Highlights of 2022 Include Jubilant Return to In-Person Programming

Johnson County Library celebrated many highlights in 2022, most notably its emergence from COVID-19 pandemic precautions and a joyful return to in-person programming and activities. 

The Library had a smooth leadership transition, as the torch passed July 1 from retiring County Librarian Sean Casserley to longtime Deputy Tricia Suellentrop, whom Casserley enthusiastically endorsed as his replacement.  

Suellentrop has just named Kinsley Riggs, adult services manager and veteran branch manager, to the Deputy County Librarian position. 

Looking back over the past year, Suellentrop says welcoming the public for in-person Storytimes, the Writers Conference and other programs was particularly memorable in 2022.  

“That’s been wonderful on so many levels,” she said. “It’s great for the community. It’s wonderful to be in Libraries with kids and with book groups going on. Our English Language Learner programs are back. That vibrant use of the Library is back again. I have seen staff welcoming back patrons and families that maybe they haven’t seen for a couple of years, so that’s very heartwarming.” 

Some projects that had been in the works for several years came to fruition or reached major milestones in 2022. Central Resource Library reopened in February with a new drive-thru, wonderful new kids’ space, modernized meeting rooms with the latest technology and redesigned staff offices to enhance efficiency. 

“There’s so much more possibility for collaboration because there are similar groups that are together,” Suellentrop observed.  

In September, Central hosted a capacity crowd of 500 for the Johnson County Library Foundation’s Library Lets Loose gala, a hugely successful fundraiser after two years of virtual gatherings. 

 Another major accomplishment came in May, with the migration of eBooks to the Libby platform, which followed years of planning. 

“That’s been wonderful all the way around,” Suellentrop said. “That was a huge lift for our IT team but also for training staff and ultimately educating and training patrons.” 

Suellentrop has heard only positive feedback about Libby, and she noted that digital materials circulation has remained quite strong even as in-person visits rebounded. Recent data show digital usage peaked in May 2020, but the next highest peak was August and September 2022. Physical visits were higher in 2018 and 2019, but 2022 had higher visits every month than 2021. 

The Library also completed final design and land conveyance for a new Antioch replacement branch adjacent to the Merriam Community Center, anticipating a grand opening in 2024. Future projects call for making branches more accessible to people with disabilities and for refreshing the Spring Hill and De Soto branches. 

Other key accomplishments:  

  • A great partnership with the Johnson County Elections office, including using the Lackman building as an advance voting site. 

  • A collaboration with County government on Johnson County’s first Juneteenth celebration. 

  • A new program to mentor up-and-coming Library staffers for leadership roles. 

Suellentrop is especially proud that the Library's assistant branch managers were chosen to present at the American Library Association’s national conference this summer.  

They provided insights on “overcoming a legacy structure,” explaining how to accomplish organizational change under challenging circumstances, especially with circulation functions. Suellentrop said their presentation was well received on the national level. 

It’s been a whirlwind time for this new County Librarian, who admits it’s sometimes exhausting to contemplate everything the Library is doing. But for Suellentrop, it’s been enormously gratifying to be part of such a dynamic civic organization, with great colleagues. 

“It’s just amazing how much work is accomplished at a pretty high level by a large group of people,” she said. “That’s a wonderful surprise, and very comforting.”  

Catch Up on the 2022 Writers Conference!

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2022 Writers Conference. It was a blast! If you missed it, you can still watch some of the session recordings at Library OnDemand.  

5 Star Staff Pick: This View of Life

Our Librarian Chris gives This View of Life 5 stars!

We generally think of evolution as a purely physical process, happening only at the level of genetics and DNA. Yet that is not the way Charles Darwin conceived it nor how evolutionary biologist Wilson understands it. In fact, genes and DNA were not yet discovered during Darwin’s time, and he saw heredity happening through many varied mechanisms—particularly in humans.

In this book, Wilson advocates an “evolutionary worldview,” applying principles from biology to all areas of knowledge. He is intentionally wide-ranging and multidisciplinary, finding examples from not only biology, but also psychology, sociology, education, economics, business, and more—examples of evolution in action—and synthesizes them into one overarching perspective. To paraphrase, evolution is groups working together to improve and grow through trial-and-error learning. From the level of genes and cells, bacteria and simple organisms, scaling up through plants and animals to humans and cultures, the lesson of evolution is “that the primary way to survive and reproduce [is] through teamwork.”

Read the rest of Chris' review or place your hold on This View of Life now.

Jeanne Savage at Sounds Easy video store in 1984

Jeanne Savage at Sounds Easy video rental store in 1984. The store was known later as Savage Video.

Do you remember video stores?

There's no better time than a Monday for Johnson County history memories. Before streaming video, we had DVDs. Before DVDs, we had VHS tapes. When Hollywood movies were first put onto tape and we were able to rent them to view them in our own living rooms, well, it was a big deal. 

Our friends at the jocohistory blog have offered up a new story that details Johnson County's video store phenomenon: Hollywood at Home: A History of Johnson County Video Stores

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!

Meet Brian Hanni, Author of “Banner Year: the Championship Season of the 2021-22 Kansas Jayhawks”  Wednesday, Dec. 14, 6 – 8 p.m.

Join us at the Central Resource Library for an evening with Brian Hanni, Voice of the Jayhawks, for a talk on Banner Year, the official commemorative championship book of the 2021-2022 season of the University of Kansas. Nonfiction Award. Hanni will discuss the book and conclude with an audience Q&A. Book purchase and signing will follow.

Maintain Your Ride Thursday, Dec. 15,  noon – 1:30 p.m.

Get your hands dirty and learn to keep your bike in tip-top shape with this free class from Johnson County Library and BikeWalkKC. Live and in-person at the bicycle fix-it stand in front of Central Resource Library, our instructors will teach you how to keep your bike in good working order with a few basic tools and some practical know-how. You will learn how to clean and lubricate your chain, fix a flat, adjust shifting and braking, and other basic bike maintenance skills. We’ll also show you how to use the Library’s bicycle fix-it stand. This is a hands-on class!

Movement Machines: Flip Book Thursday, Dec. 22,  noon – 1:30 p.m.

Learn how to give movement to inanimate objects and create analog animations. In this workshop at the Monticello Library, you will practice making your own flip book animation and learn about retinal persistence and the early animations in film history.

Last Chance to see our Fall Exhibitions Now - Dec. 21

Johnson County Library is proud to share the work of Kansas City metro area visual artists in our library art galleries. We have some locations with dedicated art gallery spaces to inspire people of all ages and beautify our libraries. We seek a diverse selection of artwork that inspires, educates and promotes community connection. If you're a local artist interested in submitting your artwork for consideration, learn more here.

And much more happening this week »

Xavier and Luca with the book, Discovering My Dyslexia Superpowers

Xavier and Luca with the book "Discovering My Dyslexia Superpowers"

Library Offers Helpful Resources for Dyslexia

Dyslexia has been defined as a language-based learning difference that can affect a person’s ability to read and spell. It varies greatly with each individual but has no connection to intellectual ability. And there are ways to confront the challenge while harnessing a person’s strengths to excel in school and life. 

Johnson County Library Youth Information Specialist Tami Thomas is passionate about offering resources for patrons with dyslexia.  

“We can help parents and kids find books at the appropriate reading level for reading practice, as well as at the appropriate interest level to help build their vocabulary and knowledge base,” she said. “Reading is reading, whether it’s print or audio books or graphic novels.” 

Another wonderful resource is now available from Megan Nicolas, an Overland Park mom and Corinth Library branch patron, who has authored a graphic novel, along with illustrator Emmanuel Ifeanacho, geared to encouraging children with dyslexia.  

The book, Discovering My Dyslexia Superpowers, is now available for purchase. It was inspired by Nicolas’ twin sons Luca and Xavier, and by Luca’s own experience with dyslexia. Luca got specialized reading intervention, is thriving, and now loves to read.  

“This is our way to bring about awareness and encourage families,” Nicolas said. “Oftentimes families don’t know what to do or where to turn and seem burdened by the difficulties that can accompany dyslexia. We want to help normalize the diagnosis and help children see that their brains are amazing, perhaps because they have dyslexia.” 

Luca and Xavier are now 9 years old. When Luca was 6 years old, Nicolas realized he was having difficulty reading, even though he was very creative and had great problem-solving skills. After a psychologist identified dyslexia, Luca got extra reading instruction and now tackles 400-page books. 

Nicolas realizes that isn’t everyone’s story, but she believes her family’s experience can enlighten others. In spring 2021, she and her boys read a children’s book about dyslexia that seemed to emphasize the difficulties. The boys suggested writing a book with a very hopeful message, about children finding their own superpowers.  

Nicolas is an occupational therapist and had no experience as an author. But she took her sons’ suggestion to heart, wrote the book, and through connections found a publisher, Argyle Fox Publishing. Argyle brought in Ifeanacho as illustrator, and Nicolas was thrilled with how the images complement the text. She hopes the book can reassure and motivate other children and families. 

Thomas learned a lot about dyslexia and successful educational strategies while homeschooling her child with dyslexia. “There are science-based methods of teaching,” she said.  

Thomas joined Johnson County Library six years ago as a page and now works at the Blue Valley branch as a youth information specialist. She has created helpful dyslexia-related book displays and has compiled great catalog lists of books, movies and TV for all ages. 

As a parent resource, she recommends The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan by Ben Foss. For fun books with a dyslexic main character she recommends two series by Henry Winkler (yes, the actor who played The Fonz), who is dyslexic himself: the Here’s Hank series (for ages 6-8) and the Hank Zipzer series (ages 8-12).  

Thomas recommends audio books for children with dyslexia, and Johnson County Library can really help. “That is one of the great things the Library has,” she said. “We have a big selection of CD and eAudio books.” 

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.

Spring 2023 Guide Coming Soon

The Library's Spring 2023 Guide will be available in our 14 locations later this week! The cover features the work of Manhattan, Kansas artist Kelly Yarbrough, who will be exhibiting her work at Central Resource Library this spring. The guide is full of information about everything happening at the Library in the new year:

You'll find articles about:

  • Corinth Library's 60th Anniversary
  • The Library's Mobile App
  • Library Master Plan Update

Event listings for:

  • Birth to Six Programs
  • Kids & Family Programs
  • Teen Programs
  • Book Discussions 
  • Exhibitions 
  • Authors & Writers
  • Career & Finance  
  • Community Matters  
  • History
  • Language Learners
  • Makerspace       
  • Genealogy                                   

Catch up on:

  • Volunteer News
  • Friends News 
  • Foundation News

The Guide is produced three times a year and released before each January, May and September. It features Library articles, event listings, updates and news. Pick one up at a Library location near you!