Previous Special Events

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The life stories of Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, Arna Bontemps, and other luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance extended well west of New York City. Hughes, for example, was raised in Kansas, and his move to Mexico opened a window on African Americans’ transnational experiences. Toomer’s interaction with a multi-national, multi-racial population in Taos, New Mexico, buttressed his notion of a “new American race.”

Emily Lutenski, an assistant professor of American studies at Saint Louis University, offers a newly nuanced look at the roots and influences of these key literary figures in a discussion of her book West of Harlem: African American Writers and the Borderlands.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The latest installment of the Library’s Real/Modern series features a conversation with local fashion experts about topics ranging from Kansas City’s style scene to new industry innovations. How do designers take their creations from concept to closets? Can a well-designed outfit impact personal and professional empowerment? How are creative types looking beyond the runway to incorporate technology into their work or their business?

Monday, October 5, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich worries that America’s economic recovery is bypassing most Americans. Adjusted for inflation, median hourly and weekly pay has dropped over the past year. Since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009, median household income has fallen nearly 4.5 percent. Well-funded special interests have been allowed to tilt the market to their benefit, shrinking the middle class and creating the greatest income inequality and wealth disparity in 80 years.

In a discussion of his new book, Reich examines how the economic system that helped make our country strong is now failing us. And he lays out what’s needed to fix it. Many of today’s workers aren’t paid what they’re worth. A higher minimum wage doesn’t equal fewer jobs. And corporations needn’t serve shareholders before employees.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Two years after their first performance together, Kansas City-area soprano Jayne Siemens and baritone Thomas Dreeze rejoin pianist Ellen Sommer to celebrate the ardent Hispanic spirit as expressed in music from European classical traditions and contemporary American songs.

Sunday, October 4, 2015
2:00pm @ Plaza Branch

Coterie Theatre artists read from Aaron Reynolds’ Caldecott Medal-winning book about Jasper Rabbit and his discovery that the scariest vegetables of all — in his case, carrots — are the ones that follow you home. Young audience members can “jump into the story,” adding their own improvisation. Appropriate for all ages.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Location: City Market, 400 Grand St.

Join us on the first Saturday of every month (June–October) as the Friends of the Kansas City Public Library present the eighth annual City Market Summer Book Sale, from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. At the City Market, 400 Grand St. - North Walkway next to the Steamboat Arabia. For additional information, contact, or call 816.701.3468.

Thursday, October 1, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

From D-Day and the liberation of Paris to the Battle of the Bulge and the tumultuous conferences that finally shaped the peace following World War II, Franklin Roosevelt skillfully navigated a succession of crucial events in 1944. Millions of lives remained at stake, however, amid mounting evidence of the most grotesque crime in history, the Nazis’ Final Solution.

In a discussion of his new book 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History, best-selling author and historian Jay Winik examines the momentous period and the pressures it carried for the ailing 32nd president. Was winning the war the best way to rescue the Jews? Was rescue even possible?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Rightly or wrongly—and author Robert E. Litan insists it’s wrongly—the public’s esteem for economists plunged in the wake of their inability to forecast the 2008 stock market crash. In truth, Litan says, they are unsung heroes whose theories have driven improvements in daily business practices in areas ranging from investing, energy, air travel, and online dating, generating more than a trillion dollars worldwide.

Litan makes the case that economists are far more often effective innovators than hit-and-miss prognosticators in a discussion of his book Trillion Dollar Economists: How Economists and Their Ideas Have Transformed Business. A former vice president and director of research at the Kauffman Foundation, he currently is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Two metro-area landmarks, the stainless steel-spired Temple and the domed Auditorium, accentuate the world headquarters of the Community of Christ in Independence, Missouri.

Formerly called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the denomination emerged after the 1844 death of Mormon prophet and leader Joseph Smith Jr. A significant faction of followers formed the RLDS, and Joseph Smith III later accepted its presidency. Including an opposition to polygamy, the younger Smith and his successors navigated a difficult course for decades between Utah Mormonism and mainstream Christianity.

Drawing from his recent two-volume history The Journey of a People, historian Mark Scherer traces the early history of the Community of Christ, its restoration and reorganization, and the subsequent search for a separate identity.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Revamped, revised, reworked, and reimagined fairy tale characters and stories have seen an explosion in contemporary media from graphic novels to television to movies. These ancient tales have held perennial appeal for fans, young and old. Children’s literature expert Naphtali Faris discusses the enduring fascination with fairy tales, myth, legends, and folklore and how old stories are getting inventive twists for a modern audience.

Presented by the Kansas City Public Library and made possible by a generous contribution from Polsinelli and its National Real Estate Practice, with additional support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

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