All locations are closed Monday, Jan. 17 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Volunteering with Johnson County Library offers so many great benefits for our volunteers.
On Thursday, Jan. 13th, the Volunteer Book Club will be meeting to discuss The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.
Want to join the fun? One-time, short-term, and regular volunteer opportunities are available. Visit our list of opportunities to learn how you can become a Library volunteer.
Your gently-used books, DVDs and CDs might be yearning for a change of scenery in the new year. Luckily, the Friends of Johnson County Library can help them find their next adventure while helping you with your own resolution to clear out unused items.
The Friends host a donation drop-off event every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. You can find more information, including a list of accepted items, on the Friends website. And while you’re there, check out their online shop for great deals on books that are looking for new life in the new year. The funds raised from these purchases help support your Library!
At age 82, Friends of Johnson County Library Larry Leighton still goes to work six days per week. He devotes nearly 40 hours per week to his duties. And as he jokes, “They double my pay every month.”
In fact, Leighton works as an incredibly dedicated volunteer with the Friends of Johnson County Library’s book donation sorting center. He gets paid in free cups of coffee, the friendship of other volunteers and in a deep sense of satisfaction for performing a worthwhile service.
“It’s fun. It’s interesting. I do enjoy it,” Leighton says.
Leighton oversees a small team of volunteers at the sorting center at 82nd and Melrose Drive in Lenexa. They take gently-used donated books and sell them on various websites. Using a computer program, Leighton assesses the books’ price and popularity and posts them for sale.
Orders come in from all over the country (even from overseas), sometimes from bookstores but mostly from individuals. The team prepares them for mailing to the book buyers.
Years ago, Leighton started volunteering a few hours per week, but as others have rotated in and out, he’s assumed more responsibilities. Now he’s there seven hours Mondays through Fridays and four hours on Saturdays.
His team consists of five book listers and five book shippers, all women. “They are all really nice gals,” he says. He enjoyed working with Matt Delaney, the Friends of JCL business manager who retired earlier this year. He appreciates Shanta Dickerson, the Friends of JCL operations manager.
The book sales are a major revenue generator for Friends of JCL. Leighton has a list of dozens of books or book sets that have sold for over $100 this year, including complete Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew sets; a Calvin and Hobbes set; and an original Stephen King Hardcover Book Club edition.
Leighton grew up around dairy cows in College Station, Texas, where his dad was a Texas A&M professor. There weren’t many playmates living nearby, so he entertained himself by reading, including the Hardy Boys and Mark Twain. He’s still an avid reader of history and fiction.
He studied aeronautical engineering at Texas A&M, served in the Air Force in Indiana 1961 -1964, then worked for Procter & Gamble in Dallas and Cincinnati. After an Air Force buddy with a job at Hallmark talked about what a great company it was, Leighton applied and was hired.
He moved with his wife and two young children to Overland Park and worked for Hallmark from 1967 to 2000. He had a series of management positions in a very fulfilling career.
Leighton’s first wife died unexpectedly in 1990 and he was a widower for a few years before he remarried. He and his wife Paula live in Leawood and have a wonderful marriage, but Leighton says volunteering helps him stay busy.
After retiring from Hallmark at age 61, he enjoyed playing golf, but soon realized he needed a greater purpose in his life. He volunteered at various golf courses and with Heart to Heart, Intl. and Cross-Lines Community Outreach before he saw a notice about Library volunteering. At the book sorting center, he found his niche.
“It gets me out of the house. It lets my wife have some time,” Leighton said. “She’s a sweetheart. I love her dearly and I want to let her have her space.”
Plus, he gets to socialize with nice people and give donated books new life. And it’s a great benefit to the Library.
“I have no plans to change,” Leighton said, “as long as they need me.”
Johnson County Library Foundation is grateful for unwavering supporters like you who have been making a difference for 25 years. Supporters have adapted to the needs of our community over the years and now, as we emerge from the pandemic, we have a unique moment to demonstrate again how essential the Johnson County Library is to each of us and our friends and families.
In 2020, the Johnson County Library Foundation provided $175,312 of support to the Library. Your financial support is more important than ever, every dollar donated benefits all Johnson Countians through lifelong learning resources. Your contributions fund resources for the collection and programs like early literacy, STEM, civic engagement and so much more.
Here are a few of the programs and resources your charitable contribution supports:
Black & Veatch MakerSpace
The Black & Veatch MakerSpace is an environment of creativity and emerging technologies. Located in the Central Resource Library, visitors can have access to 3D printing, AudioVisual production space/equipment, sewing materials, laser, CNC and vinyl cutting and a selection of computers with industry-standard software. The space also receives generous funding from Google Fiber, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and Black & Veatch. Watch a short video about the Foundation’s support of this program.
Johnson County Library strives to provide a collection that mirrors the changing needs of our community, including traditional books as well as a growing collection of e-resources. We believe this collection should be rich in ideas, information, and viewpoints from all lifestyles and each side of a topic without restrictions on access. Watch a short video about the Foundation’s support of this program.
elementia is a magazine for teens produced by teens. The publication connects published artists with talented young adults through submissions of original poetry, fiction, nonfiction, graphic stories, photography and illustrations. Since its inception in 2005, elementia has included the voices of more than 850 creative young adults. Watch a short video about the Foundation’s support of this program.
For many years, the Johnson County Library and the Johnson County Genealogical Society (JCGS) have had a close, supportive relationship. The Library maintains a mid-size genealogy collection, including online resources and items owned by the Library as well as items owned by JCGS, all housed side-by-side on shelving in the west-central area of the Central Resource Library. Watch a short video about the Foundation’s support of this program.
Incarcerated Services Support
Johnson County Library provides a number of literature-related workshops and services for juveniles and adults serving an incarcerated sentence. The Incarcerated Services Support programs serve the New Century Complex, Juvenile Detention Center and Olathe, Kansas courtrooms that handle many fostering cases. Watch a short video about the Foundation’s support of this program.
From mid-May until the end of July, Johnson County Library helps combat summer slide by providing a free book to every child who comes into the library. By growing children’s personal libraries and helping them find intrinsic value in reading, the Library bridges that summer learning gap and invests in the future of our community. Watch a short video about the Foundation’s support of this program.
6 by 6: Ready to Read
Recognizing its unique role in brain development the Johnson County Library Foundation created 6 by 6 Ready to Read, an early literacy program in English and Spanish designed to be applicable and approachable for everyone. 6 by 6 focuses on six pre-reading skills to help kids get ready for formal education. Watch a short video about the Foundation’s support of this program.
Race Project KC
This initiative consists of a series of opportunities for teens to learn our area’s history of racial segregation and how it continues to impact us today. Students hear from experts on the topics, learn vocabulary for talking about race, build relationships with peers they might not otherwise meet, and share their own stories as they relate to the issues. Watch a short video about the Foundation’s support of this program.
With your support we can make a difference for the next 25 years. Please consider making a year-end donation to the Johnson County Library Foundation. Donate today »
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 independentsector.org. 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 »
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!
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.
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:
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,