Open Book is Out Today!

The December issue of The Open Book eNewsletter is out today!

What is The Open Book?  This newsletter provides updates on Library branches, upcoming events and programs, service highlights and how the Library is evolving to meet your needs. 

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Extraordinary Volunteer is Stalwart at Book Donation Center

At age 82, Friends of Johnson County Library Larry Leighton still goes to work six days per week. He devotes nearly 40 hours per week to his duties. And as he jokes, “They double my pay every month.”

In fact, Leighton works as an incredibly dedicated volunteer with the Friends of Johnson County Library’s book donation sorting center. He gets paid in free cups of coffee, the friendship of other volunteers and in a deep sense of satisfaction for performing a worthwhile service.

“It’s fun. It’s interesting. I do enjoy it,” Leighton says.

Leighton oversees a small team of volunteers at the sorting center at 82nd and Melrose Drive in Lenexa. They take gently-used donated books and sell them on various websites. Using a computer program, Leighton assesses the books’ price and popularity and posts them for sale.

Orders come in from all over the country (even from overseas), sometimes from bookstores but mostly from individuals. The team prepares them for mailing to the book buyers.

Years ago, Leighton started volunteering a few hours per week, but as others have rotated in and out, he’s assumed more responsibilities. Now he’s there seven hours Mondays through Fridays and four hours on Saturdays.

His team consists of five book listers and five book shippers, all women. “They are all really nice gals,” he says. He enjoyed working with Matt Delaney, the Friends of JCL business manager who retired earlier this year. He appreciates Shanta Dickerson, the Friends of JCL operations manager.

The book sales are a major revenue generator for Friends of JCL. Leighton has a list of dozens of books or book sets that have sold for over $100 this year, including complete Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew sets; a Calvin and Hobbes set; and an original Stephen King Hardcover Book Club edition.

Leighton grew up around dairy cows in College Station, Texas, where his dad was a Texas A&M professor. There weren’t many playmates living nearby, so he entertained himself by reading, including the Hardy Boys and Mark Twain. He’s still an avid reader of history and fiction.

He studied aeronautical engineering at Texas A&M, served in the Air Force in Indiana 1961 -1964, then worked for Procter & Gamble in Dallas and Cincinnati. After an Air Force buddy with a job at Hallmark talked about what a great company it was, Leighton applied and was hired.

He moved with his wife and two young children to Overland Park and worked for Hallmark from 1967 to 2000. He had a series of management positions in a very fulfilling career.

Leighton’s first wife died unexpectedly in 1990 and he was a widower for a few years before he remarried. He and his wife Paula live in Leawood and have a wonderful marriage, but Leighton says volunteering helps him stay busy.

After retiring from Hallmark at age 61, he enjoyed playing golf, but soon realized he needed a greater purpose in his life. He volunteered at various golf courses and with Heart to Heart, Intl. and Cross-Lines Community Outreach before he saw a notice about Library volunteering. At the book sorting center, he found his niche.

“It gets me out of the house. It lets my wife have some time,” Leighton said. “She’s a sweetheart. I love her dearly and I want to let her have her space.”

Plus, he gets to socialize with nice people and give donated books new life. And it’s a great benefit to the Library.

“I have no plans to change,” Leighton said, “as long as they need me.”






This Week at the Library

This week and ANYTIME at the Library, you can join us at:

Library OnDemandAvailable anytime you like

Your doorway into live and archived programs. Arts & Culture, Career & Finance, Community Matters, Writers and more!

Artists in Sight: Sylvia August

A landscape and equine photographer, Sylvia Augustus spent almost five years living and working in Yosemite National Park as a preservation architect. While at Yosemite, her free time was spent taking photographs of the Sierra Nevada area. Prior to Yosemite, her photographic focus was on the built environment. During her tenure at Yosemite my photographic practice shifted from the built environment to landscapes and wildlife. Augustus’s main body of photographic work focuses upon documenting wild American Equine and their struggle for survival. She sees her work as “a service to the community at large; sharing a story about how society has failed one of the last great American icons; the wild horse.”

The Past is Prologue: Nicodemus, Kansas

For this installment of The Past is Prologue, Nicodemus Historical Society executive director Angela Bates will present on Nicodemus, KS, a small, unincorporated town in Graham County. Nicodemus is the only remaining western town established by African Americans during the Reconstruction Period following the Civil War. Today the town is a National Historic Site.

Maker Projects

Build something cool and flex your creative muscles with projects from the Black & Veatch MakerSpace Team! Choose a project and follow along the tutorial for real DIY videos. There are a wide range of ways to explore your creativity from LED paper lanterns to a Pop Tart pillow or Paracord bracelet.

Give the Gift of Support

Friends of Johnson County Library memberships, Bookstore gift certificates and annual donations let your holiday gift list know libraries are important. Find something for everyone »

A Matter of Fact

 "An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people."
~Thomas Jefferson

Explore our Community Matters content to help you in your journey through lifelong learning.

There you can find research resources like Information for Voters, a State and Local Government GuideEvents, local eNewspapers like the Blue Valley Post and Kansas City Star's Image Edition. In fact, our Civic Engagement Librarians have produced an Evaluating Media & Digital Information Guide, where you can find fact-checking resources, tools for building your critical source analysis, and Librarian-curated lists.

Throwback Thursday: Holiday History

Take a holiday hike through history! Trees, snow, lights, joy, family, wonder! What did Santa bring? A new wood-burning stove? A transistor radio? A dollhouse bigger than you? 

This holiday season, explore the JoCoHistory collection for festive images and articles.  

JoCoHistory is a collaborative presentation of the history from the Johnson County Museum, Johnson County Library and other partners. Explore historical photographs and documents about the people, places and organizations of Johnson County, Kansas, from the 19th century to the present. 

Happy Holidays and celebrate Throwback Thursday as well. Remember, JoCoHistory is the place to time travel through local history. Be sure to follow our hashtag on Twitter

Meet the Author: Michael Kleber-Diggs

Join Michael Kleber-Diggs as he discusses the power of poetry, the publishing industry, and personal essays.

Meet the Author: Michael Kleber-Diggs in Conversation with Hadara Bar-Nadav
Tuesday, Dec. 7, 6:30 p.m.

Pathway to Publication with Michael Kleber-Diggs
Wednesday, Dec. 8, 6:30 p.m.

Writing the Personal Essay with Michael Kleber-Diggs
Saturday, Dec. 11, 9 a.m.

Follow Us On Social Media

If you want extra recommendations, behind-the-scenes Library news and fun, and plenty of book-related memes, come chat with us on social media. This week, tell us what you've been reading. We'd love to hear from you!

@JoCoLibrary on Facebook
@JoCoLibrary on Instagram
@JoCoLibrary on Twitter
@JoCoLibrary on Youtube
@JoCoMakerSpace on Instagram