Emily C. Roush
The Ashland Beacon
For the past decade, the Boyd County Public Library and the City of Ashland’s Parks and Recreation Department have collaborated to offer free showings of family friendly movies in Central Park in the summer and early fall. According to Ben Nunley, the library’s Public Services Manager, Pictures in the Park was designed to “engage with our community.” He continued, “engage with our folks, not just our patrons but people in the community to get them out and to remember the library. We want people to know that we have other resources, not just books.” Over the years, the movie nights have grown to become mainstay events for people looking for free, family friendly activities. “It was pretty basic in the beginning. We had a smaller screen and a small projector. It went over decently well, so we upgraded [equipment], and then it got really popular,” described Nunley.
Ashland’s Department of Parks and Recreation reached out to Nunley and the library about the logistics of setting up movie viewing equipment in Broadway Square. The concept was to show movies downtown as part of the city’s plans to encourage people to utilize the neighborhood known as The District, the area between Greenup and Carter Avenues and 13th to 18th Streets. Michelle Grubb, Ashland’s Public Information Officer explained, “With the rebranding of Ashland: ‘Create with us!’, we view Broadway Square and our downtown area as the Community Living Room, the place where you bring your friends and family to hang out and visit.” Offering movie nights there made sense with this mission.
The conversation between the parks and rec department and the library sparked an idea. “When [parks and rec] asked those questions, that got me thinking,” Nunley recalled. The library suggested expanding Pictures in the Park and work with the city to make movie nights in Broadway Square possible. The library offered up their equipment and logistical expertise. The collaboration was a perfect match. “We try not to duplicate things that others are doing. If we have got something, let us share. It kept them from having to spend funds on [equipment] that already existed, which is a cool thing. About four years ago we really updated and went with a huge blow-up screen and updated sound systems. We really wanted to use [the equipment] to give back to the community,” said Nunley.
Grubb noted that the city is thrilled to continue this partnership with the library downtown. She explained, “The City of Ashland Park and Rec Department has had a long-term working relationship with the Boyd County Library with doing Pictures in the Park. This year we wanted to expand the fun into The District. The Movies in the Square are part of the vision of hanging out in The District. We invite everyone to join in and ‘Create Memories with Us!’ this summer!” The library and the city have also partnered with Visit Ashland on Movies in the Square. Visit Ashland Executive Director Brandy Clark is thrilled with the outcome. She explained, “we are so excited to be working with The Boyd County Public Library! Starting the summer focusing on Broadway Square, we invite everyone to come together in our community living room and create memories with us by watching family-friendly movies all summer long.”
The first Movies at the Square event took place on May 26 with a showing of Steel Magnolias. Clark declared the event a success. “We had a good response from the public, and I think each month it will get more exposure and more people will come.” The library was also pleased with the turnout, and Nunley felt that it was a great learning experience for the staff. “It taught us and gave us ideas of how to set up next time in a more efficient way. We expect it to grow.”
After suspending Pictures in the Park last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the library is overjoyed to restart the program and grow it with Movies in the Square. Nunley observed positive comments on posts about return of the movie showings on the library, city, and Visit Ashland social medial pages. “There were a lot of really great compliments saying that the library really does a great job. It made it all worthwhile. We really did feel appreciated.” Nunley also hopes that people who attend the events will check out the library’s other programs and services. “I think the importance of it is just to keep the library out there, so people know we’re here. We do a lot of exciting things. [The movie showings] open the door for people to ask us ‘what else do you do?’ Our mission statement is to provide quality resources and information, and we decided to ‘fun’ that up.”
Pictures in the Park takes place at the Central Park Bandstand and Movies in the Square downtown at Broadway Square on the following dates:
Pictures in the Park
·July 10 Wonder Woman 1984
·August 14 Tom & Jerry The Movie
·Sept. 11 Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
·October 9 Disney’s Hocus Pocus
Movies in the Square
·June 26 Field of Dreams
·July 24 The Lego Batman Movie
·August 28 Raya and the Last Dragon
·September 15 Remember the Titans
Movies begin at dusk and refreshments are provided. More information about Pictures in the Park and Movies in the Square can be found at the Boyd County Public Library’s website: www.thebookplace.org.