Friends and Foundation

The Gift of Exceptional Service

The gift of exceptional service 

Volunteers have played an important role providing Johnson County Library services for seven decades. In the early 1950s, the Prairie School PTA Library Committee determined the need for a county-wide library system. Those volunteers created libraries in business storefronts with donated books and worked to secure public funding. Volunteerism is still key to the Library’s success. Today’s volunteers help in dozens of ways: they shelve holds, assist genealogy patrons in research, sell used books and serve leadership roles on the Boards of Directors. The global pandemic tried but couldn’t stop the dedicated volunteers. In 2020 551 volunteers contributed 21,683 hours of service valued at $590,000, according to That’s 10 full-time employees’ worth of time!

The strengths of Johnson County Library’s volunteer program are the people who serve, especially the many longtime, dedicated volunteers. In April 2020 the Library honored five outstanding community members for their lifetime volunteer achievement. Together, these volunteers have contributed more than 31,155 hours of service – and counting. Let’s meet some of them.

LOUISE WELLER | 7,698 hours
Louise has been cashiering at Antioch Bookstore and sorting donations for more than 13 years. “Louise was invaluable to me when I started as manager, because she has so much experience,” says Becky Epperson, Bookstore Manager. Louise has developed relationships with customers, suggested books for them and always has time for a chat. As primary sorter at the donation facility, she is always on the lookout for items for the Johnson County Genealogy Society local history collection. Louise is a recipient of the Friends’ Shankel Award for Outstanding Service.

ALICE EDWARDS | 6,230 hours
Alice is a wealth of historical knowledge about the Friends. Looking for a way to exercise, she responded to a volunteer ad posted in a Library window – 21 years ago! Alice has staffed Friends book sales, the sorting center and the sales planning committee. She is a strong advocate for the Library and served three terms as a Friends board member, one as board President. “I have loved volunteering and sorting books and have always felt that helping the Library helps the whole county and everyone in it.”

LARRY LEIGHTON | 6,045 hours

Larry has been volunteering for over eight years in the online sales division. He lists, ships and manages inventories. Before COVID-19, Larry was a daily presence, then started to monitor orders from home. Last year, the Friends switched to a new software for processing online orders. Larry quickly picked up on the process and even developed a plan to remove old material from warehouse shelves. According to Friends Business and Online Sales Manager Matt Delaney, “My job would be much tougher without him.”

TEDY BELLOS | 5,623 hours

Tedy turned her passions for books and cats into volunteer service. She started when the Friends’ operations were at the Antioch branch. Tedy is the master researcher of vintage books for the online sales division, and helps generate excellent sales. Figuring out the true value of an autographed book and the best sales venue are Tedy’s gifts. Tedy is known by all the volunteers who affectionately refer to her workstation as “Tedy’s computer” – identifiable by the many festooned cat illustrations!

RUTH NOWACK | 5,560 hours

There are no volunteers, and few librarians, who know as much about children’s literature as does Ruth. She knows which are popular and what to hold on to for making more valuable sets, such as the Harry Potter series. She has volunteered for Libraries all over the county since 2003, and recruited her husband to volunteer, too! Ruth is a recipient of the Friends’ Shankel Award for Outstanding Service. “Working in the children’s area of our book sales, you get great smiles and hugs from kids who find the book they have been looking for.”

Learn more about becoming a Johnson County Library Volunteer and to see all of the available opportunities »


Book Sales Continue Online

It’s that time of year when we've historically hosted the Friends’ Sizzlin’ Summer Book Sale. Last year's sale was canceled owing to COVID, and we’re sorry to say that this year's sale has been canceled as well.

Never fear: you still have many ways to purchase lightly-used books and AV materials AND benefit JCL at the same time!

Themed sales have been running all year long at the two Friends Bookstores located at Antioch and Blue Valley Libraries. Many titles end up being cheaper than they might have been at a big book sale! Plus, Friends members receive 20% off regularly-priced items purchased at the stores. Bookstore information is posted on the Friends website.

Friends' internet sales have grown extensively over the past year. Shop their online storefront anytime, and save a few dollars on shipping by making arrangements for local pickup.

Stay tuned to the Friends website and social media for more sales news; in-person sales are returning this Fall!

Give the Gift of Friendship

This holiday season, give the gift that keeps on giving by purchasing a Friends of Johnson County Library membership for a loved one.

Present them with 20% off all purchases in our bookstores during December, the three yearly editions of the Library Guide mailed to their home, as well as Friends-only previews at Book Sales in 2021.

Gift a Membership

Nothing can keep us from a good book

This year has been filled with challenges, but Johnson County Library continues to rise to meet them. Online resources have expanded to meet patrons’ interests, and the buildings are open with safe access to books, materials, and computers.

Your year-end gift to the JCL Foundation will have a profound impact on our community. Every dollar donated to the Foundation benefits all Johnson Countians through lifelong learning resources. The Foundation funds Library resources and educational programs that encourage curiosity, spark imagination and bring dreams to life. 

Join JCL's Brian Berrens, for a behind the scenes look at a few of the programs and resources the Foundation and your charitable contribution supports:

Black & Veatch MakerSpace  

Collection Development



Incarcerated Services Support

Summer Reading

6 by 6: Ready to Read

Race Project KC

The Johnson County Library Foundation’s mission is to build an endowment for the Library’s collection and secure support for lifelong learning programs offered at Johnson County Library. Please consider making a year-end donation

Bookmark Contest Winners

Congratulations to our Friends of the Library Bookmark Contest winners! The winning bookmarks are available now at your favorite Library location. 

Friends will Close Bookstore at Central Library

Get your Used Book Bargains before October 10.

Central Resource Library is preparing for Phase 2 of extensive renovations, during 2021. The work is extensive and as a result the Friends of Johnson County Library Bookstore at Central closes permanently October 10th.

Not to worry! You can still make great deals for a good cause with by-appointment shopping at our Antioch and Blue Valley Libraries bookstores

Meanwhile, we’re closing out inventory at Central, and there are bargains galore. You can take advantage of their 50% off books and AV renovations sale from now until they close!

  • Schedule your shopping appointment with Becky at
  • Appointment times at CENTRAL only: Mondays (9:00-4:30); Tuesdays and Wednesdays (Noon-4:30); Thursdays (Noon-7:30)
    We will also be open Saturday Oct. 10 (Time TBD)
  • Includes children's books! Which, as our regular shoppers know, is a BIG DEAL. We’re sorry to see Central go, and we look forward to welcoming you to our Renovations Sale!

JCL Makers On a Roll

While the Johnson County Library’s Black & Veatch MakerSpace may be closed, its makers are still keeping busy and finding innovative ways to contribute their skills for the good of the library and the community. One of their latest projects involved something unusual: a steamroller.

During Project Block & Roll, the makers combined a new 3-D carving tool, the X-Carve, with a 36-inch construction roller to showcase a local artist and new MakerSpace equipment, and to raise money for the Library Foundation. The roller pressed ink from a carved wood block onto paper to create a print of a local artist’s work that was as large as 45”x32”.

Five of the art prints were donated to the Library Foundation, and donors were able to purchase $100 raffle tickets during the annual Library Lets Loose fundraiser for the chance of winning a print. Angelica Sandoval, one of the MakerSpace facilitators, said the steamroller rental and delivery fees were donated by Sunbelt.

“There were many parts of the project I enjoyed,” Sandoval said. She was especially glad to get to format the chosen artist’s piece for printing using the X-Carve, and to join the other makers in driving the industrial roller. “It was slower than I expected,” she added.

The Black & Veatch MakerSpace facilitators placed a call for art entries for Block & Roll online so they could choose and involve a Kansas City artist in the project. After hours of deliberation, they unanimously chose Shawn Sanem’s “Hurgle” from which to make the limited edition prints. As the winner, Sanem received two artist proofs from a master printer and $400. Also involved was Mark Raymer as the Master Printmaker. Raymer provided logistical guidance to the MakerSpace facilitators on the day

Block & Roll isn’t the only maker project in the works right now. There are several maker kits in circulation that allow for the exploration of coding using the free web program Make Code alongside circuit boards, a manual, and a cord for computer connection. 

Like other library staff, the makers have moved programs online such as their microbit workshop and sewing class, always finding new ways to work with and reach out to patrons. Sandoval said the Black & Veatch MakerSpace also provides remote 3D Printing for patrons during this time of limited services.

“The idea is that patrons reserve a time to print a model from TinkerCad or Thingiverse. A makerspace facilitator will then walk the patron through our 3D slicing program via Zoom” explained Sandoval, and patrons can then “pick up their finished print on the hold shelf at Central Resource Library.”

Having been with the Black & Veatch MakerSpace for two years, Sandoval says she most enjoys having “the opportunity to be creative while being able to teach patrons how to use tools and complete their projects.”

-- Catherine Strayhall

Library Lets Loose Attracts Hundreds

Johnson County Library Foundation President Vickie Trott summed up one craving in 2020 as she addressed attendees at this year’s annual Library gala: “In these unusual times,” Trott said, “we need to let loose however we can until we can let loose in person again.”

And that’s exactly what happened Sept. 12, with the “virtual” Library Lets Loose celebration and fund-raiser. Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, this year’s event could not be held in-person and pivoted to online. Using the On24 platform, the Foundation hosted an event that still featured fun activities, capped off by a virtual dance club where people were encouraged to get their groove on from the comfort of their own homes.

“I am truly amazed at the ingenuity and willingness of so many people to look at the possibility to keep our Library Lets Loose event an ongoing tradition,” Trott told participants.

Honorary co-chairs Cindy Wallis-Lage and Kent Lage greeted people from their home. “Even in this time where we are sheltered in place a lot and we don’t get to go out to the places that we like to go, the Library is still there as a great resource,” Wallis-Lage said. “We hope you have a fantastic night and really remember how much the Library means to all of us.”  

In past years, the gala has attracted 44 sponsors and about 500 participants. This year, the event still garnered 44 sponsors and more than 500 attendees.  Feedback was very positive. The event was free to register but many people and companies still made generous donations. “As a Foundation, we are grateful for the brave Library Lovers who were willing to try an online fundraising event,” said Foundation Executive Director Stephanie Stollsteimer. “We are thrilled with the outpouring of financial support as well.”


LLL Readers Series: Candice Millard

Join us September 12 for the Johnson County Library Foundation's signature fundraising event, Library Lets Loose!

Library Lets Loose goes VIRTUAL and FREE this yearLibrary lovers everywhere can enjoy this festive, family-friendly online event. 

In celebration, we proudly present another one of our “celebrity guests” sharing a Library story special to them. We hope you enjoy their stories, and register to join us online September 12 for more great fun!

Today’s special guest is writer, Candice Millard, reading a passage from I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.