Previous Special Events

Friday, October 24, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

The renowned Native American artist and storyteller known as Black Pinto Horse talks about his artwork, how it has empowered him as an adult, and how it made him a successful student in his younger years. Weaving in traditional Native stories and teachings, he encourages healthy choices and respect.

Co-presented by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Recommended for ages 8 and up.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

In 1864, Confederate Gen. Sterling Price mounted a last-gasp raid into Missouri in hopes of capturing St. Louis and ultimately the state. The end of the line, for all practical purposes, was Westport, where Price’s army – after passing up St. Louis and then failing to take Jefferson City – absorbed a decisive defeat and began its retreat.

On the 150th anniversary of the October 23, 1864, Battle of Westport, military historian Terry Beckenbaugh of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth explains how the encounter ended the conventional Confederate military presence in Missouri. He also examines the worst aspects of the guerrilla war that plagued the state from 1861-64.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In the shadow of the Civil War, a circle of radicals in a rowdy New York tavern altered American society and helped set Walt Whitman on the path to poetic immortality.

Author Justin Martin discusses his book, Rebel Souls, the first ever written about the colorful band of artists who hung out at Manhattan’s Pfaff’s saloon and were considered the country’s original Bohemians. Besides a young Whitman, they included actor Edwin Booth; trailblazing standup comic Charles Farrar Browne; author and psychedelic drug pioneer Fitz Hugh Ludlow; and actress, painter, and poet Adah Menken.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jason Pollen grew up in New York, and has lived and worked in Paris, London, Zurich, and Chennai, India. But the internationally recognized artist, designer, and teacher — known for his fiber artwork and use of innovative techniques — has made Kansas City his home since 1983, when he accepted a one-year teaching appointment at the Kansas City Art Institute. It grew into the chairmanship of the institute’s fiber department until his retirement in 2010.

Pollen, who continues to expand upon an impressive portfolio, discusses the Kansas City chapter of life and career in conjunction with an exhibit of his work, Unfurled, in the Library’s Guldner Gallery. It runs through November 2, 2014, and will be followed by a second exhibit of his art opening November 9. The exhibit is underwritten by Pam and Gary Gradinger.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Not only is Kansas City home to world-class art museums, outstanding performing arts venues, and some of the planet’s best barbecue, it also boasts superb works of stained glass created by both world-renowned craftsmen and gifted local artisans.

The windows provide a colorful palette of our largely black and white past, often capturing fascinating stories about Kansas City’s historic buildings, their builders, and their patrons.

Professional photographer and local historian Bruce Mathews examines these treasured examples of the multifaceted art form and the history behind them at the launch event for his new book, Windows of Kansas City: As Art, History and Inspiration. Shirley Bush Helzberg, chair of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Board of Trustees and a leader in the restoration of the Webster House and other downtown properties, will deliver opening remarks.

Friday, October 17, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

O’Dell will make three subsequent Library appearances:

Tuesday, October 21 • 10 a.m., Westport Branch, 118 Westport Rd.
Tuesday, October 28 • 10 a.m., Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
Friday, October 31 • 10:30 a.m., North-East Branch, 6000 Wilson Rd.

Appropriate for all ages.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The 2014 Kansas City Digital Inclusion Summit will provide a forum to share and discuss digital inclusion efforts and needs in Kansas City and exchange best practices and trends in the field of work that includes digital and online information literacy, broadband adoption, low-cost technology, economic and workforce development and public access to information technology.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

He grew up in a Philadelphia housing project, the son of an alcoholic, largely absent father and a loving but overworked mother. A high school dropout, he turned his life around in the Navy, made his way into college, and caught a few early breaks as a standup comedian. From there, Bill Cosby went on to become a national treasure.

Mark Whitaker, the former editor of Newsweek and later a senior executive with NBC News and CNN Worldwide, discusses his newly released biography of the now 77-year-old creator and star of television’s The Cosby Show. Cosby not only towers as a groundbreaking comedian, producer, and actor but also as an author, educator, and social activist. Whitaker delves, too, into his setbacks and personal dramas, from an affair that sparked public scandal to the murder of his only son.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It’s easy to think of World War I as a European war, but fierce fighting all over the Middle East brought about great changes on socio-economic, cultural, and political levels. Kristian Coates Ulrichsen explores the lasting impact of the Great War on the region’s political geography in The First World War in the Middle East, and shows how national identities were formed as the Ottoman Empire disintegrated.

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen is a Research Fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston and an Associate Fellow at Chatham House in London.

Co-presented by the Kansas City Public Library and the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

In a discussion of his new book, On the Rocketship: How Top Charter Schools are Pushing the Envelope, veteran reporter and former USA TODAY editorial writer Richard Whitmire spotlights the nonprofit Rocketship Education network of public elementary charter schools.

Whitmire, who tracked Rocketship through an entire school year fraught with change and controversy, examines the group’s beginnings, its growing pains, and why some see it as an innovative model for improving public education for lower-income urban students.

The event – co-presented by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation – is part of the KC Education Speaker Series, which brings leading thinkers in education to Kansas City audiences.