Previous Special Events

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Edgar Allan Poe vividly recalled watching men mutilate the body of his mother, a terrifying but imaginary scene. It was a hallucination, part of his alcohol-induced delirium tremens – or DTs.

In a discussion of his new book, scholar Matthew Warner Osborn examines the medical and societal fascination two centuries ago with heavy drinking and drinkers, including Poe. Out of that grew the modern view of alcohol addiction as a psychic struggle with inner demons.

Osborn is an assistant professor of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Rum Maniacs is his first book.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

In a discussion of his new book, How the Poor Can Save Capitalism: Rebuilding the Path to the Middle Class, author John Hope Bryant presents “a Marshall plan for our times” that offers specific ways to increase financial inclusion, create economic opportunity, and give hope to America’s struggling economic majority.

Bryant explains the history and psychology behind the three factors that perpetuate poverty — lack of self-confidence and self-esteem, lack of positive role models, and lack of opportunity — and makes a compelling economic argument for investing in America’s least wealthy consumers.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Former Kansas City Star columnist Bill Tammeus takes a Fourth of July week look at how our nation has been shaped by people he calls “Middle Americans” – citizens who came after the so-called “Greatest Generation” and who were often born in the Midwest.

Drawing on his new book, Woodstock: A Story of Middle Americans, Tammeus will point to what we can celebrate about the achievements of Midwesterners and to what they haven’t done so well. Midwesterners contributed to — and accommodated themselves to — astonishing change in the last 70-plus years. But what legacy are they leaving in such areas as race relations, politics, economics, and the question of confidence in our public and private institutions?

Friday, June 27, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Watch in amazement as the Mad Scientist defies gravity in this energetic and spectacular special event. With fascinating science demonstrations – employing didgeridoo tubes, foaming hands, and steaming chemical reactions – youngsters are drawn into the exciting world of chemistry.

Appropriate for all ages.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Best-selling urban fiction author Victoria Christopher Murray discusses and reads from her novel about three friends whose stable lives are thrown into chaos by the reappearances of their former husbands and lovers. It’s a yarn that, in the words of The Washington Post, “has the kind of momentum that prompts you to elbow disbelief aside and flip the pages in horrified enjoyment.”

Among Murray’s novels are Scandalous, Destiny’s Divas, Sins of the Mother, and Temptation. She is the co-author (with ReShonda Tate Billingsley) of the “First Ladies” series of novels about rival preachers’ wives.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

As Scottish voters prepare for this autumn’s national referendum on leaving the United Kingdom, military historian Tony Mullis looks back on the country’s earlier, bloodier struggle for independence and a pivotal battle exactly 700 years ago.

In 1314, English King Edward II led an army north to quell the rebellious Scots and their king, Robert Bruce. At the Battle of Bannockburn on June 24, 1314, the Scots prevailed despite being outnumbered 2-1, forcing the English to formally concede Scotland’s independence.

A frequent speaker at the Library, Mullis is a professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014
10:00am @ Plaza Branch

Sing along, march, clap hands in time to the music, dance and take part in the fun of a live musical performance. Janie’s smile and enthusiasm are contagious, and her original songs are so catchy that they’ll stick in your head, and you won’t want them to leave!

Appropriate for preschool and early elementary aged children.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

On October 21-23, 1864, a Confederate army led by General Sterling Price clashed with its Union counterpart commanded by General Samuel Curtis. The immediate results of this large-scale battle, called by some the “Gettysburg of the West,” were a decisive Union victory and Price’s ignoble retreat from Missouri for the remainder of the Civil War.

Daniel Smith takes a ground-level look at this epic battle, as well as its lasting legacy, and asks: what does it mean, and why does it matter today? As area groups gear up this year to re-enact the Battle of Westport, Smith explores earlier efforts by participants and successive generations to remember and commemorate this significant historical event.

Sunday, June 22, 2014
2:00pm @ Plaza Branch

Chicago architect George Washington Maher was a giant of the Prairie School movement, whose buildings are treasured by communities lucky enough to have them. How did Kansas City forget that at the turn of the last century, Maher designed a significant home — possibly the city’s first Prairie School structure — for the prominent Velie family (an offshoot of the John Deere clan) in the then-fashionable Warwick neighborhood?

Kicking off the Library’s 2014 Kansas City Architecture Series, architecture enthusiast Ross Freese describes this landmark building (razed in the early ’50s to make way for All Souls Unitarian Church) and the old postcard that piqued his interest in it.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The 2014 edition of the long-running Off-the-Wall Film Series, co-presented by The Kansas City Public Library and The Pitch, features musically-themed titles from 1984.

In Breakin', a struggling jazz dancer (Lucinda Dickey) finds inspiration on the streets, thanks to the moves of Adolfo “Shabba-Do” Quinones and Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers. Plotwise the film is typical hey-kids-let’s-put-on-a-show, but it provided for millions an introduction into hip-hop culture and music. Check out Ice-T in his first movie role as a rappin’ emcee.

These five films, presented on one Friday each month from May through September on the Rooftop Terrace of the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., offer a tuneful sampling of what Americans were listening to 30 years ago. Featured are such musical artists as Prince and the Talking Heads, an early cinematic celebration of break dancing, and a classic cult film noted for its innovative musical soundtrack.