Only formed as a Library District for three years, the Library Board set ambitious goals, including the construction of the new main library and construction of a new Erlanger Branch.
Construction of the new main Library came to a standstill in 1970. In May, Covington City commissioners and library officials disagreed over the property of 540 Scott Street. The City demanded that part of the property be taken as part of the new Library site. The property, a former loan company, was an eyesore and in need of demolition. The Library Board did not want to become involve in condemning the property so the City of Covington, through their Urban Renewal program, would take care of condemning the building. The Library agreed to this and would pay all acquisition costs and expenses. However the Library Board thought that the estimate of the lands worth, $100,000, was not financially feasible for the Library to pay. The City commissioners delayed bidding for demolition until a decision could be reached on the disputed property. In June, Mayor Claude Hensley said the vacant property between 5th and 6th streets was unsightly and dangerous to people whom lived or passed through the area. He asked the City commissioners to take action and demolish the vacant buildings. By November of 1970, the City of Covington sued the Library Board. The City claimed the refusal of the Library to buy the disputed property was in violation with their contract.
At this point, citizens of the community were upset that the new library was not under construction. Finally in September of 1971, with the suit still pending, the City commissioners agreed to accept bids for construction of the library, but they insisted that a permit not be granted for the south half-block until the courts decided whether the Library was obligated to purchase it. In December of 1971, the official groundbreaking ceremony took place and construction of the new Covington Library was under way. Library records and newspaper clippings to not mention the CityÕs suit against the Library after November 1970 so it is assumed that the lawsuit was dropped.
Other events taking place in the early 1970Õs included the collaboration between the Kenton County Public Library and the Northern Kentucky Regional Library. These two organizations began a free delivery and pick up service at the St. Elizabeth Hospital. Patients in the hospital were able to request certain books and have them delivered to their rooms.
Also in 1970, April was Fine Free Month, in which people could bring back their overdue Library books at no charge. Sixty books returned were more than a year overdue and the oldest book returned was 12 years overdue.
In September of 1971, Frances Wilhoite retired after 27 years as the ChildrenÕs Librarian at the Kenton County Public Library. Sister Alberta Hoffer, a Roman Catholic Nun, became the new ChildrenÕs Librarian at the Main Library and the Erlanger Branch. Sister Hoffer created a new storytime featuring a sing-along with guitar music.
In 1972, the Carnegie Theatre Library was listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. By the end of 1973, the Carnegie building closed down, but later became the Center for the Northern Kentucky Arts Council in 1975.
In September of 1973 while the new library was still under construction, vandals broke in, sprayed paint on the walls, and emptied contents of the fire extinguishers. Mysterious animal tracks were also found by the police, which they said resembled those of a monkey. Construction continued and a few months later the library opened.
Also in September 1973, Michael Averdick, later the LibraryÕs Associate Director, joined the staff. Mr. Averdick was responsible for developing the LibraryÕs local history and genealogy into one of the regionÕs finest collections.
On Monday, January 21,1974, the new Main Library at 502 Scott Street opened its doors to the public. Master of ceremonies for the event was George Weidner, Kenton County Public Library Board Vice-President. Judge James A. Dressman installed a date stone with several artifacts and documents in the cornerstone. In November, the new $1.4 million Library won the prestigious Honors Award of the Kentucky Society of Architects for its designerÑRobert Ehmet Hayes and Associates.
By the end of 1974, the Kenton County Library was setting its sights on a new ventureÑa new Erlanger Branch library. In December, the Kenton County Library Board received a $225,000 grant to help pay for building the new branch. The new building would replace the branch located in an old two story converted home on Bartlett Avenue. Several different sites were considered, and in early 1976 the area at Dixie Highway and Montgomery Street was chosen because it had the greatest volume of traffic and good visibility. The new site, however, drew criticism from the members of Concerned Citizens for the Erlanger-Elsmere Library. They believed the new site would be hazardous to children and that this location would result in traffic tie-ups. Also in 1976, Nancy Mohr was hired as the Branch Librarian at Erlanger.
Due to the popularity of the Main Library and the Erlanger Branch, the Library closed its branch in the basement of the Crescent Springs Presbyterian Church in the mid-70s. Because of many outreach activities the Kentucky Library Association honored the Library Board for its excellent service to the community in October.
The new Erlanger Branch was completed and opened to the public in September of 1978. The new $1 million, 15,800 square foot building at 3130 Dixie Highway held five times the capacity of the old branch. On October 1, the new branch held a cornerstone laying ceremony, attended by more than 150 persons. Judge Dressman installed the cornerstone which included a letter from the Board thanking the residents of Kenton County along with newspaper clippings about the new branch, a list of best-selling books for that day, a set of 1978 coins and other memorabilia.
The Library budget was limited in 1979, which led to cutbacks in Library service. The large bookmobile stopped operating and the Erlanger Branch reduced hours by closing at 6 p.m. on Fridays.
In 1979, the Kenton County Friends of the Library organization was formed, with Kathy Baker elected as president. Kathy Baker had worked on the petition drive in the 1960s, then worked part-time in the circulation department. Her goal for the Friends organization was to promote community awareness and create support for expanding library programs.
The Friends would also collect donated books and hold book sales, with proceeds going towards Library programs. Also that year, Wayne Onkst, who would be a key person in the Library system, began his career at the Library as assistant head of adult services.
By the end of 1979, more than 588,000 items were circulated at the Library.
Interesting Facts about the Library in the 1970s.
In 1976, the Covington Lions Club donated phone books printed in Braille to the Library to be circulated to blind patrons
By 1977, the Kenton County Public Library had one of the largest collections of Vietnamese books in the United States.
In the summe Kenton County Public Library had one of the largest collections of Vietnamese books in the United States.
In the summer of 1977, the Library received a grant from CETA for employment of help during the summer. Young people would be doing various jobs, such as indexing newspapers, cleaning and doing yard work.