Previous Special Events

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Caught between the beauty of his grandchildren and grief over a friend’s death, Frank Schaeffer found himself simultaneously not believing and believing in a higher power – an atheist turning to prayer.

The bestselling author examines that conflict in a discussion of his latest book, Why I Am an Atheist Who Believes in God. Schaeffer casts himself as an imperfect son, husband, and grandfather whose love of family and art trump the ugly theologies of an angry God and the atheist’s vision of a cold, meaningless universe.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The vast U.S. intelligence operations of today have their roots in World War I, when the Army flew aerial photography missions and cracked German codes and the State Department carried out its own daring espionage missions. Back home, the military and Justice Department worked to secure the nation against spies and saboteurs – real and imaginary.

Mark Stout, who worked for 13 years as an intelligence analyst with the State Department and CIA, examines this little-known period in American history and its lasting impact.

Stout currently is director of Johns Hopkins University’s Global Security master’s program. He spent three years as historian at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The behind-the-scenes lives of African American clergymen and their families make up a major sub-genre of contemporary urban fiction. To date, most of these novels have been written by women.

Author Carl Weber offers a male point of view in books such as The Choir Director. In his latest novel, a sequel to that bestseller, title character Aaron Mackie’s nationally renowned success has him in line for a huge recording contract. But his private life comes crashing down when his fiancé leaves him at the altar with no explanation, and Mackie turns to his mentor, Bishop T.K. Wilson, for help. Unfortunately, the line Mackie asks him to cross will force the bishop to choose between friendship and faith.


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.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

How do you prove that you are a true American? Especially if you’re of German descent and your country is engaged in a desperate struggle with your ancestors’ homeland?

Historian Petra DeWitt explores the dilemma of German Americans who, at the time of World War I, made up one of the largest and most prosperous ethnic groups in Missouri. But with America’s involvement in the war, the loyalty of those citizens often was called into question and they endured government attacks on their culture and history – including an effort to ban the German language in Missouri.


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.