Previous Special Events

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Japan is in the middle of a historic experiment. Nearly a quarter-century after the end of its post-World War II economic miracle, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is boldly attempting—through massive government spending, monetary easing, and an overhaul of Japan’s highly regulated economy—to end a long period of political paralysis and revive the country, lifting it into a leadership role in Asia.

Michael Auslin, a resident scholar and the director of Japan studies at the Washington, D.C.-based American Enterprise Institute, examines the effort and the lessons it may hold for the West. Many of Japan’s problems are mirrored in America and Europe. Its success, or lack of it, could signal whether they are on a similar path to low growth, political incompetence, and social malaise.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

This event has been canceled at the speaker’s request due to illness.

Rightly or wrongly—and author Robert E. Litan insists it’s wrongly—the public’s esteem for economists plunged in the wake of their inability to forecast the 2008 stock market crash. In truth, Litan says, they are unsung heroes whose theories have driven improvements in daily business practices in areas ranging from investing and energy to air travel and online dating, generating more than a trillion dollars in the U.S. and the rest of the world.

Litan makes the case that economists are far more often effective innovators than hit-and-miss prognosticators in a discussion of his book Trillion Dollar Economists: How Economists and Their Ideas Have Transformed Business. A former vice president and director of research at the Kauffman Foundation, he currently is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.


Friday, May 29, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Coloradan Neil McIntyre—aka Mr. Kneel—delivers a blend of age-appropriate hip-hop and beatboxing that’s positive, inspiring, and most of all fun. Appropriate for all ages.


Friday, May 29, 2015
(All day) @ Waldo Branch

Featuring nearly 2,500 items priced from 50¢ to $1, including children's books at every reading level, youth audiobooks, DVDs, and CDs. A small selection of new and vintage books will also be available. All proceeds support services and programs at the Kansas City Public Library.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Matt Rahner began documenting the dismantling of roughly a four-block section of Kansas City’s Wendell Phillips neighborhood—acquired by the city via eminent domain—in the fall of 2012. Forty-three households were displaced, some forcibly, to make room in the predominantly African American area for a new police station and crime lab.

Rahner’s photographs, along with objects and ephemera from the vacated homes and lots, are featured in the installation Eminent Domain on display in the Central Library through May 31, 2015. He discusses his effort to illuminate what he says are “the repercussions and reality of a power construct that allows one entity to forcefully and legally relocate others against their will.”


Wednesday, May 27, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Having spent a quarter-century in the political arena, Annie Presley has had a full life: enduring a near-plane crash with Missouri Gov. John Ashcroft and Sen. Christopher Bond and sitting tight for an hour with Margaret Thatcher while a couple of armed protesters were hauled to jail, among other memorable episodes.

Part of living, too, is preparing for death. And Presley and co-author Christy Howard have written Read This ... When I'm Dead: A Guide to Getting Your Stuff Together for Your Loved Ones, a fill-in-the-blank guide to organizing your key information, thoughts, and wishes for your heirs.

Presley, a native Missourian and accomplished fundraising and political consultant, discusses both her eventful career and her new book on planning for the end in a public conversation with University of Missouri-Kansas City professor and former U.S. ambassador to Portugal Allan Katz.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

After four of the bloodiest years of warfare in its history, peace finally had come to the United States in May 1865. For two glorious days, Washington, D.C., residents watched as the mighty Union armies that had compelled the surrender of the Confederacy’s main forces marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in triumph. “The rebels,” Ulysses S. Grant proclaimed a few weeks earlier, “are our countrymen again.”

Historians Terry L. Beckenbaugh and Ethan S. Rafuse of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth close the Library’s Civil War Sesquicentennial series with a discussion of how the North prevailed and the South lay broken and defeated, what the four years of fighting left unresolved, and why the Civil War remains so compelling 150 years after the final shots were fired.


Thursday, May 21, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Fashion changed forever on November 28, 1973, when a team of top U.S. designers—including Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, and Anne Klein—faced off on the runway against Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, and the rest of a well-heeled French lineup considered the best in the world. The lavish spectacle in King Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles drew many of the world’s social elite.

The Americans stole the show, in no small part due to a dynamic and groundbreaking group of models featuring 10 African Americans.

Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion critic Robin Givhan of The Washington Post discusses her new book about a night that altered the industry’s view of race, gender, sexuality, and economics for decades to come.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Dwight Eisenhower was a man of simple tastes but decisive action. Behind the dry smile was a brilliant, intellectual tactician, an attribute—also evident at the poker table—that served to keep dozens of Cold War standoffs from flaring into full-scale war during his two terms as president.

Former Newsweek editor-at-large Evan Thomas draws from his book Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World in discussing the central Kansas war hero turned commander-in-chief, who navigated the nation through some of the most perilous times the world has known.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

By the time of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, the land and people of western Missouri had suffered as much as any during the Civil War. The 1863 edict known as “Order No. 11”—forcing the evacuation of all non-rural residents of three western counties including Jackson—and the Federal army that carried it out had depopulated those counties, devastated homes and farms, and left deep scars.

Focusing on families and communities, Parkville, Missouri, author Tom Rafiner examines the scene that greeted returning residents after the Civil War on the Western Border ended. The “burnt district” took decades to heal, casting a long, dark shadow on postwar Missouri.