Previous Special Events

All Library locations will be closed on Sunday, April 20, in observance of the Easter holiday.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch


Television and movie audiences have grown familiar with the cattle-driving, staccato, and triumphant theme music at the beginning of nearly every Western film or television program. Yet for their 2010 remake of True Grit, the Coen brothers employed somber and contemplative bluegrass and folk-inspired music.

Navigating the gap between the rousing pomp of earlier Westerns and the more subdued soundtrack featured in the Coen brothers’ 2010 True Grit remake, Kansas City musician Jeff Harshbarger performs original songs inspired by the historic era in which the film unfolds. With his band The Revisionists he performs both new and familiar tunes keyed to the novel’s setting.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Long viewed as unjust and mercenary, the Mexican-American War allowed the U.S. to seize control of vast expanses of the Southwest, paved the way for the Civil War, and led to the political rise of Abraham Lincoln.

Historian Amy S. Greenberg discusses her book A Wicked War and its cast of colorful characters: James K. Polk, the dour president committed to territorial expansion; Henry Clay, the aging statesman with one last great speech up his sleeve; and Lincoln’s archrival John Hardin, to name just a few.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

True grit doesn’t simply exist only in the Old West.

In her memoir Bambi Nancy Shen reflects on her birth in Saigon, her childhood in a Japanese concentration camp, and her life of survival at the crossroads of world events: WWII, the Chinese Civil War, and the Vietnam War. She struggled with her mother’s disappointment that Shen was born female, moved to the United States to study, and twice entered marriages that reflected her low self-esteem. But by discovering her personal strengths Shen became a model of contemporary true grit.

Shen is a Kansas City businesswoman, author, teacher, international tour director, public speaker, interpreter, and co-founder of a nonprofit charitable organization.


Sunday, September 29, 2013
1:30pm @ Plaza Branch

During World War I French prisoners of war plan an escape. But they cannot outrun the changes the conflict has wrought on European society. Jean Renoir’s anti-war film The Grand Illusion is so poetically eloquent that after occupying France in 1940 shortly after the start of World War II, the Nazis tried to destroy every print.

In French with English Subtitles.


Friday, September 27, 2013
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Enjoy spooky Victorian-era tales of things that go bump in the night.
Joyce Slater, a native of Kansas City, Missouri has been a Storyteller since 1989 and is currently the director of River and Prairie Storyweavers, a storytelling guild in Kansas City.
Slater tells stories to a wide variety of audiences in addition to teaching storytelling to adults and children.
Admission is free. Appropriate for all ages.


Thursday, September 26, 2013
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

From the Gilded Age until 1914, more than 100 American heiresses invaded Britannia and swapped dollars for titles. In this they were just like the fictional Cora Crawley, a wealthy American who through marriage became Countess of Grantham in the Downton Abbey television series.

Author Carol Wallace discusses her book To Marry an English Lord, a tour through the vivid personalities, gossipy anecdotes, and grand houses of the period which inspired Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes to create the hit series.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Programs and a traveling exhibit from the Metropolitan Community College’s Business and Technology Campus explore how to land in-demand “gold collar” jobs – electric utility lineman, computer-controlled machine programmer, welder/fabricator, environmental engineering technician – with just an associate’s degree or less.

The programs – 10 Gold Collar Jobs in KC and 10 Things that Get You Hired and 10 Things that Get You Fired – will be presented throughout the summer and fall at several Library locations.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013


The Old West occupies a relatively short era in American history, and it is in that colorful period that Charles Portis’ True Grit unfolds. To get the ball rolling on this year’s Big Read, scholar Tom Averill examines how the novel depicts those years and the characteristics that unite all Westerns – among them coming-of-age stories and themes of diversity and racism, violence and genocide, and justice.

Averill is a professor of English at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, where he is writer-in-residence. He is author of three novels: rode, Secrets of the Tsil Café, and The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson. He has received the O. Henry Award for his short story collections.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

For nearly 50 years Josephine Marcus Earp was the common-law wife of Wyatt Earp, the legendary hero of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. As an independent 19th-century woman she was a real-life forerunner of True Grit’s fictional Mattie Ross.

Author Ann Kirschner explores the life of this frontier femme, a flamboyant Jewish girl with a persistent New York accent whose life is a spirited and colorful tale of ambition, adventure, self-invention, and romance.


Sunday, September 22, 2013
2:00pm @ Plaza Branch

The country duo Granville Automatic performs songs from An Army Without Music, a recording project in which each song is inspired by a Civil War battle. And since they are appearing on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga, Vanessa Denae Olivarez and Elizabeth Elkins will debut their new song about that confrontation.

Olivarez was in the Top 12 of the 2003 season of American Idol and starred in the Canadian stage production of Hairspray. Elkins was a grand prize winner in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Together they have released the albums Granville Automatic and Live from Sun Studio.