CCPL employee hopes to spread love of libraries

Published 11:57 am Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Reference librarian Jeff Gurnee has always been a devotee and user of libraries.

“I was always a big proponent of public libraries as a little kid,” though he said he didn’t realize it at the time.

The internet was still in its dial-up years, so the library was the place to go for school projects and research.

Email newsletter signup

“Every time there was a project, I went to the library,” he said. “In middle school, we were doing a project at our public library. We were being a little rambunctious and the 80-year-old librarian shushed me.”

At that moment, Gurnee said he decided to never shush someone in the library, though he has had to tell a few people to be quieter.

Gurnee worked in his college library while obtaining his undergraduate degree and became interested in it as a career. He said he volunteered at several libraries, and obtained his master’s degree in library information technology before going to work at Keeneland’s library.

While working at the race track, research requests could run from finding race results to tracing a horse’s lineage through multiple generations.

About 10 years ago, he started working at the Clark County Public Library, where he is currently a research librarian.

“I like it because here everyone’s equal,” he said. “We can have people struggling to get employment. We can have people with homes as big as this library. We try to serve everyone equally.”

Everyone, he said, comes to the library searching for something.

“We don’t know everything but we can point you in the right direction,” he said. “It is a service-based profession so you’re always happy to get someone what they want.

“We aren’t saving lives but we occasionally change lives.”

Gurnee also hosts a weekly trivia night at the Engine House Pizza Pub.

“It’s something I do with my friends, usually in Lexington,” he said. “I noticed there wasn’t anything like that around here. I reached out to the previous owner of the Engine House … and he said ‘Sure.’”

The games have continued after a recent ownership change at the restaurant.

Gurnee comes up with the questions himself. Keeping the topics and questions relevant and accessible to most can be a challenge.

“Sometimes (the toughest questions) are things I really know and others don’t … like I’ll come up with a question on ancient Greek history. Everyone knows about the Peloponnesian War. It’s just not about what you like and know.

“I want everyone to have a good time. A lot of it’s pop culture. Most people have seen TV shows or music, but there are a lot of holes in it because of things I’m not interested in.”

Gurnee said he still loves playing in trivia nights, but running the event feeds a different side.

“I can be a bit of a showman and tell my stupid jokes,” he said. “It’s never bothered me to speak or perform in front of people.”

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

email author More by Fred