A photo of a man in a collared shirt and suit jacket in the foreground, with a woman in a dress and a boy in the background, both waving small American flags.

Táriba, Cabrera and their 12-year-old son, Daniel, outside the Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park in Topeka

Library Program Teaches Citizenship Applicants ‘Meat’ of U.S. History

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in May 1954 to end legal segregation in public schools, it established one of the most fundamental precedents in the nation’s history.

The Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park in Topeka thus proved a fitting location — right before Independence Day — for a naturalization ceremony where participants swore to “bear true faith and allegiance” to the Constitution and the laws of the United States.

Johnson Countians Monica Fracachan Cabrera and Juan Calderón Táriba took part in that proceeding. The married couple’s participation marked a milestone for them and for the Library’s free U.S. citizenship class, established three years ago by Latino Services Outreach Librarian Christine Peterson.

The Library class now counts 18 new U.S. citizens among its alumni.

The couple credited Peterson and the class for providing the materials and the structured curriculum that prepared them for the rigors of becoming citizens, which starts with a 20-page application through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Applicants must also demonstrate an ability to read, write, and understand English and pass an oral civics exam with 10 questions selected from a 100-question study guide.

The Library offers the citizenship program three times a year. The program generally runs for about 15 weeks with weekly 90-minute Zoom sessions on Tuesday mornings and Wednesday evenings.

Peterson said the number of attendees is growing. She has approximately 30 people enrolled this trimester.

Originally from Venezuela, Cabrera and Táriba arrived in the United States six years ago after winning a visa lottery system to enter the United States. After spending time in Colombia, they settled in Johnson County because they had family in the area.

Their 12-year-old son, Daniel, is a middle schooler in the Blue Valley School District.

Cabrera is a research assistant for JUNTOS - Center for Advancing Latino Health at the University of Kansas, and Táriba is a mental health language coach at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.

Through Peterson as a translator, Cabrera explained why she and her husband consider it significant to become U.S. citizens.

“It’s important because this is our second home. We weren't born here, but we probably will die here,” she said. “This country opened up its arms to let us come in, and our son is now going to have those opportunities, especially in education.  Maybe my grandchildren will even be born here, but we now have a voice, and we can vote, and we can participate in the government.”

Peterson conceptualized the citizenship program when a friend asked for her assistance in becoming a citizen. Peterson was also encountering Latinos who wanted help preparing to answer the citizenship questions.

Having lived abroad, Peterson knows the limited rights citizens have in other countries. Immigrants who come to the U.S appreciate the freedoms they have here, she said, and Peterson enjoys adding context to what the candidates already know.

“I do not want them to memorize 100 questions and spit out the answers,” she said. “I want them to know the meat of the country.”

Woman with Tuba

Margaret Ott seated, holding a tuba - 1935

New JoCoHistory Blog Post is Music to Our Ears

Johnson County Museum Upgrades to a Cloud-Based Collection Software

Guest written by Anne Jones, Curator of Collections

During our national accreditation process, we learned that the public values learning about the professional practices and standards we maintain as a field. This not only contributes to the high level of trust the public has in the museums, it is also fun. So, today we’re pulling back the curtain on just how we manage the museum’s collections with the Johnson County Museum’s Curator of Collections, Anne Jones.

Read the full article on the JoCoHistory Blog »

No Wait Wednesday: The Scent of a Garden by Namrata Patel

Hello and welcome to #NoWaitWednesday, where we spotlight a book that's ready and available on the New Release shelf at one of our Library branches. Hot, ready, and best of all - no waiting!

Scent of a Garden by Namrata Patel introduces us to Asha "Poppy" Patel, daughter of a family of successful hoteliers in Napa Valley, California. When Poppy was young, she discovered that while tending her grandmother's garden, she has a special gift for identifying scents - so much so, that as she grows up, her family steers her away from the family business and into a prestigious career working as a Paris master perfumer. Everything seems to be going well until Poppy gets COVID-19 and loses her sense of smell and takes a leave of absence back to California, where she is pulled in different directions from her well-meaning but ambitious family, only finding solace by restoring her grandmother's aromatic garden, which has been neglected over the years. While back home, she's also reunited with Neel, her first serious love that went sour when Poppy left for Paris, and her former best friend, Millie. While Poppy reconnects with her friends and family, she also tries to reconnect with her sense of smell, or else the dream job that she spent her entire life working toward will forever be out of reach.

But then again - is that what she really wants?

This novel is not only a delightful example of women's fiction but Patel has absolutely done her homework with her descriptions of both the lush and atmospheric Napa Valley hotel world as well as descriptions of the Paris perfuming scene - smells are lovingly described with care, passion, and flair. The novel also excels at describing the complex and interconnected dynamics of the expectations of a high-achieving immigrant family, as Poppy tries to please her mother, who wants her to go back to Paris, and understand her father, who wants her to take over the family hotel business. However, the parents aren't presented as monsters or mere obstacles to Poppy's character growth - they're presented as characters in their own right, who have strong points of view and want nothing but the best for their daughter.

Full of character work, self-discovery, and just the right amount of romance, Scent of a Garden should be on your to-be-read list. If not, then make sure you check out our New Release section the next time you're in the library - you'll be sure to find something that scratches that reading itch.

This Week at the Library

Library OnDemand – Available anytime you like.

Candidate Forum: Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees Candidates – Tuesday, Sept. 26, 6 – 7 p.m.

The Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley Post will be hosting 11 nights of local candidate forums ahead of the Nov. 7 general election at the Central Resource Library, giving Johnson County voters a chance to hear directly from the candidates who want to represent them in city government and on school boards. The full list of events is here.

Candidate Forum: Fairway and Roeland Park City Council Candidates – Thursday, Sept. 28, 6 – 8 p.m.

This forum will be held at the Cedar Roe Library and the Roeland Park candidates are at 6 p.m., the Fairway candidates are at 7 p.m.

Candidate Meet and Greet: Blue Valley Board of Education Candidates – Saturday, Sept. 30, 10 – 11 a.m.

Interested in learning more about the school board candidates on your ballot? Join us at the Blue Valley Library for a meet and greet with the candidates. You'll have the opportunity to introduce yourself, ask questions, and learn more about their stances on the issues impacting your local schools over coffee and donuts. We invited every school board candidate to participate in the Candidate Meet & Greet. Johnson County Library hosting these events does not constitute an endorsement for any particular candidate or issue.

Women’s Bike Summit – Saturday, Sept. 30, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

The Women’s Bike Summit will be held at the Central Resource Library and is a gender-inclusive event for people of all ages and backgrounds to come together to celebrate bicycling, discuss issues that are relevant and important to people on bikes, and get practical biking information and experience. Come meet new bike friends and participate in a day of free and interactive hands-on activities, workshops and rides that support, enhance and uplift women’s bicycling experience.

Nothing But the Page: A Workshop Led by Diana Goetsch – Saturday, Sept. 30, 9 – 11 a.m.

Some writers write better than they speak. Using free-writing exercises we’ll learn how to write more profoundly than we think or speak—with surprisingly quick results. Perfect for all genres and levels, this two-hour session, with acclaimed writer and renowned teacher Diana Goetsch, is for people wanting to elevate their freedom and creativity on the page. This program will be hosted using the meeting software Zoom. A Johnson County Library staff member will contact you via the email you registered with to provide more information about the program and instructions on how to access the Zoom meetings. You do not need to download any software or create an account.

And much more happening this week … 

a group of people in business attire standing in front of a blue bus with the wheelchair ramp deployed

Johnson County commissioners joined officials from Lenexa, Overland Park, Prairie Village, and Mission at an Aug. 4 “rolling” ribbon cutting to celebrate establishment of a new bus route that runs between Lenexa City Center and the Mission Transit Center.

New Bus Route Improves Access to Library Resources

Johnson County motorists recognize 87th Street as a key thoroughfare, but it’s also a vital corridor that connects residents to the Central Resource Library and many other nonprofit services.

That’s one reason people like Johnson County Commissioner Janeé Hanzlick are thrilled about the new bus route that Johnson County Transit launched in early August. Another proponent is Lisa Womack, senior manager of mobility innovation for Johnson County Transit.

Route 487 runs between the Lenexa City Center on the west and the Mission Transit Center on the east, traveling through downtown Overland Park and Prairie Village along the way and bringing riders close to the Library’s Corinth and Cedar Roe branches. The zero-fare route runs from around 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, with buses scheduled an hour apart.

As the county commission’s liaison to the Library Board, Hanzlick knows the importance of making Library services available through public transit. Providing computer access is especially important.

“For some of us, we love having the library, love having the programs,” she said. “But for some people, it means whether they can find a job, it means whether they can access the internet, it means whether they can have their kids do their homework.”

One only needs to look at the strip center across 87th Street from the Central Resource Library to see a couple of important resources along the new route. Catholic Charities has a family support center there and Johnson County Community College runs adult education courses in office space at the center.

Hanzlick served for many years as the CEO of Safehome, a domestic violence agency in Johnson County, and the establishment of Route 487 fulfills one of her longtime goals.

“To not have transit in this area just did not make sense to me,” she said, “and I am thrilled that we now have this route.”

The county commission is piloting Route 487 with federal COVID-19 relief funding. It costs about $325,000 a year to run the route, and Womack is confident the county can finance the route long-term if it proves as popular as transit officials believe it will be.

The route logged 452 riders in its first 30 days. Womack said the goal is to increase ridership by 10% per year. Peak ridership has come on Wednesdays. The new route is a great partnership opportunity for the Library and Johnson County Transit, Womack said.

“I think it will open up some doors if we collaborate together and remind people that we're both still here,” Womack said.

She would like to borrow an idea from Kansas City, Missouri, where the library has read-alongs on the bus. Womack also envisions some programming using children’s characters from the Library.

Womack agreed with Hanzlick that Saturday service would be a big improvement for the route, allowing riders more access to farmer’s markets. Having the bus run later would also benefit workers who work nontraditional hours, she said.

Womack said transit planners love it when they can connect community resources, and as a “library girl” who grew up in suburban St. Louis, she is personally pleased that the route serves several branches.

She has carried a passion for libraries into adulthood from a time when summers meant books and the pool.

“I like all the digital and I like all the technology,” Womack said, “but to me, there's something kind of special about being able to touch the books and use your imagination and go into the library and hear a story or see the characters.”


Cinematographer with a motion picture camera in Aviation Park.

Quarterly Newsletter of the Johnson County Museum

It’s another grand Throwback Thursday where we encourage you to time travel through Johnson County's history. JoCoHistory is a collaborative presentation of the history from the Johnson County Museum, Johnson County Library and many JoCoHistory partners. Explore historical photographs and documents about the people, places and organizations of Johnson County, Kansas, from the 19th century to the present.

Collection spotlight: Album, the Quarterly Newsletter of the Johnson County Museum

The ALBUM newsletter, a quarterly publication from Johnson County Museum, introduces Johnson County's history through articles and photographs.