Lucas Kirkendoll has been with Johnson County Library for a little over two years, during a profoundly challenging time for the entire Library system, especially since the Coronavirus pandemic struck. But he has adjusted to changing job roles and responsibilities and appreciates how his colleagues have also adapted and risen to the occasion.
Kirkendoll was hired in late 2018 as a learning and development clerk, providing support for the training specialists. He assisted two specialists with in-person presentations, preparing rooms, printing materials and running reports. And then the world changed.
“When the pandemic hit, initially it was really overwhelming,” Kirkendoll said. But the Library managed that change more smoothly than he had expected.
“I think part of it is just the nature of Library staff in general,” he observed. “How intuitive they are and hungry for learning opportunities. Initially we had to get a real grasp of what we could and couldn’t do and what was best for the organization.”
Some training responsibilities got put on hold, he says. But that generated opportunities to provide support in other ways such as running online meetings and taking notes to keep everyone on track.
He was part of a team working on the diversity and inclusion initiative. “We worked with an outside consultant to train all of our managers,” he said. Kirkendoll acted as a moderator or producer, the person behind the scenes running the online meetings.
Then in November 2020 the position got regraded as a training specialist, allowing him to facilitate and host meetings and to be a point of contact for new employee orientation.
Kirkendoll brings varied life experiences to this role. He grew up in Parkville, Mo., where he attended Park Hill South High School and initially was more pre-occupied with sports than academics. He played soccer at Maple Woods Community College but realized sports wasn’t going to be his career, so got a degree in psychology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
He later got a job as a Johnson County Mental Health case manager. He worked with adolescents dealing with substance abuse and then assisted adults coping with persistent mental illness. He personally witnessed how adolescents in residential treatment valued the Library’s incarcerated services program.
“Those kids would go through books like anyone’s business,” he recalled. He sometimes met adults in Library meeting rooms, and realized how important Library branches were for community outreach.
Kirkendoll took seriously the advocacy he could provide for clients, to show them “their voice is important.”
While studying in college, one field he found interesting was industrial organizational psychology, focusing on ways to improve the work environment, including job performance, communication and professional satisfaction.
At Johnson County Mental Health, he transitioned from working with clients to working with staff on training and support, which was very rewarding. Then he saw the opening at the Library and applied.
Kirkendoll has enjoyed the Library work, and is also pursuing information technology studies at Johnson County Community College in his spare time.
“I could see that being beneficial for the organization, understanding the application of different software systems,” he said.