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At 53 years old, Cedar Roe Remains Treasured Neighborhood Branch

The Cedar Roe branch of Johnson County Library opened June 2, 1969, so it marks its 53rd year in 2022. It remains a cherished branch serving northeast Johnson County residents, plus patrons who come from Wyandotte County and even Kansas City.

“What’s special about Cedar Roe is it’s so integrated into the neighborhood,” said Assistant Branch Manager Megan Clark. “A lot of our locations are more visible off the street. This one, it’s kind of like a secret.”

Located at 5120 Cedar St. in Roeland Park, it’s tucked behind a Walmart shopping center. Patrons drive and even walk from close-in neighborhoods. The branch caters to long-time residents, young families, and home schoolers.

“We get a lot of regulars here,” Clark said. “In the smaller branches you get to know some of your patrons. You see them more frequently and it’s just a smaller setting so that’s kind of a fun thing.”

In recent years, the building has had important capital improvements, including a new roof, new HVAC system, and all new shelving.

“It’s amazing how much more natural light comes in. It brightened the place up,” Clark said. “Patrons have responded really positively to those upgrades.”

The Library was closed for several months in 2021 for those improvements. New curbside pickup service allowed patrons to retrieve holds during that time and has remained a popular convenience.

The Library also recently purchased new furniture for the 6 by 6 Ready to Read children’s area, thanks to a generous legacy donation from James Deberry, a lawyer and long-time Library patron who died in June 2020 at age 87.

Youth Services Librarian Mary Beth Ricks said the bequest was much appreciated and really helped spruce up the children’s area.

“It’s comfy seating, but it’s very stable for kids climbing on,” she observed. “We had mis-matched tables and chairs before. Now everything is colorful and matches.”

A painting of Cedar Roe that staff found in an upstairs storage area has been framed and is now prominently displayed, to celebrate the Library’s reopening and the Deberry bequest.

Cedar Roe was part of a 1960s system-wide expansion. Johnson County Library had started in 1952 and by 1965 consisted of the Antioch headquarters, Corinth, Mission, Lenexa and Gardner. As the population grew, those branches became over-crowded. In February 1967, voters approved an expansion plan with 69% in support.

That $1.5 million plan called for expanding Antioch and Corinth, while a new “Northeast” branch would replace Mission and a “Southwest” branch would replace Lenexa.

The “Northeast” branch site was selected just west of Roe Avenue on Cedar Street. A naming contest was held, and “Cedar Roe” was chosen.

Total cost of the land and construction on the 17,000-square-foot building was $470,950. It opened in June 1969 and the official dedication took place Nov. 16, 1969. In 1970, Cedar Roe received the Excellence in Design Medal from the Kansas City Chapter of the American Institute of Architecture. With a pleasing mixture of wood, brick and large banks of windows, its interior remains one of the most attractive Library facilities.

The building will close for a few weeks this summer for some ADA-compliant improvements to the front walkway, new LED lighting and other cosmetic changes.

Staff hopes to see some programming resume later this year.

“We’re kind of getting back into what might be the new normal,” Clark said. “We’re discussing bringing back some programming. That will help us bring foot traffic in a new and different way.”

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Tools

There are tools and then there are research tools. 

JoCoHistory Research Tools

Welcome to another fabulous Throwback Thursday! You know that JoCoHistory is the place to time travel through local history with its Blog and collection of photos and historical documents. But did you know, about the JoCoHistory Research Tools? Here you'll find a portal to local history projects, local history on the web, a comprehensive list of Johnson County museums and historical sites and other regional museums. 

JoCoHistory Projects

On the Web

  • Kansas Memory - Johnson County
    A project of the Kansas Historical Society, this site contains digital images of letters, diaries, photographs, government records, maps, museum artifacts and much more.
  • Missouri Valley Special Collections Digital Gallery
    Over 11,000 images of archival material such as letters, photographs, postcards, advertising cards and maps from Missouri Valley Special Collections at Kansas City Public Library.
  • Territorial Kansas Online
    A virtual repository of archival documents dating from Kansas' territorial period, 1854-1861.
  • Missouri Digital Heritage
    Digitized collections from libraries, archives, historical societies and museums all across Missouri (formerly Virtually Missouri).
  • Map of historic sites
    Map of local historic places, museums and historical societies.

Local History Museums and Sites

In Johnson County:

  • Gardner Historical Museum
    The museum occupies the 1893 Folk Victorian house built by Herman B. Foster. Exhibits feature topics important to Gardner history: the Grange, the Overland Trails, schools, a turn-of-the century kitchen, as well as historical memorabilia and photos of Gardner's past.
  • Johnson County Museum
    Includes the Johnson County Museum of History, the Lanesfield School, and the 1950s All Electric House. The museum also features a research room with access to documents, maps, photographs and manuscripts related to the history of Johnson County, Kansas from 1820s to present.
  • Legler Barn Museum
    The Legler barn was built by Adam Legler in 1864, razed in 1972 and restored in 1983 as a community Museum. It features permanent and temporary exhibits about Lenexa and the surrounding area.
  • Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm
    Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm Historic Site is the last remaining stagecoach stop on the historic Santa Fe Trail still open to the public. Three original buildings are preserved: The Mahaffie Family Home/Stagecoach Stop, two-story Ice House, and Wood Peg Barn.
  • Oxford Schoolhouse
    Built in 1877, this one-room schoolhouse operated until 1955. In 2003 it was moved from 135th and Mission to its current location at Ironwoods Park. The school is now restored and interpreted as a circa 1910 schoolhouse.
  • Shawnee Indian Mission
    The manual training school attended by Shawnee, Delaware, and other Indian children from 1839-1862. The Shawnee Mission also served as an early territorial capitol, a supply point on the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails, and as a camp for Union soldiers during the Civil War. The Mission was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1968. The Mission also has a research library that is open to the public by appointment.
  • Shawnee Town Museum
    Shawnee Town is a living history museum that opens a window to life in a small farm community in the years leading up to the Great Depression. Visitors can stroll through the 3-acre park and visit historic buildings that include a school house, farmstead, chapel, fire station, local businesses and gardens.

Other Regional Museums

  • Kansas Museum of History
    Museum operated by the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka.
  • Kansas City Museum
    Located within the Corinthian Hall mansion, the Kansas City Museum offers exhibits on regional history and natural history, as well as a planetarium and authentic 1910 soda fountain.
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Last Chance: Friends Bookstores Closing!

Antioch & Blue Valley Bookstore Clearance Sales

July 26, 28, & 30, 2022: 75% off Clearance Sale in Friends library bookstores

Expanded Final Sale Hours:

Tuesdays, 10:00 am - 5:00 p.m.

Thursdays, 12:00 pm - 7:30 p.m.

Fridays, 10:00 am - 5:00 p.m.

Saturdays, 10:00 am - 5:00 p.m.

The last day of business for both stores is Saturday, July 30, 2022.

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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!

Interviewing is Like DatingTuesday, July 26, 10 a.m. – noon

When finding a new job, it is important to make sure that you are a good fit for the company AND that the company is a good fit for you. There are strategies to figuring out whether or not a new job or position is right for you. This interactive workshop will help you find a workplace culture that is a good fit.

Read to a Dog with Pets for LifeWednesday, July 27, 1 – 2:30 p.m.

The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program improves children’s reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to a registered therapy dog. These dogs volunteer with their owner/handlers as a team. Please note, space is limited for this program. Kids will get a ticket at arrival and wait their turn to read to one of several dogs. This program will be at the Antioch Library.

End-of-Summer Reading CelebrationFriday, July 29, 7 – 10 p.m.

Movie in the Park: Finding NemoFriday, July 29, 8 – 10 p.m.

Grab a blanket, pack a picnic, and celebrate our summer of reading with us with a film at dark at Thompson Park, 8045 Santa Fe Dr. in Overland Park. Prior to the showing, join us for live music and activities. Bring the family to enjoy an evening in the park.

And much more happening this week »

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Adult Online Learning Available

The Brainfuse Adult Learning Center offers live tutoring and prep for the GED, U.S. Citizenship, Microsoft Office and more.

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New eBook Platform Aims for Excellent User Experience

Johnson County Library has migrated its eBooks and eAudiobooks to a new platform, in a move designed to provide optimum service and value to patrons.

The Library has switched from Axis 360 to the Libby platform from OverDrive. Library staff recommended that change following a thorough evaluation with 7,485 survey responses from patrons, schools, other users and staff. Library staff evaluated products from four vendors and determined that Libby was the best choice for its features, user-friendly service and customer support.

“We are thrilled to provide a better customer experience,” said Nancy Birmingham, assistant branch manager of the Leawood branch and project manager for the migration to Libby, which went live right before Memorial Day weekend.

An eBook platform is the digital equivalent of a Library building; electronic books go into it like hard copies go on shelves. Since 2012, Johnson County Library had used Axis 360, which over the years got both good reviews and complaints.

When Hope Harms became eResources Librarian in October 2017 she thought a review of the service was appropriate. That evaluation was approved in 2020 and completed in spring 2021. Survey feedback showed respondents wanted fewer glitches and better reliability.

“One of the things we were looking for, from a user perspective, was a more reliable, seamless experience,” Harms explained.

The Library sought proposals from four key vendors serving Libraries nationally. Staffers tried out the different platforms and got feedback from 16 peer Library systems. OverDrive’s Libby platform got good reviews, including from Kansas City, Mo., and Mid-Continent Public Library, and emerged as the top choice.

“OverDrive is one of the dominant vendors in this market,” Harms said. “They have great publisher relationships, just in terms of the types of titles we can access through them.”

Another advantage is OverDrive’s exclusive agreement with Amazon to offer many eBooks in the Kindle format.

Top administrators approved the migration in summer 2021. In January 2022 Birmingham started leading the migration team, including people from finance, communications, information technology, collection development, front-line staff, technical services, and a liaison to schools.

The migration was a big job, transitioning more than 50,000 titles to the new platform. One big challenge was to transition Holds from Axis 360 to Libby. In mid-April, the Library “paused” the ability to place further Holds, in order to migrate more than 18,000 existing Holds to the new system, with patrons still in line in their same spot.  Moving the entire collection took six weeks.

On May 23, the Library stopped accessing titles through Axis 360, and then on May 25 titles started appearing via Libby, with 12,000 checkouts by the end of that first weekend. The new system was ready for summer.

Users can access the new system via the Libby app and libbyapp.com, and it’s designed to be intuitive. Birmingham said Library staffers are also well trained to help patrons needing a quick tutorial. So far, the migration has gone well and new acquisitions have started.

“Our selectors are eager to explore the inventory OverDrive offers us for purchase,” Harms said.

Both Harms and Birmingham say the behind-the-scenes evaluation phase led to a positive change, with an excellent new vendor and product for the Library.

“We were able to present our community’s priorities in a really coherent and concise way, so we could determine what best met our needs,” Harms said, “so we can provide a really great patron experience.”

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Overland Park's Past in Pictures

It’s another grand Throwback Thursday where we encourage you to time travel through Johnson County's history. JoCoHistory is a collaborative presentation of the history from the Johnson County Museum, Johnson County Library and many JoCoHistory partners. Explore historical photographs and documents about the people, places and organizations of Johnson County, Kansas, from the 19th century to the present.

Collection spotlight: Overland Park Historical Society

About this collection: Over 1,300 photographs documenting Overland Park life with special emphasis on local businesses, the Strang Line interurban railroad and school personnel.