Your Library is now palm-sized.

Update (October 10, 2011): The mobile app is now available for iPhone, Android, and other mobile devices. Learn more.

Thanks to our brand-new mobile app, smartphone users can now access the Kansas City Public Library from anywhere. From searching the catalog to renewing items, placing holds, and downloading e-books, a bevy of services are available through this totally free app.

The app was built by to our specifications by Boopsie, a leading company in mobile development for libraries. The app is currently available for Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Palm OS, and many other devices. It is not yet available for the iPhone, but it will be very soon. (Stand by, Apple fanboys!)

How to get the app:

  • Android: Launch the Android Market and search for "KC Library."
  • Others: Visit on your mobile device, or scan the QR code below.
  • iPhones: Coming soon.

KC Library mobile app

Comic Book Movies

Sometimes it seems that everything playing at the megaplex was inspired by a comic book superhero. For today’s quiz you need to match the comic book superhero with the various actors who have played him/her on screen...

We all know Emma Lazarus for giving voice to the Statue of Liberty through her sonnet "The New Colossus" (Give me your tired, your poor). But as Esther Schor shows in her enthralling biography of Lazarus, she was a feminist, a Zionist and an internationally famous Jewish-American writer – before those categories even existed.

Aunt Polly

For a brief shining moment in the spring of 1969, I was Aunt Polly. The 8th grade class of St. Peter’s enacted a little play based on some scenes from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. We all got to choose parts, and I petitioned long and hard (it seemed so, for there was heavy resistance) for the part of Aunt Polly.

Who in their right mind would want to be Aunt Polly, you might ask, and me a boy as well?

But I looked on it as a challenge – could I, a 12 year old boy, bring off this crotchety old maid? I felt I was up to the challenge. Besides, I had the outfit already. On the Halloween prior, I decided that I wasn’t going to get dressed up in any of the more typical outfits – superheroes, skeletons, ghosts, the characters in the YMCA song – no, I was going to paint Dorchester, MA, red as an old woman.

And so, when it was announced that we were going to perform some scenes based on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, I figured, “I got the outfit, I’m gonna play the part of Aunt Polly.” As it turned out, I had no such aunt, and my mother had nothing about Aunt Polly about her, but Sr. Joseph Helen, our 8th grade teacher, known to all the students as “Jake” had a lot of Aunt Polly about her, and so I modeled myself on “Jake” and tried to channel Aunt Polly, with a little Jonathan Winters’ Maude Frickert thrown in.

Green Card movie poster

Australian director Peter Weir is recognized for many things. Comedy is not among them. 1990's Green Card, in fact, is Weir's only true comedy in a career that spans more than 40 years. But it's a highly satisfying one.

Benton illustration

One of the greatest artistic collaborations in Missouri history is on display right now at the Central Library. Our exhibit Mark Twain and Tom Benton: Pictures, Prose, and Song features illustrations Benton made for three limited edition Twain novels, along with lithographs by Benton, a record album, first edition Twain books, and portraits of both men.

Cliff Robertson at the Spider-Man premier (2002), Photo by Steve Granitz/

Good looking, versatile and almost impossible to pigeon hole, Cliff Robertson was the kind of actor who left himself behind when he slipped into a role.

Some actors tell us what they are really like (or what they want us to think they are really like) with every performance.

Not Robertson, who died Sept. 10 at his home in Stony Brook, NY at age 88. This native of Los Angeles had a long career in movies and television, yet it was his ability to adapt, to assume the qualities each role required that made him stand apart.

He won the best actor Oscar in 1969 for Charly (he’d picked up an Emmy a couple of years earlier), but his years as a leading man were relatively short. For the last three decades Robertson had kept as busy as he wanted to be with character work, including a recurring role in the hugely popular Spider-Man franchise.

The Kansas City Public Library has on its shelves several noteworthy DVDs of films featuring Robertson. I’d recommend:

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth book cover

In The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth, Alexandra Robbins recounts the lives of six high school students and one new teacher. It's hard to decide which one of the students I grew most fond of: Danielle, the loner; Noah, the band geek; Eli, the nerd; Joy, the new girl; Blue, the gamer; Whitney, the “popular bitch;” or Regan, the weird girl.

Each one, in his or her own way, is a smart and creative individual. With passion for their interests and strong inner feelings, these seven individuals have much to offer.

But in spite of, or maybe because of their talents and individualism, they exist in the “cafeteria fringe.” Even Whitney, who is part of the in-crowd, feels that she has to continually prove herself and fights daily to keep her spot in the party car.

At times I was shocked at the cruelty with which kids treat each other. For years, shy and quiet Danielle has yearned for friendship only to be continually rebuffed. Having just about given up, she is begged by several kids to join a club. Danielle is hesitant, but could not say no to what she thought was a gesture of friendship. Only after she joins is she informed that it's a "hate Danielle" club. She is duped into becoming a member of a club formed to hate her.

Avalon movie poster

Avalon is a movie about becoming an American.

It’s also about losing, little by little, the connections to their previous lives that informed the original generation of immigrants.

Synecdoche, New York screens free on the Rooftop Terrace, Friday, September 16, at 8:45 p.m.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a synecdoche as a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole or the whole for a part...

Keep that in mind while watching Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York (2008).

One of my favorite quotes is: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” That statement from Faulkner’s 1951 novel, Requiem for a Nun, could be said of all of Faulkner’s writing, and for Absalom, Absalom! (1936) especially.

Nowadays it’s OK for movie stars to embrace the names their parents gave them. But back in Hollywood’s heyday actors were given a full makeover by the studio publicity departments, a process that often entailed replacing their unpronounceable or funny-sounding (or just boring) names with snazzy new movie-star monikers.

Oh, Tom Sawyer! Rascal, liar, ladies-boy, wicked heathen … be still my heart. I can still remember my very first encounter with Tom – from my much loved collection of Great Illustrated Classics (my first personal library, maybe?).

I can still picture the cover – Tom strolling regally down the road, barefooted, fishing pole in hand, behind the gingham-clad, blushing Becky Thatcher, steamboat in the background.

Nothing may have influenced my childhood more than the time spent poring over Tom’s adventures. It may even be the first chapter book I put my mind to. Well, that, or The Baby-sitters Club.

Still. Tom and Becky, Injun Joe, Amy Lawrence, Huck, Aunt Polly – from childhood, my conception of classic Americana owes a great debt to these characters. Every woman in a high collar and bun could be a Polly; every straw-hatted little boy becomes Tom. They inform my perception of everything from the idea of running away from home to roadside attractions (for who but a Tom-like character could conceive of charging $13.50 a carload to see giant cement busts of presidents?).

Goodbye Solo movie poster

In this era of anti-immigration rhetoric, it’s sometimes useful to consider what a newcomer to the U.S. brings to the table — namely a sense of enthusiasm and hope.

Dear Fellow Library Enthusiast,
It’s that time again. Fall is upon us, which means your Library is about to embark on another season of presenting, if I may be so bold, an extensive schedule of simply extraordinary public programs.

All of our programs are admission free, thanks to a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, plus additional support from like-minded donors and our increasing ability to obtain competitively-awarded grants.

If you’re one of our growing band of regulars, we look forward to seeing you, well, regularly. If you’re not, well, what are you waiting for? Your Library has become one of Kansas City’s leading venues for engaging presentations by leading authors as well as a forum for civic engagement and public dialogue. It’s the place to be, this fall more than ever.