Program Brings Bestselling Authors to Johnson County Library Patrons

Johnson County Library is delighted to introduce a new online program to its Library on Demand service. The organization has joined the Library Speakers Consortium, a national partnership that streams several author events each month to patrons of every member Library system.

See all the live and pre-recorded programs we offer via Library Speakers Consortium »

Library Speakers Consortium logo

“You get access to all these nationally-known writers,” said Gregg Winsor, regional librarian with Johnson County Library, who has watched some of the events. “All these other Libraries across the country who use this have the ability to pool resources together to get these bigger name authors that we normally wouldn’t get the chance to come and visit.”

The program is up and running and is available online. Patrons can register there for future live events. They can also watch numerous excellent and compelling archived interviews “on demand,” whenever it is convenient and fits their own schedule.

More than 250 Library systems across the country are part of this consortium, but Winsor said it appears that Johnson County Library is the only system in the Kansas City area to be part of it.  

Program Coordinator Helen Hokanson, who leads the Library's local writers programming, discovered this service and brought it to Library administrators’ attention in 2023. Winsor said it is a wonderful complement to all the book discussion groups hosted by Johnson County Library and in the community.

“Listening to an author talk about a popular book is, for us, a natural fit,” he said. “This is really looking to enhance what we have. Supplement, not substitute.”

Winsor noted that patrons got used to taking advantage of online programming during the pandemic. These new Zoom webinars are user-friendly and intuitive. Winsor has been highly impressed with the caliber of the conversations between the host and the author, delving deeply into characters, conflicts, themes and other significant elements of the books.

“The quality of the questions they ask is really quite high,” he said. “The person facilitating is quite knowledgeable and does a wonderful job.”

For live events, patrons can also submit questions ahead of time or can ask questions in the moment using the “chat” feature.

Winsor particularly enjoyed some recent events featuring Madeline Miller talking about “Song of Achilles” and “Circe,” and Ruth Ware discussing her psychological thrillers.

All genres are included, including fiction, non-fiction, biography, history, romance, poetry, business, even health and personal growth. Writers of young adult and children’s books are included. Winsor said some excellent children’s book authors, such as Kate DiCamillo, will be featured during the summer reading season, so parents should check out the schedule.

The consortium is dedicated to presenting a wide diversity of genres and authors, including women and people of color.

The closest member Library system appears to be Columbia, Missouri. Other member systems across the country include Detroit, Anaheim and Spokane. The Library Consortium notes that its impetus is to broaden the public’s connection to great books and writers.

“Right now, only the largest and best funded Library systems can regularly afford the speaking fees of top authors,” the consortium says on its website. “Our vision is to change that dynamic by pooling the resources of hundreds of Library systems to dramatically expand access to these programs for all patrons.”