Event Audio

To listen to an audio recording of a previous Library special event, click the icon. The audio file will launch the media player on your computer.

The most recent recording displays at the top. The Library offers recordings only with the permission of the presenter. Please allow 7-10 days for the recording to be posted.

  • In the first of two True Life/True Grit programs, Bambi Nancy Shen discusses her memoir about her birth in Saigon, her childhood in a Japanese concentration camp, and her life of survival at the crossroads of world events.
    True Life, True Grit: The Uncrushable Rose
    Sunday, September 29, 2013
    Central Library

    True grit doesn’t simply exist only in the Old West.

    In her memoir Bambi Nancy Shen reflects on her birth in Saigon, her childhood in a Japanese concentration camp, and her life of survival at the crossroads of world events: WWII, the Chinese Civil War, and the Vietnam War. She struggled with her mother’s disappointment that Shen was born female, moved to the United States to study, and twice entered marriages that reflected her low self-esteem. But by discovering her personal strengths Shen became a model of contemporary true grit.

    Shen is a Kansas City businesswoman, author, teacher, international tour director, public speaker, interpreter, and co-founder of a nonprofit charitable organization.

  • Scholar Tom Averill of Washburn University examines how the novel True Grit depicts the American West and the characteristics that unite all great Western stories.
    True Grit as True Grist for Exploration of the Western Novel
    Wednesday, September 25, 2013
    Central Library


    The Old West occupies a relatively short era in American history, and it is in that colorful period that Charles Portis’ True Grit unfolds. To get the ball rolling on this year’s Big Read, scholar Tom Averill examines how the novel depicts those years and the characteristics that unite all Westerns – among them coming-of-age stories and themes of diversity and racism, violence and genocide, and justice.

    Averill is a professor of English at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, where he is writer-in-residence. He is author of three novels: rode, Secrets of the Tsil Café, and The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson. He has received the O. Henry Award for his short story collections.

  • University of Georgia professor Peter Charles Hoffer examines the repercussions of the controversial 1973 Supreme Court decision that upheld a woman’s right to have an abortion and became a flashpoint in the contemporary “culture” war.
    Roe v. Wade: The Abortion Rights Controversy in American History
    Thursday, September 19, 2013
    Central Library

    Few Supreme Court decisions have stirred up as much controversy, vitriolic debate, and even violence as 1973’s Roe v. Wade, which affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion. Peter Charles Hoffer examines the lasting impact of this landmark decision, its historical background, core issues, essential personalities, and key precedents.

    Hoffer is distinguished research professor of history at the University of Georgia.

  • KCPT’s Nick Haines emcees this program featuring adult students from Literacy Kansas City who share their stories and local authors who talk about the power of reading.
    The Power of Reading: A Celebration of the Written Word
    Thursday, September 19, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    An estimated 225,000 adults in Kansas City are denied some of the simplest and most important moments in life because they cannot read.

    To celebrate the joy of literacy the Library hosts the fifth annual Power of Reading: A Celebration of the Written Word. KCPT’s Nick Haines emcees. Adult students from Literacy Kansas City share their stories. And local writers – among them The Recipe (featuring Theodore “Priest” Hughes and Desmond “337” Jones), Chato Villalobos, Grace Suh, and Judith Fertig - discuss the power of reading in their lives.

  • Time magazine editor-at-large David Von Drehle and Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle hold a public conversation on the economy.  McArdle writes about economics, finance, and government policy from a moderate libertarian (or classical liberal) perspective.
    Freeing the Economy: Megan McArdle
    Tuesday, September 17, 2013
    Central Library

    Time magazine’s David Von Drehle and Bloomberg blogger Megan McArdle discuss Freeing the Economy in the third offering of the Dateline: Washington series.

    McArdle is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist writing mostly about economics, finance, and government policy from a moderate libertarian (or classical liberal) perspective. In recent months, she has blogged about government-backed mortgages, the higher education bubble, and the labor movement.

  • Author Ann Brownfield of the Kansas City Garment District Museum discusses her new book about our city’s heyday as a clothing manufacturing center and its slow decline.
    We Were Hanging by a Thread - Ann Brownfield
    Sunday, September 15, 2013
    Central Library

    Though far from the fashion center of New York, Kansas City once boasted a large, vibrant garment manufacturing industry. During its heyday in the early-to-mid twentieth century more than 4,000 workers were engaged in the business, and one in seven American women owned a garment designed and made in Kansas City.

    Ann Brownfield, curator of the Kansas City Garment District Museum, examines this important piece of local industry in a discussion of her new book We Were Hanging by a Thread.

  • Historian Lewis L. Gould argues that Kansas City Star publisher William Rockhill Nelson played a major role in the political fortunes of former President Theodore Roosevelt.
    “I Am With You Tooth and Nail” - William Rockhill Nelson & Theodore Roosevelt
    Tuesday, September 10, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    Theodore Roosevelt was one of the major figures in America’s Progressive movement in the early 20th century. But key to his influence was the support of Kansas City Star publisher William Rockhill Nelson. Historian Lewis L. Gould maintains that Nelson played a larger role in Roosevelt’s political fortunes than has been realized.

    Gould is visiting distinguished professor of history at Monmouth College. Among his books are Theodore Roosevelt, The William Howard Taft Presidency, and The Modern American Presidency.

  • Political scientist Carolyn N. Long examines the Warren Court decision that decided evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment could not be used in state criminal law prosecutions.
    Mapp v. Ohio: Carolyn N. Long
    Thursday, August 29, 2013
    Central Library

    When police in Ohio raided Dollree Mapp’s home looking for evidence in a bombing, all they found were some “lascivious books.” Mapp appealed her pornography conviction, leading the Supreme Court under Earl Warren to address not only the search-and-seizure question but also the “exclusionary rule” concerning the use of evidence not specified in a search warrant.

    Carolyn N. Long is associate professor of political science at Washington State University – Vancouver.

  • Author Kirstin Downey discusses her book about FDR’s Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins who implemented the forty-hour work week, child labor laws, Social Security, unemployment compensation, and other essential New Deal programs.
    The Woman Behind the New Deal: Frances Perkins
    Wednesday, August 28, 2013
    Plaza Branch

    She is no longer a household name, but during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration Frances Perkins was one of America’s most influential women. As the first female secretary of labor she was responsible for implementing programs that reshaped society and business and established the social safety net we enjoy today.

    Biographer Kirstin Downey examines Perkins’ life and enduring impact in a discussion of her book The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life and Legacy of Frances Perkins – Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Minimum Wage.

  • Time magazine editor-at-large  David Von Drehle holds a public conversation about The Future  of Space Exploration with The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach. The two will also discuss the recent sale of The Post to billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com.
    The Future of Space Exploration and the Sale of The Washington Post : Joel Achenbach
    Tuesday, August 20, 2013
    Central Library

    The August Dateline: Washington event at the Kansas City Public Library was supposed to be about outer space. Just outer space. Host David Von Drehle and The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach were to talk about the future of NASA and the American space program now that our astronauts are being launched from sites in Russia. But the recent sale of The Post to billionaire Jess Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, gives special meaning to the event.

    Not only is Achenbach a current Washington Post employee, but Von Drehle is a former Post reporter. So it’s only natural that they will devote part of the evening to discussing this seismic upheaval in the world of American journalism.