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Cities and Towns of Johnson County

Happy Throwback Thursday! Celebrate by time traveling through local history at and be sure to follow our hashtag on Twitter! 

A really neat feature of JoCoHistory is the Cities and Towns of Johnson County section. The team has organized content like pictures of houses, schools, people and more by city and town names. While there, be sure to explore the Lost Communities of Johnson County, Kansas. 


Meet the Presenter: Justin Nogy

Justin Nogy is a graphic designer and tattoo artist from Fayetteville, Arkansas. A tattoo artist? At a writers conference? Yes, and we think you’re going to love him!

He recently graduated from the University of Arkansas with a BFA in Graphic Design with a specialization in research design. His research focuses on the destigmatization of tattoos and the tattoo community through historical analysis of tattoo traditions and widespread education.

In addition to sitting on a panel about research with Jim Cosgrove and Amber Logan, Nogy will lead us in writing exercises from our conference book, Creative Acts for Curious People: How to Think, Create, and Lead in Unconventional Ways. He’ll also describe the long and rich history of notable authors who have experienced tattoo culture first-hand, and best of all, he’ll sit for open office hours with Sarah Stein Greenberg, author of our conference book.

Come meet Justin at the Writers Conference Kick-Off on and get your own temporary tattoo!


What do you know about the Library?

It's the Library Lowdown Quiz Showdown Part I
We love quiz podcasts and radio programs like “Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!” We also live for getting to know everything there is to know about Johnson County Library! What do you know? What do we know? Get ready for a variety of Library games! In this fantastically fun episode, we play Bluff the Librarian with Local Arts Librarian Bryan and Library Password with Matt, Patti and Courtney.

Be sure to stay until the end when we announce the winners of our at-home Crossword and Word Search!


Search our Web Catalog using tags!

When you search our catalog, you can search by 'tags,' user-created ways to browse for something new to read! Maybe you're ready for Halloween and need a 'spooky' read, or love books set in the '1920s.' Try searching by tags today!


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:


Meet the Presenter: Anne-Marie Oomen

I first met Anne-Marie Oomen on an idyllic college campus in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The campus was a quiet spot in a small suburb of Boston, cold, as Januarys in Boston tend to be.

But Anne-Marie was warm: her smile, her hug, her willingness to sit to talk even before we really got to know each other. I’m writing this from a place of memory, of course, which means I’m curating the experience to share what I cannot forget. I’d come to learn that from Anne-Marie in workshops, the fact that memory is faulty and truth is personal and that emotional truth is what drives us to the page time and time again. While listening to her read excerpts from her own compelling memoirs, I learned that writing creative non-fiction requires both precision and permission: precision in emotional truth, permission to find—and write—it in our own unique way.

Anne-Marie is also sharp, as in whip smart, driven, determined, and persistent. She has won awards, she writes poetry and prose and plays, she has hosted a podcast. She is a teacher, a mentor, a working writer, and an active, kind participant in the literary landscape.

She’ll join Johnson County Library as faculty at our annual conference, where she will lead a workshop, teach sessions, and read from her newest memoir, the award-winning As Long As I Know You: The Mom Book.

She’ll also lead three sessions for us in September and October, all virtually. On Tuesday, Sept. 27, she’ll be in conversation with memoirist and professor Ames Hawkins; on Wednesday, Sept. 28, she’ll deliver a craft lecture centering on ekphrasis; and on Saturday, Oct. 1, she’ll lead a 2-hour workshop on ekphrasis. We hope you’ll sign up for all three events, and then join us at the conference to welcome Anne-Marie to Kansas.

-- written by Lisa Allen, adult services information specialist

Author Anne-Marie Oomen


Official Bio: Anne-Marie Oomen’s forthcoming book As Long as I Know You: The Mom Book won AWP’s Sue William Silverman Nonfiction Award (University of Georgia Press, September, 2022). Others titles include The Lake Michigan Mermaid (co-authored with poet, Linda Nemec Foster, Michigan Notable Book 2019), Love, Sex and 4-H, (Next Generation Indie Award for memoir); Pulling Down the Barn and House of Fields, (Michigan Notable Books)—all focused on rural culture; An American Map: Essays, and a collection of poetry, Uncoded Woman (Milkweed Editions). She edited Elemental, A Collection of Michigan Nonfiction (Michigan Notable Book), and Looking Over My Shoulder: Reflections on the Twentieth Century (A Michigan Humanities Council Project). She has written seven plays, including award-winning Northern Belles (inspired by oral histories of women farmers), and Secrets of Luuce Talk Tavern, winner of the CTAM contest. She is founding editor of Dunes Review, former president of Michigan Writers, Inc., and serves as instructor at Solstice MFA in Creative Writing at Lasell University (MA) and at Interlochen College of Creative Arts. She appears at conferences throughout the country. She and her husband, David Early, built their own home on wild acreage near Empire, Michigan, and their beloved Lake Michigan. 


Shawnee Branch Celebrates Decades of Service to Community

The Shawnee Library branch is celebrating 30 years at its current location, 13811 Johnson Drive, sharing a campus with an aquatic center and civic center.

But Library roots run even deeper in Shawnee and date back nearly 70 years, to a charming little schoolhouse. In fact, the very first Johnson County Library branch opened its doors June 3, 1953 in Shawnee, in the old Dunbar School at 57th and Reeder Road. The facility was first run by volunteers from the Friends of Johnson County Library and later by paid staff.

The Shawnee Library moved to rented space near Nieman Road on Johnson Drive, but budget cuts forced its closure in 1958. For the next 34 years, Shawnee was served by the Antioch branch.

Library and civic leaders always wanted to re-establish a Shawnee branch. That became even more essential with population growth in the 1980s. The city offered the present site on its Johnson Drive civic campus, and the branch opened there on April 25, 1992.

The building, designed by Gould Evans architects, had floor-to-ceiling windows, a bright, airy interior and a vaulted roof resembling an open book. Its design was so impressive that it was featured in the Library Journal’s annual architecture issue that same year.

Serving patrons today is a joy for Branch Manager Anna Madrigal and Assistant Branch Manager Megan Clark.

“It’s not as big and flashy as some of our new locations, but it’s well established for the families and individuals who utilize it,” Madrigal said. “We’re in the middle of a residential area. People can plan their whole day around going to the pool and then coming to the Library or the opposite.”

Madrigal loves the tall windows with lovely views. “There’s a lot of nature. It kinds of spills over into the trees behind it,” she said. “It’s just a peaceful place for people to hang out.”

Madrigal and Clark are especially looking forward to building improvements planned for the first half of 2023. The branch will get all new shelves, furniture, carpet and paint throughout, new heating and cooling systems and other upgrades.

“We are just really investing in the infrastructure of the building to make sure it’s good for the next 30 years,” Madrigal said.

The branch will shut down for about ten weeks, with the timing not yet certain.

Madrigal started as branch manager in November 2019 and Clark in January 2020, just prior to the pandemic. They are pleased to see a gradual return to normalcy, with the meeting room back open and used heavily by homes associations, scouts and other groups. Storytime returns sometime next year. The branch is now a polling place and a Red Cross blood drive location.  

Shawnee’s door count has dropped significantly since the Monticello branch opened in 2018. Still, Shawnee maintains a loyal patron base of families, students and avid readers. It had 78,815 visitors and circulated 136,406 items in 2021.

A large senior living development with apartments and villas is opening nearby in 2023, and their social coordinator has already reached out to Madrigal for information about Library services.

Clark sees the Shawnee Library as a crucial, welcoming community hub.

“I think it’s going to be maybe even more beautiful when we have the renovation,” she said. “Even though we’re not one of the busier branches, it’s a nice destination for our patrons. We have a hard-working staff  who make it what it is, and provide the service to make them want to come back.”


Art for Impact: How We Got Here

Planning for our annual Writers Conference began with us thinking about how art impacts our world. We thought about what it means to put our writing into the world, how art transforms our stories and the stories of people we love. We thought about how art creates community; how it fosters relationships, challenges assumptions, and provokes conversations.   

We learned about Patricia Streeper’s work and thought about how she was using her art to educate us all about women who've made unmistakable impacts in history. We know some of the names, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Harriet Tubman. But others we might not: Edna Lewis, Makota Fujishiro Huthwaite, Ruth Wilson Gilmore. And the founder of Johnson County Library, Kay Robeson (portrait shown here). 

Then our librarian Helen found the book Creative Acts for Curious People: How to Think, Create, and Lead in Unconventional Ways. This book is full of 2-3 page scenarios and exercises that ask questions, challenge assumptions, and inspire new ways of thinking. We immediately knew we wanted everyone to have this book.  

And then, the rest started to come together: Sarah Stein Greenburg of the Stanford Design School and editor of Curious Acts for Curious People, agreed to join our faculty. So did Anne-Marie Oomen, who just published an award-winning memoir and is currently at work on an ekphrastic project with a renowned artist. So did Brendan Kiely, whose most recent book challenges us to think and act differently.  

Jim Cosgrove, a beloved children's entertainer and author whose first book for adults, Ripple: A Long, Strange Search for A Killer has topped the holds list for months, agreed to teach. So did Jessica ConoleyEthan ZolotarJustin Nogy, and many other talented, passionate writers. We’re so excited to introduce you to each faculty member and presenter, and we’ll be doing so right in this very space. So come back often!


New JoCoHistory Blog: The Shawnee Indian Mission

Before Europeans arrived in North America, the Shawnee people resided in the Eastern woodlands of what is now the Untied States. In 1793, some Shawnee tribespeople made a treaty with the Spanish for land in Eastern Missouri. In 1825, this group of Shawnee signed a treaty with the United States Government to exchange their land in Missouri for land in present day Eastern Kansas. The remaining tribe in the East signed the Treaty of Fort Meigs in 1817 that granted three areas of land for reservations in Northwest Ohio. However, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 further displaced this group of Shawnee and sent them to join the reservation in Kansas. In that same year, Shawnee Chief Fish requested a missionary to join them on their new reservation. At the behest of the missionary society, Methodist Reverend Thomas Johnson first went to the present-day Turner area of Kansas City, Kansas, and built a two story building to minister to the Shawnee people. He then requested to move to the mission’s present location in Fairway to build a larger school that would serve more tribes, but who’s primary focus would be converting the Native People to Christianity and forcing them to assimilate to European-American culture by giving them Anglo names, forbidding communication in any language other than English, and stripping them of any traditional clothing and objects. During it’s twenty-plus years of operation, up to 200 children aged 5 to 23 were housed at any given time from the Cherokee, Chippewa, Delaware, Gros Ventres, Kaw, Kickapoo, Munsee, Omaha, Osage, Otoe, Ottawa, Peoria, Potawatomi, Shawnee, Wea, and Wyandot tribes.

In October 1839, the mission officially opened. That same year, the West building was completed and housed staff living quarters, a dining hall, and a kitchen. The East building followed in 1841 and contained a chapel, classrooms, and living quarters for both teachers and students. The North building completed the primary structures in 1845 that contained classrooms and a girls’ dormitory. The children were taught basic academic subjects alongside training for homemaking, carpentry, blacksmithing, milling and farming.  The school employed white settlers from the area and sustained itself with over 2,000 acres of farmland and had its own gristmill, sawmill, blacksmith, and barn.

In 1854, the school ceased the manual labor training it began in the 1830s, but still continued as a mission until the early 1860s. In 1855, the mission became the home of the territorial governor, Andrew Reeder, and what has come to be known as the “bogus legislature” that included Thomas Johnson. This fraudulently elected legislature advocated for Kansas to be admitted to the Union as a slave state and criminalized the acts of those seeking to help enslaved people escape to free territory. By 1856, the territorial capital moved to Lecompton and President Pierce fired Governor Reeder and appointed a new pro-Southern governor. The Kansas-Nebraska Act, passed on May 30, 1854, opened Johnson County to white settlers seeking to own land once promised to the Shawnee, once again displacing the tribe. Their final move to Oklahoma would be their last forced mass removal as the tribe is still headquartered in Miami, Oklahoma.

Although the story of the Shawnee Indian Mission is a tragic one, a love story did survive. On November 12, 1853, a white laborer on the mission, Samuel Garrett, married a Shawnee woman named Elizabeth Choteau. Garrett was officially adopted into the Shawnee tribe in 1856. The Garretts stayed in Johnson County until 1870 when Elizabeth tragically died. Samuel then took their six children to Miami, Oklahoma, to resume life with the Shawnee. In 1911, their son Frederick returned to Johnson County, building a farm near Wilder.


The Shawnee Indian Mission closed in 1862. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 23, 1968, and three brick buildings still stand. The site is open for tours – click here for more information.

-Amanda Wahlmeier, Johnson County Library