February is Black History Month

February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by and recognition of African Americans in U.S. history. 

What we know today as Black History Month has its origins in "Negro History Week," created by historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans in 1915. That September, Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which is known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The group chose the second week of February to coincide with Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass's birthdays. 

Mayors of various cities across the country began issuing proclamations for "Negro History Week" in the years that followed and on some college campuses, the week-long event evolved into a month-long observance. 

In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month, calling up on all American citizens to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Each year the President endorses a specific theme for the month. This year's theme is "African Americans and the Arts," making the month an exploration and celebration of "visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression."

Johnson County Library has so many resources it might be hard to choose which to read, listen to, or participate in, so it’s good we get to celebrate all month long. Black History Month began on Feb. 1 and ends March 1.   


Johnson County Library has a variety of resources to read, listen to, or participate in, so it’s good we get to celebrate all month long. 

Get Started with Primary Sources 

Local History 

  • The Legacy of Corinthian Nutter – Learn about the major contributions Ms. Nutter made in Webb v. School District 90 (located in Merriam, KS), which ended segregation five years before Brown v. the Board of Education. 
  • JoCo History Collections - Historical photographs and maps documenting the people, places and organizations of Johnson County. 
  • Olathe’s early African-American community –Kansas’ anti-slavery legacy offered a fresh start for many former slaves and their families after the Emancipation Proclamation. 




Time Capsule

The materials on display in the exhibit were contained in a hand-made copper box that measures just 5.75 x 10.5 x 13 inches. The capsule takes center stage in the exhibition.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit the New “Inside the Box” Exhibit

New JoCoHistory Blog

In May 1951, county officials and a crowd of residents gathered in the courthouse square in Olathe. County leaders, with the help of Masons, were laying the cornerstone for the new, 1952 Johnson County Courthouse. Inside the cornerstone, officials placed a small, hand-made copper box – a time capsule left for future generations to discover. After seventy years safely tucked away, the still-sealed box was retrieved when that courthouse was being demolished in 2020. The Johnson County Museum accepted the time capsule and its contents into its collections and permanent care and opened it up. What was inside the box? That is the topic of the Museum’s newest special exhibit, Inside the Box: A 1951 Time Capsule, which opens Feb. 3, 2024. Visit the JoCoHistory Blog to learn about five reasons you should visit this short-run exhibition!

Inside the box

No Wait Wednesday: Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel

Hello and welcome to this week's No Wait Wednesday, where we take a look at an item on our New Release shelves at one of our local branch Libraries that's available to check out right now that deserves a second look - and sometimes a first one, too. Hundreds of new books come into the library each week, and it's impossible to keep an eye on everything. This is where your friendly neighborhood Johnson County Library staff comes in - we're always available to recommend a book (or a movie, or an audiobook, or a video game) that you might possibly love. This week we'll look at a title in translation that's moving, reflective, and all about mother-daughter relationships - in short, it's perfect for your book club: Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel, translated by Rosalind Harvey.

Shortlisted for the International Man Booker Prize, Still Born focuses on two women, Alina and Laura, who are both successful and single women in their 30s who are from Mexico City but live in Paris. Alina runs an art gallery while Laura is pursuing a PhD in literature. Both are the best of friends and have many things in common, including a longstanding pact to never have children. Eventually, however, Alina starts to have second thoughts, and returns to Mexico with a partner, Aurelio, but encounters difficulties conceiving. Initially taken aback, Laura, who has had her tubes tied, eventually travels back to support her friend and finds herself grappling with issues of motherhood herself, striking up a friendship with a neighbor who has a son, both recovering from an abusive relationship. Alina eventually becomes pregnant, but is told that her child has a high chance of developing a severe neurological disability, throwing all her plans into chaos.

Throughout it all, these two women support each other, and the novel excels at examining the nuances of motherhood with all the pressures as well as the joys it can bring. Using spare, precisely chosen language, Nettel digs deep emotionally, drawing out various and heartfelt perspectives of the different characters. Powerful, emotional, and award-winning, if you've never read a translated work, pick up Guadalupe Nettel's novel and give it a shot. Find this and other book group picks at your local library. 

Thanks for reading, and we'll see you next week!

-Gregg, Johnson County Library Readers Advisory Librarian

Toolkit Tuesday - Suggest for Purchase

With Toolkit Tuesday , we share Library tools you might not know about! This week's tool: Suggest for Purchase.

Have you ever gone to the Library catalog to look for a book, a movie, an album, a database, or whatever, only to find (cue sad trombone) we don't have it? "But, you should!" you say. Maybe you're right! Tell us about it. Our Suggest for Purchase form is your invitation to help us determine what we should add to our collection.


This Week at the Library

Library OnDemand – Programs available anytime you like on our YouTube channel. 

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

Preschool Storytime – Monday, Feb. 5, 9:30 – 10 a.m. (View all Dates)

Preschoolers will enjoy this longer Storytime at the Central Resource Library with stories, songs, fingerplays and movement activities to encourage pre-reading skills. Designed for ages 3 to 6 years and a caregiver. Siblings welcome.

It’s Never Too Late to Start Planning for College – Tuesday, Feb. 6, 7 – 8 p.m.

Learn how to invest early in a college savings plan to grow your funds over time. A 529 account can help you save for college, lower your taxes, offset the ever-increasing tuition costs, and perhaps reduce reliance on student loans. Join Teresa Stewart, 529 Business Development Consultant, as she provides information about the Kansas Learning Quest 529 Education Savings Plan and answers your questions. This program will be hosted using the meeting software Zoom. A Johnson County Library staff member will contact registrants via email the day before the meeting with instructions on how to access the Zoom meeting. You do not need to download any software or create an account.

Scribbler Society – Wednesday, Feb. 7, 1 – 2 p.m. (View all Dates)

Young writers ages 10-14 are invited to this one-hour collaborative writing club at the Merriam Community Center. Writing prompts, activities, and encouragement will be provided as we confront the blank page and build a community of writers with monthly meetings. Registration is required each month.

Community Film Screening: “Join or Die” – Thursday, Feb. 8, 5:30 – 7:30p.m.

“Join or Die” is a film about why you should join a club — and why the fate of America depends on it. In this feature documentary, follow the half-century story of America’s civic unraveling through the journey of legendary social scientist Robert (Bob) Putnam, whose groundbreaking “Bowling Alone” research into America’s decades-long decline in community connections could hold the answers to our democracy’s present crisis. To Register go to American Public Square .

Meet the Poets: Joaquin Zihuatanejo and Michael Kleber-Diggs, Moderated by Glenn North – Saturday, Feb. 10, 6:30 – 7:30p.m.

You just can’t miss this program at the Central Resource Library. What do you get when you put a world champion slam poet, and a Max Ritvo Poetry Prize winner in a room together? We won’t know for sure until it happens, but we’re confident it will be magic. Joaquin Zihuatanejo is the 2009 World Cup of Poetry Slam Champion. Michael Kleber-Diggs’ poetry collection Worldly Things won several prizes, including the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, the 2022 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award, the 2022 Balcones Poetry Prize, and the 2021 Poetry Center Book Award. While their work is similar, they are not the same. Listen as they share how they approach their work, where they find inspiration, and what they might learn from each other.

And much more happening this week … 

Antioch Library Will Leave Lasting Memories

Before electronic searches were a thing, the large wooden card catalog was one of the defining features of the Antioch Library. It was as much a part of the Library as the books themselves, standing right in front of patrons after they turned right upon entering the building.

So you can imagine Darline Cyre’s disbelief when she walked in one day and saw staff emptying the card catalog. Cyre was even more shocked when a worker told her it would not take long to get everything computerized.

“And you know, it didn’t take that long. I don’t know, just a few weeks, and the card catalog was gone,” Cyre recalled.

An even bigger transition takes place this spring when the new Merriam Plaza Library opens as a replacement to Antioch, which closed for good on Jan. 28.

Having served the community since the mid-1950s, the Antioch Library holds a lot of memories for patrons like Cyre, 78. She has used the branch since she and her husband moved to their nearby Overland Park neighborhood in 1967.

That was a few years before the couple had children, but as they added a daughter and son, Cyre enjoyed taking them to storytime at Antioch. The kids also made valentines and other holiday cards at an arts-and-crafts station.

When they got older, the kids studied at Antioch as well.

Cyre also participated in a program that the Antioch Library had with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. The museum would send prints to Antioch, and picture ladies would lead art discussions in elementary school classrooms. (Men eventually joined as presenters.)

The staff at Antioch has always been pleasant and helpful, Cyre said. Back in the day, she could call the branch and have them look up a number in the phone book.

“The staff at Antioch has changed through the years, and they’re younger and everything, but they are still very, very friendly and polite,” Cyre said. They greet you when you enter, she said, and tell you to have a good day when you leave. “That just makes you feel good to have people who seem so welcoming and nice to you,” she said.

David Sims does not have as much history with Antioch — he’s only been going there the last eight years or so — but he appreciates the branch, both as a user and as a member of the Library Board.

The Sims household includes two daughters, and he said the youngest of the two, 9-year-old Catherine, is probably the family’s most avid reader. Antioch is the closest branch to their house.

“It’s just so nice that she can check out different kinds of books. We can only buy so many,” Sims said. “Some of them, she checks out over and over again. She gets such a variety of books.”

Catherine confirmed that the reading nooks at Antioch are one of the best things about the branch. “I like that it’s quiet,” she said.

Catherine is a big fan of series like Magic Tree House, The Bad Guys, and Goddess Girls. She was working through “Stallion by Starlight,” part of the Magic Tree House series, earlier this month.

Catherine likes adventures so she can imagine the character’s surroundings. For instance, she said, one part of the Goddess Girls’ “Medusa the Mean” reminded her of the snowy biome in the Minecraft video game.

Catherine is excited about the new Merriam Plaza branch. “I could probably ride my bike,” she said. “I know the way.”

Battery production

Battery production at the Olathe Delco Batteries plant. 1955 - 1959.

Olathe Oldies

It’s another grand Throwback Thursday when 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: Olathe Public Library

About this collection: A number of images from the Olathe Daily Mirror (published 1861 - 1959) and other local sources. The photographs date from the mid-twentieth century and depict scenes of daily life, including weddings, award ceremonies and include a number of studio portraits of individuals.

No Wait Wednesday: Cleat Cute by Meryl Wilsner

Hello and welcome to this week's edition of No Wait Wednesday, where we spotlight a book that's available from the New Release section at on one of our Library branches. We know how much you dislike waiting in line for the hot new book that everyone and their book club are talking about. (Trust us - we hate it, too!) However, at the Library there's ALWAYS plenty of options for those who want something good to read that's available right now. You can browse the New Release section of your local Library branch, ask a staff member to recommend a title, or check out this week's pick for No Wait Wednesday: Cleat Cute by Maryl Wilsner.

A feel-good sapphic romance about a soccer team featuring neurodivergent characters in a grumpy/sunshine pairing that's filled with wit, charm, and, most importantly, heat. The story begins with Grace Henderson, captain of the New Orleans Krewe soccer team, who's already a veteran in her late 20s, as she's been playing soccer professionally since she was a teen. Her age is starting to show as several years worth of injuries are catching up with her, and lurking in the back of her mind is the constant fear that every professional player in any sport has: that she'll be replaced and eventually run out of the league by someone younger and better.

Those fears don't diminish when rising young star Phoebe Matthews is signed to the team, as the red-haired rookie plays the same position as Grace and grew up with posters of the star on her wall. Grace gives the newcomer the cold shoulder even though Phoebe couldn't be more excited to play on a team with her idol. Over time, the enthusiasm and energy of the new player wears Grace down and they discover that they share a spark, both on (and particularly off) the field. What begins as a casual friends-with-benefits arrangement heats up and becomes more complex as both stars are soon invited to play on the U.S. National Team for the World Cup. When injuries finally catch up with Grace, the two must work together to save both the season and their relationship.

This sparkling sports romance not only features the grumpy/sunshine pairing, but also touches on how neurodivergent characters can overcome romantic obstacles in their lives - Grace is on the spectrum and can come off as socially awkward and in need of structures and routines in her life while Phoebe is more ADHD, with a lack of focus and high impulsivity fueling her actions. With these opposing foundations set, the banter between the two is priceless and full of both genuine emotion and charm. Wilsner creates a story rich with characters' inner monologues that can get a bit wordy at times, but readers will absolutely be pulled in by both the character work and, yes, the spiciness of the romance. Sports romance novels are definitely on a upward trend, so if you've never tried one, it's time to get off the bench and get in the game with Cleat Cute. We hope you enjoy! Thanks for reading, and we'll see you next time!