Previous Special Events

All Library locations will be closed on Sunday, April 20, in observance of the Easter holiday.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

John B. Judis, senior editor at The New Republic, examines the half-century of raging conflict between Jews and Arabs—a violent, costly struggle that has had catastrophic repercussions in a critical region of the world.

The fatal flaw in American policy, Judis says, can be traced back to the Truman administration. What happened between 1945 and 1949 sealed the fate of the Middle East for the remainder of the century and explains why every subsequent attempt to stabilize the area has failed—right down to George W. Bush’s unsuccessful and ill-conceived effort to win peace by holding elections among Palestinians and Barack Obama’s failed attempt to bring both sides to the negotiating table.


Monday, February 24, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Chasing Ice is a 2012 documentary about the efforts of photographer James Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey to publicize the effects of climate change. It features scenes of a glacier calving event that took place at Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland, the largest outer-edge breakup of a glacier ever captured on film.

Balog was skeptical about the science of climate change when he began his trip north, but over the course of the documentary he became increasingly convinced that climate change is real and, in large part, man-made. Chasing Ice represents his effort to bring the story to the public.


Sunday, February 23, 2014
2:00pm @ Waldo Branch

Join Bernard Norcott-Mahany as he recounts “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (the movie Mitty is not the real Mitty) and other stories and cartoons by James Thurber.

Thurber, a writer and cartoonist for The New Yorker from the 1920s through the 1950s, has often been compared with Mark Twain as one of America’s premier humorists. Though very funny, Thurber’s stories have a darker side as well.


Sunday, February 23, 2014
1:30pm @ Plaza Branch

A free series of films by Alfred Hitchcock who used film to explore his own neuroses and phobias, in the process revealing the psychological complexities we all share.

The birds of the air begin attacking humanity … but that’s just one of the horrors in this disturbing depiction of madness and sexuality. Hitchcock’s new find Tippi Hedren (the director was obsessed with her) and Rod Taylor play a couple whose growing love must contend not only with a rampaging Mother Nature but also with his domineering and possessive mama (Jessica Tandy).


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Americans are familiar with Civil War land battles—but much less so with the war at sea, from the development of ironclad warships and submarines to the more mundane naval blockade that created economic starvation in the South.

On the 150th anniversary of the Confederates’ loss of the CSS Hunley—which had been the first combat Submarine to sink an enemy warship—John T. Kuehn of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College examines the largely underappreciated role that naval warfare played in the Civil War. Kuehn, a former Navy aviator, is the author of two books on the Pacific theater in World War II and another on the military history of Japan.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Veteran re-enactor Charles Everett Pace brings his one man show to Kansas City to portray prominent abolitionist and social reformer Frederick Douglass.

Born enslaved in 1818, Douglass successfully escaped from bondage in 1838 and quickly rose to the front ranks of leading abolitionists, becoming the most famous black American of his day. In the years leading up to the Civil War, his incisive anti-slavery writings and mesmerizing speeches reached broad audiences in the United States and the British Isles. Following emancipation, Douglass continued to lecture and write on civil rights issues, including women’s rights and desegregation. He wrote several versions of his autobiography between 1845 and 1892.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Well before the famous 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City sparked the modern gay rights movement, Kansas City had its own active gay rights community that was a meaningful participant in the larger national movement. Post-Stonewall, the city’s emerging gay and lesbian community strove to provide venues and services to address the growing needs of its members.

Stuart Hinds, head of the LaBudde Special Collections at the UMKC Libraries; Kevin Scharlau, History PhD. candidate at UMKC; and attorney Kay Madden hold a lively discussion of the history of LGBT advocacy in the Kansas City area.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Murderers. Mob bosses. Anarchists. Bootleggers. Thieves. They’ve all found a home at the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, regarded for many years as the ultimate high-security prison.

Now their stories are told by the National Archives’ Jake Ersland in an exploration of the Archives’ “Record Group 129,” the inmate case files for the Leavenworth penitentiary. Ersland gives an illustrated lecture on the history of these valuable research files and the untold stories they contain, many with a Kansas City connection.


Sunday, February 16, 2014
1:30pm @ Plaza Branch

The most famous movie about Paris was shot in Culver City, California. Indeed, An American in Paris sums up Hollywood in its Golden Era: Why bother with the real and true when the make-believe is so much more satisfying? This joyous celebration of music and dance ultimately becomes high art when, in its audacious final 16 minutes, it delivers a dazzling wordless ballet that brought out the best in choreographer/star Gene Kelly and director Vincente Minnelli.


Friday, February 14, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Join vocalist and storyteller Brother John as he pays tribute to the likes of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lena Horne in an exploration of the golden age of swing jazz.