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It’s the bottom of the ninth, two outs, bases loaded. The game is tied. The sci-fi flyboy steps up to the plate. He grips his plasma bat and digs in. The 19th century mad scientist on the mound takes the signal from the pirate catcher and concocts a poisonous curveball.

The Off-the-Shelf All-Stars are playing for keeps.

It’s All-Star summer for Kansas City and Major League Baseball, but here at the Library, we’re picking all-stars of our own – from the pages of our favorite books.

And you’re going to determine who makes the cut.

Off-the-Shelf All-Star Poll: July 1 – 10, 2012

Every day starting this Sunday, July 1, and leading up to the big game on Tuesday, July 10, we’ll ask fans on our Facebook page to nominate a fictional character from a specified genre to be an honorary Off-the-Shelf All-Star.

Each day of the series will bring a surprise genre. We might ask for an otherworldly wizard to pluck would-be homers off the left field wall, or an evil genius to snag grounders at short.

Rain Garden at the Ruiz Branch

The I.H. Ruiz Branch has long been an oasis of learning in the Westside neighborhood. Now, with help from Kansas City's leading environmental nonprofit, that oasis has gotten greener.

Horace Peterson portrait

Every great collection has to begin somewhere. For the Black Archives of Mid-America, it was in the trunk of Horace Peterson’s car in 1970s Kansas City.

Mayor Sly James

Summer Reading is upon us. The Library's branches are bustling with children piling into puppet shows and raising the roof at musical hoedowns, with teens texting and tweeting book reviews, and families dutifully logging reading hours to win prizes.

Ray Bradbury

It’s a famous, elemental creation story. Los Angeles, the early 1950s: Ray Bradbury sojourns to the basement of UCLA’s Lawrence Clark Powell Library armed with a bagful of dimes to bang out his now-classic lines like “It was a pleasure to burn” at ten cents an hour on a rented typewriter.

Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 over nine days – approximately one-ninth the time it takes readers to blaze through the dystopian firestarter – on a dime-driven typewriter in a library basement. Bradbury described himself as a fantasy author, with 451 being his only “science fiction” book. But like most of his 11 novels and 600 short stories, the book transcends its appointed genre. It burns, it jangles nerves, it frightens, and most of all, it teaches.

Lois Dodd - Self-Portrait in Green Window (1971)

Children who visit libraries early in life are more likely to return as they grow up. The same goes for art museums. This summer, the Kansas City Public Library is partnering with the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art for a program designed to enhance young readers’ love of listening – and looking.

Titled A Look and a Listen, the program will pair picture books with paintings in the gallery at the Kemper Museum. This June and July, children's librarians will read and talk about books that complement works in the brand-new exhibition Lois Dodd: Catching the Light.

Running every Wednesday, June 6 - July 25 (except for July 4), A Look and a Listen is part of the Library’s broader Summer Reading Program for children and teens.

Programs will begin at 10:30 a.m. and run for approximately half an hour. In addition to the readings from librarians, museum docents will provide discussions of Dodd’s paintings.

A breathtaking retrospective of a 60-year career, Catching the Light features 51 works by a plein-air painter with a brilliant eye for colors and shapes — two things that are important to the development of early literacy skills.

Wick Thomas

In an age of texting, tweeting, and LOL-inducing memes, putting out a print zine may sound a little 20th century. But there’s something to be said for publishing a story you can have and hold.

Elena McVicar and Meghann Henry

One is a master at getting kids revved up at programs. The other knows children's books like an old pro. Find out how our two newest additions to the Library staff are taking reading to all corners of the city.

Geek vs. Geek

What happens when you put trained engineers and science-savvy kids in a room together for two days and ask them to battle it out with LEGO robots? We found out the answer on a recent Saturday at the Plaza Branch.

Sue Sanders

Kansas City atheists may not believe in God, but they definitely believe in Sue Sanders.  Find out how our meeting room scheduler is making connections all over the city.

Publitzer Medal

 The readers have spoken. Voting in the finals for the 2012 Publitzer Prize for Fiction has closed, and a worthy novel has been democratically awarded the highest prize in mock American literary awards. Where the real Pulitzer Prize committee left off, you, the public, picked up.

Congratulations to Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot, the landslide victor of the Publitzer Prize readers’ vote. Now, in addition to being a New York Times Notable Book of 2011, Plot has the official stamp of approval of the Kansas City Public Library’s uppermost echelon of fiction connoisseurs.

O - by @bigcomedown

You found them in the beaches, you found them on the streets. You even found them in your school. The Alphabet KC scavenger hunt to capture photos of letter-shaped objects found around town is over, and the submissions have been dazzling.

Publitzer Prize

You nominated, the experts judged, and now it's time to vote. It’s been a fast and rollicking road to the final lineup in the first ever Publitzer Prize for Fiction – the Kansas City Public Library’s democratically driven answer to the real Pulitzer committee’s inability to award a prize for fiction for 2012.

After collecting your nominations all week long, on Friday, we posted  the Publitzer readers’ booklist, which featured many thoughtful and compelling comments sent in by lit-lovers like you. It was a fantastic roundup of the fiction books that most resonated with our local reading community this past year. Seriously, if you've been looking for a good new novel to read, look no further.

Publitzer Prize

As our jurors prepare to hunker down and choose the finalists for  the first-ever "Publitzer" Prize for Fiction, it’s time to share what books you, the public, nominated.

Folks who have been following the race know that over the past week, the Kansas City Public Library has been conducting a campaign to undo the wrong wrought by the Pulitzer committee in giving no award for fiction for 2012.

We’ve been asking readers to nominate their favorite works of fiction from 2011, and our jurors would take your nominations and choose three finalists to be put to the vote beginning Monday, April 30.

We wanted you to be the faction that picks the fiction, and that’s exactly what you were. Well done.

As you dig in to what your fellow readers submitted below, check out the jury’s nominations:

Steve Paul

When the Pulitzer Prize board failed to award a prize for fiction this year, we came up with one of our own, the Publitzer Prize. This week, we’re letting you – the public – nominate potential finalists.  But first, our team of expert jurors will share their official nominations.

Last week, when the Pulitzer board failed to reach a majority vote, three finalists were summarily stiffed: The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, and Swamplandia by Karen Russell.

To make up for the Pulitzerian failure, we’re asking  you to nominate your favorite fiction book from 2011 to enter the running for the Publitzer Prize. (Nominate now.)

Because any good fiction contest needs guidance from the experts, we’ve assembled a top-notch team of local literati to help direct the proceedings: Steve Paul of The Kansas City Star, Scott Wilson of The Pitch, novelist Whitney Terrell (New Letters writer-in-residence at UMKC), and our own Kaite Mediatore Stover, director of Readers’ Services.