Spreading the JCPL Story

Our staff members are "Spreading the JCPL Story" by contributing bi-weekly columns in the Daily Journal. 

Whiteland Branch to Host Teen Cosplay Event

Kalen Jones / Children’s and Young Adult Materials Selector
June 15, 2022

Kalen Jones

Big conventions downtown like Gen Con and Indy PopCon can be a lot of fun, but they can also be expensive and intimidating for first-time con-goers. Luckily, the Johnson County Public Library has its own mini-con just for teens called Random Fandom where they can express their interests in fandoms such as Harry Potter and “The Lord of the Rings” to anime and Pokémon. This exciting and growing event is a great introduction to many of the activities found at larger cons paired with the benefits of a local scale.

From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday attendees can visit stations around the new Clark Pleasant Branch Library for activities celebrating fandoms of all kinds. In the Community Room, con-goers can participate in unique photo opportunities with Star Wars cosplayers from the Bloodfin Garrison of 501st Legion and superhero cosplayers from Once Upon a Princess from 2-3 p.m. Strike a pose and take a selfie or two by the Random Fandom backdrop as well.

Fledgling costumers are encouraged to suit up and compete in individual and group costume contests. Watch the contest in the Community Room starting at 3 p.m. The first-place winner will receive a $50 Visa gift card, and the second-place winner will receive a $25 Visa gift card.

Looking for some more physical activity? Stop by the STEAM Zone Robotics Learning Lab to create a lightsaber and participate in an epic battle with friends. Then, see how you measure up to Katniss in the archery challenge in the Youth Program Room. Use the library’s button maker to design original fandom accessories and participate in hands-on STEAM demonstrations.

Also, be sure to try the library’s Oculus Go VR goggles and create a lightning orb. In the teen area, search through a collection of free comic books featuring favorite characters and choose a few to take home. Play video games with friends in our comfy teen space, too. Stop by a craft station to color or make a themed craft. After a full afternoon of activity, enjoy a quick snack in the Community Room.

JCPL is excited to offer Random Fandom to teens in the community, and the best part of it all is that it’s free and local. Explore the exciting world of conventions and fandoms this Saturday. Parents, tell your teens. Teens, invite your friends and don’t forget to wear a costume!

Find more program details at PageAfterPage.org/randomfandom.

Nicole Caudill

Summerlong Fun and Learning With the Library

Nicole Caudill / Library Assistant, Trafalgar Branch
June 1, 2022

Summer is in full swing, and children are at home enjoying their well-deserved summer break. Or, are they? What if your family vacation is over or not until a later time? How can you keep your children engaged and entertained?

The Johnson County Public Library is here for you. The library offers much more than books to help your children and teens finish their summer reading lists and also have fun this summer.

Check out our Library of Things where you can borrow baking kits and much more. We have baking pans to make a butterfly, baby buggy or Darth Vader cakes, as well as cookie cutters in the shape of Star Wars characters, superheroes or Harry Potter symbols. Other items that you can borrow include Birding Backpacks, outdoor lawn games and Launchpads. For the rainy days, take home board games, sewing machines, musical instruments or many other items worthy to explore.

And don’t forget about our Experience Passes. JCPL partners with museums like the Eiteljorg, the Indiana State Museum, the Indiana Motor Speedway Museum and others, allowing you to check out a family pass so you can experience some of Indiana’s best museums at no cost.

JCPL also partners with the Franklin Family Aquatic Center and Freedom Springs to offer pool passes for you and your family at no cost. You can find more information about the Library of Things and Experience Passes at PageAfterPage.org/lot.

But, not everyone is excited about a day trip to the “big city,” or maybe museums are not your thing. Instead, check out programs at any of our four locations. JCPL’s creative and fun programming staff offer programs for every age group, from Crafting for a Cause, which benefits community nonprofits, to fun STEAM programs. We also have all ages programs related to cooking and crafting, as well as game programs inside or outside the building. Find programs on our events calendar at PageAfterPage.org/events or pick up a Summer Library Guide at a Branch.

And make sure to register for Explore Summer and attend the big Explore Summer celebrations at all four branches. This year, you can learn how to make ice cream with liquid nitrogen at a Sub Zero presentation. Also, meet the Green Crayon character at the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten parties. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is coming as well for special storytimes. Don’t forget to visit all our StoryWalks throughout the county, too.

But, what if you borrow something, bring it back late and accumulate a fine? Well, then you are in luck. JCPL has been fine free since the beginning of 2022. If you had fines, they are forgiven and you can use any Johnson County Public Library Branch. Borrowers are still responsible for the items they borrow. If items are not returned within 45 days, or if the item is damaged, the borrower will be charged for the item.

So, come on and check out your local library! We are here to make your summer more enjoyable than ever!

Adult Learning Opportunities at JCPL

Wendy Preilis

Wendy Preilis / ALC Manager
May 18, 2022

The Adult Learning Center (ALC) is an adult literacy department that has been a part of the Johnson County Public Library (JCPL) since 1985. The ALC’s mission is to provide literacy services to adults in Johnson County. Over the years, the department has changed with population trends. Today, the ALC primarily provides services to adults learning English as a second language and learning about American culture. We also have services available to adults who want to brush up on basic skills in reading, writing, math and computers, or prepare for tests for a driver’s license, CDL, HSE or citizenship.

ALC is located at the Clark Pleasant Branch Library and we provide services at all JCPL locations. Adults over the age of 18 are eligible to attend classes. Lesson plans are tailored to each student’s needs. The ALC offers a variety of programs, on Zoom and in-person, such as reading programs, conversation classes and one-on-one tutoring. The ALC’s manager and part-time assistant teach classes, and 15 volunteers currently teach more than 30 adults each week in one-on-one tutoring sessions.

Over the years, we have helped many adults pass tests, become citizens, secure employment, successfully read and understand medical treatment reports, understand American report cards, volunteer with local groups and attend school programs. In addition to helping our students academically, the ALC provides a space for social development where students can make life-long friends with tutors, neighbors and teachers, and become contributing adults in our community.

The relationships formed between students and teachers have been impactful and inspiring. For example, we had tutors stand in as special friends at Grandparents’ Day celebrations at local schools for an adult learner’s child. Members of the conversation group banded together to provide healthy meals for a family in need. We had adults meet for the first time in Indiana and then continue their friendship when the student returned to Japan. We have supported new families and watched the new businesses of our adult learners flourish in Johnson County. Our community has shown a lot of Hoosier Hospitality over the years to our small, global library program. We strive to continue this tradition.

Throughout the pandemic, the ALC maintained its quality of services via Zoom. In the last two years, the ALC offered 501 programs with a combined attendance of 2,774 and held over 1,500 hours of one-on-one tutoring. Since relocating to the Clark Pleasant Branch Library in March, we have added 15 new adult learners to our classes.

The ALC is always looking for willing volunteers to provide English instruction to students, and you do not need to speak the native language of the adult learner. Volunteering with the ALC is a meaningful way to give back to the community. The adult learners are very motivated to learn English and American culture and make new friends.

The ALC invites you to family-friendly programs in June and July to get to know us. Come learn about our services and tell a friend, neighbor or co-worker about this great, free resource at the library. If you want to become an ALC student or volunteer, visit PageAfterPage.org/alc.

Kelly Staten

It’s Time to Explore Summer At JCPL

Kelly Staten / Programming Manager
May 4, 2022

The weather is warming up, the school year is ending and you are looking for fun activities to do all summer long. The Johnson County Public Library has you covered with our annual Explore Summer program that keeps you reading, creating and discovering new things on your own, with friends or with family.

The program is sponsored by the Friends of JCPL and runs from May 16 to July 31. Explore Summer is open to all ages. Stop in a library branch to sign up or register online at PageAfterPage.org/ExploreSummer. You’ll receive a coupon for a free book at a Friends of JCPL book sale, an activity log to track your reading minutes and a yard sign. JCPL’s Prize Patrol will be looking for yard signs as we are out and about this summer delivering prizes to your door.

Learning and reading throughout the summer are vital to developing early literacy skills and combating learning loss. Our goal as a community is to read three million minutes together. To help us reach that goal, we want you to read 10 hours this summer – that can include magazines, books, audiobooks or even the newspaper. Keep track of your time, and when you have hit that mark, you will receive a finisher’s prize and be entered to win the grand prize. This year, we’re giving away a staycation to the Indianapolis Bottleworks District. It includes gift cards to restaurants in the Garage Food Hall, Living Room Theaters and Pins Mechanical Company, plus a gas gift card so you can get there.

Weekly learning activities get you out and exploring Johnson County, whether it’s public art on the Great Arts Quest, visiting one of our Storywalks or looking at the stars with a telescope borrowed from our Library of Things.

JCPL librarians have planned some fabulous programs for you to attend this summer. Hedgehog Hannah will be here with 12 different animals for an interactive experience. Children’s book character The Green Crayon will meet and greet patrons at all of our branches. Random Fandom is back to celebrate pop culture and geek fandoms. Crafting for a Cause partners with local nonprofits. And Sub Zero Ice Cream will celebrate the end of summer with a STEAM presentation and ice cream party. To see all the activities and to register for programs, visit PageAfterPage.org/events.

Get ready to head to a JCPL Branch May 16 to register and start reading, adventuring and exploring all that JCPL has to offer this summer. We will see you at your favorite JCPL branch soon!

Resources for Your Business at JCPL

Erin Kirchhoff / Digital Services Manager
April 20, 2022

JCPL is pleased to offer business owners and entrepreneurs resources about business and finance news, company management information, investment guidance, continuing education opportunities and much more to help keep your business ventures operating strongly.

Our newest offering is something that has been in demand for a long time: private study rooms are now available at each of our Branches! Varying in size (the largest can accommodate up to six people and includes a Smart TV), they can be reserved up to twice a week, 14 days in advance, at no charge. Need a larger space? Our community rooms are also available for business use at $30/hour. They provide a great opportunity for those needing a space to conduct a Zoom interview, meet with a prospective client or hold a workshop. Reserve a study or meeting room in person, over the phone or online with your JCPL card at PageAfterPage.org/meeting. As always, we offer Wi-Fi access, faxing, scanning and notary services at no charge, as well as black and white or color copying and printing at a nominal cost.

Need investment guidance? Access the Value Line Investment Survey, Small & Mid-Cap Survey, and the expanded Value Line "Universe" of stocks, with features and functions to streamline investment strategies.

Need to write a marketing or business plan? Sign up for six-week expert instructor-led Gale Courses such as "Creating a Successful Business Plan” or “Small Business Marketing On a Shoestring." New sessions begin each month, and you can enroll in as many as you’d like. Brush up on your Microsoft Office, social media and graphic design skills with thousands of video tutorials on LinkedIn Learning for Library.

Flesh out your business plan by utilizing AtoZdatabases, an essential tool for your marketing campaign that will help you create a targeted list of new movers, homeowners, or consumers by location, income, home value or pretty much any target you desire.

In search of unbiased product ratings and reviews? Browse the trusted Consumer Reports. Need to learn a few key conversational terms and phrases in a new language? Get started with Rosetta Stone. Both of these are brought to you with your JCPL card via INSPIRE, a collection of databases and other resources for Indiana residents.

The Gale Indiana Legal Forms Library provides searchable and printable forms that cover bankruptcy, deeds, power of attorney, real estate, wills and many other topics. Need a motivational listen during your daily commute? Don’t forget about the thousands of business, marketing, self-help and finance e-audiobooks available in our hoopla digital collection.

Easily access these resources and databases with your JCPL card whenever you need them, 24/7, at PageAfterPage.org/business

Authors at JCPL Series Back In-Person

Kelly Staten

Kelly Staten / Programming Manager
April 6, 2022

Did you know the Johnson County Public Library (JCPL) hosts bestselling and award-winning authors as part of our Authors at JCPL series? Thanks to donations to the JCPL Foundation and those who virtually attended the third annual Snuggle Up with a Book Ball, we bring notable authors like Jan Brett, J.A. Jance, Brad Thor and Tomi Adeyemi to Johnson County.

During the pandemic, we pivoted to host authors virtually, but we are excited that beginning this spring, we can return to in-person author visits. The first author to kick things off is Jennifer Weiner. She will join us at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11 at The Sycamore at Mallow Run. Registration opens at 9 a.m. Friday.

Jennifer Weiner is the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of 18 books, including “Big Summer,” “Mrs. Everything,” “Good in Bed,” and an essay collection, “Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love and Writing.” A graduate of Princeton University, Jennifer lives with her family in Philadelphia. We will celebrate her new title, “The Summer Place,” and we hope you can join us for this exciting evening.

The second author we will host this summer is Craig Johnson, The New York Times bestselling author of the Walt Longmire mystery novels. Johnson has written 17 books, two novellas, and many short stories featuring the Longmire character.

He is also the recipient of the Western Writers of America Spur Award for Fiction, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award for Fiction and his novel “Spirit of Steamboat” was selected by the Wyoming State Library as the inaugural One Book Wyoming title. The books are celebrated at an annual festival called Longmire Day, which is held in the small town of Buffalo, Wyo., the real-life inspiration for the series’ fictional setting.

The books also inspired the Longmire TV series, which was the highest-rated original drama series on A&E before moving to Netflix. The show starred Robert Taylor, Katee Sackhoff and Lou Diamond Phillips.

Craig grew up in Huntington, W. Va., and attended college at Marshall University, but now lives in the tiny town of Ucross, Wyo., (population 25) with his wife. Join us at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 7 at The Historic Artcraft Theatre for a wonderful evening. Registration opens at 9 a.m. Monday, May 16.

It has been a long two years, but we are ready to bring authors to you again. If you have ever wanted to meet your favorite writer, get your books signed and listen to them talk about their writing process, now is your chance. All events are free and open to everyone.

Find registration details and more information about the Authors at JCPL series at PageAfterPage.org/authors.

Mackenzie Steagall

Come Find Your Perfect Prom Dress, Tux This Weekend

Mackenzie Steagall / JCPL Marketing & Communications Specialist
March 16, 2022

Formal wear is costly, but the financial expense of finding a perfect outfit should not prevent teens from making lifelong memories at their high school prom.

We are hosting our annual Project Prom event this weekend at the Franklin Branch where high school teens can choose from new and gently-used formal dresses, suits, shoes and accessories at no cost.

“The library’s mission is to provide access to a wide range of resources, and Project Prom is a way we can help teens attend prom who might not have been able to due to the cost of purchasing formal wear,” said Kelly Staten, JCPL programming manager.

JCPL accepts formal wear donations throughout the year from community members and local businesses. Project Prom has more than 1,000 dresses in stock this year and many tuxes and suits in varieties of styles and sizes. We have shoes and accessories to match, so everyone can find a complete outfit.

Additionally, the library is excited to partner with local businesses to offer more no-cost prom services. When they visit Project Prom, teens are invited to enter to win a free tux rental from Sophia’s Bridal and Tux, a free updo courtesy of Olivia at Love, Peace, and Hair in Franklin, and a total prom makeover including an updo, wax and airbrush makeup application courtesy of Tori Speedy at Luxe 349 Hair Studio in Greenwood. For teens who find an outfit and need an alteration, The Sewing Lady in Greenwood provides discounted dress and suit alterations.

Since 2013, more than 1,000 teens have found their perfect dress. Last year, teens took home 86 dresses, 85 accessories, 24 pairs of shoes and 7 suits. Teens can choose either one dress or one suit per person.

Erin Cataldi, Project Prom’s committee leader, said, “We’ve seen teens drive over an hour to come to this event. There is a definite need, and we are so happy to be able to provide this event every year.”

Project Prom will be Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. in the building behind the Franklin Branch located at 401 State Street, Franklin. Teens do not need to be from Johnson County to attend.

We encourage teens to bring their friends to browse and find their perfect prom outfits at JCPL’s Project Prom. For more information, visit PageAfterPage.org/Project-Prom.

Davin Kolderup
Come Explore the New Library

Davin Kolderup / Branch Manager, Clark Pleasant Branch
March 2, 2022

It was less than a year ago – March 23, 2021, to be exact – that Johnson County Public Library broke ground on a new and improved Clark Pleasant Branch Library.

Now, in just a few short days, we will welcome you and the rest of the Johnson County community to a beautiful new library that will provide patrons with a place to read, create and discover for years to come.

When we set out to design this new building with our partners at HBM Architects, we listened to what our patrons had been telling us they wanted from their library space. They wanted more flexible spaces they could gather in for community meetings, library programs, and for single and small-group study. They wanted places their young children could come to learn the foundations of early literacy, the skills that will help them get ready to read and set them up for success in both school and life. And of course, they wanted an attractive, comfortable place to read, relax, study and enjoy the company of their neighbors.

We’ve accomplished all of that and more, and we can’t wait for you to see it. Readers will enjoy the many comfortable seating options, including a cozy fireplace area, and the plentiful natural light throughout the building. If you have young children in your life, you’ll want to visit our Children’s Department, featuring a fun and interactive baby crawler, an imaginative play space and light table, and the amazing Everbright wall — you have to see it to believe it.

If you’re looking for a place to study, work or meet with a community group, we’ve got you covered. In addition to a large, AV-equipped Community Room, there are three study rooms – two smaller rooms for one or two people, and a larger room suitable for small groups, equipped with a large monitor display for plugging in laptops and other devices.

Learners of all ages will want to spend time in the STEAM Zone, our new Robotics Learning Lab, where we’ll offer a wide variety of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) programming starting in March, with LEGO programming for preschoolers through middle schoolers. There’s much more to come in this space, so keep an eye on our events calendar for more programs throughout the year.

We’re especially excited that JCPL’s Adult Learning Center is coming to the new Clark Pleasant Branch. A longtime fixture of the Library Services Center, the ALC is a place where adult learners can access free tutoring to improve their literacy skills and other basic education needs. Many patrons have taken advantage of the ALC’s services to improve their lives, and we’re thrilled to offer those services in a beautiful, conveniently located facility.

Your first chance to see this beautiful new building and its state-of-the-art amenities is at our grand opening and community celebration on Saturday. Join us at 10 a.m. for a ribbon-cutting, performance by the Franklin Community Band and fun activities throughout the morning and afternoon. Starting Sunday, the Clark Pleasant Branch Library will be open every Sunday from 1-5 p.m.

Come be a part of the next chapter of Johnson County Public Library this Spring. Libraries are for everyone, and that includes you. Join us at U.S. 31 and Clearwater Blvd. in Whiteland and see what you can discover.

Mackenzie Steagall

Historical Homes and H.H. Holmes

Mackenzie Steagall / JCPL Marketing & Communications Specialist
February 16, 2022

The Johnson County Public Library Historical Room, located at the Franklin Branch of the Johnson County Public Library, contains a curated collection of documents, maps, atlases, directories and other material you can use to research the history of homes in the county.

In the library’s latest episode of our podcast, Back Stories, Elyssa Everling from the Trafalgar Branch and David Pfeiffer from the Johnson County Museum of History, discovered a connection between America’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes and Franklin, Indiana.

Georgiana Yoke met Holmes in Chicago in 1891. The Edinburgh and Franklin native was the only wife of H.H. Holmes to survive being married to him. Georgiana’s mother, Mary Yoke, is thought to have lived in a home near Franklin College.

After learning about this connection, Pam Caito, a genealogy researcher in the library’s Historical Room, researched the Yoke’s residence with the Library’s public resources. First, she used the Library’s copy of the Atlas of Johnson County to locate Mary Yoke. Yoke is listed on one of the plots on State Street.

While searching library’s archive of digitized local newspapers, Caito found several articles about the Yoke’s home. In Aug. 1895, an Indianapolis News reporter described the Yoke’s house as “a one-story cottage,” “a well-kept little place…the rear of which fronts the railroad” and “where Holmes used to be a frequent visitor.”

Through maps, phone directories and newspapers, all available in the library’s Historical Room, Pam deduced Mrs. Yoke lived at 230 S. State Street, it is unclear if she owned the home. More newspaper articles reveal different owners filtered through the house in the mid-1900s. By the 1990s, the house was one of several torn down to make room for Franklin College’s expansion.

Books and print materials in the library’s Historical Room and digital resources accessible are available to guide your research. Staff is available to help you get started on your quest. All you need is your Library card. Your home has most likely never been visited by a serial killer, but you can find out more about the history of your home in the library’s Historical Room.

To learn more about H.H. Holmes, check out “The Devil In the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America” by Erik Larson. Or listen to the library’s Back Stories podcast available on your favorite podcast service.

Amy Hamilton
Crafting for a Cause

Amy Hamilton / Adult and Teen Services Librarian, White River Branch
February 2, 2022

Valentine’s Day is an excellent time to reflect on how wonderful it feels to receive cards from family and friends, particularly when you’re not expecting it. I have a friend who sends me cards and drawings from her children. I love seeing their artwork, mainly because I haven’t seen them much over the past two years. During these difficult times, connecting with family, friends and neighbors is a challenge at best, but especially so for residents of nursing homes where visitors and visiting hours change to reflect the residents’ health needs.

Many nursing homes and assisted living residents may not have regular visitors, and they rely on their facility’s activity directors or community organizations to provide company and entertainment. The Johnson County Public Library visits many local nursing homes to provide books and programs to the residents. JCPL-to-Your-Door is a service provided for homebound Johnson County residents, even in their own homes. For more information or to sign-up, call your local library branch.

Many communities around the country have started delivering letters, cards and gifts to seniors in nursing homes because they cannot visit in person. For example, one North Carolina community sent more than 5,000 cards to nursing homes across Charlotte in 2021. On Valentine’s Day, Johnson County Public Library staff will deliver handmade valentines to nursing homes in Johnson County. All ages are welcome to create valentine cards, drawings or any paper art to give to residents.

The Johnson County Public Library offers multiple ways to participate. From 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday at the White River Branch, drop in and create a valentine or two from provided craft supplies. This program is open to families and all ages. We will also accept additional valentines you make at home at all four library branches; each location will have a box where you can drop them off. The branches will also have coloring sheets available for children and adults to color and contribute to the cards we will deliver.

According to AARP, more than 2 million seniors live in residential care across the United States. Johnson County may have a small slice of our population in residential care, but we can reach out and support our seniors. This Valentine’s Day, help make seniors feel cherished and know they are loved and valued members of our community with the small but powerful gesture of a handmade card.

Cutting the Cord on Streaming and Cable

Erin Cataldi

Erin Cataldi / Adult and Teen Services Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch
January 19, 2022

It was a simpler time when Netflix was the only streaming service on the market. You had Netflix or cable – maybe even both! But then Hulu, Amazon Prime, Peacock, and Disney+ arrived and each streaming service offered different movies and shows (and price points). What started as one, maybe two bills, has now morphed into a messy set of bills to pay every month.

And except for original content, nothing is guaranteed to stay on those streaming services forever. Shows and movies leave every month, sometimes with no warning! Streaming was supposed to be cheaper than cable, but when you add up all the different streaming services where you subscribe to get your favorite shows, it adds up to a lot.

If you’re looking to save some money and cut down on the number of streaming services or cut your expensive cable plan, let the Johnson County Public Library take its spot as your destination for your favorite shows and movies. JCPL has a massive selection of movies, documentaries and TV shows available for check out with your library card. In fact, JCPL has over 20,000 DVDs between our four branches. You can get them on discs or stream them through our services such as hoopla and Kanopy. All DVDs can be checked out for 21 days so you have plenty of time to get through a long TV show, or you can still binge it all at once!

JCPL has all the Disney DVDs, including the movies that aren’t on Disney+, for your family to watch as well as obscure, old Nickelodeon shows, BBC mysteries, the hottest new TV shows like "Yellowstone", new releases like "Spiderman" and "James Bond", Hallmark movies and so much more. We even have Binge Boxes which are DVD sets that contain 5 or 6 movies centered on a theme like "Best Westerns", "Humbug Holiday", "6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon", "Hole in One", etc. If a DVD is not on the shelf, a librarian will work their magic and source it from another location so that nothing stands in the way of you watching what your heart desires.

Put down your credit card and pick up your JCPL card; it’s a wise way to save each month and get access to tens of thousands of movies and TV shows. To see the selection of movie and TV offerings that Johnson County Public Library has, visit PageAfterPage.org.

Moth Meuser
Volunteer to Bring the Joy of Reading to Newborns in Johnson County

Moth Meuser / Children's Services Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch
January 5, 2022

Would you like to bring the joy of reading to the youngest among us? Do you like giving out free books? You might just be the perfect person to join our dream team of volunteers for the A-B-C Read to Me program.

Sound intriguing? Here’s the deal: A-B-C Read to Me is a collaboration between Johnson County Public Library and Johnson Memorial Hospital. It takes volunteers to make the magic happen! Volunteers visit the maternity ward at the hospital once a week to meet little newborns and their families. Their job is to greet new parents (those ready to see visitors, of course) and bring them information on early literacy. Plus, the best part: you get to give them free board books so they can start reading together right away.

Now, as a volunteer, you don’t just chuck a book at the babies and vamoose. You take a minute to talk to families, and give out a packet with information on how to get more free books and resources, both from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library–which mails a free book to kids every month from birth to age 5– and the good ol’ Johnson County Public Library, which has free books ready and waiting for everyone at each branch.

If you’ve been around books or kids (or both!) for long enough, you may already know how important it is for baby brains to start learning early. You may not remember, but skills most of us take for granted as grown-ups take a long time for little ones to learn, so those baby steps (pun intended) are important. Learning to read is no exception! The goal of A-B-C Read to Me is to give families a reminder (and some books) to start reading with their infants. Reading with babies helps set them up to be readers when they’re older, which then helps get them ready to succeed in school and beyond.

So, if that sounds like a good time to you, we’d love to have you as an A-B-C Read to Me volunteer! You can find our volunteer application online at PageAfterPage.org/abc. You can also pop into your local JCPL branch to get an application and say “Hi!”