The library has always been a valued and important place in my life. My earliest and happiest memories of the library are from childhood when my mother would take me to the Corinth Library to the children’s area in the lower level where we would select as many books as we could carry to take home and share together. My parents nurtured a love of reading from as early as I can remember. Inside those books were adventures, places, and lessons that would help shape me as I grew up. They also were the foundation, not just my love of reading, but also set me on a course for success with a strong foundation. On many evenings after dinner all through elementary, middle, and high school, my parents and I would go to the library and seek out the books or materials each of us liked to read – the library was the setting for time spent together. As I grew up, the library continued to be the place for study and research all through school. As a working adult, the library has been a place where I could go to research or write to support my work in education and post-graduate studies. My husband grew up in a small town in Kansas, and his mother, who was an avid reader, shared a passion for reading and the value of the library with their family. Today, Bill and I enjoy finding great books to read and enjoy at our local Johnson County branch.
Through my lens as an educator, daily I see the value of our Johnson County Library as a place of support for children and families. The six-by-six program offers families with young children tools and information to encourage early literacy development. Story times, interactive exhibits and book walks that families can enjoy together are so important to instilling a love of reading in children and helping parents partner in shared literacy with their children. The Homework Help program along with wonderful youth-focused library initiatives like elementia that allow students leadership experience and a platform through which to hone their creative writing and storytelling talents positively support young people in our community.
Johnson County Library continues to evolve to support the needs of a changing society and community. The Library as community hub where people can come to support their needs no matter their age or stage in life is a mission to which our library has been very committed. Offering access to technology for those who may not have it for workforce needs or to connect with critical resources can be lifechanging. The Black & Veatch Makerspace provides opportunity for individuals of all ages to explore a hobby, create an invention, or launch a small business concept. It is the diversity, not only of who the library serves but also what the library offers that makes our Johnson County Library such an important part of our community. It is not only a love of books and the library and nostalgic memories of special times spent with family, but it is also the valuable programs and services offered that are making a difference in our community that inspire my husband and I to support the Johnson County Library Foundation.
- Leigh Anne Neal