Foundation Stories

At the Johnson County Library Board of Directors meeting  June 14, the Foundation was thrilled and honored to present a BIG check in the amount of $82,703!  This check represents  the annual disbursement from the endowment, which supports the Library’s collection.  Pictured (l-r) County  Commissioner Ron Shaffer, Steph Neu, Stephanie Stollsteimer, Nancy Hupp, Anne Blessing, Bethany Griffith, Donna Mertz, and Brandy Butcher.

Save the date!

The Johnson County Library Foundation is excited to announce its annual celebration, The Library Lets Loose!

Saturday, Sept. 29
6 – 10 p.m.
Central Resource Library
Cocktail attire
$75 ticket price* ($60 Early Bird Tickets through July 31)

*$50 for Teachers, Educators and Librarians

Join our honorary hosts, Valerie and Charley Vogt, for a grand party at the Library! This festive fundraiser will feature unique and creative experiences, tasty local libations, scrumptious food and drink pairings – and local music, artists and creators.

Tickets and sponsorships are available now. Contact 913-826-4740 for more information. See you there!

Tyler Harms is a Senior Software Engineer at Garmin International, Inc.

I’m not the stereotypical library patron. My reading list is embarrassingly light and I take months or years to work through a single book. Despite this, I recognize that the Johnson County Library is a treasure. I regularly find myself in awe of its breadth of offerings and impact on our community. Like most libraries, you can borrow books there, but Johnson County Library is so much more than books! It is a hub for the community’s access to information, entertainment, education, and civic engagement. It is truly world-class, and I’m extremely grateful that it’s here for me to enjoy.

Johnson County Library’s extensive offerings enrich my life in so many ways. I’ve spent my lunch break learning new languages with Mángo and Rosetta Stone. I’ve booked meeting rooms to explore creative and collaborative endeavors with my friends. I love that I can tinker in the Black & Veatch MakerSpace, and the library makes it easy to interact with local legislators through the Legislative Coffee program.

I can’t imagine building an organization as superb as Jonson County Library. Growing up in rural Missouri, our hometown library staff was genuinely dedicated to serving the community, but a lack of funding and community support made it difficult to expand or even maintain their offerings. This is in stark contrast to JCL and makes me appreciate our library that much more.

I give to the Johnson County Library Foundation because we are privileged to have this library in our community, and I believe it is up to us to support its mission however possible. The Library staff are among the most devoted and open-minded individuals I’ve ever encountered. Every time I interact with them I am impressed by how seriously they take the library’s mission, values, and vision. I know institutions like JCL are grown over decades and virtually impossible to replicate, and I want to ensure that the library remains vibrant for many decades to come.

Garmin graciously matches my donation to the Foundation via United Way. I love that I double the impact of my support by teaming up with my employer. If you’re considering donating, see if your organization will match your contribution.

– Tyler Harms

I am a self-proclaimed word nerd and book geek. Nothing makes me happier than being in the middle of a good book and knowing there is another one waiting for me. The credit for this must go to my mother, a voracious reader and library patron. She had a love of reading and a limited budget; the library provided the perfect solution.

Every Tuesday night was library night for my mom, my sister and me. It was such a thrill to go to the Children’s Section by myself and pick out the books I wanted. As time passed, I fell in love with mysteries, classic fiction, plays and cookbooks. And where could I find all of these for free? At the library!

To pass on the love of reading, I started taking our sons to the Corinth Library from a very young age. Miss Uppie and Miss Leslie were the librarians and always had a smile and if needed, recommendations. We attended many programs such as “Reading with your Pet,” “Origami” and “Pokeman Parties.” Our boys, now 27 and 24, still use and love the library. Our oldest uses the Johnson County Library online resources frequently and our youngest, who now lives in New York, had to call a week after he moved to tell me that he had been to the New York Public Library to get his card.

To quote Lady Bird Johnson, “Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.”

Libraries represent a great equalizer in our society. All are welcome and encouraged to become patrons. They provide books, magazines, genealogy information, meeting rooms, Maker Spaces, Internet access, author talks and a variety of programs. My book club reserves a meeting room once a year to plan out what we want to read. We can stroll through the stacks and chose titles and topics of interest to share with the group.

People say that no one reads “actual” books anymore, yet the Johnson County Library system checks out more than 7,000,000 items a year. Many of those items are eBooks, and I do appreciate the convenience of reading on my iPad, but nothing beats having a real book in your hands. As our world changes, so does the library. It continues to evolve, grow and provide wonderful resources for our community.

Why do I give to the Johnson County Library Foundation? I believe that in any great society we need access to free materials across all economic barriers, and the Library provides that service in our community. It is important to me to be involved and support the important work and programs throughout this system.

-Barbara Nichols 

A quick interview with Johnson County Library  Foundation Volunteer Extraordinaire Beth Welsh.  

Why did you initially become a volunteer with the Johnson County Library Foundation?

I was in a place where I was feeling stuck in rut and was looking for new experiences. Also, I work from home and I wanted to get out of the house and interact with people. My husband Barry is a longtime volunteer for the Library and it seemed like it would be a good fit. I’m a lifetime learner, I always want to be learning new things, I don’t want to stagnate. I began volunteering at Friends book sales in 2007 and became a fill-in cashier for the Friends bookstores in 2011. Volunteering for the Foundation struck me as a fun opportunity to learn new things. I learned WordPress and social media marketing. Fortunately, I didn’t have to learn anything about grant writing!

What are some of your favorite things about being a volunteer?

I love getting to play with books and be around librarians. Library people are awesome – and that includes Foundation people! They’re smart, inquisitive and well informed.

Have you had any discoveries about the Library or the Foundation working as a volunteer?

The Foundation was a new discovery; I didn’t know anything about it before volunteering. I learned about the Foundation’s mission to build an endowment for the Library’s collection and find support for lifelong learning programs offered at the Library. I also discovered the Foundation events. The Pinnacle Awards, Library Lets Loose, Stay Home and Read a Book Ball and elementia. My favorite Foundation event is the Library Lets Loose – it’s pretty amazing. elementia is also a fun event tied to a great mission to encourage teen writers and artists.

Any advice for people who might be on the fence about volunteering?

Try it! There are so many outlets for volunteering at the Library. Visit a branch, or the Friends sorting center or bookstore – see what interests you. Volunteer coordinators can connect you with a volunteer opportunity that works with your schedule and meets your interests. If it sounds like fun, give it a shot.

Introducing Our 2018 “Library Lets Loose” Honorary Hosts, Valerie & Charley Vogt.

Here’s a little about them:

Valerie and Charley are both dedicated supporters of library services and librarianship. Valerie recently retired from a Kansas City law firm where she was a reference librarian for 17 years.

Librarianship was actually her second career which included positions at the Olathe Public Library and an advertising firm. Charley served on the Johnson County Library Board for eight years (2005-2013) during which time the initial planning for this branch to serve western Shawnee and Lenexa began under the leadership of former County Librarian Mona Carmack.

Charley’s love of libraries is a family affair. His mother and aunt were both librarians, and his brother served on the library board in Concord, MA. And of course, he married a librarian!

Your investment in Johnson County Library generates a 300% return.

During this difficult time in our community, the Johnson County Library Foundation is as committed as ever to supporting our partners at Johnson County Library. You can follow progress and get updates on the Library’s COVID-19 responses here.