Previous Special Events

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Kansas City author and Writers at Work series organizer Whitney Terrell sits down with one of the country’s most accomplished novelists, Jayne Anne Phillips, for a public conversation about her mesmerizing 2013 book based on the real-life murder of a lonely widow and her 14-, 12-, and 9-year-old children. Stephen King hailed it as “the novel of the year.”

Phillips, a professor of English and director of the MFA program at Rutgers University-Newark, grew up near the scene of the 1931 crime in Quiet Dell, West Virginia. She took an In Cold Blood approach to the story, using real names and details of the case and filling in the characters’ thoughts, perceptions, and relationships.

Co-sponsored by the Writers at Work Roundtable and the UMKC English Department.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

His approval rating low and his own party disenchanted, Harry Truman had the look of a one-term president — unlikely to win a return to office — in the summer of 1948. With ingenuity born of desperation, his aides hit upon a plan: Take to the rails, crisscrossing the country and putting Truman in front of as many voters as possible.

Philip White, a guest lecturer at MidAmerica Nazarene University, recalls the remarkable journey in a discussion of his new book Whistle Stop: How 31,000 Miles of Train Travel, 352 Speeches, and a Little Midwest Gumption Saved the Presidency of Harry Truman. The trek, of course, ended with an election-day upset of Republican Thomas E. Dewey.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Caitlin Doughty is out to change the way we deal with dying.

Founder of the Order of the Good Death, a web forum promoting the open discussion of death, and host of the wry and popular web series Ask a Mortician, the 30-year-old Los Angeles funeral director sits down for a public conversation with Kaite Stover, the Library’s director of readers’ services, about U.S. attitudes toward death and death practices.

Doughty’s appearance coincides with the release of her first book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, both a witty memoir and an eye-opening examination of the American way of death. It was The Kansas City Star’s FYI Book Club selection in September.

Sunday, November 2, 2014
2:00pm @ Plaza Branch

Coterie Theatre artists read from favorite children's books, while young audience members enjoy an opportunity to “jump into the story” – adding their own improvisation. Dramatic Story Times take place one Sunday every month at 2 p.m. throughout the 2014-2015 school year, beginning October 5th, 2014.

November's Selection:
The Night the Scary Beasties Popped Out of My Head by Daniel & David Kamish

Appropriate for all ages.

Friday, October 31, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

If trick-or-treating isn’t your thing, join us a screening of Tim Burton’s 1993 classic animated film.

Bored with the same old scare-and-scream routine, Jack Skellington – the Pumpkin King – longs to spread the joy of Christmas. But his merry mission puts Santa in jeopardy and creates a nightmare for good little boys and girls everywhere.

Rated PG, the movie is recommended for ages 8 and up.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Americans unfamiliar or perhaps unconcerned with the Islamic State — ISIS — snapped to attention with the group’s beheading of two journalists.

Middle East specialist Brian L. Steed, a military historian at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, lends historical context to the expanding Sunni organization. Its leader has taken the name of the first Caliph, or Muslim head of state, and like Islamic warriors of the 7th Century has pledged to “conquer Rome.” ISIS also echoes the words of 12th-Century Muslim leader Nur al-Din and his successor, Saladin, as they sought to extend their control from Mosul to Damascus and then Cairo.

Steed presents a cultural, religious, and historical backdrop to today’s events.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It has been a little more than 4½ years since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its controversial ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, sharply easing restrictions on political and campaign spending by corporations and labor unions. The argument over its merits has scarcely subsided.

Supporters hold to the court’s assertion that political speech is “indispensable to decisionmaking in a democracy, and this is no less true because the speech comes from a corporation rather than an individual.” Jeff Clements is among the opponents — along with President Obama and a majority of the U.S. Senate — who see a ruinously unfair advantage for candidates who can cultivate the wealthiest donors. Clements, a former Massachusetts assistant attorney general and the founder of Free Speech for People, a nonpartisan movement to overturn the 2010 decision, makes his case in a discussion of his book, Corporations Are Not People: Reclaiming Democracy from Big Money and Global Corporations.

Saturday, October 25, 2014
10:00am @ Plaza Branch

An offshoot of KC FilmFest’s annual Reel Spirit youth film competition, this all-day family event screens award-winning shorts and a free family feature and offers interactive filmmaking workshops on important storytelling principles.

Making a special appearance is Hallmark Cards artist and head of character development Pedro Martin, who works with the animated hoops&yoyo characters and created Asteroid Andy. He discusses and shows clips of his work, including the conception of new Hallmark character Penny Paperheart, and introduces the animated movie hoops&yoyo’s Haunted Halloween.

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.