Quarterly Newsletter of the Johnson County Museum

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: Album, the Quarterly Newsletter of the Johnson County Museum

The ALBUM newsletter, a quarterly publication from Johnson County Museum, introduces Johnson County's history through articles and photographs.

Ratings and Financial Planning Tools for Investment, Banking and Insurance

With Financial Ratings Series Online, you’ll find independent financial ratings and consumer guides for stocks, banks, insurance companies and more from Weiss Ratings.

You can find Financial Ratings Series Online under the topic “personal finance” in the research section of our website.

Guide from our Librarians: Explore Career Options!

Check out our Guide from our Librarians: Explore Career Options

When choosing a career, assess first your interests, personality and skills. Then match that information with occupations. These are tools to help you do that. Get help identifying your skills and interests. Get advice on how to choose a career based on your personality. Discover what careers match your skills. 

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!

Bilingual Storytime/ Hora de Cuentos – Monday, March 20, 10:30 – 11 a.m.

The whole family will enjoy stories, songs, fingerplays and movement activities in both English and another language. Exposure to other languages can help develop early language learning and boost pre-reading skills. Fun for the whole family.
Space is limited. Pick up a free ticket at the Questions Desk when you arrive.

Toda la familia podrá disfrutar tanto en inglés como en otros idiomas: historias, canciones, juegos de manos y dedos, y actividades para trabajar el movimiento con los niños. El contacto con otros idiomas en los niños ayuda a desarrollar el aprendizaje temprano y a mejorar las habilidades de prelectura. Habrá diversión para toda la familia.
Hay cupo limitado, al llegar a la biblioteca tome un boleto gratis en la recepción.

One-on-One Genealogy Help – Tuesday, March 21, 9 a.m. – noon

For One-on-One or DNA and Genetic help, visit the Johnson County Genealogical Society at 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.

Tabletop Games – Tuesday, March 21, 6 – 7:45 p.m.

Join us at Monticello Library for a fun-filled evening with family members and friends, old and new, and become a part of the Johnson County tabletop gaming community. Kids, teens and adults can enjoy a variety of games together, including collaborating to escape the Forbidden Island, getting creative with a round of Dixit, or strategizing their way to victory as King of Tokyo! Discover and learn new games from our collection or bring your personal favorite to share. Come and go as you please. Refreshments are provided. Each month, our gaming librarians will feature a family-friendly game and teach you how to play it. Monticello's featured game for March is Forbidden Island.

Two Chapters Book Club – Wednesday, March 22, 4 – 5 p.m.

Come read with us at the Central Resource Library! A librarian will read aloud the first two chapters of a favorite book and you can decide to check out a copy to take home if you like it. If the chapters are short, we might sample more. We’ll have snacks and activities related to the book. Ages 7-11.

History on Tap presents: The Kansas City Monarchs and America’s National Pastime – Wednesday, March 22, 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Kick off the baseball season right with the fantastic conversation on the Kansas City Monarchs at the Shawnee Town hall! Featuring Phil Dixon, historian and co–founder of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, we will explore the impact of the Negro Leagues on America’s Favorite Pastime. The history of Negro League baseball in America mirrors the racial strife experienced by African Americans in society, and was plagued by discrimination, racism, and inequity while its athletes were celebrated for their resiliency, professionalism, and athleticism. The Kansas City Monarchs barnstormed across Kansas and the region to play more than 400 games against local towns between 1920 and 1957. Alcohol is served at this event so attendees must be 21 or over. 

This event is in partnership with Shawnee Town 1929.

And much more happening this week

Beloved Oak Park Branch Due for Improvements in 2023

Oak Park Library, located at 9500 Bluejacket St. in Overland Park, has been a cherished neighborhood branch since 1970. It has a cheerful, family-friendly atmosphere that’s popular with patrons who walk or drive in from nearby residential areas. But the building needs updating, which is due to happen later this year.

The branch will close for up to 16 weeks between August and December, to allow for bathroom renovations, heating-and-cooling upgrades, entrance and paving enhancements and improvements to make the building more accessible for people with mobility challenges. The main information desk will also be repositioned to be more visible from the front entrance. 

​​​​Branch Manager Jared Harper said those renovations will help ensure a bright future for this wonderful branch. “What distinguishes Oak Park now is it is an older Library that has charm to it,” Harper said. “It is a branch that is really well loved in the community.”

Harper said many parents fondly recall visiting the branch as children and now enjoy bringing their own children there. One added amenity is its location adjacent to Overland Park community garden plots. Oak Park was built during a time of great population growth and new residential development in Johnson County. Voters approved a $1.5 million bond issue in 1967 to expand Antioch and Corinth and to build two new branches: Cedar Roe and Oak Park (originally called the Southwest Library and then renamed for the adjacent Oak Park neighborhood).

Oak Park opened Nov. 3, 1970 and held an open house dedication in February 1971. It expanded in 1982.

After Central Resource Library opened in the mid-1990s on 87th Street, just two miles north of Oak Park, Library leaders briefly considered closing the Oak Park branch in 1999. But countless patrons sent postcards, pleading to keep it open. They praised the convenient location, the collection, the friendly staff and the vibrant atmosphere. Oak Park stayed open.

“It’s such a fixture in the community,” Harper observed. 

Oak Park is in the middle of the pack as far as busyness, but it has the largest circulation of any Johnson County branch without an automated sorter. In 2018, it recorded more than 197,000 visits and circulated more than 291,000 materials.

In the early 2000s, Oak Park was known as the hub for Latino services, including English Language Learner classes and other programs. Then-branch manager Maggie Vallazza was passionate about reaching out to the Latino community, as were Spanish-speaking staffers Christine Peterson, German Perilla and others.

In 2015, Harper explains, Spanish services were expanded throughout the system. Vallazza has retired and Peterson is now based out of Central, concentrating on youth Latino services. But Perilla continues to serve Spanish speakers who visit the branch, which retains the largest Spanish-language collection in the Johnson County Library system.

Now, Oak Park is known for serving young families, with a large and diverse children’s collection, heavily-used computer stations and a popular Holds service. 

Last year, the branch shut down for about a week to remodel the circulation area for better work-flow and to update the staff break room. This year’s improvements will require a prolonged closure but are timed to come after the busy summer rush. Harper said patrons can visit Central Resource Library during that time. More changes are expected in 2024, when the branch is due to get new shelving and some new furniture.

“Getting new shelving next year would just really brighten up the space,” Harper said.

Bird's-eye Views of Johnson County

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 Aerial Photographs

About this collection: More than 8,000 color slide transparencies that are aerial views of Johnson County. The collection consists of 45 dated sets. The sets range in quantity from just a few transparencies to several hundred, dating from April 1980 to July 2002, and each set systematically documents the county from west to east. The sets were typically taken twice a year, in the spring and fall, to document agricultural land-use. Each transparency centers on two square miles.

Heritage Hub

U.S. Obituaries from 1704-today

Genealogy Research Gem


HeritageHub is NewsBank's collection of U.S. obituaries and death notices for in-depth genealogical research from 1704 to today. Includes deep coverage from all 50 states, hard-to-find content from the mid-1900s and original obituary images. Easily identify relatives, uncover new information and locate potentially unknown family members.

You can find HeritageHub under the topic “genealogy” in the research section of our website.

Cozy Read Staff Pick: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches

Our librarian Michelle recommends The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna.

Michelle says: "I loved The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches sooooo much! Everything about it sparkles with stardust. Found family, sweet romance, slow-smile humor and magical mayhem are all here for your enjoyment. The main characters are wonderfully developed and even with their secrets and flaws you want to serve them tea, give them hugs and wrap them up in soft blankets. If the villain is a bit stereotypical and the foreshadowing is occasionally obvious, these things are easy to overlook because you'll be too wrapped up in warm fuzzies to care. Highly recommend!"