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Meet the Presenter: Ethan Zolotor

I first met Ethan Zolotor during the summer of 2009 in one of the more unlikely places: summer school. Well, summer gym to be more precise. Summer gym was an eclectic mix of incoming freshmen who wanted to get their physical education credit out of the way and upper classmen who neglected to take P.E. classes until the very last minute. We were incoming freshmen who lucked out and were in a class whose instructor just wanted to be called “Coach,” play dodgeball and all its variations, and most of all ignore the syllabus. It was great to have Ethan as a familiar face in the hallways of a large, 6A high school.

Ethan went on to become an engineer who made formula-e cars, laser systems and hybrid-electric boats. If that is not impressive enough, Ethan did all this in addition to staying up late to work on his own stories. Ethan grew up surrounded by books from his family’s library and always carried around handwritten stories on stacks of loose paper. He was constantly writing and drawing, taking inspiration from fantasy literature, manga and western comics. All of this brought the world of Hyperborea to life; the first book Severed Legacy, published in 2019, and the sequel Traitor’s Path which was released this year!

The Conference Planning Committee is thrilled to have Ethan Zolotor join the faculty for the 2022 Writers Conference, giving presentations on world building, finding and working with an illustrator, and sitting on the revision panel.

You can find his books on Amazon:

Also check out @hyperboreabooks on Instagram!

-- written by Kathryn “Katt” Cooper, adult services information specialist

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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual recognition of the diverse cultures, history and contributions of Hispanic Americans. First celebrated in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week, the month-long celebration, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, was enacted into federal law in 1988. 

The Library is here to help you celebrate with books, like the booklist below, resources, events and more! To start:

This Hispanic and Latino Heritage Libby list has a mix of eBooks and eAudiobooks for all ages. 

This Hispanic Heritage Month Kanopy list has films featuring Hispanic Americans and/or celebrating Hispanic heritage and culture.

Explore the branches and roots of your family tree with a number of Library genealogy resources.

Attend events such as weekly bilingual storytimes, or a workshop or concert with Latin Grammy-winning duo 123 Andrés

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Meet the Presenter: Amber Logan

It often feels like we’re living in shapeshifting times, where the familiar unpredictably morphs into something strange. Chaos is the one certainty we have and speculative fiction allows us to look at our reality in a new way to gain new perspectives on our lives.

These days I find myself turning more and more to speculative fiction to comfort me and help me navigate through life. Dr. Amber A. Logan is an expert tour guide through the uncanny and familiar-but-strange times we live in not only as a writer of speculative fiction but also as someone with a background in Psychology, Liberal Arts and International Relations, as well as the recipient of a PhD in Creative Writing from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.

Amber believes in creating a meaningful journey for characters and she is dedicated to creating an immersive world for characters and readers to meet and play. Her debut novel, The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn, takes readers to Kyoto, Japan where past intermingles with the present as the main character Mari discovers ghosts and hidden truths of her own life.

While Amber isn’t writing, she’s teaching as a university instructor, working as a freelance editor and hanging out with her husband and two children. She also enjoys trips to Japan, exploring unusual vegetarian foods and reading fellow speculative fiction writer Haruki Murakami. If you’d like to know more about Amber, you can find her on Twitter (@AmberAnnLogan).

We’re ecstatic that Amber is joining us this year for our Writers Conference as a research panelist, as well as a presenter for two classes: Personalized Tools for Your Writer’s Toolbox: Words to Watch and Beloved Materials List and a class on “rounding out” flat characters.

-- written by Jesseca Bear, adult services information specialist

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Meet Merriam Plaza Library

Here's your first look at the newest Johnson County Library branch, the Merriam Plaza Library.

This new location will replace the current Antioch Library, which has been a fixture in the Merriam community for over 60 years—staff and patrons alike have many fond memories of the building, some having visited Antioch their entire lives!

Plans for the new Library, located just a few blocks away on the campus of the Merriam Community Center, have been in development with the City of Merriam for several years. The name Merriam Plaza Library is fitting as it is located within the Merriam Municipal Plaza which is also home to the Community Center, City Hall and police station. The name was selected by a committee and voted on and approved by the Library Board at their Sept. meeting. The design phase is now complete and construction will begin in late 2022/early 2023, with the new facility anticipated to open in 2024. Learn more about the project in our FAQ

For more information, visit jocolibrary.org or follow @jocolibrary on social media for project updates and photos.

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This Week at the Library

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

Library OnDemand Available anytime you like.

Your doorway into live and archived programs. Arts & Culture, Career & Finance, Community Matters, Writers and more!

Walk and Read at Thompson Park Saturday, Sept. 10 - Sept. 17, Anytime

Johnson County Library and Overland Park Parks and Recreation Department invite you to visit the Walk and Read program at Thompson Park. “We the Kids” and “Frog on a Log?” will be posted.

In-Person Storytimes are Back!Mondays, Starting Sept. 12.

Check the list of locations and times for details. 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. Siblings are welcome.

The Past is Prologue: Iconic Kansas City RestaurantsTuesday, Sept. 13, 7 - 8 p.m.

The Past is Prologue is a bimonthly program that highlights topics often left out, glossed over, or misrepresented in our history books. For our September program, we will discuss iconic restaurants in Kansas City with author Andrea Broomfield. The program will take place virtually via Library OnDemand, and the recording will be available following the program on the library's website. 

Food Writing Methodology with Andrea Broomfield Wednesday, Sept. 14, 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. 

Whether you dream about starting a food blog or submitting to Cook's Illustrated, learn about food writing with Andrea Broomfield, professor of English at JCCC and author of "Iconic Restaurants of Kansas City." Broomfield will discuss her approach to writing and her work as a food historian. This program is being held at the Central Resource Library but if you aren’t able to attend in-person, you can register to watch virtually OnDemand.

Blood Pressure Clinic Wednesday, Sept. 14, 10 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. 

Drop in event each month at Central Resource Library and a nurse from the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment will test your blood pressure.

And much more happening this week »

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A Very Special Did you hear? podcast Episode: Library Lets Loose!

Extra! Extra! Hear all about it!

Did you know the Johnson County Library has a podcast? If not, this special episode is the perfect place to begin listening. By spending a mere 15 minutes with us, you too will be able to answer with a resounding "Yes!" to the question: "Did you hear?"

We discuss the annual one night only party at the Library we call: Library Lets LooseYou are not going to want to miss this festive, lively after-hours celebration and fundraiser for Library Lovers at Central Resource Library. If you are 21 years or older, we invite you to join our Honorary hosts Senia and Will Shields to enjoy food, drink, music, our MakerSpace and truly good people!

Tickets and more information:

libraryletsloose.org

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Meet the Presenter: Jim Cosgrove

Jim Cosgrove lives in a quiet suburb of Kansas City with his wife, Jeni, their two daughters, and a handsome rescued mutt. If his name sounds familiar to you, then chances are you have some kiddos at home who love to move and groove to the music of Mr. Stinky Feet, Jim’s other alias.

Having performed over 4,500 high energy shows at home and abroad, in addition to his music videos racking up 2.3 million views online, it is no wonder Jim has been decorated with a dozen national parenting awards for his nine family albums. Three of his popular songs, Sullen Sally, Bop Bop Dinosaur, and Hark! It’s Harold the Angel, have also been turned into children’s books (Ascend Books, 2020)!

Jim “Mr. Stinky Feet” Cosgrove is not just an author and entertainer for the kids, he has written two titles for adults as well: Ripple: A Long Strange Search For a Killer (Steerforth Press, 2022), a true-crime memoir, and a collection of essays from his time working at the Kansas City Star as a parenting columnist, titled Everybody Gets Stinky Feet (Mighty Mo Productions, 2017). Jim has also worked for the Albuquerque Journal as a staff writer and for Kansas City-based Hallmark Cards, Inc. as an editor.

We are thrilled to have Jim join the faculty for the 2022 Writers Conference. He will be giving lectures on grammar and writing for children and will also participate in two panel discussions, one on research and the other on rejection and critique.

-- written by Kathryn "Katt" Cooper, adult services information specialist

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Tricia Suellentrop poses with her husband Shaun.

Tricia Suellentrop and her husband Shaun

New Director Passionate about Discovery in Libraries and Life

One of Tricia Suellentrop’s fondest childhood experiences was listening riveted while her fifth grade teacher read a book to the class about the drama and intrigue of the Wild West.

“It was just a great memory that I have, literally being on the edge of your seat, can you just read a little bit more?” Suellentrop now recalls.

Books have always been a source of wonder and exploration for Suellentrop. So it’s only fitting that she now heads Johnson County Library, an organization devoted to sharing the vast world of books, information and ideas to satisfy any curiosity and enrich people’s lives.

“The word I always associate, that gives me the biggest spark, is discovery,” says Suellentrop, who assumed the role of Johnson County Librarian on July 1, following Sean Casserley’s retirement. “That’s what I really think about Libraries. It’s just all the discovery possible.”

She is an enthusiastic evangelist for continuing to make Johnson County Library accessible to all patrons pursuing their own journeys of the mind.

Suellentrop, 52, brings decades of experience to her new job. She joined Johnson County Library full time in 1998 as the first Teen Services Coordinator. She then served as Youth Services Manager and Systemwide Services Manager before becoming Deputy County Librarian in 2008.

She learned a lot about long-range planning, strategic thinking and fostering a nurturing work culture from Johnson County Librarians Donna Lauffer and Casserley, preparing her to take the helm.

Colleagues appreciate her good humor, sense of fun and collaborative leadership style, which empowers staff to be independent, creative and proactive in addressing challenges and problems.

Growing up in Wichita, Suellentrop was immersed in an academic environment as her mother was a history and English professor at Wichita State and Newman universities.

Suellentrop herself graduated from Benedictine College with a bachelor’s degree in English. She worked for a few years, including as a nanny in Denver, before earning her Master of Library Science from Emporia State.

She interviewed for several Johnson County children’s librarian positions but wasn’t chosen. Fortunately, Jean Hatfield, a youth services manager, realized her potential and urged her to apply for a brand new position focused on teens.

She got the job and found working with young adults incredibly energizing and inspiring.

Suellentrop forged robust connections with school librarians, increasing families’ appreciation for Johnson County Library’s great resources.

She also spearheaded the Read to Succeed program with the Juvenile Detention Center, providing juveniles with access to all sorts of Library books and services. The program was a model for other Library systems, and in 2005 Suellentrop was recognized as one of the Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers.

She co-authored “Connecting Young Adults and Libraries,” a manual to help public and school libraries serve teen populations. And perhaps most wonderfully, Suellentrop developed close relationships with countless teens, many of whom still keep in touch with her.

In her spare time, Suellentrop is an avid Wichita State Shocker’s basketball fan. She and her husband Shaun have two dogs and two cats and enjoy live music, particularly at Knuckleheads, Grinders and the Green Lady Lounge. She has a goal of visiting all 50 states, with just Maine and Wisconsin left to go.

She loves nonfiction, teen fiction and thrillers, usually reading one book at a time and listening to another in her car.

In these first months on the job, Suellentrop is taking time to listen and learn. She appreciates the supportive Library Board, staff and patron base, and looks forward to working closely with other civic leaders.

It’s a great new chapter for what has been a wonderful career.

“I love that being in the Library, no day is ever the same,” she said. “That really fits with my personality, and with my tolerance for surprises.”