Previous Special Events

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Yes, there’s gridlock in Washington. There’s polarization and self-interest. But beyond those breakdowns, Philip K. Howard points to what he says is a deeper and more destructive hindrance to good government: The system itself is broken. Rules leave no room for common sense. Leaders lack the authority, or responsibility, to lead.

Howard, a New York lawyer and founder of the nonpartisan coalition Common Good, which advocates an overhaul of government and the courts, discusses his new book, The Rule of Nobody, in which he argues for a return to the framers’ vision of public law – simply setting goals and boundaries, not dictating daily choices. Leaders, Howard says, should ask, “What’s the right thing to do?” not “What does the rule book say?”

Co-presented by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.


Friday, September 19, 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.

Under the direction of Jonathan Demme, David Byrne and the Talking Heads deliver one of the greatest concert movies ever in Stop Making Sense. Featured are Heads classics like “Take Me to the River,” “Psycho Killer,” “Once in a Lifetime,” and “Burning Down the House.” Not to mention an appearance by Byrne’s “big suit.”

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.


Friday, September 19, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

What are your favorite toys? What did kids play with 20, 50, 100 years ago?

In a program presented by Kansas City’s John Wornall House Museum, Jay Clasen gives kids a hands-on look at an array of antique toys from his collection. Then, he leads them in a “real life” game.

Appropriate for all ages.


Thursday, September 18, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

There are few storytellers like old baseball scouts because, well, nobody collects stories like the guys who spend a lifetime crisscrossing America’s byways and backwaters in search of future major leaguers.

Art Stewart’s memory bank runs especially deep. Still active in his 45th season with the Kansas City Royals, he helped bring Bo Jackson to KC and signed pitcher Kevin Appier, outfielders Johnny Damon and Carlos Beltran, and current Royals catcher Salvador Perez among 70-some other big-league players.

With his co-author, Kansas City Star columnist Sam Mellinger, the 87-year-old Stewart discusses his new book, The Art of Scouting: Seven Decades Chasing Hopes and Dreams in Major League Baseball. Other members of the Royals family will appear with them.

Royals great George Brett and General Manager Dayton Moore deliver opening remarks.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

The November general election will seat a Congress facing critical economic challenges. But analysts disagree on the role of government in the economy, their arguments revolving around two questions: How much does the government really know about people’s wants and needs? And is there a clear market failure that policy can address?

A back-and-forth expression of conflicting views spills into this event featuring Stephanie Kelton, chair of the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Department of Economics, and University of Missouri economics professor Joseph Haslag, who will discuss the government’s proper role in the economy and take audience members’ written questions. Mike Shanin, who leads the weekly roundtable of conservatives and liberals on KCPT-TV’s Ruckus, will moderate.

Co-sponsored by the Jobs Now! Coalition and the Show-Me Institute.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fifty years ago, in September 1964, The Beatles appeared – some say flopped – at Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium. Charley Finley, controversial owner of the Kansas City Athletics baseball team, enticed the Fab Four to perform at the old ball field for a then astronomical $150,000 fee! The show barely drew 20,000 fans, and Finley lost his shirt. Rick Hellman, chronicler of the city’s music history, tells how Kansas City’s teenagers experienced a bit of rock-and-roll history during the exciting run-up and bewildering aftermath of the 31-minute concert.

Rick Hellman, a Kansas City native, journalist, and assignment editor at KSHB-TV, heads up the Kansas City Rock History Project (www.kcrockhistory.com).


Friday, September 12, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

As an actress, Heidi Swedberg is best known for playing George Costanza’s fiancée, Susan, on TV’s Seinfeld. But her roots as a musician run much deeper – to the morning when she got her first ukulele from the Easter Bunny as a 5-year-old living in Hawaii.

Swedberg has built a national reputation for her ukulele-inflected, highly interactive approach to family music-making, and returns to the Library with her unique, Sukey Jump style. Enjoy a family concert in which everyone in the family can participate. Pick up an instrument, clap your hands, sing, or just hum along.

Appropriate for all ages.


Thursday, September 11, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

From Kansas City’s signature Country Club Plaza to pristine shopping districts and neighborhoods across the country, J.C. Nichols’ imprint on the American landscape remains deep and far-reaching.

The famed real estate developer, who died a little more than 64 years ago, is spotlighted in the latest installment of the Library’s popular Meet the Past series. Nichols — as portrayed by historian and Meet the Past veteran Bill Worley — will be interviewed by Library Director Crosby Kemper III.

The program also includes introductory remarks about Nichols and the architectural legacy of the Country Club Plaza by Stephanie Meeks, president and chief executive officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Jonathan Kemper, president of the Library’s Board of Trustees and co-chair of the National Trust Council.

The presentation will be taped by KCPT for later broadcast.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thirty years ago, there were no private military and security companies. Now PMSCs, as they’re known, are a vital part of American foreign and military policy, assisting in combat operations, replacing U.S. forces after their withdrawal from combat zones, and providing maritime security, police training, drone operations, cyber security, and intelligence analysis.

In a discussion of her new book, journalist Ann Hagedorn takes a worried look at this privatization of our national security – why it originated, how it operates, where it’s heading, and the dangers it poses.

Hagedorn is a former staff writer for The Wall Street Journal. Among her books are Wild Ride, Ransom, Beyond the River, and Savage Peace.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Jen Mann is, first, a suburban Johnson County, Kansas, wife and mother of two and, second, a witty, biting writer whose blog, People I Want to Punch in the Throat, has garnered a national following. Featured on The Huffington Post, the young parents’ online magazine Babble, and cable television’s Headline News, she has been described as Erma Bombeck – with f-bombs.

Mann appears at the Library to launch her new book, People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges, a laugh-out-loud collection of essays on suburban life, marriage, and motherhood. Subjects range from the politics of joining a play group to the thrill of a moms’ night out at the gun range.