Search Stories


Johnson County Library Shines Spotlight on Juneteenth

Johnson County Library is using the new Juneteenth holiday to provide patrons with a vital history lesson.

The Library was pleased to collaborate with other community partners to raise awareness and enhance residents’ understanding of the holiday that marks the end of slavery in the United States.

“Understanding this holiday is important to our patrons, and we are doing what we can to create access to topics and materials around Juneteenth,” said Megan Mascorro-Jackson, Assistant Branch Manager at Lenexa City Center, who worked on the Library’s Juneteenth team.

The official county holiday was Monday June 20. It was preceded by Book Club discussions, Storytimes, Walk & Reads, lectures and other family-friendly events. 

Mascorro-Jackson said Library staffers are eager to highlight these important historical events for the community, with a rich collection of educational resources.

“It’s very important to a lot of people,” she said. “Boosting its signal has been super rewarding. The history is fascinating.”

Juneteenth, also known as “Emancipation Day,” or “Day of Freedom,” became an official national holiday in 2021. In October 2021, the Johnson County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved making it an observed county holiday, held for the first time on June 20, since June 19 fell on a Sunday.

Juneteenth (combining “June” and “nineteenth”) refers to the date when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865. President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, freeing the slaves of the Confederate states. But it took two more years for the Civil War to end and for Black people in Texas to learn the news. The first “Jubilee Day” was organized in Texas on June 19, 1866, launching the Juneteenth celebration tradition.

In Johnson County, a key commemoration event was June 11, when the Library teamed up with the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center for a festival with art, music, food, storytelling and personal histories. The Library presented a special Walk & Read at the center, featuring the books Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free, by Alice Faye Duncan, and Change Sings by poet Amanda Gorman.

Johnson County Museum also had free admission to its compelling exhibit, “REDLINED: Cities, Suburbs and Segregation,” which runs through Jan. 7, 2023.

Museum Director Mary McMurray said the June 11 event was a great opportunity to honor African American history in Johnson County and learn from it.

“I truly believe that when we study our past, we can learn so much to pave the way to a better future,” she said.

Jessica McCallop-McClellan, a June 11 guest speaker, said Juneteenth celebrates the freed slaves’ resilience and African American culture. Her great grandfather, Robert L. McCallop, started a bus company in Shawnee to take Black children to Wyandotte County because they were excluded from Johnson County schools. McCallop-McClellan urged her audience to teach children these stories of African American struggle and progress, and to support Black-owned businesses.   

The Library also held a special Juneteenth Storytime June 15, sharing stories and poems on African American heritage with acclaimed author Carole Boston Weatherford and her son, poet and illustrator Jeffery Boston Weatherford.

On June 19, the county held a day-long celebration on Johnson County Square. The Library’s Walk & Read was installed and remained in place until June 30.  The Library has also created booklists for patrons wanting to delve deeper into the topic. Much more information is available at


KSD Archived in Images

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: Kansas School for the Deaf

About this collection: Over 4,000 images documenting the history and culture of the Kansas School for the Deaf. The photographs depict student life, faculty and staff gatherings, school buildings, athletic teams and auxiliary deaf activities in the region.


The Past is Prologue: Dividing Lines

The Past is Prologue is a bimonthly program that highlights topics often left out, glossed over, or misrepresented in our history books. For our July program, we will discuss the Dividing Lines Story of Segregation tour. We recommend you take the tour prior to the event, either by driving the route using the VoiceMap app or watching the virtual tour on our Dividing Lines website. This program is part of a metro-wide conversation about the history and legacies of redlining. For more, visit the Johnson County Museum exhibit "Redlined: Cities, Suburbs, and Segregation" on display now.

Thursday, July 7
7 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Online: Library OnDemand
Register »



This Week at the Library

This week at the Library, you can join us at:

Library OnDemand Available anytime you like.

Your doorway into live and archived programs. Arts & Culture, Career & Finance, Community Matters, Writers and more!

Read to a Dog with Pets for Life Wednesday, July 6, 1 – 2:30 p.m.

The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program improves children’s reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to a registered therapy dog. These dogs volunteer with their owner/handlers as a team. The program will be at the Monticello Library this week. Please note, space is limited for this program. Kids will get a ticket at arrival and wait their turn to read to one of several dogs.

How to Make LinkedIn Work for You Wednesday, July 6, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Does yours need an update? Learn how to set up a profile and get tips and tricks on how to get the most out of LinkedIn. Stay connected to career opportunities and attract employers with a stellar profile.

Managing Conflict in the Workplace Thursday, July 7, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

It's inevitable that we will run into conflict in the workplace - how can you best handle it? 

The Past is Prologue: Dividing Lines Thursday, July 7, 7 – 8 p.m.

The Past is Prologue is a bimonthly program that highlights topics often left out, glossed over, or misrepresented in our history books. For our July program, we will discuss the Dividing Lines Story of Segregation tour. 

How to Snag a Sea Monster with Mesner Puppet Theater Friday, July 8, 7  – 7:45 p.m.

Join Mesner Puppet Theater at Cornerstone Park, 215 North Center Street, Gardner, KS for a summer reading inspired adventure! After a monstrous wave washes a creature ashore, the people of a small Cape Cod town hear a strange wailing. Is it a sea monster in their midst? No, it's a baby as big as a house! The village adopts the giant baby, whom they name Stormalong -- 'Stormy' for short. Growing over 24 feet, Stormy struggles to fit in, and chooses a life at sea aboard a clipper ship to find a place in the world. Meanwhile, a real sea monster torments the village... and only Stormy is big and brave enough to save them all. Stick around after the performance for a screening of the 1970s classic Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

And much more happening this week »


Art Exhibitions at Your Library

Exhibitions have returned to many of our branches! Discover what's showing at your favorite Library »


Library Citizenship Classes Make American Dreams Come True

Among the many quality programs the Library offers is a special and exciting opportunity that grows our community—Johnson County Library’s U.S. citizenship class.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services provides courses that library staff from the Language Learners Committee facilitate. These courses help prospective citizens learn about the “history, civics and government of the United States,” the committee explains.

Latino Services Outreach Librarian Christine Peterson is heavily involved in the classes that also prepare people for the 100 questions they will face when interviewed as part of the test. “Candidates for citizenship review the study materials, practice listening and responding to the citizenship interview questions, access online practice tests, and receive guidance throughout the application process,” said Peterson.

“Many residents in the U.S. want to complete their journey by becoming citizens. However, English is not their first language and they hesitate as to whether they can realize their dream.” Peterson said the program exemplifies JCL’s Mission and Vision by providing access to information regardless of race or background.

During 60-to-90-minute classes, candidates meet on Zoom to go through curriculum, review vocabulary and pronunciation, and prepare for the questions they will face. The program began in 2020, and Peterson said that eight candidates have become citizens since. Right now there are six people taking the class.

One of the current candidates, Douglas, had to leave Venezuela with his family because of the political circumstances there. “I am interested in obtaining American citizenship since I consider the United States my new homeland,” he said. He believes becoming a citizen will help him show thankfulness for the opportunity he has, and fulfill the duties of being an American alongside fellow citizens.

Douglas enjoys the interactive nature of the class, as well as learning about history, which he enjoyed doing throughout his education. “Studying history again, beautiful memories came to my mind,” he said. The biggest challenge he sees in the classes so far comes from civics discussions. “For example,” he said, "‘What stops a branch of government from becoming too powerful?’ A simple answer, but with a deep democratic base—a ‘system of checks and balances.’”

Staff work hard to help patrons with the lengthy N400 application the USCIS requires, including what Peterson said is the “daunting” task of assembling necessary documents and making sure they are translated.

Peterson said she enjoys learning about each candidate’s journey coming to America. “When I ask why they came to the United States, many respond, ‘Freedom’. It is surprising the stories they tell about their countries and the government they are leaving.” She said that the majority of candidates are from Latin American, but there are also several from the Middle East.


Read to a Dog

Dog + kid + book = fun!

Give your kids a fun, laid back chance to practice by reading to a dog. These friendly, certified therapy pooches are ready to listen (along with their humans from Pets for Life). A child's reading improves with practice – and the dog's vocabulary will benefit, too!

Pencil in a pup appointment at a nearby Library »