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

Colleen Kincaid
JCPL Foundation Expanding Library Programs

Colleen Kincaid / Development Coordinator
December 30, 2023

Hey, Johnson County! My name is Colleen Kincaid, and I am the new development coordinator at the Johnson County Public Library. As the library’s liaison to the JCPL Foundation, I want to share with the public a bit about the wonderful work our foundation has been dedicated to this year.

The JCPL Foundation aims to provide supplemental funding to assist the library in promoting literacy throughout Johnson County. In 2023, the Foundation provided significant funding for more than 10 programs. Here are a few highlights:

  • The Cultural Fair at the Clark Pleasant Branch provided the opportunity to sample food from various cultures, enjoy entertainment from around the world and meet new people.
  • Lit Loot personalized literacy bags for teens engage them and help them become repeat JCPL visitors. The bags include several library items, crafts or swag and a book to keep.
  • Kindergarten Readiness Bags help caregivers get their children ready for kindergarten. Each bag contains sidewalk chalk, bubbles, a book, children’s literacy activities and suggested reading lists.
  • Celebrate Día is a festival celebrating children’s books from around the world. Library patrons read a well-known children’s book aloud in multiple languages, kids saw a live cultural performance and enjoyed snacks and crafts.

In 2024, the foundation plans to support Space Day, an opportunity for all ages to explore space by visiting a mobile planetarium that JCPL brings to Johnson County. This event provides learning opportunities about the solar eclipse, a chance to see vintage NASA equipment and even the opportunity to participate in a virtual reality experience. Space Day is just one of the many programs presented at no charge to Johnson County residents this upcoming year, thanks to foundation donors.

Those foundation donors are essential to JCPL’s ability to create even more fun and innovative programming in 2024. Your contribution to the JCPL Foundation’s annual fund supports new programs in 2024, including JCPL’s Teen Film Festival, a film contest for teens, and Library on the Prairie, a festival exploring pioneer life in Indiana.

Here are a few examples of what your support looks like in action. For $50, the foundation can provide craft supplies for 100 children. A $100 donation buys supplies for 20 Kindergarten Readiness Bags, while a $250 gift allows the foundation to buy 25 Lit Loot literacy bags for teens. For $500, the library can plan special performance art at a program.

To learn more about the JCPL Foundation or donate to the annual fund, visit JCPLF.org. Questions? Reach out to me at (463) 724-2840 or colleen@jcplf.org.

Nicole Caudill
With Support, JCPL Addressing Food Insecurity

Nicole Caudill / Library Assistant, Clark Pleasant Branch
December 16, 2023

The holiday season is in full swing, and while that means a time for togetherness, it can also create many challenges for Johnson County residents.

Prices are climbing and groceries have been hit hard. Higher heating costs add to the bind. Add additional holiday expenses and there is a considerable strain on an already tight family budget.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as the lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food insecurity is associated with numerous adverse social and health outcomes and is increasingly considered a critical public health issue.

Many in our community may be experiencing food insecurity or homelessness. Local nonprofit organizations do their best to support unhoused and food-insecure people and families within Johnson County.

JCPL is also trying to help; besides offering free services with your library card, like books, DVDs, Library of Things items and free computer use, we also help connect people with resources for free food and assistance in household matters. JCPL collaborates with many great local non-profit organizations to help residents find the necessary support and resources.

You can find more information on the Library website at PageAfterPage.org/basic-needs-assistance.

But that’s not all! We have two little free pantries located at our library branches. The Trafalgar branch offers a Little Free Food Pantry in the library’s parking lot entrance, next to the Little Free Library. The Johnson County Blessing Box organization sponsors this pantry. They have multiple locations in Johnson County. Find the sites here: FeedJoCo.org.

During the summer months, the Trafalgar branch also offers a free produce stand with fresh local produce provided by the community garden at Mt. Auburn Church Trafalgar Campus and patrons of the library.

Our Franklin branch also has a Little Free Pantry at the entrance to the library. You will find non-perishable items like diapers, wipes, feminine hygiene products, soap, and food items like cereal, rice and canned goods. Items are free for anyone in need.

The pantry is stocked with donated items from our community. Donations from individuals, families and organizations are welcomed and fill the pantry. We ask that people take what they need and donate what they will. If you want to contribute, drop off your non-perishable items (must be individually wrapped or unopened containers, labeled, and store-bought) at the Franklin branch’s Welcome Desk.

You or your organization can sign up to adopt the pantry for a week or learn more about donating at PageAfterPage.org/little-free-pantry. JCPL thanks all our community partners, families and individuals for your generosity and help in this endeavor.

Kelly Staten
Kick Off the Holiday Season At Merry Prairie

Kelly Staten / Programming Manager
November 18, 2023

Get in the holiday spirit at Johnson County Public Library’s Merry Prairie event at the Trafalgar library branch.

During this annual festive tradition, we celebrate the magic of the season with a visit from Santa, Silly Safaris Reindeer Reserve, hot cocoa, games and more. Merry Prairie takes place on Friday, Dec. 8, 6 to 8 p.m.

New this year is a holiday lighting contest. Show off your outdoor holiday decorations and enter the Merry Prairie Holiday Lighting Contest. Submit a photo or video of your lights and decorations via our website, PageAfterPage.org/MerryPrairie, no later than Dec. 5.

We will notify the winner on Dec. 7. The winner will help light up the prairie and receive a $100 Visa gift card. Entrants must live in Trafalgar, Nineveh or Prince’s Lakes area.

Santa arrives at 6 p.m. and will be by the fireplace with Mrs. Claus and one of the North Pole elves. Bring your holiday wish list and capture a special family photo. Our indoor skating rink will be open for free skating in the community room; skate in your socks — no ice skates are needed!

You will also have a chance to meet one of Santa’s reindeer when Silly Safari’s Reindeer Reserve stops by from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Make sure you bundle up, as the reindeer will be outside by our holiday tree.

Be sure to vote for your favorite gingerbread house, too. Entries from our Gingerbread Contest will be on display throughout the library branch. There’s still time to enter — the contest is open to all ages. Bring your entry and the registration form to the Trafalgar branch between Dec. 1 to 7. Construct your house from a kit or use homemade gingerbread. The public will select winners, so pick up a voting slip at Merry Prairie and cast your ballot for your favorite design.

We will also have games, crafts, face painting, karaoke and caroling, and you can meet Bibli, the JCPL mascot. Don’t miss the special snowy surprise to welcome you into our holiday celebration. There is something for the whole family at our festive celebration, and we hope you will join us this year for Merry Prairie!

Erin Cataldi
Roadmap for An Easy Thanksgiving

Erin Cataldi / Adult and Teen Services Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch
November 9, 2023

Stress less this Thanksgiving, and let the Johnson County Public Library help you easily navigate the holiday.

To start with, you’ll need a library card. We promise it’s quick and painless and takes less than five minutes to get your hands on one — you can even get one online at PageAfterPage.org/card. Once you’ve secured your library card, grab one of our handy shopping baskets (or carts) to help you hold the following items with ease:

1. Cookbooks — boy, have we got a ton! Keto-friendly, vegan, baking, celebrity, Taste of Home and more. Between all four branches, we have several thousand for you to peruse (no exaggeration). Grab a couple; it’s fun to window-shop different recipes!

2. Baking kits — every good Thanksgiving feast has some sort of dessert. We have cake tins and cookie cutters available to check out. We have you covered if you want a Darth Vader-shaped cake or Hello Kitty! There are lots of unique shapes and designs to choose from.

3. Light therapy lamp — it’s getting darker earlier, and you want to ensure you are in a good and chipper mood, especially if you’re cooking or hosting. Enjoy a daily dose of healthy, bright light that may improve sleep, boost mood, increase energy and enhance focus.

4. Puzzles — nothing draws the family together like sitting at a card table and trying to solve a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. It’s relaxing and a great way to talk to your family while keeping your hands busy. Each branch has a puzzle exchange from which you can take puzzles; there is no need to check or return them!

5. DVDs — not only do we have cooking and baking DVDs, but we also have lots of cooking reality shows to help you feel better (or worse) about your cooking. “The Great British Bake Off,” “Cook’s Country,” “The Great American Recipe” and “The French Chef” are just some cooking-inspired TV series you can binge when you need to take a breather from Thanksgiving plans.

Once you’ve checked out those items, going home and formulating a plan is easy. Finalize the guest list, narrow down the recipes, make the grocery list, clean your house and take a deep breath. The holidays are about family and food, and unlike my favorite Hallmark movies — they don’t need to be perfect. Ask for help, delegate tasks and recipes, and stop at the library to check out the previously listed items for some inspiration.

If you’ve got lots of kids in your family that you need to keep entertained while you cook and clean, just whip out that library card again! You can check out board games, video games and Thanksgiving picture books and movies for the little ones. My personal favorite kid’s book is “‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving” by Dav Pilkey (yes, the same guy who does Captain Underpants). As a child, I read it every year, and as an adult, I plan on reading it to my daughter to continue the tradition. As Jefferson Bethke said, “Thankfulness is the quickest path to joy.” And as I like to say, the library is the second quickest path. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

April Windisch in front of JCPL on Wheels bookmobile

Library to Debut Bookmobile in November

April Windisch / Outreach Coordinator
October 21, 2023

Do you wish you lived closer to a Johnson County Public Library Branch? Well, get ready because JCPL is coming to you!

In November, the Johnson County Public Library debuts its first bookmobile in over 30 years. Our bookmobile, JCPL on Wheels, will visit locations all over the county — including parks and community centers, such as Kephart Park and the Community Center in Bargersville, Temple and Blue Heron parks in Franklin, Prince’s Lake Town Hall, Nineveh Senior Center, and more. Hartshire Lake and Stonehedge apartments will welcome JCPL on Wheels to their communities.

We will visit most of the weekday stops twice a month. The Saturday stops will occur monthly.

The complete list of routes is coming soon — visit PageAfterPage.org/wheels to see our stops.

JCPL on Wheels will bring many materials to your community. Stocked with popular books for all ages and tastes, our mobile library has something for everyone. If a person would like an item that isn’t on the bookmobile but is available at a JCPL Branch, they can put it on hold and pick it up when it comes around again. The vehicle will also have computers, Wi-Fi (JCPL on Wheels is a hotspot), and a printer for select stops.

During the summer, watch for special events, like storytimes and crafts.

All you need to start checking out materials from JCPL on Wheels is a valid JCPL card. Bookmobile staff will happily get you signed up if you don’t have one. Bring a picture ID, something with your current address and a large bag to carry home all your new library books.

We hope you can join us on Saturday, Nov. 4, from 10 a.m. to noon to celebrate the launch of JCPL on Wheels. The launch event is in Kephart Park in Bargersville at 3936 W. County Road 144. The ribbon cutting is at 10 a.m., and Family Storytime begins at 10:30 a.m. You can say hello to Bibli, our mascot, and enjoy games and activities while you check out JCPL on Wheels.

Stefanie Davis
Library To Host Inclusion Fair

Stefanie Davis / Adult Services Librarian, White River Branch
October 12, 2023

Johnson County Public Library is excited to host our first Inclusion Fair at the Clark Pleasant Branch Library on Oct. 21 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors will learn about resources available through disability organizations that make Johnson County more inclusive. You will have the opportunity to play, learn and connect with toys, certified therapy animals and other technology that is accessible to all.

We designed the Inclusion Fair to help those with accessibility needs learn about some of the available tools and resources. It helps those without accessibility needs understand what tools and resources are used to assist others with walking, talking, seeing and hearing, among other needs.

The Inclusion Fair has activities for people of all ages.

We are excited to welcome several furry friends. Attendees can pet a certified therapy dog and learn how several schools and organizations offer this service to support the mental health needs of students and clients.

Event-goers can help create a pillow with Book Pillows of Hope. This local non-profit donates pillows and books to comfort families experiencing trauma.

People can also watch artists from the Hope Gallery create their masterpieces, and maybe even pick up a piece or two for purchase at their pop-up gallery.

While meeting Liam Price, a local swimmer who has participated in the Special Olympics, event-goers learn more about the organization. Other organizations will be there to share information about their organization and provide hands-on activities.

JCPL will also showcase some of our accessibility resources. Learn about our sensory kits, Ruby digital magnifier, EnChroma glasses, memory kits, braille books, Special Olympics activity kits and more. We will also set up an accessible computer workstation. Each JCPL Branch has an accessible computer workstation available. Visit our website at PageAfterPage.org/accessibility to learn more about resources offered at the Library.

Of course, a special guest will visit the event — Bibli, the Library’s adorable bookworm mascot.

Visitors will receive a passport of activities. Those who complete their passport will enter a drawing for a special JCPL-themed prize. We hope you will join us to play, learn, and engage with toys, technology and certified therapy dogs!

Children's Librarian Heather Grantham holding a blue book basket
Following a Convoy of Care

by Heather Grantham / Children's Librarian, Franklin Branch
September 23, 2023

Imagine visiting one location and connecting with a variety of vital community services. This will happen at the Convoy of Care events. The Convoy is a gathering of community partners that connects individuals with a wide variety of helpful resources.

At these events, residents will have the opportunity to receive a free car seat and diapers, get up-to-date on vaccinations, grab a library card and meet Johnson County Public Library’s mascot Bibli. People can talk to staff from a food pantry, WIC, Bridges Alliance of Johnson County, Girls Inc. of Johnson County, and more.

In the next few weeks, the Convoy of Care is traveling across Johnson County. Find the Convoy from 4-6 p.m. at the Trafalgar Branch Library on Monday, Sept. 25, and the Franklin Branch on Wednesday, Oct. 11.

The purpose of the Convoy is to allow people to meet with community service organizations all in one place. Some services available at the Convoy of Care include receiving necessary vaccines from the Johnson County Health Department, and connecting with food pantries, such as the Great Harvest Food Pantry. Participants can also grab free diapers and wipes from the Indiana Diaper Source.

For families with babies, some special opportunities exist for those who register. The first 20 individuals who sign up can receive free car seats and installation. Families that complete a safe sleep video training before the event and provide their certificate are eligible for a free pack-and-play.

To register for these special services, contact the WIC office at 317-736-6628 or register online here.

This program would not be possible without valuable community partners in Johnson County. We are thankful for the following organizations who are attending this event and making it possible: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, ASPIN Health Navigators, ASSIST Indiana, Bridges Alliance of Johnson County, Chances and Services for Youth – CASY, Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority, Clarity Pregnancy Services, Covering Kids and Families, Firefly Children & Family Alliance, Girls Inc. of Johnson County, Great Harvest Food Pantry, Johnson County Health Department, Johnson County Public Library, Johnson County WIC (Women, Infants & Children), Indiana Diaper Source, Indiana Immunization Coalition, The Bowen Center, Turning Point Domestic Violence and WindRose Health Network.

Kelly Staten

Celebrate Johnson County with the Bicentennial History Quest

Kelly Staten / Programming Manager
September 1, 2023

This September, join Johnson County Public Library’s CommUnity Matters team in celebrating 200 years of Johnson County History.

From now through Sept. 30, visit historical Johnson County sites at your own pace, track your visits and earn points in the Actionbound app. When you complete the quest, you could win a fantastic prize basket filled with Johnson County Bicentennial swag, courtesy of the Johnson County Museum of History.

Learn fun facts about the Historic Artcraft Theatre, the former admin building for Nineveh-Jackson-Hensley School Corporation in Trafalgar, and the fascinating history behind the current Southside Art League building in Greenwood. You can earn points by visiting the Johnson County Museum of History’s Bicentennial exhibit, Nineveh Township’s Community Day, and riding the Little Steamers train at Johnson County Park.

To join the quest, visit PageAfterPage.org/quest for more details about the program and to download the Actionbound App. Don’t have a smartphone? No worries! You can print paper versions or pick them up at any JCPL Branch Library. Participants may also pick up a button featuring the quest mascot, Benjamin the Bison, at any JCPL location.

CommUnity Matters, the leading community education and engagement forum in Johnson County, is a volunteer team that uplifts our county’s attributes, takes on challenges in our community and collaborates with stakeholders to find opportunities to improve how we work, live, learn and play.

Please join us for the Bicentennial History Quest, Sept. 1 – 30. Register and find details at PageAfterPage.org/quest.

Stefanie Davis
JCPL Offers Unique Experiences

Stefanie Davis / Adult Services Librarian, White River Branch
August 16, 2023

You can enjoy an array of unique experiences at your library: from engaging programs to fun in-house activities, there’s something for everyone. As an adult librarian at the White River Branch of the Johnson County Public Library system, I see some exciting programs and activities for all ages. You can find fun, unique experiences at each of our four branches.

At our White River and Clark Pleasant Branches, teens can now enjoy gaming with Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5 in our teen gaming center. Whether you love Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, or a game of NBA 2K23, we have a variety of options to play alone or with a group of friends. We provide the games, the controllers, and all other necessary supplies.

Kids, do you have a unique collection of things you want to display? At our White River Branch, children between the ages of two and seventeen can display their collections in the glass display case in the children’s department. Sign up for a month today. Past exhibitions have included My Little Pony, Winnie the Pooh, and Lego. We currently have a fun display of unique Pez dispensers. Please stop by and check it out.

Not all of our library experiences happen at the library! We are excited to partner with Johnson County Parks for our Movies in the Park series. Enjoy a movie with family or friends on the park lawn while snacking on free popcorn provided by The Historic Artcraft Theatre. We’re showing “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (PG) at Johnson County Park on August 26 at 9 p.m. and “Minions: The Rise of Gru” (PG) at Independence Park on September 16 at 8:30 p.m.

Be part of downtown Franklin’s local public art scene with our Knitfiti programs! Thursdays from 4-6 p.m., you can join other knitters and crochet enthusiasts at our Library Services Center at 49 E. Monroe St. in Franklin. The yarn art created during these programs will be used to “yarn bomb” the front of our administrative building and landscaping areas with knitted or crocheted creations as part of the Ethos Festival of the Arts on October 7 in Franklin.

At the library, we are committed to providing engaging and fun experiences for patrons of all ages. Join us for these unique programs and fun in-house activities. Explore, learn, and connect with a community of empowered learners and engaged citizens. Be sure to check out our fall program guide for more information about activities and services to enhance your free time.

Nicole Caudill

It’s Time to Go Back to School

Nicole Caudill / Library Assistant, Clark Pleasant Branch
August 2, 2023

Summer is in full swing, and the days are still hot, but it is time for Johnson County students, teachers and administrators to return to school. Some students will have their very first, first day of school, while others will have their last, first day. Some teachers have their first day at a new school, while others will be returning after the summer break. The Johnson County Public Library is here to help, regardless of the circumstances.

Johnson County Public Library staff are available for the following:

  • Classroom visits: Whether it’s classroom storytime or a book discussion with students, we love to visit your classroom! Schedule our staff for monthly visits or special occasions.
  • Book collections: JCPL can assemble collections of age-appropriate books for upcoming classroom discussions, holidays or other special topics.
  • Field trips: Bring your class to any of our four library branches to learn more about the library and enjoy fun activities.
  • Get a library card: All Johnson County students and staff are eligible for a JCPL card. JCPL will deliver and pick up library card applications and return the library cards to your school.

We are happy to partner with you and your students. Contact any of JCPL’s branches or visit our website at PageAfterPage.org/for-teachers for additional resources.

JCPL continues to partner with the United Way of Johnson County for their Fast Track Program. The program collects backpacks and supplies to help low-income students prepare for their first school day.

Items needed include; art boxes, backpacks, calculators, colored pencils, composition notebooks, crayons (boxes of 24), dry-erase markers, earbuds, two-packet plastic folders, highlighters, index cards, markers, mechanical pencils, pencil pouches, scissors, Sharpies, spiral notebooks (college or wide ruled), three-ring binders (1”).

People can drop off donations at any JCPL branch until August 7.

JCPL is here for your individual needs as well. Whether you are looking for a new book series for your child to read or an instrument to play, you can check out the items in our “Library of Things.” We offer everything from musical instruments, cake pans, cookie cutters, STEAM kits, sewing machines, LED projectors, karaoke machines, board games, lawn games and more.

If you need a quiet place to study or meet for a tutoring session, reserve a study room. Contact your branch to reserve a space or search “book a room” on our website. Don’t forget to check out all the excellent programs JCPL offers throughout the year! From Stuffed Animal Sleepovers to STEAM and coding programs and craft and sewing classes, JCPL has programs for everyone. You can find more information by picking up a JCPL Library Guide or visiting us online at PageAfterPage.org/events.

JCPL is here to connect our community with resources. We can help make your back-to-school experience more rewarding.

Elyssa Everling
Let’s Talk About Books

by Elyssa Everling, Adult Services Librarian, Trafalgar Branch
July 19, 2023

Johnson County Public Library doesn’t just love lending books; we also love talking about them.

We’re excited to offer a new program called Behind the Page, where attendees get to talk with me and my fellow librarian, Erin, learn about upcoming releases and library programs, and leave with a bag of awesome swag. This popular new program is just one of several book-focused meetups we offer. While this event may be full at the end of the month, we have plenty of other book-themed programs from which you can choose.

Our Clark Pleasant, White River, and Franklin branches offer in-person book clubs that read old and new titles. We also offer a 21 and over book club at local breweries called Stout Stories that meets the first Monday of every month in the evening. If the bar is not quite your scene, join us at our Monday morning book club, Books and Beans, which meets monthly at various coffee shops. Both Stout Stories and Books and Beans meet throughout the county. Our second Behind the Page event will happen before the year ends.

Book clubs offer a multitude of benefits to attendees. Book clubs help foster curiosity and learning. They engage your brain and are a fantastic (and healthy) escapism. Or, if you have responsibilities to avoid, you can even use your book club deadline as an excuse to avoid them. It’s one of the most guilt-free benefits of book clubs. “Sorry honey, I can’t start dinner until I finish this book. I have to have it read by Friday!”

With a wide variety of books offered, you will surely have the chance to read something outside your comfort zone (Amish romance, anyone?), meet new people, discuss new ideas, support your local library, and get out in the community. To see a list of current and future book discussions, book talks, and other fun programs, please visit PageAfterPage.org/bookclub.

Children's Librarian Heather Grantham holding a blue book basket

Girls Inc., JCPL Plan Period Product Drive

by Heather Grantham / Children's Librarian, Franklin Branch
July 5, 2023

Part of Johnson County Public Library’s mission is connecting people with resources. Recently the library has partnered with Girls Inc. of Johnson County, or GIJC, to collect period products to distribute through Johnson County schools, food pantries, non-profit organizations, detention centers and jails.

As part of a staff initiative JCPL already provides emergency period products in its public women’s restrooms at no cost. Last year the Girls Inc. National organization began highlighting period product poverty and period shame. That led the local organization to launch a drive to collect unopened packages of tampons, pads, panty liners and underwear packages.

Period poverty is a struggle many faces in affording menstrual products and increased economic vulnerability due to the financial burden of menstrual supplies. According to a Girls Inc. National organization study, 16.9 million menstruating people live in poverty in the United States. Another 500 million lack access to menstrual and hygiene products worldwide.

Lacking access to these personal products can lead to missing school, work, social events and even experiencing embarrassment. Some states, like Indiana, collect sales tax on period products. In contrast, a few states have removed the tax in the last few years, and others are considering it. Not having period products covered by EBT benefits, Medicare and Medicaid can be another barrier.

Menstruation is a natural biological process. We hope JCPL’s partnership with Girls Inc. will begin to address period poverty and normalize conversations around menstruation to reduce stigma and discrimination.

We are proud that this partnership will collect items essential to so many people in Johnson County. Please help Girls Inc. and JCPL by dropping off your donations at any JCPL location or the Girls Inc. Center at 200 E. Madison St. in Franklin now through the end of December.

Keeley Waters
Let’s Talk About Books at the Juvenile Detention Center

by Keeley Waters / Children’s Services Library Assistant, Trafalgar Branch
June 21, 2023

At Johnson County Public Library, we strive to reach everyone in Johnson County, especially the underserved. This mission has become of utmost importance to me while coordinating and facilitating book discussions at the Johnson County Juvenile Detention Center.

Twice a month, a staff member goes to the JDC to lead a book discussion with the kids currently residing there. We dedicate the first visit to introducing the book that’s been selected for the month as well as ourselves and getting to know the kids. They have two weeks to read the book, and then the JCPL staff members return to discuss it. Due to the various sentences of the kids, we rarely see the entire group both times. This often calls for flexibility on our part since rather than discussing the book regardless of who finished it, we shift course and discuss books that the kids have read in the past or are currently reading.

Frequently we hear about incarcerated youth in negative tones, using words like “criminal” or “bad kid.” When I go to the JDC to sit and talk about books with these kids, that’s all I see — kids. Initially, they will try to act in a way they feel they should to live up to what folks believe about them. I begin my visits by telling them my name and that I’m there because I want to be there because I care about them as people. That small kindness frequently shifts the way they perceive and interact with me.

In these discussions, these kids trust us with their opinions and time. In turn, we offer them an hour of escape – an hour to be a regular teen with an opinion that matters. For that hour, they aren’t seen as criminals or bad kids. They’re teens. They are witty and charming and smart. They are a joy to talk with and get to know. They have more life experience than many adults I know and still smile and joke around. To encourage conversation, volunteers and I will take a tote full of candy — it never fails to make me smile to see the way they light up when they realize that candy is at stake.

Literacy matters. Reaching out matters. Incarcerated people, especially children, matter. It is an honor to serve Johnson County in the way that I can and to serve these kids who are so often forgotten and overlooked.

Erin Cataldi
Random Fandom, a Teen Experience

Erin Cataldi / Adult and Teen Services Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch
June 7, 2023

Calling all teens! Celebrate your favorite pop culture and geek fandoms!

You can meet young adult authors, participate in a cosplay contest and more at Johnson County Public Library’s annual Random Fandom event. Visit stations around the library to make crafts, meet professional Star Wars cosplayers and superhero costume characters, enjoy snacks and play games. This free event for teens occurs on June 24 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Clark Pleasant Branch Library in Whiteland.

Join us and bring your friends for an afternoon of activities. We kick it off at noon with character meet and greets, STEAM programs, crafts and photo opportunities. These activities will continue throughout the event.

At 1 p.m., meet the authors, participate in a Q&A and get your books signed after when we present a teen author panel. It features Kendare Blake, New York Times bestselling author of “Anna Dressed in Blood” & “One Dark Throne;” Ed Cho & Lee Cherolis, graphic novelists and illustrators of the “Little Guardians” series; and Annie Sullivan, author of “A Touch of Gold, A Curse of Gold.”

The first 25 teens to attend will receive a free book. Copies of books will also be available to purchase through Wild Geese Bookshop.

The fun doesn’t end there. We will even have a teen-only cosplay contest with great prizes. Teens interested in participating can visit our website, PageAfterPage.org/RandomFandom, to see the guidelines and fill out the entry form.

Lovers of anime, Marvel, Harry Potter, Disney, Star Wars and more will find great photo ops, games, crafts, snacks and fellowship with other like-minded teens. This teen event is not to be missed!

Tell your teens and their friends to attend Random Fandom on June 24.

Nicole Caudill
It’s Time to Explore Summer at JCPL

Nicole Caudill / Library Assistant, Clark Pleasant Branch
May 17, 2023

It is that time of year.

The Johnson County Public Library is launching the Explore Summer learning program. Explore Summer is our annual program for kids, teens and adults that reminds us to read all summer long. We aim to reach a community reading goal of 3 million minutes together.

Why participate in Explore Summer? Besides the fact that reading is fun and entertaining, reading helps build vocabulary and improves concentration. It helps build literacy skills and increases general knowledge while reducing stress and improving sleep. If those are not enough incentives for you to join our reading program, maybe this will – prizes!

When you register in May in our Beanstack app or a library branch, we automatically enter you into a drawing for four tickets to Kings Island. Each person will receive a coupon for a free book at a Friends of JCPL book sale. Find all the details at PageAfterPage.org/ExploreSummer.

When you register, pick up an Explore Summer purple yard sign for your family. Once a week, we’ll send out our Prize Squad vehicle, look for the Explore Summer signs, and deliver a bag with goodies to some lucky households. Prize Squad runs from May 31 – July 24.

You can choose from one of our many finishing prizes when you reach your reading goal — 10 hours for kids and teens, 15 hours for adults. We have something for everyone: hats, tote bags, mugs, jump ropes, popper fidget balls, confetti beach balls and mini stuffed elephants. But that’s not all! Everyone who reaches their reading goal is entered automatically for our grand prize, a getaway to Great Wolf Lodge, including gift cards for food and gas and a gift card to the lodge.

What if you finish early and want to keep reading? Please do! We encourage you to keep reading and become one of our “Eager Readers.” Being an Eager Reader enters you into a drawing for four tickets to the Indianapolis Zoo or tickets to the Indiana State Fair. Plus, the more you read, the more likely we will reach our community goal of 3 million minutes read! If we reach our goal, the JCPL Foundation will provide two free movie nights at The Historic Artcraft Theatre.

You can also participate in our weekly learning activities. Participate in weekly learning challenges to earn an activity badge and a coupon for a local business. You are entered in our weekly prize drawing when you log your weekly activities. This summer, we are giving away prizes like a bike and safety equipment, Amazon Fire tablets, pickleball sets, action cameras, art and craft sets, and a Nintendo Switch. We are grateful to our presenting sponsor, the Friends of JCPL, and many other generous donors who make this program possible.

Want to keep your family engaged and reading all summer? All you have to do is come to your JCPL Branch to register for Explore Summer or visit us online at PageAfterPage.org/ExploreSummer. We are looking forward to seeing you this summer!

Stefanie Davis
Check Out the Library of Things

Stefanie Davis / Adult Services Librarian, White River Branch
May 3, 2023

Johnson County Public Library offers more than just books and movies.

JCPL, like many other libraries, has a “Library of Things.” What is a library of things? It is a collection of, things, items that you may not typically think of checking out from your library. We have everything from board and video games to Enchroma glasses to help those with colorblindness. All you need is a JCPL or Reciprocal Borrower’s card in good standing to check out any of the items mentioned here.

Why make use of the JCPL Library of Things? With summer just around the corner and kids out of school, you may be looking for something to keep them active and engaged. We have both museum and pool passes that can be checked out to allow you to explore those area destinations. The Library of Things also has outdoor games, such as Bocce Ball, corn hole, croquet, Jazzminton, Ladder Toss, Pickleball or Yardzee yard dice.

Looking for something that the entire family can enjoy together? We have a variety of board games, video games, a portable video projector and DVD player for hosting outdoor movie nights, cake pans and birding backpacks. For more expensive items, such as Enchroma glasses, sewing machines or musical instruments, you could save money by testing them before you buy them for yourself or someone else. STEAM kits are another popular item in our Library of Things. There are kits for all ages and a variety of interests, such as building, creating and stargazing. These kits, as well as our musical instruments, will help your student continue learning all summer long.

Late spring and early summer are also a popular time to plant gardens. Do you need items like pruners, tillers and gloves? If so, check out our gardening tool bag to help you get your garden started. If those April showers show up late, check out an umbrella to help keep you dry while you’re out and about.

This summer, check out an item from the Library of Things and create, discover and explore all summer long. To see a full list of the items available in this collection, visit PageAfterPage.org/LOT. Please share pictures or a quick word on what you checked out and how you were able to create, explore, and discover, on our Facebook/JCPLIN or Instagram/JCPLIN pages with #JCPLlot.

Monica McKeown

Celebrate Día with children’s books from around the world

Monica McKeown / Programming Assistant
April 19, 2023

Many of our neighbors in Johnson County speak and read languages from all over the globe.

On April 30 the Clark Pleasant Branch Library is holding a festival celebrating children’s books from around the world. Families, kids, and people of all ages are invited to this fun event.

El día de los niños/El día de los libros — in English that’s Children’s Day/Book Day — or Día, is an international celebration of children, families and reading. Putting an emphasis on promoting literacy in all children, Día connects children to books from different cultures and languages.

Celebrate Día kicks off at 2 p.m. with a multilingual storytime and the reading of “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” written and illustrated by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. Students from the Adult Learning Center, as well as employees of JCPL and community members, will be sharing their native languages and cultures during our celebration. After storytime, guests will have the chance to view a traditional Chinese dance and learn traditional dance steps. Guests will also be invited to make crafts and try snacks from the participating cultures.

During our Día festival, we will also have the grand opening for our Exploration Walk located around the Clark Pleasant Branch. The Exploration Walk features interactive play and learn activity stations. The ribbon cutting for the Exploration Walk takes place on the patio at 2:45 p.m. Bibli the Bookworm, JCPL’s new mascot, will be attending the ribbon cutting and will have a meet and greet immediately following. Key funding for the Exploration Walk was provided by the Rotary Clubs of Johnson County, Center Grove, Franklin and Greenwood.

We are looking forward to sharing the languages and cultures of our neighbors with you. Spend your afternoon, with storytime, crafts, snacks and entertainment for all ages. And if you’re not able to make it to our Día festival, JCPL offers a range of language services from bilingual books to online language learning. Learn more about those resources and Celebrate Día here: PageAfterPage.org/dia.

Kelly Staten
Building Bridges in Johnson County

Kelly Staten / Programming Manager
April 5, 2023

Johnson County Public Library’s vision for Johnson County is a community of empowered learners and engaged citizens.

Through JCPL’s Building Bridges programs, we bring the community together for meaningful discussions and conversations about a variety of issues affecting us all. This month, the library is partnering with Upstream Prevention, Drug Free Johnson County and the Johnson County CASA program to show “The Addict’s Wake,” an award-winning documentary film centering around the opioid crisis, the effects of substance misuse and hope through recovery.

Winner of the Indiana Spotlight Award at the 30th Anniversary Heartland International Film Festival in Indianapolis, “The Addict’s Wake” has also been featured at several other notable film festivals across the country. The documentary was filmed over a span of two years in Brown County and spotlights real-life stories about the impact of opioid and heroin abuse on the small, tight-knit community just southwest of Johnson County.

Erica Ratz, project coordinator for ATLAS (Assisting Through Loss After Suicide) at Upstream, is excited for the community to see the film.

“Individuals will have the opportunity to hear first-hand lived experiences about substance use disorder, treatment and recovery,” she said. “There are many people in Johnson County and nationwide who are working hard to make changes and reduce overdose deaths and we at Upstream love the opportunity to celebrate that.”

Following the movie will be a panel discussion on opioid addiction and recovery. Kathleen Ratcliff, founder and executive director of Upstream Prevention, will moderate the panel, which includes Lisa Hall, producer/executive producer of the film; Shannon Chambers, CIT deputy and the court services training coordinator for the Johnson County Juvenile Detention Center; Justin Phillips, chief executive officer and founder of Overdose Lifeline; and Kaleb Lane, peer recovery coach with Upstream Prevention.

Hall has a background in non-profit leadership, fundraising and experience working with women in incarceration. She felt it was an important story to tell and her vision for the project is to help communities heal from the addiction crisis and to spark change around the stigmas that come with substance misuse.

“The Addict’s Wake” film and panel discussion will be held at The Historic Artcraft Theatre at 6 p.m. on April 27. There is no admission charge. Coupons for a small popcorn and drink provided by CASA will be available to the first 175 attendees. Coupons may be picked up at any JCPL Branch, starting April 1, while supplies last. Find more information at: pageafterpage.org/building-bridges

Josephine Whitaker

Find Your Free Prom Outfit At the Library

Josephine Whitaker / Programming Assistant, White River Branch
March 15, 2023

Because attending prom is more expensive than ever, some teens don’t attend and miss the experience.

We hope to put the fun back into prom for teens by alleviating some of the prom expenses with no-cost formal wear at Johnson County Public Library’s Project Prom.

Project Prom is an annual event that provides teens with free dresses, suits, shoes and accessories. Teens who need formal wear may browse and choose one outfit and one accessory. We have a large selection of new and gently-used dresses — more than 800 — in many sizes, lengths and styles. We also have the perfect finishing touches for any outfit — jewelry, vests, ties — so teens can find everything they need to look their best in one place.

This year, the library is excited to partner with local businesses to offer additional services to make prom even more special for a few teens. When they visit Project Prom, teens may enter the drawings to win gift cards from local florists JP Parker Flowers and Bud and Bloom for a corsage or boutonnière. Also, pick up a coupon for Art’s Cleaners, located in downtown Franklin, for a discount on a professional cleaning service.

Since the program’s inception nearly 10 years ago, we have helped thousands of teens find the perfect outfit to wear to their prom. Our program continues to grow, thanks to gently-used donations from our library patrons and new formal wear from bridal and prom shops in the community. Do you have formal wear items you’d like to donate? We accept donations all year at any JCPL Branch.

Part of JCPL’s mission is to strengthen our community by connecting people, resources and experiences. Project Prom is one special way the Library is making a lasting impact on local teens by helping them overcome the financial burden of finding a great outfit for their special night. In 2022, we gave away 247 dresses and 42 suits. We hope to see even more teens find their perfect outfits this year and in the future.

Project Prom will be held in the barn behind the Franklin Branch Library, 401 State St., Franklin, on March 25 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and March 26 from 1-4 p.m. All formal wear is free; you do not need to have a library card to attend.

For more information about the program, visit PageAfterPage.org/prom.

Erin Cataldi

Meet Local Authors At the Library

Erin Cataldi / Adult and Teen Services Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch
March 1, 2023

Many of us aspire to write a book someday, and lucky for you, some of your neighbors have made that dream a reality.

Johnson County is home to a wide variety of authors, including some bestsellers and award-winners. No matter your age or reading interests, it’s not hard to find an appealing book by a local author. There is so much talent right here in our community!

If you don’t know where to start, mark your calendar for Saturday, March 11. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Clark Pleasant Branch of Johnson County Public Library, there will be a local author fair with 30 authors in attendance! The variety of authors will have picture books, memoirs, young adult novels, Christian self-help, gardening, essays, poetry, romance, non-fiction and more. There is a little bit of everything. Attendees can chat with authors, purchase books, enter to win giveaways and add to their ever-growing TBR (to be read) pile.

Of the 30 authors that will be present, 22 are from right here in Johnson County and the other eight are from Brown County, Indianapolis and some of the surrounding donut counties. Franklin boasts the most authors in attendance with eight, Greenwood with four, Whiteland and New Whiteland each have three, and Bargersville, Nineveh, and Trafalgar will each have one author present.

Here is a small sampling of all the wonderful authors that you can meet on March 11:

  • Sandy Adams (Trafalgar): “One Crazy Connection.” Fun fact: Sandy published her first book at the age of 76 years old!
  • Alana Ash (Franklin): “Dormant Soul.” Fun fact: While she currently lives in Indiana with her family, she has lived in South Korea, Guam and throughout the USA.
  • Brian Allen Carr (Franklin): “Opioid, Indiana.” Fun fact: Brian was the inaugural winner of the Texas Observer short story prize as judged by Lonesome Dove author Larry McMurtry, and the recipient of a Wonderland Book Award.
  • Sandy James (Whiteland): “Saving Grace.” Fun fact: Published through Forever Yours, Carina Press, and indie-published, she has been an Amazon #1 bestseller multiple times and has won numerous awards including two HOLT Medallions.
  • Christy Newton (Greenwood): “The Trouble with Playing Cupid” and “Begin Again.” Fun fact: Christy is a hopeless romantic, and you can often find her signing books in Sarah’s Hallmark Store.
  • Terri Roberts-Leonard (Greenwood): “Danda the Panda: Welcome to My World.” Fun fact: Terri is a diversity, equity and inclusion trainer and educator whose focus is on community service and education.

Nicole Caudill
Meet Bibli the Bookworm
Meet Bibli the Bookworm

Nicole Caudill / Library Assistant, Clark Pleasant Branch
February 15, 2023

Yes, it is true! Johnson County Public Library has its very own mascot. It’s not just any mascot, but Bibli the Bookworm — short for Bibliography.

I was always fascinated by mascots and the happy reactions they receive from young and old. No matter if you attend a Colts game or a Pacers game, when the team mascot comes around, everyone starts smiling and trying to get a high five.

JCPL has had a lot of book character costumes visit our four branches over the years, from Elephant from the Elephant and Piggy books to Daniel Tiger from PBS to our very last visitor Curious George. Most patrons — except for a few very little ones — have been excited and wanted to get a picture with the silent, life-sized celebrities.

So, what would be more fun than creating our very own mascot for the Johnson County Public Library? And since we want to promote reading and literacy in Johnson County, we decided a bookworm that loves reading was the perfect mascot.

The library was excited to fund this project for our community. With lots of help from the marketing team at JCPL and the creative team from Sugars Mascot Costumes, the design and look of Bibli were created and brought to life.

While Bibli has made some big appearances already at the Franklin Holiday Lighting Parade, on FOX 59 News to promote the Book Gift Guide, and at our Merry Prairie celebration at our Trafalgar Branch, we are looking forward to many more.

Bibli’s storytime debut will be February 25 at 10 a.m. at our Clark Pleasant Branch for our very first “Meet Bibli the Bookworm Storytime.” Bibli will join the children for our family storytime and be available for pictures afterward. We’ll also enjoy snacks together.

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to see Bibli throughout the year. Bibli will make appearances at library events like the Explore Summer program parties and storytimes, as well as at local events like farmers markets, festivals and lots, lots more.

Come see Bibli in person and get your picture taken with the newest JCPL celebrity!

Erin Cataldi
Tax Time Resources At the Library

Erin Cataldi / Adult and Teen Services Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch
February 1, 2023

“A person doesn’t know how much he has to be thankful for until he has to pay taxes on it.”

Tax time: That glorious and terrifying time of the year when you either have to put on your big kid accounting britches or pay someone else to have the honor of deciphering a year’s worth of your tax documentation.

When I was 16, my mother sat me down at the kitchen table and taught me how to file my taxes on paper. That year, I received a whopping $85 refund that I went out and blew on a Barnes & Noble shopping spree. When I was 17, I was audited and didn’t get my refund for over a year (after my mom repeatedly called the IRS and yelled at them for auditing a minor).

After that, I stopped trusting myself to file my taxes and started hiring professionals. Could I figure out how to accurately file on my own? Absolutely. Do I want to? Absolutely not.

For those who struggle to file their own taxes and don’t have the means to pay a tax professional to work their magic, there is a third option which is getting your taxes done for free at the library. AARP provides in-person tax assistance to senior citizens and low-income residents free of charge. Each branch of the Johnson County Public Library has AARP Tax-Aide volunteers come to their location one day a week all tax season from February through April.

The volunteers are trained and IRS-certified every year, and they know and understand the latest changes and additions to the tax code. They have been coming to JCPL for over a decade and have helped thousands of residents file their taxes for free. Assistance is provided by appointment only, and space is limited, so please call your branch for more information.

Although library staff cannot advise patrons concerning tax forms or assist with online tax preparation, JCPL can connect patrons to useful resources:

Paper tax forms: You may take one printed copy of tax forms provided by the Internal Revenue Service and Indiana Department of Revenue; additional copies can be made for 10 cents/page. However, be advised that the IRS no longer provides instruction booklets or many other forms to libraries.

Online form printing: You may request help printing other tax forms for 10 cents/page. Please be prepared to provide the name or number of the forms you need.

Internet access for online tax preparation: The library’s public computers can be used to access online tax preparation sites and e-filing options through the IRS and the Indiana Department of Revenue.

Books and reference material: The library collection includes many titles on tax preparation. Check the online catalog or ask a reference librarian to find and reserve these titles. You can learn more about filing your taxes at PageAfterPage.org/taxes.

Craig Johnson
Snuggle Up with a Book Ball: Register, Donate & Read

Craig Johnson, Honorary Chair
January 18, 2023

Howdy friends, it’s Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire series, and it’s my honor to invite you to join me in participating in the fourth annual Snuggle Up with a Book Ball.

What could possibly be better than spending an evening snuggled up with a book … Okay, maybe one of mine, and supporting the Johnson County Public Library Foundation? Thanks to the Foundation’s support, I was fortunate enough to travel from Johnson County, Wyoming to Johnson County, Indiana and meet all the fine folks at the Authors at JCPL event at the Historic Artcraft Theatre last summer.

There are 12 Johnson Counties in the U.S., but there’s only one Johnson County, Indiana. I think you can judge the quality of a community by the strength of its libraries and your Johnson County Public Libraries provide equal access to information and resources for personal and professional development—which is quite a feat. JCPL facilities host thousands of community meetings annually, and Library staff connects residents with resources to improve lives with a multitude of programs that encourage citizens to increase their life skills.

With your help, the JCPL Foundation can make your Library even better. With a commitment to promoting lifelong learning, the Foundation is dedicated to funding unique opportunities to learn, with transforming experiences from the cradle through retirement.

There’s a reason why my Sheriff Walt Longmire’s office is an old Carnegie Library, in that he provides a public service, not unlike the librarians of Johnson County. I was once asked by a reader what Walt’s superpower was, and I replied — he reads. Only those of us who read, understand the power and enlightenment that a healthy library system can bring into the lives of its residents. Walt is haunted by books, and I hope you are too.

By donating, and not attending the Snuggle Up with a Book Ball, you will be supporting the Johnson County Library’s work to improve the quality of life and literacy in your community and to bring more great writers to the Authors at JCPL series, maybe even authors that don’t come from one of the other eleven Johnson Counties …

I hope you’ll join me in this year’s Snuggle Up with a Book Ball — the great news is you don’t have to wear uncomfortable clothes, make small talk, or try and dance — just donate and snuggle up with a book. What could be better than that?

To register for and learn more about Snuggle up with a Book Ball visit jcplf.org/snuggle. The event starts at noon on Feb. 25.

Mackenzie Steagall
Turn the Page To 2023 With the Library

Mackenzie Steagall / JCPL Marketing & Communications Specialist
January 4, 2023

The final pages of 2022 are here, but before we look forward to the new year and new chapter ahead, now is the perfect time to reflect on the journey we’ve been on together as a community.

As of November, you’ve borrowed more than a million items this year! You’ve taken home books and DVDs from our stacks and shelves, and downloaded digital resources like e-books and e-audiobooks to enjoy on your devices or on the go. These borrows also include specialty items from our Library of Things like Launchpads, which are educational tablets for kids, Experience Passes to local attractions and museums, and even board games. We are proud to offer a wide collection of items that community members of all ages can enjoy.

Of all the books and movies in our collection, what were the most popular titles checked out this year? Some are familiar favorites like “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid and others are new releases like “Sparring Partners” by John Grisham. Visit PageAfterPage.org/popular to view the complete list, and then borrow what you might have missed.

In addition to seeing you visit the library to borrow items, we were thrilled to see so many of you attend our programs this year! We kicked off and celebrated Explore Summer together, we welcomed bestselling authors to our Authors at JCPL program series, we learned about the diverse cultures in Johnson County at the Cultural Fair—and so much more. Pick up a quarterly Library Program Guide to find programs to attend for all ages, all year.

The new Clark Pleasant Branch Library building opened early this year, too. Since its grand opening in March, we continually see positive effects and hear how the new building is better serving the Whiteland and New Whiteland areas. One patron mentioned that the new building has reignited their love of reading.

All four JCPL Branches provide comfortable and accessible space for our community to utilize. Our community rooms, study rooms and public spaces have been full this year, and we’ll continue to offer these spaces for people to come to learn, work or read a good book. In 2023, you can look forward to revitalized early childhood play and learn areas, which provide preschoolers with activities to ready them for kindergarten.

This year, we’ve welcomed and introduced thousands of community members to the library by signing them up for library cards, which are the key to unlocking everything the library offers. We invite all Johnson County residents to sign up for a card whether you’re a longtime community member or an elementary student. It’s never too late, or too early, to discover the library. Sign up online at PageAfterPage.org/card.

We look forward to another year of strengthening our community by connecting people, resources and experiences. Turn the page on 2022, and usher in the new year and a new chapter with us at the library.