Kinsley Riggs, just promoted as Johnson County’s Deputy Librarian, joins County Librarian Tricia Suellentrop and the leadership team at a pivotal time. They will work to update the strategic plan, continuing to adapt the Library for a bright future.
Riggs brings a wealth of experience to her new position. She joined Johnson County Library in February 2008 as an assistant branch manager at Gardner/Edgerton/Spring Hill. She served as branch manager at Corinth and Antioch before her appointment in 2016 as Adult Services Manager. In that role she has overseen programs, outreach and information services for adult patrons system-wide, and helped the Library navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
She’s watched the Library grow as an organization for nearly 15 years, becoming more modern, professional and resourceful through all sorts of challenges. “That to me is exciting, to see how much further we can go. What’s next for the Library?” she said, adding that she’s eager to explore new ways to serve the community. The Deputy Librarian role is especially enticing, she said, because it involves more opportunities to engage in leadership within the Library and the chance to work more closely with other County government departments.
Riggs grew up in Shawnee and fondly remembers going to Antioch for activities as a child, when it was the headquarters branch. She and her mother explored other branches as they opened, including the Shawnee branch on Johnson Drive, which was right down the road from their house. She wasn’t a big reader as a child but savored branch visits. She had a make-believe Library in her closet, complete with a date-due stamp to check out books to her mom and brother — a budding Librarian even then.
Her love of reading began with an AP history class, when she was captivated by the story of (civil rights pioneers) the Delany sisters, and started immersing herself in non-fiction and biographies. She attended Washburn University, where she worked as a student circulation supervisor at Mabee Library. She pursued a Library Science master’s degree at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, then returned to Johnson County to begin her career.
Working in the branches, she learned about everything from materials handling to reference to programming to customer service. She also learned to nurture and encourage her staff. “That is part of what I enjoy most about management,” she said. “Helping individuals develop and achieve their goals, find their next steps.” As Adult Services Manager, she analyzed what worked — and what didn’t work — with book groups and other programming and outreach, and helped develop more collaborative approaches throughout the system. The pandemic broke down even more silos. Riggs bonded with Youth Services Manager Angel Tucker and Events and Programs Coordinator Joseph Keehn as they guided staff through numerous online and in-person innovations.
Riggs is delighted to work with Suellentrop. “She has often been a person I go to with meaty, knotty problems,” Riggs said. “She has a great way of asking questions to help you find the path forward.”
Riggs and her husband Dan live in Olathe and have a 7-year-old daughter, Lydia, who loves their nighttime reading rituals. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, finding time to share experiences with friends around Kansas City, and traveling the states with her mom.
She sees her new professional role as a welcome challenge, as Libraries provide vital resources for information, entertainment and social progress in an increasingly complicated world.
“The Library has become more of a community place and space over the last 10 years,” she said. “That is something we are trying to stay ahead of, to make sure we are meeting the demands and needs of our community.”
Johnson County Library’s Corinth branch, at 8100 Mission Road, is popular with patrons from Prairie Village and beyond. It opened Feb. 24, 1963, so 2023 will mark its 60th anniversary milestone.
In the 1950s, before the Johnson County Library had funding, volunteer run libraries were spread through the county. In 1953, a branch was opened in the Prairie Village Shopping Center. It was located in the basement of one of the shops. When funding was available in 1956, the library moved upstairs to a rented space on the Concourse.
In 1961, voters approved a bond issue that allowed for the site purchase and build of a library in Prairie Village. Corinth opened its doors on February 24, 1963. The branch site and that of the adjacent Corinth Shopping Center were already famous in Kansas City history. The clothier Herbert Woolf built Woolford Farm on 200 acres and raised thoroughbred racing horses. He hosted lavish parties whose guests included Theodore Roosevelt and many other notables. In 1938 his horse Lawrin won the Kentucky Derby. Lawrin is buried on the top of the hill just west of the library.
Read the full article on the JoCoHistory blog.
Life can be challenging, but the good news is there are simple everyday things you can do to help the children in your life thrive.
Save the date! Join us for a virtual Caregiver Workshop presented by noted early childhood educator Beth Fredericks on how to strengthen executive function skills in young children.
Caregiver Workshop: Executive Function Life Skills
Feb. 1, 7-8 p.m.
Library OnDemand – Available anytime you like
Your doorway into live and archived programs. Arts & Culture, Career & Finance, Community Matters, Writers and more!
Tabletop Games – Tuesday, Jan. 24, 6 – 7:45 p.m.
Join us at Monticello Library for a fun-filled evening with family members and friends, old and new, and become a part of the Johnson County tabletop gaming community. Kids, teens and adults can enjoy a variety of games together, including collaborating to escape the Forbidden Island, getting creative with a round of Dixit, or strategizing their way to victory as King of Tokyo! Discover and learn new games from our collection or bring your personal favorite to share. Come and go as you please. Refreshments are provided. Each month, our gaming librarians will feature a family-friendly game and teach you how to play it. Monticello’s featured game for January is King of Tokyo.
Movie and Discussion: “Class of COVID-19” – Thursday, Jan. 26, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Join American Public Square and the Johnson County Library at the Central Resource Library for a screening of the documentary film "Class of COVID-19," which features a select group of students and teachers who show resilience during the first 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Legislative Coffee – Saturday, Jan. 28, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
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 at the Monticello Library. You bring the questions; we provide the coffee and doughnuts. Registration is not required to attend in-person.
Are you considering submiting your original poetry, short stories, essays, comics, or artwork for publication in elementia—our literary arts magazine published to represent and uplift young adults. Just a reminder, the Feb. 1 deadline is approaching.
This Issue's Theme
Issue xx theme: Cycles
From the biological life cycle to seemingly unbreakable habits, we are surrounded by cycles.
We are told that everything has a beginning and an end, but what about everything in between? From growth cycles to menstrual cycles to thought cycles, our lives are impacted by endless hoops. Is it possible to escape a cycle? Describe the cycles that should have been broken by now. Search for loopholes and travel through them. Which cycles are you trying to break and why?
Cycles go beyond the individual and into greater society as cycles of oppression, and into the natural world as the migration cycles of animals and the phases of the moon. What cycles do we see perpetuate for generations? How do events cycle through history as it “repeats itself”? Where do we see cycles within cycles?
Everything starts somewhere. Cycles are found in the start button of washing machines and tales of origin. Speak on the origins of things that have not been questioned. Where have the beliefs that you hold as an individual originated? What about the beliefs held as a society? Explore the cycles your identity was born of.
Predict what the ending will be or choose your own finale. Does death mean the end of a cycle? What beginnings can the end provide for us? Discover what propels these cycles to continue. Explore unfathomable cycles and perpetual cycles, like the Ouroboros and its tail.
Admire the visual cycles and illusions we see in daily life. From the Fibonacci sequence to Penrose Stairs to a nautilus shell, there’s beauty in numerical cycles. With the Krebs cycle, acceleration of wheels, and the law of Conservation of Mass, explore the greater impact of an individual cycle. Understand what the cycles in your life mean to you.
Submit your original poetry, short stories, essays, comics, or artwork through February 1 every year.
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.
It’s another grand Throwback Thursday where we encourage you to time travel through Johnson County's history. JoCoHistory is a collaborative presentation of the history from the Johnson County Museum, Johnson County Library and many JoCoHistory partners. Explore historical photographs and documents about the people, places and organizations of Johnson County, Kansas, from the 19th century to the present.
Collection spotlight: Johnson County Museum
About this collection: The Johnson County Museum has a wide range of images dating from the late 19th century to the current day. A major focus of the collection centers on individuals and groups of people in domestic, recreational, scholarly and business settings.
Stretch all of your language-learning muscles: listening, reading, writing and speaking! The Rosetta Stone Library Solution teaches through context clues rather than grammar and translation. Learn new material in core lessons, do activities to reinforce what you've learned, and wrap up units by chatting in a simulated conversation. Speech recognition gives you interactive feedback, plus your progress will sync across all of your devices!