KC Public Library Blog

Book Reviews

Book Review: Lies My Teacher Told Me

Lies My Teacher Told Me - Loewen

Have you ever wondered whether history books were telling the truth? James W. Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me sheds some new light on American history – and how high school textbooks are getting it wrong. Loewen speaks on misconceptions about slavery and the Underground Railroad on Thursday, July 29, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library.

Learn Something

Open Up and Say Ahhh: The 10 All-Time Greatest Poisonings

Death of Socrates (detail) by Jacques-Louis David

The good. The bad. The thirsty. In honor of Adrienne Mayor’s arrival on Thursday, July 22, to present her book The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the most famous cases of poisoning in history and literature.

Featured Authors

Book Review: The Poison King

Poison King Adrienne Mayor

Charismatic, brave and ruthless, the first century B.C. Persian king Mithradates was a master of warfare and toxicology who nearly brought the Roman Empire down. Adrienne Mayor’s The Poison King is a stunning portrait of the greatest ruler time forgot. Mayor will discuss her book this Thursday, July 22, at the Central Library.

Featured Authors

Book Review: The Facebook Effect

With more than 400 million users, Facebook is changing the way the world communicates. David Kirkpatrick’s new book, The Facebook Effect, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the world's biggest social network.

Artsy Films

Summer Hours

I’m often pegged as a cynic, but I’ll have you know that I can appreciate some fine art as much as the next guy. Just the other day I was watching Olivier Assayas’s Summer Hours (2008), and I found myself thinking about the nature of art, creative processes, how folks regard items of beauty . . . all that kind of stuff. In a nutshell, the film follows three siblings as they attempt to find a mutually-accommodating way to manage a rather extensive art collection left to them by their recently deceased mother. That’s the gist of Assayas’s script, however through his characters he addresses themes such as how artwork should be used and displayed, its worth across generations, and the differences between old-timey and newfangled what have yous. Thinking of these things caused me to recollect some of my favorite films depicting creative types doing and making stuff that generally makes me happy. Here goes nothing ...

East and Central High School's GreatStories Club Reviews

East and Central High School’s Book Clubs and Mary Thompson, Youth Librarian for the Kansas City Public Library - Bluford Branch, participated in YALSA's Great Stories CLUB (Connecting Libraries, Underserved teens and Books). The book club was created to provide teens with an opportunity to read and discuss books that are relevant to the changes in their lives and the lives of their peers.

"A Rage in Harlem"

On 11 March, Kaite Stover led a group in discussing Chester Himes' seminal mystery novel, "A Rage in Harlem." Published in 1957, the novel is the first to feature Himes' two Harlem police detectives, Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson. We had a spirited discussion, with participants bringing a lot of their personal knowledge about the South (though the story is set in Harlem, a lot of the backstory is set in Mississippi). This was part of the Winter Reading Program and part of the Bluford Grand Re-opening.

The Amazing Adam Rex

Do you know someone who can write, draw, and they’re funny, too? Wow!

One of my favorites is Adam Rex. For a good giggle, check out The True Meaning of Smekday to find out what life is like on Earth when aliens (called the Boov) take over, or try Pssst! - and discover what happens when zoo animals make unusual demands.

Bluford Branch Reopens

After undergoing a $1.3 million renovation, the Lucile H. Bluford Branch of the Kansas City Public Library is now open to the public.

In the process of the renovation, the branch has tripled its number of available computers to 57 while pushing its overall collection, to primarily showcase the work of black authors, to 38,000 titles.

Visually, the branch boasts the unique Lucile H. Bluford exhibit, an engaging display of 10 glass panels featuring rarely seen photos of the people, places, and events Miss Bluford shaped through her seven decade career.

Miss Bluford, a pioneering civil rights activist and longtime editor of The Kansas City Call, used her journalistic talents to champion civil rights and strengthen the African-American community. She refused to give up on the issues and people she cared about, and through her tireless efforts effected positive change that continues to influence Kansas City today. The exhibit chronicles her life from her early days as a child living just blocks from the present-day branch, her role in dismantling educational discrimination, and her long and distinguished career at The Kansas City Call.

In addition to the exhibit, inspirational quotes from national and historic leaders can be seen in the lobby. Patrons can also learn the history of the east Kansas City community as told through Neighborhood Notables, a 17-panel display interpreting the lives and accomplishments of influential citizens who lived and worked in the neighborhood, ranging from poet Melvin Tolson to activist Bernard Powell to former mayor, Ilus W. Davis.

Aside from the aesthetic and tangible improvements, the branch is working to develop programs through flourishing community partnerships.

Among these is an ambitious effort involving Truman Medical Centers and Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley. The organizations are working on a health initiative that involves an online portal in the branch as well as Text-a-Nurse for teens, both coming in summer 2010. Text-a-Nurse will allow teens to text medical questions to a qualified nurse during scheduled hours. The partners are also exploring ways in which teen patrons of the branch can participate in a wide variety of internships in the health industry.

Another community partner is KCUR 89.3 FM. The NPR affiliate’s magazine-style show, KC Currents, focuses on issues in Kansas City’s minority communities. After a successful first live broadcast in the branch conference room that focused on the future of Kansas City schools, KC Currents will conduct two additional shows in the live format including a discussion on the upcoming mayoral election as well as healthy food alternatives for minority communities.

Learn Create Share @ your Library during Teen Tech Week!

Teen Tech Week

Pick up a TTW Bingo at your library or print one out here.

Enjoy some face time with a computer and complete a bingo. Bring the completed TTW Bingo to your library and get a techie prize!

The Acceptable Nicolas Cage

Look, I dislike Nicolas Cage as much as the next guy. Perhaps it’s related to my distaste for so-called "action "films. Maybe it’s more owing to my disinterest in "tear-jerkers." The simple fact is that our friend Nicolas Cage has made a career out of bouncing back and forth between these two extremes.

Welcome to the "New" L. H. Bluford Branch

Dear Community,

It's almost time to welcome you back to the newly renovated Lucile H. Bluford Branch Library. It has been several months since the closure of the branch. You have been anxiously awaiting the day when we will re-open, and I believe you will be as excited about returning as my staff and I are about having you back.

I hope that you will be very, very pleased when you enter the front doors on grand opening day, especially when you see the beautiful hues, new computers for all age groups, gaming area for the teens, and new services and future programs for your convenience and enjoyment.

Come and join us on the morning of March 6, 2010 for a celebration of the rebirth and re-opening of the newly renovated Lucile H. Bluford Library. Together let's move forward and make this branch a successful community resource that provides a safe, comfortable, and stimulating environment for everyone.

Oliver Clark, Branch Manager


Friday, March 5, 2010 • 6:30 p.m.
Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

Enjoy An Evening with Guion Bluford, the first black astronaut in space and nephew of Lucile Bluford. A 5:30 p.m. reception precedes the presentation.
Learn more | RSVP now!

Saturday, March 6 • 10 a.m.
Lucile H. Bluford Branch, 3050 Prospect Ave

The Grand Re-opening begins with a ribbon cutting ceremony and remarks by local officials and Library representatives. Afterward, patrons can tour the facility and learn about the branch’s programs and services, including offerings by such new community partners as Truman Medical Centers and KCUR 89.3 FM.
Learn more | RSVP now!

Sunday, March 7 • 5 p.m.
Lucile H. Bluford Branch, 3050 Prospect Ave.

School Board Election Discussion
KCUR’s KC Currents broadcasts a live discussion on key issues in the upcoming Kansas City School Board election.
Learn More | RSVP now!

New National Ambassador for Young People's Literature: Katherine Paterson

Did you know that books—like countries—have their own ambassador? Katherine Paterson was named to a two-year term by Librarian of Congress James Billington. The previous ambassador was Jon Scieszka, who is best known for The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales.

If you could choose the next ambassador, who would it be?

Best Books of 2009

Chronic City book jacket

Looking for a good book to read or give? Check out these end-of-year “best of 2009” lists for some ideas.

African Americans in Aviation

These books at the Library explore the history of African Americans in aviation, with a special emphasis on the Tuskegee airmen who fought in World War II.