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Beth Welsh

Why I Give My TimeWhy I Give My Time

A quick interview with JCL Foundation Volunteer Extraordinaire Beth Welsh

Why did you initially become a volunteer with the Johnson County Library Foundation?

I was in a place where I was feeling stuck in rut and was looking for new experiences. Also, I work from home and I wanted to get out of the house and interact with people. My husband Barry is a longtime volunteer for the Library and it seemed like it would be a good fit. I’m a lifetime learner, I always want to be learning new things, I don’t want to stagnate. I began volunteering at Friends book sales in 2007 and became a fill-in cashier for the Friends bookstores in 2011. Volunteering for the Foundation struck me as a fun opportunity to learn new things. I learned WordPress and social media marketing. Fortunately, I didn’t have to learn anything about grant writing!

What are some of your favorite things about being a volunteer?

I love getting to play with books and be around librarians. Library people are awesome – and that includes Foundation people! They’re smart, inquisitive and well informed.

Have you had any discoveries about the Library or the Foundation working as a volunteer?

The Foundation was a new discovery; I didn’t know anything about it before volunteering. I learned about the Foundation’s mission to build an endowment for the Library’s collection and find support for lifelong learning programs offered at the Library. I also discovered the Foundation events. The Pinnacle Awards, Library Lets Loose, Stay Home and Read a Book Ball and elementia. My favorite Foundation event is the Library Lets Loose – it’s pretty amazing. elementia is also a fun event tied to a great mission to encourage teen writers and artists.

Any advice for people who might be on the fence about volunteering?

Try it! There are so many outlets for volunteering at the Library. Visit a branch, or the Friends sorting center or bookstore – see what interests you. Volunteer coordinators can connect you with a volunteer opportunity that works with your schedule and meets your interests. If it sounds like fun, give it a shot.

A quick interview with JCL Foundation Volunteer Extraordinaire Beth Welsh

Why did you initially become a volunteer with the Johnson County Library Foundation?

I was in a place where I was feeling stuck in rut and was looking for new experiences. Also, I work from home and I wanted to get out of the house and interact with people. My husband Barry is a longtime volunteer for the Library and it seemed like it would be a good fit. I’m a lifetime learner, I always want to be learning new things, I don’t want to stagnate. I began volunteering at Friends book sales in 2007 and became a fill-in cashier for the Friends bookstores in 2011. Volunteering for the Foundation struck me as a fun opportunity to... Continue »

Arts in Prison

Arts in Prison

Arlin Buyert, center, is poetry instructor for the Arts in Prison project. JoAnna Ramsey, l, and Lex Cortes, r, are former classmates in the project.

Johnson County Library partners with Kansas City’s The Writers Place on a series of readings: the Thomas Zvi Wilson series. As part of that series, the Arts in Prison project is occasionally scheduled. A February 20 public reading at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center featured participants who read from works produced in the class.

Arts in Prison has been an institution at the Lansing Correctional Facility for more than two decades, and officials behind its poetry program believe it’s helping keep reformed inmates out of jail. “The general recidivism rate in Kansas is around 50 percent. Half the inmates are back within three years,” says Arlin Buyert, the poetry instructor. “But, for whatever reason, inmates who participate in my poetry program have almost no recidivism.” According to Buyert, out of the 15 inmates who have gone through the program and have since been released, only one has returned to prison and that was because of a parole violation.

Poet participants say that poetry has a way of breaking down political barriers in prison and helping to alleviate the heavy burdens of a dark past. “Prison is very segregated, and in poetry you have a mix of different people,” JoAnna Ramsey says. "Getting past prison life is a process and it’s slow, but being able to write helps that along."

“Poetry gives people an opportunity to know they are still people,” Ramsey says. “The great part about America is that we’re a land of second chances, and poetry and art is something that connects us all.” Buyert echoed Ramsey’s sentiments, adding that it’s easy for people outside of prison to forget that those inside are still people. “They’re human. They have worth. They’re poets,” Buyert said.

This post relies on notes published about the reading by reporter Zac Summers in an online article for local Fox affiliate. See his story here.

Arlin Buyert, center, is poetry instructor for the Arts in Prison project. JoAnna Ramsey, l, and Lex Cortes, r, are former classmates in the project.

Johnson County Library partners with Kansas City’s The Writers Place on a series of readings: the Thomas Zvi Wilson series. As part of that series, the Arts in Prison project is occasionally scheduled. A February 20 public reading at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center featured participants who read from works produced in the class.

Arts in Prison has been an institution at... Continue »

Ayah

Meet Your Maker: Ayah

Hi! I’m Johnson County Library’s newest MakerSpace Facilitator. I specialize in A/V production and storytelling, but in the MakerSpace you can find help for all sorts of projects, from bookmaking to building your own computer. I’m sure lots of you are thinking of starting something new, so I thought I’d share some tips for long term project management. Today I’m going to talk about margin, but this is only the first of a four-part series, so you can always check back for more!

I’m no stranger to long term projects. When you write books or feature-length films, it just comes with the territory. The methods we normally use for projects start to fall apart when you’re doing something long term or trying to work towards a bigger picture. When I initially wrote my four principles behind project management, it was aimed at filmmakers, because that was my background. But I’ve found that the lessons I learned earnestly apply to any ambition, and I hope that you’ll find them as useful as I have.

First things first: be sure to overestimate. If you a want to work on anything over an extended period of time, you need room for error. A lot of room for error. I’ve often been told that my projects are ambitious, and they might seem that way from the outside. But in truth, I try as much as I can to overestimate how much time and resources I’ll need for every step. Thing you can get by with a 10,000 budget? Double it. Will you need, say, two weeks to write a proposal? Triple it. And if you think you’ll be able to export that video in ten hours, make it forty.

Margin isn’t just about scheduling time, though. It’s also about archiving what you’re doing, and project security. Back up your assets. If I expect to record 1 or 2 terabytes of video footage, I get a 4 terabyte drive. I back everything up and I have a backup plan for the backup plan. I store my hard drives, equipment, and props carefully, where they won’t be exposed to serious temperature changes or accidental misuse.

This might sounds irrationally cautious, but think of it this way: If some resource or information for your project disappeared, what would be willing to do to get it back? You can do at least that much to prevent yourself from having the problem to begin with. Of course, you can’t care for every aspect of a project with the same level of importance. Decide your priorities ahead of time so that if things don’t go as planned, you know what you’re willing to compromise on, and what things you’re willing to fight for.

Archiving your project not only eases your workflow, it does a favor for your future self. It’s easy to know what all the pieces in a project mean when you’re in the center of the work, but neglecting to record your process is a major loss. Keep your notes, sketches, and mind maps; you can use them for future projects. And most importantly, keep a record of your mistakes and what you learned from them. You will forget. You’re human. You may be steeped in your work now, but once it fades, you know don’t when you’ll get another chance to record that next album or whatever it is you want to do. By recording your mistakes, you save yourself the trouble of having to reinvent the wheel every time. 

Hi! I’m Johnson County Library’s newest MakerSpace Facilitator. I specialize in A/V production and storytelling, but in the MakerSpace you can find help for all sorts of projects, from bookmaking to building your own computer. I’m sure lots of you are thinking of starting something new, so I thought I’d share some tips for long term project management. Today I’m going to talk about margin, but this is only the first of a four-part series, so you can always check back for more!

I’m no stranger to long term projects. When you write books or feature-length films, it just comes with the territory. The methods we normally use for projects start to fall apart when you’re doing something long term or trying to work towards a bigger... Continue »

Big Books

We Like Big Books!

Lots of favorite picture books are available at Antioch Library in extra-large. Big letters make for great reading practice, and kids will love the fun of having their favorite books in a huge new size!

Lots of favorite picture books are available at Antioch Library in extra-large. Big letters make for great reading practice, and kids will love the fun of having their favorite books in a huge new size!

Helen and Max

Why We're Talking About Pit Bulls

For me, Helen Hokanson, a reference librarian at Johnson County Library, "what should I read next?" is always an easy question. My answer is always: any book starring a furry face. I’ve made quite a dent in the furry face books; from Goat Song to Dog Songs, I love reading about animals. Even those I don’t want to live with myself. But I’ve never felt compelled to invite an author to Johnson County Library. Never, until Bronwen Dickey.

Author of Pit Bull: the Battle Over an American Icon, Dickey skillfully examines the complexities of Breed Specific Legislation and the multi-faceted way our feelings toward pit bulls have evolved over time. She begins by introducing us to her shelter dog Nola, inspiration for the research that started it all.

She takes us into the dogfighting halls of 1770’s New York, to Michael Vick’s Bad News Kennels, to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and to the inner city where animal activists are “inverting the normal paradigm of animal welfare.” And this barely scratches the surface.

She talks to the activists keeping Breed Specific Legislation alive, picks apart the media’s role in driving the pit bull narrative we’ve become familiar with, and spends time at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (so jelly). Genetics and breeding; the American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club, and the American Dog Owners Association; Dog Bite statistics and where they come from... so many layers to peel.

Pit Bull is fascinating, and a perfect example of how to write compellingly about a vast subject. I want everyone to read it.

Our mission, at Johnson County Library, is to provide access to ideas, information, experiences and materials that support and enrich people’s lives. Sometimes that means challenging our ideas, knowledge, and beliefs. Regardless of which side of the pit bull debate you stand on, in reading Pit Bull, you will learn about so much more than dogs.

Join Bronwen Dickey at these four events:

Evolution of a Pit Bull, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 12pm @ Central Resource Library

Pit Bulls in our Communities, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 6pm @ Central Resource Library

Pit Bulls as Targets of Breed Specific Legislation, Wednesday, Feb 28, 8am @ Central Resource Library

Research and Reporting for Creative Writers, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 6pm @ The Writers Place
 

And we hope to see you at all our other dog-related programs this Spring, including our adoption events!

For me, Helen Hokanson, a reference librarian at Johnson County Library, "what should I read next?" is always an easy question. My answer is always: any book starring a furry face. I’ve made quite a dent in the furry face books; from Goat Song to Dog Songs, I love reading about animals. Even those I don’t want to live with myself. But I’ve never felt compelled to invite an author to Johnson County Library. Never, until Bronwen Dickey.

Author of... Continue »

Mark your calendar!

This Week at the Library

This week at the Library, you can hear beautiful poetry, plan for college, indulge your inner history geek, and get crafty!

Poetry and Prose featuring Arts in Prison Tuesday, Feb. 20 @ 6 pm, Arts and Heritage Center

College and Career Planning Wednesday, Feb. 21 @ 6 pm, Shawnee Library

Professor Tom Prasch on History and Time Thursday, Feb. 22 @ 6:30 pm, Central Resource Library

Crafters and Makers! Check out our MakerSpace events, including our Beginner's Night! »

See all of our events »

This week at the Library, you can hear beautiful poetry, plan for college, indulge your inner history geek, and get crafty!

Poetry and Prose featuring Arts in Prison Tuesday, Feb. 20 @ 6 pm, Arts and Heritage Center

College and Career Planning Wednesday, Feb. 21 @ 6 pm, Shawnee Library

Professor Tom Prasch on History and Time Thursday, Feb. 22 @ 6:30 pm, Central... Continue »

A book, a bed, and a dog

You're (not) Invited!

Your Community: Stay Home and Read a Book Ball

Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast and continuing blasts of cold air and snow are making us anxious for the arrival of blue skies and warmer days. Yet, there’s one mid-Winter activity that’s the perfect match for the current weather. One that’s the perfect excuse to stay home and catch up on your favorite book.

No Fancy Attire Required

Sunday, March 4, is the annual Stay Home and Read a Book Ball, a virtual fundraiser for Johnson County Library. Funds raised from the event support a number of Library initiatives, including 6 by 6: Ready to Read, which is an early literacy program that emphasizes the six critical skills children should experience by the age of six.

6 by 6 Early Literacy Skills

  1. Have fun with books (print motivation)
  2. Notice print everywhere (print motivation)
  3. Talk, talk, talk (vocabulary)
  4. Tell stories about everything (narrative skills)
  5. Look for letters everywhere (alphabet knowledge)
  6. Take time to rhyme, sing and play word games (phonological awareness)

Extensive studies have proven the strength of a child’s early literacy skills are a major predictor of the future ability to build vocabulary, understand story structure and build reading comprehension skills.

Please join us in support of this important cause from the comfort of your favorite reading nook. Your donation directly supports critical library services for individuals throughout Johnson County.

Donations from the Stay Home and Read a Book Ball Support

  • 6 by 6: Ready to Read
  • 6 by 6 en Español
  • Civic Engagement programming
  • elementia, the teen literary magazine
  • Homework Help
  • Incarcerated Services
  • Joan Berkey Writers Fund
  • Tutor.com
  • Summer Reading programming
  • Black & Veatch MakerSpace

Share your Book Ball reading choices on social media: #StayHomeandRead, #jocobookball, @jclfoundation, @jocolibrary and donate to support these important programs.

Johnson County Library – Nurturing the Community’s Collective Wisdom

Your Community: Stay Home and Read a Book Ball

Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast and continuing blasts of cold air and snow are making us anxious for the arrival of blue skies and warmer days. Yet, there’s one mid-Winter activity that’s the perfect match for the current weather. One that’s the perfect excuse to stay home and catch up on your favorite book.

No Fancy Attire Required

Sunday, March 4, is the annual Stay Home and Read a Book Ball, a virtual fundraiser for Johnson County Library. Funds raised from the event support a number of Library initiatives, including 6 by 6: Ready to Read, which is an early literacy... Continue »

Red, white and blue steam rises from a coffee cup bearing a design with two conversation bubbles

What's Percolating in the Kansas Legislature?

Discover what's percolating in the Kansas Legislature. Representatives and Senators with constituents in Johnson County will discuss the new legislative session, followed by Q&A. You bring the questions and we'll provide the coffee and doughnuts. Click on a session below to see the Senators and Representatives attending.

Saturday, Feb. 24 @ 10 am, Corinth Library

Saturday, Mar. 10 @ 10 am, Blue Valley Library

Saturday, Mar. 31 @ 10 am, Central Resource Library

Saturday, April 14 @ 10am, Gardner Library

Saturday, April 28 @ 10am, Lenexa City Hall Community Forum

This series is presented in partnership with the League of Women Voters.

Discover what's percolating in the Kansas Legislature. Representatives and Senators with constituents in Johnson County will discuss the new legislative session, followed by Q&A. You bring the questions and we'll provide the coffee and doughnuts. Click on a session below to see the Senators and Representatives attending.

Saturday, Feb. 24 @ 10 am, Corinth Library

Saturday, Mar. 10 @ 10 am, Blue Valley Library

Saturday, Mar. 31 @ 10 am, Central Resource Library

... Continue »

Winsorman

We're Going to Planet Comicon

This weekend marks the opening of Planet Comicon, one of Kansas City’s biggest comic and pop-culture conventions, bringing in a slew of actors, podcasters, writers, artists, and… librarians? Yes, you will find your friendly neighborhood Johnson County Library staff in attendance at the “What Would the X-Men Read?” panel on Saturday, where we will talk about our favorite characters in the X-Men universe alongside writers and artists from the X-Men franchise. Be sure to check out what our staff would think would be on the library checkout list for your favorite characters such as Kitty Pride and Wolverine, Cyclops, and even Magneto. Also be sure to check out some of our staff’s favorite graphic novels – both in the superhero and the non-superhero variety. 

This weekend marks the opening of Planet Comicon, one of Kansas City’s biggest comic and pop-culture conventions, bringing in a slew of actors, podcasters, writers, artists, and… librarians? Yes, you will find your friendly neighborhood Johnson County Library staff in attendance at the “What Would the X-Men Read?” panel on Saturday, where we will talk about our favorite characters in the X-Men universe alongside writers and artists from the X-Men franchise. Be sure to check out what our staff would think would be on the library checkout list for your favorite characters such as... Continue »

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