Upcoming Events for Writers

Join us for these upcoming events for writers. Read more and register at the links below.

Tuesday, July 18: 6:30-7:30 pm
The Illusive Chameleon: Prose Poetry or Flash Fiction with Dzvinia Orlowsky and Jeff Friedman
Via Zoom

Wednesday, July 19: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Immediacy, Urgency or Tranquility: What Moves Us to Write with Dzvinia Orlowsky and Carolyne Wright
Via Zoom

Saturday, July 22: 9-11 a.m.
What Moves You to Write? A Generative Workshop
Via Zoom

New Library Board Member Brings Financial Expertise

Anna van Ophem has decades of experience in the financial services industry that will be very useful in her new role as a Johnson County Library Board member.

van Ophem joined the Library Board in April of 2023, appointed by Johnson County Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara, for a term through 2025. She is concentrating on listening and learning about the organization and is already enjoying this volunteer leadership position.

“I believe our Library system provides an incredible amount of value to our community,” she said in an interview.

She has been impressed with the quality of the Library branches, the thoughtful and intentional management by Library staff and the efficient materials handling operation.

As her knowledge of the Library system grows, she expects to pay keen attention to the budget, ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.

“I’m very interested in how the budget is derived,” she said. “This is a separate taxing authority, and I want to make sure we are highly responsible with the tax dollars we are assessing people.”

van Ophem brings a wealth of financial-related experience to this role. She earned a finance degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and an MBA from DePaul University in Chicago. She worked in Chicago in the institutional financial services sector, administering retirement plans for various companies and moving up the chain of management and leadership positions.

She moved to Boston, where she met and married Peter van Ophem. After a few years the couple moved back to Illinois, where they bought the house where Anna had grown up, in the small town of Marengo. She fondly remembers going to the library there regularly as a child.

In 2006, Anna took a job with JP Morgan in Kansas City and she and her husband and two young daughters moved to Overland Park. Kansas quickly became home. The girls, who are now grown, attended Blue Valley Schools. Peter was a stay-at-home dad when the kids were little and returned to school once they were older. He earned a teaching certification and currently teaches chemistry at Shawnee Mission North High School.

​​​​​​​In 2019, Anna took a job with American Century Investments, where she led the learning and development division, supporting the company through job skills and leadership training. She’s pleased that Johnson County Library also has a strong learning and development team. And, as a certified Gallup Strengths coach, she was excited to hear about the Library’s coaching to individual talents and strengths.

In 2022, she made a big career change, joining Life Time Fitness, an athletic resort/fitness club near 135th and Metcalf, which promotes a healthy way of life. The job is fun and fulfilling, and she also works out regularly, enjoying running, yoga and strength training.

When O’Hara asked her to join the Library Board, she welcomed the opportunity.

“I was honored by that,” van Ophem said. “I felt called to serve in this way.”

Her family has patronized the Blue Valley branch for years, but she is also awed by the Central Resource Library, where board meetings are held. She’s eager to tour other branches as well.

van Ophem recognizes Johnson County Library is a business and looks forward to sharing her knowledge of best business practices with the organization. She also sees the Library as a positive meeting ground to help build a thriving community, through beautiful facilities and excellent services. She feels blessed to assist in that vital mission.

Acclaimed Archives

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 Archives

About this collection: Largely images from annual reports produced by Johnson County staff over the first half of the twentieth century, most notably the County Agricultural Agent and the Home Demonstration Agent. Numerous activities of those two offices are depicted, including programs with area farmers, homemakers and 4-H clubs.

Staff Pick: Braiding Sweetgrass

About the non-fiction book Braiding Sweetgrass, our Librarian Chris writes: 

"Kimmerer has the scientific training--rational, evidence-based, data-driven--of a botanist; the indigenous culture, worldview, and beliefs of a Potawatomi Anishinaabe; and the language, spirit and skill of a poet. In this book she wonderfully melds those three ways of seeing, of knowing, of understanding and communicating. She beautifully shares an ecological message of the possibility of harmonious co-existence with plants and nature, a perspective deeply supported by science. More than any other book I know, it spoke equally to my head, my heart and my soul."

Read more of Chris' Staff Pick or get the book »

This Week at the Library

Walk and Read at Strang Park – Saturday, July 1 – Sunday, July 9, Anytime

Family and friends of all ages are invited to join Johnson County Library for a walk in a park! Walk and Read creates a reading opportunity for all, in various parks throughout Johnson County. Those who participate will read two stories posted around a path, one going each direction. When you finish one story, you can turn around to the other side of the sign and begin the next story, which will lead you back around the path. The Walk and Read program encourages physical activity, literacy and family time. The paths are stroller and wheelchair friendly, allowing for all to join in the fun! Dates are subject to adjustment due to inclement weather conditions. 

Johnson County Library, BikeWalk KC and Overland Park Parks and Recreation Dept. invite you to visit the Walk and Read at Strang Park. Two stories, Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet S. Wong and Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Chris Raschka, will be posted.

Make It All Together Now – Wednesday, July 5, 1 – 3 p.m.

Join us at the Central Resource Library for a drop-in MakerSpace project. Flex those STEAM muscles, learn new maker skills, and have fun with this project presented by the Library Maker team. Come, make something with us, and take home a finished project. This walk-in program is open to all, and supplies will be provided. Participants will complete the same project each week.

Science is Astounding with Mad Science – Various dates, times & locations 

We're all in this together! This chemistry-based program is great for your school aged child that is excited by science, math, and how all things work together to bring forth exciting reactions.

Tabletop Games – Saturday, July 8, 1 – 4 p.m.

Join us at Monticello Library for a fun-filled event with family and friends and become a part of the Johnson County tabletop gaming community. Discover new games from our collection or bring your personal favorite to share – you might get creative with a round of Dixit, collaborate to escape the Forbidden Island or strategize your way to victory as King of Tokyo! Come and go as you please. Refreshments are provided. To celebrate our summer theme, All Together Now, we’ll be featuring collaborative games at our July events. Join us to learn and play the featured game, Mysterium Park, in which we win or lose all together:

And much more happening this week … 

Tabletop Games

Join us for a fun-filled event with family and friends and become a part of the Johnson County tabletop gaming community. Discover new games from our collection or bring your personal favorite to share – you might get creative with a round of Dixit, collaborate to escape the Forbidden Island or strategize your way to victory as King of Tokyo! Come and go as you please. Refreshments are provided.

See the schedule, including a special Saturday Tabletop Games »

a plush small spotted owl puppet in front of a piece of paper with details about the loan of the puppet

A mini spotted owl puppet recently borrowed through Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary Loan A Source for Weird and Wonderful Treasures

Looking for an old George Carlin vinyl record or hard-to-find Blu-ray movie? Seeking an academic journal article or rare book? Are you on the hunt for some type of small tool or musical instrument? 

Johnson County Library may be of assistance. The Library has a dedicated team of staffers eager to help  patrons borrow materials from other Library systems through the Interlibrary Loan service. This is an amazing but little-known service that increases Johnson County Library’s reach far beyond its own collection, to many thousands of library catalogues across the globe, through WorldCat FirstSearch. 

“We are the service provided by the Library that allows you to pursue your passions regardless of whether we own the material or not, that extends beyond just literary passions,” explained Devin Brotzer, who has been an Interlibrary Loan clerk for two years at the Central Resource location. “We’re just there to get the things you want that are trickier to find.” 

Austin Johnson, an ILL clerk for the past five years, says he has seen some really interesting and bizarre items processed through Interlibrary Loan. It’s fun to prepare them for patrons to retrieve in the branches or for home-bound patrons to receive through HomeConnect. 

One of the most wonderful items he can recall was a folder from a university of about 200 photographic prints of hieroglyphics from a tomb. “I was like, how did they find this?” Johnson recalled. Another memorable item was a five-volume neurology textbook set. “I think it weighed close to 30 pounds,” Johnson said.  

Other notable items loaned out in recent years: 

  • A Darth Vader cake pan. 
  • A model of the inner workings of a human ear. 
  • A deck of distinctive tarot cards from the 1970s.  

A frequent ILL request is for vinyl records, often featuring opera. Patrons also frequently request DVDs of movies from a few decades ago that aren’t available for purchase anymore. Lesser-known fiction, limited release books, and academic or medical journals are also in demand.  

One of the delightfully weird requests that Brotzer can recall was for the DVD of “The VelociPastor,” a 2017 American comedy/horror film. That one struck such a chord with the ILL staff that they persuaded Johnson County Library to acquire it for the collection. 

The Interlibrary Loan service is available only to Johnson County residents with a Johnson County Library card. Patrons can peruse Worldcat FirstSearch for books, visual materials, sound recordings, musical scores, articles, maps and archival materials. They can also search for “real object” and pull up things like board games, tools, taxidermy etc.  

Patrons fill out a form to place a request, and Library staff can assist with difficult searches.

Most items are free, although some participating Libraries charge a fee. Items are on loan for three weeks.  

Johnson County Library also loans materials from its collection to other Libraries through ILL. In March 2023, Johnson County Library loaned about 1,000 items to other places and borrowed almost 1,300 from other places.   

The staff would love to see even more people use this wonderful resource. 

“I feel like we’re an underutilized service sometimes,” Brotzer said. “I know a lot of people have very unique interests, and we want them to know we’re here for them.” 

Time Travel Johnson County's History

JoCoHistory expands the public's sense of community through an understanding of Johnson County's history and its place in American society.

The purpose of JoCoHistory is to collaboratively provide access to historical materials related to Johnson County, Kansas. It utilizes the strengths and expertise of each contributing organization to develop a broadly accessible web presence.

Specifically, the goals of JoCoHistory are to:

  • Access local information through digitization of original and unique materials regarding the history and development of Johnson County
  • Provide access to locally and remotely held information relevant to the history of Johnson County
  • Provide curriculum tools that meet Kansas and national curriculum standards
  • Promote an understanding of the importance of local history and regional development

The initial phase of the project began in Fall 2004 and was made possible by funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and from the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners through the Heritage Trust Fund (HTF). Initial contributors for JoCoHistory were the Johnson County Museum, Johnson County Library, Johnson County Archives and Olathe Public Library. Subsequent years have seen the involvement of Kansas School for the Deaf, Lenexa Historical Society, Olathe Historical Society, Overland Park Historical Society and Shawnee Mission School District.