Library Life

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.

Click for printable bracket.

Vote: Booketology Round 3 (Sweet 16 of Genres)


What's worse than the Nazgul?
Facing Harry Potter in the Sweet 16.

Other highlights:

    Fantasy: Ouch. Sorcerer’s Stone beats Game of Thrones in Round 2, and Fellowship easily sinks Watership to lead to the Fantasy faceoff you’ve been dreading like an encounter with a Ringwraith. Time to take a side, folks. Harry or Frodo?

    Horror: Is this really a contest of Dracula (the book that launched the vampire genre) versus Tell-Tale Heart (a story of a guy who kills his annoying roommate and buries him under the floorboards), or is it more about Bram Stoker versus Edgar Allan Poe? We’ll see come Monday which dead man is still walking.

    Sci-Fi: We’ve already discussed Hitchhiker beating Hunger Games (by 57 percent of the votes, by the way). Now Douglas Adams is up against another genre hero: Philip K. Dick and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which made an inarguably better movie. But will that be enough?

    Romance: No close Round 2 contests here. Bridget Jones defeated Waiting to Exhale 125 votes to 50. Devil whipped Good in Bed 122 to 51. Now the two novels that defined Chick Lit are in a grown-lady fight for Romance.

    Mystery: In the biggest landslide so far, Orient Express absolutely slaughtered A Is for Alibi by 152 votes. Likewise, Sherlock silenced Silence of the Lambs. Now it’s another genre classics grudge match: Arthur Conan Doyle vs. Agatha Christie.

    Literature: The Road continues to cannibalize the competition, though not by much; it defeated The Kite Runner by just six votes in Round 2. Similarly, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close came, yep, incredibly close – four votes –  in its victory over Picoult.

    Nonfiction: Murder seems to be the preferred theme in Nonfiction, with In Cold Blood proving Henrietta Lacks not so immortal, and Midnight in the Garden putting down Seabiscuit. Whether Capote or Berendt advances past the Sweet 16, it’s two tears in a bucket, as they say down in Savannah.

The Sweet 16 is officially open. It’s up to you which books emerge as favorites in their genres. Just remember, as we told one fraught fan on Facebook: there’s no crying in bookball.

Don’t forget to submit your ballot for Round 3 by Sunday at midnight. We’ll have the winners here on KC Unbound by noon on Monday, March 26. And if you’re tweeting about the contest, be sure to tag us (@KCLibrary) and use the hashtag #Booketology.

Vote here: Booketology Round 3 (Sweet 16)

Latecomers: If you’re just now finding out about Booketology, don’t fret. Voting is open to all. Jump in anytime. Here are the rules.

 

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
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Most people enter the world of libraries through the branches.

Waldo Branch Aide Marty Hatten did.

"I grew up in Indianapolis and went to the Brightwood Branch Library. I remember when Dr. Seuss's first book came out, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. I remember reading it in that branch library, and I can still see the tables," Hatten says.

Branch libraries are the bridge between the home and the world of knowledge accessible through books. Providing the first point of contact are employees like Hatten.

"I love seeing people enjoy the Library, coming to look for books and to use the computers," Hatten says.

A Waldo resident of 28 years, she started as a volunteer at the Waldo Branch soon after it was built in 1988 and has worked as a part-time aide for the past 15 years.

"I think libraries are a joyful place," Hatten says. "People want to learn, and I love seeing children come in and take out loads of books."

Hatten, who is 78 years old, also loves to learn.  

Highly active in her Waldo neighborhood on a number of fronts, Hatten promotes the Library as a community learning resource through her work on the Waldo Area Program Planning Committee, which connects businesses and organizations through networking and outreach activities.

She also serves as a volunteer in the Adventures in Learning program at the Shepherd's Center, a nonprofit that helps older adults live more healthy, engaged, and independent lives.

Using readers' advisory skills she learned at the Library, Hatten co-teaches a class at the Center called Fun with Fiction with fellow Waldo librarians Alicia Ahlvers and Ashlei Wheeler.

But it was her role as a student at the Shepherd's Center that caught the Kansas City Star's interest.

In a February 11 article titled "The Unplugged Life: Meet the Neo-Luddites Among Us," Hatten was cited as an example of a senior citizen who is refusing to succumb to technophobia.

Though she uses a computer for her work at the Library, Hatten had no home computer until her grandkids bought her one this past Christmas. She's now taking computer literacy lessons at the Center from St. Teresa's Academy student Chelsea Birchmier.

"It was time. Things I'm involved in require knowledge of the computer," Hatten says.

Hatten uses e-mail and Facebook to communicate with friends, keep up with local organizations, and conduct research on authors. But she won't be taking up e-reading anytime soon.

"I use the computer as a reader, but not to read books," she says.

For reading real books, she's got the Great Books KC Book Group, a community-led group that meets at the Plaza Branch, and the Waldo Branch's 10-year-old Mysterious Undertakings Book Group, of which she is a founding member.

She's also ready to connect patrons with books.

"I recently helped someone looking for World War I mysteries because of Downton Abbey. I was able to recommend Jacqueline Winspear and Charles Todd," Hatten says. "If you help someone find someone they're looking for, that's always joyful."

And that's what being a branch librarian is all about.

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 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:

    Horror: In the closest contest on the ballot, Anne Rice’s vampire Lestat beat out Stephen King’s telekinetic prom queen by a mere two votes. But how will the vampire portrayed by Tom Cruise fare against the mighty Drac in Round 2?

    Fantasy: Local hero Jim Butcher was defeated by the heroic rabbits of Watership Down, and Mr. Potter had no problem triumphing over Mr Norrell. But how will the students of Hogwarts fare against the Seven Kingdoms in Round 2?

    Sci-Fi, Douglas Adams fans need not panic; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy handily defeated Hal and the boys from 2001. The favored Hunger Games beat H.G. Wells’ Mars attackers by a comfortable (if not overwhelming) 57 percent. As Katniss squares off against Arthur Dent in Round 2, Philip K. Dick dreams of victory over Connie Willis.

    Classics: Miss Austen suffered a shattering defeat to Harper Lee, receiving only 35 percent of the votes in a contest expected to be a lot closer. Now we've got an all-American bracket going into Round 2.

    Romance: Overall, newer novels beat out classics of the genre. Waiting to Exhale will advance to take on Bridget Jones, and Good in Bed will battle Devil Wears Prada in a chick lit grudge match for the ages.

    Mystery: Not a lot of close calls here. Holmes crushed Ripley, Hannibal Lecter bit off Mystic River’s moody face, and Hercule Poirot easily out-sleuthed Easy Rawlins. Sherlock faces a foe greater than Moriarty in Round 2, and giants Grafton and Christie take their gloves off.

    Literature: Console yourselves, Help fans. Though Cormac McCarthy’s apocalyptic The Road beat Kathryn Stockett’s Oscar-generating best-seller by a mere three votes, it’s not the end of the world.

    Nonfiction: Henrietta Lacks continues in her immortality, Seabiscuit beats the Odessa Permian (or Dillon, if you watch the show) Panthers by more than just a nose, and Capote’s tale of murder in a small Kansas town beat Larson’s story of butchery in Chicago.

All around, Round 1 was one hell of a rumble, and Round 2 looks even fiercer. What did you think? Did your picks advance? Who are you picking in Round 2?  

And don’t forget to submit your ballot for Round 2 by Wednesday at midnight. We’ll have the winners here on KC Unbound by Thursday at noon.

Vote: Booketology Round 2

Latecomers: If you’re just now finding out about Booketology, don’t fret. Voting is open to all. Jump in this round, next, or whenever. Here are the rules.

Trouble voting from home? Some voters living in the same household have found they cannot vote more than once, even using different browsers or computers. The web form tracks the IP of your router, so it’s best to vote from computers in different locations (i.e. home and work), or on your home computer and via a 3G-enabled smartphone.

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

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.

What is Booketology?

Thursday, March 15 – April 2, 2012, the Kansas City Public Library invites patrons to pit well-known favorites from eight genres against each other in a March Madness-style throwdown to determine which book (and ultimately which genre) is best.

We chose the books, you vote for the winners.

Here’s the bracket for the field of 64.

Bracketology Round 1

(For best printing results, choose "File" > "Print Preview", and scale the image to fit on a single page.)

VOTE: Booketology Round 1 Ballot

Cast your Round 1 ballot Thursday, March 15, through Sunday, March 18, at the link below.

Round 1 Voting Ballot

Booketology Rules:

  • The tournament will begin Thursday, March 15, with six rounds of online voting taking place here on the Library’s KC Unbound blog until a winner is chosen and announced on Tuesday, April 3.
  • Anyone can vote once per round.
  • When a new round begins, the bracket will be re-posted at 12 p.m. with the books that advanced.
  • Voters who enter their name and email address in the voting form will be entered into a drawing for a Booketology Prize Pack of one copy of each of the eight books that advance to the Elite 8 round, plus a basketball autographed by Kansas City author Whitney Terrell.

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

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.

Bracketology – n. The process of predicting the field of the NCAA tournament.

What is Booketology? It’s battle royale of books, an epic rumble of reads to rival any college basketball tourney.

Thursday, March 15 – April 2, 2012, the Kansas City Public Library invites patrons to pit well-known favorites from eight genres against each other in a March Madness-style throwdown to determine which book (and ultimately which genre) is best.

We chose the books, you vote for the winners.

Here’s the bracket. Print it, fill it out, and follow along. (Click the image below for a larger version.)

Bracketology Round 1

(For best printing results, choose "File" > "Print Preview", and scale the image to fit on a single page.)

UPDATE: 3/15 - Get your Round 1 voting ballot here!

Booketology Rules:

  • The tournament will begin Thursday, March 15, with six rounds of online voting taking place here on the Library’s KC Unbound blog until a winner is chosen and announced on Tuesday, April 3.

  • Anyone can vote once per round.

  • When a new round begins, the bracket will be re-posted at 12 p.m. with the books that advanced.

  • Voters who enter their name and email address in the voting form will be entered into a drawing for a Booketology Prize Pack of one copy of each of the eight books that advance to the Elite 8 round, plus a basketball autographed by Kansas City author Whitney Terrell.

Come back on Thursday, March 15, for the tip-off!

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’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.

The idea was inspired by Rebecca Solnit, who came to the Library in February to discuss her book of maps and essays Infinite San Francisco.

One of the contest submissions, by Rhonda Roosa, was for a map that compared the city’s parks and green spaces with average household incomes – a “green on green” map, if you will. Rhonda’s idea didn’t win our contest, but it did inspire Carrie, who used Batch Geo to create just such a map!

Well, two maps, actually. Follow the links below to check them out, and visit KC Research to learn more about how Carrie made the maps using Batch Geo.

KC Research “Green on Green” Map 1:
Green Space Locations and Average Household Income
KC Research “Green on Green” Map 2:
Green Space Locations and Median Household Income

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

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.

BCORlogo

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.

The Library delivered its first batch of new cards this morning to Central High School, where around 240 students were personally handed cards and given brand-new accounts linked to their student IDs.

"This is formalizing a relationship that has existed for years," Kositany-Buckner says.

Indeed, thanks to ongoing efforts by Youth Services and Outreach staff over the years, many individual schools, teachers, and students are actively using the Library. This new partnership will solidify that bond and allow the Library to better deliver services that students need.

"The cards will be tied to students' IDs so that we can better manage, track, and target resources and services to them," Kositany-Buckner explains. "These are the customers we're tasked with serving."

library card
Soon, every public school student
in KC will have one of these.

To better identify those customers, the Library recently rolled out a card redesign reflecting the signage at the Plaza Branch that is equipping customers with color-coded cards. Adult cards are blue; cards for customers under 18 are orange.

By separating school-aged patrons from adults, the Library can better tailor the customer experience, such as by providing students with easier access to curriculum-friendly databases, homework help, and reading lists.

The "Card Project," as it's come to be called, will also help the Library drive participation in Building a Community of Readers initiatives such as the 2012 Summer Reading Program, for which the Library is planning to partner with Mid-Continent Public Library and the Kansas City Mayor's Office.

The project is a bold step toward providing access for kids throughout the city, a vision set forth two years ago by Library Director Crosby Kemper III.

"Our hope is to start with the schools because that's the district we serve, but really we want every child in the city to have a Library card," Kositany-Buckner says.

Outfitting students with cards is just part of the process, however.

One System, Many Branches

As part of the January 26 memorandum, Kansas City Public Schools will also become a participating member of the Kansas City Library Service Program (KC-LSP), joining the network of area libraries that share resources and transfer items to patrons across locations.

That means that by the end of August 2012, students at KC district schools will have access to the 2.4-million-item collection available to patrons of all KC-LSP members.

"We'll become a branch for them, and they'll become a branch for us," says Steve Knapp of the KC-LSP team.

That should make it easier for the kids to use those shiny new cards.

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, 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.)

And now, without further ado, we’re pleased to present top honors to master matchmaker Terese Barker Babcock, for her clever ad on behalf of Wonderland's most eligible single lady, Alice:

Lovely but somewhat pendantic SWF with a penchant for wanderlust and an inability to choose a standard height seeks gentlemen with a curious sense of humor. Must adore cats and tea parties and understand the significance of white versus red roses. Hat makers will be given preferenential treatment. Please send inquires to Wonderland Girl c/o The White Rabbit.

Terese will receive a copy of Phegley’s book and a box of Elbow chocolates – either to share with a soul mate or to devour in seclusion while poring over the pages of a loveworn novel.

Check out the other great submissions below, and stay tuned to KC Unbound for more reader contests!

Sullen, mysterious male seeks intelligent, loner chick who is both a sound sleeper and willing to ignore strange noises coming from the attic. Must not mind the occasional cross-dressing tendency. The French need not apply. Contact: efrochester@broodingpirate.com (Character: Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre) -- Neely LoTam

Headstrong, literary chestnut brunette seeks mature man, preferable of tenacious nature interested in doing useful work. -- Carolyn Wood

Young, spirited woman seeks a handsome, well-made man who will whisk her away from misfortune, love her and show compassion. I care for my family greatly, and one day hope to the stars that I have just one love in life, and a healthy family of my own. Prospects can apply to the d'Urbervilles home. -- Sarah Wood

Artistic blond girly girl seeks someone to watch over her. (Character from Little Women) -- Carolyn Wood

Confirmed bachelor seeks arch-nemesis for deadly games of cat and mouse. Appreciation for travel (I hear the Reichenbach Falls are lovely this time of year), recreational cocaine use a plus. Let's take the plunge! Direct inquiries to 221B Baker Street, London. -- Zach Hoskins

Strong chap & letter-hoarder wants wife what he can runna pub wit' & to bring a little snack o' supper/gin when needed. Scornful o' proud need nottapply--not askin' much! -- Marie DiFilippo

SWF, fair hair & complexion, sincere & sympathetic when affordable, wants refined man who can afford comfy home away from all wells and lime-walks. -- Marie DiFilippo

Amateur singer and notorious party animal seeks female companion. Prefer music lover who enjoys conversation and dignified tea parties. O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Prefer we not focus on the past and instead look toward the future. CHANGE PLACES! It is most important that the right person know the answer to the following riddle: "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" TEA TIME! -- Timothy S. Russell

Married but looking passionate and flighty woman seeking lustful companions. Must be young, wealthy, generous, intelligent and extremely forgiving with a love of opera and financial planning. Aversion to arsenic a plus! -- Timothy S. Russell

Young beauty with a sharp wit and breeding seeks a hero with a certain je ne sais quois looking to live away from the vulgar city people of London. The gentleman must have a heart, brains, wealth and social standing. Please send applications to Clytemnestra, Rawdon Court, London. -- Deirdre Mikolajcik

Fallen woman seeks guilty man.
Reply to Porphyria -- Carla Malone Steck

Lonely Doctor and sometimes stealthy hermit seeks woman friend for leisurely strolls, or friends for multiple objectionable purposes of unmitigated horror,..or not. Not quite sure what I am looking for, or who I really am. Help me find out? Apply to 1 Creepy Lab Lane, or #2 House, Soho. -- Lori Triba

Pretty, young, eighteen year old lady looking for an rather wicked, frank, unhypocritical, and exciting cousin named Earnest. Must like food and long walks. Mustn't be too sensible or speak German. Contact: C.C., The Manor House, Woolton, Hertfordshire. -- Katy R. Pent

Handsome, well-made scholar and accomplished scientist seeks a meek, loving companion of great wit and kindness. No moral compass and a penchant for evil and lust is desired. Must be a compassionate caretaker of a close family friend who has bouts of hysteria and tolerate a bored, repressed scientist who drinks strange concoctions. -- Sarah Wood

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

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.

Alvin Ailey
One of many Alvin Ailey photos
from the Black Archives

The collection includes a vast sampling of the local African-American community’s history: thousands of photos, sports memorabilia, taped interviews, documents on slavery and desegregation, and the papers of famous choreographer and activist Alvin Ailey, as well as Kansas City Call founder Chester Arthur Franklin.

It’s a collection of unique value to the community – a fact that Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner recognizes. Now the Library’s Deputy Director, Buckner took an interest in the Archives in the early ‘90s while working as a PC technician in ITS.

“The Black Archives is an important institution – not just in Kansas City, but throughout the Midwest,” Kositany-Buckner says. “It has the same mission as the Library, it serves the same community, and we should collaborate with the Archives in saving that community’s history.”

That collaboration, though ultimately successful, has had its ups and downs.

Following Peterson’s death in 1992, the Library helped the Black Archives persevere by cataloging its collection and establishing the Archives’ website. In 1998, the Library and the Archives obtained a grant to digitize 35,000 items in the collection.

Despite these high points, money troubles beset the Archives in the early 2000s, however, nearly leading to its closure.

After the Archives neglected to pay property taxes for several years, Jackson County sued, then the City Council eliminated the Archives’ $100,000 a year subsidy. Finally, the Secretary of State’s office dissolved the Archives as a nonprofit corporation.

In 2006, the building on Vine St. was closed.

The community wasn’t going to stand by and let the Archives disappear, however.

Black Archives interior
Click for a photo gallery of the Black Archives.

Harnessing public outcry, City Council members Carol Coe and Sharon Sanders Brooks alerted then-Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon, who intervened and established a new board of directors.

On that new board was Library Director Crosby Kemper III, who secured a $1 million grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to support renovation of the Archives’ new home in the Parade Park building, which is owned by the Kansas City Parks & Recreation department.

The Library also brought in $120,000 with help from noted historian John Hope Franklin, who visited the Library in 2007 to discuss his autobiography and raise funds for programming, exhibits, and to hire an archiving librarian for the Archives.

These were all essential steps in ensuring the Archives’ future – and cementing its relationship with the Library.

“For institutions like us and the Black Archives to survive, it’s crucial to collaborate and form strategic alliances,” Kositany-Buckner says. “We are informational resources, but we’re also trying to preserve history and serve the community.”

In the summer of 2010, the collection was moved to the new building, with help from the Library’s Facilities team under Operations Manager Jerry Houchins. Soon thereafter, a staff was put into place.

Doretha Williams
Doretha Williams is BAMA's new director.

Doretha Williams, who holds a doctorate in American Studies from the University of Kansas, is serving as director, reporting to the Black Archives board. Overseeing the collection is Missouri Valley Special Collections Manager Eli Paul. Working on site is Jon Zwillenberg, Black Archives collection librarian.

When the Black Archives opens on Juneteenth weekend, visitors will be greeted not only by a beautiful building and friendly staff, but also by a brand-new exhibit.

Titled after a Langston Hughes poem, “With My Eyes No Longer Blind” will trace the story of African Americans in Kansas City from the days of Lewis and Clark to the mayorship of Emanuel Cleaver II. The exhibit was developed by Kositany-Buckner and Public Affairs Director Henry Fortunato, with design work by Eisterhold Associates.

There’s more coming, too. An exhibit based on the Archives’ Alvin Ailey collection is currently in the works. Additionally, the Archives was also recently awarded $8,000 to conduct a two-day teaching workshop.

All in all, it’s nothing short of a rebirth.

“It’s a wonderful moment in the community to have the Black Archives up and running again,” Kositany-Buckner says.

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

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.

Jon Jory’s Anne of Green Gables is an adaptation of the classic tale of an orphaned girl who come of age on the farm of an aging brother and sister. Bring Kleenex.

In Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women a dying woman encounters three younger versions of herself.

The series even features the musical My Fair Lady in which a Victorian flower girl is transformed into a lady, thanks to the efforts of a domineering voice coach.

This is what I call a well-rounded series.

All readings are at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Here’s the full lineup:

Three Tall Women: January 22, Central Library. (RSVP now)
Master Class: February 26, Central Library.
The Sisters Rosenweig: March 25, Central Library.
For Colored Girls … : April 22, Bluford Branch.
My Fair Lady: May 13, Plaza Branch.
Anne of Green Gables: June 10, Plaza Branch.

A reception sponsored by the Friends of the Library will follow each performance. The Friends invite all who attended to enjoy refreshments and meet the actors.

Funding for the 2012 Script-in-Hand series is provided by a grant from the William T. Kemper Foundation - Commerce Bank, Trustee, with additional support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

The series is co-sponsored by the UMKC Women's Center, with hopes that other Kansas City women's groups will join in. At each performance, the Women's Center and other co-sponsors may set up tables and distribute literature, creating a marketplace of ideas around Script-in-Hand.

For sponsorship information, contact the Library's Public Affairs department at 816.701.3704.

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 a movie-themed blog at butlerscinemascene.com. He's married to the former Ellen Vaughan; they are the proud parents of LA-based comedian, writer, director and TV personality Blair Butler. He used to be a dog person but now lives with two cats, thus demonstrating the flexibility of the human condition.
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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.

The design of the cards is based on the Plaza Branch’s outdoor signage, designed by local agency Muller Bressler + Brown.

So how do you get one?

Drop by any Library location starting January 12, 2012. And if you haven’t signed up for a Library card, period, yet: (1) What are you waiting for? (2) Why are you reading this blog?

Get with the new.

*A.k.a geek, but we aren’t judging.

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
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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.

Elsewhere on this year’s fiction list, crime kings Stieg Larsson and James Patterson duked it out for top-10 dominance. On the late-bloomers front, Jonathan Franzen’s 2010 epic Freedom crept into fourth place, and Sara Gruen’s 2006 book club favorite Water for Elephants placed just outside the top 10, thanks, no doubt, to the movie tie-in.

Women ruled the nonfiction category, with books about women by women taking spots 2 and 3 behind the perennially popular Devil in the White City (Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra and Rebecca Skloot’s Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) and Tina Fey’s hilarious memoir Bossypants not far behind.

On the kids’ list, Harry Potter nabbed two spots in the top 10 – no surprise there, except that the debut Sorcerer’s Stone, out-checked the series-ending Deathly Hallows. Meanwhile, in the teens’ section, it was all about The Hunger Games, with all three books in Suzanne Collins’ trilogy outpacing the competition.

Find out what the Library’s other “best-checkers” were below, including DVDs and e-books. And tell us what us what you checked out in 2011 in the comments.

Top 25 Adult Fiction Books

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain
The Help – Kathryn Stockett
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Stieg Larsson
Freedom – Jonathan Franzen
The Confession – John Grisham
Sizzling Sixteen – Janet Evanovich
Cross Fire – James Patterson
Port Mortuary – Patricia Cornwell
Tick Tock – James Patterson
Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen
Toys – James Patterson
Treachery in Death – J.D. Robb
Full Dark, No Stars – Stephen King
Smokin’ Seventeen – Janet Evanovich
Rescue – Anita Shreve
Don’t Blink – James Patterson
Tempted by Trouble – Eric Dickey
The Reversal – Michael Connelly
When the Thrill Is Gone – Walter Mosley
Room – Emma Donoghue
Mystery – Jonathan Kellerman
Indulgence in Death – J.D. Robb
Worth Dying For – Lee Child
Getting to Happy – Terry McMillan
Sing You Home – Jodi Picoult

Top 10 Adult Nonfiction Books

The Devil in the WhiteCity – Erik Larson
Cleopatra: A Life – Stacy Schiff
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
Bossypants – Tina Fey
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resiliecne, and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand
Barefoot Contessa, How Easy Is That? – Ina Garten
Cracking the GRE – Karen Lurie
Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family – Erik Larson

Top 10 Children’s Books

The Cow Loves Cookies – Karma Wilson
Silly Tilly – Eileen Spinelli
Birds – Kevin Henkes
The Great Monster Hunt – Norbert Landa
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
If You’re a Monster and You Know It – Rebecca Emberly
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes – Eric Litwin
The Terrible Plop – Ursula Dubosarsky
Interrupting Chicken – David Ezra Stein

Top 10 Teen Books

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
The Maze Runner – James Dashner
Breaking Dawn – Stephenie Meyer
The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton
Eclipse – Stephenie Meyer
Matched – Allyson Braithwaite Condie
New Moon – Stephenie Meyer

Top 10 E-books

The Help – Kathryn Stockett
Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen
Private – James Patterson
The Quickie – James Patterson
Bachelor Unleashed – Brenda Jackson
Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand
The Confession – John Grisham
The Lincoln Lawyer – Michael Connelly
1st to Die – James Patterson
A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin

Top 10 Film DVDs

Inception
Grown-Ups
The Kings’s Speech
Black Swan    
Eclipse
Salt
Eat Pray Love
Knight and Day
Winter’s Bone
The Last Airbender

Top 10 TV DVDs

Dexter: Third Season
Mad Men: Season One
The Wire: Third Season
True Blood: Complete Third Season
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Granada Television Series
Modern Family: Complete First Season
Glee: Complete First Season
Weeds: Season Six
Sons of Anarchy: Season Two

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.
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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.

After getting her degree, she became the librarian at the Landing Kiosk inside the eponymous mall at 63rd and Troost. It was during her seven years there, working inside a booth without so much as an adequate place to sit down, that Carrie developed into a customer-service-obsessed librarian. As a result, she has served as a role model for just about everyone she's worked with since.

"Some people saw it as a hardship post, but it was a really fun job," Carrie says. "I didn't make customers get their Library cards out because I knew all their names. That was probably frowned upon, technically, but that's what I mean by personalized service. I've been a rulebreaker ever since."

"People are more important than books," she adds.

Carrie's philosophy rubbed off on Gabi Otto, her former Landing Kiosk coworker who is now working with teens at the Southeast Branch.

"Carrie taught me the meaning of excellent customer service," Gabi says.


From left: Carrie McDonald, Tiffany Alexander, and Pam Farney get books out to 6,000 Kansas City children each month.

Carrie found ways of reaching even more customers when she became Outreach Manager in 1993. With help from a $36,000 State Library grant, she launched the Books to Go program, which has grown into the largest of its kind in the nation.

"It was like building our own business," she says. "You can be so creative in Outreach."

Each month, Books to Go delivers books to approximately 6,000 children at upwards of 300-400 non-Library locations, including Head Start and early childhood classrooms, private and parochial preschools, and in-home child care facilities.

The program's Home Bound Books subsidiary, managed by Gayla Honeycutt, delivers more than a thousand books each month to half a dozen senior residential sites. Additionally, Outreach makes frequent appearances at community events, where staff members award free books to children who participate in the Book Game - often to the tune of hundreds.

"It's so important to get books to kids who don't have their own books at home," Carrie says.

Indeed, Carrie McDonald has built an empire. As she leaves, the Library is already making plans for that empire's next phase.

First, as the search for a replacement for Carrie continues, Books to Go will roll along in the hands of Outreach staff members Peggy Farney and Tiffany Alexander.

"Carrie has a way of demonstrating and living public service that inspires me to try to do the same," Farney says. "From Carrie I have learned that while we may toil in the basement of the Library, our mission is important to thousands."

Next, through funds obtained via the Library's Building a Community of Readers initiative, a new Outreach team has been formed to conduct Stories to Go programs at sites previously served by Books to Go. (Kansas City children's author Derrick Barnes is a part of the team.)

And even though she's no longer at the Library, Carrie plans to continue her Outreach work on her own time, possibly by handing out books on city buses.

"Sharing books is what I do, and I love what I do," Carrie says.

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.

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Unless you’ve been living in a hole out in the prairie, communicating with the outside world only through smoke signals and/or fax machine, at some point in the past few months you’ve heard murmurs about the impending arrival of Google Fiber to Kansas City.

But in case you haven’t, get ready – the gig is coming.

A thousand times faster than broadband, 20,000 times faster than your dial-up prairie fax machine, Google Fiber will bring an Internet connection so fast, powerful, and flexible it will feel more like a whole new utility.

Google is currently laying fiber optic cable under the streets of Kansas City on both sides of the state line, and sometime in the first half of next year, folks living in KCMO and KCK will have the option to subscribe to the service at home. It’s also expected to become available in many public buildings, such as libraries and schools.

For us, this is huge.

Indeed, here at the Library, we’ve been full-on obsessing over the potential benefits that a light-speed 1GB connection could bring to our city. Empowering entrepreneurs, giving the school district a shot in the arm, decreasing the digital divide, improving health care for the disadvantaged – there are few areas of life, it seems, that couldn’t stand to gain from a stronger, faster Internet connection.

Over the past few months, we’ve developed partnerships with different organizations over our shared interest in Google Fiber. The Social Media Club of Kansas City and Think Big Partners have each approached us about conducting programs to raise awareness of Google Fiber in the community.

The Gigabit City

On October 3, 2011, SMCKC organized the brainstorming session Building the Gigabit City. With guidance from the Brainzooming Group, 80 members of the business and tech cognoscenti cooked up hundreds of ideas for how the gigabit connection could be used in areas such as schools, libraries, health care, the urban core, suburbs, and cultural events. (Watch a video summary of the event.)

The results of the session were released a month later at another Library event, Gigabit City: 1,001 Uses for Google Fiber. After Mike Brown from Brainzooming shared material from the Building a Gigabit City Report (link goes to PDF), representatives from the Mayors’ Bistate Innovation Team, the Kauffman Foundation, KCSourceLink, and Think Big Partners spoke at the event, forming a parade of the most influential business orgs in the city. It had never been clearer to me how excited this city is about Google Fiber.

After the gigabit dust settled, SMCKC and the Library began work on our next partnership.

Give Us a Gig!

Give Us a Gig! was launched at a series of meetings held last week at the Plaza Branch of our Library and at the Main Branch of the Kansas City Kansas Public Library. The project aims to take the Google Fiber discussion that’s being going on in boardrooms and bring it to the living rooms of ordinary Kansas Citians.

Give Us a Gig is an education-focused public outreach campaign that will provide resources for community members to get organized and go online to voice their demand for Google Fiber. Why do this? Google hasn’t yet revealed how the Fiber network will be rolled out to KC neighborhoods; all we’ve heard is that it will be provided to neighborhoods on a “demand” basis.

SMCKC took this “demand” concept and ran with it, devising a program that would encourage citizens to build websites for their neighborhoods and use those sites to tell their stories of how they think their community would benefit from a gigabit connection. At the two meetings last week, SMCKC fielded scads of questions from the audience and collected 100 sign-up forms from neighborhood leaders interested in joining the project.

The Library will be involved in Give Us a Gig by providing technical support and expertise to anyone wishing to take part in the project. We’re currently at work mobilizing a Gig Crew of web 2.0-savvy librarians who will be able to assist patrons who wish to post blogs, videos, or photos to the web for Give Us a Gig. (To find out more about the project, visit giveusagig.com.)

Gigabit Challenge

It’s not just the local community that’s buzzing about Google Fiber. Think Big has teamed up with the Kauffman Foundation and others to hold a contest, called The Gigabit Challenge, for the best business plan to leverage the gig. They invited submissions from around the world – and one of the prizes is targeted at the best business plan that could be realized internationally – but a majority of the contestants are from Kansas City.

The finalists for the contest have already been announced. On Wednesday, January 18, 2012, at the Plaza Branch, the finalists will present their business plans in a daylong series of sessions. At the end of the day, the winners will be determined and prizes totaling $350,000 will be awarded.

The Gigabit Challenge Finalist Presentation & Awards Celebration is sure to be a day of some of the most advanced, technologically inspired thought and discussion you’re likely to see anywhere, and the whole thing is free and open to the public. (RSVP here.)

In conclusion, I couldn’t be more excited that the Kansas City Public Library has become a hub of discussion about Google Fiber. We’ve also been thinking of specific ways that we, as a library, will harness this broadened bandwidth.

And just think – Google Fiber hasn’t even arrived yet!

Rest assured, when it does, your Library will be chomping at the bit (the gigabit, that is), to provide you with easy access. It’s what we do.

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library. He has been tweeting, Facebooking, blogging, and YouTubing for the Library since 2010.

Every November, amateur novelists around the world put their word processors where their mouths are in daring attempts to spit out 50,000-word tomes in a mere 30 days.

This year, a hearty group of Central teens led by Youth Services Associate Wick Thomas joined the ranks of flash novelists to take up the National Novel Writing Month challenge.

"NaNoWriMo," as it's known for short, began in San Francisco in 1999. Thanks to its founders' Internet savvy, it has spread to a worldwide phenomenon, with major literary blogs such as GalleyCat providing daily coverage. This year, NaNoWriMo organizers tallied a collective word count of 3,074,772,767.

Contributing 138,000 of those words: Wick's teens.

"I didn't know the teens would be so excited to participate," Wick says.

Wick found helpful support in NaNoWriMo's resources for young writers, including a free "Triumphant Chart of Noveling Progress," on which teens could write their names and track their progress.


Teens tracked their word counts on The Triumphant Chart of Noveling Progress.

Though NaNoWriMo rules allow kid participants to set their own goals, a few of Wick's teens aimed for the skies. Teens gathered on Sundays in November to write on laptops in Central's teen area. About half of the 19 teens who signed up reached their goals, which ranged from as low as 200 all the way up to the maximum.

Despite hitting 50,000 words on his own last year, Library teen Jacob fell short this year at a nonetheless impressive 20,000 words.

"The hardest part is sitting down every day and getting your daily goal written," Jacob said. "You have to keep at it."

One teen, Alex, completed the challenge to become the Library's newest novelist-in-residence.

"Who knows – maybe we've got the next best young adult novelist right here in KC," Wick says.

About the Author

Jason Harper is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library. He has been tweeting, Facebooking, blogging, and YouTubing for the Library since 2010.

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