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!