Foundation Stories

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
  • 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!

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. This year, on November 27, your Giving Tuesday gift to the JCL Foundation will directly benefit the Library’s ever popular Summer Reading Program, and put a book in the hands of a child.

From mid-May until the end of July, Johnson County Library helps combat summer slide by providing a free book to every child who signs up with the 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 away 18,823 books to kids throughout Johnson County this past summer, in comparison to 15,000 in 2017. And that increase is with no additional locations. With the recent opening of our new Monticello Library, we project 22,000 books will be distributed in summer 2019.

Your gift on this Giving Tuesday will directly support this critical service for kids and their families throughout Johnson County. All donations make a difference, for example, $25 buys 5 books!

And on November 27,  your donation can go even further if you use the donate button on our Foundation Facebook page

On #GivingTuesday,  Facebook is partnering with PayPal to match up to $7 million in donations to eligible US-based  nonprofits. Donations made on the Foundation’s Facebook  page will be matched, dollar-per-dollar starting at 7 a.m. on November 27 (only) and will continue until matching funds run out.   

Thank you for your continued support of our mission for lifelong learning!

Authors Wyatt Townley and Roderick Townley

It was a huge success! Our third annual Library Lets Loose fundraising event was held September 29.  Nearly 500 Library lovers (including our cover photo stars –local authors Wyatt and Roderick Townley) attended this festive fundraiser that featured unique and creative experiences, scrumptious food and drink pairings – and local music, artists, performers and creators. And, more than $120,000 was raised! View a fun photo gallery here!

A big shout out to our generous 2018 sponsors. We couldn’t have done this without your help!

Proceeds from the event benefit the Foundation which helps support Library programs and the collection. We provide funding for programs that go above and beyond what you would expect from a Library! Early childhood literacy, Summer Reading, Homework Help, teen writing programs and civic engagement are just a few of the many programs that make a difference in our community.


The Central Library is set!  We are ready for this  festive event with experiences, entertainment, food, drink and fun ways to donate spread throughout the library — all evening long!

Set for Saturday, September 29 from 6 – 10 pm at the Central Resource Library, it’s our signature fundraising event featuring live music, food, drink, silent auction and interactive experiences. Tickets and sponsorships are still available online or at the door.

And, no need to wait for the event night, our silent auction is currently live online! You can bid on several stunning original pieces of art and jewelry, many of which are currently on display at the Central Resource Library. Simply go online to view these works and place your bid, or simply enter the “Buy it now” price. A percentage of each sale will benefit the Foundation thanks to our partners with GUILDit.

Other interactive experiences include hands-on activities in the Black and Veatch MakerSpace, robot drawing and paintings, literary performances by local actors, and trivia contests. Creative food and drink pairings will be served throughout the evening  – including a signature cocktail!

If you haven’t visited the Library in a while or, if you’re a frequent visitor, it’s a great way to see the Library in a whole new light. And, you’ll help us contribute to the Library’s important collections and programming.  We hope to see you there!

The countdown has begun — Library Lets Loose is Saturday, September 29 from 6 – 10 pm at Central Resource Library!  But if you hurry, you still have a few more days  to purchase tickets and sponsorships.

Library Lets Loose is not your typical sit down dinner kind of fundraiser. It’s a choose your own adventure kind of event!” So says Foundation Director Stephanie Stollsteimer. ”The event is a more of a free-form party for adults, with lots of experiences spread throughout the library — all evening long.”

Also included in the festivities are more ways extend your fun and stretch your support through several donation opportunities.   A portion of all sales and donations will directly benefit the Library’s programs and collections!

Still need some convincing? Listen to our special edition podcast featuring our food and drink lineup!

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.