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

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!” 

Erin Cataldi
New Year, New You

Erin Cataldi / Adult and Teen Services Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch
December 15, 2021

New Year’s Eve is only two weeks away, which means it is time to dust off the resolutions from 2021 to see if any were completed and make some new ones for 2022. If you’re like me, 2020 and 2021 were NOT good years for sticking to New Year’s resolutions. In fact, for me, not a single one was completed! This year I’m 40 books away from my reading resolution, and I managed to drink eight glasses of water a day for only about a month! But we have to give ourselves grace. We’re living in unprecedented times; we’ve dealt with the pandemic, cost of living increases, toilet paper shortages, a tumultuous election, and too many other things to count. We’ve been through a lot, so we need to go easy on ourselves. That being said, 2022 is the year for picking up the pace and getting back on track. There are not one-size-fits-all resolutions, but whatever you decide to work on, the Johnson County Public Library can help.

Interested in learning a new skill like sewing? The Library has monthly sewing classes at the Clark Pleasant Branch as well as sewing machines that you can check out and play around with. Learn to hem those pants that have been taking up room in your closet! Want to learn to play an instrument? The Library has keyboards, tongue drums, ukuleles, and glockenspiels that you can check out to practice on. We also have music books, and the ArtistWorks database, accessible with your Library card, has dozens of tutorials to help launch your musical career.

Looking to meal prep to save money from eating out? The Library has you covered with dozens of cookbooks to help get you started. We even have baking pans that you can check out!

Want to try your hand at gardening but don’t know where to begin? This spring, you can choose five seed packets from more than 30 different types of seeds—from produce to flowers—to plant at your house. Unsure when to plant? JCPL has dozens of Midwest gardening books as well as the Farmer’s Almanac that you can check out. We even have a gardening tool bag that contains a hand shovel, hand cultivator, weeder tool, clippers and two pairs of gloves that you can check out with your Library card.

Looking to work out more but don’t have the money for a gym membership? The Library has hundreds of workout DVDs and books from belly dancing to power yoga. Work out in the comfort of your own home for free. JCPL also offers yoga and self-defense classes for adults; check out the events calendar to see when the next ones are!

Wanting to learn a new language? The library has Rosetta Stone and Transparent Language Online databases that you can access with your Library card, as well as tons of books, CDs and DVDs to get you started. JCPL can even help you learn computer skills, find books to read so you can crush your reading resolution, discover free online classes, fulfill your creative side with free in-person or virtual craft programs for adults, teens and kids, and so much more!

Let the Johnson County Public Library help you dominate next year’s New Year’s resolutions!

Erin Cataldi
Getting to Know Your Family

Erin Cataldi / Adult and Teen Services Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch
December 1, 2021

How well do you know your family, or how far back can you trace your family tree? Many are trying the DNA testing kits such as 23andMe or FamilyTreeDNA to learn more about their ethnic roots or discover connections to past and contemporary relatives. The appeal is clear: By merely spitting into a tube or swabbing your cheek, you can potentially unlock genetic mysteries and learn more about your family lineage. Not everyone may feel comfortable using their DNA, but there are still other options to learn more about your extended family.

Johnson County Public Library has a service, Ancestry, which any library cardholder can access at home now through Dec. 31 or in a library branch any time. Discover your family history by searching census records from 1790 to 1940, birth, marriage and death records from around the world, voter registrations, military records, immigration paperwork and much more. New to genealogy? Get started with the helpful tutorials and downloadable forms.

Besides Ancestry, your JCPL card also provides access to HeritageQuest Online which contains more than 25,000 local histories and family genealogies, the Genealogical Periodical Source Index (PERSI), and Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, which are all fully indexed and searchable. The Library also has access to the Indiana Digital Archives, the Indianapolis Star Newspaper Archives and Johnson County newspapers (current and historical) which are great if you come from a long line of Hoosiers.

With all these digital resources at your fingertips, there is no better time to get digging into your family’s history. If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, ask any librarian and they’ll be happy to get you started. While you’re at it, be sure to explore the JCPL Historical Room at the Franklin Branch. It’s filled with newspapers, yearbooks, local history, maps and photographs. Visitors are asked to sign in at the adult reference desk before entering.

Finally, don’t forget to visit the Johnson County Museum of History; they have an amazing genealogy and local history library. Their library contains a wealth of research materials, many of which are original documents, relating to Johnson County and surrounding areas.

If the holidays have you too busy to start digging now, mapping out your family tree can always be a New Year’s resolution. Fill out that family tree and discover how fun genealogy can be!

Want to learn more before jumping in? Check out these books at any JCPL Branch:

"Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org: How to Find Your Family History on the World's Largest Free Genealogy Website” by Dana McCullough

“Genealogy for Dummies” by Matthew Helm

“Practical Genealogy: 50 Simple Steps to Research your Diverse Family History” by Brian Sheffey

“Genealogy Standards” by Ancestry.com

“Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com: How to Find Your Family History on the #1 Genealogy Website” by Nancy Hendrickson

Read the original article here

Nicole Caudill

The Advantages of Joining a Book Club

Nicole Caudill / Library Assistant, Trafalgar Branch
November 17, 2021

Have you ever thought about joining a book club? Do they even still exist? We live in a world with digital content and instant information which is all just a click away. We receive constant news updates from our phones and even our watches, including book reviews and suggestions given by Hollywood stars and social influencers.

So why join a book club in your community? While I enjoy reading book reviews on Goodreads and Reddit, or the back of book covers (yes, I actually love holding a real book in my hands while reading), I was looking for more. I wanted to find individuals who have the same interests: discussing a good book and drinking coffee, two of my favorite things. Therefore, the idea was born to start a book club in Johnson County to combine the two activities: the Books and Beans Book Club.

Luckily, we have some wonderful coffee shops in the area that are very accommodating, supportive and welcoming. Main and Madison was our first host, and we had our first meeting in their wonderful space. While the weather outside was dreary and cold, the inside was toasty, the beverages and treats were delicious and the conversation was even better. Quickly I found out that the book we had chosen for the month may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but we started a conversation discussing new and old books, experiences were shared and lots of book recommendations were offered. We talked about other book clubs that we have attended, and I concluded it was not so important that everyone liked the book but that it was just nice to get out and talk to other readers, to exchange experiences and ideas and to have a good time meeting new people from our community.

Books and Beans Book Club meets at 9 a.m. on the last Monday of the month at different coffee shops in Johnson County. Our next meeting is on Nov. 29 at Coffeehouse Five in Franklin, and we will discuss “Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty, which was adapted into a Hulu original series with Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy this year. Copies of the book are available to borrow from JCPL.

JCPL offers a variety of book clubs and book discussion groups for all ages, from middle school to adult, at different times of the day in various locations. Stout Stories meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month at local breweries and wineries in Johnson County. Franklin Page Turners meets at the Franklin Library Branch, and there are many more JCPL book discussions worth checking out here: PageAfterPage.org/bookclub.

So come on out, brave the weather and join a local book club with your library. It’s a lot of fun, and there are plenty of new friends to be made.

Read the original article here

Linda Kilbert
Library Presents a Way To Remember the Good Times

Linda Kilbert / Branch Manager, White River Branch
November 3, 2021

Do you remember your first after-school job? Can you recall all those fun family vacations and holiday gatherings when you were a kid? Or how about those favorite songs you sang or danced to with your friends?These are memories that might be tucked away but are wonderful when they bubble to the surface. Unfortunately, the passage of time can bury those memories down deep, especially for persons experiencing memory loss or dementia. Johnson County Public Library has a new resource to help.

As our brains age, we naturally lose some ability to recall memories, but sometimes other factors come into play. Population estimates show that in 2019 more than 22,000 Johnson County residents, or 14.4% of the total population, were 65 years or older. The Alzheimer’s Association estimated that in 2020, 110,000 Hoosiers age 65 or older were living with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementias. That number is projected to increase to 130,000 by 2025. Estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that 1 in 9 people (11.3%) age 65 or older has Alzheimer’s dementia. Those statistics are staggering. Your life has likely been touched in some way by the reality of those numbers. Maybe a relative, friend or neighbor has been diagnosed with some sort of dementia. It can be difficult to watch a loved one struggle with the memory loss caused by this insidious disease. To help, Johnson County Public Library is pleased to announce the launch of a new resource to spark those happy, life-affirming memories for anyone struggling with memory issues.

Memory Kits are multi-sensory kits that contain items to trigger the nostalgia of years past. Thirteen kits have been assembled around themes such as the 1940s and 1950s, Holidays, Farm Life, Music and Movies and Home Life. The kits contain a variety of items, including photographs, puzzles, scent collections, books, music and DVDs. These items can trigger memories that provide a way for caregivers and loved ones to connect and communicate. Similar to the Reminisce Therapy used by some health providers, these kits allow those with memory impairment to recall the good times from the past. This can improve their mood and a general sense of well-being.

Each kit is packed in a bright blue canvas tote which is handy for taking home or to a senior facility. Included with each kit is a list of the contents and tips for interacting with someone who has dementia. All Johnson County Public Library cardholders and reciprocal borrowers can check out these kits for 21 days. The upcoming holidays would be a great time to bring home a kit to share with your family.

Visit PageAfterPage.org/LOT to reserve a Memory Kit. We hope that these Memory Kits will make a positive impact on the lives of the elderly in Johnson County.

Read the original article here

Amy Dalton

Every Library Needs Friends

Amy Dalton / Adult Services Librarian, White River Branch
October 20, 2021


National Friends of the Library Week is Oct. 17– 23 and yes, we appreciate all of our friends, but this is about our Friends. Just what is included in that capital letter “f”? Our Friends of Johnson County Public Library are part of the JCPL Foundation, a nonprofit organization of amazing donors and volunteers who raise additional funding so that your Johnson County Public Library can provide impactful events for our community such as visits by bestselling authors and an expanded summer learning program, Explore Summer.

Funds raised by the Friends & Foundation have helped provide you with the opportunity to meet renowned authors at our Authors at JCPL program series. Guest authors have included Julia Quinn, the creator of “Bridgerton,” Dorothea Benton Frank, Brad Thor, Tomi Adeyemi and Karin Slaughter, authors who don’t always make stops outside of big cities. The Friends also have made community prizes available when Explore Summer reading goals are met. These include a circulating Library of Things, such as telescopes, microscopes, baking kits and more that cardholders can borrow.

Have you ever attended a Library program where you got to be creative and make something? A lot of those supplies—paint, fabric, yarn, canvases—are made possible through funding by the Friends. The Library is about learning in all different ways, and we provide not only books but also hands-on experiences for all ages. The Friends also generously donate items to give away to promote the Library at local fairs and festivals as well as supplies to celebrate special occasions like National Library Week and Children’s Book Week.

The Friends of JCPL Book Sales provide fundraising to support JCPL. Every day our branches get donations from the public; some materials are added to the Library collection and the remaining items are boxed up for the book sales. Materials no longer needed by JCPL are also added to the sale items. Several times a year, Friends’ volunteers set up thousands of items, like books, audiobooks, CDs and DVDs that anyone can come and purchase at their book sales for bargain prices. Believe me, there are some true gems.

It takes a lot of hands to put up tables, arrange all the books, display signage, staff the sales and then handle all the transactions. Each sale has the inventory of a small book shop! Our Friends’ volunteers also help to stock Little Free Libraries around the county which are cute wooden boxes at parks and many other locations where anyone can take a book or leave a book to share. All of these efforts help to get books to readers in our community.

If you are interested in becoming a capital letter “f” Friend of JCPL, visit your Branch or PageAfterPage.org/friends for more information. If you know a Friend of JCPL, make sure they know how much the community appreciates everything they do.

Read the original article here

Elyssa Everling

Experience All That Indiana Falls Have To Offer

Elyssa Everling / Adult Services Librarian, Trafalgar Branch
October 6, 2021

Autumn in Indiana is the perfect time to get outside and explore what nature has to offer. After a season of lush greens and bright flowers, the attention turns to the trees as they change colors and offer a spectacular show of color and the beauty of nature. Living in Johnson County offers many places to see the colors, both locally and just a short drive to surrounding areas.

Johnson County Public Library supports outdoor spaces that are perfect for an autumn stroll. The Urban Forest, located on South St. in Franklin, has a StoryWalk, Little Free Library, small trail and trees planted after the 2008 flood. The trees have grown quite a bit and are a perfect way to stay local and view the colors. Windisch Park, located in Bargersville, offers a StoryWalk, Little Free Library, playground and a small wooded area. This would be perfect for children to enjoy the cool autumn days, read a story and take a walk. Finally, the Trafalgar Branch has a native prairie with a half-mile trail throughout, as well as a StoryWalk, Little Free Library, Blessing Box and Seed Library. Late September and early October may be just past the peak for some of the flowers, but nothing beats the golden hues of the grasses, not that I’m biased.

If you’re looking to take the family on a day trip, Central Indiana offers several places to visit as well. To the south, Brown County State Park is a wonderful place to go. Located in Nashville, the wooded area offers trails, horseback riding, camping and other activities for all ages. Hoosier National Forest, just south of Nashville, is a federally protected area that offers trails for walking, fishing, camping, picnicking, and other activities in a wooded area that is known for the beautiful colors of the trees in autumn.

If you’re looking to go north, Fort Harrison State Park, located in Indianapolis, offers an oasis in the heart of the city. You can view the changing colors while hiking trails, riding horseback, or camping. Another great place to view the colors is Eagle Creek Park, Indianapolis’ largest park. This park, located on a reservoir, has over 10 miles of trails, places to picnic and other activities for the family.

To add to those experiences, JCPL offers several items in our Library of Things to help you get the most out of your outdoor experiences and make memories. Birding Backpacks are available to borrow for two weeks at a time. Each backpack has two binoculars, one for you and one for your kiddo, birding books, a scavenger hunt guide, a set of bird ID cards and a fun birding bingo game. For people with colorblindness, we offer Enchroma glasses that help correct red-green colorblindness and will allow you to experience the beauty of the changing trees. Finally, we offer outdoor games and musical instruments that would be perfect to take on your camping trip. Visit PageAfterPage.org/LOT for other Library items you can borrow this fall.

Wherever you decide to visit this autumn, we hope you take the time to get out and experience all that Indiana, and your Library, has to offer.

Read the original article here

Davin Kolderup

We Met With 160 County Residents. Here’s What They Want.

Davin Kolderup / Branch Manager, Clark Pleasant Branch
September 14, 2021

Over 130,000 people live within the 321 square miles of Johnson County. Despite our differences, we share many common dreams and aspirations for our community and its future. Over the last several years, Johnson County Public Library and Aspire Johnson County have spent time with many local residents and groups conducting a series of conversations to determine what those aspirations are, and how we might come together to make them a reality.

The method we used was developed by the Harwood Institute, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping communities working together. The Harwood method does not seek to impose an agenda or predetermined outcome, but instead offers a series of open-ended questions that can be used to facilitate small-group discussions within communities. The first question, “What kind of community do you want to live in?” focuses on the participants’ vision for where they live, and the questions that follow help clarify how that can best be achieved.

We met with over 160 people from many local and county-wide organizations throughout this process, and after compiling the notes from our many conversations, we were able to identify three common aspirations that appeared again and again:

  • Communication: Residents want opportunities to proactively connect and communicate with leaders and decision-makers about the issues that affect their lives. Where to find and how to share information are significant issues. Many residents feel they don’t know what is going on in their community and throughout Johnson County. One resident commented, “Decisions are made…but how do you find that information? How do you know what will affect you?" The overall impression was that residents do not understand how to influence their local government and community. They want to be involved but do not know where to start.
  • Transportation: Residents want connected, walkable communities that offer a variety of affordable options for residents to travel to work and recreation. Having a vehicle is necessary to fully engage with the amenities Johnson County offers. If you cannot afford reliable transportation, you often cannot easily work, access childcare, get to resources or secure food. The Access bus system is very helpful but cannot meet the needs of residents who work evening shifts. Getting around Johnson County is another significant issue. Residents are concerned about how roads have not kept up with the population growth leading to extremely heavy traffic on most major roads. Even though many of the suburban areas in the County are working to improve roads and prepare for growth, many worry it isn’t progressing fast enough, or they are simply not aware of the work being done, which is an example of the first issue, a lack of communication.
  • Housing: Residents want a wide variety of affordable housing options that match local income levels and other community needs. In the northern part of Johnson County, it seems like every time you turn a corner more homes are being built. Demand is so strong that you currently cannot build a home, or seldom find an existing home, for under $250,000. Building more doesn’t solve all the problems. One group member said it “causes more problems just to stack housing upon housing.” The unemployment rate in Johnson County is low, and we hear a lot about new employers coming to the County. Just as building more houses can create new problems, adding jobs increases the demand for housing and drives up costs. One employer feels concerned that “as a small employer I can’t pay people a wage that allows them to live in this county.”

Although these three topics present challenges to be solved, they also represent great opportunities for our community. Everyone that participated in these conversations shared a great love and commitment to making Johnson County an outstanding place to live, work and play, and the findings reflect that belief that while we live in an outstanding community, there are opportunities to make it even better. We welcome continued conversation about these topics and the future of Johnson County. If you’d like more information about the conversations we conducted, including a printable report suitable for sharing, or to schedule a conversation with your own group or organization, contact us at http://bit.ly/JoCoComment.

Read the original article here

Library Card Sign-up Month

Mackenzie Steagall

Mackenzie Steagall / JCPL Marketing & Communications Specialist
September 1, 2021

Sept. is National Library Card Sign-up Month and you may think, I have plenty of books and I watch movies on Netflix; why do I need a library card? A library card isn’t only for checking out items, but rather, it is also the key to accessing a world of quality entertainment and educational resources beyond the shelves of your local branch.

Johnson County Public Library provides cardholders with a variety of digital platforms accessible anytime from anywhere. Instead of paying for a video streaming service, stream classic movies, documentaries and major motion pictures on Kanopy. Borrow an e-audiobook or download music from hoopla to listen to while you exercise or commute. Flip through the latest digital issues of Better Homes & Gardens, Forbes and over 6,000 other magazines from cloudLibrary NewsStand while relaxing in your backyard. If you’d like to learn a few cords on a guitar or a scale on a flute, then ArtistWorks’ online music lessons are just for you. You can even master another language from the comfort of your home with Transparent Language.

These resources and many more, work on your computer, tablet and phone. You don’t have to worry about monthly subscription fees or making online accounts. All you need is a JCPL library card.

JCPL offers children in fifth grade and below a special My First Library Card that has all the features of a regular card but with a fun, kid design. They can check out books and movies as well as video games and other kid-friendly items from our Library of Things, so there is no need to share cards and accounts between family members. To celebrate our new young patrons, we give children a free JCPL drawstring backpack to carry their library items as well as a matching lanyard to hold their library card. This is the first step to introducing your children and grandchildren to the wonders of the Library and all it offers.

This Sept., stop by a branch to apply for a card for yourself or your children. The application is quick, and you’ll have your new card in hand and ready to use that day! You can also apply for cards on our website. Simply fill in the online form, and your new card will be mailed to your home.

Visit PageAfterPage.org/free to see more things you might not have known you can access with your card. We also encourage you to explore other pages and resources on our website to find something new for you and your children to try with your library cards.

Let your library card take you on a journey of discovery this month.

Nicole Caudill
How the Library Can Help Your Child Get Ready for Kindergarten

Nicole Caudill / Library Assistant, Trafalgar Branch
August 18, 2021

Summer break is over and children are heading back to school. Some are heading to preschool or kindergarten for the first time, and a lot of parents are wondering: Is my child ready? Did I prepare them right for the big new world out there? Can they master school without me?

Sending your child to school for the first time can be scary and cause a lot of doubt about your parenting skills. I want to pass on some great advice I received when I sent my oldest daughter to preschool for the first time. Someone told me, “The fact that you worry is proof that you are a great parent.” While that helped me overcome my anxiety, worrying was not the only thing that helped my children get ready for school and life outside our home.

The Johnson County Public Library has lots of programs and resources that will help you prepare your child for school. From Storytimes, STEAM activities, Crafternoons and children’s cooking to yoga and chalk art events, these programs teach your child to concentrate, help them develop fine and gross motor skills, and establish social skills while playing with other children and having a wonderful time. While parents are a child’s first teacher, the Library is a great supplemental instructor.

Our preschool programs specifically incorporate five early literacy practices that will help your child get ready to read which is one of the first things they will learn at school. You can do these practices with your child at home, too!

  1. Talking: Children learn a language and other literacy skills by listening to their parents and others talk. As children hear spoken language, they learn new words and what they mean. Make sure your child has lots of opportunities to talk with you, not just listen to you talk.
  2. Singing: Singing slows down language so children can hear the different sounds that makeup words. This helps when children begin to read printed language. Sing the alphabet song to learn about letters, or sing nursery rhymes so children hear the different sounds in words.
  3. Reading: Reading together is the most important way to help children get ready to read by themselves. It helps children learn how printed words look and how books work. Shared reading also helps children develop an interest in reading. Children who enjoy being read to are more likely to want to learn to read themselves. Read every day. Make shared reading interactive. Before you begin a book, look at the cover and predict what the book is about. Have your child turn the pages of the book. Ask questions as you read and listen to what your child says. When you finish the book, ask your child to retell the story.
  4. Writing: Reading and writing go together. Both represent spoken language and communicate information. Children can learn pre-reading skills through writing activities. Writing begins with scribbles and other marks. Encourage this by providing many opportunities daily to write and not just color in coloring books.
  5. Playing: Play helps children think symbolically, so they understand that spoken and written words can stand for real objects and experiences. Play also helps children express themselves and put thoughts into words. Give your child plenty of playtime. Some of the best kinds of play are unstructured when children can use their imaginations and create stories about what they’re doing.

You can find more information about early literacy practices at PageAfterPage.org/early-literacy, or bring your child to one of our preschool branch programs. The Library staff is looking forward to seeing you.

Read the original article here

Erin Cataldi
Read Local

Erin Cataldi / Adult and Teen Services Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch
August 4, 2021

Many of us harbor dreams of writing a book someday – and 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 your reading interests, it’s not hard to find an appealing book by a local author. There is so much talent right in our neighborhood - I encourage you to read local!

Make it a goal to read one or two books a year from an author who is practically in your backyard. If you don’t know where to start, Johnson County Public Library has an entire collection of books written by local authors. This collection features picture books, memoirs, young adult novels, murder mysteries, non-fiction, and more - there is a little bit of everything. The Local Author Collection is currently shelved at the White River Branch, and is rotated around the library system every few months. JCPL has also hosted a popular Local Author Fair, where attendees can meet authors, purchase books, and win fabulous literary prizes. While this great event was postponed this year, we look forward to bringing it back in the future.

If you want to scope out some of the local talent – stop by your closest JCPL branch and check out a book or two from our special collection. If the Local Author Collection isn’t at your branch, place a hold on the title you want or talk to your librarian. See below for a small sampling of all the wonderful talent right here in our community!

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lou Ellen Watts (Franklin) - "Sleeping in Dixie’s Feather Bed"
    Fun Fact: When Lou Ellen’s not writing she gardens, sings in the community choir and volunteers for the Johnson County Museum of History.
Read the original article here

Liz Storm
Lit Loot Bundles On the Horizon

Liz Storm / Adult Services Librarian, Franklin Branch
July 21, 2021

In August Johnson County Public Library will add a new service for teens, JCPL Lit Loot bundles. Teens sign up monthly to receive a personalized bag that contains a mix of library items, crafts or swag, and a book to keep. Participants fill out a brief survey about their interests and reading preferences, and librarians then hand-select titles tailored to each individual.

Librarian Amy Hamilton and I came up with the idea for Lit Loot when trying to find new ways to serve teens. “Connecting with teens is an ongoing challenge at JCPL,” Amy said, “due to their busy schedules with school, sports, clubs, jobs, and other extracurricular activities.” Lit Loot offers an opportunity for the Library to tackle that challenge by meeting teens where they are. Rather than attend a program at a set time and place, teens can collect their bundles and read on a timeline that works for them.

While we may not see them at every in-house program, participants’ responses to the survey and the feedback they provide will help us develop relationships with them. Not only will we get to know the teens who sign up for Lit Loot, but we’ll also get an idea of what teens in our community are interested in. That knowledge will help us with everything from choosing which new books to buy to determining what programs may be popular with them.

While Lit Loot is new for JCPL, we received guidance from other librarians who have offered similar services like the Greenwood Public Library and Allen County Public Library. Those conversations helped us determine realistic goals and parameters like having teens sign up monthly rather than keeping their names on a list indefinitely when they may not always have time to finish their books. They also gave us ideas for book-themed and seasonal crafts as well as swag to include in the Lit Loot bags.

The JCPL Lit Loot service is modeled after commercial subscription boxes, which have increased in popularity in recent years. Budding STEM enthusiasts have KiwiCo, home chefs have Blue Apron, and now Johnson County teen readers will have free book and swag bundles.

Teens may sign up for Lit Loot now through August, and librarians will prepare the first packages for pick up in September. Learn more and register at your JCPL Branch or visit PageAfterPage.org/Lit-Loot.

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Moth Meuser
Step Outside Yourself and Into the Library

Moth Meuser / Children's Services Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch
July 6, 2021

Do you ever have a question about someone, but you don’t know them well enough to ask? Have you ever started to explain a sensitive topic to someone and then realized you’re not actually sure what to say?

Our world is big, and we have neighbors with rich lives we probably know nothing about. In a world like ours, it’s normal to be curious about people and situations—curiosity is what we’re all about at the Library! Although, sometimes it’s not just curiosity we feel out there. Hesitation, uncertainty, anxiety, shyness—it’s too often that these feelings stop me from talking to loved ones and learning more.

Building Bridges is a program series at the Johnson County Public Library designed to kick-start curiosity and conversation about a wide range of topics—things that are important to talk about, but sometimes we get stuck because…well…they can be hard! Every month there’s one program for adults and one for kids and families, and each one is a totally non-judgmental space to talk, share and learn.

The programs have covered topics like race, ability, anxiety, grief, loss, poverty, news, and politics (definitely not your run-of-the-mill dinner table conversations), not because we like to put a gray cloud over peoples’ days, but because these topics show up in all our lives. These programs give us a starting point for talking about such topics honestly. And, hey, many topics seem more intimidating to talk about than they truly are—some are just a matter of seeing different ways our fellow Johnson County neighbors live, learn and love! Once you get started, the learning and conversations are nothing to be afraid of.

Just like when you pick up a book to step into someone else’s reality (factual or fictional), the Building Bridges programs are meant to help us see the world from multiple perspectives. They go a step further, though, by providing you with some resources and practice talking about the topics. It makes a difference being prepared for a conversation so that when things come up in life, you at least have a bit of a plan for what to say.

We don’t always have all the answers or the exact right things to say, but if you’d like to start talking and learning anyway (which is very brave, I might add), I’d like to formally invite you to sign up for one of our upcoming Building Bridges programs. We have them every month, and sometimes we have special guest speakers, so check back at PageAfterPage.org/calendar to see new events pop up. Plus, all previous programs and resources are posted at PageAfterPage.org/building-bridges.

We hope to see you soon!

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Amy Dalton
Visit Museums and Pools with Experience Passes from JCPL

Amy Dalton / Adult Services Librarian, White River Branch
June 23, 2021

Now that museums are opening up, it’s the perfect time to go and see all the exhibits you have been missing throughout quarantine. Explore the history of our state and native people, at no charge, through our area museums’ interactive displays by borrowing an Experience Pass from the Johnson County Public Library.

JCPL arranged for memberships to several local organizations to circulate to library cardholders. A few of the hidden gems you can visit include the Indianapolis Medical History Museum and the Rhythm Discovery Center. The Medical History Museum is on the grounds of the former Central State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital built in 1848. The Museum is housed in the former pathology building and is the oldest pathology lab still standing in the nation. Besides being a beautiful, historic building, the museum houses over 15,000 relics of medical history, including human specimens. There is also a garden of medicinal plants. Currently, the facility is open by appointment only, so be sure to contact them before checking out your pass and planning your visit.

Rhythm Discovery Center is the world’s only interactive drum and percussion museum. It’s full of amazing instruments from all over the world. Many of these can be played by visitors. You can also see drum sets owned and played by famous drummers, including Rush’s Neal Peart and jazz drummer Buddy Rich. It’s a noisy, vibrant place that is perfect for families, and earplugs are handed out at the front desk for those who may be overwhelmed. These instruments are visually stunning as well.

Other passes for the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art, the Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana State Museum are available. The State Museum passes can be used for admission to twelve other historical sites across Indiana, including the T.C. Steele Home and studios in Nashville.

Beyond museums, JCPL offers passes to Greenwood’s Freedom Springs and Franklin’s Family Aquatic Center so you can cool off when the weather gets too hot to handle. For another free experience, stop by Random Fandom on June 26 at JCPL’s Franklin Branch, no library card or pass needed. This mini-convention will have crafts, cosplay, laser tag and more, including a visit from 501st Legion and Rebel Legion, the state’s largest Star Wars costume group.

To check out an Experience Pass, contact your JCPL Branch for availability. Passes cannot be reserved or renewed and are available on a first-come, first-served basis with a limit of one per card. Find all the Experience Pass options on our website: PageAfterPage.org/Experience-Passes.

Erin Cataldi
Hot Titles to Read This Summer

Erin Cataldi / Adult and Teen Services Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch
June 9, 2021

Whether you are sunning yourself on a beach or simply hanging out in your pajamas getting blasted by the air conditioning, we could all use an escape more than ever. The perfect novel can transport you somewhere else, which is especially great if you’re stuck at home working all summer with no ocean or pool in sight.

From fluffy romances you can toss in your tote before a walk in the park, to young adult favorites you can read in your blanket fort, to thrillers that keep you rocking on your front porch well past dusk; the Johnson County Public Library has rounded up some of the hottest “beach” reads that are coming out this summer. Place these on hold in your preferred format: print, audiobook, or digital and get to reading!

  • "People We Meet on Vacation" by Emily Henry
    Two best friends have a ritual of taking an annual summer trip—until something happened that ruined everything. Poppy has convinced Alex to give their annual vacation one last chance—will it mend what's broken?
  • "Last Summer at the Golden Hotel" by Elyssa Friedland
    The once-thriving Golden Hotel is on its last legs. Two families must decide whether to sell or stay, and buried scandals emerge for a summer they won't forget. Has been compared to Dirty Dancing – need I say more?
  • "The Guncle" by Steven Rowley
    Patrick adores being GUP (Gay Uncle Patrick) to his niece and nephew. After their mother suddenly dies he becomes their guardian. A heartwarming and funny tale.
  • "The Final Girl Support Group" by Grady Hendrix
    For fans of '80s slasher movies. A clever, fast-paced horror-comedy about a support group for the only women left alive following encounters with a killer. When a girl misses a meeting for the first time in years, they all fear the past is repeating itself.
  • "The President's Daughter" by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
    A former American president turns action hero in the follow-up to their bestselling The President Is Missing. This fast-action adventure is a certified page-turner.
  • "Billy Summers" by Stephen King
    A thrilling new novel about a good guy in a bad job. Billy is a killer for hire and the best in the business. He’ll do the job only if the target is a truly bad guy. Now Billy wants out.

If you want to get rewarded for reading – don’t forget to register for Explore Summer, our summer learning program – it’s not just for kids. Read, learn and win prizes for kids, teens and adults!

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Sarah Taylor
Explore Summer With the Library

Sarah Taylor / Assistant Director
May 26, 2021

The signs are all around us. The weather is warmer, the grass is greener and the garden has been planted. Summer is almost here! From riding bikes in the park to sunny afternoons at the pool, there’s so much to do in the summer. One activity you won’t want to miss is Johnson County Public Library’s Explore Summer learning program!

Explore Summer is an annual program that encourages us to read, create and discover all summer to support the development of early literacy skills, prevent learning loss in children and bring readers of all ages together with engaging activities, educational programs and fun prizes.

This year’s program, sponsored by 100+ Women Who Care of Johnson County, runs from May 17 to July 31. People of all ages can register at any JCPL branch or online at PageAfterPage.org/Explore-Summer. Don’t forget to grab your purple sign! Post it in your yard and you just might receive a visit from the JCPL Prize Patrol as we make our rounds this summer delivering prizes straight to your door.

It probably comes as no surprise that we want you to read this summer! We’ve set a goal to read 3 million minutes together. What you read is up to you—read a book, graphic novel, newspaper, or listen to an audiobook. Read 10 hours over the summer and earn a fun prize and a chance to win our grand prize Adventure Pack: a pass and gift card from Indiana State Parks, plus gift cards for gas to get you there and sporting goods equipment for your next camping trip.

In addition to reading, there are opportunities for hands-on learning experiences. Each week, we’ll have a new Weekly Learning Badge available where we encourage you to participate in an activity—explore the new Little Native Seed Library Trail, visit one of our five StoryWalks, or participate in the Great Park Quest, we have activities to get you outside and explore all that Johnson County has to offer.

And don’t forget to come visit us! Our calendar of events is filled with free activities for all ages in a variety of formats to meet the needs of your family. Read, dance and sing with our children’s librarians at storytime—virtually on Zoom, outdoors on the lawn or from the comfort of your car at our new Drive-In Storytime series. Teens can participate in a cosplay contest or play a round of laser tag as we celebrate all things geeky at Random Fandom. We’re also bringing back our popular Crafting for a Cause series. People of all ages can volunteer at these events and help create projects we’ll donate to a local partnering non-profit.

Meet popular children’s book character, Pete the Cat, as he rocks his white shoes on our lawn. But that’s not the only thing rocking on our lawns this summer! Bring your blankets and chairs, because the Franklin Community Band returns with a medley of hits for their annual Concert on the Lawn. Celebrate the end of the summer when the Shake-Ups, the galaxy’s most animated band, visit with an outdoor concert of their power-pop songs. You can find our full calendar of events online at PageAfterPage.org/events.

All school-age children need opportunities during the summer to continue learning so that they are ready to succeed when they go back to school. Without meaningful learning opportunities, students risk losing valuable ground over the summer. To curb summer learning loss, Explore Summer encourages us to read books, learn new skills and participate in high-quality, interactive educational programs.

Summer may be right around the corner for many students, but the learning doesn’t have to stop with the final school bell. Remember—whether it’s found exploring the great outdoors in Johnson County or in the pages of your favorite book, adventure is out there!

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Amy Dalton
Choosing Books for a Book Club

Amy Dalton / Adult Services Librarian, White River Branch
May 12, 2021

There are so many book clubs out there, from groups of friends who like to chat about whatever they’ve been reading, to huge, online clubs with online discussions, apps, and Twitter hashtags. Reading may be a solitary activity, but a book club makes it social. Talking about what you have read can bring so much insight into a work. Different readers pick out different moments and quotes that speak to them, and you learn so much about not only the book but others.

Whether you are forming a new group or you are part of a long-standing club, choosing what to read is a huge part of meetings. Picking out a book that leads to a good discussion, as well as being sure that all the members have access to copies, can be difficult. You can check out sets of books just for book clubs from your library and also access sets from Indiana Humanities Novel Conversations. E-books are available to check out with a library card from our Hoopla service, and there’s no limit to how many people can read the same title at once. Johnson County Public Library is happy to help.

Don’t always pick favorite titles or authors. Some of the best meetings come from the group reading a book or genre that not everyone liked or expected to enjoy. I lead one of the library’s book groups, which are open to everyone if you want to try one out, and it’s so interesting to dig into what people did and didn’t like about a title. I’ve seen opinions get turned around during discussion, and even had readers who didn’t finish a book they didn’t like give it a second chance. Our group read Neil Gaiman’s “Stardust” and no one liked the 1920s writing style, but after watching a few scenes from the film adaptation, they were charmed and won over.

Try and choose books that have deeper themes or characterizations. Even though a thriller may be a great read, there may not be enough going on to talk about. But if it’s set during an important moment in history, or involves a current event, that can provide a launch for conversation. Fictionalized stories of real people also make great discussions as members can bring in photos and information of the characters’ lives. “The Alice Network” by Kate Quinn and “Girl Waits with Gun” by Amy Stewart are great picks about real women who were spies and detectives.

Don’t shy away from children’s and teen titles. There are so many quality titles being written for younger readers that have important themes that lead to great discussions. “Ghost Boys” by Jewell Rhodes or “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas are wonderful choices that are topical and wonderfully written.

Non-fiction books can be fun to read and talk about. They aren’t all textbooks! The library has a leadership-focused group that reads only non-fiction, but our other groups mix in true stories as well. Biographies like Hope Jahren’s “Lab Girl,” Noah Strycker’s “Birding Without Borders,” or history like “Boys in the Boat” by Daniel Brown or "Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson, read like the best fiction tales.

If you are in a book club, starting one, or just want to attend a meeting, your library is here with picks, sets of books, and a variety of groups to try. Go to PageAfterPage.org/join-a-book-club for more information.

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Erin Cataldi

Life Is What You Bake It

Erin Cataldi / Adult and Teen Services Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch
April 27, 2021

Nothing brings friends or family together like a good home-cooked meal.

During the pandemic, many of us had to improve our kitchen skills as restaurants temporarily closed their doors. For some, cooking was a chore, but for others, it was something fun to get back into or discover for the first time. Social media exploded with stories about people baking and posts of cooking videos. Hopefully, it is a trend that will stay.

If you are looking to add to your kitchen repertoire or become inspired, then look no further than your local public library. Johnson County Public Library has thousands of cookbooks and cooking magazines to inspire you (no exaggeration — we have a cookbook for everything).

From celebrity cookbooks (Freddie Prinze, Jr., Oprah and Gwyneth Paltrow, to name a few) to diet trends (we cover everything from Paleo to Keto to the South Beach Diet) and new appliances (air fryers, pressure cookers and slow cookers), there is a cookbook for everyone.

We even have DVDs from every season of "The Great British Baking Show" and Paula Deen as well as cake decorating videos.

Speaking of cakes — do you need a special cake pan or cookie cutter for a birthday or holiday get-together? JCPL offers baking kits for one-week checkout with your library card. Each branch has different cake pans and sets of cookie cutters available to check out. If you can think of a cake pan, we probably have it — from a heart to Darth Vader, to a dinosaur and a unicorn; we have options. The cookie cutters are especially magical. Birds, holidays, superheroes, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and more.

If you like to keep your mind active while you’re baking or cooking, then check out the library’s podcast, “Back Stories,” or rent an audiobook to listen to from our Hoopla app. We even have cooking programs that you can attend virtually to learn about latkes, leftover turkey soup and more. Talk to a librarian or visit PageAfterPage.org to get some kitchen inspiration.

Here is a look at five cookbooks I recommend you check out:

"The Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes from My Cabin in the Woods" by Erin Gleeson

"Just Feed Me: Simply Delicious Recipes from My Heart to Your Plate" by Jesse James Decker

"The Golden Girls Cookbook: More than 90 Delectable Recipes from Blanche, Rose, Dorothy, and Sophia" by Christopher Styler

"The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie: Deluxe Recipes" by Paula Haney

"The Ultimate Meal Prep Cookbook: One Grocery List, A Week of Meals, No Waste" by America’s Test Kitchen

Read the original article here

Amy Dalton

Back stories: Introducing a JCPL podcast

Amy Dalton / Adult Services Librarian, White River Branch
April 12, 2021

I used to wonder why anyone would listen to a podcast.

I have a radio, TV, audiobooks and music Why would I want to listen to regular people talking in their living rooms? But then some of my favorite entertainers started podcasting, so I gave them a try. I came to love the informality of podcasts and I have discovered a few gems. Listening to a good storyteller is truly entertaining no matter what the format.

Sharing stories and information is the heart of the library, so starting a podcast of our own was an easy decision. I had been wanting to pitch this to our administration, and while staff was working from home, it became the perfect time to give a show a try.

After a few years of the library’s successful Authors at JCPL program, which brings bestselling authors to Johnson County, we saw that the most asked question to these writers was, “How do you get your ideas?” Well, that question was how I got the idea for Back Stories. My co-worker, Erin Cataldi, and I recorded a test episode and that got the library podcast a green light. That’s now Episode 1, which talks about how Robert Louis Stevenson came up with his ideas (spoiler: in his sleep) and why the creator of James Bond decided to write a kid’s book about a flying car.

Each episode has two of our staff members chatting about creators and what influences their work. We’ve covered the backstories of authors, TV shows, musicians and even a video game. It’s been fascinating to research, and even authors whose works have an obvious influence, like a novel based on a true story, have so many interesting reasons behind why they chose their topic and how they made it their own.

It’s so intriguing to see how the creators’ personal lives and experiences show up in their finished works. Did you know that the hero in the Legend of Zelda games became older and more handsome in some of the titles because the creator’s wife complained that Nintendo didn’t have any hero heartthrobs? These little facts can really add to the experience of reading, listening to or playing a creative work.

We were also surprised at how quick and easy it is to get a podcast up and running. There are services that host and distribute content at no charge. There are free recording and editing programs so that we could cut out mistakes, all the “ums” and awkward pauses. We found copyright free music to use as a theme song and the library’s marketing department made a cool logo. This program is truly a group effort across the entire library. Staff from all of our branches, including Director Lisa Lintner, have made appearances.

For those of you who are new to podcasts, there are many different ways to listen on any internet connected device. Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify distribute most podcast titles, and topics are searchable so you can find episodes you might enjoy.

One of the best things about this kind of content is its specialization. The term “narrowcasting” has been coined to describe all the of niche content being produced. From taking care of chameleons, to watching and analyzing episodes of TV shows, to fictionalized full-cast radio dramas — there is really a podcast for any topic you can think of.

And what if you have a topic you would like to share with the world? The library has you covered if you want to step into the podcasting pool. We circulate a Podcasting Kit with a microphone, headphones and other accessories. You can check it out for two weeks at a time. We also have a great selection of books and e-books on creating a podcast from your idea, recording and editing, and distributing and marketing.

While you may not associate the library with pods and podcasting, this is just another way for us to connect with our community and spread information about the materials the library provides. Recording programs lets people listen on demand so that library programming is available anytime.

Our staff members have such a wide variety of knowledge and interests, and Back Stories gives us a place to talk about the stuff we love and share it with listeners while having a ton of fun. If you have any questions or suggestions for upcoming topics, email backstories@jcplin.org.

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Linda Kilbert

Bringing the library to your door

Linda Kilbert / Branch Manager, White River Branch
March 23, 2021

Merriam Webster defines homebound as: “(adjective) confined to the home.” What a drag, especially if you can’t get out because you’re sick, have limited mobility or need to quarantine. There’s only so much television you can watch, only so many games you can play on your phone, and only so many hours that you can stare out the window and watch the squirrels run in circles. Wouldn’t it be great if you had a steady supply of fascinating books to read or listen to, blockbuster movies to watch or fun board games to play, all without leaving your home?

Well, Johnson County Public Library is here to help. The library-to-Your-Door is a new contactless homebound delivery service that brings library materials to any the library patron that is unable to leave their residence. It is available for temporary or long-term arrangements. Maybe you have had surgery that keeps you from being able to drive for a few weeks, or maybe you are in a high-risk group and you don’t feel comfortable going out right now. Whatever is keeping you confined at home, we would love the opportunity to bring the library to you.

To set up the library-to-Your-Door, please call your library branch. You can request specific items over the phone or online through PageAfterPage.org.

If you don’t know what you want, a librarian can help select library materials, including books, audiobooks, DVDs, music CDs, magazines and more based on your interests and preferences. In most cases, requests made weekdays by noon can be delivered that afternoon. We use strict sanitation guidelines to make sure the transaction is as safe as possible.

Besides traditional library materials, the library also has a growing collection of non-traditional items, such as sewing machines, cake pans and board games. These are part of our Library of Things and can also be requested through the library-to-Your-Door.

The library also has a wealth of downloadable options which can give you access to a wide variety of e-books, music, movies and more on your device right from the comfort of your home. Librarians can help you set up these over the phone as well.

The library-to-Your-Door has proved to be life-changing. One of our regular library users used to visit the library two or three times a week. He is 81 years old and his wife has Alzheimer’s disease. Once the pandemic hit, it was especially hard for him to visit the library. Now, with the library-to-Your-Door, he gets the latest mystery novels regularly without the worry of venturing out. We love to see our services and resources have positive impacts like this.

Early in the pandemic, it became clear that the elderly in our county were especially impacted by the need to stay at home. The US Census Bureau estimates that as of 2019, approximately 15% of residents in Johnson County are 65 years or older. Being unable or uncomfortable going outside of the house has produced a sense of isolation for some.

To help with this, the library has also introduced a Senior Pen Pal program. If you are a senior or know of one and would like some friendly correspondence with a librarian, please get in contact with your library branch. We will match you with a library staff member and you can exchange ideas about books, literature or other casual topics.

Next time you are laid up at home and unable to visit the library, give us a call. We’ll bring the library to your door.

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Andrea Kaucher
Through the library, STEAM can be fun

Andrea Kaucher / Children's Services Librarian, Franklin Branch
March 9, 2021


When I was growing up, I hated math (except for algebra) and science, and most especially the intersection of math and science. I didn’t understand it. And I didn’t understand why I had to learn it. But over the years, my perspective has shifted, and I’m now a member of the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Team at JCPL that helps coordinate a system-wide approach to STEAM programming at the library. I also plan and facilitate at least one STEAM program a month, either for preschoolers or school-aged children. You might be wondering what prompted this change. And the answer is simple: I realized that these disciplines are all about cultivating curiosity, noticing patterns, asking questions, solving problems, and thinking creatively. These skills are essential to responding quickly to a changing world around us, as we’ve all discovered over the last year. And although a lot of people think that creativity, for example, is an immutable trait—either you have it or you don’t—this is simply not true. With practice and hands-on experiential learning, you can build these skills at any age. JCPL’s mission is to connect people to resources and experiences that will empower them and help them to succeed, and that is why we wholeheartedly embrace STEAM at the library.

Through its Library of Things, JCPL currently provides 24 different STEAM Kits, from microscopes to telescopes. Sarah Lockwood, a Children’s Librarian at the Franklin Branch who oversees the purchases of items for the Library of Things, says, “Our STEAM Kits provide a way to try new equipment or explore different concepts. For example, Stargazing Kits include telescopes, star charts, and instructions for downloading star-tracking apps so families can explore our galaxy from their own backyard. At its core, science is about the joy of discovery and learning something new. Each kit is designed to inspire those ‘ah-ha’ moments from preschool to adulthood.” For more information about the available kits, please visit JCPL’s website at https://www.pageafterpage.org/steam-kits.

To further encourage experiential STEAM learning, JCPL also offers an array of programming for all ages. Some upcoming events of interest are the Little Scientists and Preschool Edible Science programs for children aged 3 to 5 and the STEAM Workshop and Full STEAM Ahead programs for school-aged children in grades K through 5. Due to COVID, these events are being held virtually over Zoom, but they all feature hands-on, interactive components to engage young brains and their problem-solving skills. These program series reoccur monthly, so keep an eye on our calendar at https://www.pageafterpage.org/events for the dates and times and register early. These events are popular and fill up quickly!

In April, you can join Indiana Phenology via Zoom to learn more about their Backyard Observers program and how to record information on seasonal changes in the plants and animals around us. Your observations will help establish patterns and connections between the climate and these natural occurrences. The session geared toward adults will take place on April 8th, and the session geared toward families will be April 10th. Visit https://www.pageafterpage.org/events to register.

For more at-home learning, you can also check out our digital resources, such as ArtistWorks, Gale Courses, and Lynda.com, at https://www.pageafterpage.org/research. The STEAM Team is also currently evaluating some new options, involving coding and robotics, that may be revealed soon. And most exciting of all, the new Clark Pleasant Branch will also offer some fun opportunities to explore STEAM concepts, so watch our social media accounts for announcements! Just as we constantly learn and grow as individuals, JCPL is also always seeking out innovative ways to connect our community to the STEAM disciplines and encourage lifelong learning at every age.

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Erin Cataldi
Working to improve your work-from-home experience

Erin Cataldi / Adult and Teen Services Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch
February 2, 2021

Since March of last year, the work landscape has changed drastically.

Millions of Americans have started to work remotely and that comes with a new set of challenges. While getting to work at home with our pets, beloved coffeemaker and family can be fun (or a nightmare) — home “offices” don’t have many of the amenities that workers have come to rely on.

According to the U.S. Census, only 85% of Johnson County residents have access to broadband internet at home. Of those with internet access, many don’t have printers, scanners and faxing capabilities. Granted not every home office requires those, but many do. What’s a person to do?

Go to the public library of course. At Johnson County Public Library, residents can scan and fax papers and get documents notarized for no charge. Don’t have reliable internet at home? Check out one of our more than 30 hotspots with your library card. You can also utilize free Wi-Fi in any of the library branches by coming in or using your device in the parking lot, even after hours.

If you haven’t thought about utilizing your library in a while, think again.

Yes, we have books, music, movies, newspapers, games and more, but we also offer many services — digital and in-person — that can assist you while you work remotely. Struggling with understanding software, accounting, marketing or other business ventures? Check out our online classes through Gale Courses or Lynda.com.

Except for making copies and print jobs — at 10 cents a page — everything is available at no charge. You can email us your documents ahead of time, bring them on a thumb drive, or use one of our public PCs to print out what you need. We try to make it as easy as possible for you to get what you need. From tax forms to legal documents to finance and investing books, our librarians can help you find exactly what you need.

And for those who are looking for a job, don’t forget that you can utilize the library to search for jobs, create resumes (which we can help with), apply for benefits or use our digital resources to learn a new skill to beef up your resume.

We even have the WorkKeys Assessment available for anyone to take. The assessment measures a range of hard and soft skills relevant to any occupation, at any level, and across industries. Many employers in Indiana are on the lookout for potential hires who have taken the assessment, so come in and take it today.

Don’t spend your hard-earned money on improving your work-from-home environment when our mission is to strengthen our community by connecting people, resources and experiences. We do that daily. You are invited to stop by any of our four branches or visit PageAfterPage.org to learn more about how to optimize your remote work environment.

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Moth Meuser
A Library PSA: Live your musical dreams

Moth Meuser / Children's Services Librarian, Clark Pleasant Branch
January 20, 2021


For many, including myself, this past year had me on the lookout for new hobbies and indoor activities. I dipped my toe into quite a few pastime puddles and made it back alive to report my favorite (and ongoing) excursion: ukulele!

Before I rattle on about ukulele, let me level with you: I am a JCPL librarian. I have known about these resources since they arrived brand spanking new. And it still took me years to give ukulele a go. So, if I can pluck up (pun intended) the courage to try a new instrument, I know anyone can. It is delightful and it is 100% worth annoying your family to practice chords over and over (not that I’m speaking from experience).

Ukulele is a fun instrument, and it is not too difficult to pick up. It weighs less than 2 pounds!

Young or old, musical beginner or not, a couple of lessons and a couple of chords is all it takes to dive in and play full songs. And because I work at the library, I can assure you we have some great resources for learning music, especially ukulele.

First, the library has ukuleles available for checkout. Each one comes with a tuner and a case, so you are travel-ready. That is the big one. No need to commit to buying the instrument yet. You can give it a trial run, at no charge.

Second, the library offers online access to ArtistWorks. You can log on with a library card and find music lessons for ukulele, voice, guitar, harmonica, piano, and percussion. To list just a few. ArtistWorks has video lessons to guide you through beginner and intermediate practice. If you’re brand new, like I was, you can learn the best way to hold and strum the ukulele right away, so you don’t learn it wrong and give yourself bad habits or undue muscle strain.

Lastly, we have a large selection of music books you can check out to make practice extra fun. For example, you can check out books to learn classical, pop and country songs on ukulele. Ukulele Beatles songs? Yep! Whether you are looking to try ukulele, pick up the old banjo or keyboard collecting dust in the closet, or loosen up your pipes, there’s something to get you started at the library.

Consider this a glowing review of the ukulele and ArtistWorks from a certified librarian. You can catch me at the Clark Pleasant branch using my newfound skills in our storytimes for little ones. What you probably won’t see is me playing at home, learning new songs, and belting folk tunes to my heart’s content. But that’s why I’m writing this now, so you can hear why you should try some of this out. It’s free! You have nothing to lose! And if you decide to give it a try, I’d love to hear about it--feel free to shout it from the rooftops (or just send the library an email, that works too).

Happy playing!

You can see Moth playing the ukulele at this link: http://bit.ly/JCPL_twinkle

Davin Kolderup

Changing with the times

Davin Kolderup / Branch Manager, Clark Pleasant Branch
January 6, 2021

The many unexpected events of 2020 presented all of us with unforeseen challenges, both here in Johnson County and around the world.

If you have children in your life, you know that they have faced even more unique obstacles as they continue to learn, play and grow into happy, healthy young people. Kids are amazingly resilient, but they need a strong and dedicated support system now more than ever. Here at Johnson County Public Library, we are committed to supporting you and the children in your life, as we all continue to navigate uncharted territory.

The library had to make significant changes to its service model in March, to comply with the orders of state and local health officials, and to follow the best practices of our professional organizations. The Indiana Library Federation and the American Library Association have been providing JCPL and other area libraries with expert guidance on safely providing materials and services to our patrons.

We’re not back to normal yet, but the library is open for business at our normal hours for “Grab and Go” browsing — short visits of 60 minutes or less so you can check out items, use our printers or say hello to your favorite librarian. And if you’d prefer not to come in at this time, we’ll be happy to bring out your materials via our curbside JCPL-to-Go service.

Before, during and after our reopening, we had to rethink how we can safely provide library services. Luckily, librarians are experts at changing with the times. Over the last 30 years, we’ve been pioneers in providing internet access to the public, teaching computers and technology to learners of all ages, and providing online copies of books, movies, music and more. Librarians embrace change and have continued to do so this year.

Many kids in Johnson County are learning online this year, either entirely from home or in a hybrid model. If your learners need a change of scenery, we’ve ensured that our wi-fi signal extends far beyond our branch buildings. All of our outdoor lawn areas now feature picnic tables with power outlets so you can spend as much time as you need within range of a free, superfast Internet connection.

The wide range of fun and educational children’s programming we offer are one of our best-loved services. Although we haven’t yet resumed in-person programming in the branch, we are offering a full slate of online children’s programming via Zoom, so your child can interact with their favorite children’s librarian. Favorite series like Tot Art and Kids Cooking will continue virtually, and you can enjoy a preschool storytime at 10:30 a.m. every Monday-Thursday and Saturday. Select programs like our popular STEAM Workshop and Yoga Storytime are happening outdoors at JCPL branches.

You can enjoy a great story and fun outdoor activities anytime, at our JCPL StoryWalks. Located at parks around Johnson County including Independence Park in Greenwood, Windisch Park in Bargersville, Country Gate Park in New Whiteland, the Franklin Urban Forest and the Trafalgar Branch Library, Storywalks feature popular picture books on signposts along a scenic walking trail. You and your children can read the story and enjoy fun, literacy-friendly activities designed by librarians at each stop.

Maybe you’re homeschooling this year, or just want to supplement your kids’ learning with a variety of well-chosen books and other items. Our children’s librarians are standing by to help you select the perfect titles, whatever your little learner’s reading level or area of interest. You can fill out a simple form and we’ll put together a customized collection of library items for you to check out in the branch or via curbside pickup.

We will always believe in the power of a good book, but the library has so much more to offer to learners of all ages in our Library of Things collection, including family birdwatching kits, sewing machines, and STEAM kits, featuring fun interactive science activities for the whole family to enjoy. We’ve even got cake pans and cookie cutters for your next family baking day.

JCPL is honored to serve readers, learners, families and everyone else in the Johnson County community. Visit our website at pageafterpage.org to learn about everything described here and much more. We hope to see you at the library, online or in person, this winter.

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Andrea Kaucher

You are your child’s first, best teacher

Andrea Kaucher / Children's Services Librarian, Franklin Branch
December 23, 2020

As one of JCPL’s children’s librarians, I often present storytimes, which are a combination of books, songs and rhymes geared toward children from birth to age five. Sometimes, it may look like I’m just having fun (and yes, that’s true), but hidden behind the silly voices, sometimes squeaky singing, and always awkward dancing, I’m helping your child develop important early literacy skills. And you can too.

It’s actually pretty simple. If you READ, WRITE, SING, TALK, and PLAY with your child every day, you are preparing them to read independently. Thanks to the American Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read initiative, these activities are known among librarians as “The Five Practices,” and I incorporate each one into the storytimes that I present. Let’s look at how you can easily add The Five Practices into your daily life.

READ: Read to your child. You can snuggle up together with a book (great for building fond memories and early literacy skills), but you can also point out words and read them to your child wherever you are. Read the toothpaste tube, the “Caution Automatic Door” sign, that cookie recipe, etc., because reading this type of text aloud helps your child learn that words are all around them and that they share important information.

WRITE: Give your child crayons and let them scribble away. Reading and writing skills develop together. If your baby is too young for crayons, you can still recite fingerplays like the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or sing songs like “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” together. When your child moves their fingers independently of each other, they improve their fine motor skills, which will help them pick up those crayons when they’re a little older.

SING: Sing along to your favorite songs. When you sing, you naturally break words into distinct syllables — which helps your child hear the smaller parts of words. Remember that you can also make up your own songs to familiar tunes. And don’t worry if you squeak a little on the high notes. Your child doesn’t care.

TALK: Talk through your daily activities, feelings and ideas with your child. When you give them these words, you increase their vocabulary and help them make sense of the world around them. This background knowledge will be key in helping them understand what they are reading later.

PLAY: Playing pretend is a great way to help your child form symbolic thinking. When your child pretends that a cardboard tube is a telescope or a sword or a magic wand, they learn that one object can stand for another — which helps them understand that letters written on the page can stand for the spoken word.

Another simple way to incorporate The Five Practices into your daily life is to join the JCPL children’s librarians in our Zoom Into Storytime sessions. We offer these storytimes at 10:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday and on Saturdays. We also offer a monthly evening session at two of our branches. Please register for your preferred day(s) and time(s) on our website, www.pageafterpage.org, to receive the Zoom link. And be sure to pick up a storytime kit (complete with rhythm sticks, scarf, shaker egg and bubbles) from your closest JCPL branch so that your child can tap, wave, shake and dance along with your friendly Children’s Librarian.

Most of all, please know that parents and caregivers are a child’s first and best teacher, and your JCPL children’s librarians are here to support you in your efforts to develop early literacy skills in fun and creative ways. So READ, TALK, WRITE, SING and PLAY together every day.

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Liz Storm

Library Releases Holiday Book Gift Guide 

Liz Storm / Adult Services Librarian, Franklin Branch

December 9, 2020

The 2020 holiday season may look different than most, but one way to tell friends and family near and far that you’re thinking of them is to give them a book they will love. If you’re looking for suggestions, Johnson County Public Library has released their annual Holiday Book Gift Guide, featuring recommended reads for all age groups and interests.

For the budding readers in your life, librarian Darcy recommends "The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh" by Supriya Kelkar, about a boy who loves wearing colorful outfits until his family moves somewhere new, and he begins wearing white every day because he wants to disappear. School-aged readers looking for a laugh may enjoy "Stand Up, Yumi Chung!" by Jessica Kim, in which a case of mistaken identity gives eleven-year-old Yumi a spot in a kids’ comedy camp. For kids who like comics, Assistant Director Sarah recommends "When Stars are Scattered" by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, the true story of Omar and his younger brother growing up in a refugee camp in Kenya. Sarah says, “Although the subject matter is difficult, the graphic novel format makes Omar’s story accessible to a younger audience. Heartbreaking yet hopeful, this book is a window into a world far away. And while many of Omar’s circumstances in a refugee camp are different than what we experience, his deep love of family and education shows that some things are universal.”

For teen readers, librarian Erin recommends "Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America", edited by Maggie Stiefvater. Erin says, “I devoured this collection of stories about small towns, back roads, first love, show pigs, college, and teen drama. The stories, poems, and comics take place all over the US in small rural communities and help challenge the way that many Americans view them.”

For the friend or relative who’s always watching cooking shows, Library Director Lisa recommends "Everything Chocolate: A Decadent Collection of Morning Pastries, Nostalgic Sweets, and Showstopping Desserts" by America’s Test Kitchen. Lisa says the book, “[Has] well-researched recipes and wonderful photography. It will have you dreaming that you’re competing in Chocolate Week at the Great British Baking Show!”

Librarian Todd recommends Brian Greene’s "Until the End of Time" for the armchair physicist or philosopher, a book that “takes the reader on a tour through the history of the universe and its likely future, while, along the way, discussing the rise of complex life, consciousness, culture and humanity’s search for meaning and purpose. It is a lot to pack into a single volume, but the author is so engaging that the reader won’t want to put the book down.”

Your friend who is always binge watching the latest horror series will love Home "Before Dark" by Riley Sager. Librarian Erin says, “This horror novel had definite Haunting of Hill House vibes. I couldn’t put it down. It was compulsively readable, creepy, and super intriguing!”

Those who like historical fiction or intergenerational stories with family secrets may like Britt Bennett’s "The Vanishing Half". I loved this story that follows the lives of twin sisters Desiree and Stella and their daughters after Stella abandons her family for a life where she can “pass” as white. A fascinating look at colorism and the impact of trauma on a family.

For more recommendations, see JCPL’s full Holiday Book Gift Guide online at PageAfterPage.org/Book_Gift_Guide, or ask for a copy at any JCPL branch. For that tough-to-please friend (or for yourself!), you can also fill out a Find Your Next Book form at PageAfterPage.org/Find-Your-Next-Book for more personalized recommendations.

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