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Johnson County Library Welcomes New County Librarian

Outgoing County Librarian Sean Casserley retiring June 30, Deputy County Librarian Tricia Suellentrop to begin July 1

Johnson County Library will welcome Tricia Suellentrop as its new county librarian beginning Friday, July 1. The Library Board of Directors confirmed Suellentrop’s hiring at their June board meeting. Suellentrop will succeed Sean Casserley, who announced his retirement earlier this year after a decade at the helm of one of Kansas’ largest public library systems.  

Suellentrop brings a wealth of experience to the position, having served as the deputy county librarian since 2008. She acted as the interim county librarian for six months in 2012, during the national search for a new county librarian that resulted in Casserley’s hiring. With Johnson County Library, Suellentrop has also held the positions of systemwide services manager, youth services manager and teen services coordinator. 

As deputy county librarian, Suellentrop helped lead the Library through budget reductions stemming from the Great Recession and worked to develop and implement Library strategic plans. As part of her work in youth and teen services, she planned and developed programming and services across the Library system. In 2005, Suellentrop was recognized as one of Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers for her work serving teens in the juvenile justice system. She is the co-author of “Connecting Young Adults and Libraries,” a manual to help public and school libraries serve teen populations in their communities.  

When she assumes the role of county librarian, Suellentrop is interested in maintaining the Library’s reputation as a top service in Johnson County. In the 2022 Community Survey, in which Johnson County residents were asked to rate their satisfaction with County services, 88% of respondents said they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with Library services, putting it at number two among all County departments and agencies. 

Suellentrop attributes that success to diverse, knowledgeable employees and a supportive internal culture, which is described by staff as creative, positive, and welcoming. 

“Our culture is the foundation of what we do,” she said. “It underlies all of our work so no matter what project we’re doing, the results for the community are going to reflect that.” 

The organization is in the middle of several projects that will continue after July 1. The design process is underway for a new building on the Merriam Community Center campus; the new library, anticipated to open in 2024, will replace the Antioch location which opened off Shawnee Mission Parkway in 1956. A recent survey of De Soto, Edgerton and Spring Hill residents kicked off a project to refresh the libraries in those communities in the coming years. Johnson County Library also continues to explore new service lines aimed at increasing access in a world altered by the pandemic, including hybrid and on-demand programming, expansion of eLibrary resources and enhanced community outreach and partnerships.  

Casserley, a 25+ year library and technology veteran, joined the Johnson County, KS library system in 2012 after extensive service at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Casserley was awarded his undergraduate and graduate degrees – in Mathematics and Library Information Science respectively – from Indiana’s Purdue University.  

During his tenure at Johnson County Library, Casserley oversaw the creation of and significant progress on the Comprehensive Library Master Plan—a framework established in 2015 to guide the organization’s sustainable growth of services, operations, and facilities over a 20-year period. In 2018, the Library expanded into a new geographic area for the first time in over 20 years with the opening of the Monticello branch in western Shawnee. The spacious, modern Lenexa City Center branch opened in 2019 as the successor to the former Lackman branch, incorporating LEED Silver certification and an award-winning public art installation.  

Casserley also presided over the Central Building Upgrade, a two-stage overhaul of Overland Park’s Central Resource Library in 2015 and 2021 that modernized the building and optimized service across all 14 Johnson County Library locations. Central Resource Library is home to the system’s administrative and support staff, as well as the Friends of Johnson County Library, the Johnson County Library Foundation, the Black & Veatch MakerSpace and the Johnson County Genealogical Society.  

“Johnson County is an exceptional community of readers and learners who value knowledge,” said Casserley. “It has been a privilege to serve in this position over the last decade, and to work alongside such gifted, dedicated Library staff and volunteers.”  

Upon his retirement Casserley plans to stay in the Kansas City area. He looks forward to spending more time with his wife, Susie, traveling, and making progress on his reading list.  

Johnson County Library provides access to ideas, information, experiences and materials that support and enrich people's lives. Discover unlimited possibilities at one of our 14 branches across Johnson County or via jocolibrary.org. 

Researching Your Home and the People Who Lived There

Enjoy a genealogy program and visit with Johnson County Genealogical Society members about your research and family history. Meeting will be held in person at Central Resource Library in the Carmack Community Room as well as virtually via Zoom. Members of JCGS will automatically receive the Zoom link. If you are not a JCGS member, please email info@jcgsks.org to receive the Zoom link.

Our June Genealogy event is "Researching Your Home and the People Who Lived There," a presentation and discussion by Diana Staresinic-Deane. Members of the community are invited to attend the free program.The program is made possible by Humanities Kansas.

Saturday, June 25
10 a.m. - noon
Central Resource Library and Zoom

Researching a property, be it an old home, a new business, or a section of pastureland, can do more than tell us the history of a space; it can also build a human connection to the people who came before us and the times in which they lived.This talk shares creative ways to study documents and assemble relevant narratives from maps, deeds, newspapers and often unsought or unknown resources.This is ideal for those new to seeking out family and community stories and helpful for those hampered by a dead end.

Diana Staresinic-Deane is the executive director of Franklin County Historical Society and Old Depot Museum in
Ottawa. She is passionate about collecting, interpreting and recording local histories.

"New researchers will feel empowered to take their first researching steps," said Staresinic-Dean. "Researchers who have been stymied by a dead-end might just find the breadcrumbs they need to progress."

Staff Pick: Dare to Know

Our Librarian Chris reviewed Dare to Know by James Kennedy, a new sci-fi pick for adults, for our Staff Picks blog, calling it "wonderfully quirky, nerdy and compelling." Read Chris' review »

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!

Juneteenth Walk and Read June 19 – June 30, All Day

Johnson County Library will be posting a Walk and Read in honor of Juneteenth at the Johnson County Square. The stories posted for this special event will be Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free by Alice Faye Duncan and Change Sings by Amanda Gorman.

Interviewing is Like Dating Tuesday, June 21, 10 a.m. – noon

When finding a new job, it is important to make sure that you are a good fit for the company AND that the company is a good fit for you. There are strategies to figuring out whether or not a new job or position is right for you. This interactive workshop will help you find a workplace culture that is a good fit.

Creating Powerful Resumes and Cover Letters Thursday, June 23, 2 – 3:30 p.m.

Learn tips and techniques for writing successful resumes and cover letters from a multi-certified resume writer, career and personal branding coach. Topics covered by Karen Silins, of A+ Career & Resume include: why targeted resumes are a must; applicant tracking systems; utilizing graphics; crafting standout bullet points; pdf vs. Microsoft Word; the importance of cover letters; and honesty. Registration closes June 22 at 2 p.m.

Friends of the Library Donation Drop-off Saturday, June 25, 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 at the Friends Headquarters.

And much more happening this week »

Juneteenth, the Library and You!

Johnson County is celebrating Juneteenth under the theme “Learn the Past...Change the Future.” Celebrate Juneteenth and the recognition of freedom for all by joining the County's inaugural celebration.

Writers: Johnson County Library wants to know about your Juneteenth experiences! What does the holiday mean to you? How do you celebrate? What do you look forward to this year? Whether you’ve been celebrating your whole life or are newly coming into knowledge of the day, we look forward to learning more about Juneteenth in our community. Keep responses under 500 words. Submit your work here »

For more writing prompts, writers' events and contests, visit our For Writers section.

Finally, do we have Juneteenth book recommendations? Do we ever⁠—for adults, teens and young readers!

Youth Services Specialist Stayed 38 Years. It was “Too Much Fun to Leave”

Dennis Ross always loved kids and reading, and in a 38-year career with Johnson County Library he found a way to spend nearly every day nurturing those passions.

When he was hired as a children’s specialist in 1984, he thought he might stay only a few years before finding a “real job” that was more lucrative. But he never left.

“I feel very fortunate to have landed in youth services in this Library system,” he said. “It was too much fun to leave. It was a tremendous place to work.”

Ross retires June 30 and looks back fondly over a lifetime of serving wonderful children and families.

“You watch kids grow up,” he said. “I have had people come in for programs with their children and say, ‘Remember me when I was a little kid and I used to come to your Storytime?’ That’s been a real joy.”

Ross grew up in Prairie Village and graduated from Shawnee Mission East High. He and his three siblings regularly checked out books from the Corinth branch.

He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1975 with a liberal arts degree. He was interested in early childhood development, so got a job with a toddler center affiliated with the university. After a few years, he became a teacher and director at a Topeka child care center.

He and his wife wanted to move to the Kansas City area, so when Ross saw a Johnson County Library posting for a children’s specialist, he applied and started his new job in January 1984. At the time, the Library had Parent-Child Learning Centers, offering preschool classroom experiences within the branches.

After Mona Carmack became Johnson County Librarian in 1988, she wanted more traditional children’s Library services, like Storytimes and programs for school aged children. Ross was assigned to Cedar Roe from 1988-1990, then went to Antioch, which at the time was the headquarters.

“It was so much fun to do storytimes,” Ross said. “Once we started doing it, we jumped into it full speed.”

He was a rare man in a female-dominated field but that never bothered him.

“I was always the only man in the room, but I got so used to it I didn’t hardly notice it,” Ross recalled. “I have felt extremely fortunate in my adult life to work with mostly women. I learned so much from them and they were always so nice.”

He was part of the team that opened the new Central branch in 1995 and has been based there ever since.

A few years ago, he was promoted to assistant branch manager, supervising both adult and youth specialists. His bosses praised his leadership and management skills.

Library technology has changed dramatically over the decades but the mission remains just as vital.

“Patrons still come for the same reason,” Ross said. “They want materials and information. They just have different ways to get it.”

In retirement, Ross and his wife don’t have big plans but look forward to traveling, reading, relaxing and taking care of their three dogs.

Ross says he’ll always enjoy visiting Central, but he knows he will miss seeing people on a daily basis—the people who made his work life so fulfilling.

“I have worked with people who are intelligent, dedicated, motivated, and creative” he said. “They really do care. We have such terrific staff.”

Archiving Architecture

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 Historic Preservation Survey

About this collection: Begun in 1991, the Historic Preservation Survey is a collection of photos documenting the architectural style and condition of more than 10,000 pre-1950 homes across Johnson County. The original photos are owned by the Johnson County Museum.

Staff Pick: The Genius Under the Table

The Genius Under the Table is bleak but also strangely cozy at times.  It’s hopeful, heartbreaking, occasionally laugh-out-loud funny and may stir up tender feelings for your own strange family.

Read more of our Librarian Hannah Jane's review »

Penguin Encounter with the Kansas City Zoo

Visit the penguins of the Kansas City Zoo from the comfort of your home! Animal experts will walk us through a day in the life of the three different species of penguins that call the zoo home. Watch the animals eating, swimming, and living life. Come ready to ask your questions about these incredible swimming birds as we explore Oceans of Possibility this summer.