Your Community – Connecting community and resources

Shawnee Mission Post Sponsor - July 14, 2018 10:00 am


People might think of the Library as a physical building but the Library also plays a critical outreach role in the community, connecting people with the right tools, resources and content. One example of this is the successful Incarcerated Services programming. A dedicated team of Johnson County Librarians leads a series of literature-related workshops and services for juveniles and adults who are serving an incarcerated sentence.

These connections feature author visits, a mobile MakerSpace, and a variety of writing, music-production and comics workshops. The group also works with Johnson County Corrections to share information about library services and resources. In 2017, the group connected with 1,055 kids and teens and 613 adults located throughout the county.

2017 Programs and Services

  • Read to Succeed – short story and book discussion groups
  • Great Stories Club – book discussion group
  • Courtroom Assisted Reading Encouragement (C.A.R.E.) – provision of free books in the Juvenile and Child In Need of Care courtrooms
  • Read to Me – instruction in read-aloud techniques to strengthen the connections between parent and child
  • Changing Lives through Literature – small-group discussions about short stories, poems and novels
  • Adult Residential Center Office Hours – provision of remote library services and resource fairs

Librarian Perspective

During the last three years, Incarcerated Services team member Jenny Reeves has focused on teens. She shares that while these teens have made mistakes and have experienced traumatic situations they still yearn to be like other teens. In her role, Reeves sees first-hand how receiving a book or interacting with an author like Jason Reynolds in a workshop can make a positive difference.

“When the Library brought Jason Reynolds to speak, I witnessed these teens connect with Reynolds in a truly inspiring way,” Reeves said. “He spoke their language, knew from his own experience, their experience, and was able to reach out to them and let them feel seen. It’s those experiences, where we are able to connect with these teens and hopefully make lasting impressions on their lives, which inspires me. When the Library visits incarcerated individuals, we create moments that allow them to feel seen, heard and valued again. In this way we are fulfilling our Library values to the fullest.”

2018 Outreach

This year, Incarcerated Services will include an adult book group and orientation workshops, providing services to individuals re-entering the community. Teens will also receive additional writing and Maker opportunities through the Explore Tinker Connect program.

The Incarcerated Services team supports individuals in the Juvenile Detention Center, Adolescent Center for Treatment, Johnson County Courthouse, Evening Reporting Center, Adult Residential Center and Therapeutic Community.

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