to Boone County’s African American History.

An undated photo of Stant Kirtley from the Boone County Public Library archives. The Kirtley family name appears in Boone County records throughout the 1800s.

The Underground Railroad in Boone County project has produced several interpretive materials and the African Americans of Boone County Resource Collection has advanced initiatives including: the Pvt. Daniel Goff Revolutionary War Memorial project; Out of Kentucky: African American Migration project; and the Barkshire Family of Rising Sun Indiana Roadside Marker project.

In 2017 BCPL was recognized as an NPS Network to Freedom affiliated member, both as a research facility and as a program (UGRR tour). BCPL has received two NTF-funded grants: The Underground Railroad: Boone County and the Flight to Freedom Teacher Workshop Curriculum Project (2018); and The Boone County African American Resource Survey Project (2019). In 2018, BCPL was recognized by the NAACP Northern Kentucky Chapter for outstanding community service with a Community Empowerment Award.

BCPL Local History Department staff developed research collections and programs to raise community awareness of the impact of enslavement upon Boone County’s history. They brought to light the issues of enslavement within Boone County’s history and helped the community to acknowledge its past and those who were enslaved.

Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more.

NACo will recognize award-winning counties at its 2019 Annual Conference and Exposition July 12-15 in Clark County, Nevada.  

Started in 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Awards program is designed to recognize county government innovations. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received. 

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