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What Would Celebrities Check Out?

Our Librarian Edward visited with some of the celebrity guests at Planet Comicon (2018) to see what they might check out from the Johnson County Library Catalog. Check out the celebrities he chatted with and their Library favorites »

Our Librarian Edward visited with some of the celebrity guests at Planet Comicon (2018) to see what they might check out from the Johnson County Library Catalog. Check out the celebrities he chatted with and their Library favorites »

Hannah Jane

Meet the Author: Hannah Jane Weber

At Johnson County Library, we love local authors. And when that local author is one of our own, we can't help but celebrate! Before transferring to our Leawood Library to work in the Youth Services Department, Hannah Jane Weber was active in our writing programs. We are proud to share that Hannah Jane had been awarded the 2017 Dylan Thomas American Award for the poem "Scenic Rail Tour" which is published in issue 63 of Rosebud. Of Hannah Jane's work, Grand Prize Winner, Judge Molly Peacock says "it is a twenty-first century nature poem" and she chose it "because of the double helix of its form and its content."

While we can't share the actual poem -- you can seek it out from Rosebud... Continue »

At Johnson County Library, we love local authors. And when that local author is one of our own, we can't help but celebrate! Before transferring to our Leawood Library to work in the Youth Services Department, Hannah Jane Weber was active in our writing programs. We are proud to share that Hannah Jane had been awarded the 2017 Dylan Thomas American Award for the poem "Scenic Rail Tour" which is published in issue 63 of Rosebud. Of Hannah Jane's work, Grand Prize Winner, Judge Molly Peacock says "it is a twenty-first century nature poem" and she chose it "because of the double helix of its form and its content."

While we can't share the actual poem -- you can seek it out from Rosebud -- Hannah Jane took some time to tell us about her relationship with writing and poetry.

Why is poetry important? 

Poetry is one of the many ways we can choose to express ourselves and connect to others.  I’m drawn to poetry because of the importance of line breaks and word economy. With poetry, the white space has the same weight as words, and can even be louder than words. You can make or break a poem with line breaks, a challenge that is both infuriating and exciting. I love how poetry conveys an incredible amount of meaning in the smallest way possible.   

Tell us about your writing process. Where do you write? How do you write?

I’m always writing and jotting down any thought that lights up my mind. About once a month, I put all of these thoughts into a folder. In addition to my folder of thoughts, I have folders of poems in various stages of completion, or abandonment rather, which is from a favorite quote of mine by Paul Valery, "A poem is never finished, only abandoned." My folder system is very simple. A folder is assigned to each day of the week, and for about an hour a day (usually during lunch), I work on a poem from that day’s folder. Once or twice a week I write with absolutely no time limit and regard to folders. Rarely do I write an entire poem in one sitting, and only a couple times a month does a poem move to the next folder. It's a system that works really well for me, and I enjoy each step of the writing process immensely. As for where I write, I am very fortunate that I can write nearly anywhere so long as music is playing. 

You’ve been blogging at squishytulips.blogspot.com since 2009. Why did you start blogging, and have your reasons for continuing changed? Does your blog inform your poetry and vice-versa?

My blog began as a way to share my life with family and friends. In 2009, I found a gratitude journal that changed how I record my memories. It inspired me to put a positive spin on everything. I try to do the same with my blog, and attempt to have a sense of humor and/or find a silver lining with each post. I often sit down to write a blog and it ends up as poem material or vice versus. 

What’s the worst writing advice you’ve received? The best?

I only remember the good advice, which is very Pollyanna, I know. Someone once told me to create an editing checklist for poems I’m ready to "abandon.” This advice has radically improved how I edit my poems. A few of my favorite things on my checklist include looking for identical words, stanza length and count, omitting qualifiers, questioning adverbs, and reading it aloud (my audience is comprised of two golden retrievers).

Do you have a favorite literary magazine?

I love literary magazines. When I was a teenager, I discovered my first literary magazine in a thrift shop. It was an old copy of New Letters, which is UMKC's journal. It featured the poet, Mbembe Milton Smith, in addition to other writers of both prose and poetry. It blew me away. I admired Mbembe Milton Smith and New Letters so much I decided to attend college at UMKC. Though I transferred to KU and finished my Bachelor's degree there, I still have a wealth of gratitude and love for New Letters. I wouldn't be in Kansas City without that worn-out 1983 issue! I am just as enamored with literary journals as I was over 15 years ago when I stumbled upon my first one. Each journal is like a small community of writers living within the pages of a book. As a writer and reader, I feel a sense of belonging that both nourishes and inspires me. If you're new to journals and/or love surprises there's a wonderful journal of the month club that sends a different journal each month for a year.

Who are your favorite authors?

I have so many! 

 What are you reading right now?

  • Light the Dark edited by Joe Fassler - a book of essays by famous writers (Stephen King and Billy Collins for example) who have chosen a favorite quote and written about the profound impact the quote has had on their writing.  It’s inspirational, fascinating, and is definitely providing much-needed creative fuel. 
  • At Home with Dogs and Their Designers by Susanna Salk - a beautiful book for both dog lovers and those who enjoy interior design.
  • Women in Sports by Rachel Ignotofsky - a book about amazing women athletes who have changed the world and the sports they play. P.S. this book is sooo pretty.  Ignotofsky is a brilliant artist.
  • A Family Imprint by Nancy Borowick - a photographic journey of the lives of Nancy’s parents, who both passed away from cancer within a year of each other. It’s an entirely different perspective on grieving and healing and is available through interlibrary loan.
  • Yukon Ho! By Bill Watterson - I’m always in the middle of a comics book (I can’t live without my comics). 
  • Sometimes I Lie
    Sometimes I Lie Sometimes I Lie
  • Don't Skip Out On Me
    Don't Skip Out On Me Don't Skip Out On Me
  • Girls Burn Brighter
    Girls Burn Brighter Girls Burn Brighter
  • Every Note Played
    Every Note Played Every Note Played
  • The Last Equation of Isaac Severy
    The Last Equation of Isaac Severy The Last Equation of Isaac Severy

March Fiction Roundup

Hello and welcome to our new releases roundup for Fiction for the month of March 2018! If this is your first time here, my name is Gregg and I’m a Readers’ Advisory librarian here at the Johnson County Library. I’ll take a brief look at some of the well-reviewed titles that are published this month that I’ve either read or have heard great things about. You’ll not find John Grisham, Michael Connelly, or Janet Evanovich on these lists; it’s not that we don’t like them – we do! – but those are authors who most folks have already heard of. We love spotlighting books and authors that you might not be familiar with, or are brand new and deserve a bit of attention. Feel free to tell us about the under-the-radar titles that you’re excited about.

We’re still living in the year of the psychological thriller. (Well, the novel that arguably kicked off the craze, Gillian Flynn’s GONE GIRL, was published in 2012, so I guess it’d be more accurate to say that we’re over halfway towards the decade of the psychological thriller.) However, there’s a very real sense of genre fatigue of late, where authors pile on twists and turns on top of even more twists and turns to the point that the plot gets bogged down. SOMETIMES I LIE by Alice Feeney tiptoes right up to this line without ever going over it and creates a wonderfully crafted story where the shocking reveals are just enough to leave the reader feeling satisfied instead of betrayed. Amber Reynolds wakes up in a hospital in a coma – she’s aware and can think, but cannot movie or communicate. As she tries to piece together what happened, the story shifts back in time. There is a rocky marriage, problems at work, a mysterious past…. Well, if we talk too much about the plot, we start giving things away, so trust us and put this one on your hold list if you loved THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW or THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN.

If you love reading about America, this next book is for you. I’m not talking about the history of America, but novels about the American literary experience – the dusty highways, the sprawling prairies, the struggling communities, and the lonely dreams of their inhabitants. It’s the type of literary America that still lives on in Steinbeck and Phillipp Meyer and Louise Erdich. DON’T SKIP OUT ON ME by Willy Vlautin is about a half-Irish half-American Indian orphan who is raised by sheep ranchers, but cannot reconcile himself to that life. He moves to the American Southwest, changes his name, and becomes a boxer, seeking to discover himself by relying on his heart and his fists. This novel is a beautiful, heartbreaking work of art, full of raw emotion and aching humanity. It’s the kind of book that wins awards, frankly, and Valutin has the feel of an author who’s soon going to be getting a lot of national attention.

Moving on to another book that’s set all the way around the world, but also filled with that sense of connection and humanity, but in a completely different way. GIRLS BURN BRIGHTER by Shobha Rao is a dizzying, dazzling novel that cuts right to the heart of friendship that connectes people even in the most trying of circumstances. Two young women in a small Indian village, Poornima and Savitha, bond while creating clothes at their loom. “Bond” is a word that isn’t quite strong enough – it’s the rare, precious kind of friendship that completes a person. It defines lives. The kind of friendship that stretches across thousands of miles and across dozens of years. And it absolutely must, because the two friends are torn apart, and the novel is about the two trying to reunite, with only this unshakable connection that sustains them. Rich in character, strength, and heart, GIRLS BURN BRIGHTER will absolutely stick with you, make you think, and is great for fans of authors like Jesmyn Ward, Charles Frasier, and Yaa Gyasi.

Lisa Genova should be a name that some readers should at least be familiar with – she’s written critically acclaimed books like STILL ALICE and INSIDE THE O’BRIENS that also happen to be crowd-pleasers as well. Genova, a neuroscientist herself, excels at writing about physical afflictions such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s Disease deteriorate the brain, which in turn affects a person’s relationships, personal life, and even their own sense of self. Alongside a scientist’s gift of knowledge, Genova has an author’s sense of compassion and insight, and writes beautifully about the internal struggles that all characters have to go though. Here in EVERY NOTE PLAYED, the antagonist is Amyotrophic Later Sclerosis – ALS, previously known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Partial muscle tremors can quickly lead to full body paralysis, but leaving the mind intact. The novel follows Richard, a well-known classical pianist, who can command his hands and fingers to create amazing music for concertgoers worldwide, but is in the early stages of the disease. One arm is already paralyzed and he knows it’s only going to get worse. His marriage was teetering on the edge to begin with, and his wife, Karina, faces a choice on how to respond. With grace, redemption, and a deep sense of the internal lives of her characters, Genova’s novel should be highly sought out.

Wow. This month’s list got sort of heavy, didn’t it? Let’s pump the brakes a bit and turn our attention to something that’s a bit lighter, but just as good.

Most mystery novel fans absolutely love clues – they love to follow along with the detective to match wits and see if they could solve the crime even quicker than the characters in the novel can. Here, in THE LAST EQUATION OF ISAAC SEVERY by Nova Jacobs, a famous mathematician is found dead, apparently (?) by suicide. A few days later, his foster granddaughter Hazel receives a letter addressed by her deceased grandfather - dated before his death - containing clues to a brilliant, groundbreaking mathematical equation that everyone seems to be looking for. The race is on, and Hazel must follow the clues alongside government agents, rival professors, and bitter family members who want in on the action. Jacobs brings wit, warmth, and an exacting sense of sleuthing to the novel, which should appeal to fans of Gabrielle Zevin’s THE STORIED LIFE OF AJ FIKRY and Ellen Raskin’s THE WESTING GAME.

Hello and welcome to our new releases roundup for Fiction for the month of March 2018! If this is your first time here, my name is Gregg and I’m a Readers’ Advisory librarian here at the Johnson County Library. I’ll take a brief look at some of the well-reviewed titles that are published this month that I’ve either read or have heard great things about. You’ll not find John Grisham, Michael Connelly, or Janet Evanovich on these lists; it’s not that we don’t like them – we do! – but those are authors who most folks have already heard of. We love spotlighting books and authors that you might not be familiar with, or are brand new and deserve a bit... Continue »

InterUrban ArtHouse: Photography Group

Art at Gardner LibraryInterUrban ArtHouse: Photography Group

Monday, Jan 29, 2018 to Sunday, Apr 22, 2018 at Gardner Library

InterUrban ArtHouse (IUAH) is a non-profit organization creating a new hub for arts and culture in Johnson County, Kansas. IUAH’s mission is to enrich the cultural and economic vibrancy of Downtown Overland Park and surrounding community by creating a place where artists and creative industries can work and prosper in an affordable, sustainable and inclusive environment. This exhibition features local photographers currently working with IUAH. We're happy to share an interview with one of those artists, Sharon Rodriguez.

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What comes first – the medium or the message? Tell me a little about the work that will be on view.

Message comes first.  What message do I want to tell about person experiencing homeless-ness.  Then comes the medium which conveys the message. 

I started this project with questions.  Do we have homelessness in Johnson County?  What do they look like?  Where are they?  These photographs in this “”It’s About Time” art show are the answers to these and many more questions.

What do you feel is your role as an artist?

To raise awareness of the social in/justice issues facing Johnson County the most affluent county in Kansas.  These homeless people are not going away!  In fact the “problem” is getting worse.

What influences your practice/works?

Seeing through my heart is what my work is about.  I see the faces of real people, not someone to be ignored or pushed aside.  I am considered a free-lance photographer.  I work on projects that draw my interest.

Who are the other artists you look to for inspiration? And what about their works do you like?  

Dorothea Lange inspires me because she had a passion for telling the people of plight’s story through her photographs.

What other writings do you recommend reading to have a better understanding of your artworks and your art practice/process? Please look through our on-line catalog and provide any links to resources that you would recommend.

Finding Grace by Lynn Blodgett https://jocolibrary.bibliocommons.com/item/show/805551036

Voice in the Mirror by Gordon Parks https://jocolibrary.bibliocommons.com/item/show/133908036

Photographs of Dorothea Lange https://jocolibrary.bibliocommons.com/item/show/241270036

Homeless Not Invisible my book https://jocolibrary.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1534292036

InterUrban ArtHouse (IUAH) is a non-profit organization creating a new hub for arts and culture in Johnson County, Kansas. IUAH’s mission is to enrich the cultural and economic vibrancy of Downtown Overland Park and surrounding community by creating a place where artists and creative industries can work and prosper in an affordable, sustainable and inclusive environment. This exhibition features local photographers currently working with IUAH. We're happy to share an interview with one of those artists, Sharon Rodriguez.

*

What comes first – the medium or the message? Tell me a little about the work that will be on view.

Message... Continue »

Jocomakes

Create At Your Local Makerspace

Make48 interviewed our very own Maker Ayah about our MakerSpace. We think the most important quote is this:

One thing to know before going: anyone and everyone are welcome to take advantage of the MakerSpace. 

Check out the full article here »

Make48 interviewed our very own Maker Ayah about our MakerSpace. We think the most important quote is this:

One thing to know before going: anyone and everyone are welcome to take advantage of the MakerSpace. 

Check out the full article here »

All Kinds of Friends

New Storywalk at Antioch Park

The days are getting a bit warmer, and next time you're itching to get to the park, don't just take a walk, take a Storywalk! At Antioch Park, you and your little ones can enjoy a story while you stroll. Our newest featured book is All Kinds of Friends, a book about friendships with old friends, young friends, furry friends, feathered friends, "friends with different ways to walk," and "friends with different ways to talk." Thanks to Johnson County Park and Recreation for this partnership.

The days are getting a bit warmer, and next time you're itching to get to the park, don't just take a walk, take a Storywalk! At Antioch Park, you and your little ones can enjoy a story while you stroll. Our newest featured book is All Kinds of Friends, a book about friendships with old friends, young friends, furry friends, feathered friends, "friends with different ways to walk," and "friends with different ways to talk." Thanks to Johnson County Park and Recreation for this partnership.

Read Local

Enter a Writing Contest

We love reading local, and we love local authors here at the Library. In support of our home-grown talent, we invite submissions of poetry, fiction, and essays.

Each month we host a new contest with prizes including a $200 honorarium and a reading at the Library or The Writers Place. Read more about the guidelines and enter your original works here »

We love reading local, and we love local authors here at the Library. In support of our home-grown talent, we invite submissions of poetry, fiction, and essays.

Each month we host a new contest with prizes including a $200 honorarium and a reading at the Library or The Writers Place. Read more about the guidelines and enter your original works here »

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 »

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