Library Life

Atticus Finch

After their upset of UNC earlier this week, KU has advanced to the NCAA Final Four. Meanwhile on the court of literature, the Jayhawks’ feathered friend To Kill a Mockingbird has also soared into the Booketology semifinals.

Our March tournament of books has had a thrilling inaugural run.

In the early rounds, we watched with bittersweet enthusiasm as newer favorites like Twilight, The Hunger Games, and The Help were crushed by the classics.

Then, in the middle rounds, we nearly averted our eyes as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone fell to Fellowship of the Ring in an explosive wizards’ duel and looked on in smirking awe as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fired its Improbability Drive and left Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? eating spacedust.

But now, the Final Four is upon us, and it’s time to vote.

Check out the updated bracket below, and vote through midnight on April 1. Come back on Monday, April 2, for the one-day Championship match between the last two books.

Harry Potter membase

Round 3 has closed in Booketology, the Library’s 2012 Tournament of Books, and Round 4 has officially begun! Check the updated bracket and cast your vote in the “Elite 8” until midnight on Wednesday, March 28.

It was an epic battle, and one that anguished many fantasy lovers.

How to choose between The Fellowship of the Ring and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – two books that each launched a classic series that changed the lives of generations of readers?

As Twitter follower @SoxLoverCL put it, it was the Sophie’s Choice of book matchups.

And so, as we went into the Booketology Sweet 16, we wondered whether Harry Potter’s expelliarmus spell would dislodge the Beowulf-like grip Tolkien has held on the tournament so far. Alas for Rowling fans, Sorcerer’s Stone fell to Fellowship by a hefty margin of 39 votes.

Hitchhiker's Guide

Round 2 has closed in Booketology, the Library’s 2012 Tournament of Books, and Round 3 has officially begun! Check the bracket below for the results, and cast your votes in the “Sweet 16” until midnight on Sunday, March 25.

If there’s a lesson to be gleaned so far from Booketology, it’s that genre classics trump newer contenders. Just look at Sci-Fi. Even with a much-hyped film backing The Hunger Games in theaters nationwide, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979) focused its Vogon planet destroyer beam on the blockbuster YA novel and blasted it off the bracketsphere. Sorry, kids. Go forth into the universe – and don’t forget your towel.

Meanwhile over in Horror, founding fathers Poe and Stoker brutalized the rookie competition (see: Twilight’s loss in the first round) to emerge as the finalists in our “Sweet 16” third round, which will determine the winners from each genre.

Oh and by the way, if you’re a Fantasy fan, you may wish to avert your eyes from this next round…

Check the updated bracket below, and follow the link to the next round of voting, which runs through midnight on Sunday, March 25.

Marty Hatten

If you've visited our Waldo Branch in the past 24 years, you've likely met Marty Hatten. Whether teaching readers' advisory classes to seniors or representing the Library on neighborhood action committees, Marty is working to connect her Waldo community to her beloved branch.

Booketology logo

Round 1 has closed in Booketology, the Library’s 2012 Tournament of Books, and Round 2 has officially begun. Check the bracket below for the results, and cast your votes in the field of 32 until midnight on Wednesday, March 21. May the best book win!

Voting in the first round of Booketology was, to quote one of the books in the match, “extremely loud and incredibly close.” We fielded hundreds of ballots over the weekend, and when voting closed Sunday at midnight, many fine books lay crushed in defeat – some by narrow margins, others by landslides.

Falling into the latter category was the overwhelming victory of Bram Stoker’s vampiric classic Dracula over Stephenie Meyer’s more recent bloodsucking love story, Twilight, which only got 19 percent of the votes. Sorry, Edward and Bella – overhype in the wider world brought you Booketology garlic.

Check the updated bracket below, and follow the link to the next round of voting, which runs through midnight on Wednesday, March 21.

Click for larger, printable bracket

Vote: Booketology Round 2

Other highlights:


Let the March book madness begin! Round 1 of Booketology, the Kansas City Public Library’s spring tournament of books, has begun. Vote for your favorites in the field of 64 through Sunday, March 18.

Booketology logo

March into reading madness with Booketology, the Kansas City Public Library’s spring tournament of books! Sixty-four books will hit the court starting Thursday, March 15. Which title will triumph? That’s up to you.

KCResearch Map

It’s always exciting when we at the Library can inspire someone in our community to create something new. Especially something that speaks to the community in an innovative new way.

That’s what happened this week when our friend Carrie Wade of KCResearch used a recent contest held here on KC Unbound to create an interesting new map of Kansas City.

A project of the Kansas City Public Library, KCResearch is an online interactive repository of community information and resources created in and about Kansas City. As senior research coordinator for the project, Carrie has access to a lot of maps and data.

She recently attended a mapping and data visualization workshop where she learned to use a tool called Batch Geo. It’s a free, online application that lets you use Google Maps in conjunction with your own data to create interactive maps.

Well, as alert KC Unbound readers now, we recently solicited ideas from the public to create new maps of Kansas City as part of our Infinite KC Mapmaking Contest. The idea was to look at the landscape, compare the past with the present, and come up with maps that added an element of narrative to the local geographic.

ZaiTavian and Amaureion Kerr

School closings. Teacher layoffs. Low graduation rates. Superintendent upheaval. Battles with the mayor. It's been a rough year for Kansas City Public Schools. That's why a new partnership with the Kansas City Public Library couldn't come at a better time.

If all goes according to a Memorandum of Agreement signed into effect January 26, 2012, over the next year, the school district will receive an influx of Library cards, services, and resources. The Library, in turn, will receive an influx of new users, broadening our community of readers and making a direct impact in an area of great need in the city.

But first, every student in Kansas City Public Schools is about to get a brand-new Kansas City Public Library card.

"We want to make it easy for students to get access to Library resources, and the first step is to ensure that every child has a card," says Deputy Director Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner.


Nearly 14,000 student users have been added to the system, and under the direction of project leader Crystal Faris, director of Teen Services, our Outreach and Youth Services librarians have begun delivering cards.

Christopher Elbow Valentine heart

Tonight, Victorian love guru Jennifer Phegley visits the Central Library to discuss her book Courtship and Love in Victorian England. And today, right here on KC Unbound, we’ve got the results of our Victorian Valentines reader contest.

As alert readers are well aware, this past week we asked you to craft clever personal ads for characters from Victorian novels and post those ads to Facebook and Twitter. The winner, as chosen by a team of lovelorn librarians, would receive a copy of Phegley’s book plus a box of chocolates from local chocolatier par excellence Christopher Elbow.

Meanwhile, as the social media sphere around Kansas City saw an uptick in conversations with a 19th-century literary flare, we talked with Dr. Phegley about how real-life Victorians practically invented the newspaper personal ad.

Phegley will share more stories of how our Victorian forebears found love during her free 6:30 p.m. presentation tonight in Helzberg Auditorium. (RSVP now to attend.)

Black Archives facade

There’s a new joint down on 18th & Vine, and it’s not a jazz club. But that doesn’t mean that when it opens in June 2012, the Black Archives of Mid-America won’t get off to a swinging start.

With an upbeat blend of live programs, rich historic collections, and eye-catching exhibits – not to mention its recently renovated headquarters – the Black Archives will let Kansas Citians interact with a vision that has been decades in the making.

In its gorgeous, Silver LEED-rated home in the historic Parade Park Maintenance Building at 1722 E. 17th Terrace, the Black Archives will combine preservation with education and fun. Historians will visit to conduct research, and kids will come for the programs.

It’s a model not so different from a modern public library.

That’s no coincidence, either. The Kansas City Public Library has been helping to shape the Black Archives’ growth for decades.

The Library’s relationship with the Black Archives goes back to the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, when founder Horace Peterson was housing his collection of regional African-American historic documents, artifacts, and memorabilia in a former firehouse at 2033 Vine St.

Script-in-Hand banner

Our sixth annual Script-in-Hand series launches this Sunday with a free performance and a brand-new look. Produced by Kansas City's Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, "Women of the Years" features six plays with insights into the lives of women, young and old.

One of the knocks against Hollywood is that as soon as an actress (Meryl Streep excepted) reaches an age where she has enough life and performing experience to really deliver the goods, she's considered too old to star in a movie.

The theater, though, loves its actresses. On the stage, getting older means getting better.

To see that you need only check the titles featured in the Library’s 2012 Script-in-Hand series, a program of free readers'-theater-style performances featuring local professional actors and directors.

Women of the Years is the topic this time around, and the six plays selected by the Metropolitan Theatre Ensemble’s Karen Paisley provide not only endless insights into the lives of women but terrific roles for actresses of all ages.

Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, for example, is a mid-70s hit that through poetry reveals the inner lives of 20 African American women – the joys, the pain, the triumphs and defeats.

Adult Library Card

The age-old question What’s in your wallet? just got a smarter answer. Starting today, newly redesigned Library cards are available to all Kansas City Public Library customers, new and returning.

The new cards will provide the same all-access pass to our bounteous resources – books, DVDs, databases – and best of all, they don’t cost a thing. Yet. Today through the end of February 2012, you can come in and swap out your old card for a new one, free of charge.

After that, a fee will apply if you want to get a new card: $1 for adults, 50 cents for youth, which is what we charge to replace damaged or lost cards. Or, if you’re one of those contrarians who shuns all things new and shiny, you can hang onto your old card as long as you want. (This may also be useful if you are a power-user* who has memorized your Library card number.)

Important note: We have issued two different card designs, one for adults and one for youth.

The design differentiation serves both an aesthetic and a practical purpose. First, kids and teens get a card designed especially for them. Second, adults will never be able to check out materials onto a kid’s card, thereby risking accruing late fees on an innocent young patron’s account. So, hands off, Aunt Augustine.

Tom Sawyer Penguin cover

It was a year of ice and fire in the book industry, of fallen leaders, marriage plots, and Paris wives. But amid the usual best-seller buzz, Kansas City Public Library customers were thrilling to a 135-year-old novel of a boy’s life in rural Missouri.

That’s right, Aunt Polly. When we ran the circulation numbers for 2011, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, this year’s Big Read selection, stood boldly atop the list.

Surpassing runner-up The Help by more than 200 bleeps of the barcode scanner, Tom Sawyer became the second Big Read selection to earn the most checked-out book of the year honors.

Carrie McDonald photo

It's the day before Thanksgiving. The Central Library is closed to the public due to a water main break. Down on the first basement level, Carrie McDonald is days from retirement. It should be a great opportunity for kicking back and reflecting on nearly 30 years of service.

But "kicking back" is not in Carrie's vocabulary.

Before we can ask what she's going to do with her retirement, the Library's Outreach Manager for the past 18 years jumps from her desk chair, strides between stacks of children's books, and scribbles labels on a stack of Books to Go boxes with a Sharpie.

Before the ink has even dried, she's back at her desk, giving directions to a confused delivery driver who has dropped in to pick up books.

"It's wonderful how a finite number of hours in my career has helped me focus," she says.

Carrie's working life was quieter 27 years ago when, as a student in Emporia State University's graduate library science program, she was hired part-time to maintain databases on a late shift in the old Main Library. After a few months, she moved up to the reference desk at the Plaza Branch.