The Kansas City community lost an iconic writer this past week. Charles W. Gusewelle died Tuesday, November 15th at age 83. He wrote for The Kansas City Star for six decades. A few years ago, Gusewelle took part in the Library’s Dial-A-Story program. He recorded a child’s version of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. We are posting this encore reading in celebration of Charles Gusewelle’s life.

Listen to the story » (mp3)

Gerard Manley Hopkins; W. H. Gardner (Introduction by)

When I think of verse in English in the 19th century, what generally comes to mind is the fairly regular verse of people like the Romantic poets, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley and Byron, or the even more regular verse of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in America, or Alfred Lord Tennyson in Britain. But there are three poets who really break the mold, and set the stage for the modern poetry of the 20th century – these are Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman in America, and Gerard Manley Hopkins in Britain.  Of the three, only Whitman was recognized in his day as a poet.  Dickinson’s and Hopkins’ verse was primarily published posthumously.  Dickinson was an intensely private person, while Hopkins saw his verse as something ego-driven, and as a Jesuit, he felt he needed to keep his ego in check, even though, as a poet, he yearned for an audience.

When he was still at Oxford, and prior to his conversion to Roman Catholicism, Hopkins listed poetry as something he needed to give up for Lent.  There was something luxurious about verse which spoke to Hopkins, but which ran counter to the drive in many Catholics (and perhaps especially to those who convert) to pare away the extras in life.  I think we can all be grateful that Hopkins was not fully able to restrain his enthusiasm or his poetic impulse.  For this man who felt torn between the fervor of religious impulse and a desire for simplicity was very much a man of passion, and that passion comes forth in his verse.  And for those who were raised Catholic, it is passion that speaks to us of the divine much more compellingly than strictures and structures. 

And there was, in Hopkins, as a poet, a resistance to the structures he inherited.  The English poetic tradition from the time of Chaucer on was marked by fixed metrical patterns (often the iambic pentameter).  This form gives to poets like Tennyson, and even more so, to Longfellow, a regularity that is comforting to some, numbing to others.  Hopkins looked to the verse patterns of the Anglo-Saxon world for inspiration.  In Anglo-Saxon poetry, each line is marked by four strong stresses, with any number of unstressed syllables in addition.  You very much can hear the beat in an Anglo-Saxon poem like Beowulf, even if the number of syllables from line to line is not the same.  In addition, he liked the trochaic meter of folk verse (stressed syllable followed by unstressed, the reverse of iambic meter).  And from these two inclinations, he developed what he called “sprung rhythm,” as opposed to the “running rhythm” of conventional English poetry of the day.  Starting on the beat and having a more fluid sense of the line results in poetry that commands our attention.  We are not lulled into a comforting numbness by Hopkins’ verse.  And, to my way of thinking, poetry that grabs our attention and holds it is poetry of a high level indeed.

Hopkins’ most famous poem, “God’s Grandeur,” is an example of a curtal sonnet, a form Hopkins invented.  Taking the Petrarchan Sonnet form (8 lines followed by 6 lines) and reducing it by a quarter, we have a poem with a six line section followed by a four and a half line section. 
You can hear and see Stanley Kunitz, a great American poet, recite and talk about “God’s Grandeur” as part of Robert Pinsky’s “Favorite Poem Project.”  The video is available on YouTube.  You can find much of Hopkins’ verse at Poetry Foundation,  Poem HunterAcademy of American PoetsBartleby, and Gutenberg.

You can also listen to Jeremy Northam read a couple of dozen of Hopkins’ best poems by going to Hoopla  and borrowing the audio file.  And, in the case of Hopkins, you really owe it to yourself to hear the poems read aloud, especially by someone who knows how to read verse.


About the Author

Bernard Norcott-Mahany, a library technical assistant at the Lucile H. Bluford Branch, is our resident connoisseur of classic literature. He is also the leader of the Black Classics and In the Heat of the Night book groups.

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The Kansas City Public Library has been making a lot of changes recently that are improving the experience for you, our patrons.

First, we updated our website. Next, we began implementing a new tagging system for library materials. And now we are changing our online catalog system. 

The catalog allows you to search our materials, place holds on items, and manage your account. The system will allow you to interact with our library staff more easily, create themed lists, review books, and share your recommendations within the library community.

The same software is used in neighboring Johnson County, Olathe, and Mid-Continent libraries (coming January 2017) which will facilitate an exciting digital collaboration coming to fruition next year. 

Starting immediately, you can gain access to the new system by logging into an existing library account. You’ll then be asked to register by creating a username and entering an email address. If you have accounts at more than one of the partnering libraries and have used the same email address, you’ll be asked if you’d like to link the accounts, allowing you to easily toggle back and forth between search results for each library.

Registration is simplified for children under 13. They are asked to pick a favorite animal and favorite color, and the system combines the two to create a unique username.

Once registered for our new online catalog, you’ll be able to do all sorts of fun and interactive things:
  • Create and share reading lists.
  • "Follow" your friends and coworkers and get updates about what they are reading.
  • Keep track of books you want to read.
  • Rate and review titles that you've read.
  • See activity from all other system users across North America.

The catalog can easily be viewed on mobile devices.

The new library catalog system is called BiblioCommons, and it isn’t just regional. It is used by some of the largest and most prestigious public library systems in North America – from Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and Austin to Hennepin County (Minnesota), Multnomah County (Oregon), Brooklyn, Edmonton, and Vancouver. Other regional libraries in Lawrence, Columbia, St. Louis, and Omaha use the same product.

To begin testing out our new catalog, click here.

Image courtesy KCPT

, a new program from KCPT-TV, is an ongoing conversation about ideas, books, characters, and the absorbing issues of our times. The title comes from William Gilpin, a 19th-century mapmaker and early booster of Kansas City, who believed that civilization’s capital would be an area of greater Kansas City he called “Centropolis.”

Each week, the host of Centropolis, Kansas City Public Library Director Crosby Kemper III, and his guests explore topics ranging from current events to arts and culture. In the first episode, Mike Allen, outgoing chief political reporter for Politico, discusses Politico and his “next big thing.” Other guests include Candice Millard, author of the best-selling River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic; Whitney Terrell, Kansas City novelist and journalist; and David Von Drehle,  TIME magazine editor-at-large.

The series airs Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. from Oct. 27 through Nov. 17 on KCPT.


Mike Allen | October 27

Less than 100 days before Americans were scheduled to go to the polls, Kemper sat down with former Politico writer Mike Allen to discuss what has been one of the most extraordinary election years in our nation’s history.

David Von Drehle | November 3

Journalist David Von Drehle talks about politics, the history of media in elections, and his book Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year.

Candice Millard | November 10

Best-selling Kansas City author Candice Millard talks about her books The River of Doubt, about a perilous journey taken by Theodore Roosevelt, and Destiny of the Republic, about a medical debacle and the assassination of President James Garfield.  And she spotlights her latest book, Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill.

Whitney Terrell | November 17

Whitney Terrell, an assistant professor in creative writing at UMKC, discusses his three novels The Huntsman, The King of Kings County, and his recently released The Good Lieutenant.

Full episodes:

Or watch them on YouTube.
Kansas City Public Library has been selected by Peer to Peer University to participate in the next phase of its global expansion. They successfully piloted a learning format called Learning Circles in the Chicago Public Library system in 2015. Based on the successes and lessons learned from that program, it’s our turn now!
Learning Circles are lightly-facilitated study groups for learners who want to take freely available online courses together, in-person. As part of the Library’s plan to narrow the digital divide for Kansas City adults, we will facilitate digital skills Learning Circles at select Library locations this fall—Bluford and Central.
The course is called “Make the Internet Work for You!” Each Tuesday we will learn a different topic including, basic internet navigation and searching, how to use tools like email, maps, and social media and internet security and safety. Our primary source of content will be, an open access education source featured on Kansas City Public Library’s website.
Learning Circles will meet for 1.5 hours weekly on Tuesdays in the mornings at Central (from 10-11:30 a.m.) and in the afternoons at Bluford (from 1-2:30 p.m.) We will provide a facilitator, computers, and other necessary equipment for learners. (BONUS: Learning Circles will be the first program to utilize our mobile digital learning lab - a fleet of laptops and projectors - made possible through a recent state library grant.)
We are accepting applications from now to November 11 for our first LC’s that will begin Tuesday, November 15 and run through Tuesday, December 13. Successful applicants will have an understanding of basic computer skills—using a mouse, clicking on icons, etc. We will notify applicants that they have been accepted within 3 business days of their application via the phone or email they provided in the process.

Here are the application links for Bluford and Central
Graduation packages will be provided for learners upon completion of the course and will include a 31-day KC bus pass, $5 library printing credit, a flash drive, and ear buds. Learners must be able to attend ALL 5 SESSIONS to be eligible for the graduation package. No exceptions. IF applicants think they cannot attend all sessions, they should wait for the next learning circle opportunity so someone else can have the slot.
From the outside, Herman Lang’s scrapbook looks like any other nondescript, old book.  He created it a little over a century ago as a record of one his hobbies.  However, this is no ordinary scrapbook.  Inside, it contains a story of adventure, suspected espionage, and balloons. 

Yes, balloons.

Piloting hot air balloons had become a popular hobby by the beginning of the 20th century, leading to the creation of “aero clubs” in many of the larger cities in Europe and North America.  Kansas City was no exception.  Founded in 1909, the Kansas City Aero Club was one of the more active ballooning groups in the country at the time.  It routinely organized competitions and publicized the sport.  In 1912, Herman Lang, a member of the club, was asked to serve as the aide to H. E. Honeywell in Honeywell’s balloon, Uncle Sam, at the Gordon Bennett International Balloon Race in Stuttgart, Germany.  Lang would use his scrapbook to chronicle the journey, inserting photographs, postcards, maps, documents, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and ephemera collected along the way.
The race began October 27, 1912.  The rules were simple: The balloon traveling the farthest from the launch point in Stuttgart would win.  Up to three balloons per country could enter, each staffed by a pilot and an aide.  Twenty balloons competed that year, representing the U.S., Belgium, Denmark, Germany, England, France, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland.  

Uncle Sam was the last balloon to launch from the Stuttgart field.  According to Lang, “It is considered the later you get up in the race the luckier you are… It was a beautiful sight to see, some in this direction, some in that, seeking for air currents they hoped to find, that would carry them in the desired direction.”   
Lang and Honeywell floated along easily for the next couple of days.  They regularly called out to people on the ground to track where they were, enjoyed the lovely scenery, and signaled to other balloons with search lights at night.  However, after 38 hours and 10 minutes in the air and covering 1116 miles, Uncle Sam crashed landed onto a group of trees in Russia.

The landing was the result of a storm.  Wind and rain covered the balloon in ice until it could no longer stay aloft.  Lang and Honeywell attempted to communicate with the locals who gathered at the crash site, but they could not speak Russian and none of the Russians spoke English or German.  So they relied on sign language and drew pictures to get their point across.  One of the locals walked them to the nearest train station, which was run by the Russian military.
Their luck changed a bit at the station.  The woman who ran the café there happened to speak English and was more than happy to translate for them.  Lang and Honeywell presented their passports for examination and went back to pack up the balloon to be shipped back to Germany.
The Uncle Sam crew was allowed to board a train heading west out of the country later that day.  That is, until a few hours later, when they were awakened, arrested by the Russian military, and placed on another train heading east.  Upon arriving at the next station, they were questioned and searched.  Officers found and confiscated Honeywell’s Kodak camera and Lang’s revolver and, suspecting they were spies, detained them until their passports could be cleared by the office in St. Petersburg.  Finally, on November 1, 1912, after spending three nights in various train stations, Lang and Honeywell received word that they were free to go.  They took a train to the Russian border, crossed into Germany, made their way to Berlin, and sent telegrams home announcing they were safe. 
Uncle Sam took third place in the Gordon Bennett Race, and the crew received a warm welcome when they returned to the U.S.  Lang became something of a celebrity, often speaking in front of large groups around the country about his adventures.  And then, of course, he also recorded them in his scrapbook.

The Herman Lang Scrapbook was donated to Missouri Valley Special Collections in May 2016 by a grandson of Herman Lang.  It is extremely fragile and is currently available by appointment only.  Please contact or 816.701.3427 for more information.

Written by: Kate Hill, Senior Archivist, Missouri Valley Special Collections.


The Kansas City Public Library will begin temporarily closing its branches in early November 2016 to upgrade its checkout system. The staggered closures will allow staffers to install new Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags on books and other materials available to patrons. The process will last into early 2017.
RFID tags allow the library to:
  • Enhance the customer experience: Checkouts will be faster and more streamlined. Patrons can check out multiple items with a single swipe.
  • Make better use of staff time: RFID tags will reduce the amount of time it takes for staff to scan materials, allowing librarians to spend more time serving customers.
  • Implement a more effective inventory control system: RFID tags enhance our data collection efforts and with that, help us to be better informed in selecting new materials.
All told, some 800,000 items must be tagged. During this time, patrons may see a delay with their library holds, but all e-books and other digital materials will still be available. Patrons will not have to change anything about their account once the changes are in place.
“We really do hate closing Library branches for any amount of time, but leaving branches open would prolong a process that now takes only a few weeks to a few months or would cost us more by hiring temporary staff to complete the tagging,” says Joel Jones, Deputy Director of Library Services. “It is important to remember that we are only closing one location at time and even if a patron’s home branch is closed for a few days other KCPL branches will be open and ready to serve.”

During this time, Library staff will also be evaluating, updating and refreshing collections at all locations. Expect to see new titles, better organized shelves and updated, topical selections when libraries re-open.
Tagging will be completed in early March. The Central Library will not completely close; instead staff will close individual sections for brief periods of time while they tag materials.

These dates for location closures are subject to change:
Branch Location Closing Dates
Irene H. Ruiz Branch, 2017 West Pennway St. November 1 - 3
Westport Branch, 118 Westport Rd. January 17 – 19
Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St. January 23 – 29
Waldo Branch, 201 East 75th St. January 31 – February 4
Southeast Branch, 6242 Swope Parkway February 7 – 10
Lucile H. Bluford Branch, 3050 Prospect February 14 – 16
North-East Branch, 6000 Wilson Rd. February 21 – 24
Trails West, 11401 East 23rd St., Independence February 28 – March 4
Sugar Creek, 102 South Sterling, Sugar Creek March 7 - 8
The Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., will remain open during the tagging period from November 8 – January 6, however, sections of the building will be closed to the public for brief intervals. The children’s section will be closed December 12 -16, and the AV section will be closed January 2 – 6.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What are RFID tags?
A: Radio Frequency IDentification is a combination of radio frequency-based technology and microchip technology. The information contained on microchips in the tags affixed to library materials is read using radio frequency technology regardless of item orientation or alignment.
2. Why are you moving to this new system?
A. Besides the increased efficiency and speed, RFID tags last longer than barcodes because nothing comes in contact with them.
3. Do I have to change my account log in or get a new library card?
A. No. Your account information will stay the same with the new technology.
4. Will I still be able to access my library holds during the shutdown?
A. During this time, patrons may experience delays with items placed on hold. Pickup times will be extended in line with locations’ closing periods.
5. Why can’t my branch be closed at a different time of year?
A: Our Library Services team examined our checkout data, and we tend to have the lowest amount of physical materials checked out from our branch locations during the cold weather months.
6. Do other libraries have this same technology?
A. RFID tags are used in many libraries across the country, including Johnson County Library, Mid-Continent Public Library, and Kansas City, KS Public Library. By having the same technology, RFID opens up opportunities for increased cooperation and material sharing between these library systems.                   
Matsuo Basho; Sam Hamill (Translator)

Basho is famous as a composer of haiku. Some even suggest he invented the form, though he did not. One of his most famous works is Oku No Hosomichi (trans. as The Narrow Road to the Interior). This work is considered one of the masterpieces of classical Japanese literature. In form, the work is an haibun, a mixture of prose and haiku. It is an impressionistic journal of a journey Basho made, mostly on foot, in the Spring of 1689. Over the course of 156 days, he traversed about 1500 miles. At the conclusion of his journey from Edo (Tokyo) to the north, and back again, he spent five years refining and completing the work for publication. There are people who go to Japan to retrace Basho’s steps. Given the great changes from Japan of 1689 to Japan in the 21st century, this is impossible in any real sense. In any event, we are not Basho and cannot replicate what happened to him over 400 years ago. But we can appreciate his own depiction of that experience. It is unclear whether Basho attained enlightenment, but, in his haiku, and his other verse, he does aim at the annihilation of subject and object that is key to enlightenment. Haiku is all about the distilling of experience to its essence and somehow summoning the moment that led to an “aha!” moment.

The library contains this work, together with some of Basho’s other haibu and selected haiku, in The Essential Basho, trans. By Sam Hamill.

The opening paragraph of The Narrow Road is famous and is worth presenting in its entirety:

The moon and the sun are eternal travelers. Even the years wander on. A lifetime adrift in a boat, or in old age leading a tired horse into the years, every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. From the earliest times there have always been some who perished along the road. Still I have always been drawn by wind-blown clouds into dreams of a lifetime of wandering. Coming home from a year’s walking tour of the coast last autumn, I swept the cobwebs from my hut on the banks of the Sumida just in time for New Year, but by the time spring mists began to rise from the fields, I longed to cross the Shirakawa Barrier into the Northern Interior. Drawn by the wanderer-spirit Dosojin, I couldn’t concentrate on things. Mending my cotton-pants, sewing a new strap on my bamboo hat, I daydreamed. Rubbing moxa into my legs to strengthen them, I dreamed a bright moon rising over Matsushima. So I placed my house in another’s hands and moved to my patron Mr. Sampu’s summer house in preparation for my journey. And I left a verse by my door:

Even this grass hut
May be transformed
Into a doll’s house (Trans. Sam Hamill)

Haiku and Basho’s haibun also exemplify the spirit of mono no aware (lit. the “pathos of things”), a Japanese awareness and sensitivity to the ephemeral nature of life and beauty. This awareness of the evanescence of the world of the senses, and its beauty is strong in Japanese culture. It can be seen in the annual cherry blossom festivals in Japan (held in different locations at different times from late March into early May). When the cherry blossom comes into bloom, people will take a day for picnics with family and friends, or simply use the day to sit in wonder at the beautiful pink blossoms which blow away in the wind – the beauty of the blossoms is very finite and consequently very dear. The following quotation from The Narrow Road captures a sense of that:

“With every pilgrimage one encounters the temporality of life.” (Trans. Hamill)

Though haiku is aimed at capturing a sense of the newness of experience, Basho’s travel works also show an awareness that his own special experience is sparked by the same source as inspired people in the past, as the following haiku suggests:

“Transparent moonlight
just as it shone when Yugyo
carried sand to the shrine.” (Trans. Hamill)

In fact, though such transitory experience is just that – transitory – one can fix it, in a way, in verse, and fixed, that experience can be caught for generations yet to come. And, in going on a pilgrimage, Basho visits famous places which previous poets captured in verbal snapshots. In fact, the hope to make that connection is a reason for going on pilgrimage.

“Such a moment is the reason for a pilgrimage: infirmities forgotten, the ancients remembered, joyous tears trembled in my eyes.” (Trans. Hamill)

Ultimately, though, words fail to capture everything from any experience, or fail to adequately describe all the wonder of the world, even though that does not keep Basho from trying himself and calling to mind his predecessors who tried to do so. In that very attempt, the poem presents is own beauty.

“Whose words or brush could adequately describe a world so divinely inspired?” (Trans. Hamill)

And sometimes, the resultant beauty can capture beautifully discordant juxtapositions, such as when, looking at a soldier’s helmet in a graveyard, Basho becomes aware of a cricket chirping underneath the helmet, his sound amplified. This mix of comic with melancholy produces the following:

“Pitifully – under
a great soldier’s empty helmet,
a cricket sings.” (Trans. Hamill)

Of course, as someone who does not know Japanese, there’ll always be more that I (or others like me) miss in reading Japanese verse in translation. That said, there would be even more I’d miss if I didn’t make Basho’s acquaintance and go with him on his journey.
The library contains this work, together with some of Basho’s other haibu and selected haiku, in The Essential Basho, trans. by Sam Hamill. There is also a nice translation online by Tim Chilcott. You can find that at

About the Author

Bernard Norcott-Mahany, a library technical assistant at the Lucile H. Bluford Branch, is our resident connoisseur of classic literature. He is also the leader of the Black Classics and In the Heat of the Night book groups.

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Do you have your child's favorite book memorized? Kids love to hear the same story over, and over, and OVER again. And again. And again. (Do you see the pattern here?)

In our household, when my daughter was a toddler her beloved book was Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton You can tell from the photo that it was much-loved, and it was not a library copy. I can't swear that I recited it in my sleep, but I probably could have. I know that I performed it, verbatim, for pretty much whoever was willing to listen to me.

There is a reason why kids adore repetition. It builds their brains. Neural connections get stronger by being exposed to the same information time after time after time. A 2015 study at the University of Maryland showed better vocabulary scores for two-year-old kids who had specific words repeated to them when they were seven-month-olds than the outcomes for their peers who didn't experience the repeated phrases as babies.

This doesn't just mean books. It means rhymes, poems, songs. Recently, a ten-month-old named Derrick visited the Kansas City Public Library's Central Library. He lives in the Houston area. His mom told me that he loves hearing "Pat-a-Cake" and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." When I sang the second song with gestures, Derrick looked at me with wide eyes and a smile. I enchanted the fellow. He was far from home, yet the library lady knew one of his favorite songs!

The love of language and familiarity continues as kids age. Books that rhyme and that she can remember are among the favorites for for three-year-old Avery, according to her dad. She also is a fan of all things Doc McStuffins.

Favorite characters help bridge the gap between other media and books. They also can motivate understanding for how a story works. The concepts of beginning, middle, and end, rising action, conflict, and resolution are all easier to see modeled than to learn from a textbook. For my daughter, she learned these elements from Scooby Doo. Although the details changed, every plot was basically identical. When I told Sal, a five year old at the Central Library about this, he agreed that he likes Scooby Doo. He is also a fan of Pokemon and Lego.

Sal's parents do not stop there. His mom says that the read a section every night with him and his seven-year-old sibling, Josephine. A 2015 New York Times article speaks to the importance of this for family bonding and for fostering a life-long love of reading. What do they read? Sal's mother says that lately they have been enjoying Roald Dahl favorites like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Although these books can be dark, the kids are not reporting nightmares. If they do, the parents will find something else.

So, kids love the familiar. Be it the same rhyme or song, repeated picture books, beloved characters, the same series, or the same style- indulge them. Yes, it can make the grown-ups feel a bit nuts at times. The benefits outweigh that, and they will soon move on to a new obsession anyhow.


What is an archivist? What do archivists do? And what exactly are the Missouri Valley Special Collections? If you have ever pondered these questions, now is your chance to #AskAnArchivist! 

Archivists turn this:     

Into this:

And turn this:

Into this:

What is #AskAnArchivist Day?

It is an opportunity for the public to ask about the what, how, and why of being an archivist in the Missouri Valley Special Collections, as well as any questions about visiting the room or doing research using our local history resources. It also provides us with a valuable opportunity to hear about your interests and discover new ways to serve our patrons.

How does it work?

On October 5th, as part of American Archives Month, archivists around the country will take to social media to respond to questions tweeted with the hashtag #AskAnArchivist. If you are interested in participating, please send us your questions on Facebook and Twitter on October 5th by including the #AskAnArchivist hashtag and tagging @KCLibrary.

Not sure what to ask? 
Here are some examples to help with the brainstorming:
  • How do I take care of my old family photos?
  • I drive by this old building every day at [address] and have always wondered about it.  What did it used to be?
  • How do I research the history of my house?
  • My grandmother went to high school in Kansas City in the 1920s.  Do you have her yearbook?
  • What’s the strangest item in Missouri Valley Special Collections?
  • How does someone become an archivist?
  • What’s the deal with all those gray boxes in the photos?

By Kara Evans, Kate Hill, and Joanna Marsh, Special Collections Librarians/Archivists

On Tuesday, September 27, 2016, the Kansas City Public Library is proud to serve as a registration location for National Voter Registration Day.

National Voter Registration Day is a nationwide initiative designed to enhance awareness of voter registration opportunities. Staff members and volunteers will be on hand at all Library locations to register Missouri residents in the weeks leading up to the October 12 registration deadline.

Registrants must meet Missouri guidelines, and need to provide a Missouri driver's license or state-issued ID, Social Security Number, and birthdate.

Registration is free, and will take place during the Library's normal business hours. For hours at specific locations, go to

National Voter Registration Day was established in 2012 to ensure that no intending voter is left out. Six million Americans said they hadn't voted four years earlier as a result of missing the registration deadline or not knowing how to register.

People need to (re)register to vote if:
  • They have not registered before
  • They change their name
  • They move
  • They want to change their party affiliation
  • They complete a felony sentence

If you're not sure whether you are registered to vote, or if your registration is active, here are the links to check for Missouri and Kansas voters. It only takes a second!

Special happenings at our locations:
  • Plaza: The League of Women Voters will be registering patrons to vote from noon-4 p.m.
  • Westport: Will have a Registration Hydration Station where staff will be handing out water to all registering voters. They will also be doing a special “voting” themed children's story time at 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.
  • North-East: Look for special bottles of water advertising our Library's services! The Northeast Chamber may also have volunteers on-hand to help register voters at the branch.
  • Ruiz: Once you registers to vote, you could get a small American flag or special red/white/blue packaged Double Bubble gum. This branch will also have photo prop masks of several American presidents that participants can take pictures in and those pictures can go up on the library's bulletin board. Ruiz employees will also be compiling answers to a few questions: Why are you voting? Why do you think voting is important? 
  • Trails West: Just look for the red, white, and blue decorated table! After you register to vote, make sure to grab some candy or mints. Also check out the ballot for books/movies and adult coloring sheets.

By Laura McCallister, Digital Content Specialist, and Courtney Lewis, Media Relations Coordinator
After much hard work and planning, we are proud to unveil the Kansas City Public Library’s new and improved website.
Group celebration, yes!
Its official launch Friday, September 23, offers a more mobile-friendly user experience and reflects extensive research into what patrons are seeking from In short: we made it easier to help you find what you need, when you need it.
Our old website was created over eight years ago and needed a reboot to make it easier for patrons and staff to use. It also did not adapt well to mobile devices. The new website changes its layout to accommodate screens of any size and shape. Now you can access the full spectrum of the Library’s resources and services, search for events and activities, find books, movies, music, and more.  
Other notable features or improvements:
  • An enhanced Readers Services page, including a new personalized reading profile form that gives you custom recommendations curated by our rock star librarians.
  • A more robust Books section, where you can browse by new arrivals, genres, or your reading preference – hard copy, eBook, audiobook, or large print.
  • New Kids and Teens pages where parents and youth can find all sorts of great content.
  • Each Library location now has its own page highlighting its unique activities and events.
  • Improved access and organization of the digital databases and special resources.
  • The entire site is now easy to use with your phone or tablet; no special apps needed.
  • You can look forward to a brand new online catalog and updated local history website in the coming weeks. 

The Library actually has offered a “sneak peek” at the new website since August 30, soliciting feedback from users. Three-quarters were happy with the change, saying it bettered their browsing and searching experience. Many appreciated the cleaner, less cluttered, more up-to-date look. “The layout is wonderful, much more inviting and engaging!” said one. “Thank you all!”
To those worried about losing content from the old site: Do not fret. Everything’s still there and then some. And the old site will still be accessible for a limited time, because we recognize change can be hard. You can still pay respects at until December 1, 2016.
The Library is doing so many great things, and we needed a more flexible website to navigate its array of programs, services, and initiatives without overwhelming users. We believe the new does that, and we hope you do too. 

By Laura McCallister, Digital Content Specialist

Do you want to make a difference in Kansas City?

The Kansas City Public Library has a few spots open for teenagers to join the Teen Leaders of Today! These volunteer positions have helped the library organize and staff some of the biggest teen programs happening in Kansas City!

Teen Council member will receive training and mentorship from some of the best youth advocates in Kansas City and will:

  • Learn how to market with social media
  • Create impactful online videos
  • Help develop more effective teen programs
  • Be the driving force behind our summer programs
  • Help manage our Teen Space and YA book collection
  • Learn about media literacy and research
  • Become powerful advocates for education and the library

Does this sound like something you want to be involved in? Then apply today! Applications are due by the end of August! There are three sessions each year: 1st semester, 2nd semester, and summer. The Council will meet once a week and will be required to attend most of our large events. Council members will be expected to work an average of 5 hours per week. We are looking for all skill sets and all backgrounds. Even if you don’t have a lot of experience we still want you to apply! Spots are limited!


Delilah S. Dawson

Strike by Delilah S. Dawson

publication date: 2016
pages: 470
ISBN: 978-1-4814-2342-7

Strike was the action-packed sequel to Delilah S. Dawson's 2015 book Hit. Strike began with the main character, Patsy, on the run from her past, her employer, and the pseudo-government. She was also on the run from herself: experiencing guilt and PTSD after killing people to keep herself alive.

Although Patsy struggled with her ethics, she was definitely one of the good guys in this quasi-dystopian very near future. Her and her boyfriend, Wyatt, were caught between Valor Bank – an omnipresent, violent entity that used people's debts and credit cards against them – and Citizens for Freedom – the citizens militia that was using unscrupulous methods to stop Valor Bank.

The book was full of action but kind of read like a video game. Patsy was literally sent on missions by Citizens for Freedom that needed to be accomplished before she could move on or get something she wanted. This set-up grew tiresome but generally the action was good and drama-filled.

There also was a very clear moral to the story. Patsy's problems were caused by Valor Bank, which was executing a violent but covert coup by threatening people's families and calling in debt. Valor used people's reliance on credit cards and their unwillingness to read Terms & Conditions to manipulate them into doing their bidding. The author used this plot to demonstrate the unfairness of debt and the stupidity of relying on companies to help us spend our money. That's a moral I personally agreed with but it was very heavy-handed and came up on almost every other page.

I generally liked how Dawson presented Patsy's character. Patsy was kickass and independent and wanted to solve her problems on her own. But that also meant she sometimes felt alone and grappled with the terrible things – like murder – she did to protect herself and her family. Patsy had insomnia and an inability to connect with anyone she didn't trust completely. Those seemed like realistic responses to guilt and death. Another thing I liked about Patsy was her sexual agency. She knew what she wanted and generally didn't wait for someone else to lead or make the first move. So many times in YA the main female character waits around for the guy to want it and to initiate it.

However, the book could be inconsistent. Even as Patsy was battling with her role as murderer, the book itself didn't seem to take death very seriously. Characters killed each other without much comment or much discussion. The writing could be good but sometimes it simply didn't make any sense. Also, the final scheme by Valor was lame and pointless.

This fast-paced read reminded me of Divergent, although without a robust supporting cast like that book had. It had a strong-willed, sometimes unlikable main character who made tough, violent judgments in a world that was not of her choosing.

4/6: worth reading

Messages bombard you constantly. At the recent KC Youth Services Summit, Teen Librarian Wick Thomas shared that teens see an average of 3,000 advertisements a day. He got that statistic from SF Environment: A Department of the City and County of San Francisco Somebody else is spending a lot of money in the hopes that they can make you spend even more money than you already are.

What is cool? What is everybody doing? What do you need to have to be cool? What do you need to do to be like everyone else? You get the idea. It is really hard to not be impacted by what other people tell you about these things. When one person started the McDonald’s jingle, we all “bum-bum-bum”ed along and finished up with “I’m lovin’ it.” Scary.

Generation Like from 2014 is a Frontline documentary on PBS about how social media impacts teenagers. The show’s profile asks “But is that real empowerment? Or do marketers still hold the upper hand?” Exactly.

We have a couple of terrific books to check your reality. One by Mara Rockliff is Get Real: What kind of world are you buying? Especially the second chapter in that, “Scammed,” focuses on advertising’s influence on us. A more general book is Follow Your Money: Who gets it, who spends it, and where does it go? by Kevin Sylvester and Michael Hlinka.

Sometimes, this can seem overwhelming. You have power, though. You choose what to wear, what to listen to, what to buy. You choose what to tell your friends. The force of “like” is a force that you wield. You are reading this, so you are obviously aware of the Kansas City Public Library’s digital presence. Show the world how important we are to you. Like us on Facebook , and follow us on twitter @kclibraryteens.