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Johnson County Library asks “What do you geek?”

By: Veronica Burniston
Freelance Writer

On Tuesday, January 14th, the Johnson County Public Library set out on a journey to redefine the word ‘geek.’ Alongside numerous other libraries in the Holston River Regional Library System, Johnson County will be participating in a new public awareness campaign called ‘Geek the Library,’ which hopes to benefit both the library and community in the near future.
‘Geek the Library’ is a community-based awareness campaign that reintroduces the word ‘geek’ as a verb, looking somewhat like this: geek |gēk|, noun, an unfashionable or socially inept person (New Oxford American Dictionary) verb [trans.], to have great interest or passion for something (Holston Regional Libraries)
This ‘Geek the Library’ campaign, a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded initiative, strives to encourage individuals in the community to think about their talents, passions, or interests, what they ‘geek,’ and how the public library supports them in their endeavors by providing reference materials, computers, research guidance and classes taught in the Kathleen S. Mount Meeting room. In short, the campaign hopes to keep people’s dreams and aspirations alive by reminding them that the public library is and will always be ready to support them in their many pursuits. Which eventually leads to the question: how will Johnson County itself help support the library and its facilities?
This question mirrors the second goal of the ‘Geek the Library’ campaign, which is to inspire each individual to take a personal responsibility for keeping the local library in the race, in other words, helping them so they, in turn, can help others. Although the Johnson County Public Library is blessed with a local government that stands behind it and supports it wholeheartedly, the library relies heavily on local funding.
So how can one person pos¬sibly help the library? The answer is simple. Get a library card and check out a book. Library funding is often based on the number of patrons and the usage of the facility. After enjoying the library’s services, maybe consider volunteering a few hours a week to help the front desk or lend a helping hand to the Summer Reading Program in June and July. If one can’t give time, they can also donate financially to help the library raise funds to purchase new books or needed equipment. The Friends of the Library group also offers a wonderful opportunity for people to donate money and receive several small benefits in return. There’s also the op¬tion of donating materials. The library will happily take donations of books and movies to add to their own collection or use in the annual big book sale fundraiser. There are numerous ways to get involved with the local library and all one has to do is ask.
As part of the ‘Geek the Library’ campaign that will carry through November, the library has created a large white poster that reads “What do you Geek?” This poster, along with a handful of markers, hangs on the wall near the computer stations. The library encourages regular patrons and visi¬tors alike to drop by and write what they ‘geek,’ a reminder of both what they love and how the library works diligently to support them.
In the future, Mrs. Icenhour, the head librarian, would like to see the ‘Geek the Library’ campaign incorporated into some of the library’s other programs, including the Summer Reading Program, the Juvenile Book Club, and possibly the Imagination Library. Currently, the library’s main focus is to get more in touch with the community, to hear what sort of things people ‘geek,’ and to find new and exciting ways to fan those sparks into flame.
Some say the Library is the heart of a community. So why not take a stand for it, today? Remember, one book can impact over a hundred lives and one library can impact over a thousand dreams.
For more information on the ‘Geek the Library’ campaign and how to help the local li¬braries, visit or call the Johnson County Public Library at 727-6544.