Previous Special Events

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Stanford University’s Eric Hanushek puts the value of quality teaching in stark economic terms. Place even a slightly above-average teacher in front of a class of 20, and the resultant gain is more than $400,000 in future earnings over the earnings of students exposed to an average teacher. Replacing the bottom 5 to 8 percent of teachers with average instructors, he says, could lift the U.S. near the top of international math and science rankings.

Hanushek, the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, discusses the economic value of effective teachers and the assertion that their impact is sufficiently large to make significant changes in how we evaluate and reward them.

Co-sponsored by the Show-Me Institute and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Granted, there are creative lone wolves out there. But history and social psychology tell us that success stems far more often from one-to-one collaboration. Think John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

Writer Joshua Wolf Shenk sits down with native Kansan and former colleague Robert Day to discuss the elements and impact of creative chemistry and Shenk’s new, science-backed book Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

The ranch house became an integral part of the vocabulary of the U.S. housing market after World War II, when the demand for a single-family home reached record levels.

Today, there is a resurgence of interest in this modernistic, uniquely American architectural creation and a new generation of homebuyers is discovering its allure. Mary van Balgooy, a leading authority on the ranch house and biographer of influential architect and ranch house pioneer Cliff May, discusses the legendary builder, the ranch home’s influences and features, and the race to preserve it.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Aristocratic and sophisticated, Edith Kermit Roosevelt, the wife of Theodore Roosevelt, ran the White House with a sure hand and figured prominently in how the institution of the first lady developed during the 20th century. But her reputation as a secular saint is misleading, says historian Lewis L. Gould, who points among other things to her virulent racism.

Gould, the Eugene C. Barker Centennial Professor Emeritus in American History at the University of Texas at Austin, discusses the complex subject of his book Edith Kermit Roosevelt: Creating the Modern First Lady.

The presentation is part of the Beyond the Gowns series, made possible by grants from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to the Kansas City Public Library and the Truman Library Institute.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

LaShonda Katrice Barnett’s debut novel—about a black female journalist escaping the early-1900s Jim Crow laws of the South and fighting injustice in Kansas City through her African American newspaper—has drawn praise from the Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, and Oprah Winfrey’s O magazine, among other publications.

The Kansas City-born author sits down with journalist Eric Wesson of the city’s own landmark African-American newspaper, The Call, for a public conversation about the elegantly written work of historical fiction, which gains resonance from today’s social discontent. Events in Jam on the Vine lead up to and include the Red Summer of 1919, when race riots broke out in a number of American cities.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Kansas mills, located literally in the breadbasket of America, produced an enormous quantity of flour in an era when women routinely baked their families’ bread at home. Mill owners used cotton flour sacks as advertising tools to proudly display their names, locations, and unique brands, as well as to catch the consumer’s eye. The empty sack also served as a needed piece of fabric during the Depression.

Avid collector Nancy Jo Leachman, a longtime reference librarian at the Salina Public Library, has accumulated more than 100 vintage flour sacks from the 1920s-1940s, representing more than 30 Kansas counties. Her illustrated lecture of the best and most colorful—nothing “run-of-the-mill” here—reveals how each sack carries a fascinating story, be it advancing nutritional information, expressing political views, or reflecting popular culture.


Saturday, April 18, 2015
2:00pm @ Plaza Branch

It’s a baseball movie, yes. But Field of Dreams is much more, a blend of fairy tale, family, and the national pastime that has remained a national treasure since its release in 1989.

Kansas City FilmFest screens the Academy Award nominee for best picture, starring Kevin Costner. Appropriate for ages 10 and up.


Friday, April 17, 2015
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Guided by artists from the Owen/Cox Dance Group’s Take the Stage Program, young participants take inspiration from children’s books and literature to find the dancer in them at this National Library Week event. Appropriate for all ages.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sifting through the stacks of her local library in Hamburg, Germany, Jennifer Teege happened upon a book that first fascinated and then staggered her. Recognizing photos of her mother and grandmother, she made the horrifying discovery that her grandfather was Amon Goeth – the vicious Nazi commandant chillingly depicted by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List.

The more Teege read, the more certain she became: If Goeth had met her, a German-Nigerian black woman, he would have killed her.

Teege, who was given up by her mother when very young, sits down with the Library’s Kaite Stover during National Library Week for a public conversation about the revelation and Teege’s subsequent quest to unearth and fully comprehend her family’s haunted history. She chronicles the story in her book with award-winning journalist Nikola Sellmair.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

For Abraham Lincoln, the road to the future always began in the past – with the Founding Fathers, who inspired him to take up public life, showed him how to win arguments, and laid out his nation’s principles.

On the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s death, historian Richard Brookhiser delivers an illuminating new look at our 16th and arguably greatest president.