Previous Special Events

Friday, April 4, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

In observance of Earth Month, the StoneLion Puppet Theatre debuts I’d Rather Be a Hummingbird, a show based on the folk tale by Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai.

This new musical will transport you to a world where it’s not the size of the effort that matters most but rather the fact that you tried.

Recommended for preschool to Grade 4 and their families.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The popularized, and wholly myopic, story of the United States’ westward expansion entails great Anglo-American explorers, hardy pioneers, and disappearing Indians. But as historian Anne F. Hyde makes clear in a discussion of her Bancroft Prize-winning book, this chapter in our country’s history is more complex than that.

The Louisiana Purchase didn’t procure entirely virgin wilderness. From previous French and Spanish ownership, there were existing political and military influences, and the territory also was held together — and divided — by ethnically mixed families, friendships, and other alliances.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

On August 15, 1914, the Panama Canal opened, connecting the world’s two largest oceans and signaling America’s emergence as a global power. American ingenuity and innovation — some of it supplied by individuals with Kansas City ties — had succeeded where, a few years earlier, the French had disastrously failed, stymied by disease, weather, and geography.

The story of this monumental undertaking — the visionaries who pushed for it and nameless laborers who made it happen 100 years ago — is explored in this documentary that first aired in 2011. The screening previews a new exhibit, The Land Divided, The World United: Building the Panama Canal, opening at the Linda Hall Library on Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dramatist, actor, spoken word artist, writer, and Tony Award-winning poet Lemon Andersen performs selections of his poetry during the kickoff event for this year’s Teen Poetry Month at the Kansas City Public Library.

The evening opens with a 6 p.m. reception. Audience members can sign up for open mic participation starting at 6:30 p.m., and Andersen’s presentation begins at 7:30 p.m.

Appropriate for ages 13 and up.

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

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.

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.

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.