Library Life

When the Pulitzer Prize board failed to award a prize for fiction this year, we came up with one of our own, the Publitzer Prize. This week, we’re letting you – the public – nominate potential finalists.  But first, our team of expert jurors will share their official nominations.

Last week, when the Pulitzer board failed to reach a majority vote, three finalists were summarily stiffed: The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, and Swamplandia by Karen Russell.

To make up for the Pulitzerian failure, we’re asking  you to nominate your favorite fiction book from 2011 to enter the running for the Publitzer Prize. (Nominate now.)

Because any good fiction contest needs guidance from the experts, we’ve assembled a top-notch team of local literati to help direct the proceedings: Steve Paul of The Kansas City Star, Scott Wilson of The Pitch, novelist Whitney Terrell (New Letters writer-in-residence at UMKC), and our own Kaite Mediatore Stover, director of Readers’ Services.

Send in your nomination by noon on Friday, April 27, 2012. Then, our jurors will choose three finalists, which will be put to your vote beginning Monday, April 30; and on Wednesday, May 2, the Publitzer winner will be named.

Here now to tender his official nomination is Steve Paul, senior writer and editor for The Kansas City Star, who also offered his thoughts on the Pulitzer board's fiction snub last week in the paper.

Open City

Juror: Steve Paul
Nomination: Open City, Teju Cole

An immigrant wanders his adopted home and in the process tells the story of America in the world. Julius, the central character and narrator of Teju Cole's short and brilliant novel, is a young Nigerian psychiatrist in New York. He is smart and cultured, yet largely adrift. His tale winds through long walks around Manhattan, through Brussels, through music, literature and art, and through memories of his youth, as the son of a Nigerian man and a German woman. There is violence and there is awakening, and something near enlightenment as Julius confronts some of the truths of his experience. "Each person must, on some level, take himself as the calibration point for normalcy," Cole writes, "must assume that the room of his own mind is not, cannot be, entirely opaque to him."

Cole's novel, now out in paperback (for those still reading books between covers), was short-listed for the National Books Critics Circle fiction award and won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for a first book of fiction. Opaque it is not. Highly readable and exquisitely alive it is. 

-- S.P.

There you have it. Check out Open City, and be sure to submit your Publitzer pick by noon tomorrow: Friday, April 27. And in the meantime, if you want to take in some of Steve’s wisdom on our own city, drop by the Central Library, where his exhibit Kansas City Architecture: A to Z is now “open” on the 5th floor.


Click to Cast Your Nomination for the 2012 Publitzer Prize for Fiction

Other Jurors' Nominations:
Kaite Stover - Salvage the Bones
Scott Wilson - Long, Last, Happy
Whitney Terrell – The Marriage Plot

Publitzer Video: Crosby Kemper III on freeing the fiction.

About the Publitzer Coordinator

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
Kansas City Public Library on Facebook    Kansas City Public Library on Twitter    Kansas City Public Library on YouTube    Follow KCLibrary on Pinterest

When the Pulitzer Prize board failed to award a prize for fiction this year, we came up with one of our own, the Publitzer Prize. This week, we’re letting you – the public – nominate potential finalists.  But first, our team of expert jurors will share their official Publitzer nominations.

Last week, when the Pulitzer board failed to reach a majority vote, three finalists were summarily stiffed: The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, and Swamplandia by Karen Russell.

To make up for the Pulitzerian failure, we’re asking  you to nominate your favorite fiction book from 2011 to enter the running for the Publitzer Prize. (Nominate now.)

Because any good fiction contest needs guidance from the experts, we’ve assembled a top-notch team of local literati to help direct the proceedings: Steve Paul of The Kansas City Star, Scott Wilson of The Pitch, novelist Whitney Terrell (New Letters writer-in-residence at UMKC), and our own Kaite Mediatore Stover, Director of Readers’ Services.

Send in your nomination by noon on Friday, April 27, 2012. Then, our jurors will choose three finalists, which will be put to your vote beginning Monday, April 30; and on Wednesday, May 2, the Publitzer winner will be named.

Here now, to offer up his personal pick from the past year is Whitney Terrell, New Letters Writer-in-Residence at UMKC and author of the novels The Huntsman and The King of Kings County.

The Marriage Plot

Juror: Whitney Terrell
Nomination: The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides

Eugenides’ novel follows a trio of 1980s students through college and out into the world.  The book is arguably riskier than his last novel, Middlesex, which won the real Pulitzer prize. In that earlier novel, Eugenides’ protagonist was a hermaphrodite and outsider, engaged in telling the story of her (his) family’s immigration into the United States.  In The Marriage Plot, his heroine Madeline Brand is a classic insider:  a preppy intellectual from a good, WASP family who ends up falling in love with Leonard Bankhead, a mercurial but brilliant biology major.  In American literature, characters with Madeline’s background are usually played for laughs –  if not turned into villains.  But the triumph of Eugenides’ novel is that he never judges Madeline, nor does he trivialize his characters’ inner lives and concerns.  The result is a beautiful and extremely compelling portrait of college and post-college life that ranges in setting from Brown University to Calcutta, without ever losing its precision or its spirit of inquiry.

-- W.T.

Be sure to submit your Publitzer pick by noon on Friday, April 27.

Writers at Work Event:
Catch Whitney in person tomorrow night, Thursday, April 26, at 6:30 p.m. in the Central Library, where he will host a public conversation with Adam Johnson, author of the dystopian novel The Orphan Master’s Son, as part of the Writers at Work Series. (RSVP to attend.)


Click to Cast Your Nomination for the 2012 Publitzer Prize for Fiction

Other Jurors' Nominations:

Kaite Stover - Salvage the Bones
Scott Wilson - Long, Last, Happy
Steve Paul - Open City

Publitzer Video: Crosby Kemper III on freeing the fiction.

About the Publitzer Coordinator

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
Kansas City Public Library on Facebook    Kansas City Public Library on Twitter    Kansas City Public Library on YouTube    Follow KCLibrary on Pinterest    KC Unbound RSS feed

When the Pulitzer Prize board failed to award a prize for fiction this year, we came up with one of our own, the Publitzer Prize. This week, we’re letting you – the public – nominate potential finalists.  But first, our team of expert jurors share their official Publitzer nominations.

Quick re-cap: As true fictionados like you already know, last week the Pulitzer board announced that due to a deadlock in voting, no fiction prize could be awarded in this year’s awards. Three finalists were summarily stiffed: The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, and Swamplandia by Karen Russell.

This week we’re asking you to make up for the Pulitzer committee’s failure by nominating your favorite book, any fiction work from 2011, to enter the running for the 2012 Publitzer Prize. (Nomination Form)

Now, because any good literary prize needs guidance from the experts, we’ve assembled a top-notch team of local literati to help direct the proceedings: Steve Paul of The Kansas City Star, Scott Wilson of The Pitch, novelist Whitney Terrell (New Letters writer-in-residence at UMKC), and our own Kaite Mediatore Stover, Director of Readers’ Services.

After you send in your nominations this week, our four jurors will choose three finalists, which you will vote on beginning Monday, April 30, 2012. On Wednesday, May 2, 2012, the Publitzer winner will be announced.

Meanwhile, the jurors have nominations of their own to make. These books aren’t necessarily the finalists, mind you – just books for you to consider as you decide on your choice.

Here now, to offer up his favorite fiction from the past year is Scott Wilson, editor-in-chief at Kansas City’s alternative newsweekly, The Pitch.

Barry Hannah - Long, Last, Happy

Juror: Scott Wilson
Nomination: Long, Last, Happy: New and Selected Stories, Barry Hannah

Barry Hannah told The Paris Review in 2004 that, decades after he gave up his premed studies for literature, he’d found pleasure in reading about the sciences that once stymied him. His interviewer asked, What’s the appeal? Hannah replied: “Awe and wonder for the savage and beautiful life around me. I’m drop-jawed like an idiot, and delighted. Unknown and hidden, ambitious tissue. I tell my students it’s living tissue we are wanting on the page. The rest is nonsense.”

Hannah died in 2010, but the ambitious tissue of his fiction lives on in the essential, unforgettable Long, Last, Happy: New and Collected Stories (published in December 2010, so let’s agree to call it a 2011 title). His sentences fulminate with jaw-dropping delights – Southern-gothic idioms spun on new axes, syllables tracing the palpitations of flesh, howls of churning appetite as laughter and weeping and death rattle. His narrators aren’t characters under glass. They’re in the room with you and they’re savage and beautiful (and, sometimes – hilariously, touchingly – idiotic). The previously unpublished stories give no indication that Hannah was feeling valedictory at the end of his life. They’re as searing, bog-sweaty and lustful as the rest, and as furiously American.

-- S.W.

There you have it. But don’t take Scott’s word for it – check out Long, Last, Happy yourself, and tender your nomination now for the first-ever Publitzer Prize for Fiction.

publitzer
Click to Cast Your Nomination for the 2012 Publitzer Prize for Fiction

Other Jurors' Nominations:
Kaite Stover - Salvage the Bones
Whitney Terrell – The Marriage Plot
Steve Paul - Open City

Publitzer Video: Crosby Kemper III on freeing the fiction.

About the Publitzer Coordinator

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
Kansas City Public Library on Facebook    Kansas City Public Library on Twitter    Kansas City Public Library on YouTube    Follow KCLibrary on Pinterest    KC Unbound RSS feed

Silent movies were almost never silent.

Whether accompanied by a big orchestra, a thundering organ, a lone piano, or even some guy with a harmonica, there was always music and sometimes even sound effects. Early movie audiences quickly came to expect it.

The Library and the People’s Liberation Big Band will recreate the silent film experience with a screening of the classic Soviet silent feature Battleship Potemkin on Tuesday May 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.

Admission is free. The event will be preceded by a 6 p.m. reception. RSVP online or call 816.701.3407.

May 1 has long been known as May Day, a celebration of spring. But in the last century it was designated International Worker’s Day, which celebrates labor and left-leaning politics. The Soviets, of course, turned every May 1 into a major production of marching soldiers and flag-waving citizens.

Battleship Potemkin is right at home as part of a May 1 celebration.

Directed in 1925 by the visionary Sergei Eisenstein, the film was inspired by the real 1905 mutiny of a ship’s crew against mistreatment by the Russian navy. But while it was meant to promote the Communist cause, Battleship Potemkin has transcended its role as propaganda thanks to the audacious creativity Eisenstein brought to its telling.

The movie is regarded as a classic of world cinema and is particularly celebrated for its “Odessa Steps” sequence in which citizens gathered to welcome the mutinous crew are fired on by the Tsar’s soldiers.

Eisenstein brilliantly cut between the soldiers descending a long staircase and the chaos among the crowd below. At one point a helpless infant, its mother felled by a soldier's bullet, bounces down the steps in its carriage.

The scene is so well-known it has been imitated in other films, like the train station shootout in Brian De Palma's The Untouchables. Eisenstein takes an event that would have lasted only a few minutes and through innovative editing stretches out the tension and horror indefinitely.

Originally the film was accompanied by an orchestra score by the great Dmitri Shostakovich. Over the years many musicians have created their own music for the film.

Eisenstein had some specific instructions about the musical accompaniment for Potemkin: “The audience must be lashed into a fury and shaken violently by the volume of the sound. This sound can't be strong enough and should be turned to the limit of the audience's physical and mental capacity.”

Which means the 12 local musicians who make up the People’s Liberation Big Band have their work cut out for them.

People's Liberation Big Band (photo courtesy of The Pitch)
People's Liberation Big Band (photo
courtesy of The Pitch)

Luckily, they’ve done this before. They created a score for Battleship Potemkin several years ago, and for their library performance will use that as their road map – although there will be moments of pure improvisation.

“It’s not like we’re just winging it,” said Jeffrey Ruckman, who wrote the score with Brad Cox, Patrick Conway, and Jeff Harshbarger. “Even in the improvised parts we have a set of approved motifs to work from. You can’t just go off in an entirely new direction every time.”

His colleague Brad Cox, who plays keyboards, says he’d never even heard the original score for the film.

“From what I’ve read about it, it was kind of repetitive and dull,” he says. “But I’ve also heard it was written on a very tight deadline.”

To create a new score the four composers watched the film together and, says Cox, “called dibs on the sequences we wanted to score. I got the Odessa Steps...I called that one even before we started watching.”

Certain themes or musical passages will be repeated throughout the movie, often subtly altered by changes in tempo and instrumentation.

And, says Cox and Ruckman, audience members will hear snatches of old Soviet anthems and even the scores of popular movies worked into the mix.

The film will be shown in the Truman Forum at the Plaza Branch, with the musicians sitting on a low “balcony” to the right of the stage. From that vantage point they can see the movie while they’re playing.

“Playing for films takes some getting used to,” Ruckman says. “It depends upon where you place your attention. If I’m playing off the screen, if I’m totally into the movie, having to consider issues like the proper fingering is actually a distraction.

“But if I have a tightly-written score I have to follow, it’s kind of strange to glance up in the middle to make sure what I’m playing is coordinated with what’s happening on the screen.

“For Potemkin we’re unabashedly mixing these two approaches. So we’re both playing in the moment and playing from the score.

“It can get a little crazy.”

Performing the score for Battleship Potemkin are Stephanie Bryan (trombone), Mark Cohick (bass clarinet, oboe, English horn, and tenor saxophone), Patrick Alonzo Conway (bassoon and percussion), Brad Cox (piano, Rhodes piano, and accordion), Jeff Harshbarger (bass), Brenna Hayes (baritone saxophone), Nick Howell (trumpet), Forest Stewart (horn in F), Michael Stover (guitar, lap steel guitar, and mandolin), Rich Wheeler (tenor saxophone), and Sam Wisman (drum set).

RSVP online or call 816.701.3407.

About the Author

Robert W. Butler is a lifelong Kansas City area resident, a graduate of Shawnee Mission East High School and the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. For several decades he was the movie editor of the Kansas City Star; he now writes the Library's From the Film Vault blog. He joined the Library's Public Affairs team in 2012.

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When the Pulitzer Prize board announced that there was no fiction winner this year, we came up with an award of our own: The Publitzer Prize. This week, we're letting you – the public – nominate potential finalists. But first, our jurors share their official Publitzer nominations.

Quick re-cap: As true fictionados like you already know, last week the Pulitzer board announced that due to a deadlock in voting, no fiction prize could be awarded in this year’s awards. Three finalists were summarily stiffed: The Pale King by David Foster Wallace, Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, and Swamplandia by Karen Russell.

As the literary world looks back in anger, we’re asking you to make up for the Pulitzer committee’s failure by nominating your favorite book from 2011 to compete in a vote to determine the winner of the 2012 Publitzer Prize. (Nomination Form)

Now, because any good literary prize needs guidance from the experts, we’ve assembled a top-notch team of local literati to help direct the proceedings: Steve Paul of The Kansas City Star, Scott Wilson of The Pitch, novelist Whitney Terrell (New Letters writer-in-residence at UMKC), and our own Kaite Mediatore Stover, Director of Readers’ Services.

After you send in your nominations this week, our four jurors will deliberate and draw up a list of three finalists, which you will vote on beginning Monday, April 30, 2012. On Wednesday, May 2, 2012, the winner of the first-ever Publitzer Prize for Fiction will be announced.

Meanwhile, the jurors have nominations of their own to make. These books aren’t necessarily the finalists, mind you – just books for you to consider as you decide on your choice.

Here now, to offer up her favorite fiction from the past year is Kaite Mediatore Stover, leader of the FYI Book Club and readers’ advisory expert at the Library.

Salvage the Bones

Juror: Kaite Mediatore Stover
Nomination: Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward

How do I know it wasn’t, as Ann Patchett feared, a “bum year for fiction?” Because a gut-wrenching, eloquent, tragic and inspiring novel about a family from Louisiana riding out the horrors of Hurricane Katrina wasn’t a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

If Jesmyn Ward’s 2011 National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones wasn’t a contender, then the finalists that were in the running for one of literature’s most prestigious and coveted prizes had to be transcendent, exemplary, superior, and a host of other adjectives there’s a shortage of time and space to list here.

However, I would like to call the Pulitzer (and Publitzer) jurors’ attention to this powerfully written and moving story of Esch, the only daughter in a family preparing for the arrival of the hurricane that would change lives and landscapes and ruin fortunes and hearts.

In 12 chapters representing 12 days leading up to Hurricane Katrina, Ward carefully unpacks a story full of the hope and determination that drive youthful ambitions, no matter what size, and the bonds of a family that appear to be tenuously connected to each other, until these ties are tested by more than hurricane-force winds and water.

As unforgettable as the devastations of Hurricane Katrina may have been, Salvage the Bones is equally memorable for the layered characters, tense pacing, and assured prose.

– K.M.S.

There you have it. But don’t take Kaite’s word for it – check out Salvage the Bones yourself, and tender your nomination now for the first-ever Publitzer Prize for Fiction.


Click to Cast Your Nomination for the 2012 Publitzer Prize for Fiction

Other Jurors' Nominations:

Scott Wilson - Long, Last, Happy
Whitney Terrell - The Marriage Plot
Steve Paul - Open City

Publitzer Video: Crosby Kemper III on freeing the fiction.

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
Kansas City Public Library on Facebook    Kansas City Public Library on Twitter    Kansas City Public Library on YouTube    Follow KCLibrary on Pinterest    KC Unbound RSS feed

The Pulitzer Prize board’s failure is your opportunity, says Library Director Crosby Kemper III. When it was announced that no Pulitzer award for fiction would be given in 2012, the Library launched a new prize in letters – one that’s ruled by the people.

The Publitzer Prize for Fiction is the Library’s bold attempt to pick up where the self-described literary tastemakers in New York left off.

As you know if you’ve been reading the headlines this week, a deadlocked prize board led to none of the three fiction finalists (The Pale King, Swamplandia, and Train Dreams) getting the majority vote needed to win the prize.

So we took matters into our own hands – specifically, by turning them over to you.

Watch this video message from Crosby Kemper III, then go to the nomination form below to tell us which book you’d like to see as a Publitzer finalist. On Monday, April 30, we’ll announce three finalists as chosen by our jury: Whitney Terrell, New Letters writer-in-residence at UMKC; Kaite Stover, readers’ services director at the Library; Scott Wilson, editor of The Pitch; and Steve Paul of The Kansas City Star.

The voting will begin, and the Publitzer Prize for Fiction will be awarded to the book that you think deserves it most.

Publitzer logo
Click to Cast Your Nomination for the 2012 Publitzer Prize for Fiction



About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
Kansas City Public Library on Facebook    Kansas City Public Library on Twitter    Kansas City Public Library on YouTube    Follow KCLibrary on Pinterest    KC Unbound RSS feed

When it was announced earlier this week that no award was given for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, we thought: Why not let the public decide? So, we cooked up the first-ever Publitzer Prize for Fiction.

It's The Kansas City Public Library's whole-hearted, half-serious attempt to pick up where the Pulitzer board left off. And this time, you'll decide the winner.

Why was no Pulitzer Prize for fiction given in 2012?

The Pulitzer Prize for fiction is awarded every year by a 20-member board that votes on a set of finalists chosen by a three-member jury. This year, the jury read 314 books and submitted three finalists: David Foster Wallace's The Pale King, Karen Russell's Swamplandia, and Denis Johnson's Train Dreams.

The board must reach a majority vote for one of the finalists to win. No majority vote was reached, so no Pulitzer for fiction was awarded. This has happened before; the last time was in 1977.

This year, it has not gone over well. Authors, publishers, and even the jurors themselves have been up in arms.

Book critic and Pulitzer fiction juror Maureen Corrigon wrote, "Honestly, I feel angry on behalf of three great American novels." Fellow juror Michael Cunningham (who won the award in 1999 for The Hours), chimed in: "I think there's something amiss in a system where three books this good are presented and there's not a prize." (Bookbeast.)

Perhaps the most trenchant argument of all was leveled by novelist Ann Patchett, who wrote in The New York Times: "Most readers hearing the news will not assume it was a deadlock. They’ll just figure it was a bum year for fiction."

Well, having sat in on more than a few of our book groups over the past year, we at the Library know it was not a bum year for fiction. And we know you  – the Public – know it wasn't a bum year for fiction, either

That's why we're taking nominations now for the 2012 Publitzer Prize for Fiction.

We've already assembled a great panel of jurors: The Kansas City Star's Steve Paul, The Pitch's Scott Wilson, the Library’s Director of Readers' Services Kaite Mediatore Stover, and local author Whitney Terrell, who is the New Letters Writer-in-Residence at UMKC.

They’re revealing their nominations throughout the week (see below), but they won’t be the only ones to determine the finalists. That’s where you come in.

Click the Publitzer medal for the nomination form. When considering your submission, try to adhere to the Pulitzer entry guidelines by nominating any work of fiction first published in the United States in 2011.


Click to Cast Your Nomination for the 2012 Publitzer Prize for Fiction

On Friday, April 27, at noon we'll count up all the nominations, and the jurors will select three finalists. Then, on Monday, April 30, we'll announce those finalists and put them up for a democratic vote. After the voting closes on Tuesday, May 1, a winner will be declared on Wednesday, May 2, 2012.

Unlike the Pulitzer, ladies and gentlemen of letters, the Publitzer will not succumb to a hung jury.

The Jurors' Nominations:

Kaite Mediatore Stover - Salvage the Bones
Scott Wilson - Long, Last, Happy
Whitney Terrell - The Marriage Plot
Steve Paul - Open City

Publitzer Video: Crosby Kemper III on freeing the fiction.

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
Kansas City Public Library on Facebook    Kansas City Public Library on Twitter    Kansas City Public Library on YouTube    Follow KCLibrary on Pinterest    KC Unbound RSS feed

If you were thinking of founding a library anytime soon, we have some exciting news: Our Pin Your Perfect Library Pinterest contest created a plethora of patron-sourced ideas for what objects, people, and books should go into the Perfect Library

For those just walking through the virtual turnstile, here's what went down. For National Library Week, April 8-15, 2012, we invited library-loving Pinterest users to collect their ideas for what items should go in their vision of “the perfect library." Books, bookshelves, fireplaces, hammocks, writers-in-residence, pets, plants, celebrity staffers, food, crafts -- if you could dream it, you could pin it.

Over the course of the week, entrants filed in from New York to Los Angeles. There was a strong local contingency, too. All in all, ten Pin-testants contributed 460 pins. The ideas ranged from eye-popping public art displays, to quirky bookshelves, to Ryan Gosling memes.

In the end, it was tough to choose a winner. The four members of our Pinterest team – the group behind @KCLibrary's own Perfect Library board – had four different favorites, with four different arguments for why theirs was the best.

But when we revisited the contest rules, which stated that the winner would be determined in part by number of likes and repins, there was a clear champ.

Congrats to Elizabeth Willse, aka @ewillse! This New York City librarian had the highest numbers – as well as an inspiring array of pins – so we're declaring her our overall, best-in-show winner. We'll be in touch with Elizabeth to tailor a prize package of books chosen by our Readers' Advisory expert and contest judge Kaite Mediatore Stover.

But we’re not done pronouncing winners yet. There were so many great ideas shared over the week from so many inspired library users, that we’re declaring everyone a winner in their own special category.

Most Thoughtful / First Runner-Up: With a board full of ideas we could see in a real-world library, Abbe Wood was a close contender for the top honors. Her simple, unique, and heartfelt pins like "Escape the Rain" and "Refreshments" captured the spirit of a public library.

Best Use of Levar Burton / Second Runner-Up: Brooke Ballentine-Alfino, aka KC Crafty Mama, knew that no library would be complete without everyone's favorite Reading Rainbow host.

Most Prolific: Leslynn Gregory of the Carrollton (Missouri) Public Library in stormed the boards with 120 pins.

Best New-pinner: Cat-in-the-Hat hats off to Jody Donohue, who announced on Twitter that she was embracing Pinterst so she could participate in the contest.

Best Children's Collection: If Erin Hogan isn't already on track to be a children's librarian, she should consider it. Her taste in kids' and young adult books is outstanding.

Best Staff: Madelaine Gogol not only picked an interesting lineup of authors to staff the circ desk (Amy Sedaris, Mark Bittman, Neal Stephenson, and Barbara Kingsolver, to name a few) but even appointed a "Health and Safety Associate."

Best Hometown Library Shout-out: Lindy Rhodes remembered her library roots, giving love to her hometown library in Louisburg, KS, which holds an edible books contest every year.

Best Harry Potter Reference: Lots of Pintestants made room for Harry Potter, but only Vanessa Cox had the idea to shelf the actual books from Hogwarts Academy.

Best Minimalist: JediKitty went with the less-is-more approach and pinned only one idea, and it was a small but good one.

That’s it for our first-ever National Library Week Pinterest contest. Thanks to all who pinned – we hope you had as much fun as we did.

If your creative juices are still flowing (and if you live in the Kansas City area), we invite check out our newest social media contest: Alphabet Kansas City.

There’s never a shortage of adventures to be had at the Kansas City Public Library.

Follow-all these Pin-tastic judges:

Alicia Ahlvers
John Keogh
Kaite Stover

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
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Have you ever spotted letters in unlikely places? Perhaps it’s a crack in the sidewalk shaped like an “R,” or a bridge railing that looks like an “N.” Stephen T. Johnson’s Caldecott Honor book Alphabet City is full of images of ABC’s spotted in city scenes.

This week at the Library, we want you to hit the streets of KC to find your own letters in the landscape and share them with us on social media.

An award-winning artist and children’s book illustrator, Stephen T. Johnson grew up in Kansas and lives in Lawrence. He got the idea for Alphabet City over ten years ago.

He was walking down a New York sidewalk and saw an ornamental keystone that looked like the letter S. “Then suddenly I saw the letter A in a construction sawhorse and the letter Z in fire-escapes,” he writes.

Pretty soon, he’d found the whole alphabet.

Johnson’s Alphabet City paintings are part of an exhibit at Central called Art, Language & Play. He will be conducting a kids’ workshop on Friday, April 20, at 10:30 a.m. at the Central Library (RSVP now).

Alphabet KC Photo Contest

This week, we want you to fire up your imagination, grab your camera or smartphone, and head out into the urban/suburban wilderness of Kansas City to find as many letters as you can.

Maybe you’ll find an “O” somewhere in Olathe. Or an “R” in Raytown. Wherever you are, be on the lookout for hidden letters. When you find one, snap a photo and share it with us. Whoever finds the most letters by 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 29, 2012, will receive an autographed copy of Alphabet City.

This could be a great adventure to enjoy with your kids, your friends, or on your own.

Note: Letters found in signs are not eligible.

How to Share

Once you’ve taken a snapshot of the letter, note the location, and do one or more of the following:

  1. Twitter: Tweet it to us @kclibrary with the hashtag #abckc.
  2. Facebook: Post it on our wall at facebook.com/kclibrary.
  3. Pinterest: Create an “Alphabet KC” board and upload it with the hashtag #abckc. Tag the Library’s  Pinterest @KCLibrary.
  4. Instagram: Tag our Instagram profile @kclibrary and using the hashtag #abckc. (Optional: Share on Twitter/Facebook as well.)
  5. E-mail it to us at abckc@kclibrary.org

Be sure to note the location of each photo.

At the end of the contest, we’ll collect all the letters and share them on our website. We’ll also announce the winner of the signed copy of Alphabet City.

Just think, whether you win or not, you’ll have your own map of Kansas City’s unique, hidden alphabet!

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
Kansas City Public Library on Facebook    Kansas City Public Library on Twitter    Kansas City Public Library on YouTube    Follow KCLibrary on Pinterest    KC Unbound RSS feed

We’re only a couple of days into our Pin Your Perfect Library Pinterest contest for National Library Week, and the collective inspiration level is higher than a 12-foot cabinet of vertical files.

For those just catching up, on Monday we began inviting people on the social network Pinterest to start gathering and posting (“pinning”) their ideas for the perfect library. It’s in celebration of National Library Week, April 8 – 14, 2012, the American Library Association’s annual campaign to raise awareness for libraries nationwide.

Because Pinterest is a platform built for sharing visual ideas, and because people who love to read often also love images of libraries, bookshops, bookshelves, library cats, and the like, we thought a great way to celebrate NLW would be to crowdsource the perfect library.

If you’d like to take part, the rules are simple: (1) Follow the Kansas City Public Library on Pinterest. (2) Create a board called The Perfect Library and add the description “This is my board for @kclibrary’s Pin Your Perfect Library Contest for #NLW12.” (3) Start pinning things you’d like to have in your ideal library. (4) E-mail us the URL of your board to enter the contest, which ends at midnight on Sunday, April 15, 2012.

The winner will be chosen by our Pinterest team based on number of likes, repins, and overall originality and style. The prize is a custom prize package of books hand-picked by Readers’ Advisory librarian Kaite Mediatore Stover.

There’s still plenty of time left to enter. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are five of our favorite pins submitted so far.

5 of the Best Ideas from our Pin the Perfect Library Pinterest Contest



1. Books Into Art

Edinburgh artist

“I would love to feature book sculpture art from the mysterious Edingburgh artist,” wrote contestant @ewillse when she pinned this elaborate musical book sculpture by the unknown artist who left such creations in Edinburgh libraries last year.

2. Creativity on Display

Pintestant @lindyrhodes found a great idea for displaying children’s artwork after it’s been made in a craft session – of which there are plenty in any good public library.

3. Grand Entrances

Pintestant @kccraftymama pinned this majestic entrance to the children’s section of the Cerritos Millenium Library. (It’s sort of like a hybrid of our own Children’s Library entrance and Community Bookshelf.)

4. Stargazing

The sky’s the limit for @ekh2012, who wrote, “A planetarium attached to the library would be perfect for astronomy-related programming.” And just cool in general, we’d say.

5. Featured Creatures

And possibly the most unusual idea so far, submitted by @mgogol: a seahorse tank. Why not?

It’s your Perfect Library – don’t limit yourself. And if you’re looking for examples, check out our own Perfect Library pinboard. (And be sure to read Pinterest’s Terms of Service before pinning.)

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
Kansas City Public Library on Facebook    Kansas City Public Library on Twitter    Kansas City Public Library on YouTube    Follow KCLibrary on Pinterest    KC Unbound RSS feed

What would you put in your perfect library? April 8 – 14, 2012, is National Library Week, and to celebrate, the Kansas City Public Library is holding a Pin Your Perfect Library Pinterest Contest.

What is Pinterest?

It’s a social network that lets you collect your favorite photos, videos, and links and post them to visual “pinboards.” These boards form collages of your favorite areas of interest, whether it’s arts and crafts, fashion, food, books, travel destinations, or other odds & ends from around the web.

Pinterest is currently invitation-only, so if you don’t have an account, you should request an invitation. (Or, you can e-mail me, and I’ll send you an invitation.).

Pin Your Perfect Library Contest: April 9-15, 2012

If you were to build your perfect library, what would it look like? What books would you stock on the shelves? What kinds of furniture would you set out for patrons to lounge in as they read?

Starting Monday, April 9, through midnight on Sunday, April 15, 2012, we want you to build your perfect library on Pinterest.

Prize: By the end of the week, the user with the best board will win a custom prize package of new books hand-picked by Readers’ Services expert Kaite Mediatore Stover. The winner will be chosen based on number of repins, number of likes, and overall originality and style.

Here’s how to enter:

1. Follow the Kansas City Public Library on Pinterest.

2. Create a board called “The Perfect Library” and categorize it under Film, Music & Books. Give it a description that includes the Kansas City Public Library’s Pinterest username, @kclibrary. Example: “Here’s my board for @kclibrary’s Pin Your Perfect Library contest.”

3. Pin items that you would put in your perfect library. Check out our librarians' Perfect Library board for inspiration. Be creative, and include descriptions with your pins to explain why you chose them.

You may want to include (but are not limited to):

  • Covers of your favorite books to fill the shelves
  • Nifty bookshelves & other furniture
  • Famous authors you’d like to have read stories
  • Decoration ideas
  • Craft projects for your patrons & their kids
  • Food & drinks you’d like to serve
  • Games you’d like to play
  • Interior/exterior design ideas – what would the building look like?
  • People you’d like to work as librarians
  • Animals to roam the stacks

4. E-mail a link to your board to jasonharper@kclibrary.org (subject: “Pinterest contest”). Our Pinterest-loving librarians will keep an eye on your pins all week and declare a winner on Monday, April 16, 2012.

Disclaimer: Before you partake in the contest, be sure that you read and are in compliance with the Pinterest Terms of Service and the Acceptable Use Policy. Don’t pin material that you think might be copyrighted, and be sure to credit the sources of all the content you find.

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
Kansas City Public Library on Facebook  Kansas City Public Library on Twitter  Kansas City Public Library on YouTube  KC Unbound RSS feed

It was an epic bracket. Booketology, the Library's March tournament of titles, began with 64 books representing eight genres. Over the past two weeks hundreds of voters narrowed the field down to just two: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and To Kill a Mockingird.

The two all-star classics met on the Booketology Championship court yesterday from noon to midnight. Sherlock wore his best tweed and deerstalker, and Atticus Finch sported his finest (slightly frayed) cream-colored suit.

Both books had fought their way across a worthy bracket. Starting out in Classics, Mockingbird tossed Pride & Prejudice, Slaughterhouse-Five, and The Great Gatsby out of its nest, then jettisoned Sci-Fi champ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Not so easy to dispatch was Final Four favorite The Fellowship of the Ring, which cut through Booketology like John Rhys-Davies through a pack of orcs – until it heard Mockingbird sing.

Meanwhile, Sherlock Holmes elementarily eliminated all comers in the Mystery division: The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Silence of the Lambs, and Dame Agatha’s Murder on the Orient Express. Coming at him like a four-inch-heel-clad Hound of the Baskervilles was Bridget Jones’ Diary, but fans weren’t feeling romantic, and Jones was dismissed. In the Final Four, Holmes mopped up Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

And so, going into yesterday’s final round, Booketology watchers hadn’t the faintest clue which of the two mighty contenders would win. (After all, it had been a surprising Booketology so far. At nearly every turn, the classics stampeded over massively popular newcomers like Twilight, The Hunger Games, and even not-so-rookie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.)

In the end, however, it was a clear cut victory. To Kill a Mockingbird soared over Sherlock by 34 votes.

Congrats, Harper Lee! Your place in our Community Bookshelf is now doubly well-earned.

And now it’s time to announce the winner of our drawing. Anyone who voted in any round and provided a name and email address was entered in the drawing to win a prize package comprising the genre champions from the Elite 8 and a basketball signed by Kansas City novelist Whitney Terrell -- all wrapped up in a fetching Building a Community of Readers tote bag.

The hat, please, Dr. Watson…

Congratulations to Elizabeth Murray!

Thanks to everyone who voted in our inaugural Booketology. It was a blast – and it was rewarding to watch people cheer for their favorite books on Facebook and Twitter.

Because regardless of which book won the tournament, reading won the day.

Here's the final bracket. Stay bookish, friends.

Click for large bracket

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
Kansas City Public Library on Facebook  Kansas City Public Library on Twitter  Kansas City Public Library on YouTube  KC Unbound RSS feed

Tonight, April 2, 2012, in New Orleans, Louisiana, the two “most winningest” teams in the NCAA – the University of Kansas Jayhawks and the University of Kentucky, um … what’s their mascot again?

Sorry about that. Honestly, we’re a little distracted.

Though we’re excited for our nearby collegiate athletes, their faculty, and their fans, we’ve got a much bigger game on our hands.

It’s time for the Booketology Championship Round!

Two books are going into the final matchup: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

How did it come to such a dizzying duel?

Over the Final Four weekend, Mockingbird beat Tolkien’s fantasy-genre-definer The Fellowship of the Ring by just five votes. (Sorry, Fantasy fans.) Meanwhile, Sherlock squashed Capote’s true crime masterpiece In Cold Blood by a margin of 50.

Now it’s a cross-pond, cross-century book battle for the ages!

Vote Now: Booketology Championship Round

The game is afoot until midnight tonight. Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 3, at noon, we’ll announce which book our readers chose as the Booketology Champion, and we’ll also draw to see which lucky voter won the Booketology Elite 8 prize pack and the basketball signed by Whitney Terrell.

Thanks to all who participated in our first-ever Booketology tournament of books. No matter which book wins, we at the Kansas City Public Library are thrilled to have gotten such a great response, with so many people in the community talking about their love of literature. We’ll see you – and either Sherlock or Mockingbird – in the winners circle tomorrow.

May the best -- er... either of these great books win.

Click for printable Booketology bracket

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
Kansas City Public Library on Facebook  Kansas City Public Library on Twitter  Kansas City Public Library on YouTube  KC Unbound RSS feed

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.

Click for printable Booketology Final Four bracket

Vote: Booketology Final Four

Elite 8 Highlights

  • Fantasy vs. Horror: Poe apostles made a noble but feeble attempt to topple Fellowship, which won by a gory 72-vote landslide. Tolkien has dominated this tournament so far, but now he’s up against fellow Community Bookshelf resident Harper Lee. The spines will rumble in the Final Four.
  • Sci-Fi vs. Classics: Hitchhiker’s Guide had a fantastic run, carried through four rounds on the shoulders of geeks. But in the Elite 8, Mockingbird had the higher numbers – just barely, though, edging past by 19 votes. Now Scout and Atticus must face Frodo and Gandalf.
  • Mystery vs. Romance: Sherlock Holmes never met an adversary quite like Bridget Jones, but Romance readers didn’t have their leading lady’s back. Sherlock won by a whopping 102 votes. Will Capote prove his Moriarty?
  • Literature vs. Nonfiction: In Cold Blood ended The Road’s bleak but beautiful reign of the southeast corner by a margin of 46 votes. In Booketology currency, that’s pretty close. Now, as he faces Arthur Conan Doyle in the Final Four, Truman’s hoping to use his local tie-in to win.

That’s the lineup, folks. Whether the Jayhawks win or lose this weekend, there’ll be plenty of book-on-book action through midnight on Sunday.

Be sure to come back here on Monday, April 2, to vote for the last two books in the Booketology Championship!

Any predictions on which title is going all the way?

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
Kansas City Public Library on Facebook  Kansas City Public Library on Twitter  Kansas City Public Library on YouTube  KC Unbound RSS feed

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.

Why so much? Theories abound. It could be because Harry Potter is still a newcomer to the world of monsters and magic that Tolkien pioneered. Or it could be that voters felt Sorcerer’s Stone by itself didn’t have what it took to penetrate Fellowship’s literary Mithril.

In any case, the people have chosen. Fellowship wins the Fantasy bracket, and Potter gets expelled.

Check out the updated bracket below, and vote in the Elite 8 through midnight on Wednesday, March 25. The Final Four begins on Thursday!

Click for printable Booketology bracket.

Vote: Booketology Round 4 (Elite 8)

Sweet 16 Highlights

  • Fantasy: Readers have chosen one book to rule all Fantasy, but will Fellowship go all the way? As J.R.R. might say, there are fell voices in the wind for the other contenders in this tournament.
  • Horror: Poe jabbed a tell-tale stake through Stoker’s bloodless heart, beating Dracula by 54 votes. But how will the master of the macabre fare against Frodo & co.?
  • Sci-Fi: Hitchhiker’s Guide rose thumb and shoulders over Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which, considering it lost by 69 votes, may as well have been Vogon poetry to Booketology voters. Now Adams’ band of intergalactic misfits must face the mighty Mockingbird.
  • Classics: To Kill a Mockingbird received more votes than any other book in this round and won by the widest margin, putting an 86-vote bullet in Gatsby’s pool floatie.
  • Romance: In the round’s closest race, Bridget Jones’s Diary darts ahead of Devil Wears Prada to claim Romance’s golden lipstick. Now Bridget must face a foe greater than even Anna Wintour …
  • Mystery: It’s no longer a mystery who the world’s greatest detective is: Sherlock Holmes, who outfoxed Hercule Poirot by 47 votes to stand atop Mystery. Romance readers will have to seriously rally to beat the man from Baker Street in the Elite 8.
  • Literature: Who knew The Road had such mileage? Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic survival (or not) story wins the Literature crown, beating Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by 27 votes.
  • Nonfiction: In Cold Blood is exactly how Capote’s classic “nonfiction novel” blasted Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil off the bracket. Now Truman’s tale of homicide in Holcomb must find a way to block The Road.

That’s the lineup for the Elite 8, and it’s also the prize package for one lucky Booketology voter, who will be chosen at random when the contest ends next week. (See the rules.)

Don’t forget submit your ballot for by midnight on Wednesday, and check back here on Thursday for the Booketology Final Four!

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
Kansas City Public Library on Facebook  Kansas City Public Library on Twitter  Kansas City Public Library on YouTube  KC Unbound RSS feed

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