Previous Special Events

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

Friday, October 4, 2013


True Grit’s fictional heroine Mattie Ross had real-life counterparts—and not all of them were white. Women of color played their part in the history of the American West, and historian Michael Searles explores their world.

Among his subjects is “Stagecoach” Mary Fields, who wore a six shooter on her hip, smoked cigars, and was given official permission to drink at her local tavern in Montana. Searles’ talk examines the little known history of black women with true grit in the West.


Thursday, October 3, 2013
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

A century after his inauguration, President Woodrow Wilson remains among the most influential figures of the 20th century—and one of the most enigmatic. Now, after more than a decade of research and writing, A. Scott Berg discusses his definitive biography Wilson, which looks not only at this leader’s public life but also his private passions.

Berg is a winner of both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.


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.