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Scribbler Society Encourages Young Writers

For many years, Johnson County Library has provided popular programs for teen and adult writers. Now there’s a supportive club to give younger writers a creative outlet as well.

The Scribbler Society is a new program geared for youth ages 10-14, offered once a month at Antioch Library. It is led by Heather Miller, a youth information specialist at Antioch, and Cristy Henggeler, a youth information specialist at the Blue Valley branch. Both are enthusiastic writers in their own right who wanted to encourage young people to find their voices through a variety of fun activities in a collaborative setting.

“I’m a writer myself so I wanted to bring that love of writing to kids,” said Miller, who enjoys writing fiction, including teen novels.

Henggeler has two kids, ages 5 and 8, and started working at Blue Valley last June. She has an English degree and writes novels in her spare time. She loves working with young patrons and was eager to join Miller in this new program, which was offered monthly this past spring and summer. The first few sessions featured mostly home-schooled kids.

The program is taking a break in August before resuming in the fall with events at Antioch, Blue Valley and Central Resource Libraries.

“It’s really fun to hear what the kids are working on,” Henggeler said. “It’s inspiring to be around them.” 

For the first meeting in February just one participant showed up, so Miller gave her one-on-one coaching. That turned out to be really productive.

“I engaged with her,” Miller recalled of the participant, who had bought a yard sale typewriter and used it to start writing a story. “She was stuck on one part. I helped her through that. She seemed to get a lot out of it.”

Eight participants showed up in March and April. Miller and Henggeler provided a workbook, described different writing genres, and talked about incorporating characters into story. A writing exercise gave a prompt for the start of a story. The young writers were bursting with ideas.

At the April meeting, they created “mood boards,” using photos from old magazines.

“We almost lost track of time because everybody was so excited to be working on their mood boards and having fun with that,” Henggeler said.

In May, three participants showed up and spent the session figuring out the backgrounds and personalities of characters for their stories. They encouraged each other and giggled as they brainstormed suggestions. 

One participant, Jack, 11, said he’s been drawing and writing a series of comic book stories about a superhero. Morraine, 9, brought notebooks in which she was working on two different stories. Kennedy, 13, said she does a lot of creative writing and the program has been worthwhile.

“We learn a lot about developing our stories,” she said.

This is educational, but it isn’t academic writing, and the program doesn’t feel like schoolwork. One parent emailed Miller to say her daughter really enjoyed the sessions.

Miller and Henggeler are delighted to offer this new program benefiting older elementary and middle-school patrons. The young people are encouraged to submit work for the Library’s writing contests.

It’s rewarding, Henggeler said, to share this passion with kids, “and see them excited about their ideas and just kind of bringing in something creative to their day that brings them joy.”

Miller agreed. “We want to keep them engaged with the Library and I think this is a great way to do it,” she said. “Giving them an outlet for all those ideas they have really makes me happy.”


JoCoHistory Blog: “All ‘Board: The Farm Homes Special!”

Ever heard of a “special” train? In 1937 a “special” ran across Kansas, including a stop in Olathe, advertising new technologies for the state’s farmers. Read more about the Better Farm Home Demonstration Train and find out if it was successful in a new #JoCoHistory Blog post from the Johnson County Museum!

#JoCoTrains #KansasHistory


All Together Now: Celebrate!

To celebrate the grand finale of Summer Reading 2023, we've got a day of fun and discovery featuring local performers, activities and opportunities. No registration is needed for any of the following - just show up and have some fun!

Join us a the Central Resource Library on Saturday, July 29 for the following events: 

10 a.m. 
Krista Eyler aka Funky Mama presents a concert that will get the whole family dancing. 

11 a.m. - 2 p.m. 
Community Connections Fair - Ever wanted to juggle, join a jam session, or start a fossil collection? Looking for ways to connect with your neighbors? Meet representatives from local volunteer and hobbyist groups to find your new favorite activity! 

11 a.m. 
Local musician, artist and innovator Camry Ivory presents Coloratura – paint brushes become musical instruments and every color plays a different note. You can paint and compose music simultaneously in this interactive activity suitable for all ages. 

1 p.m. 
Social Swing – West Coast Swing is a social dance that mixes elements of every style you can think of. The basic steps are simple enough for anyone to get up and start dancing in a flash during this introductory workshop.


This Week at the Library

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

Library OnDemand – Available anytime you like.

Play Lab – Tuesday, July 25, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.

Connect with other families for a casual playdate at the Lenexa City Center Library, featuring open-ended play materials! Designed for up to age 6 with a caregiver. Siblings welcome.

Circus Variety Workshops – Thursday, July 27, Gardner Library , 11 a.m. – noon

         Antioch Library, 2 – 3 p.m.

Inspired by a traditional big top circus, Martika Daniels has downsized the big top into a one-woman circus show! In this workshop, Martika will show kids how to do some of her amazing circus tricks with hoops, scarves, and more. Elementary aged kids will learn how to use their whole bodies to do stunts sure to impress friends and family.

Open Mic – Friday, July 28, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Johnson County Library is teaming up with Bear Necessities Coffee Bar (9609 W 87th St, Overland Park, KS 66212) to bring you an Open Mic from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. on the 4th Friday of every month. Bring poems, short stories, essays, and excerpts to share on the stage. Or come just to listen. We’ll feature readings from our contest winners and the rest of the time is for you. Sign up at the event, 3-minute limit.

All Together Now Summer Celebration – Saturday, July 29, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The Library connects us all! We’re celebrating with a day of fun and discovery featuring local performers, activities and opportunities to connect. Kids, families, teens and adults will find new ways to get involved with their community through hobby and volunteer groups.

And much more happening this week … 


Annual Friends Bookmark Design Contest Now Open

Starting today, the Friends of Johnson County Library will be accepting submissions to their 2023 Bookmark Design Contest. The eagerly-anticipated annual tournament of talent welcomes entries of original analog art in categories from Kindergartners to Adults. Designs selected by the panel of Friends and Librarian jurors will be printed and distributed at all 14 Johnson County Library branches, Friends Bookstores and at public events.
Steps for participants:

  • Download a form online or pick-up at any Johnson County Library location. The form details what media are accepted. Finished bookmark size is 2-3/4 x 8-1/2 inches. 
  • Create bookmark art!
  • Submit completed art no later September 10, 2023, 5 p.m. 
  • Entries may be dropped off in person, mailed in, or submitted online. Details are available on the entry form.

Patrons may see the contest in the Shawnee Mission Post: Your Community: Friends of Johnson County Library is seeking bookmark artists of all ages


Library Board Chair Sets Leadership Goals for Continued Success

Bethany Griffith is in her eighth and final year on the Johnson County Library Board, with a term that ends May 1, 2024. And she’s going out on top, serving through next April in the important post as Library Board Chair. 

She’s experienced a critical time of growth and change. She looks forward to this next year, providing strong volunteer leadership for an organization whose public mission she cherishes and champions. 

“It has been a real joy to get to advocate strongly for the Library,” Griffith said in an interview, “for our budget, for our staff, for getting us back open during COVID and for whatever is facing our communities.”  

She is determined that the Library will continue to provide access to information and enrichment, to sustain an educated, thriving citizenry. 

“We’re not gatekeepers of ideas. We don’t pick and choose what it is people have access to,” she emphasized. “Hopefully in the Library you can find information, ideas, support, things that are beautiful and wonderful.”

Griffith majored in philosophy and politics at Hendrix College in Arkansas and met her future husband James during a junior year abroad at Oxford. The couple married and lived in the United Kingdom for seven years before they relocated in 2006 to Lenexa, where James is an information technology professional. They had a son and daughter, and Griffith developed a deep appreciation for the children’s section and Storytimes at the Lackman branch. 

She was appointed to the Library board in 2016 by then-County Commissioner John Toplikar, who knew her as a home-school mom who highly valued the Library’s educational resources. 

Initially, she thought the board was an advisory cheerleader for the system. But she quickly realized it had a much more significant policy governance function, for one of the county’s most vital services. She has always been fond of community engagement and embraced that responsibility. 

“Although it was a surprise,” she said, “it actually has been a really good fit.”

Her first vote was to fund the collection for the new Monticello branch. She was a key liaison overseeing the building of the beautiful Lenexa City Center branch that opened in 2019. She was a strong advocate for getting Library branches back open as soon as possible, safely, during COVID. And she pushed for years to eliminate fines for overdue materials, another strategy that enhances access. The fines-free policy was approved in April 2023.

Griffith says COVID revealed the need for administrative succession planning, which led to more cross-training and a leadership studies grant allowing staffers to continue to learn and advance in their fields. Johnson County Library now presents this organizational blueprint at professional conferences, and Griffith wants to see that staff support solidified in her final year. She also realizes she has considerable institutional knowledge to pass along to newer board members over the next year, “to facilitate leaving a board just as engaged, healthy, vibrant and committed as it was when I got here.”

As Libraries nationwide deal with book ban petitions and other challenges, Griffith wants the public to know that Johnson County Library has clearly-written thorough policies and procedures, grounded in legal precedent. “We’ve done the best that we can to make the system opinion neutral. You can access stuff and it’s up to you as a parent, you as an individual, to decide which things you engage with,” she said.

Heading into an election year, Griffith sees a crucial role for the Library to support democracy and civic engagement. Her vision is clear: “That the Library should be a safe place for every single citizen, for every taxpayer. The fact that it’s nonpartisan I think is incredibly important. There are books, stories here for every type of person. This Library is for every single citizen.”


Look Into Lenexa's Past

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: Lenexa Historical Society

About this collection: This collection is comprised of over 3,500 images relating to the history, development and people of Lenexa, Kansas. Particular strengths include area construction projects, photos of the Legler Barn Museum, the Lenexa Centennial celebration of 1969 and early landowners. The photographs were collected and maintained by the Lenexa Historical Society, who are headquartered at the Legler Barn Museum in Sar Ko Par Park.