Previous Special Events

Thursday, September 24, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Like so many others in the late 1930s, the young black Americans who would become known as the Tuskegee Airmen were eager for military service as the war in Europe and Asia intensified. What set them apart was that they wanted to fight as pilots, something that black people had never been allowed to do. Many applied to U.S. Army Air Corps’ training program, but all initially were rejected.

Carol Anderson, associate professor of African American studies and history at Emory University, recounts their experience as part of a discussion on civil rights and World War II.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Beginning with a silent short released in 1903, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has intrigued both filmmakers and viewers. Lewis Carroll’s 150-year-old book has spawned close to two dozen movie and television adaptations.

Mitch Brian of the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Communication/Film Studies Department surveys the story’s on-screen history. Using clips, he explores how Alice has evolved on film through the ages.

Co-presented by the Kansas City Public Library and Mid-Continent Public Library and made possible by a generous contribution from Polsinelli with additional support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Defying dire predictions that they would not survive the turn of the millennium, public libraries continue to thrive. Two out of three Americans visit one at least once a year, and nearly that many are registered borrowers.

In a discussion of his new book, Wayne A. Wiegand, an emeritus professor at Florida State University widely considered the “dean of American library historians,” explains why libraries remain one of the country’s most beloved cultural institutions. Not only are they places for accessing information, they’re also valued as social spaces for promoting and maintaining community. For many including Ronald Reagan, Oprah Winfrey, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, their impact has been transformative.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Library’s annual summer Off-the-Wall film series takes filmgoers Down the Rabbit Hole, celebrating movies about people cast into strange, through-the-looking-glass lands.

Assuming the identity of “Susan” listed in a personals ad, a bored suburbanite navigates the wild Wonderland of 1980s-era New York City. Starring Rosanna Arquette and Madonna.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik, the world’s first satellite, was a critical Cold War moment for Dwight D. Eisenhower. What he called “a small ball” became a source of Soviet pride and propaganda and wounded him politically as critics charged the American president with responding sluggishly to the challenge of space exploration.

Dowling College historian Yanek Mieczkowski, the author of Eisenhower's Sputnik Moment: The Race for Space and World Prestige, argues otherwise. Eisenhower stayed calm and moved effectively in guiding the U.S. into the Space Age.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Few literary works are more quoted, translated, and adapted than Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This year marks the sesquicentennial of the 1865 publication of the tale of a young girl who falls through a rabbit hole into a world full of curious characters.

Kicking off a two-month, citywide celebration of the book, Mark Burstein—former president of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America—discusses the impact that Carroll’s story and characters have had on literary and popular culture.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Spotlighting three generations of six ethnically diverse families, KCPT tackles the sensitive subjects of racism, prejudice, and immigration in the online documentary series Your Fellow Americans. Interviewed at the dinner table, members of the immigrant families discuss how they identify themselves, why they do, and what those identities both provide and cost them.

Producers Christopher Cook and Nate Bozarth share several of the filmed interviews and, after each viewing, lead a discussion of the issues they raise.

Sunday, September 13, 2015
2:00pm @ Plaza Branch

Judy Schachner doodled on just about everything while growing up in New England, including her father’s bald head. Now, as The New York Times once put it, she is “something like the James Joyce for the elementary school set” — the author and illustrator of some two dozen children’s books including Bits & Pieces, Yo Vikings, The Grannyman, Willy and May, and the Skippyjon Jones series. The latter earned her the first E.B. White Read Aloud Award.

The former Hallmark greeting card designer discusses her latest book, Dewey Bob, an endearing tale of unexpected friendship revolving around sweet raccoon Dewey Bob Crockett. She will sign copies purchased during the event.

Friday, September 11, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Philadelphia-born Kevin Roth draws from his collection of over 250 children’s songs for an interactive presentation focusing on character development, social skills, and teaching youngsters that we are all part of one world.

Appropriate for all ages.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Historians have long pointed to the devastation of smallpox and other European-introduced diseases in tracing the demise of North America’s indigenous peoples. Lacking antibodies, hundreds of thousands of Native Americans died. Control of the New World swung to its white colonists.

But that’s a convenient and incomplete story, says University of Kansas history professor Paul Kelton. Yes, there were epidemics. But in a discussion of his new book Cherokee Medicine, Colonial Germs: An Indigenous Nation’s Fight against Smallpox, 1518–1824, he maintains that scholars have overlooked how colonialism’s violence set the stage for Natives’ depopulation, curtailing their ability to protect themselves from infection, impeding recovery, and exacerbating mortality.

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