Library Life

Gigabit City report

Imagine it’s 75 years from now. Your grandson brings his son into Union Station. Before them stands a moving, smiling, talking, 3-D image of you and your son visiting the Station 50 years ago.

Harvesters food bin photo

Do you have the cooking chops to become the Kansas City Public Library’s resident Top Chef? In celebration of Food for Fines (Nov. 7-13), we’re holding a recipe contest to see who can come up with the best dish using nonperishable food.

The winning chef-testant will receive a lip-smacking prize package of hand-picked cookbooks from our gourmand librarians, and he or she will become Internet-famous when we post the winning recipe online.

If you’ve been following us on Facebook and Twitter, you’ll know that between Monday, November 7, and Sunday, November 13, we’re encouraging patrons to bring non-perishable canned and boxed food to any Kansas City Public Library location to be donated to Harvesters: The Community Food Network. Each item is applied as a $1 credit toward the reduction of your existing Library late fees.

Last year, our Food for Fines campaign brought in more than 17,000 food items to Harvesters. That’s the equivalent of 13,000 meals provided to hungry Kansas Citians. So if you’ve got outstanding fines, now’s the perfect time to open up the cupboard, grab a hefty bag, and get down to the Library.

Mary Carol Garrity Cradle of Entrepreneurs photo

Public libraries have always been beacons for entrepreneurs. Recent graduates and seasoned professionals alike need easy, affordable access to pertinent information that will help their businesses grow. Libraries charge neither tuition nor membership dues, and many of their resources, such as powerful databases, are available online.

Offering a free connection to a wealth of resources on subjects like obtaining financing, conducting industry research, and keeping up with trade publications – not to mention free wi-fi – the Kansas City Public Library (particularly the H&R Block Business & Career Center) is an entrepreneur’s office away from the office.

Kansas City: Cradle of Entrepreneurs

Bobby Gordon

It would be tempting to compare Bobby Gordon's all-boys book club at the Plaza Branch to the Kansas City Chiefs. Both are active for the duration of the football season (well, most of it). And, both generate lively discussion among the fans who get involved.

But unlike our struggling team at Arrowhead, Bobby's Books for Boys Reading Group rarely has a bad moment on its chosen field.

That's not always a given, though, considering the typical reading habits of boys aged 8 to 12.

"Boys tend to come to the Library for different reasons than girls," says Gordon, a Plaza children's associate of 13 years. "Girls like to hang around, but boys have more activities. They come and go faster and tend to be a little later with their reading. I just keep an eye on things they check out and are interested in."

Now in its second year, Bobby's Books for Boys meets every third Wednesday starting October 19 and runs through March 2012. Last year, Gordon had a core group of five regulars that swelled up to nine at various points throughout the season. He hopes this year's group will be bigger and better.

But how do you keep boys coming back to read every month? For Gordon, it's a matter of picking the right books and cultivating conversation.

Amy Morris

Amy Morris still remembers her first librarian. Growing up in Raytown, she rode her bike to the neighborhood branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library. There, she was greeted by Jean (Morris doesn't remember her last name), a librarian who broke the typical stereotype.

"She was loud and boisterous and had tons of makeup and crazy jewelry," Morris remembers. "She introduced me to lots of authors, taught me how libraries work with the Dewey Decimal System, and made me more excited about reading and libraries than I already was."

It would seem that such a monumental introduction to the value of libraries early in life would send a book-obsessed young person on the road to library school. Though that wasn't the case, Morris' path to the Westport Branch never strayed far from her love of reading and writing.

After completing her undergrad in business, Morris worked as a benefits administrator for MetLife before finding her way into teaching reading at an elementary school in Raytown. Then, she returned to school, studying English and creative writing at Avila University.

After a dispiriting stint as a writer for a direct marketing company, Morris found her way to the Kansas City Public Library's Westport Branch, where she's been happily working the service desk and running children's and adult programming (among many other tasks) for the past five years.

Molly Raphael lecture

American Library Association President Molly Raphael began her address at the Central Library with an invocational reading: "The best restaurants in the world are, of course, in Kansas City. Not all of them; only the top four or five."

As any Kansas Citian worth his or her celery salt knows, those are the opening lines of native son Calvin Trillin's American Fried, the book that put Arthur Bryant's on the map. In fact, Raphael claims that she and her husband still have -- and still occasionally consume -- sauce from a two-gallon jug purchased at Bryant's 30 years ago.

"Lest you worry that the 30-year-old sauce might have spoiled," she told the audience of nearly 200 in Kirk Hall, "I assure you that nothing could possibly be living in that sauce. It's so hot!"

But Raphael didn't come to KC just to praise our food.

The Missouri Library Association's annual conference was held in Kansas City October 5 - 7, 2011, with most events and activities taking place at the KCI Expo Center.

KC Library mobile app logo

Apple users rejoice! Two weeks after rolling out our KC Library mobile app for Android and most other mobile platforms, it is now available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. It’s a free download from the App Store – just search for “kc library.”

The KC Library app puts the Library’s digital services in the palm of your hand. With it, you can:

  • Search for books, music, and more in the catalog.
  • Place and manage holds.
  • Renew items you have checked out.
  • Get hours, locations, and maps for all locations.
  • Find the latest special events, classes, story times, and other programs.
  • Ask a librarian a question via phone or email.
  • Read our blogs for book reviews and stories from behind the scenes.
  • Connect with the library on social networks.

So far, we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback about the app. In fact, Droid-using patron @CallMeFin tweeted this message over the weekend.

Gigabit City

10.3.11 – As patrons browsed the shelves and logged in to the public computers at the Central Library, elsewhere in the building, a cadre of community-minded business professionals discussed how information moving at light speed could change life in Kansas City.

The wait is over. Kindle e-books are now available at the Kansas City Public Library. Users of the Amazon Kindle e-reader and mobile or web-based Kindle apps now have their choice of more than 2,000 titles, all free with a Library card.

Julie Robinson

Julie Robinson remembers the first thing Irene H. Ruiz ever said to her: "How long will you stay at my library?" Robinson's answer: "Until they tell me I'm going somewhere else." Now, eight years later, Robinson has built a reputation for her branch as a unifying force in the community it serves.

Wily reptile man Serengeti Steve brought his scaly friends to the Library for Summer Reading.

When the Library declared it would reach 16,000 kids and teens through this year's Summer Reading program, it quickly became an all-hands-on-deck proposition. Reaching more readers than ever would require advocacy at all the branches, with staff promoting it from the front desk to the childrens' areas and beyond.

It would also take the biggest Summer Reading Outreach campaign to date, with a team of librarians led by Outreach Manager Carrie McDonald conducting reading programs at 20 non-Library locations in hopes of signing up 2,500 kids.

It would be nothing less than Building a Community of Readers from the ground up. And when the numbers were tallied a few weeks ago, the Library found that it had built an even bigger community than it planned.

According to Children's and Youth Services, 20,770 children and 4,724 teens participated in Summer Reading through reading, program attendance, or both, for a total of 25,494. (Last year's total was approximately 15,000, according to Youth Services.)

"The results more than met any of our expectations," says Helma Hawkins, director of Children's Services. "We definitely brought in kids we hadn't reached before thanks to the Outreach program, and we also reached new children inside the Library."

Kindle - white

Kansas City Public Library cardholders will soon be able to check out e-books for the Amazon Kindle. Within the next week, the Library’s e-books catalog will be outfitted with Kindle-friendly downloadable e-books that also work on any device, such as a smartphone or PC, that is equipped with a free Kindle app.

Though Nooks, iPads, and other supported devices have long been compatible with public library e-books, Amazon’s Kindle — the most popular e-reader on the market — had famously not. That’s why e-reader fans’ ears perked up earlier this year when OverDrive, the library world’s biggest provider of downloadable e-books and digital audiobooks, announced an impending deal with Amazon to be finalized later in the year.

That time has finally come, and OverDrive is working quickly to convert its client public and school libraries with Kindle-formatted e-books – at no cost to libraries or patrons. Expect the Kansas City Public Library’s OverDrive e-books catalog to be updated within the next few days.

Get the audio Adventures of Tom Sawyer at kcbigread.org.

Did you know you can download the adventures of Tom, Huck, Becky Thatcher, and Injun Joe and listen to them on your iPod on the go? The Big Read Podcast is live, and it features The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as read by a huge cast of Kansas City luminaries.

Chapter 1 features Mayor Sly James setting the scene in St. Petersburg, Missouri. He’s followed by our own Library Director, Crosby Kemper III, rendering the Glorious Whitewashers scene in Chapter 2.

Other upcoming readers include KCPT host Nick Haines; Nelson-Atkins Museum Director Julián Zugazagoitia; Star writers and editors Steve Kraske, Miriam Pepper, Steve Paul, and Mary Sanchez; Missouri State Senator Jolie Justus, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts CEO Jane Chu, and many more.

The podcast also features dialogue performed by Park University theatre students, including Patrick Kastor (as Tom) and Mindy Reynolds (as Becky).

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 http://kcpl.boopsie.com on your mobile device, or scan the QR code below.
  • iPhones: Coming soon.

KC Library mobile app

Hoenig and Kemper

The grandson of Iowa farmers, Thomas Hoenig began working at the age of 9. Now, at 65, he is about to retire after 20 years as the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, where he was the longest-serving leader in Fed history.

Pages