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Lackman Library Volunteers

This #ThrowbackThursday we're honoring our Lackman Library Volunteers!

My name is Linda, and I'm happy to have had the opportunity to visit with some of the Lackman Library volunteers during an appreciation lunch for them. Some of them will move to other volunteer posts within the Johnson County Library, and others are moving on to new opportunities as services move from Lackman Library to Lenexa City Center Library. From a woman with 34 years of library service to one who had just started, they all contributed in their own special way to the foundation and success of the Lackman Library.

Jo Ouseley, the 34-year volunteer, started at the main branch of the Johnson County Library then transferred to Lackman shortly after it opened in 1997. She and the Lackman branch have commendably served the residents of Lenexa and Johnson County ever since. Jo was the recipient of the Shankel Award for Outstanding Volunteers in 2009. I listened as she and other volunteers reminisced about sorting and re-shelving books in the children’s department. They concluded it was not the best time to wear new slacks, and as Jo pointed out, the amount of time they spent on their knees provided ample opportunity to catch up on their prayers.

Another volunteer, Donna Pray, shares special memories of the Lackman Library with her grandson. She was busy with her volunteer duties one day when a certain little boy caught her attention. She quickly recognized her three-year-old grandson who came in with his babysitter to attend story-time, a popular event for toddlers. He was surprised to see her and asked why she was at the library and not at her house where he had always seen her. For years he enjoyed visiting the library, not only for story-time, but for a smile and hug from Grandma as well.

Volunteering is not just something you do if you have time, it makes your time more valuable. Take Kathy Peters and Judy Carney, for instance. The time they spent volunteering became priceless when they found their best friend in each other. Kathy, a 10-year volunteer, liked to shelve books and Judy, a 9-year volunteer, liked to work on DVDs and audiobooks. They were so fast and efficient with their individual tasks that they always found time afterwards to talk… and a friendship was born! Kathy loves to read, so it’s understandable that her favorite day of the week was the day she spent at the library. Being a well-rounded reader made her a good resource for those looking for recommendations, and patrons grew to count on her as a resource for their next great read.

Janet Hall, a volunteer since November 2013, found an undeniable satisfaction in the hours she put in at the Library, but it’s the staff and other volunteers for which she is truly grateful. Their care and concern after her son passed away a few years ago will never be forgotten. She treasures their kindness and holds dear the wind chimes that were given to her in his memory.

Other volunteers I met that day were Lou Ann Carpenter, Lorraine Gerard, Fran Jaderborg, and Nikki Hollembeak.  They all confirmed what I easily sensed: the bond and camaraderie they shared was invaluable. It was also clear that a mutual appreciation existed between the Library staff and the volunteers. Each group seemed extremely grateful for the other. Like the pages of a book, they were all bound together. The pages have turned, and the book has been closed - but what a story it was!

Photo from left:  Nikki Hollembeak, Kathy Peters, LouAnn Carpenter, Lorraine Gerard, Fran Jaderborg, Janet Hall, Donna Pray, Judy Carney, Jo Ouseley, Volunteer Coordinator Rita Glick

Lackman volunteers not pictured: JoAnn Hadel, Elaine Scherder, Glenda Carden, Bill Hartel, Pat Veno, Deanne Belshe, Sandy Allshouse and Jan Hendrix.




A Conversation with Jodie Dietz

How long have you been a member of the Friends?
I have been a member of the Friends for a few years. I was looking for a good gift for a friend who really loves the books so I bought her a family membership and decided that I would also purchase a membership as a gift for myself.

You're a Library volunteer, too, right? Tell us a little about that experience . . .
I believe the public libraries are so important to our community. When my kids were little, we loved the story times and summer programs. When my kids got a little too old for the storytimes, they began volunteering with the youth program. I decided they should not have all of the fun so I began volunteering at the library too! 

Your elevator speech: why should I join the Friends?
You should join the Friends because it supports our community. Everyone is welcome at the library! There are not a lot of other entities in our community that serve the population from the youngest to those with more life experiences.

What are you reading/listening to – or watching – right now?
I love to read mysteries and memoirs. My current read is Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy.

- Friends of the Library Board Member, Jodie Dietz


De Soto READ Poster Winner

Each of our locations draws a name from the pool of kids who participated in Summer Reading to win a READ poster photoshoot. Here is De Soto Library's winner! You can enjoy the adorable-ness of current and past READ poster winners at each of our Libraries.

De Soto Library hosts kids events, book groups, and more. Check their calendar »


Summer Program Preview Pleases Patrons!

We devote this entire podcast episode to preview our summer programs! Customer Experience Communication team members help you navigate the universe of events we're offering! Amy Field, Ben Oglesby, and Christopher Leitch join host Dave Carson to explore all things fun!

From Summer Reading, to an astronaut visit, to movies under the stars, to book sales, to a not-to-be-missed party ... it's a total blast!

Do you subscribe to the Did you hear? podcast yet?


A is for Astronaut

This year’s Summer Reading art is from a series of illustrations by artists Kevin and Kristen Howdeshell. Enjoy their artwork, including their series called "Space Alphabet," on our website and in the Guide this summer. The Howdeshells have actually graced our Guide cover before – the Summer 2016 issue borrowed images from their book, The Night the World Turned Royal Blue. The Howdeshells are a wife and husband illustration team in Kansas City. Their collaboration was launched some 10 years ago in college. They have started a studio and taken on the freelance world of illustration for a broad range of products such as magazines, packaging, T-shirts, music albums and their “absolute love,” children’s books. The Howdeshells love telling stories, at work and especially at home. A nightly routine of bedtime stories for their three kids is a time of bonding, sharing and family affection. They share this family and community journey through well-crafted imagery, products geared for families and with authors who have meaningful stories to tell. For more on the Howdeshells’ creations, check out their website.

Join our crew and explore the universe of Summer Reading with us »



Throwback Thursday: All Business

National Small Business Week is coming up, May 5 - 11!

While we focus on putting the finishing touches on the new Lenexa City Center Library, we're fascinated by this image. These planning proposals for business development circa 1980 remind us that all buildings first live on as paper before they exist as steel and brick.

Discover the details behind this image and find more photographs of Johnson County business and industry through the ages at It's your place for Johnson County, Kansas History! Follow our hashtag on Twitter.   


Why I Give: Caroline McKnight

Growing up in Port Arthur, TX, I remember my mom had a friend who was a school librarian. She was my first exposure to that career path. Over time, my interest in pursuing that same path blossomed and she became my mentor. Being a librarian always resonated with me through school. I always had a strong curiosity and reflecting now, I am a lifetime learner.

After graduating college, my first job was… a school librarian! I decided to embark on my library career in the city at the origin of the Kansas City Southern Railway line in Kansas City, as Port Arthur was the terminus. My first job was with the Shawnee Mission School District. Being a school librarian brought me much joy, as I loved fostering literacy, learning and education with the students.

Flash forward, after taking time off to raise my family, I was appointed to the Johnson County Library Board and was back in the library world. I also subsequently worked with the Johnson County Library Foundation Board for many years, focusing on fundraising to support the Library’s collection and programming.

Now, in retirement, one of my greatest pleasures is reading to my granddaughters. I also volunteer in a school library and my career has come full circle.

Why do I give?
I believe the future of the library is to continue to foster communication. Access to information is vital and facts are the drivers. Some institution has to be in charge of the facts, and I believe that institution is the library.

I feel strongly that our library is important, not just to me, but to all who use it, and even those who don’t. Even if unused, a library stands for something important. I greatly want this institution to endure and prosper.

I continue to volunteer with the Library Foundation, specifically with the “1952 Society: Writing the Library’s Next Chapter”, the planned giving initiative kicking-off this year. Ensuring the future of our Library through planned gifts is vital to me. I would not feel comfortable asking others to make this commitment without first making it myself and have chosen to make a gift to the Library in my will.

To be good stewards of this place we love, we must consider the future. Yes, legacy gifts to the library have always been an option. But today we are making a promise to ourselves, and to our library, that we will work to build the 1952 Society. We will identify and encourage those who care as much as we do to leave a legacy. The name we chose, The 1952 Society, references the past. But, without a doubt, it will be those who look to the future that will insure our library brings value to other lives well beyond our own.

  • Caroline McKnight

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Or search for “Did you hear?” on Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts!

Refugees in our Community, Dark Psychological Fiction, and Baby Storytime

We dedicated this episode of Did you hear? To Baby Storytime. Stories read by babies? No. Baby Storytime is for babies!

In today’s episode, Ashley Fick, Diane Haner, and Amanda Wahlmeier visit with Dave Carson about our Refugees in our Community event. Then, Meghan and Gregg recommend Dark Psychological Fiction!  


Friday Featured Artist

Bill Abernathy is a Kansas City-based country and folk artist from whose earnest style has been compared to Joe Cocker and Bob Seger. Abernathy's new album, Crossing Willow Creek, has garnered rave reviews. In this interview, Abernathy discusses his new album, his creative process and what's ahead for him in 2019.

Please introduce yourself. Describe your music for new listeners.