About Friends of Johnson County Library

The Friends of Johnson County Library is a member-supported group promoting community awareness of and involvement in Johnson County Library. We serve as Library advocates and we foster literacy and lifelong learning.

Friends volunteers and employees work at the library branches, the Sorting Center, and at books sales – and are 600 strong and growing. Together, we process more than 600,000 donated items each year – and we are the single largest donor to the Library. The Friends have raised and given more than $2.5 million since 2023 and provided 18,200+ hours of volunteer work last year.

Old photograph of bookmobile with librarian and library board members

History of the Friends

The Friends organization was formed more than 65 years ago to advocate for a public library. Prior to county funding, we opened volunteer libraries in schools, stores, and homes. In 1955, Johnson County Library received funding for a paid director, and our group became “Friends of the Library.” In the ensuing years, the Friends have hosted events, advocated for bond issues, conducted book sales, and established used bookstores. As a 501c3, we continue to be a vital part of the Johnson County Library community.

The Friends began as the Prairie School PTA Library Committee. They determined a need for a Johnson County library system which was growing by leaps and bounds after WW2. They circulated petitions for county-wide elections and advocated for citizens to vote for a Bond Issue. The Johnson County Library was established in 1952, with over 80% of the citizens voting YES.

However, it took some time to collect the original tax funds. So, the Committee set up and operated volunteer libraries. They collected donated books, built shelves, sought free spaces, and operated with volunteers. Our County Commission approved funding in 1955 and hired Miss Shirley Brother (seen above on the step of the Bookmobile) as the first County Librarian. In 1956, the Citizens Library Committee reorganized as Friends of the Library. We now operate as a separately incorporated nonprofit and have energetically and eagerly supported JCL since that time with time, talent, and treasure!

the Friends 2024 Board of Directors

The Friends of Johnson County Library, along with the Johnson County Library Foundation, is a volunteer-led and passion-fueled organization. Our joint mission is to support Johnson County Library.

Stacy Bunck, President
Shanna Eiklenborg, Vice President/President-elect
Chris Meier, Past President
Lauren Plumlee, Secretary
Cassie Klein, Treasurer

Jodie Dietz
Misty Eytcheson
Jae Moyer
Emily Null Miller
Karen O’Mara
Lindsay Park
Tyler Reese

Our Staff

Shanta Dickerson, Executive Director
Karin Dembinski, Sorting & Sales Specialist
Chris Hickam, Internet Sales & Office Manager
Rich Lucero, Sorting & Sales Specialist
Dawn Wessling, Sorting & Sales Specialist

Library Support Staff

Amber Bourek Slater, Volunteer & Friends Engagement Coordinator

Library Advocacy

Libraries are cornerstones of society, serving as hubs for learning, literacy, and cultural enrichment. Advocacy for libraries is crucial because it ensures that these invaluable resources remain accessible and relevant in a rapidly changing world.

Here’s why library advocacy matters:

  1. Equal Access to Information: Libraries provide equitable access to information, enabling individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic background, to explore, learn, and grow.
  2. Education and Lifelong Learning: They offer a wealth of educational resources, from books and digital media to workshops and programs that support lifelong learning.
  3. Community Building: Libraries foster a sense of community by offering meeting spaces, hosting events, and bringing people together for shared experiences.
  4. Digital Inclusion: In today’s digital age, libraries bridge the digital divide by providing free internet access, computer services, and digital literacy programs.
  5. Preservation of Culture: Libraries preserve the cultural heritage of communities through the collection and archiving of historical documents, manuscripts, and local artifacts.

How can you become a Library Advocate?

Here are some ways you can get involved and make a difference:

  1. Speak Up: Share your library experiences and the positive impact libraries have had on your life. Your personal stories are powerful advocacy tools.
  2. Engage with Elected Officials: Contact your local, state, and federal representatives to express your support for libraries and the need for continued funding and policy support.
  3. Join Library Friends Groups: Many libraries have Friends of the Library groups that advocate on their behalf. These groups often organize fundraisers and community events to support their local library.
  4. Stay Informed: Keep yourself informed about library issues, initiatives, and challenges. Attend library board meetings and participate in community discussions.
  5. Support Library Initiatives: Vote in favor of library funding measures and bond referendums in your community.

Advocating for libraries is an ongoing endeavor that requires the support of dedicated individuals like you. Join us in our mission to ensure that libraries continue to be vibrant, inclusive, and essential parts of our communities. Together, we can empower future generations through knowledge, literacy, and lifelong learning.

Thank you for being a Friend!

When you advocate for libraries, you’re advocating for the enrichment of minds, the strengthening of communities, and the promotion of a more informed and equitable society. Thank you for being a library advocate!

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