As a kindergartner in 1999, Mary Clow won Johnson County Library’s bookmark design contest for her age group, with the message “I like the Library.”
Now married and mom to 1-year-old Isabella, Clow is having a wonderful time introducing her daughter to Johnson County Library.
“More than 20 years later, I love getting to share the Library with my own daughter,” Clow wrote in an email to Library staff. “Isabella is a huge fan of our weekly trips to the Library and loves getting to pick books from the shelves herself. Thank you for all you do, and for sharing books with my family for over two decades.”
That’s just the kind of communication from patrons that warms Librarians’ hearts.
“We checked out books and movies,” Clow recalled. “Pretty early on, mom had to implement the rule that we could only check out as many books as we could carry. My favorite book as a kid was The Big Red Barn.”
As an adult, she’s now enjoying reading that classic by Margaret Wise Brown to her daughter.
She doesn’t have a vivid memory of creating the winning bookmark but knows her mother sought out those types of fun Library activities that she could do at home. She remembers there was a reception for the winners. She now flexes her creative muscles with cross-stitching and other crafts.
Clow became an avid reader and remains a fan of young adult fiction, especially books by John Green and Maureen Johnson. She graduated from Shawnee Mission West High School and got a degree in elementary education from Pittsburg State University.
Even during college, Clow stayed connected to Johnson County Library during summers. She was a nanny one summer for a family with four children, ages 12, 10, 8 and six months.
“The Library programs were great for them, just finding free stuff to do,” she recalled. She took the youngest to Storytimes while the older children found books and enrichment. The family lived closest to the Leawood branch, but Clow said they checked the calendar for different programs and visited a number of branches.
“There were MakerSpace activities that the older kids really liked,” she said. “It was really great to have stuff for that whole range of ages. I also did the summer reading program with them.”
After college graduation she worked as a substitute teacher for several Johnson County school districts before she was hired as a math teacher at Westridge Middle School in Overland Park.
She taught math for a year but realized it wasn’t the best fit. Since 2017, she’s worked as the director of children’s ministries for Lenexa United Methodist Church, and that’s been very fulfilling.
She and her husband Nicholas, a civil engineer at Black and Veatch, live in Shawnee, where they frequent the Shawnee Library branch. They regularly use the Library app and often put books on hold.
Isabella is just getting to the age where she is aware of books being read to her, and Clow looks forward to helping her learn to appreciate books and reading.
“I was definitely raised going to the Library,” Clow says, adding that it’s gratifying to see that tradition extend to a new generation.
And who knows? Maybe in a few years, Isabella will follow mom’s example and also enter the bookmark contest with her own creative design.