Previous Special Events

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Filmmaker Kevin Willmott discusses and screens his satiric Destination: Planet Negro, a spoof of 1950s science fiction films in which a rocket ship from the 1930s enters a time warp, landing its crew of three in a modern Midwestern metropolis. There, they must contend with such unbelievable developments as a black president and young African American men who cannot keep their pants up.

Willmott is an associate professor of film at the University of Kansas. Among his feature films are Ninth Street, C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, The Only Good Indian, and the upcoming Jayhawkers.

Friday, March 28, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Actors with The White Theatre at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City present selected scenes from the classic novel by Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird. Set in Alabama during the Great Depression, the story follows the journey of young schoolgirl Scout Finch, her older brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus, an attorney who has been appointed to defend a black man framed for a crime he did not commit.

Appropriate for grades 5 – 12.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

On the 75th anniversary of the fascist march into Madrid and General Franco’s declaration of victory, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College’s Donald P. Wright offers an overview of the Spanish Civil War. He emphasizes the political origins of the conflict, the war itself, and the legacy it left in Spain and greater Europe.

This event is part of the Library’s continuing examination of the pivotal year of 1939.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Tapped to be Franklin Roosevelt’s spymaster during World War II, William Joseph “Wild Bill” Donovan became a mythic figure in the history of espionage, directing the Office of Strategic Services — America’s first national intelligence agency — and becoming the intellectual father of today’s CIA.

Biographer Douglas C. Waller looks at the man who introduced the U.S. to the dark arts of covert warfare while often risking his own life unnecessarily. Waller reveals a complex figure who won a Medal of Honor in World War II, earned millions as a Republican lawyer on Wall Street, and gave ammunition to his political enemies through a series of extramarital affairs.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

In this year’s Park University Hauptmann Lecture, international policy expert Robert Jervis maintains that though the United States is now unusually secure, there remains a widespread sense among both policy elites and the general public that the world is in fact deeply threatening. How are we to resolve this puzzle?

Jervis is the Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Politics at Columbia University and past president of the American Political Science Association. Among his books are The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution and Perception and Misperception in International Politics.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Larry Tye discusses his book Superman, the first full-fledged biography of not only the fictional Man of Steel but also the real-world writers, artists, publishers, and performers who have kept the caped character an essential part of American culture for seven decades.

A former reporter for The Boston Globe, Tye now runs the Boston-based Health Coverage Fellowship, which helps the media cover critical health care issues. His books have addressed baseball legend Satchel Paige, the birth of the public relations industry, and how Pullman porters helped create a black middle class.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

After the deaths in the early 1950s of botanist T.J. Fitzpatrick and his wife, a treasure trove of rare books was found in their modest home in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Retired KCPL librarian Sherrie Smith traces the strange history of these early 20th century “hoarders,” who amassed a fabulous collection of rare books, pamphlets, and Western Americana. In 1953, Missouri Valley Special Collections purchased more than 20,000 items from the Fitzpatrick estate.

Smith spent several years working with the Fitzpatrick collection, especially its extensive Mormon collection and Lewis & Clark volumes.

Friday, March 21, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Calling all future engineers ... or just any youngster who loves to build! Join the LEARN Science and Math Club for an evening of fun with LEGOS! LEARN will provide the bricks; you provide the imagination.

LEARN Science and Math Club provides rich science and math experiences through the use of robotics and engineering projects, fostering kids’ collaboration and communication skills.

Appropriate for all ages.

Thursday, March 20, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

For nearly a half-century, Eric Mann has worked on anti-war, labor, and environmental causes. He looks at how race, labor, and immigration are reshaping the political and social lives of our urban areas. And he talks of forging coalitions, nurturing inclusion, seeding innovation, salvaging identity, and building community.

Mann is director of the Labor/Community Strategy Center in Los Angeles, a “think tank/act tank” that trains organizers to work for “environmental justice, mass transportation, and civil rights.”

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rachel Cantor helps local readers escape the winter blahs with a discussion of her debut novel, A Highly Unlikely Scenario, or a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World. Cantor, whose résumé includes an Italian childhood, French jazz festivals, and Australian food festivals, dishes up an uproarious tale of Leonard, who operates a pizza chain complaint hotline and finds himself inundated with medieval Kabbalists, rare book librarians, and latter-day Baconians.