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The Kansas City Institute of Chinese Language and Culture

The Kansas City Institute of Chinese Language & Culture was founded in 1998 by local Chinese immigrants who sought to ensure their children felt a connection to their Chinese heritage through language and cultural practices. Read more from JoCoHistory about this local institution »

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Library Partnership Sustains Creative Writing Class at Therapeutic Center

For years, Johnson County Library has had a positive partnership with the county’s Department of Corrections, providing Library services at the Adult Residential Center and to those receiving substance abuse treatment at the Therapeutic Community Center.

This spring, the partnership got another big boost.

Johnson County Library provided the funds to offer an eight-week Creative Writing class for Therapeutic Center clients. It was offered as part of NCircle’s College of Trades, which provides essential skills for post-incarceration.

The Creative Writing teacher, students and Library representatives agree it was a great program, setting the stage for more classes later this year.

“We saw this as a wonderful opportunity,” said Incarcerated Services Librarian Melody Kinnamon, who leads the Library’s efforts on behalf of incarcerated patrons.

Research shows creative writing can be enormously helpful to people in recovery. Kinnamon also saw the class as a logical outgrowth of the Library’s extensive local writers programming, led by Reference Librarian Helen Hokanson. Through Hokanson’s contacts, Kinnamon reached out to Lawrence-based author Ronda Miller (pictured), who is experienced in both poetry and prose, to teach the class.

“I knew the moment we met that it was going to be a great fit,” Kinnamon said of her interview with Miller. “I could just tell she had a heart for the justice-involved clients and that she would meet them wherever they were in their writing journey.”

Miller says teaching the class, for 90 minutes every Monday for eight weeks this spring, was a wonderful experience. She was awed by the students’ eloquence.

“It’s amazing what they shared,” Miller observed. “I knew going in that I would learn as much from them, if not more, than they would learn for me. That was the case.”

Several students said it was incredibly beneficial.

Student Anita Hoskins had never seen herself as a writer but discovered an ability to write poems about nature and happiness.

“Some really good things have happened,” Hoskins said. “I felt I really could find some creativity in me that I didn’t know I had before.”

Hoskins said Miller’s encouragement and support helped her “pull out all kinds of stuff in my soul, in my memory.”

After the Therapeutic Center graduation in May, Hoskins has aspirations to publish a book and perhaps become a counselor.

Josh Patterson, another student, already knew he loved to write poetry and letters but said Miller helped him hone his skills.

“After taking part in the class, I discovered I have a real passion for prose and it’s been hugely helpful for me and therapeutic in my treatment and my recovery,” he said. Miller made wise suggestions to help him polish his writing, and he took her advice to heart.

Miller, author of five books and past president of the Kansas Authors Club, encouraged the students to submit their work to Kansas writing competitions. Patterson was excited about that opportunity.

The class was inspiring for Miller, who experienced great trauma as a child and is a Life Coach to people who have lost someone to homicide.

“I talked to them about why we tell our stories, the importance of Voice,” said Miller. The class shared laughter, tears and descriptions of dreams. Miller watched as the students blossomed with newfound confidence, producing vivid, evocative writing.

Kinnamon said she heard great feedback and is pleased the Library will fund additional classes this summer and fall. She hopes the graduates will find ongoing connections to the local writers’ community though the Library.

“Ronda has made them feel comfortable as writers, and it’s our hope they will join in the Library’s writing community,” Kinnamon said. “That would help bring everything full circle.”

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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.

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Art Exhibitions at Your Library

Exhibitions have returned to many of our branches! Discover what's showing at your favorite Library »

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We Have Moved to Libby!

In late May, our eBook and eAudiobook collection moved to the Libby app

  • Existing checkouts will still be available through their due date, only via the Axis 360 app. If you log out of Axis 360, you will no longer be able to able to log back in.
  • When you log in to Libby, you will see all of our eBooks and eAudiobooks. Holds you had in Axis 360 will transfer to Libby.
  • If you don't see a title you're looking for, suggest it for purchase or browse our catalog or Interlibrary Loan for a different format.

Read Frequently Asked Questions about our move to Libby, and stay up to date at jocolibrary.org and @jocolibrary on social media.

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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!

    Facing Your Fears: Winning Your Inner Game Monday, May 23, 1:30 – 3 p.m.

    During periods of crisis and/or transition, the experience of getting stuck, being anxious or even becoming fearful will occur! Those anxious feelings are natural. This workshop offers women an opportunity to refocus, reframe and expand their thinking (around this period of change) so they can move forward, more quickly, and with renewed confidence and hope.

    Interviewing is like Dating Tuesday, May 24, 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.

    Walk and Read at Sar-Ko-Par Park – May 28 – June 5, All day 

    Johnson County Library and Lenexa Parks and Recreation invite you to visit the Walk and Read at Sar-Ko-Par Park. Two stories, “Hello Ocean” by Pam Muñoz Ryan and “Just Be Jelly” by Maddie Frost, will be posted.

    And much more happening this week »

     

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    Career & Finance Video: Improve Your financial Score

    Can you improve your financial score? Yes! And, it's really not that hard. Marty Johannes, one of our Career and Personal Finance Librarians, hosts this session with program presenter Emerson Hartzler, Pro Bono Financial Advisor. This session is designed to help you achieve financial success. We invite you to explore all our Personal Finance online program recordings in our archive.

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    “Miss Becky” Loved Storytime as a Child, Now Leads Storytime for New Generation

    As a child growing up in St. Joseph, Mo., Becky Carleton went regularly with her mother to library Storytimes, where she learned the fundamentals of language, reading and early childhood literacy. She still has incredible memories of the librarian who led those Storytime sessions.

    “She was so wonderful. We called her Auntie Bea. She was one of my favorite people in the world,” Carleton recalls.

    Now, Carleton leads Johnson County Library Storytimes as “Miss Becky” – instilling a love for reading and learning in a whole new generation of children.

    It was a long and winding path to get to this point. Carleton’s family moved to Johnson County when she was in 7th grade. She didn’t enjoy formal schooling and worked as a nanny and at other jobs. But she had always seen libraries as sanctuaries of knowledge, satisfying her curiosity as a self-taught learner. She got a job in 1993 in the Periodicals Department at Antioch Library, launching what has become a wonderful career.

    “It made me feel I was doing something good for the community and myself,” Carleton says. “My co-workers loved language and learning. They were my people.”

    She eventually became an Interlibrary Loan clerk at Central Resource Library while earning her associate’s degree from JCCC. She also met her husband, Will Carleton, when both worked at Central. The couple married in 2004. Their daughter Kat was born in July 2006.

    Carleton accompanied Kat to Johnson County Library Storytimes for nearly five years – “It was our weekly thing, just like with my mom and me” – until Kat went off to kindergarten. After that, Carleton still craved the Storytime experience.

    At Central, Carleton had become an adult information specialist in 2005. She crossed paths with Youth Services Librarians Angel Tucker and Laura Hunt, who urged her to pursue her Storytime dream.

    So in March 2015 she got a job as a youth information specialist at Oak Park Library, learning from Angelica Reiff, Bradley Debrick and other early childhood literacy masters. In leading her own Storytime programs, “Miss Becky” also brings the perspective of someone who participated as a child and as a parent. She knows what works to enchant and enlighten.

    Storytimes had to be re-imagined during the pandemic. The youth services staff pivoted to online programming for the past two years via Facebook Live. One upside is providing access to many families who, pre-pandemic, couldn’t attend Storytimes in person.

    Recently, a family approached Carleton at the Lenexa Recreation Center. They were among her regulars, but she had never actually met them. “They had only ever seen my online Storytime,” she explained. “They were so grateful.” The mom and dad shared how their one-year-old and six-year-old kids loved the sessions, and that was wonderful feedback.

    Carleton currently leads Storytime OnDemand, which families can watch anytime. The short videos feature songs, rhymes and finger plays that demonstrate the 6 By 6 Ready to Read skills. Carleton will also lead Storytime on June 4 to kick off the Summer Reading program.

    Working with the Library’s youngest patrons is endlessly gratifying. “I love helping them learn to read,” Carleton said. “Once you learn how to read you can do anything, and I’m a testament to that.”

    She also enjoys sharing reader advisory recommendations with adult patrons and gets great satisfaction working with teenagers.

    Even though she’s been with Johnson County Library for more than 29 years, she still learns something new every day. “It’s a wonderful atmosphere of growth,” she said,  "being able to learn about anything, without judgment.”

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    Walk and Read with your Family this Summer

    Walk and Read creates a family reading experience in the great outdoors! Families who participate will read two stories posted around the path, one going each direction. When you finish one story, you can turn around to the other side of the sign and begin the next story, which will lead you back around the path. Walk and Read is a program encouraging physical activity, literacy and family time, while allowing for social distancing. The paths are stroller- and wheelchair-friendly, allowing for family members of all ages to join in the fun.

    Check our calendar for a Walk and Read near you!

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    Have you been Mesmerized?

    Just in case you missed our latest podcast episode, here is your chance again!

    On the Did you hear? podcast, we explore MESMERIZING MEMES AND MORE (supply your own echo effect) We give you some history, the behind-the-scenes philosophy, strategy and everything else when it comes to creating social media content for FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.

    Mesmerizing? You know it!