Activities and events for all ages offered across Johnson County.
Johnson County Library kicks off their annual Summer Reading program Thursday, June 1 with Newberry Award-winning, best-selling author Jacqueline Woodson. Though the event is at capacity, those who join the waitlist will receive a private link to watch a recording of the event, where Woodson will share what motivates her to write and the importance of stories to connect us all.
During the month of June, kids can pick up a free book at any of the 14 branch locations to build their home collection (while supplies last). Special events for all ages will be held throughout the summer, ending with a Summer Celebration July 29 at Overland Park’s Central Resource Library and Strang Park. Pick up or download a reading log to track progress and complete fun summer challenges. More information is available at jocolibrary.org/summerreading.
Programming highlights include:
- A Celebration of Music and Family with Mr. Stinky Feet, Wednesday, June 7 at Monticello Library (Shawnee).
- Breakdancing Workshops with SugEasy, Tuesday, June 13 at Gardner Library, Blue Valley Library (South Overland Park) and Central Resource Library (Overland Park).
- Concert and Meet and Greet with Latin Grammy-award winner MISTER G, Saturday, June 24 at Central Resource Library. *MISTER G is available for press.
- Interactive musical storytelling with Dino O’Dell, Thursday, June 29 at Gardner Library, Central Resource Library, and Lenexa City Center Library.
- Science is Astounding with Mad Science, Thursday, July 6 at Antioch Library (Merriam).
- Folk Tale Capers with Jo Ho, Storyteller, Thursday, July 13 at Shawnee Library and Corinth Library (Prairie Village).
- Drum Safari, Monday, July 24 at Blue Valley Library.
- Circus Variety Workshop, Thursday, July 27 at Gardner Library and Antioch Library.
- Walk and Reads, including a special edition celebrating Juneteenth,will be hosted at several parks throughout the county.
- Family Storytimes, R.E.A.D. to a Dog or Cat with Pets for Life, Tabletop Games, and Black & Veatch MakerSpace activities can be enjoyed all summer at a variety of locations.
About Summer Reading
Johnson County Library’s annual Summer Reading program aims to support literacy skills and encourage the joy of reading in our community. Kids who practice reading skills over the summer are less likely to experience “summer slide,” the loss of academic gains made in the previous school year. This year’s theme, celebrated at libraries nationwide, is “All Together Now,” which the Library will explore through books, programs and presenters June 1 through July 29.
Johnson County Library’s Board of Directors voted Thursday night to eliminate fines for overdue materials. The Library will no longer assess fines on items checked out beginning April 14 and existing fines on patron accounts will be waived, along with fees older than seven years. With this new policy, Johnson County Library joins in a nationwide trend of Libraries going fine-free, including other regional systems like Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas.
The Library will still charge fees for lost or damaged items. Items more than 30 days overdue will have a lost item fee assessed until the item is returned. Checkout periods have not changed; materials will still have due dates, with frequent email reminders to keep patrons on track.
County Librarian Tricia Suellentrop is hopeful the change in policy will bring people back to the Library who have been staying away over concerns about fines. “Our mission is to provide access to Library materials and services. We want everyone in our community to be excited about using the Library and all we have to offer, not see barriers.”
Patrons can get more information on the changes by visiting any of the 14 Johnson County Library locations, or at jocolibrary.org/finefree.
- Formerly 30 cents per day and capped at $6.00 per item, Johnson County Library’s fines were the highest in the metro.
- The Library Board asked staff to explore the impact of going fine-free at their fall 2022 Board retreat. Staff presented their recommendation to go fine-free at the March Board Meeting.
- The financial impact is less than one percent of the Library’s budget and will not affect Library services.
- This policy change has had very positive outcomes in other libraries who have enacted the change. Data show it can result in increased patron visits and circulation and does not result in longer wait lists or an increase of overdue materials.
New Merriam Plaza Library groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 29
Johnson County Library is excited to break ground on our newest branch - the Merriam Plaza Library! Co-located on the same campus as the Merriam Community Center, Merriam Plaza Library will replace the current Antioch Library upon its opening in 2024.
Fast facts are below; read more about the project on jocolibrary.org:
In development with the City of Merriam since 2017
15,000 sq. ft all-electric building with an eco-friendly green roof
Drive-thru for holds pickup and materials return
Covered “front porch” for gathering just steps from the Merriam Community Center
Dedicated kids and early-literacy spaces
Same great staff, services and collection moving over from Antioch just prior to the building’s opening
Used book sales to benefit library continue at weekly Pop Up sales and Online
The Friends of Johnson County Library announce we are closing the two used bookstores at Library branches. The Friends Board of Directors approved the closures at their July 12 meeting. The last day of business for both stores is Saturday, July 30, 2022. The stores are located at the Antioch Library, 8700 Shawnee Mission Parkway in Merriam, and the Blue Valley Library at 9000 W 151st St., Overland Park.
The Friends have carefully monitored activity at both stores during the pandemic recovery period. "Unfortunately, sales at these locations have continued to lag behind pre-pandemic levels," said Friends president Chris Meier. "We're making this difficult decision so that the organization can focus resources toward our mission of supporting the Library."
The Friends will continue our successful and dynamic operations:
Pop Up Sales at our Pine Ridge Office Park headquarters, 8279 Melrose Dr., Overland Park, KS.
Starting August 6, sales are each Saturday excepting holidays, 11:30am – 5pm. Friends members always receive 20% discount!
A robust national and international Online Sales division.
Accepting donations of gently used books at select Library branches and at Pine Ridge.
Our Membership program will continue to advocate for Libraries in Johnson County.
See our website for details.
In 1996, the Friends opened the used bookstore in the Antioch Library. This venture was successful and another used bookstore was opened in the Blue Valley Library in 2003. The third bookstore was opened at the Central Resource Library in January 2016 and later closed in 2020. Pandemic closures seriously affected the remaining stores and sales have been unable to reclaim sustainable levels.
Outgoing County Librarian Sean Casserley retiring June 30, Deputy County Librarian Tricia Suellentrop to assume role July 1
Johnson County Library will welcome Tricia Suellentrop as its new county librarian beginning July 1. The Library Board of Directors confirmed Suellentrop’s hiring at their June board meeting. Suellentrop will succeed Sean Casserley, who announced his retirement earlier this year after a decade at the helm of one of Kansas’ largest public library systems.
Suellentrop brings a wealth of experience to the position, having served as the deputy county librarian since 2008. She acted as the interim county librarian for six months in 2012, during the national search for a new county librarian that resulted in Casserley’s hiring. With Johnson County Library, Suellentrop has also held the positions of systemwide services manager, youth services manager and teen services coordinator.
As deputy county librarian, Suellentrop helped lead the Library through budget reductions stemming from the Great Recession and worked to develop and implement Library strategic plans. As part of her work in youth and teen services, she planned and developed programming and services across the Library system. In 2005, Suellentrop was recognized as one of Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers for her work serving teens in the juvenile justice system. She is the co-author of “Connecting Young Adults and Libraries,” a manual to help public and school libraries serve teen populations in their communities.
When she assumes the role of county librarian, Suellentrop is interested in maintaining the Library’s reputation as a top service in Johnson County. In the 2022 Community Survey, in which Johnson County residents were asked to rate their satisfaction with County services, 88% of respondents said they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with Library services, putting it at number two among all County departments and agencies.
Suellentrop attributes that success to diverse, knowledgeable employees and a supportive internal culture, which is described by staff as creative, positive, and welcoming.
“Our culture is the foundation of what we do,” she said. “It underlies all of our work so no matter what project we’re doing, the results for the community are going to reflect that.”
The organization is in the middle of several projects that will continue after July 1. The design process is underway for a new building on the Merriam Community Center campus; the new library, anticipated to open in 2024, will replace the Antioch location which opened off Shawnee Mission Parkway in 1956. A recent survey of De Soto, Edgerton and Spring Hill residents kicked off a project to refresh the libraries in those communities in the coming years. Johnson County Library also continues to explore new service lines aimed at increasing access in a world altered by the pandemic, including hybrid and on-demand programming, expansion of eLibrary resources and enhanced community outreach and partnerships.
Casserley, a 25+ year library and technology veteran, joined the Johnson County, KS library system in 2012 after extensive service at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Casserley was awarded his undergraduate and graduate degrees – in Mathematics and Library Information Science respectively – from Indiana’s Purdue University.
During his tenure at Johnson County Library, Casserley oversaw the creation of and significant progress on the Comprehensive Library Master Plan—a framework established in 2015 to guide the organization’s sustainable growth of services, operations, and facilities over a 20-year period. In 2018, the Library expanded into a new geographic area for the first time in over 20 years with the opening of the Monticello branch in western Shawnee. The spacious, modern Lenexa City Center branch opened in 2019 as the successor to the former Lackman branch, incorporating LEED Silver certification and an award-winning public art installation.
Casserley also presided over the Central Building Upgrade, a two-stage overhaul of Overland Park’s Central Resource Library in 2015 and 2021 that modernized the building and optimized service across all 14 Johnson County Library locations. Central Resource Library is home to the system’s administrative and support staff, as well as the Friends of Johnson County Library, the Johnson County Library Foundation, the Black & Veatch MakerSpace and the Johnson County Genealogical Society.
“Johnson County is an exceptional community of readers and learners who value knowledge,” said Casserley. “It has been a privilege to serve in this position over the last decade, and to work alongside such gifted, dedicated Library staff and volunteers.”
Upon his retirement Casserley plans to stay in the Kansas City area. He looks forward to spending more time with his wife, Susie, traveling, and making progress on his reading list.
Johnson County Library provides access to ideas, information, experiences and materials that support and enrich people's lives. Discover unlimited possibilities at one of our 14 branches across Johnson County or via jocolibrary.org.
2022 Library Lets Loose Benefiting Johnson County Library Foundation
After two years of celebrating virtually, Senia and Will Shields invite you to a party at the newly renovated Central Resource Library (9875 W 87th St, Overland Park) for 2022 Library Lets Loose, on Saturday, September 17!
The event is Johnson County Library Foundation’s signature fundraiser, and the Shieldses are this year’s honorary hosts. Guests will enjoy music, dancing, food, and libations, all benefiting lifelong learning programs the Library offers throughout Johnson County.
“Once you become a lover of reading and a lover of books you understand the important role libraries play in our lives. Our libraries are constantly creating new opportunities for patrons,” Will stated.
Will Shields played 14 years for the Kansas City Chiefs and received numerous awards, including NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015. The Shieldses have made many contributions throughout the Kansas City community for more than 25 years, including the formation of the Will to Succeed Foundation in 1993. Senia says, “Literacy has been an important part of our work and we love the library resources. They open up new opportunities and are paramount for operating successfully in our world.”
The Shieldses are excited to invite the community back for this special event! Early Bird tickets are on sale now. LibraryLetsLoose.org
After a year of construction, Johnson County Library’s Central Resource Branch (9875 W. 87th St, Overland Park, KS) will fully reopen to the public Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. The location’s front lobby operated as “Little Central” while the majority of the building was closed, offering limited services such as holds pickup, materials return and public computers.
Beginning Feb. 22, visitors to the Library will enjoy several new amenities and refreshed spaces, including a convenient new drive-thru window for holds pickup and an expanded and relocated Kids area. The Kids area features large windows and window-seating overlooking Strang Park, updated kid-friendly shelving and furniture, a dedicated Storytime room and new activity units promoting early literacy (a gift from the Regnier Family Foundation , John W. & Effie E. Speas Memorial Trust, and Johnson County Library Foundation). A gated outdoor patio off the Kids area is coming soon.
Long considered a third space for Johnson County residents to study, work and gather, the location now offers 20 reservable spaces of various sizes and layouts. The Library’s existing conference and study rooms were updated with fresh paint, new furniture, and wireless AV technology, and two new media rooms were added adjacent to the Teen collection. Behind the scenes, staff spaces were reconfigured and consolidated to create a more efficient flow of materials throughout the entire 14-branch Library system.
Central Resource Library’s popular genealogy resources and the Black & Veatch MakerSpace will also reopen to full in-person services, though with temporarily reduced hours. The MakerSpace facility received new paint and flooring and new or upgraded equipment, including laser and vinyl cutters, 3D printers, sewing machines, larger computer monitors and a large-format CNC router. Equipment reservations and tutorials can be accessed at jocolibrary.org/makerspace.
Central Resource Library opened in 1995 in a former Best Products retail location. Initially a reference library, the branch boasted the largest collection in the system and offered six public computers. It also replaced Antioch Library (8700 Shawnee Mission Pkwy, Merriam, KS) as headquarters for Library administration and many systemwide services staff. The recent renovation was the culmination of more than ten years of planning by Library leadership.
The first phase of the project completed in early 2015, reconfiguring public spaces and the collection for the needs of a 21st century library system. The second phase, to include work on staff spaces not updated since 1995, was planned for 2021 when the Library had accrued the needed funding. Despite an unanticipated global pandemic and supply chain issues, the project remained on schedule and under budget, with a total project cost of $11.1 million. County Librarian Sean Casserley and Library Board of Directors Chair Bethany Griffith will host a live-streamed ribbon cutting ceremony on the Library’s Facebook page at 2 p.m. Feb. 22.
Casserley is thrilled to welcome the community back to a fully functional Library building, inviting residents to come see the exciting changes. “Our community’s commitment to reading and life-long learning is inspiring. As an institution, the Library has no agenda but to provide you the information that will support and enrich your life. It is a space for you and your family to explore, discover, and excite your imagination. I think you’ll be surprised at what you find!”
Details about Central Resource Library’s amenities, including hours of operation and how to reserve meeting spaces are available at jocolibrary.org/central.