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This Week at the Library

This week at the Library, you can join us at: 

Family Storytime – Monday, Oct. 23, 10:30 – 11 a.m.

The whole family will enjoy this flexible Storytime at the Monticello Library. Hearing stories is a great way to spend time with your kids and help them foster a love of reading. Stories, songs, fingerplays and movement activities foster pre-reading skills. Fun for the whole family. Space is limited. Pick up a free ticket at the Questions Desk when you arrive.

Live Your Healthiest Life Fall Class – Tuesday, Oct. 24, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Fall into some healthy habits at Central Resource Library! Take four hours and feel better in 2023. This week's topic is: Quitting tobacco and changing behaviors.

The Future of Language with Alexej Savreux and Dr. Mary Kohn– Tuesday, Oct. 24, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

How will language evolve with the passage of time? Join us at the Blue Valley Library for a fascinating discussion and debate between two linguists, Alexej Savreux and Dr. Mary Kohn. You’ll be left with a better appreciation of language and ideas to ponder about the future and your place in it.

Homework Help – Wednesday, Oct. 25, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

School is challenging for many students, and pandemic learning loss is an additional reality facing today’s youth. The Central Resource Library is thrilled to announce the return of Homework Help coaches to support student learning and academic achievement. Homework Help will focus specifically on literacy support for grades 2-5. Students are encouraged to bring specific homework assignments from school, such as book reports, writing projects, vocabulary, spelling, science or social studies reading, or any other work related to their specific literacy needs. English Language Learners (ELL) are welcome. Students will be served on a first-come, first-served basis, and busy times may require a wait. Additional online tutoring resources are available at on our website and include BrainFuse, Lightbox, and Khan Academy among others.

Generative AI and the future of Literature with Alexej Savreux– Wednesday, Oct. 25, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Even if you think you can’t understand AI, this novice-friendly session at the Blue Valley Library will focus on a broader philosophical discussion to improve your understanding. In this broad lecture, autodidact and linguist Alexej Savreux will deliver a focused philosophical and technical discussion on AI systems such as Grammarly, QuillBot, and ChatGPT, with examples of methodologies, societal implications, ethical and economic concerns, and technical analyses for a general audience. As AI proliferates across industry and geography, bring your questions and your coffee!

Redefining Literary Criticism Workshop with Alexej Savreux– Saturday, Oct. 28, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Join us at the Blue Valley Library and learn a new method of literary criticism, analysis, theory, and craftsmanship with GPT-3 and ChatGPT project linguist, writer, and humorist Alexej Savreux. The technique will draw upon advances in machine learning with particular attention to the philosophical concerns involved. Please bring a short poem or essay for critique, rewrite, and feedback. Alexej will share an overview of his career in linguistics, tech, and literature, complete with extended readings of selected pieces and leaving ample time for Q&A.

Candidate Meet and Greet – Saturday, Oct. 28, 10 – 11:30 a.m.

Interested in learning more about the school board candidates of the Gardner Edgerton Board of Education on your ballot? Join us at the Gardner Library for a meet and greet with the candidates. You'll have the opportunity to introduce yourself, ask questions, and learn more about their stances on the issues impacting your local schools over coffee and donuts.

And there’s much more happening this week … 

Already have a busy week? Remember, you can watch recordings of many of our programs at your convenience with Library OnDemand

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JoCoLibrary Is Improving Its Website

JoCoLibrary is improving its website and needs your help! We need volunteers who are able to answer a few short questions via email. If you're interested, please sign up with your contact information and we'll be in touch! If you're willing to have a longer chat with us about your experiences using our website, mention that when you sign up.

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New Curation Arrangement Could Increase Library’s Arts Programming

Bookshelves in an art gallery might detract from the experience, but on the other hand, art can enhance a visit to the library.

With that thought in mind, the Johnson County Library has gallery space in 10 of its branches. Art showcases creativity and tells stories just like the books, music, and movies in the Library’s collection, said Local Arts Librarian Bryan Voell.

“Art is a way to inspire people,” he said. “It provides the start of a conversation in the library. It becomes a way to reflect on our community.”

The Library changes the exhibits during spring, summer, and fall trimesters, and managing the rotation of artists is a heavy lift for the staff who serve on the local arts team in addition to working their main Library jobs. Voell, for instance, is an adult services librarian. So the Library has hired InterUrban ArtHouse to curate the exhibits in all the gallery spaces, except for the one at the Central Resource Library, which the Library will continue to manage. InterUrban ArtHouse, a nonprofit located in downtown Overland Park, is expected to take over in January.

As an organization that rents out studio space and offers arts programming, Voell said InterUrban ArtHouse is a perfect partner for the Library. “We see them as the experts,” he said. “This is what they do best.”

With its exhibits, the Library has brought in artists ranging from neophytes to mid-career. From that perspective, Voell said Library users should not notice the switch to InterUrban ArtHouse.

Patrons might, however, notice an uptick in arts programming at the Library now that Voell and his team are freed up from most of the curation duties. Voell said his arts position is an unusual one for a library, and he considers himself fortunate to be working for an organization that places such a high value on art.

The exhibits highlight the work of artists from throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area and around the region, and a central coordinator helps make that experience a positive one for the artists and the staff.

“And in the end,” Voell said, “it's the patrons who end up enjoying the art, getting inspired by the art, and there's an educational component as well.”

He was reminded how much the exhibitions can mean to patrons when he recently encountered a woman with a mobility scooter looking at the art at the Central Resource Library. Her limited mobility made it difficult for her to get to art galleries and museums, she told Voell, so the Central gallery was an important resource. “This is where she comes to enjoy the art and learn about the artists,” Voell said.

The fact that the Library serves a “huge cross-section of people, including people who otherwise would never have an opportunity to see contemporary, local art,” is one reason InterUrban ArtHouse is happy to take on curation duties, said CEO Angi Hejduk said in an email.

“We are excited to facilitate the relationship between artists and public art space,” she said, “creating opportunities for artists representing diverse communities and backgrounds to have their work on display.”

InterUrban ArtHouse will help artists pick items to display from their body of work and make digital catalogs of each exhibit, Hejduk said. The organization also assists with installation and marketing. “Each artist is elevated through their experience,” she said.

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Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway in Kenya, 1953. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

For Whom the Blog Tolls

New JoCoHistory Blog Entry

Ernest Hemingway’s Kansas City Connections

Ernest Hemingway, known for such literary classics as The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises, and A Farewell to Arms, stood out as one of the 20th century’s most prolific authors. He famously spent much of his life traveling, living in places like Paris, Cuba, and the Florida Keys. His time spent in Kansas City, first as a young cub reporter for The Kansas City Star and later in a brief but significant stays in the Johnson County area that remains less widely known.  Read the full article on the JoCoHistory Blog.

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Meet the 2023 Writers Conference Presenter: Matt Crist

Peer critique is essential for any writer! We’ve invited Matt Crist, JoCoLibrary staff member and fellow writer, to offer craft critique at this year’s Writers Conference. Matthew is an information specialist at the Lenexa Branch, but he is also an avid writer with two manuscripts and a dozen short stories lying around. He loves discussing all things related to writing, ideas, creativity and the arts. This will be a fun, casual setting where no judgement is allowed. You can find Matt in the open area outside of the Carmack Room with other drop-in activity tables to peruse in-between sessions.

You can register for the 2023 Writers Conference here. Registration isn’t required but is appreciated, and your RSVP includes both days of the conference, Nov. 3 and 4. Sessions are available on a first-come first-serve basis. We will also be hosting a Writers Conference Kickoff on Thursday, Nov. 2.

Inspired by this year’s conference book, By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York Times Book Review, we asked Matt a few questions to get to know him better:

 1. What's in your TBR pile? 

In my TBR pile I have so many books I have no idea where to begin.

2. What are you reading right now? 

Currently, I'm finishing up Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy with a few friends. I've been reading it since January. When people ask me what it's about, I just say: "Everything."

3. Do you have a favorite book you love to recommend? 

I love recommending Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves. Telling people about that book never gets old.

4. Do you have a favorite bookstore? 

I once visited a bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan that had a mummy case!

5. Answer the question you wish we had asked.

What do I love the most about writing? I love taking the chaos in my head, whether tragic or rhapsodic, and letting other people experience it on the page.

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No Wait Wednesday: Charm City Rocks by Matthew Norman

Hello and welcome to this week's edition of #NoWaitWednesday, where we take a look at a title from our adult New Release shelf that's just waiting for a lucky patron to discover it. Fantasy, science fiction, mystery, thriller, horror - we look at all kinds of books here at #NoWaitWednesday, however it's been a while since we've looked at romance in this space. It seems all of Kansas City is buzzing about the relationship between Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs and Taylor Swift, one of the biggest pop stars on the planet. Even though Kelce is a star in his own right, Swift is several degrees of magnitude larger, and I'm sure there's something about dating someone like that that comes with its own difficulties. Let's dive in to a novel about a romance between a rock star and a regular guy and the obstacles that just might come from it: Charm City Rocks by Matthew Norman. (Maybe we can give Travis some tips!) (While we're on the topic of romance - have you listened to our latest JoCoLibrary Uncovered podcast about some of our favorite romance novels?)  

In Charm City Rocks, Billy Perkins is a single dad deep in his 40s whose life hasn't turned out exactly the way he thought. However, on the main he's doing pretty okay for himself: he's a music teacher who lives in an apartment above a local Baltimore record store, Charm City Rocks, and the most important thing in his life is his teenage son, Caleb, who's a high school student looking ahead to college. While Billy is divorced, he has a great relationship with his ex, and he enjoys nothing more than hanging out and watch music documentaries with Caleb. When the topic of an all-female indie rock band that became the hottest thing on the charts for a short minute back in the day comes up, Billy mentions that he had an immense crush on the band's drummer, Margot Hammer, who retreated from the limelight after a famous - and disastrous - performance on the national stage. She then married a famous actor after the breakup of the band, and, while currently separated, lives a quiet life in New York City.

Caleb goes to the internet and arranges a meet-cute between his dad and Margot, who travels down to Baltimore, and after meeting Billy, does an impromptu sit-in playing drums with local bar band. She thought she had put her music career behind her, but caught up in the moment, her electrifying performance goes viral, reminding the world of her talent and igniting a long-dormant interest from her record company. While in Baltimore, Margot not only strikes up a relationship with Billy and meets a charming, eccentric cast of locals, but she also starts wondering what a second chance at a music career might look like - and who she might want to spend that career with.

Smart, warm, and comfy, and more sweet than spicy, this feel-good Generation X romance novel is all about second chances, perfect for fans of Linda Holmes or Annabel Monaghan. As adult characters with almost-grown children approaching middle age, Billy and Margot both bring a lot of baggage to their relationship, and the novel takes care to portray their passions and obstacles with care: Billy is a centered nice guy but has a lack of ambition and can't help but be a bit star-struck in his crush's presence, while Margot's previous fame-driven relationships, a parasitic music industry, and a fear of betrayal continue to haunt her. I love that Norman's novel looks at the realistic difficulties that a more mature relationship brings - bodies don't work exactly like they did in their 20s, for example, and both characters have children who need to be prioritized in whatever future they create. But with time and a bit of work, these two might just make it. Norman also uses the charm of the old-town neighborhoods of Baltimore as a perfect backdrop to this romance novel that deserves to be on your hold list. Check it out!

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Meet the 2023 Writers Conference Presenter: Cassidy Coles

When was the last time your work felt like play?  Cassidy Coles can help guide you on how to connect to your characters, storyline, and self through a series of creative games and exercises at this year’s Writers Conference. Do pencil sports, build a toy to compel you toward your vision, craft a musical playlist for a character, or try your hand at flash fiction to get those synapses firing! You can find Cassidy’s station with the other drop-in activity tables in the open space near the Carmack Community Room.

Cassidy Coles is a staff editor on the Johnson County Library's teen literary magazine, elementia. Her work in the Library has ranged from hosting weekly storytimes to providing Library services to incarcerated populations. A homeschooling parent with an elementary education background, she writes with her kids by day and spends the wee hours crafting her own poems and stories.

You can register for the 2023 Writers Conference here. Registration isn’t required but is appreciated, and your RSVP includes both days of the conference, Nov. 3 and 4. Sessions are available on a first-come first-serve basis. We will also be hosting a Writers Conference Kickoff on Thursday, Nov. 2.

Inspired by this year’s conference book, By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York Times Book Review, we asked Cassidy a few questions to get to know her better:

1. What's in your TBR pile? 

If I Was a Horse by Sophie Blackall

The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

2. What are you reading right now? 

Ulysses by James Joyce

The Bartender's Tale by Ivan Doig

The Eyes and the Impossible by Dave Eggers

3. Do you have a favorite book you love to recommend? 

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

4. Do you have a favorite bookstore? 

The Raven Book Store in Lawrence, KS. And be on the lookout for The Rabbit hOle, coming soon to North Kansas City! This museum for children's literature will likely include a bookshop.

5. Answer the question you wish we had asked.

Favorite quote about writing? Joan Didion: “I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking.

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Writers Conference: RSVP and BYOT!

The Local Writers committee is SO excited that the 2023 conference is just around the corner—the first weekend in November! We’ll have a kickoff on Thursday and the conference will run all day Friday and Saturday. Make sure to “RSVP” here. Registration isn’t required but is appreciated, and your RSVP includes both days of the conference, Nov. 3 and 4. Sessions are available on a first-come first-serve basis. We will also be hosting a Writers Conference Kickoff on Thursday, Nov. 2. 

 This year you have the option to BYOT—Bring Your Own T-shirt! Bring a cotton t-shirt (or bag, or hat) and we’ll use the heat press from our Makerspace to adhere a vinyl “Writers Conference” design to your shirt. You can have a piece of the conference with you forever! The heat press will be available the night of the kickoff as well as available on both days of the conference, while the supplies of pre-printed vinyl stickers last. 

 Stay tuned for the conference schedule reveal!