Previous Special Events

Sunday, August 17, 2014
2:00pm @ Plaza Branch

The Kansas City Public Library and Cultural Crossroads will mark the opening of a new collection – The Human Spirit – with a presentation by Julian Zugazagoitia, director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Zugazagoitia’s talk, Art of the Human Spirit, addresses the ways in which art can be a manifestation of the human spirit and human experience.

The Human Spirit Collection features more than 140 books intended to enhance understanding and mutual respect among the diverse faiths, traditions, and cultures within the greater Kansas City community. It provides a central repository of multicultural and interfaith materials for educators and the public at large.


Friday, August 15, 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 Repo Man, Young Otto (Emilio Estevez) gets a crash course in repossessing cars from old hand Harry Dean Stanton in this cult effort that mixes anti-social rebellion with black comedy and even a dab of science fiction. Director Alex Cox’s film isn’t technically a musical, but it has a killer soundtrack featuring Iggy Pop, Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, the Circle Jerks, and other bands your mother wouldn’t approve of. This title is Rated R and is recommended for adult audiences only.

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, August 15, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Prepare to be amazed. Eric Vaughn – Kansas City’s Magician of the Year in 2000 – delivers a wacky, enthusiastic, interactive performance that keeps audiences laughing and scratching their heads at the same time. Appropriate for all ages.


Thursday, August 14, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

On this date 99 years and 364 days ago, the Panama Canal opened and revolutionized maritime trade.

It also threw the Panama Railroad and its parallel, 47-mile track into near-disuse and decay – until it was taken over in 1998 and restored by the Panama Canal Railway Company, which is 50 percent owned by Kansas City Southern. The Panama line now provides continuous Atlantic-to-Pacific freight and passenger service.

Kansas City Southern President and CEO Dave Starling oversaw that rejuvenation during his tenure as president and director general of the Panama Canal Railway from 1999-2008. He sits down with Library Director Crosby Kemper III for a conversation coinciding with the 8½-month run of the centennial exhibit on the canal, The Land Divided, The World United: Building the Panama Canal, at the Linda Hall Library.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

At 7 in the morning on February 21, 1916, the ground in northern France began to shake. For the next 10 hours, some 1,200 German guns showered shells on a salient in French lines. The onslaught collapsed dugouts, obliterated trenches, severed communication wires, and drove men mad. The Battle of Verdun had begun.

Drawing from his book, Verdun: The Longest Battle of the Great War, Brandeis University historian Paul Jankowski looks back on what became one of history’s greatest and most demanding battlefield encounters – a 302-day nightmare that left an estimated 303,000 French and German soldiers dead and more than 400,000 wounded.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Midwest’s small towns have produced the entrepreneurial likes of Henry Ford, George Washington Carver, and Walt Disney; artists and entertainers such as Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, Carl Sandburg, and Johnny Carson; and political titans William McKinley, William Jennings Bryan, and Ronald Reagan.

In a discussion of his new book, Small Town Dreams: Stories of Midwestern Boys Who Shaped America, author John E. Miller explores the lives of those and other notables and the small-town environments from which they came. In their stories, as Miller tells them, all appear in a new light – unique in their backgrounds and accomplishments, united only in the way their lives reveal the persisting, shaping power of place.


Sunday, August 10, 2014
3:00pm @ Plaza Branch

The Kansas City Opera Institute is settling into a second season of classes, workshops, and productions designed to prepare and showcase “the next generation of great performers.”

Those performers deliver a semi-staged production of Mozart’s Idomeneo, re di Creta — Italian for Idomeneo, King of Crete — a time-honored opera introduced more than 230 years earlier in Munich, Germany. Music historians suggest it might have been Mozart’s favorite work, a classic Greek myth that captures the growing tension of the social and political landscape of the late 18th century while exploring the value of a single human life.


Sunday, August 10, 2014
2:00pm @ Waldo Branch

Best-selling mystery and horror author J.A. Jance introduced Joanna Brady to readers in Desert Heat in 1993. Her fictional Arizona sheriff, first voted into office in place of her murdered husband, has since been featured in 16 more books – among a total of more than 40 that Jance has written.

On the heels of the summer releases of the latest two entries in the Joanna Brady series, The Old Blue Line: A Joanna Brady Novella and Remains of Innocence, Jance appears at the Library’s Waldo Branch for a discussion of the series.


Friday, August 8, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

In its second season, the Kansas City Opera Institute brings the most famous of the Mother Goose fairy tales, Puss in Boots, to the Library.

It’s the story of a young miller and his new pet, a remarkably smart and mischievous talking cat, which sets off to find his owner riches, romance, and true happiness. Appropriate for preschoolers and up.


Thursday, August 7, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Thrust into the nation’s highest office following Richard Nixon’s resignation, Gerald R. Ford faced the impossible task of achieving much in little time and in the face of great adversity.

Historian John Robert Greene examines the 38th president’s struggle to restore the prestige of the office — after Nixon’s misdeeds, during an ignominious departure from Vietnam, and amid Congress’ intentions to scale back presidential power — in a discussion of his book, The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford.