April Book Report

Dr. Jean Rioux Presents on Time and Philosophy

What is time? This question is anything but small and has no simple answer; in fact, it has been the subject of intense longstanding philosophical debate by some of the greatest thinkers of all time. As part of the Johnson County Library’s Then and Now lecture series, Dr. Jean Rioux, Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Benedictine College, presented on Philosophy, Physics and Time at the Central Resource Library on April 5th.

Speaking to a packed room, Dr. Rioux summarized how some of the most famous philosophers, physicists and cosmologists have approached the issue of time throughout, well, time. To address a topic of this magnitude, Dr. Rioux presented various questions and some of the most well-known theories that have attempted to answer them. For example, does the past and future really exist? Is time objective and something that existing things pass through or is it subjective, existing in our minds only? Does time really measure our lives?

Potential answers to these questions depend on the theories of famous thinkers who have analyzed them. Dr. Rioux discussed various theories by Albert Einstein, Aristotle, Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Sir Isaac Newton, David Hume and Immanuel Kant, as well as the analysis of more modern cosmologists Stephen Hawking and Sean Carroll, summarizing incredibly complex ideas in an easy-to-understand way for an audience that seemed a bit lost in time themselves as they listened intently throughout the presentation.

Tackling such a robust topic in an hour is far from easy, but Dr. Rioux drew both similarities and differences between the theories discussed and it became quickly clear that, when it comes to philosophy, the answer to larger-than-life questions often depends on the listener’s own perceptions and subjective beliefs. With multiple questions at the end of the presentation, the discussion could have easily lasted much longer than the time allotted, the issue of time and its meaning in our lives one that may be eternal.

Noteworthy News

The Johnson County Library recently received national attention in the U.S. News & World Report for its Incarcerated Services and Arts in Prison Writing program.

Mark Your Calendars

April 26

elementia issue xv Reception

6:30 - 9 p.m.

Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center

May 1

Get Me Out of Here! Modern Travel Memoir with Kansas Authors Max McCoy, Jonathan Arlan, and George Frazier

6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Corinth Library

May 16 (NEW DATE!)

Professor Tom Prasch on the Life and Time-Traveling Works of William Morris

6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Central Resource Library

May 25

Movie in the Park: The Wizard of Oz

8 - 11 p.m.

Buffalo Meadows Park

Branching Out

Time Travel to 1953: The Library’s History Runs Deep in Shawnee

If you want to know how the Shawnee library got its start, you’ll have to travel back 65 years to a charming little school house. It was there – on June 3, 1953 – that the Shawnee Volunteer Library opened in the Dunbar School at 57th Street and Reeder Road. Although the library only stayed in that location for a few years, there is something about its start in a sweet little school house that adds a layer of historical richness to the Shawnee branch.

After early volunteer-run locations closed, Shawnee went without a library for 34 years until construction began on its current location. A staple of Shawnee’s Civic Centre and just a stone’s throw (or, perhaps, a beach ball’s toss) away from the aquatic center, the library’s unique design has been part of the community’s landscape since April 1992. Designed to look like an open book from the air, the library’s $1.4 million design was the creative vision of the Gould Evans architectural firm and was featured in the Library Journal’s annual architectural issue the year it opened.

Branch Manager, Terry Velasquez, has been with the Johnson County Library system for 19 years, serving as branch manager for the Gardner, Spring Hill, Edgerton and DeSoto locations before assuming her role with the Shawnee branch five years ago and, most recently, Cedar Roe.

Fun Facts about the Shawnee Branch:

It was the first branch to offer electric typewriters;

It is the only branch with “smart chutes,” a high-tech book return process that automatically scans and records returns; and

It is a site for Geocaching activities (“treasure hunting” challenges that use GPS to locate hidden objects).

Patron’s Point of View

Don’t let her petite frame, sweet smile and soft voice fool you – Doris Duke is a firecracker. If she doesn’t understand an issue, she educates herself, and if she has an opinion about an issue that is in need of change, she has no problem writing her state senator or being the voice for those who have none. Specifically, when she talks about children and animals in need of help, Duke straightens her back and lowers her voice to let you know that she means business, her eyes sparkling with issues that touch her heart.

If you’re at the Central Resource Library on Thursdays, you’ll either see Duke honing her craft with the knitting group or in deep discussion with women who refer to themselves as “The Thursday Salon,” an informal group who talks politics, discusses women’s health issues and trades publications that they have already poured over. Not only does Duke love a good discussion, she looks for opportunities to give back whenever she can to show her appreciation for the help she has received.

Case in point – leading up to the tax filing deadline, you could find Duke volunteering as part of the branch’s Tax Aide program as a client facilitator. “I was the recipient of Tax Aide for 17 years,” Duke says. “So I thought it was time to give back.”

A loyal visitor to the Central Resource Library since the day it opened, Duke is always in search of a good audio book and is a fan of suspense fiction by Lee Child and John Grisham. Spend even a few minutes with her and it becomes apparent that Duke appreciates a good story and welcomes a good challenge, using the library’s resources over the years to help find answers to whatever questions come up in life.

Years ago, for example, while working as an assistant to a surgeon in a medical group, Duke was asked to find Gross National Profit figures for 1967. After a quick call to the library, she found the answer in 15 minutes and developed a reputation at work as being one who gets things done. “It’s about knowing who to ask,” Duke says. Describing library staff as friendly and helpful, she admires their ability to figure things out. “They’re all smart and I like that,” she says with a smile.

With a daughter in the area and three grown grandchildren, keeping busy has never been a problem for Duke. Turning her love for animals into another opportunity to help the community, Duke began fostering cats through Divapets Cats Rescue four years ago and is currently taking care of a mama cat and her five kittens until they find a permanent home.

As an early spring rain falls heavily outside, Duke prepares to go back to her volunteer station at Tax Aide and thinks how she would best describe the library to first-time visitor. “It’s a great place to spend a rainy day,” she answers sweetly. “If you run out of reading material, it’s your own fault.”

Taking a closer look

Almost 7K engagements with our posts on Facebook, and almost 2K clicks on your posts, many back to our website and web catalog

Everyone shared and was very concerned that “Teddy” find her way back home after she was left by mistake at one of our branches.

item returned 6588 days overdue got a spot on the local news because of our Facebook post

Almost 1,000 views of our videos on Facebook

120 new Facebook fans

Staff Spotlight

Kate McNair Connects, Creates and Inspires In Her Work With Teens


The name of the Johnson County Library’s teen literary magazine is a combination of element and dementia – the suggestion of a young creative mind who worked on the first issue years ago. Now in its 13th year of publication, elementia is one of the proudest projects of a talented library team who seek to encourage teens to stretch upward and challenge the boundaries of their artistic minds.

Kate McNair, Teen Services Coordinating Librarian, oversees the entire publication process of elementia, which was started by Angel Tucker, Youth Services Manager. With wavy lavender and blue hair and gold earrings that dangle like little works of art, it becomes quickly clear that teens not only enjoy working with McNair – they likely gravitate towards her.

“I’ve always worked in libraries,” McNair says. “I started volunteering when I was 14.” After graduating from Iowa State University with a history degree, she received her Master’s in Library Science from the University of Iowa and made her way to Kansas City to be closer to extended family.

“I’ve always wanted to work with teens,” McNair says. “It’s the best time to work with someone. They’re unabashedly passionate about what they love and dive into new things with enthusiasm. It’s fun to help and watch them discover those new things, and I enjoy being able to be a part of that in their lives.”

McNair has been the Teen Services Coordinating Librarian for 10 years and identifies one of its challenges as creating programs that reach and appeal to everyone in such a large system with so many community branches. She coordinates poetry and author visits, works with incarcerated services for juveniles and enjoys working with schools and being “out and about in the community.”

The jewel in her cap, however, is elementia. Pick up a copy of the literary magazine and you’ll quickly realize why. Authored, illustrated, organized and published solely by teens, the magazine has grown from a spiral notebook containing 22 pieces of writing to a current issue that evaluated 851 submissions and averaged approximately 50 hours of work for each of the 11 teen editorial and design team members. Since its first issue in 2005, the magazine has now published the works of more than 730 teens.

Staff Spotlight continued

Although creative minds and structured guidance bring the publication to life each year, elementia is made possible by the Joan Berkeley Writers Fund of the Johnson County Library Foundation and grants from the Helen S. Boylan Foundation, RA Long Foundation and CPS Foundation that support the latest issue.

“It’s one of the few ways for students to get published for free,” McNair explains. “elementia is all teen driven; they select all the pieces, do the design work and meet and discuss the theme.” Copies of the magazine are available online and at each library branch. The latest issue will be available after its April 26th launch party at the Arts and Heritage Center, during which teen contributors will read portions of their writing and author A.S. King, to whom the issue is dedicated, will be in attendance.

As for the magazine’s name, nobody knows for sure what exactly the teen meant all those years ago when he suggested a name based on both element and dementia. Then again, like art itself, perhaps the name is best left to personal interpretation.

Month in Review

[Image] Spring is in the air at the Shawnee branch! Sophia and Blake Allen chose the perfect book while enjoying a morning at the library.

[Image] The Shawnee branch offered a Spring Break Scavenger Hunt for visitors who like an adventure.

[Image] A visitor to the Antioch branch gets tech savvy with some expert advice during Tech Thursdays; (center) Kate McNair juggles multiple projects at the Antioch branch in her role as Teen Services Coordinating Librarian. [Image] Visitors can stroll through a history of fashion display at the Central Resource Library.

[Image] Library visitors received tax preparation help at the Central Resource library.

[Image] Little listeners enjoy storytime at the Cedar Roe library.