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Did You Know? Johnson County Library Has “Did You Hear?” Podcast

Podcasting has become an increasingly popular communications tool for education and entertainment.

Since 2018, Johnson County Library has offered its own podcast, titled “Did You Hear?”

These digital recordings have proven to be a fun and creative way to share Library staffs' passion for what they do. Episodes offer a behind-the-scenes exploration of Library services, events and the collection, revealing how the Library is so much more than buildings with books.

Ninety-five episodes have generated nearly 20,000 downloads, averaging 200 per installment. The most popular, about the U.S. Census, garnered nearly 1,000 downloads. Other popular episodes include interesting topics like K-Pop, Return Bin Finds, Notable Books, the MakerSpace, Community Matters and Library Hacks. They are all available on the Library's website.

Interviewees have included an astronaut, award-winning authors, civic leaders and popular chefs. The 20-minute conversations, released monthly, take listeners on an audio journey of discovery.

Co-Hosts Dave Carson and Charles Hower make a great team and are excited for 2023.

“We really found our swing this year, our stride,” said Carson, who launched the podcast project in June 2018. The program has had several co-hosts but has built continuity and momentum since Hower signed on in early 2021.

Carson and Hower each bring unique skills to this endeavor. Carson has a master’s degree in educational technology and has been with Johnson County Library for almost 15 years, concentrating on web content development and multimedia production. In 2018 he realized podcasting could enhance what the Library was already doing with its website, videos and social media.

Hower was hired as a Monticello clerk in 2018 and became an information specialist at Central in March 2020. He has a music recording background and is an avid podcast listener.

Their first episode together in 2021 focused on what patrons could still do through the Library, despite COVID restrictions. The “Did You Hear?” podcast, available through the Podbean hosting service to all sorts of podcast apps, provided great Library outreach during the pandemic.

“It was connecting patrons to those resources, saying ‘Hey, we’re still here,’” Hower explained.

Hower personally learned a lot. “Getting to speak to people about their jobs and find out their backgrounds, I really enjoyed that early on,” he said. “Now, I think my favorite part is that it feels like I’m hanging out with friends and I get to chat with them.”

Carson appreciates how the Library's administration has supported the initiative, providing equipment for high-quality audio.

“I’m a lifelong learner like everybody is here,” Carson said. “All the different people who come in here, we have a general sense of what they do, but when you get into the specifics, that’s where the real meat of it is. It’s so enjoyable.”

They began 2022 by interviewing a Library staffer preparing to retire and another newly hired, comparing their perspectives. Other installments shined a spotlight on summer reading and the Writers Conference.

They are excited for 2023 and are planning their next installments. They would love to hear your feedback through this brief survey.

“If we can help people see everything that the Library is involved with, I think that helps break down stereotypes,” Carson said, “showing who the librarians are and what a modern library is and can be, and your unique and personal relationship with it.”


Time Travel Johnson County's History

JoCoHistory expands the public's sense of community through an understanding of Johnson County's history and its place in American society.

The purpose of JoCoHistory is to collaboratively provide access to historical materials related to Johnson County, Kansas. It utilizes the strengths and expertise of each contributing organization to develop a broadly accessible web presence.

Specifically, the goals of JoCoHistory are to:

  • Access local information through digitization of original and unique materials regarding the history and development of Johnson County
  • Provide access to locally and remotely held information relevant to the history of Johnson County
  • Provide curriculum tools that meet Kansas and national curriculum standards
  • Promote an understanding of the importance of local history and regional development

The initial phase of the project began in Fall 2004 and was made possible by funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and from the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners through the Heritage Trust Fund (HTF). Initial contributors for JoCoHistory were the Johnson County Museum, Johnson County Library, Johnson County Archives and Olathe Public Library. Subsequent years have seen the involvement of Kansas School for the Deaf, Lenexa Historical Society, Olathe Historical Society, Overland Park Historical Society and Shawnee Mission School District.


eLearning Spotlight: Brainfuse HelpNow

“Ask for help. Not because you are weak. But because you want to remain strong.”

— Les Brown

Brainfuse HelpNow has several ways to get homework help:

  • Live tutoring daily 2 - 11 p.m.
  • Writing Lab to get feedback within one business day
  • SkillSurfer for study resources and test prep
  • Send Question to get a response within one business day
  • LEAP to create a customized learning plan

Plus several more tools to collaborate and learn using the website or mobile app.

This resource is generously supported by the Louis and Elizabeth Nave Flarsheim Charitable Foundation.

Learn more about Brainfuse HelpNow


eResources for Students

Let's face it, if you're reading this, you're probably not a kiddo! But, you know the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” So, if you have children or you know any school age children, help us spread the word about our bounty of learning materials conveniently located online for easy access! Like what, you ask? How about:

Biography (Gale In Context): Comprehensive biographies on the world’s most influential people with related content from periodicals and multimedia to provide context.
Brainfuse HelpNow: Live online tutoring daily 2-11 p.m. Professional tutors can guide you through academic subjects from kindergarten through AP and college level classes. Writing Lab to get feedback within one business day. SkillSurfer for study resources and test prep (AP, PSAT, SAT, ACT, ASVAB, GED and citizenship tests.) Send Question to get a response within one business day.
CultureGrams: Explore the culture, history and people of each U.S. state and country of the world. Encyclopedia Britannica: School, Library, Academic, Escolar and Moderna versions of the encyclopedia offer articles for students of all ages.
Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia: Online encyclopedia for students.
Khan Academy: Khan Academy provides a free world-class education for anyone everywhere on topics like math, science, history, economics, humanities, programming and test prep.
LearningExpress Library: Tutorials and quizzes for elementary to adult for a variety of subjects.
Lightbox: Nonfiction eBooks that integrate multimedia into each page.
TOPICsearch: Articles from a variety of national and international newspapers and magazines.

Kanopy Kids: Curated streaming video collection of children’s programming.
National Geographic Kids: Great for kids interested in science, space, animals, history, geography and fun. Enjoy the full magazine with all the illustrations online.
Primary Search: Articles from popular elementary school magazines.

Middle Search Plus: Popular magazines for middle and junior high school students.
MAS Ultra – School Edition: Articles from popular magazines and journals for high school students.
Explora: Articles and multimedia covering a wide variety of subjects like biography, business, current events, health, history, literature, science and more. Easy to browse new topics or search for specific information.
NewsBank Hot Topics: Concise summaries of the month’s major news topics with links to relevant newspaper articles, blogs and more.
Primary Sources (Gale): Digital historical documents including books, manuscripts, letters, newspapers, photographs, maps and more ranging across topics of national and global relevance.

These resources will have kids running home from school to study!


Five-Star Staff Pick: The Ogress and the Orphans

Today's five-star staff pick comes from our Librarian Chris, about The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill.

"Social contagion. That's what lies at the heart of this book; that's what this book is about. How thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and actions spread from one person to another to another and so on. Trust is contagious; when one person behaves trustingly, others respond in kind and the dynamic spreads. Suspicion is contagious; when one person acts from suspicion, others respond in kind and the dynamic spreads. Everything is contagious, spreading socially through networks of people."

Read more of Chris' review or check out the book now.


We Found It In a Book

As you may imagine, many items get returned along with out books. We see bookmarks, receipts, photos, and notes of all kind, and we often don't have a way to find out who they belong to. Here are some examples of the little slices of our patrons' lives that we get to see when we check in returned items.


TV Journalist/Author to Share Insights with Local Writers

Matt Stewart is a well-known Kansas City reporter and anchor with Fox 4. What viewers may not realize is that he has also published four books and is passionate about narrative storytelling. His latest book is Unique Eats and Eateries of Kansas City, profiling Kansas City’s dynamic chefs and restaurants. 

Stewart will share his knowledge and insights at Central Resource Library in January and February. It’s a chance to discuss his work and motivate other writers to overcome their fears, sharpen their prose and share their gifts. 

“After I published my first book, I had a ton of people writing asking me, ‘How did you do this?’ I shared with them that this was a lifelong dream,” Stewart said. “I hope I can inspire people to take their work and share it with others. People are scared of rejection. But their writing can inspire others and entertain them.” 

On Jan. 24, Stewart will join Andrea Broomfield, author of “Iconic Restaurants of Kansas City,” and restaurateur Jasper Mirabile for a conversation. On Jan. 25 he will discuss his writing process and how he turned his hobby into a successful second career. On Feb. 1 and Feb. 4 he will host workshops on crafting convincing dialogue and helping aspiring writers to polish their own work.

“I’m excited to share my story with people,” he said. 

Stewart grew up in Omaha, where his mother instilled in him a love of reading and libraries. He attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and began a career in television news. He and his wife Chrissy moved in 2004 to the Kansas City area. They have three teenaged children. 

Stewart worked eight years at KCTV Channel 5 and has been with Fox 4 for a decade. Despite a very busy career and family life he has always made time to write, often late at night. For his first book, he took to heart the mantra “write what you know” and realized he had a great story to tell. 

He had been a walk-on strong safety for Northwestern’s football team in 1993 and played all four years. During that time, the team went from worst to first in the Big 10. He turned that experience into the memoir “The Walk-On,” offering an insider’s fascinating account of an amazing college football transformation. He couldn’t find a New York publisher but self-published it in 2012. It won sports-writing awards and rave reviews from readers. 

He followed that up with a fictional murder mystery (set in a small town TV newsroom) and with a science fiction time-travel novel. Both also won popular acclaim. More information is available at

Kansas City author Anne Kniggendorf recommended Stewart to St. Louis-based Reedy Press, which approached him in 2021 to write a Kansas City-focused book. He realized that while people know about Kansas City’s great restaurants, they don’t know the chefs’ incredible untold stories.  

“I wanted to put the spotlight on these local chefs, who are so talented and create such amazing meals,” he said.  

In promoting the book, Stewart reached out to Johnson County Library. He and his family are avid patrons at the Lenexa City Center branch. He is delighted that the Library programs will highlight both his book and the writer’s craft. 

“They wanted to do something unique to really honor this book and the restaurants I profiled,” Stewart said, adding that he’s also eager to encourage other writers. “If I can help people shore up their knowledge and share their work, then that will have been worth my time.” 


Museum Memories

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: Johnson County Museum

About this collection: The Johnson County Museum has a wide range of images dating from the late 19th century to the current day. A major focus of the collection centers on individuals and groups of people in domestic, recreational, scholarly and business settings.