Foundation Stories

My connection to the library began early in life. My mother, a voracious reader, early-on introduced my sisters and me to reading. She took us to “the Library” where volunteers ran makeshift libraries in stores and local businesses around the County. I specifically remember a one-room office Library at Johnson Drive and Nall in Mission. We also checked out books from the bookmobile. We’d go to the Westport Library and Southwest High School library in Kansas City because they had summer children’s programming, and a much larger selection of books.

I remember library cards that were similar to dog tags: a metal plate embossed with patron information. A special machine embossed a checkout slip that was filed until the books were returned. In high school I volunteered at the Mission branch located in the lower level of a shopping area. My family was “library people” mostly because we couldn’t afford to buy as many books as we read!

I am an active library patron so often at the library the staff know my name! My husband and I live in Lenexa and frequent the Rec Center and the Public Market. Now we will be spending a lot more time at the new Lenexa City Center Library. Our grandson especially loves the balcony and the kid-sized chair where he can read outside.

I’m astonished by how the Library has changed during the past 60+ years. The Library offers so many more services and programs than ever before. I wish more county residents were aware of or took advantage of Library programming such as our book stores, programs for kids, teens and adults, online resources.

Twelve years ago I connected with the Library as a volunteer. I served on the Board and as President of the Friends of Johnson County Library. In that role I learned so much about how the Library works. I was Chair of the County Librarian Search Committee and thus had opportunity to help formulate the next chapters of Library growth. Three years ago I joined the Foundation Board to help raise funds for the endowment that supports Library programs for the benefit of citizens of our county.

So, the big question – Why do I give?

I give my time because I enjoy knowing Foundation the work I do helps provide supplemental funds for core programming. Volunteers who work in the libraries supplement our paid staff. Did you know that 25 full-time staff positions’ worth of time are provided annually by volunteers? That’s amazing!

I support the Library financially through my Lifetime Friends membership and donations to the Foundation. Donor support supplements programming such as Summer Reading, the 6×6 program, Teen services, Homework Help and so many more.

The Library has given me so much throughout my life and I’m happy that I can now give back as a volunteer and through financial support. I think it is so important that we all give something back to our community. People in generations before us did that so that we could have access to an award-winning Library. We citizens need to carry on that tradition for future generations!

Join Us September 28 for a Grand Party at the Library!

Library Lets Loose is our annual signature fundraising event for Johnson County Library’s programs and collection. Adult Library lovers (21+ years and older) enjoy this festive fundraiser filled with unique, interactive and creative experiences, tasty local libations and scrumptious food – plus entertainment from local musicians, makers and artists!

Sponsorships are a great way to support the event and participate in this festive fundraiser. Each level of support brings exciting benefits and recognition. Above all, you will help raise vital funds to support the literacy resources at the Johnson County Library that are not possible with county taxes alone.

We would be thrilled to include you as a key sponsor! View the 2019 sponsorship levels and commitment form here. Contact Stephanie Stollsteimer at the JCL Foundation with any questions at (913) 826-4720 or [email protected].

This year’s Honorary Hosts are Asher and Audrey Langworthy!

Watch for more information, including Early Bird Discounts, to come.

oin the fun with our Stay-at-Home host, award-winning picture book author and illustrator SHANE EVANS!

Saturday, June 8 is the annual Stay Home and Read a Book Ball, a virtual fundraiser for Johnson County Library. Funds raised from this year’s event support the Library’s Summer Reading program.

Join the fun with our Stay-at-Home host, award-winning picture book author and illustrator SHANE EVANS! Shane’s books include We March, Underground, Olu’s Dream and Chocolate Me.

Please join us on FaceBook between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., in support of this important cause from the comfort of your favorite reading nook. Here’s all you need to do:

  1. Choose a book
  2. Get comfortable at home
  3. Share your reading selfies on social media: #jocobookball
  4. Make a donation to the JCL Foundation!

Support Johnson County Library at your reading level!

Some suggestions:

$3,000 – Rare Book
$1,500 – Reading Room
$500 – Bestseller
$250 – Hardcover
$100 – Classic
$50 – Paperback
$25 – Bedtime Story

Thank you for your continued support!

The new Lenexa City Center Library opened its doors to the public on Sunday, June 2!

According to Library Board chair Bethany Griffith, “This is a really striking and beautiful facility. And we are eager to invite our patrons in so people can start using their new Library right away.”

The new 40,000 square foot building occupies two floors at the Lenexa City Center campus. In addition to high-quality library services, the new space features public meeting rooms, public computers and a robust children’s programming area.

Fast Facts about Lenexa City Center Library
Construction cost: $21.1 million
Size: 40,000+ sq. ft.

Special features:
• Dedicated space for storytime and other children’s programming
• A Drive-Thru service window in the adjacent parking garage
• A Holds Lobby that will be open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., 365 days a year
• An atrium for guest speakers and events, featuring stunning mosaics by local artist, Stephen T. Johnson
• A variety of seating, 20 PC workstations, as well as multiple charging areas
• Dedicated gathering space and workstations for teens
• Exterior balcony with seating and device power
• 6 meeting/study rooms, including a 36-person meeting room, with wireless A/V

Collection size: 71,000 on Opening Day
• 30,000 Kids, all formats
• 15,000 Adult Fiction, print
• 12,000 Adult Non-fiction, print
• 2600 Teen
• 3000 Adult CD Audio
• 2500 Music CDs
• 5900 DVDs

Technology features:
• Wi-Fi access
• 20 PC workstations
• Power at seats, work stations and balcony
• Wireless AV in Study Rooms

The Library was designed to seamlessly fit into the Lenexa City Center plaza and public market. Its unique design incorporates a large roof with an overhang to provide shade, and limestone terrace seating is built into the exterior landscaping.

2019 Summer Reading program theme


NASA turns 60 this year. The Apollo Moon Landing was 50 years ago. Summer Reading at Johnson County Library highlights this history and inspires kids of all ages to dream big, believe in themselves and create their own stories. The Foundation is pleased to provide support for the Library’s ever popular Summer Reading Program!

From mid-May until the end of July, the Library helps combat summer slide by providing a free book to every child who signs up with the Summer Reading program. Having books at home is strongly linked with academic achievement. By growing children’s personal libraries and helping them find intrinsic value in reading, the Library bridges that summer learning gap and invests in the future of our community.

The Library gave 18,823 books to kids throughout Johnson County last summer, in comparison to 15,000 in 2017. With the opening of our new Monticello Library last August, we project 22,000 books will be distributed this summer.

Help us continue this important service to our community. Please join us on social media June 8, for our annual Stay Home and Read a Book Ball and make your donation to benefit the Library’s Summer Reading program!

Growing up in Port Arthur, TX, I remember my mom had a friend who was a school librarian. She was my first exposure to that career path. Over time, my interest in pursuing that same path blossomed and she became my mentor. Being a librarian always resonated with me through school. I always had a strong curiosity and reflecting now, I am a lifetime learner.

After graduating college, my first job was… a school librarian! I decided to embark on my library career in the city at the origin of the Kansas City Southern Railway line in Kansas City, as Port Arthur was the terminus. My first job was with the Shawnee Mission District. Being a school librarian brought me much joy, as I loved fostering literacy, learning and education with the students.

Flash forward, after taking time off to raise my family, I was appointed to the Johnson County Library Board and was back in the library world. I also subsequently worked with the Johnson County Library Foundation Board for many years, focusing on fundraising to support the Library’s collection and programming.

Now, in retirement, one of my greatest pleasures is reading to my granddaughters. I also volunteer in a school library and my career has come full circle.

Why do I give?
I believe the future of the library is to continue to foster communication. Access to information is vital and facts are the drivers. Some institution has to be in charge of the facts, and I believe that institution is the library.

I feel strongly that our library is important, not just to me, but to all who use it, and even those who don’t. Even if unused, a library stands for something important. I greatly want this institution to endure and prosper.

I continue to volunteer with the Library Foundation, specifically with the “1952 Society: Writing the Library’s Next Chapter”, the planned giving initiative kicking-off this year. Ensuring the future of our Library through planned gifts is vital to me. I would not feel comfortable asking others to make this commitment without first making it myself and have chosen to make a gift to the Library in my will.

To be good stewards of this place we love, we must consider the future. Yes, legacy gifts to the library have always been an option. But today we are making a promise to ourselves, and to our library, that we will work to build the 1952 Society. We will identify and encourage those who care as much as we do to leave a legacy. The name we chose, The 1952 Society, references the past. But, without a doubt, it will be those who look to the future that will insure our library brings value to other lives well beyond our own.

  • Caroline McKnight

More than 30 guests purchased tickets at last year’s Library Lets Loose fundraising event for a one-of-a-kind opportunity to meet and mingle with two celebrated local authors and personalities.

A Conversation with Candice Millard and Steve Kraske” was hosted last month at the home of Vickie and Dale Trott. Their gracious hospitality allowed guests to meet these two literary treasures and sit in on their lively conversation.

Award winning author, Candice Millard is the author of three New York Times best-selling books. Steve Kraske is an award-winning print and broadcast journalist locally known for his work with The Kansas City Star and 89.3 FM KCUR host of “Up to Date.”

This exclusive event allowed library-lovers to connect with Candice and Steve and hear their lively discussion which covered topics that were both entertaining and informative. Guests also received signed copies of Candice’s books.

Note: Due to the winter weather forecast, the March 3 event has been cancelled. We will celebrate on another date in April!

The Johnson County Library story began in 1952 when several PTA moms focused their passion for education and rallied to establish the Johnson County Library. The first libraries were in the basements of businesses and homes until funding could be established.

Today we welcome more than 2.4 million visitors and circulate 7 million items annually. We are proud of our beginnings and thank you for your continuing support to insure future generations have access to quality library services and programs.

The 1952 Society: Writing the Library’s Next Chapter recognizes donors who have committed to make a planned gift to the Johnson County Library. These gifts demonstrate a unique and enduring commitment to the Library’s mission and provide benefits and security for generations yet to come.

In March, the Foundation is hosting a gathering to launch the 1952 Society: Writing the Library’s Next Chapter. Invitations are being extended to loyal donors who have demonstrated their support of the Library over time by making annual gifts, attending events, adding to our endowment and being an advocate for all we do. 

For more information please contact Stephanie Stollsteimer, [email protected].

Josephine Foote

Where to begin? Companionship is a good place. The characters in books were my earliest friends, as our neighborhood was short on children. Some of these literary friends were animals, which was fun. Books brought adventure and magic like houses made of candy and carpets that flew. You could time-travel back to ancient Egypt or China. You could learn to draw, to make things, to read a foreign language. The library was a Treasure House!

When I was a child we didn’t yet have television, and Johnson County didn’t yet have a public library. If my mother couldn’t drive me, I thought nothing about walking from Old Mission Hills to the Kansas City public library in Southwest High School. I have always had a love of libraries.

Books provided such joy and education that it was an easy decision to choose librarianship as an occupation. I got a Master of Library Science from Simmons College in Boston and later spent many happy years as the reference librarian at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO. I loved learning something new every day. A reference librarian doesn’t necessarily know the answers but sure knows where to find them.

Today I live in Cambridge, MA, and most of my family still lives in Kansas City, so I’m back to visit three times a year. I always visit the library and am grateful for all the cookbooks I’ve borrowed and for the online databases I use like ValueLine. It’s impressive how many wonderful community outreach programs the Library provides. It’s amazing all the new ideas that come through libraries!

Why do I give to the Johnson County Library Foundation?

As libraries evolve and grow, I believe it’s more important now than ever that the community gives back to support these services. One of my favorite quotes is on the Boston Public Library building: “The Commonwealth requires the education of the people as the safeguard of order and liberty.” A strong democracy is dependent on an educated citizenry.

  • Josephine Foote

Note: Your  charitable contribution supports the JCL Foundation mission so your dollars will directly fund Johnson County Library programs, services, and the growth of the collection of more than 1 million items. Your donation changes lives. Thank you!


It’s time for the Foundation’s annual appeal and your year-end gift in will have a profound impact on our community. The Foundation funds library resources, books, and educational programs that encourage curiosity, spark imagination and bring dreams to life.

Your contribution will help support the Library’s lifelong learning programs including:

  • 6 by 6 Ready To Read
  • Summer Reading
  • Homework Help
  • Tutor.com
  • elementia Teen Literary Program
  • Black & Veatch MakerSpace
  • Civic Engagement
  • Joan Berkley Writers Fund

Your gift has the power to change lives!

Your contribution to the Foundation will directly fund Library programs, services, and the growth of the collection of more than 1 million items. 

Thank you for your continued support!

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