Previous Special Events

Thursday, September 18, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

There are few storytellers like old baseball scouts because, well, nobody collects stories like the guys who spend a lifetime crisscrossing America’s byways and backwaters in search of future major leaguers.

Art Stewart’s memory bank runs especially deep. Still active in his 45th season with the Kansas City Royals, he helped bring Bo Jackson to KC and signed pitcher Kevin Appier, outfielders Johnny Damon and Carlos Beltran, and current Royals catcher Salvador Perez among 70-some other big-league players.

With his co-author, Kansas City Star columnist Sam Mellinger, the 87-year-old Stewart discusses his new book, The Art of Scouting: Seven Decades Chasing Hopes and Dreams in Major League Baseball. Other members of the Royals family will appear with them.

Royals great George Brett and General Manager Dayton Moore deliver opening remarks.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

The November general election will seat a Congress facing critical economic challenges. But analysts disagree on the role of government in the economy, their arguments revolving around two questions: How much does the government really know about people’s wants and needs? And is there a clear market failure that policy can address?

A back-and-forth expression of conflicting views spills into this event featuring Stephanie Kelton, chair of the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Department of Economics, and University of Missouri economics professor Joseph Haslag, who will discuss the government’s proper role in the economy and take audience members’ written questions. Mike Shanin, who leads the weekly roundtable of conservatives and liberals on KCPT-TV’s Ruckus, will moderate.

Co-sponsored by the Jobs Now! Coalition and the Show-Me Institute.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fifty years ago, in September 1964, The Beatles appeared – some say flopped – at Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium. Charley Finley, controversial owner of the Kansas City Athletics baseball team, enticed the Fab Four to perform at the old ball field for a then astronomical $150,000 fee! The show barely drew 20,000 fans, and Finley lost his shirt. Rick Hellman, chronicler of the city’s music history, tells how Kansas City’s teenagers experienced a bit of rock-and-roll history during the exciting run-up and bewildering aftermath of the 31-minute concert.

Rick Hellman, a Kansas City native, journalist, and assignment editor at KSHB-TV, heads up the Kansas City Rock History Project (www.kcrockhistory.com).


Friday, September 12, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

As an actress, Heidi Swedberg is best known for playing George Costanza’s fiancée, Susan, on TV’s Seinfeld. But her roots as a musician run much deeper – to the morning when she got her first ukulele from the Easter Bunny as a 5-year-old living in Hawaii.

Swedberg has built a national reputation for her ukulele-inflected, highly interactive approach to family music-making, and returns to the Library with her unique, Sukey Jump style. Enjoy a family concert in which everyone in the family can participate. Pick up an instrument, clap your hands, sing, or just hum along.

Appropriate for all ages.


Thursday, September 11, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

From Kansas City’s signature Country Club Plaza to pristine shopping districts and neighborhoods across the country, J.C. Nichols’ imprint on the American landscape remains deep and far-reaching.

The famed real estate developer, who died a little more than 64 years ago, is spotlighted in the latest installment of the Library’s popular Meet the Past series. Nichols — as portrayed by historian and Meet the Past veteran Bill Worley — will be interviewed by Library Director Crosby Kemper III.

The program also includes introductory remarks about Nichols and the architectural legacy of the Country Club Plaza by Stephanie Meeks, president and chief executive officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Jonathan Kemper, president of the Library’s Board of Trustees and co-chair of the National Trust Council.

The presentation will be taped by KCPT for later broadcast.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thirty years ago, there were no private military and security companies. Now PMSCs, as they’re known, are a vital part of American foreign and military policy, assisting in combat operations, replacing U.S. forces after their withdrawal from combat zones, and providing maritime security, police training, drone operations, cyber security, and intelligence analysis.

In a discussion of her new book, journalist Ann Hagedorn takes a worried look at this privatization of our national security – why it originated, how it operates, where it’s heading, and the dangers it poses.

Hagedorn is a former staff writer for The Wall Street Journal. Among her books are Wild Ride, Ransom, Beyond the River, and Savage Peace.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

An estimated 225,000 adults in Kansas City function at the lowest literacy level, denied some of the simplest and most important moments in life because they cannot read.

The nonprofit organization Literacy Kansas City targets that issue through tutoring and other direct services, advocacy, and collaboration. Its sixth annual event at the Library, The Power of Reading: A Celebration of the Written Word, emceed by KCPT-TV’s Nick Haines, commemorates the effort and the adult learners benefitting from it. A number of them share their stories. Local writers including bestselling author Candice Millard, poet and novelist Maija Rhee Devine, journalist Brian Burnes, and human rights activist Alvin Sykes also read personal stories and original writings.

Mayor Sly James will deliver opening remarks.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Jen Mann is, first, a suburban Johnson County, Kansas, wife and mother of two and, second, a witty, biting writer whose blog, People I Want to Punch in the Throat, has garnered a national following. Featured on The Huffington Post, the young parents’ online magazine Babble, and cable television’s Headline News, she has been described as Erma Bombeck – with f-bombs.

Mann appears at the Library to launch her new book, People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges, a laugh-out-loud collection of essays on suburban life, marriage, and motherhood. Subjects range from the politics of joining a play group to the thrill of a moms’ night out at the gun range.


Friday, September 5, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Kansas City-area performer Rockin Rob has been delighting and educating young audiences for more than 15 years.

The Kansas City-area performer employs music, movement, and magic in promoting creativity, teamwork, discipline, and self-expression. You’ll clap your hands, stomp your feet, sing, dance – and learn.

Geared to 2- to 8-year-olds but appropriate for all ages.


Thursday, September 4, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

The year 2012 was a watershed for the Hollywood movie industry, producing the likes of Silver Linings Playbook, Les Misérables, Lincoln, and Argo and delivering a record-breaking box office after two years of decline. But not everything was rosy. DVD sales continued to decline, production costs soared, and the digital revolution was forcing the industry to rethink how it made and marketed films.

Journalist Anne Thompson joins the Library’s Kaite Stover and UMKC film professor Mitch Brian for a public conversation based on Thompson’s new book, The $11 Billion Year, a chronicle of that landmark year at the movies.

Thompson writes the Thompson on Hollywood blog at Indiewire.