All Library locations will be closed Monday, June 19th for the Juneteenth holiday.
Like many Johnson County Library patrons, Joel Aldape has always appreciated the friendly staff, the books for children, and the public computers.
But Aldape discovered another Library resource that made an even more significant difference in his life. Beginning in the early 1980s, he began seeking out its financial research materials. The information helped him achieve great success with his investments.
Aldape didn’t start out with an investor’s mentality. He grew up in Texas, where his father was a minister with the philosophy, “If you have extra money, hide it under the bed.”
But after he was married with children and living in Lenexa, Aldape started making modest investments in the stock of companies he liked (the Warren Buffett strategy), and watched those stock prices rise. That sparked his interest and he became a self-educated investor.
He visited the Lackman branch, asking if they had financial magazines, reports and bulletins. Yes, they had a good collection. He first read printed copies and then online at the Library.
“The Library had two resources that were very helpful, the Value Line and the Morningstar Investment Research Center,” Aldape said. “I would usually go once a week, on the weekends. It helped me a lot.”
Aldape never invested money he needed for life’s necessities. But over time he did very well.
“I’ve been able to acquire more wealth than I ever expected,” he said. “I’m at the point I can help other people, and my wife and I do that.”
Aldape also consistently sought out the Library’s Consumer Reports materials. Those articles were essential when he was making appliance and car purchases.
For many years, before he bought a home computer, he regularly used Lackman’s public computers and printers, while his three youngest children loved reading and exploring the branch’s children’s section.
In his professional life, Aldape had a rewarding career for decades with the Social Security Administration, first in Texas and then at the Kansas City Program Service Center. He rose to the position of Section Manager, overseeing 200 employees, before he retired in 2010.
In retirement, Aldape and his wife moved to Olathe. They enjoy the Olathe Library, and also frequently visit Johnson County Library’s Lenexa City Center branch.
For the past two years, he has been involved in a challenging and gratifying activity. He volunteers as a Spanish-speaking instructor at Lansing Correctional Facility, preparing inmates for release back into society. Through the Brothers in Blue Reentry program, he teaches class once a week, helping about a dozen students with lessons in literacy, life skills, social skills, and other reentry priorities.
Aldape’s first language was Spanish and he grew up bilingual in Texas, so a Brothers in Blue program representative sought him out, hoping he would be willing to assist the Spanish-speaking inmates.
“I said I’d be glad to help,” Aldape recalled. “I knew it would be for a good cause. A lot of people helped me in my career, so if I can help someone else I’d like to do the same thing.”
Aldape remains grateful for Johnson County Library’s expansive collection. He encourages other patrons to explore all its services and programs. He also appreciates how the Library is open to all, no matter a person’s income, ethnicity, religion, nationality or status.
“The beauty is that everyone is equal when they walk in the Library,” he said. “The Library is a diamond in the rough. It’s like a four-leaf clover. You won’t find it, unless you’re looking for it.”
The Johnson County Museum presents a special exhibit titled: TRAINS: Transportation and the Transformation of Johnson County. The exhibit opened on Saturday, May 13 – National Train Day – and explores just how instrumental the railroads were in shaping Johnson County. TRAINS will be on display through January 13, 2024. In the latest #JoCoHistory Blog post, JoCoMuseum dove into three of the many ways the railroads changed the county – read on at the JoCoHistory Blog.
Library OnDemand – Available anytime you like.
Outdoor Family Storytime at Lenexa Farmers Market – Tuesdays, June 6, 13, 20 & 27, 9:30 – 10 a.m.
Help your child discover the joys of reading and develop early literacy skills at Storytime. Join us for a fun outdoor Storytime at Lenexa Farmers Market! Hearing stories is a great way to spend time with your kids and help them foster a love of reading. Stories, songs, fingerplays and movement activities foster pre-reading skills. Fun for the whole family!
Circus Variety Workshop – Tuesday, June 6, 1 – 2 p.m.
Inspired by a traditional big top circus, Martika Daniels has downsized the big top into a one-woman circus show! In this workshop, Martika will show kids how to do some of her amazing circus tricks with hoops, scarves, and more. Elementary aged kids will learn how to use their whole bodies to do stunts sure to impress friends and family.
Let’s Stick Together – A Celebration of Music & Family with Mr. Stinky Feet – Wednesday, June 7, 2 – 3 p.m.
Join award-winning kid rocker and author, Jim “Mr. Stinky Feet” Cosgrove at Monticello Library, as he celebrates 25 years of uniting communities through music. It’s a rockin’ dance party for the whole family. Check out Jim’s music and books at www.jimcosgrove.com
Juneteenth Walk and Read – Saturday, June 10 – Monday, June 19, All Day and Anytime
Johnson County Library and Johnson County Park and Recreation Dept. invite you to visit the Juneteenth Walk and Read at Stoll Park. Two stories, Opal Lee and What it Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth by Alice Faye Duncan and illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo and Change Sings: A Children's Anthem by Amanda Gorman and illustrated by Loren Long.
Lisa Allen’s writing career has been a journey of discovery with a rich range of experiences: reporting human interest profiles for Johnson County magazines; creating blog posts and marketing copy for business professionals; getting published in three anthologies and various literary journals; even ghostwriting countless dating profiles.
More recently, on the Johnson County Library staff since 2019, she has helped provide the online content to champion the Library Writers Conference presenters.
She also earned not one but two degrees, in creative nonfiction and poetry, from the Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College in Boston.
All those literary skills will be put to good use as Allen takes on a newly-created Library position: Social Media Coordinator.
As community-building becomes ever more important, Allen will help tell the story of all that Johnson County Library has to offer, on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social media platforms.
“I see social media as part of the tapestry of the communications work that we do,” Allen said. “It’s an entry point for a lot of people to be introduced to the Library for the first time, or to be reintroduced to the Library. That’s what excites me, being part of creating and sustaining a voice that makes people want to stay in the Library.”
She will help coordinate messaging that is informational but also “welcoming and fun” and “maybe a little sassy sometimes.”
It’s a group effort. “We have a fantastic team of social media contributors who work at various branches,” she said. “They send in great pictures and creative and timely ideas for posts.”
Library patrons are already curious and enthusiastic, and social media enhances those interactions. For example, the Library’s weekly Facebook post, “What are you reading this weekend, friends?” elicits thoughtful reader responses and exchanges.
With so many social media tools, Allen says, the opportunities to expand those conversations and healthy dialogue are compelling.
Allen grew up in Hays, Kansas and has fond memories of curling up with books in a makeshift castle in the town’s library. She attended college, married and had two sons in Chicago. But she wanted to be closer to family, so she and her husband moved to Olathe in 2001. They had a third child and later divorced.
As a single mother, Allen held several jobs, but a local businesswoman recognized her writing talent and encouraged her to start her own writing/editing business. One highlight was creating dating profiles for eight years for Match.com.
“It was fascinating and so much fun,” Allen recalls. “In any given day I could write for a truck driver and a neurosurgeon and a stay-home mom, and all of them had to sound like that person.”
She also developed her own distinctive voice. An essay she wrote about her dad was included in Putnam’s 2015 anthology, Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now.
That’s when she reached out to Johnson County Library Reference Librarian Helen Hokanson, asking about a book signing. The Library doesn’t do book signings, but Allen and Hokanson hit it off. Allen was thrilled to be in conversation with Abigail Thomas to kick off the 2016 Writers Conference and presented a workshop on profile writing.
She joined the Library staff as an information specialist and loved assisting patrons. She stayed active with the Library’s local writers committee, organizing the social media plan for the 2021 and 2022 Writers Conferences.
So when the social media coordinator position was posted, she was excited about the opportunity to magnify public awareness and engagement with the Library.
“One of our core visions is connection,” Allen says. “I think of this as another way to reach folks who need or want what we do.”