Your Community: Johnson County Library welcomes new county librarian

Tricia Suellentrop (left) will be new county librarian, replacing retiring Sean Casserley (right).

Johnson County Library will welcome Tricia Suellentrop as its new county librarian beginning July 1. The Library Board of Directors confirmed Suellentrop’s hiring at their June board meeting. Suellentrop will succeed Sean Casserley, who announced his retirement earlier this year after a decade at the helm of one of Kansas’ largest public library systems.

Suellentrop brings a wealth of experience to the position, having served as the deputy county librarian since 2008. She acted as the interim county librarian for six months in 2012, during the national search for a new county librarian that resulted in Casserley’s hiring. With Johnson County Library, Suellentrop has also held the positions of systemwide services manager, youth services manager and teen services coordinator.

As deputy county librarian, Suellentrop helped lead the Library through budget reductions stemming from the Great Recession and worked to develop and implement Library strategic plans. As part of her work in youth and teen services, she planned and developed programming and services across the Library system. In 2005, Suellentrop was recognized as one of Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers for her work serving teens in the juvenile justice system. She is the co-author of “Connecting Young Adults and Libraries,” a manual to help public and school libraries serve teen populations in their communities.

When she assumes the role of county librarian, Suellentrop is interested in maintaining the Library’s reputation as a top service in Johnson County. In the 2022 Community Survey, in which Johnson County residents were asked to rate their satisfaction with County services, 88% of respondents said they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with Library services, putting it at number two among all County departments and agencies.

Suellentrop attributes that success to diverse, knowledgeable employees and a supportive internal culture, which is described by staff as creative, positive, and welcoming.

“Our culture is the foundation of what we do,” she said. “It underlies all of our work so no matter what project we’re doing, the results for the community are going to reflect that.”

The organization is in the middle of several projects that will continue after July 1. The design process is underway for a new building on the Merriam Community Center campus; the new library, anticipated to open in 2024, will replace the Antioch location which opened off Shawnee Mission Parkway in 1956. A recent survey of De Soto, Edgerton and Spring Hill residents kicked off a project to refresh the libraries in those communities in the coming years. Johnson County Library also continues to explore new service lines aimed at increasing access in a world altered by the pandemic, including hybrid and on-demand programming, expansion of eLibrary resources and enhanced community outreach and partnerships.

Casserley, a 25+ year library and technology veteran, joined the Johnson County, KS library system in 2012 after extensive service at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Casserley was awarded his undergraduate and graduate degrees – in Mathematics and Library Information Science respectively – from Indiana’s Purdue University.

During his tenure at Johnson County Library, Casserley oversaw the creation of and significant progress on the Comprehensive Library Master Plan—a framework established in 2015 to guide the organization’s sustainable growth of services, operations, and facilities over a 20-year period. In 2018, the Library expanded into a new geographic area for the first time in over 20 years with the opening of the Monticello branch in western Shawnee. The spacious, modern Lenexa City Center branch opened in 2019 as the successor to the former Lackman branch, incorporating LEED Silver certification and an award-winning public art installation.

Casserley also presided over the Central Building Upgrade, a two-stage overhaul of Overland Park’s Central Resource Library in 2015 and 2021 that modernized the building and optimized service across all 14 Johnson County Library locations. Central Resource Library is home to the system’s administrative and support staff, as well as the Friends of Johnson County Library, the Johnson County Library Foundation, the Black & Veatch MakerSpace and the Johnson County Genealogical Society.

“Johnson County is an exceptional community of readers and learners who value knowledge,” said Casserley. “It has been a privilege to serve in this position over the last decade, and to work alongside such gifted, dedicated Library staff and volunteers.”

Upon his retirement Casserley plans to stay in the Kansas City area. He looks forward to spending more time with his wife, Susie, traveling, and making progress on his reading list.