Foundation Stories

I Heart Libby!

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.

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