Library patron Sasha Smith is the mother of a four-year-old son, Wren, and a one-year-old daughter, Juna. Without a vaccine for very young children during the COVID pandemic, Smith has had to be quite cautious about their activities.
Still, she has found Johnson County Library to be an incredible help in keeping her family engaged with fun books and enriching materials.
“The Library is an essential part of our family life,” Smith wrote in response to a recent Library patron survey on Facebook. “We check out picture books, kids’ and adults’ novels and nonfiction, music CDs and audiobooks. We spend hours every day interacting with Library content.”
Before the pandemic, Smith frequently took Wren to read and play at the Cedar Roe and Antioch Libraries. They particularly enjoyed the Storytime at Antioch with “Miss Dorian,” (retired Antioch Youth Information Specialist Dorian Assenmacher).
Smith hopes to resume those in-person Library visits soon but says that even during the pandemic “the Library Is still a focal point of our lives and an incredible resource.”
Smith grew up in Ohio and fondly recalls going to Storytimes crowded with kids as a child. Whenever she moved, one of the first things she did was get a Library card.
She met her husband while attending a master’s program in Counseling Psychology. About six years ago, they moved to Johnson County. They use the Cedar Roe branch regularly to pick up Holds, and they are prolific readers.
“We usually have about 100 books at a time,” Smith said. Most of those are for the children but Smith and her husband are also avid Library users. She has too many personal favorite books to count, but particularly highlights Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson and Wise Child, by Monica Furlong.
She has signed the kids up to attend some virtual events being offered through the Library’s “Oceans of Possibilities” Summer Reading program.
Smith finds out about Library events via the printed guides, website, email and Facebook. She learned a lot from Johnson County Library’s online parent education classes with author Julie Bogart.
While she is currently a stay-at-home mom, Smith is still keenly interested in community mental health, child development and education, and she appreciates Johnson County Library’s commitment to all those services.
She sees the Library branches as places that nurture community mental health and wellness just as much as counseling centers do.
“I think it’s been such a great resource for us as parents and people living through a global pandemic,” she said. “And such an amazing resource for the community: a place to hang out, charge your phone, enjoy heating or air conditioning, get resume help or job support. They offer so many amazing programs.”
She is eager for the day when it’s once again safe for her to visit Cedar Roe’s cozy children’s area with her kids, and when they can take advantage of other in-person opportunities.
“Probably as soon as the kids are vaccinated,” she said, “the Library is the first place I want to take them.”