Foundation Stories

Meet the Author: Matt Stewart.

written by Shelley O’Brien, Executive Director of the Johnson County Library Foundation

There is nothing better than the beginning of the baseball season. When I was a college student at KU, we often went to Opening Day. Usually, I needed a raincoat or my winter jacket, but we braved the cold day as the first major sign of spring. It was always an optimistic day, with nothing but potential and a wonderful summer ahead of us.

Going to see the Royals always reminded me of my grandmother Ruby Wilson from Pittsburg, Kansas. She was the closest thing I knew to a baseball expert. She would listen to at least three games a week on the radio in the 1970s and 1980s. It brought her so much joy, especially the 1985 World Series; she was bursting with pride that year. My grandmother always had strong opinions about the team and the coaching staff. Way before fantasy baseball leagues, she knew exactly what changes the roster needed to be made to make it to October.

If you are a baseball expert or a casual fan, celebrate the beginning of the Royals season with your Johnson County Library.

Matt Stewart, Local Emmy award-winning TV anchor and reporter at Fox 4 News, will be with us on Thursday, March 21st at 6:30 pm to discuss his newest book – The Kansas City Royals: An Illustrated Timeline. In his book containing more than 160 color pictures and insight into the Royals organization, Matt details every big moment and profiles your favorite players through the decades, from George Brett to Bo Jackson to Eric Hosmer to Bobby Witt Jr.

Joining Matt will be Curt Nelson, Director of the Royals Hall of Fame. Nelson has worked in various roles for the Royals organization for the past 25 years.

They will be presenting at the Lenexa City Center Library, in the main room. This event is free, open to the public, and sponsored by the Johnson County Library Foundation. We hope you will join us and think of all the wonderful spring and summer days you have experienced at the K.

Why I Give: Joan Cabell

Growing up in a small town, our trips to the library were a high point. I remember sitting down on the floor amongst the shelves of books and reading until my parents were ready to help me check out my books. Some of my earliest memories involve snuggling in bed with my sister and reading our library books. Our whole family were voracious readers and after the lights were out in the neighborhood our lights still burned bright.

In college, the library became my refuge for researching, studying, and bringing groups together to work on projects. The librarians were knowledgeable, and kind and it always felt like a safe environment.

As an adult, I continued my journey with the Johnson County Library by joining the Library Foundation Board and learning about all the great initiatives that the Foundation and the library provided to the community. I also worked at several of the Friends of the Library book sales and really enjoyed meeting people and watching them fill their sacks full of wonderful books.

Today, I am retired and can now do what I love best. And that is perusing the shelves and taking my time in picking out all my favorites which include suspense and historical fiction novels. I am currently reading The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict. 

I cannot imagine my life without libraries and the joy, excitement, and knowledge that they have brought me. Please support the Johnson County Library Foundation and bring that joy of reading to everyone in our community.

I Heart Libby!

written by Shelley O’Brien, Executive Director of the Johnson County Library Foundation

A couple of years ago, I visited a public library just southwest of Topeka on a rainy afternoon. As I was walking in, it hit me. The smell of my childhood library. I don’t know if it was the paper alone, or the moisture in the air; but this was the smell I loved as a child. A smell that brought me so much happiness.

Sometimes I see library patrons walking into Cornith or Cedar Roe with that same look on their face. The happy smell of books waiting to be checked out. The rows and rows of interesting stories. The nostalgia of hours as a child in the library.

I say all of this, and yet, I’m one of the people who never check out physical books anymore. Yes, I’m exclusively a digital book reader now. I even Marie Kondo’d my book collection before moving back to Kansas. I only buy books at Rainy Day Books for gifts.

My Kindle and the Libby application gets used single every day. The font is on a larger, pleasing setting. Most of the time it is connected to my Wi-Fi, but occasionally, I have to go to airplane mode to finish an expired book. Most days you will find my Kindle on my nightstand or sitting quietly on a pillow. Patiently waiting for me to get home to travel to our next adventure. This past week we were in Jamaica with Safiya Sinclair and “How to Say Babylon”. This week with Curtis Chin and “Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant.”

Many of you are digital readers or listeners, too. In fact, the Johnson County Library had over 1 million digital checkouts in 2023. This was the first year for our library to go over the one million mark. I bet it will only be a couple years till we start moving in on 2 million. Why? Because we love our computers, and we love convenience.

For those of you who are digital users with me, consider what your local library is giving you. No driving to the library, checking out is a breeze, thousands and thousands of choices in the palm of your hand, fairly short waiting times, and a book with larger font that is backlit to not strain your eyes.

Thank you, Johnson County Library, for embracing the Libby app and loving digital AND physical books. We are grateful for the library staff in the collections department who make the selections, do purchasing, catalog the titles, and make all these wonderful digital materials possible.

We Need Taylor and Travis - written by Shelley O'Brien

written by Shelley O’Brien, Executive Director of the Johnson County Library Foundation

I’ve been fundraising for a couple of years. I’ve seen lots of fundraising events and trends come and go. But one comment that always comes up is the philanthropic rich person of the moment.

“We need Taylor and Travis! They should give to Library Lets Loose.”

“Why can’t you ask Makenzie Scott to support our library?”

There is this fantasy of the philanthropic wealthy person who is on Instagram or on the cover of US Weekly who is going to come to save the day. In reality, it almost never happens.

And yes, I know Travis Kelce has a home in Leawood, just minutes away from our Leawood Pioneer Branch. And yes, if I run into him at Trader Joe’s, I promise I will tell him about our amazing public libraries. I will take selfies, I promise.

But who really makes a difference by giving to the Johnson County Library Foundation?

You do.

You are the donor who sends a donation to the Johnson County Library every year.

You are the library supporter who buys two tickets to Library Lets Loose every year.

You are the employee who asks their boss to make a bigger gift to the library this year.

You are the library patron who leaves the library foundation in your will or trust.


Because the Johnson County Library means a lot to you. You love to drop by and browse the new books section. You remember when your kids were little and loved story time at the library. You see people every day who access computers and meeting rooms to get jobs and make our community better.

We don’t need Oprah to support the Johnson County Library. We need you.

Thank you for all your support now and in the future. Johnson County Library Foundation is a great place to invest in our community and in lifelong learning for everyone.

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