KC Unbound

Entrepreneurs know hard work, long hours, and difficult times. Every year, the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City salutes the Top 10 Small Businesses for their contributions to the well-being of our community.

Selection of the companies is based on growth or sustainability, excellence in employee relations, and outstanding service to the community.

This year’s nominees represent many industries and include an advertising agency, a pizzeria, a pet service business, and a company operating in the railroad industry. 

Entrepreneurs are not only vital to the economy, many of them are interesting people as well. Pick up one of these books from the Kansas City Public Library’s H&R Block Business & Career Center to read about what makes them tick and their secrets to success.

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose - Tony Hsieh

Clavinova

For this month’s Crafty Reads (a KC Unbound Blog series for people looking to take up new crafts and hobbies) we’ll be exploring the Kansas City Public Library’s resources for music performance and musical instruments. I’m pleased to report we have a good selection of materials! 

By the Book

Now, first things first – what if you don’t already play an instrument, or perhaps you’re helping your child find an instrument to learn? You might want to check out Which Musical Instrument Shall I Play, which describes string, woodwind, brass, percussion, and keyboard instruments, and outlines their importance in the production of various types of music. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments: From All Eras and Regions of the World might also be a good place to start. You might also want to browse shelves in the 784.19 call number area at any Library location for general books on musical instruments. 

Is your e-reader running on empty? You may love your new Nook or Kindle, but building an e-book library can be costly. The good news is there’s plenty of free e-reading online, but you have to know where to look. Though libraries are becoming the best sources of free, newer e-books from major publishers (learn more), you can also find lots of new, classic, and unusual titles for the taking at a variety of sites.

Do you want to learn a craft or art, but don’t feel inspired or know where to start? Or maybe you’re already a crafter or artist but would like to learn more and dig deeper into your passion. At the Kansas City Public Library, inspiration and guidance can be found in a wide and wonderful selection of titles about many arts and crafts!

In a series of articles, I will seek out some of the titles available in different arts and crafts, make suggestions on how to search for titles and other resources, and explore other ideas on using these resources – in general how to get creative about getting creative! And as I have experience in running a business making and selling my own crafts, I will explore the “getting down to business” side of crafting in an article of its own.

In this first article, I’m exploring a craft near and dear to my heart: jewelry design! I’ve been designing and making jewelry since the 1990s, and I frequently use Library resources to increase my skillset and keep inspired.  

If you are new to jewelry creation, one of the first things to think about is what sort of jewelry you want to make and the material and tools you’ll need to make it. Beading? Beadweaving? Gemstones? Wire wrapping? Metalsmithing? Vintage-inspired? What about making your own beads, or other components, in polymer clay, precious metal clay, glass, or crochet?

The practice of making New Year’s Resolutions dates back to the ancient Romans, who not only established January 1 as the first day of the year but also invented the South Beach Diet (just kidding). Despite the timeless allure of starting over, it can be hard to stick to those year-end promises. The Library has many free resources that just might help you carry your best intentions well into 2011.

We’ve arranged this post by topic, focusing on some of the most popular areas of self-improvement. But that doesn’t mean you can’t research other goals like, for instance, quitting smoking, giving to charity, learning a language, improving your grades, or getting to know local history. Basically, If you can dream it, we can hook you up with a book, magazine, database, video, audio book, or maybe even a free class. Just apply the research techniques outlined below to your subject of choice.

Now, onto the Resolutions!

Before the days of TV and radio, merchants caught customers' eyes with brightly printed, alluring advertising trade cards for all kinds of products in the new, manufacturing-driven economy. The trade card explosion of the late 1800s was a short-lived but significant phenomenon, and the Missouri Valley Room holds nearly 1,000 such artifacts, including more than a few that highlight that most wonderful time of the year for advertisers – the Christmas holidays.

In addition to providing a rich resource for researching the history of printing, advertising, medicine, and fashions in late 19th century culture, the Missouri Valley Room’s collection of advertising trade cards gives a glimpse into the history of early Kansas City companies. The Kansas City Public Library received a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the Missouri State Library to digitize these trade cards.

Read on for a few choice selections, and explore our digital collection to find more advertising trade cards from our city’s past.

Corle Cracker and Confectionery Company

Update, September 2011: Since this blog entry was posted, more e-readers and devices have become available for use with Library e-books, including the Amazon Kindle. Visit our e-reader tutorial page for the latest information.

With an estimated 10 percent of adults planning to give e-readers as gifts over the holidays, the season of the e-book is truly upon us. As you prepare to wrap – or unwrap – that shiny new Nook or Kindle, check out this guide to checking out e-books from the Kansas City Public Library.

Just as with printed books, when it comes to affordable e-reading, libraries are a bountiful resource. The Library has a growing collection of more than a thousand e-books that you can download and transfer to your e-reader. We also have many more that can be read online through NetLibrary. This blog post will focus on downloadable e-books, which are provided to the Library through a service called OverDrive.

It takes a little time and a teensy bit of effort to check out e-books, but once you’re familiar with the process, it’s a breeze.

Election Day is November 2. Do you know where your ballot box is? Because we love helping people exercise their right to participate in democracy, we thought we’d compile a short list of some resources to help you get your vote on in Tuesday’s midterm elections.

What's next? It’s the book lover's eternal question. Your Facebook friends may have suggestions, but have they done the research? Amazon tells you what other people bought, but how relevant is that, really? When you're looking for that next great read, the book recommendation database NoveList finds fiction to match your tastes.

Developed by trained readers' advisory librarians, NoveList by EBSCOhost is a comprehensive fiction recommendation engine that you can use for free with your Kansas City Public Library card. To access it, go to our databases page and search by topic (Languages & Literature) or alphabetically (“N”). Or just click here. Log in by typing in the number on the back of your Library card and entering your PIN. (If you forgot your PIN, fill out this online form to have it immediately emailed to you.)

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.

Note: To get sources for this list, we didn’t use Wikipedia or the top results from Google searches. Instead, we used a combination of books from our collection and the research databases that are available for free to anyone with a KCPL library card. Some of the links below will require you to enter your card and PIN in order to view the articles. (All images from Wikimedia Commons.)

And these are just our picks. Can you think of any other noteworthy fictional or historic poison stories? Post them in the comments at the end of this entry!

Without further ado, in chronological order...

10. Hercules
Antiquity (mythical)
Poison: Robe dipped in blood tainted with hydra venom

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.

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.

Related exhibit:
The Test: Tuskegee Airmen Project, Dec. 12, 2009 – Jan. 31, 2010

Blue Skies, Black Wings: African American Pioneers of Aviation
By Samuel L. Broadnax
Blue Skies, Black Wings recounts the history of African Americans in the skies from the very beginnings of manned flight. From Charles Wesley Peters, who flew his own plane in 1911, and Eugene Bullard, a black American pilot with the French in World War I, to the 1945 Freeman Field mutiny against segregationist policies in the Air Corps, Broadnax paints a vivid picture of the people who fought oppression to make the skies their own.

The National Book Foundation announced the 2009 National Book Award winners on November 18, 2009. Check out this year’s winners or take a look at the winners from previous years to find some great reading material.

Fiction

Let the Great World Spin book jacket

Let the Great World Spin
By Colum McCann
McCann offers a dazzling and hauntingly rich vision of the loveliness, pain, and mystery of life in New York City in the 1970s.

More National Book Award Winners for Fiction…

Nonfiction

The First Tycoon book jacket

The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
By T. J. Stiles
From the award-winning author of Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War comes an authoritative look at the life of Cornelius Vanderbilt – the complex and combative man whose genius and force of will gave birth to modern capitalism.

Learn all about the business of real estate in these books at the Library.

Creating and Growing Real Estate Wealth: The 4 Stages to a Lifetime of Success
By William Poorvu
Drawing on his personal experience – and hundreds of interviews with many of the most successful real estate investors and entrepreneurs – Poorvu illuminates every stage of "life" in real estate: creating wealth, growing it, and managing it successfully.

The Real Estate Game: The Intelligent Guide to Decision-Making and Investment
By William Poorvu with Jeffrey L. Cruikshank
The Real Estate Game is a comprehensive guide to successful real estate investment from one of the masters in the field. Drawing upon four decades of experience developing, owning, and managing properties and on almost thirty years of teaching at the Harvard Business School, William J. Poorvu offers an insider's perspective on how to make smart decisions about real estate.

President James K. Polk was responsible for America’s second largest expansion, including parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming, as well as all of California, Nevada, and Utah, as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the Mexican War (1846-48). These books include biographies of Polk and histories of the Mexican War.

James K. Polk

A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent
By Robert W. Merry
In A Country of Vast Designs, Merry casts Polk’s accomplishments against the issues of the day, including debates over slavery and expansion, the appropriate use of military force, federal power and states’ rights, civility in the public square, and the fundamental principles of American foreign policy.

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