Staff Pick: The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn

Today's Staff Pick comes to you from our librarian Jesseca, who gives FIVE STARS to The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn by Amber Logan.

We all have secrets, but some people are better at hiding them. Mari learns this firsthand when she accepts an offer to professionally photograph Yanagi Inn in Kyoto, Japan. She grew up in Japan before her parents split up and her mother moved Mari and her sister to the United States. Upon her return, she adjusts to the familiar culture of her childhood and initially enjoys exploring the grounds of the inn, especially photographing the overgrown garden. However, supernatural elements soon reveal secrets from the inn's history that touch upon her own past.

I loved the atmospheric descriptions. I was really transported to the grounds of Yanagi Inn! I would describe the writing as tender and eerily beautiful. Mari is a fantastic character; I was completely consumed by her story and I was rooting her on while she uncovered mysteries that no longer wanted to be buried. While the title references The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgeson Burnett, I would say the most significant similarity between the two is the way both books enchant the reader. If you like books with any of these elements: Japan, a touch of the supernatural, complex family dynamics especially between mothers and daughters, and/or books that pair well with a cozy cup of tea; then this is the book for you!

Friends of Johnson County Library Pop Up Book Sales

Friends of Johnson County Library want to sell you some used books!

Pop Up Sales:
Saturdays, 11:30 a.m.-5p.m. (closed for holidays,  inclement weather closings announced on Facebook)
In the Pine Ridge Office Park
8279 Melrose Dr.
Lenexa, KS 66214,

The Friends of Johnson County Library want to assure you: the used book business is great.

The Friends started selling used books more than 30 years ago, and they are going strong still. Their 16k item (or more!) weekly inventory is restocked weekly and comes mostly from generous community donations, with the balance from books periodically weeded out of the Johnson County Library’s circulating collection. Friends’ net proceeds are paid into the Library's Collection budget, to help the Library buy new books. “We’re really proud of this success,” says Friends president Chris Meier. “Not only are we repurposing books in our community and giving them longer lives, we’re supporting our favorite public place: the Library!”

The Friends sell books in-person and online. They launched Pop Up Sales earlier this year at their donation processing headquarters in Lenexa. The Pop Ups are a sort-to-sell experience right at the source of the Friends broad and robust donated inventory. A corps of dedicated volunteers scan, examine and sort gifted materials for subject and quality. A lively Sale audience can generally be found at the door awaiting the weekly Saturday start time of 11:30 a.m.. Friends members receive a 20% discount on the already very reasonable prices. Gift cards are available, too!

The Pop Ups launch was a prelude to closing the two branch bookstores at Antioch and Blue Valley Libraries in July. After careful monitoring of sales activity at both stores, the Friends noted that sales continued to lag behind pre-pandemic levels. They made this bittersweet decision, after 26 years, so that the organization can focus resources toward their mission of supporting the Library.

Friends’ online sales are divided among international, national and local customers who peruse the broad selection on popular platforms like Amazon and Ebay, and on the Friends web site. Free shipping and the Friends reasonable prices are sure to wow. Top sellers tend to be first editions or hard-to-find items like out-of-print technical manuals. “The selection changes quickly,” says operations director Shanta Dickerson, “because we sell frequently and replace with new material that arrives every day.”

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!

Our eCollection with eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, eMusic, eNewspapers, Research and Streaming Video

Available anytime you like with so many titles including bestsellers, classics, nonfiction, storybooks and more for all ages. Download and stream audiobooks whenever and wherever you want. Discover newsstand favorites and hard-to-find publications with something for everyone. Stream classical, jazz, world and folk music from then to now and catch up on the latest from The New York Times, The Kansas City Star, Shawnee Mission Post and more.

Johnson County Genealogical Society Monthly Meeting Saturday, Nov. 26, 10 a.m. – noon

Enjoy a genealogy program and visit with JCGS members about your research and family history. Free and open to the public. Meeting will be held in person at Central Resource Library in the Carmack Community Room as well as virtually via Zoom. Members will automatically receive the Zoom link. If you are not a JCGS member, please email to receive the Zoom link. The November meeting topic is, “Fraternal Organizations: the Original Social Networks”.

And much more happening this week »


Library Takes Full Advantage of National Youth Librarians Conference

The Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, held its 2022 national conference Sept. 29 – Oct. 1 in Kansas City. And Johnson County Library youth specialists made the most of the opportunity. 

Fifteen youth information specialists and youth librarians attended the ALSC National Institute workshops, panel discussions and other sessions in downtown Kansas City. It was a rare chance for staffers to attend the ALSC Institute’s national meeting in their own backyard. Participants said it was hugely worthwhile. 

“To be in the same room with librarians who all share a passion for serving children was something truly special,” said Early Literacy Coordinating Librarian Shannon Goebel. “It was such a joy to learn shoulder to shoulder with my fellow colleagues at the ALSC Institute.” 

The Institute holds its national conference every two years. The 2020 conference was virtual because of COVID-19, but this year it drew several hundred attendees in person from across the country. 

“It’s designed for front-line staff that are serving youth,” Goebel explained. “It’s really the world’s largest organization that is dedicated to the support and advancement of library services for children.”  

Staffers heard from wonderful authors and illustrators and got great book recommendations for children and teens. They heard a fascinating presentation about the importance of open-ended play as a literacy skill and how to create enriching playtime activities in the Library. 

They took a tour of The Rabbit hOle, a phenomenal project under construction in North Kansas City. It will be a children’s literature museum, with an immersive experience of walking into a picture book. 

While Library staffers got great ideas from other librarians, they also had a featured exhibition table and shared information about Johnson County Library’s innovations, including the 6 by 6 Ready to Read program and Race Project KC’s Dividing Lines Tour. The Library also had a full-page spread in every attendee’s conference booklet. 

Lisa Nason, who concentrates on early literacy for the Library, said the chance to network with librarians from other cities was wonderful, and the visitors loved Kansas City and Johnson County. 

“One of the first people that came up to us in Vendor Hall was from Boise,” Nason recalled. “She said, ‘I use materials from your online Kids’ page all the time to write blogs and get ideas.’ It’s exciting to think that people all over the country are seeing our work.” 

Youth Services Information Specialist Mary Shortino said the author presentations were particularly thought-provoking. Authors of diverse backgrounds poignantly described how they never saw themselves in literature growing up, but they now write characters like themselves as protagonists in stories. 

“I adore hearing authors talk about their work,” Shortino said. “That’s stuff I can share with kids and families when I’m doing Readers’ Advisory.” 

Youth Information Specialist Tami Thomas said attendees were encouraged to seek out the youngest potential library patrons which they might be missing or forgetting. 

Thomas enjoyed a presentation on rethinking summer reading programs to appeal to reluctant readers. One library system held a nighttime hike that involved the whole community. Another put early literacy activities in laundromats where parents and kids congregate. 

Goebel was grateful that such a large Johnson County Library contingent could benefit from this learning experience. Those participants will share insights with the rest of the youth services staff. 

She also thanked everyone who pitched in to cover those staff slots in the branches. 

“It’s not an opportunity that comes up every day,” she said, “so we are really grateful for everyone who supported the people attending.”  

Museum Memories

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

About this collection: The Johnson County Museum has a wide range of images dating from the late 19th century to the current day. A major focus of the collection centers on individuals and groups of people in domestic, recreational, scholarly and business settings.

Curbside Holds Pickup Convenience

For many of us, this is a really busy time of year. Trying to get more done but not having more time can be stressful to say the least. This may even mean giving up some of the things you enjoy until things start to settle down. Luckily, you can still enjoy all your favorite materials from Johnson County Library with the ultra-convenient Curbside Holds Pickup service at the Cedar Roe, Gardner, Leawood Pioneer, Oak Park and Spring Hill Libraries. When you’re placing your items on hold, select one of the Curbside Holds Pickup branches and enjoy the perks of curbside pickup.     

This service has been very popular and for good reason. You simply pull up to a reserved parking spot in your comfortable vehicle. Text that you’re there and in no time, your items are brought out to you. Then as you are pulling out of the parking lot you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this sooner. It’s simple, fast and stress-free.   

Curbside Holds Pickup service was launched last year to give patrons a contactless pickup option at the Cedar Roe, Gardner and Leawood Pioneer branches. Due to the popularity of the services, it was then expanded to Oak Park and Spring Hill Libraries.  

While you are always welcome to pick up your materials inside the branch, you also have the option for contactless holds pickup from the comfort of your vehicle. With curbside service now at those five locations along with drive-thru windows at the Blue Valley, Lenexa City Center and Monticello locations, a contactless holds pickup option is available in all quadrants of Johnson County. 

Hours for curbside service mirror the current branch hours, but the service closes 15 minutes prior to the close of the branch. Please note that Curbside Holds Pickup service may be temporarily suspended during severe weather, including extreme temperatures. 

To use the curbside service: 

  1. Look for the parking stalls designated with blue Curbside Hold Pickup signs in the branch's parking lot. 

  1. To initiate the pickup, text the word HOLD to the phone number on the sign and follow the prompts. Message and data rates may apply. Please note you must be present at the Library to initiate pickup. 

  1. When staff has located and checked out your material, a Library staff member will bring out your hold(s). Pop your trunk or roll down a passenger window so staff can safely place your item(s) in your car. 

Many have already discovered the convenience of the Curbside Holds Pickup service at Johnson County Library. If you haven’t tried it yet, now is a great time with the busy holiday season. To learn more about the curbside service, checkout our Curbside Holds Pickup FAQ

Books to Go Kits

Johnson County Library's Books to Go kits support our early literacy initiative 6 by 6, Ready to Read by making it easy and convenient to bring the Library into your home or early education center. Our Books to Go give you and your child an enjoyable variety of ways to explore ABCs, Bugs, Colors, and more! 

Our 6 by 6, Ready to Read skills are skills children learn before they learn to read. Reading, singing, talking, rhyming, playing with shapes and enjoying playing with books are essential skills for children long before they even start to learn their letters. Reading, singing and rhyming give a child invaluable experience hearing the music and rhythms of the English language. Talking improves a child’s future vocabulary – long before they’re able to mimic the words they hear, the amount of words they are exposed to has a huge positive effect on future enjoyment of reading, grades, and test success. Naming and manipulating shapes helps children identify letters in the future. And playing with books; imitating adults flipping pages, opening and closing books, and moving pages from side to side stimulates motor skill development and teaches children that books are fun. Our Books to Go kits encourage all of these skills, in an easy to grab package ready for your family to enjoy! 

Each themed kit contains a curated selection of books, audio, a DVD and an activity sheet to help foster a love of reading and early literacy skill development. Over 50 kid-friendly topics are available in our Books to Go kits. Whether your child is curious about the seasons, colors, construction, the weather, or needs some help understanding doctors, dentists, having a new sibling or potty training, our Books to Go kits will help you and your child explore topics in a fun way from a variety of angles. Johnson County Library patron Emily, mother of 3 year old Ben, said, “Being able to look at a book together about colors, then sing a song about colors, and then follow the activity sheet’s suggestions, like talking about our favorite colors and colors we see out in the world, really helps us think creativity together and helps my child love our time spent reading even more!” 

Pick up a blue canvas bag at any branch location and get everything you need for hours of fun with your child. You can even place holds on different kits!


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!

Gather at the Table Tuesday, Nov. 15, 5 – 6:30 p.m.

Conversation allows people to better understand different viewpoints. Friendships and communities are often built by the conversations that happen over a meal. Gather with us to break bread and discuss some of the difficult and controversial topics at the forefront of our thoughts and news. This fall we will discuss the First Amendment and multiple related issues from social media to book bans. All are welcome at any time during this drop-in discussion group. Food and drink are provided.

Reckoning with White Privilege: A Conversation with Brendan KielyThursday, Nov. 17, 10 a.m. – noon

Join us at Central Resource Library for a morning conversation with Brendan Kiely, participating virtually from his home in New York. Kiely is the New York Times bestselling author of All American Boys (with Jason Reynolds), Tradition, The Last True Love Story and The Gospel of Winter. His most recent publication, The Other Talk: Reckoning With Our White Privilege will be the focus of the conversation. Signed bookplates will be available following the program. Refreshments will be served.

Maintain Your Ride Thursday, Nov. 17, 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 basic bike maintenance skills. We’ll also show you how to use the fix-it stand. This is a hands-on class! Registration is required.

Writers Conference Kickoff Thursday, Nov. 17, 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Faculty and attendees will kick off the 7th annual Writers Conference at Central Resource Library with readings that respond to prompts from our conference book, Creative Acts for Curious People: How to Create, Think, and Lead in Unconventional Ways, by Sarah Stein Greenberg.

An evening with Author Anne-Marie Oomen Friday, Nov. 18, 6 – 8 p.m.

Join us for an evening at Central Resource Library with award-winning poet, memoirist, playwright, and teacher Anne-Marie Oomen for a celebration of her award-winning memoir As Long as I Know You: The Mom Book, winner of AWP’s Sue William Silverman Nonfiction Award. Oomen will give a reading followed by a conversation with local author Virginia Brackett and conclude with an audience Q&A. Representatives from the Johnson County Department of Aging and Human Services will be on hand to offer resources about caregiving and local bookseller Green Door Bookstore will be on-site to sell copies of Oomen’s memoir. A book signing will follow.

And much more happening this week »