Previous Special Events

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Former U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton discusses his new memoir Achieve the Honorable in a public conversation with library director Crosby Kemper III.

Achieve the Honorable is the story of how Skelton, a native of Lexington, Missouri, overcame boyhood polio to launch a career on Capitol Hill. Along the way, the book provides glimpses into the lives of political titans like Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton, and treats readers to Skelton’s engaging humor and shrewd political insight.


Sunday, October 6, 2013


The gruff U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, the central male character in Charles Portis’ True Grit, has been immortalized on film by both John Wayne and Jeff Bridges. But what if the one-eyed, overweight, blustery, larger-than-life lawman was inspired by a real person? Brett Cogburn introduces us to his great-grandfather, John Franklin “Rooster” Cogburn, who may (or may not) have inspired the fictional character.

Brett Cogburn is the author of Panhandle and The Texans.


Sunday, October 6, 2013
2:00pm @ Plaza Branch

Coterie Theatre Artists read from favorite children's books while the audience enjoys an opportunity to "jump into the story" and participate in an improvised story of their own making.

Appropriate for all ages, Dramatic Story Time programs take place one Sunday each month at 2 p.m. throughout the 2013-2014 school year, beginning October 6, 2013.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Down to Earth Riders, a local African American Saddle Club, presents an afternoon of all things cowboy and cowgirl. Youth and adult members discuss the impact that riding horses has had on their lives, and display saddles and other equestrian tack.

Brother John Anderson shares stories about black cowboys. There will also be a craft period.

The Down to Earth Riders was founded in 2007 to encourage and empower youth through experiences with horses. Appropriate for all ages.


Friday, October 4, 2013
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Kansas City’s own De Los Barrios Flamenco Group presents an exciting evening of music and dance.

Get a taste of Spain with this entertaining and interactive program for children and adults. Dancers Tamara Carson and Amanda January, accompanied by Jarrod Stephenson on guitar, Rich Wheeler on saxophone, and John Currey on the Cajón, (a Peruvian percussion instrument ), heat up the stage with their captivating clapping and fiery footwork.

Appropriate for all ages.


Friday, October 4, 2013


True Grit’s fictional heroine Mattie Ross had real-life counterparts—and not all of them were white. Women of color played their part in the history of the American West, and historian Michael Searles explores their world.

Among his subjects is “Stagecoach” Mary Fields, who wore a six shooter on her hip, smoked cigars, and was given official permission to drink at her local tavern in Montana. Searles’ talk examines the little known history of black women with true grit in the West.


Thursday, October 3, 2013
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

A century after his inauguration, President Woodrow Wilson remains among the most influential figures of the 20th century—and one of the most enigmatic. Now, after more than a decade of research and writing, A. Scott Berg discusses his definitive biography Wilson, which looks not only at this leader’s public life but also his private passions.

Berg is a winner of both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch


Television and movie audiences have grown familiar with the cattle-driving, staccato, and triumphant theme music at the beginning of nearly every Western film or television program. Yet for their 2010 remake of True Grit, the Coen brothers employed somber and contemplative bluegrass and folk-inspired music.

Navigating the gap between the rousing pomp of earlier Westerns and the more subdued soundtrack featured in the Coen brothers’ 2010 True Grit remake, Kansas City musician Jeff Harshbarger performs original songs inspired by the historic era in which the film unfolds. With his band The Revisionists he performs both new and familiar tunes keyed to the novel’s setting.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Long viewed as unjust and mercenary, the Mexican-American War allowed the U.S. to seize control of vast expanses of the Southwest, paved the way for the Civil War, and led to the political rise of Abraham Lincoln.

Historian Amy S. Greenberg discusses her book A Wicked War and its cast of colorful characters: James K. Polk, the dour president committed to territorial expansion; Henry Clay, the aging statesman with one last great speech up his sleeve; and Lincoln’s archrival John Hardin, to name just a few.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

True grit doesn’t simply exist only in the Old West.

In her memoir Bambi Nancy Shen reflects on her birth in Saigon, her childhood in a Japanese concentration camp, and her life of survival at the crossroads of world events: WWII, the Chinese Civil War, and the Vietnam War. She struggled with her mother’s disappointment that Shen was born female, moved to the United States to study, and twice entered marriages that reflected her low self-esteem. But by discovering her personal strengths Shen became a model of contemporary true grit.

Shen is a Kansas City businesswoman, author, teacher, international tour director, public speaker, interpreter, and co-founder of a nonprofit charitable organization.