Bookmarkable

Art Exhibitions at Your Library

Exhibitions have returned to many of our branches! Discover what's showing at your favorite Library »

Library Citizenship Classes Make American Dreams Come True

Among the many quality programs the Library offers is a special and exciting opportunity that grows our community—Johnson County Library’s U.S. citizenship class.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services provides courses that library staff from the Language Learners Committee facilitate. These courses help prospective citizens learn about the “history, civics and government of the United States,” the committee explains.

Latino Services Outreach Librarian Christine Peterson is heavily involved in the classes that also prepare people for the 100 questions they will face when interviewed as part of the test. “Candidates for citizenship review the study materials, practice listening and responding to the citizenship interview questions, access online practice tests, and receive guidance throughout the application process,” said Peterson.

“Many residents in the U.S. want to complete their journey by becoming citizens. However, English is not their first language and they hesitate as to whether they can realize their dream.” Peterson said the program exemplifies JCL’s Mission and Vision by providing access to information regardless of race or background.

During 60-to-90-minute classes, candidates meet on Zoom to go through curriculum, review vocabulary and pronunciation, and prepare for the questions they will face. The program began in 2020, and Peterson said that eight candidates have become citizens since. Right now there are six people taking the class.

One of the current candidates, Douglas, had to leave Venezuela with his family because of the political circumstances there. “I am interested in obtaining American citizenship since I consider the United States my new homeland,” he said. He believes becoming a citizen will help him show thankfulness for the opportunity he has, and fulfill the duties of being an American alongside fellow citizens.

Douglas enjoys the interactive nature of the class, as well as learning about history, which he enjoyed doing throughout his education. “Studying history again, beautiful memories came to my mind,” he said. The biggest challenge he sees in the classes so far comes from civics discussions. “For example,” he said, "‘What stops a branch of government from becoming too powerful?’ A simple answer, but with a deep democratic base—a ‘system of checks and balances.’”

Staff work hard to help patrons with the lengthy N400 application the USCIS requires, including what Peterson said is the “daunting” task of assembling necessary documents and making sure they are translated.

Peterson said she enjoys learning about each candidate’s journey coming to America. “When I ask why they came to the United States, many respond, ‘Freedom’. It is surprising the stories they tell about their countries and the government they are leaving.” She said that the majority of candidates are from Latin American, but there are also several from the Middle East.

Read to a Dog

Dog + kid + book = fun!

Give your kids a fun, laid back chance to practice by reading to a dog. These friendly, certified therapy pooches are ready to listen (along with their humans from Pets for Life). A child's reading improves with practice – and the dog's vocabulary will benefit, too!

Pencil in a pup appointment at a nearby Library »

123 Andrés Live!

Andrés and Christina are the Latin Grammy-winning music duo 123 Andrés. Their catchy songs and lively concerts get the whole family dancing and learning, in Spanish and English. Join us as we explore music, language, and discover Oceans of Possibility!

Friday, July 1
1 - 2 p.m.
Online: Zoom
Register »

33 and Still Growing!

We offer 33 Career and Finance videos to help you navigate your road to personal finance and job success. Be sure to check out all of the Career Development and Personal Finance resources available to you at Johnson County Library.

This Week at the Library

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

Library OnDemand Available anytime you like.

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

Online Bilingual Storytime / Hora de cuentos bilingües en línea Monday, June 27, 10 – 10:30 a.m.

The whole family will enjoy this flexible Storytime. 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!

Toda la familia disfrutará de esta especial hora de cuentos bilingües. Escucha historias con tus hijos y ayúdales a cultivar el amor por la lectura. Al contar cuentos, interpretar canciones, hacer juegos con los dedos y realizar actividades de movimiento fomentamos las habilidades previas a la lectura. ¡Diversión para toda la familia! 

One-on-One Genealogy Help Via Zoom Tuesday, June 28, 9 a.m. – noon

Visit the Johnson County Genealogical Society at jcgsks.org to schedule an appointment. A volunteer will contact you by email to set up an in-person or a Zoom session link for you prior to the scheduled date.

Online Storytime Wednesday, June 29, 10 – 10:30 a.m.

The whole family will enjoy this flexible Storytime. 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!

Friends of the Library Donation Drop-off Saturday, July 2, 9 – 11 a.m.

Do you have gently used books to donate to the Friends? We hold Drive-up Donation Events every Saturday (except during inclement weather). Volunteers will be available to accept your donations on Saturdays from 9:00 am to 11:00 am at Friends Headquarters - 8279 Melrose Dr., Lenexa, KS 66214.

And much more happening this week »

June Is Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month

Worldwide, more than 55 million people are living with Alzheimer's or another dementia. This list is a starting point for learning more about Alzheimer's and dementia, methods of preventing both, and how to help or support a loved one living with dementia.

Future Bright as Johnson County Librarian Sean Casserley Retires

After a decade at the helm of Johnson County Library, Sean Casserley is retiring June 30. The leadership mantle passes to longtime Deputy County Librarian Tricia Suellentrop. 

Casserley’s tenure was marked by great growth and change. In the past 10 years, Johnson County Library has built the Monticello and Lenexa City Center branches (the first new branches since 2000) and completely revamped Central Resource Library, along with numerous other facility upgrades. 

It launched an extensive eBook collection, dramatically expanded digital services, grew the MakerSpace into a hugely popular workshop, developed rich partnerships with schools and community groups and adopted countless innovations during an unprecedented pandemic. 

Through it all, the Library stayed true to its mission: providing free access to materials and services, for all citizens to inform themselves and enrich their lives. The Library consistently gets nearly 90% approval on citizen surveys. 

Casserley is ready for retirement but leaves with great appreciation for the chance to serve in a vital public institution that is a bulwark of democracy. 

“I am grateful,” he said in an interview. “I cannot say how lucky I have felt to be given the opportunity to lead this organization. Where else do you get the opportunity to work in a community which is so highly educated, which is so dedicated to reading?”  

County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson summarized Casserley’s accomplishments.  

“The Johnson County Library system is annually one of the top rated services for our residents, and that speaks highly to the contributions of Sean and his team,” she said. “Sean’s leadership on the Comprehensive Library Master Plan, Library improvements, upgrades and projects like Monticello, Lenexa City Center and the upcoming Antioch Library replacement are just some of the ways Sean has helped mold the Library system that generations have come to love and appreciate.” 

Casserley, who grew up in New Zealand, previously ran the Information Technology department and then served on the executive team for the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  

In 2011, a recruitment firm urged him to apply for the Johnson County Librarian position. He got the job, starting in May 2012, replacing Donna Lauffer. 

Almost immediately, Casserley and Suellentrop had to cut the Library’s $26 million budget by $1.2 million because of the ongoing recession. Following that challenge, they oversaw two strategic plans and a 20-year capital master plan.  

That capital plan helped persuade the Board of County Commissioners to approve a .75-mill levy increase for the Library, the first since 1994. It has funded the Library’s ambitious capital improvements. The Library’s overall budget has grown to about $46 million. 

Casserley is gratified to have worked with staff and volunteers who are endlessly resilient and creative, in a community that holds the Library in such high esteem. 

Among Casserley’s many fond memories: seeing women get invaluable financial advice at Women & Money events; watching residents hear crucial updates at Legislative coffees; and seeing the community grapple thoughtfully with issues through the Race KC project. 

And, of course, a favorite memory is watching children flock to branches to pick up books for summer reading.  

He has no grand retirement plans but will finally have time to indulge his passion for reading, guitar playing and traveling. 

He also has full confidence in Suellentrop, who has served the system for 24 years, including as Deputy County Librarian since 2008.   

“She is great working with people. She’s a strategic thinker. She is fiscally conservative, which is important in Johnson County,” Casserley said. “The future for the Library and for Johnson County in general is really bright.”  

Olathe Oldies

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: 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.