live, laugh, library!

Students, professionals explain community center services

Stephanie Kontopanos, Assistant Editor

The Johnson County Library is a public, taxpayer-funded service that provides cheap or free resources to people in the community. For senior Vanessa Onentia and freshman Ashling Bahadursingh, the library is a space they’ve found much value and comfort in.

Onentia goes to the library about three times a week to complete schoolwork and finds it to be a beneficial study environment.

“It’s really quiet but also not too quiet,” Onentia said. “You have kind of a school environment. It’s very peaceful and offers very few distractions. I like the presence of other people there even if I’m not working with them.”

The process of receiving a library card is quick.

“It was pretty easy — my mom did it for me,” Bahadursingh said. “They gave it to us like two minutes later.”

Onentia described the processing of checking out a book, which she does about every two weeks.

“It’s automated,” Onentia said. “You just scan your book on this little [scanner] thing. You scan your card, get a little receipt and leave.”

Onentia finds there are both pros and cons to the checkout process.

“I like it because you don’t have to make contact with people,” Onentia said. “You have less chance for transmission of disease, but also I don’t like it because I really like talking to the librarians.”

Besides borrowing books and studying, the library offers arts-related activities as well.

“I went to these writing events twice,” Bahadursingh said. “It was me and a few kids, and we had writing prompts. It was nice to be surrounded by people who like the same things I do.”

For Onentia, events targeted toward young kids helped her care for her family.

“During the summer, I took my cousins to the readings where people read to little kids,” Onentia said.

The library also creates opportunities for young writers to grow.

“You can have your short stories published, and they have different writing competitions,” Onentia said. “That’s really important for students who want recognition for their work.”

With books comes learning and knowledge, something that Onentia took advantage of.

“I learned how to take the SAT,” Onentia said. “I used one of their SAT prep books.”

Similarly, Bahadursingh has used the books borrowed from the library to teach herself a broader range of subjects.

“I’ve definitely checked out some of my favorite books at the library,” Bahadursingh said. “Books have taught me so much about myself and the world we live in. It’s definitely given me the resources to learn more about everything.”

Bahadursingh encourages students to give the public library a try.

“I find a lot of happiness in libraries,” Bahadursingh said. “If people think they could find comfort there, they should definitely go for it.”

A Look at Library Offerings

Youth information specialist Tiffany Rinne provides insight on library resources and services:

Baking Supplies: “[There’s a] baking supply library we pull things from  — cake tins and things like that — [including] one-offs that you would want to use for a certain theme party.”

Elementia: “‘Elementia’ is Johnson County Library’s teen literary magazine.”

Editorial Team: “It’s completely the teens who decide what goes in the magazine [and] what makes the cover. If you’re interested in the publishing, magazine or writing industry, it’s a really great notch on your belt.”

Contributors: “It has a wide distribution if they have an idea or want to get their voice out there. It’s a great thing to put on your resume. You get to be part of a community at the final reception. [You can] present your material live [and] meet the keynote speaker.”

Teen Literary Council: “Teens in the area get together and make it whatever they want it to be. We’ve brought in authors. We’ve had game days. We’ve done crafts.”

Teen Takeout: “Each month, a new book recently released is put up and people can sign up. It’s first-come, first-served. You say where you want your book sent to, then you pick it up at the branch. It’s yours to keep.”