Previous Special Events

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A writer and a filmmaker join creative forces to craft a unique work that can only be read the old-fashioned way, by turning the pages. A layered literary mystery, S. uses the story of a nameless man without a memory to tell another story of two college students’ romance and their life-threatening pursuit of an author’s carefully hidden secret identity.

In a conversation with Kaite Stover, the Library’s director of readers’ services, Doug Dorst explains how he and co-creator J.J. Abrams (TV’s Lost and Alias) conceived of and created S., in which the story on the printed page dovetails with the scribblings of two readers in the margins and the various objects — photos, maps, telegrams, postcards, letters — found hidden between those pages.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Why do some children succeed and others fail? Answers don’t come from the ACT, SAT, or other measures of intelligence, Paul Tough says. The author points to less calculable qualities such as perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control.

In a discussion of his best-selling book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, Tough introduces us to researchers and educators who are using the tools of science to peel back the mysteries of character. Through their experiences, he traces the links between childhood stress and achievement. He uncovers surprising ways in which parents prepare — and fail to prepare — children for adulthood. And he offers new insights into how to help youngsters growing up in poverty.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

According to an ancient Frankish ordinance, “He who claims that someone else is covered in dung shall be liable to pay 120 denari.” In Skamania County, Washington, it is a felony to commit the “premeditated, willful and wanton” slaying of a sasquatch – a creature whose existence has never been proven.

Kevin Underhill examines weird, bizarre, illogical, and just plain funny laws from the past and the present in a discussion of his new book. Underhill is a partner in the San Francisco office of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, the powerhouse law firm based in Kansas City. He is the author of the essay series, “If Great Literary Works Had Been Written by Lawyers,” and the blog “Lowering the Bar.”


Sunday, May 4, 2014
2:00pm @ Plaza Branch

Coterie Theatre Artists read from favorite children's books while the audience enjoys an opportunity to "jump into the story" and participate in an improvised story of their own making.

Appropriate for all ages, Dramatic Story Time programs take place one Sunday each month at 2 p.m. throughout the 2013-2014 school year, beginning October 6, 2013.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Kansas City Star columnist Mike Hendricks and his wife, blogger Roxie Hammill, discuss their book Mike and Roxie’s Vegetable Paradise, which is both a how-to manual and a memoir based on the authors’ years of gardening.

Their talk complements the launch of the Seed Library at the Kansas City Public Library’s Ruiz Branch, which allows patrons to “check out” flower and vegetable seeds. In the fall they will “return” seeds they have harvested from their plants. Ruiz will also house an expanded collection of gardening books available for checkout.


Saturday, May 3, 2014
2:00pm @ Plaza Branch

Just weeks after marrying in Washington, D.C., in 1958, Richard and Mildred Loving (he was white, she was African American) were dragged from their bed in the middle of the night and jailed for violating a Virginia law against marrying a person of a different race. Convicted, they were banished from the state and spent the next nine years fighting for the right to return, eventually taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Thanks to the Lovings, the last remaining miscegenation laws in the U.S. were overturned.

Randal M. Jelks, associate professor of American Studies with a joint appointment in African and African American Studies at the University of Kansas, provides opening and closing remarks.


Friday, May 2, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Students from Kansas City’s Community School #1 will perform their play “The Clowns,” in which stories and songs celebrate friendship and working together.

Community School #1 is a small, independent elementary school built on the principles of academic excellence, responsible citizenship, and sense of community.

Appropriate for all ages.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Seventy-five years ago, on April 30, 1939, amidst the billowing clouds of lingering economic depression and imminent war, the New York World’s Fair, with its sleek modernist designs, heralded “The Dawn of a New Day” and promised a better “World of Tomorrow.”

Why, with the American economy still in the doldrums and the rest of the world seemingly hell-bent on going to war, did millions of Americans flock to, of all things, a world’s fair?

Robert Rydell, professor of history at Montana State University and a leading scholar on the history of world’s fairs, explains why it is important to remember the New York World’s Fair, most especially for understanding how it shaped our world of today.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

“War! What is it good for?” Motown singer Edwin Starr asked in his 1969 hit record. The musical answer: “Absolutely nothing.”

But in a discussion of his erudite new history of war, Stanford University’s Ian Morris takes the provocative position that, despite its horrors, armed conflict has made humanity both safer and richer. From the aggressive instincts of chimpanzees and early “protohumans” to ancient civilizations and the “American Empire,” he looks at war and notes that in terms of lives lost (as a percentage of national population), its impact has lessened while the long-term effects have been “productive.”


Sunday, April 27, 2014

The 1876 raid by the James-Younger gang on Northfield, Minnesota, may be the most famous bank robbery in history.

Recognizing what was happening, citizens armed themselves. Leaving the bank, the outlaws ran into a devastating hail of bullets. Two died in the street. The survivors, several badly wounded, fled Northfield, setting off one of the Old West’s most extensive manhunts.

In a discussion of his new book, Shot All to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West’s Greatest Escape, Western historian, writer, and musician Mark Lee Gardner recreates this bloody, desperate episode. With compelling details that chronicle the two-week chase that followed — the near misses, fateful mistakes, and final shootout on the Watonwan River — Gardner delivers a galloping, true tale of frontier justice.