Imagine this: You hear about a book that sounds really interesting. Your friends have raved about it. You haven’t been this excited to get your hands on something to read in a long time. You go to the library to check it out. No can do. Somebody has taken all copies of those books off the shelves. Nobody will be able to borrow them for a long time. You are out of luck.

Does this sound extreme? For some people, this is life. They have experienced it. However, libraries are supposed to be places that protect our First Amendment rights to Freedom of Speech. That means being able to access the information that you want and need. Those of us who work here take that very seriously.

The American Library Association has an Office for Intellectual Freedom. One of this office’s big initiatives is Banned Books Week which runs from September 27th to October 3rd this year. This stand against censorship is especially important for teens since three of the ten most challenged books for 2014 are in our young adult section. These include Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky,and Drama by Raina Telgemeier. Why would people take issue with these books? Among the reasons cited are that a noted book: is anti-family, is culturally insensitive, is sexually explicit, is unsuited for the age group to which it is marketed, depicts drugs/alcohol/smoking, depicts gambling, utilizes offensive language, contains sex education, and contains homosexuality.

So, what can you do? First, support books that have been challenged or banned. If you can obtain them, do. The Kansas City Public Library has many. Read them. Tell friends about them. Reply to this blog, and post your opinions here. Promote banned books using your local media.
Also, you can watch videos of people reading banned books on YouTube. You can add your own video. If you want to see mine, please click here.

A free society is one where people’s voices proclaim their beliefs without being silenced. Thank you for supporting your libraries as bastions of this right.

About the Author

Anna Francesca Garcia earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences Degree from the University of North Texas. She has worked in public libraries in Nevada and Missouri for 11 years. Currently, Anna Francesca is Kansas City Public Library’s Education Librarian.

Did you know that the Library offers free streaming video? You can have audiobooks, TV shows, and movies on-demand. Book access is only a part of what we do.

My eight-year-old daughter watched several episodes of The Addams Family TV show from its first season in 1964. She did this on my computer for free by using the Library’s Hoopla service. Following her experience, she agreed to be interviewed for this blog.

Q: Why did you use Hoopla today?

A: I wanted to watch The Addams Family and I was bored. And I couldn’t watch Goosebumps because we didn’t have any (DVDs).

Q: Why?

A: I wanted to watch something scary. But it wasn’t really scary. It was just silly.

Q: Did you like it?

A: Yeah. Why wouldn’t I? There was a lot of kissing, though. That was gross.

Q: Would you recommend it to other people?

A: Yes. Yes I would.

Q: If so, who?

A: Everyone in the world

Q: Would you recommend using Hoopla to other people?

A: No. They may not have the right software.

I see her concern, software is a reason why others may not want to try Hoopla as well. However, it is made to be compatible across multiple platforms. Library employees are being trained on Hoopla and will gladly assist you in being able to use this service.

Now I know to look for Goosebumps DVDs when I am back in the Library and to request them from other branches if they are not at my home base Downtown. Knowing that my daughter likes these slightly spooky tales, I will probably get a few of the chapter books for us to read together too.

In the meantime, I recommend Hoopla as a fun way to immediately get free movies, TV shows, and audiobooks. People now want things instantly, with Hoopla, your Library is ready.

About the Author

Anna Francesca Garcia earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences Degree from the University of North Texas. She has worked in public libraries in Nevada and Missouri for eleven years. Currently, Anna Francesca is Kansas City Public Library’s Education Librarian.

Made You Up by Francesa Zappia

publication date: 2015
pages: 428
ISBN: 978-0-06-229010-6

This is a YA detective story with a twist: the sleuth, high school senior Alex Ridgemont, can't tell when a clue is real. Alex has schizophrenia, complete with detailed visual hallucinations. In order to keep her perceptions based in reality, she takes her medication and photographs everything around her, relying on the photographs to represent reality.

Alex navigates her senior year of high school at a new school, with a new crush, a new job, and a new principal who is possibly murderous. She attempts to unravel the mysteries at her new school while unraveling the hold her hallucinations have on her life.

One of the best parts of this book is that I, as the reader, simply did not know what was real. Alex is a very unreliable narrator. That adds great interest to the book and made me read carefully to make sure I didn't miss anything. However, the unreliability of the book goes beyond Alex's schizophrenic narration – the plot itself is bizarre and not what I would call realistic.

The characters, also, are somewhat unrealistic. A teenage boy who dresses up like a Nazi. A school scoreboard that is literally revered because it killed a girl 20 years ago. A school administrator who was standing right next to the fatal scoreboard and was somehow never investigated for murder.

However, there are lots of great things about the characters, too. Author Francesca Zappia imbues Alex with charm and makes her very endearing, even as she is crafting nonsensical and destructive schemes. For example, here is Alex's description of her favorite holiday:

Sometimes it felt like I only got happy this way around Christmas. The rest of the year, I wondered if the point of Christmas was just spending money and getting fat and opening gifts. Indulging.

But when Christmas finally comes, and that warm, tingly, mints-and-sweaters-and-fireplace-fires feeling gathers in the bottom of your stomach, and you're lying on the floor with all the lights off but the ones on the Christmas tree, and listening to the silence of the snow falling outside, you see the point. For that one instance in time, everything is good in the world. It doesn't matter if everything isn't actually good. It's the one time of the year when pretending is enough.

Like much of the rest of the book, the ending is uneven. In some ways, I loved it, because Alex exercises her agency and makes her own decisions. In a more specific way, I hated it, because a major character makes a horrible speech wherein he admits: “I do think I'm better than all of you, because I'm smarter. I'm smarter and I'm more determined to do what I set out to do” and he still gets applauded off the stage. I highly doubt a bunch of teenagers would cheer someone who spent an entire speech talking about himself and insulting them.

This spotty book has an endearing, uncommon narrator; clunky writing; and rushed plot points. It is an interesting read, though.

3/6: more good than bad

About the Author

Jill Anderson

Jill Anderson has a business degree and JD from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. She's lived in Kansas City for several years and has worked at the library since 2014. She loves to read anything and everything and you can find YA reviews and more on her book blog at

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The Kansas City Public Library, in collaboration with the Consulate of Mexico in Kansas City, is proud to present a new exhibit, Más Allá de Palabras (Beyond Words), opening Saturday, September 5, 2015, in the Genevieve Guldner Gallery, Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. The exhibition highlights 34 of Mexico’s top illustrators of children’s literature, working in a variety of media.

After your visit to the first floor exhibit, we welcome you to come upstairs to visit the Central Youth Services department. In conjunction with the exhibit, which will be on display through Sunday, October 18, we will also be highlighting books from the collection that celebrate the lives, art, stories, and culture of Latino Americans.

Here are a few titles to get you started!

I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosín, illustrated by Lee White
Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales
The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh
Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales
Maria Had a Little Llama / María Tenía una Llamita by Angela Dominguez
Tito Puente: Mambo King / Rey del Mambo illustrated by Rafael López, written by Monica Brown
The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano
Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert illustrated by David Diaz, written by Gary D. Schmidt

For more award winning titles check out the Pura Belpre Award. Established in 1996, the Pura Belpre is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

Admission is free. Parking is also free in the Library District parking garage at 10th and Baltimore.

About the Author

Rachel Helmis an artist, reader, and home repair enthusiast. She has traveled extensively on Nevada State Route 375 "the Extraterrestrial Highway", but can currently be found hard at work in the Central Library Youth Services department.

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is most famous as the creator of the character of Sherlock Holmes, and the author of 56 Holmes stories and 4 Holmes novels. Though the adventures of Mr. Holmes and his friend, companion, and chronicler, Dr. Watson, Doyle achieved fame and a degree of material success he did not get from his medical practice or from his other literary work. After the success of the novels, A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four, and of Holmes’ adventures in 23 stories, Doyle decided to kill off his famous detective in a final and fatal battle with Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls in “The Final Solution.”

Royal desire (Queen Victoria was a big fan) to have more Holmes adventures resulted in Doyle first producing adventures that took place prior to the Reichenbach Falls incident, but which had not yet been published. And then, with the story, “The Empty House,” Holmes made a triumphant return. Apparently the rumors of Holmes’ death were greatly exaggerated.

Given Holmes’ popularity (Doyle continued to write Holmes stories into the 20th century), it’s not surprising that when World War I broke out, (Doyle did his patriotic duty, organizing a group of volunteers to assist in the war effort) that a young British soldier might ask Doyle whether Mr. Holmes was doing anything for the war effort. That encounter with the soldier resulted ultimately in Doyle’s penning “His Last Bow,” a story published during the war, but which is set just prior to Britain’s entry into the war, with Holmes outwitting a German spy in the months and days before Britain’s entry into the conflict on 4 August 1914.

“His Last Bow” was meant to be the last of the Holmes stories, and is given the subtitle “An Epilogue of Sherlock Holmes”. Doyle did pen and publish a subsequent collection of stories, The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes, but all the stories in that collection “take place” a decade or more before “His Last Bow.” The story is unusual in that it is one of only a couple of Holmes stories not written in the first person; most of the Holmes’ stories, and all of the novels are written from the point of view of Dr. Watson, Holmes’ faithful companion, and a few stories are written from Holmes’ own perspective. This story, though, was written in the 3rd person, perhaps because Doyle wanted to present this story of espionage thwarted in such a way that Holmes’ entrance comes as something of a surprise, though the subtitle kind of serves as a spoiler.

Within the story, Holmes’s appearance, and that of Dr. Watson, does come as a surprise. Holmes had been disguised as one of the informants serving von Bork, the German spy, and his true identity is not revealed until he has disposed of von Bork. It does make one wonder if Doyle had originally intended this spy story to feature some other British agent, but changed it to a Holmes story after his encounter with the young soldier.

The story first appeared in The Strand magazine on September 22, 1917, and chronologically in terms of Holmes’ narrative life, it is Holmes’ last adventure. The adventures contained in the rest of this collection and in The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes, the final Holmes collection, all have dramatic dates well before WWI. According to the preface to the collection, “written” by John H. Watson, M.D., Holmes retired from detecting after this case, in favor of a quiet life keeping bees.

The story concludes with this most famous interchange between Holmes and his friend:

“There’s an east wind coming, Watson.”

“I think not, Holmes. It is very warm.”

“Good old Watson. You are the one fixed point in a changing age. There’s an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it’s God’s own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared.”

It’s not clear what exactly Doyle envisioned by this “cleaner, better, stronger land” following the bitterness of WWI. In September 1917, the end of the war was not quite in sight. The reality, in any case, I’m sure, fell far short of his hopes.

In addition to “His Last Bow,” this collection contains “The Adventure of the Bruce Partington Plans,” another espionage story involving stolen submarine plans, set in 1895. That story, which features Holmes’ brother, Mycroft, as well, is generally placed among the top ten Holmes’ stories.

On the audio front, there are good audio recordings of the collection available through hoopla, though sadly the best recording, done by Sir Derek Jacobi, is not currently available through any of local libraries.

About the Author

Bernard Norcott-Mahany, a library technical assistant at the Lucile H. Bluford Branch, is our resident connoisseur of classic literature. He is also the leader of the Black Classics and In the Heat of the Night book groups.

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Hurricane Katrina: Books Show Triumph over Tragedy

Kids face all kinds of challenges in their lives, and stories have the power to provide them comfort, support, and examples of resilience.

During Hurricane Katrina people in boats rescued families stranded on rooftops; a little black girl and an old white woman in a wheelchair held hands near the Superdome; and with very little clean water, people shared what they had.

Even though Hurricane Katrina was heavy with tragedy, we can admire the selflessness of some during the storm. You can find out more about the Hurricane Katrina materials, geared toward youth, at the Kansas City Public Library by clicking here.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers in this world.'"
–Fred Rogers as quoted in Good Housekeeping in “12 Beautiful Life Lessons that Mr. Rogers Taught Us” by Diana Bruk, Dec. 5, 2014

According to National Public Radio, when President Obama addressed New Orleans residents on August, 27, 2015, he said, “ You are an example of what's possible when, in the face of tragedy and hardship, good people come together to lend a hand.” Neuman, Scott. “Obama: Katrina A 'Man-Made' Disaster Caused By Government Failure.

We can all be stronger when we read history and choose to look for the positive.

About the Author

Anna Francesca Garcia earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences Degree from the University of North Texas. She has worked in public libraries in Nevada and Missouri for eleven years. Currently, Anna Francesca is Kansas City Public Library’s Education Librarian.

Neal Stephenson

There are certain people—artists, writers, performers, musicians—who are so breathtakingly good, such absolute masters of their craft, that I can only stand in awe of their work and think: It's not fair. No one has the right to be this talented.

This is especially true every time I read a novel from Neal Stephenson. Seveneves proves once again that he possesses an imagination of staggering inventiveness and scope. For him, an event that most of us would find unthinkable is where he starts the story.

Seveneves is somewhat unexpected. Unlike much of Stephenson's oeuvre, this book is classic hard science fiction. It is set in the future, where large-scale engineering and physics play a central role in the action.

The novel is divided into three parts. Parts One and Two take place contiguously in the near future, with the same group of characters traversing a unified narrative arc. Part Three skips ahead 5,000 years and introduces new characters in a radically different milieu.

Parts One and Two rank among the very best of Stephenson's writing. He renders the world of these sections so vividly, in such fine-grained detail, that I honestly believe I can see the dust bunnies under the furniture, the scuff marks on the floors. The devil is in the details and it's all utterly believable and immersive.

As impressive as his imagination is, it's easy to overlook how good Stephenson is at creating characters. Every character feels complete and fully rendered from the moment they first appear, like Athena springing fully formed from the head of Zeus. The individuals who people these pages carry a sense of reality that's more than you typically expect from characters in a novel. They're real in a way that's rare and very self-assured.

The stories told in Parts One and Two are grounded in the characters. This isn't a just a tale of humanity and disaster, this is the story of individuals and how they cope—snapshots of moments and complications, conflicts and repercussions. I found these parts to be some of the most affecting work Stephenson has produced to date.

Simply put, Parts One and Two of Seveneves make up my new favorite Neal Stephenson novel.

Part Three is a disappointment. It's still staggeringly imaginative—indeed, set 5,000 years in the future, it's more unrestrainedly speculative than Parts One and Two—but it feels less immersive.

The world of Part Three is rendered in less detail. It's multifaceted and fascinating, but it's as if Stephenson imagined it at a lower resolution than the world of the first two parts. As if he hadn't spent quite enough time envisioning it at as completely as he could have. For all that it presents some amazing concepts, it's fundamentally less engaging.

That may be unavoidable—the world of Parts One and Two is based very much on the real world we live in today. The details are easy to see. The messy, complex reality of it is apparent.

A far-future world, by contrast, can only be imagined. It's probably inevitable that Part Three feels less realistic.

But the characters in Part Three are also less believable. They feel more like characters than real people, ideas that haven't quite fully taken flesh. Again, the ideas are wonderful but they're not alive in the same way that the characters in Parts One and Two are.

As a result, the exposition in Part Three becomes more burdensome. Because this section is more about concepts than about people, it necessarily means that there's more telling and less showing. This makes it more difficult to invest in the story.

Inexplicably, there are several descriptive sections in Part Three where Stephenson summarizes important events that took place in Part Two, recapping things I had read just a day or two before, as though he thinks that I won't remember them. These sections actively put me off.

Part Three comes across as incompletely developed. The narrative is inelegant, choppy and disengaged. The characters are less authentic.

It's frustrating—the ideas for the world and the characters in Part Three are so good, so intrinsically interesting, packed with so much potential, that they deserve to be as well developed as what we get in Parts One and Two. But they're not. Part Three reads as though Stephenson said, "Meh, good enough," and just left it at that.

It feels like Part Three belongs to a different book than Parts One and Two. It feels like the outline of a sequel, stuck on the end for lack of a better conclusion.

And that's what I wish had happened here:

Seveneves should have ended with Part Two. Stephenson should then have spent more time developing Part Three more thoroughly, expanding it, discerning a more elegant narrative for it, and breathing more life into the characters. Part Three should have become a full sequel novel.

Taken all together, even with a disappointing third act, Seveneves is still one of the very best books you're going to read this year. It's worth it just to experience Parts One and Two.

Do you want to make a difference in Kansas City?

This semester, the Kansas City Public Library is looking for teenagers to join our first ever Teen Leadership Council! These volunteer positions have helped the library organize and staff some of the biggest teen programs happening in Kansas City this year, including:

The Summer Reading Kick-off Celebration, May 23rd
The Harry Potter House Cup Award Ceremony, May 30th
The Largest Super Smash Bros Tournament in the World, June 6th
The Black Archives History Lock-In, July 11th
The Kansas City Youth Empowerment Summit, July 25th
The End of Summer Celebration, August 1st
Each Teen Council member will receive training and mentorship from some of the best youth advocates in Kansas City and will:

Learn how to market with social media
Create impactful online videos
Help develop more effective teen programs
Be the driving force behind our summer programs
Help manage our Teen Space and YA book collection
Learn about media literacy and research
Become powerful advocates for education and the library
Does this sound like something you want to be involved in? Then apply today! Applications are due on September 7th! The positions will start in mid-September and go through December. The Council will meet once a week and be required to attend our large events. Council members will be expected to work an average of 5 hours per week. We are looking for all skill sets and all backgrounds. Even if you don’t have a lot of experience we still want you to apply!


Through an AmeriCorps VISTA grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Kansas City Public Library is working breaking the cycle of poverty with the support and service of four VISTA members.

VISTAs (Volunteers In Service To America) make one-year commitments to serve the community on a specific project at a nonprofit or public institution. They will expand the Library’s capacity to serve our homeless, refugee and immigrant, and teen populations by connecting them with quality services, resources, and lifelong learning opportunities at the Library.

Two VISTA members, Danielle Danforth and Mary Maxine Luber, will work closely with Refugee and Immigrant Services Outreach Manager Julie Robinson. Lyn Cook will work with Kansas City Digital Media Lab staff Andrea Ellis and Marcus Brown to develop a volunteer mentoring program. And Sam Melton will work with Mary Olive Thompson, the Library’s director of outreach and community engagement, and other Library staff members to develop programming and outreach for our homeless populations.

In addition to their duties on specific projects, the VISTAs also will contribute to the Library's social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) and write blogs lending the public more insight to their work. If you happen to see the VISTAs around the Library or in the community, make sure you stop to say hello and thank them for their efforts in Kansas City!

Lyn Cook will be building the framework for the volunteer program of the Kansas City Digital Media Lab. She is a digital director and producer by trade and she enjoys contributing to and celebrating the potential of today's youth. To unwind, Lyn enjoys nice music, good sushi, and great company.

Sam Melton will be focusing on outreach and community engagement. She was born and raised in Kansas City and has always felt a commitment to her community. During her year of service she hopes to create a pop-up library pilot and host a bi-monthly Coffee and Conversation program for patrons of the library. Her favorite book is A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, and she can likely be found checking out plays at one of the city’s many local theaters.

Mary Maxine Luber will be working for Refugee and Immigrant Services. She is a recent alumna of William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, where she studied nonprofit leadership and psychology. Mary Maxine spends every minute she can reading about urban gardening, community revitalization, and deep space. She loves a good graph and lives for dark roast coffee.

Danielle Danforth graduated from Drury University with degrees in fine arts and Spanish, and is currently in her second year of AmeriCorps service. She is passionate about lifelong learning and loves reading nonfiction, making art, and being active. You can usually find her doodling, sipping herbal tea, or sharing her latest culinary creations. Danielle will also be working in Refugee and Immigrant Services at the Library.

Anything Could Happen by Will Walton

publication date: 2015
pages: 281
ISBN: 978-0-545-70954-5

Anything Could Happen was a quirky, fun book that fit within the tradition of coming-of-age novels, albeit from a slightly different perspective. In Anything Could Happen, it was Tretch Farm's 15th year and he just discovered he was in love with his best friend, Matt Gooby. Tretch must navigate that situation, while grappling with his sexuality, his brother’s absence at college, and health problems in his family.

This book was right up my alley. The author presented puppy love through the eyes of a likable, insightful character. Tretch’s inner monologue and dialogue were so endearing and genuine. As an example, here’s Tretch’s attempt to rationalize some pretty bizarre behavior:

And what happened, anyway? If love is a mild form of obsession, and obsession is just some form of crazy, then yes, maybe I acted a little crazy. . . . I just wanted to feel like it would all be okay.

Another great example of Tretch’s distinctive voice is his conception of what coming out to his family would be like:

“I’m gay,” I’ll say.
They’ll stare blankly. And then I’ll hear a pop! And another. The walls will shake and then stop, and I’ll realize – we’re in a submarine, and the pressure has gotten too great. The walls are going to cave in and crush us. We are going to die. “What’s happening?” Joe cries. A window breaks: one, two, then three. “Save yourselves!” I shout to Mom and Dad and Joe, and they obey, jumping out the windows as the walls come straight at me.
Yes, I’ll think dramatically, it’s better this way.

Author Will Walton presented a captivating voice for his main character. He also presented realistic supporting characters. The plot, although simple, was engaging. Additionally, Walton did a good job showing how the little things people say might seem harmless but could be really hurtful. For example, a classmate called Tretch gay and Tretch’s teacher pulled Tretch in after class to help out:

“You’re a good kid who doesn’t deserve to have these kind of” – she moves the scratching to her chin – “accusations being hurled at you.” She sends spit flying with her enunciation of “accusations,” and I’m hit.

There was only one real flaw in this wonderful, sad, funny book. A few scenes were simply too idealistic, too positive. I don’t want to give away the story, so I won’t say any specifics, but some of the plot points were not realistic and, in fact, were unnecessary.

5/6: seek this book out

About the Author

Jill Anderson

Jill Anderson has a business degree and JD from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. She's lived in Kansas City for several years and has worked at the library since 2014. She loves to read anything and everything and you can find YA reviews and more on her book blog at

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Clothes. Cars. Computers. They don’t last forever, succumbing to wear and tear, obsolescence, or shifts in interests and tastes.

It’s the same with library books. The Kansas City Public Library counts some 747,000 items in its collection, housing close to half of them in its downtown Central Library. They age. Some are torn or stained. Others languish on the shelves, unnoticed or unneeded by patrons for years. If not timeless classics, it might be time for them to go.

The formal term for removing materials that have outlived their usefulness is deaccession. Informally, libraries call it weeding. “It’s an essential part of maintaining and managing your collection,” says Debbie Stoppello, the Kansas City Public Library’s collection development manager. “If you didn’t weed your garden, it would get overrun. It’s the same premise.”

The Library uses a two-pronged approach. Librarians at its 10 locations keep an eye out daily for damaged or outdated books that might be candidates for removal from the collection – what Stoppello calls “a serendipitous type of weeding.” And there is active weeding, a more focused and concerted effort to evaluate the Library’s holdings and identify what perhaps should be culled. The Central Library is in the midst of its first such undertaking since moving into the former First National Bank Building at 10th and Baltimore in 2004.

Originally planned to take place over a couple of years, the thorough, long-overdue weeding at Central has been accelerated as the Library does some rearranging and makes room for a new, first-floor technology center. From February through the end of June, according to Central Director Lillie Brack, some 30,000 items had been removed. But the past year also has seen the addition of more than 39,000 items.

All told, the Central Library was home to more than 365,000 shelf-ready items at the start of its new fiscal year in July.

Weeding is no simple process. The Library carefully spells out its guidelines for evaluating and withdrawing materials. They must be deemed obsolete – the subject matter no longer timely, accurate, or relevant. Or they’re found to be damaged or in otherwise poor condition. Or they’re completely ignored by patrons, not checked out for years. Or there’s a space crunch.

Reference librarians do the evaluating, with five of the seven at Central pulled into its current weeding project.

Reference librarian Judy Klamm evaluates books while weeding at the Central Library.

“I’ll look at the dead list,” says Carol Bruegging, a reference librarian at Central for 25 years, “and pull some of those books out and say, ‘Yeah, that can go. It’s not being used; I see it hasn’t been checked out. It’s kind of ratty looking. Maybe the cover is gone. Others, they’re on the dead list and I think, ‘You know, that was an important author, (maybe) an important person in child development. I don’t care if it hasn’t been checked out. It’s staying. It needs to be part of the collection.’

“Everything on the dead list isn’t going to go. And some things that aren’t on the dead list are going to go.”

Says Stoppello, “We are not an aggressive weeding library. … We make every effort to keep a book and give it a long life.”

Or give it a new life.

A book that’s no longer fit for Central might find a home in one of the Kansas City Public Library’s nine branch locations. Many history titles are relocated to its Missouri Valley Special Collections.

Others have gone or will go to the National World War I Museum and Memorial, the Jackson County Family Court Juvenile Detention Center, the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, area nursing homes, senior centers, and smaller Missouri libraries. Many children’s books in good condition wind up in preschools and child-care facilities as part of the Library’s Books to Go program.

The remainder go the Friends of the Library to be featured, if usable, in their annual series of book sales. What they can’t use is shipped to the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City, which sells what it can—tens of thousands of books in the past 2½ years—and recycles the rest.

A candidate for weeding: a history of silversmiths’ art in Great Britain and Ireland, published in 1936
and showing its age.

“There are so many chances a book gets to have a new life,” Stoppello says. “And many of them do get new life.”

The Library’s aim is to complete its extensive weeding in Central by the end of August. The result should be a more vibrant, more relevant, more accessible collection.

Nationally, libraries often see circulation spike after a weeding project as their patrons no longer have to sort through aging or unwanted titles in search of something they want or like. “It’s like getting out the deadwood,” Brack says. “You can’t browse a popular area if every second or third book is something old and moldy and outdated.”

“We want to keep our collection viable so it is meeting our patrons’ needs with material that is relevant, up to date, of interest, and in reasonably good physical condition. … It’s a continuous cycle.”

Steve Wieberg, Department of Public Affairs

When World War I broke out, great crowds of people in Russia found themselves, like crowds in France and Germany, swept up in a burst of patriotic fervor. Men were eager to do their part for Mother Russia, and to serve the Tsar in this great endeavor. Unfortunately, poor preparation led to disaster. Russia in 1914 was not on a par with the other European powers, all of which had gone through massive industrialization in the 19th c. Russia came late to industrialization, and was still, largely, pre-industrial.

Consequently, the Germans expected the Russians to be very slow in mobilization and their plan of attack, the Schlieffen Plan, developed in 1905 by Count Alfred von Schlieffen was predicated on the assumption that. For the first six weeks of the war, they could focus their attention on France, which they saw as the biggest threat. If all went according to plan, the French would be defeated or near defeat within 6 weeks, and then German could turn its victorious army to the East to take on the Russian forces. The original Schlieffen plan did not involve Russia at all.

Things did not go exactly as Germany envisioned. The plan called for an attack on France from the North, through Belgium. The Belgians, though, refused to cooperate and grant free passage through their country; the delay in Belgium allowed France and its new ally, Britain, which was offended by a brutal attack on “little Belgium,” to take a stand in Northern France.

In addition, the Russians fielded a much larger army sooner than expected. Their numbers were about twice that of the German forces, who planned on having six weeks to deal with France before facing the Russians. This miscalculations required Germany to send more of its troops to the East.

Read more of Bernard Norcott-Mahany's 2015 reviews of books about the First World War:

January 12, 2015
The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman

February 5, 2015
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

March 13, 2015
Tarzan the Untamed by Edgar Rice Burroughs

April 6, 2015
The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry

May 4, 2015
Soldiers’ Pay by William Faulkner

June 3, 2015
The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings

July 8, 2015
Tom Swift and His Aerial Warship by Victor Appleton

Though the Russians mobilized faster than expected, they could not maintain proper supply lines. Russian rail lines were of a different gauge than that on the German lines, leaving Russian trains useless at the border. When the Russian army reached Prussia, the only way they could use the German rail tracks was to capture German trains, and so troops, artillery, and supplies had to travel on foot or horseback or by car once they hit the border, delaying the reinforcement and supplying of Russian forces.

The Russians also failed to do proper reconnaissance. They did not use airplanes or balloons to do recon. They often had no idea where the enemy was, or even where other parts of the Russian force were. And the two Russian generals in command in Prussia, Paul von Rennenkampf (commanding the 1st Army) and Alexander Samsonov (commanding the 2nd Army), could not stand one another and so they did not coordinate their movement.

Finally, the Russian forces did not use coded communication, but broadcast information on position and movement in the clear, so that the German High Command had access to enemy communiques — this was so peculiar, the German High Command’s initial reaction was that these communiques were planted and false. In the battle for East Prussia, the Russians lost a tremendous number of men, armaments and supplies, which left the Russian Army, by the end of September, far weaker than they had been at war’s start. Samsonov’s Second Army was largely wiped out, and Samsonov himself committed suicide.

As a young man, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn hit upon the idea of writing a great epic cycle of novels about Russia, and especially the history of the creation of the Soviet Union and its rise. He first began work on this series of novels (August 1914, October 1916, March 1917, and April 1917) known collectively as the The Red Wheel, in 1936. But August 1914 was first published in 1971, by which time Solzhenitsyn had become a great critic of the Soviet Union. The current edition of August 1914 (published first in 1984) adds another couple of hundred pages to that published in the seventies.

In reading August 1914, I had the sense that Solzhenitsyn was very much influenced by Tolstoy and his great novel, War and Peace. Tolstoy’s sweeping novel mixed the private lives of a few Russian noble families and looked at the Napoleonic War and the Invasion of Russia in 1812 as it affected them. It is through the lens of these families that the war and their enemy, Napoleon, are viewed. For Tolstoy, his was a better way of relaying history than more traditional history books, as it allowed the reader a vicarious sense of living history. Solzhenitsyn is largely doing the same thing here, though perhaps on a grander scale. The original plan for The Red Wheel was to cover the years from 1914-1922, but the four completed novels run only to 1917 and are 8 volumes.

Solzhenitsyn follows a lot more people than Tolstoy did and he spends much more time with the soldiers on the front. He also includes occasional snapshots from the news of the day, with actual snippets serving as snapshots of the day at different parts of the book.

Unlike many of the novels I’ve read so far this year, which cover a longer period and emphasize the long hard slog of the war, this focuses on a particular moment in time, a point when Russia surprised its foe and almost won a major battle which would have helped to dramatically shorten the war. But it is also a time when poor Russian preparation and a failure of leadership led to disappointment, and which contributed to the environment which would give Lenin and his Bolsheviks the chance to take power. This particular disaster did not end the war for Russia, but Solzhenitsyn sees it as a major turning point (“knots” as he called them) which had far-reaching effects.

Solzhenitsyn took great care to research the events of the war, looking at Russian and German records, but he also takes great care to personalize this key month in Russian history through the supporting characters he creates.

About the Author

Bernard Norcott-Mahany, a library technical assistant at the Lucile H. Bluford Branch, is our resident connoisseur of classic literature. He is also the leader of the Black Classics and In the Heat of the Night book groups.

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It has been a great summer! Come join us for our last BIG event of the Summer this Saturday at the Plaza Library.

Every attendee will be entered in a raffle to win iTunes gift cards, Starbucks gift cards, and one GRAND PRIZE to be announced that night.

There will be video game tournaments, movie marathons, FREE FOOD and drinks, dancing, crafts, Minecraft demos, Roblox groups, giant Jenga games, Magic/YuGiOh games and MORE!

End the Summer at the last Mayor's Nights event of the year!

Free and open to anyone ages 11-18.
6-11 p.m.
Plaza Library
Pick up available at several of our branches with a completed permission slip!

Meet the Teen Leaders of Today!

The Teen Leaders of Today! are the Kansas City Public Library's Teen Leadership Council! They represent the library at several events throughout the summer and help plan some of our largest events, including the Kansas City Youth Empowerment Summit. Thanks to a grant from the Mayor's Office, these teens are working hard all summer long to bring relevant and exciting programs to Kansas City's teenagers!


My name is Talaiha Johnson. I am 17 years old and go to southwest high school. I am planning on going to college at Johnson and whales university for culinary art, because I want to be a chef,and own my own bakery. I love to draw and do artsy crafts like making jewelry and up cycling old clothes. My favorite colors are purple and blue, because they are bright and fun colors! One of my most favorite things to do is play video games like mine craft and go on social media to talk to my friends and family I can't always see. I also like to read and write fairytale and fictional stories. I think reading or writing them takes you to another world.

I am now a member of the teen leaders of today council at the plaza library. I believe being apart of the TLoT will be both beneficial for me as a person to learn responsibility and leadership skills. I also want to help get teens more involved in the library, and to know that there is so much that they can learn there. The library is where I learn all new recipes and to further my education in culinary, or learn new forms in art, to become more creative.


My name is Khamedriah Grimes, but another name I go by is Camille. I just recently turned 15 not too long ago. I attend Notre Dame de Sion High School, but Sion is for short, and will be a sophomore this coming year. In the beginning, I can be that one quiet kid who may not say much at the time, but that’s just me listening to what needs to be heard and observe what I see. When you get to know me, I’ll be goofy, pretty open, and be bursting with so much happiness. I have a passion for writing and music, the two really come together when I write my own music. I am creative, helpful, funny, smart, unique, nice, and talented. I love to read when I can, or see me practicing lines for the next show I’m in since I’m a theater kid. I can make friends pretty easily since I’m a people person. I’m not the athletic person, but will play some soccer if I want. You’ll probably catch me inside either watching Netflix, reading, writing, or singing my heart out. I’ve came a long way to get to where I am today, and can only say that now I’m not looking back at what’s in the past, but looking for what’s in store for me in the future.


Hello my name is Alan Bodie. I am 16 and i like many things. I love to sing and dance, I like to make new friends, and I love to play roblox. Roblox is this great Online game where you can do anything build anything and imagine anything you want to become a reality. This game help me settles my mind and make friends and know who I am today. At my school I love this program call JROTC,it teaches me how to motivate young people to become better citizens, and in fact that is the mission to JROTC. :D I hope one day in the future i become A CIA agent, and a CEO of roblox. My life time goal is to go Sky diving,and to travel the world and go to England to see Oxford University. I wish to take things to the extreme. I am very hyper active and a non-stop working machine. I love to help others when i know i can do things that i feel the need to do so. :) This is my Bio ^^ See ya next time


Hannah Harms wants to live in a world where libraries are the new cool place to be instead of some building full of books. As member of the Teen Leadership Council (aka Teen Leaders of Today), she hopes to do just that. Hannah is a 14 year old girl who just finished her 8th grade year at Académie Lafayette and will be attending Kansas City Academy in the fall. You can usually find her reading a book or surfing the web. If her eyes aren’t glued to the computer screen or a book, she’ll most likely be doing some form of art. She enjoys drawing Disney characters and making short films. Most of her films are animations with random household objects and/or siblings. Her films are usually inspired by her little brother or sister who help her create them. She also likes to put herself out there to help our community. She likes to be involved to make change happen. Now she is ready to make a difference in our libraries.


For a little over a decade and a half I have been one of 7 billion people on this earth; eating, breathing, sleeping, existing, and recently, sitting on the couch completely beat watching Orange Is The New Black on a Tuesday night wondering when I'm actually going to do something with my life. However, like most other humans I'm constantly doing things with my life other than having rather uncalled for existential crisis. Always having a love of arts in many different mediums, both visual and performing arts have become a large part of my life. I've always felt like a visual artist, as well as an actor, and recently in my life a musician and songwriter. This is as well as a love of learning about the world through my own experiences as well as philosophy, poetry, social justice,music, arts, literature, counterculture, and spirituality which for me have become one. All of this comes down to a thirst for a journey to find something more within the now. Adventure, misadventure, being in awe of my own existence, and having a strong belief that there's something absolutely magical hidden in the foothills of northern California, are some of many things that come to mind when thinking both my present and hopeful future.


Chandi Marsh is a rising senior who attends Notre Dame de Sion. She is excited about being apart of the teen council for the Kansas City Public Library- Teens of Today. She also looks forward to making an impact on the teens of her community. Chandi is happy to see that other people, especially other teens, are concerned about the role that teens should play in today’s society. Marsh believes that this council is one of the best things that has happened to the community.

Besides being apart of TLoT, Marsh also finds other ways to be involved in her community. She volunteers frequently with Micah Ministries where she serves food to people in need. She also volunteers with Youth Corps of Greater Kansas City where she does various projects throughout the area. Although Marsh has a busy schedule, she finds time to contribute to her hobbies which include: photoshopping, drawing, and programming.

In the future, Marsh wants to attend college and major in software engineering. When she finishes college, she wants to come back to her community to give back.


My name is Nora Sjue. I’m thirteen years old and will be an eighth grader at Academie Lafayette this upcoming fall. I live in the Brookside area in a big green house with my three crazy brothers, two loving parents, my barky dog, murdering frog, and six hungry chickens. I was born in Kansas City and have lived here all my life. My Mom is from Nebraska and my Dad is from all over because his Dad was in the military.

Ever since I was about four years old I’ve been playing soccer. Right now I am on a team that just does tournaments and the Brookside soccer club competitive team. So obviously I really like to play soccer but I also like to ride my bike with my brothers and swim. My dad is a really great swimmer and he taught me how to swim when I was three years old. During the winter I love to sled at Suicide Hill, during the summer I love to swim and bike and during the fall and spring I love to play soccer.

At Academie Lafayette starting in Kindergarten and until eighth grade we speak French all day every day, so by now we’re fluent in French. In sixth grade at our school we take a two week trip to France. We stay with a French family and go to their school, it’s an amazing opportunity. This last spring the French students that we stayed with came here to America and that same opportunity. I just recently returned from my second trip to France which was just as amazing as the first. In my future I hope for there to be a lot of traveling and a lot of fun!


My name is Triston Boone. I have many different qualities such as determination, leadership, perseverance, and intelligence. I have great people skills and I can strike up a conversation out of nowhere. I am extremely athletic and am playing soccer this year. Ever since I was a little kid I had a sense of leadership. I went to France about a month ago with my school. I speak fluent French and now we're learning Spanish. I'm the youngest on the Teen Leadership Council and I really enjoy it. When I get older I want to be an entrepreneur. I am ver flexibile, energetic, and optimistic. I always expect the best and think positive. I work really hard and love solving problems. I love reading and my favorite book series is Percy Jackson. I enjoy the outdoors even though I am allergic to pollen. I don't let it get it my way. Well that's all you need to know!


I was born on March 18, 1998 in Missouri. I lived with my mother until she died when I was one year old. After the accident I lived with my grandmother. My favorite animals are sharks. As long as I can remember I have loved them. My favorite color is blue. I love any type of music but I really love k-pop. I love watchting youtube and old movies like Breakfast Club and black and white movies where there is no sound. I love writing stories and reading on Wattpad. I always pay attention to the small things in movies like the fake blood and makeup and how they edit scenes and I love the idea of making videos and movies. I like reading mysteries and books that have to do with supernatural things, and I love scary movies. Some of my friends look away during scary movies and scream but I just laugh about it. I'm a chill person and I'm always there for my friends when they need me. I want to some day be an author or film director or a graphic designer.


Phoebe McCarty is a rising junior at Paseo Academy of the Fine and Performing Arts. She majors in Creative Writing with an focus on poetry, having been involved with Louder Than A Bomb KC, and advanced to Brave New Voices international poetry slam these past two years. Phoebe also has a focus in social activism and organizing. She has been involved with the Black Lives Matter movement in Kansas City, and organized her own protest last winter. She aspires to spend her life evoking social change and writing.


An avid believer in equal rights and equality he is a very intelligent person. He excels at problem solving, public speaking, writing, and reading. He is a poet and author before nearly everything else, going to the writers place workshop nearly every summer. He is a debate national’s finalist and the twin brother of Josiah Hoskins. Along with being a writer he is a reader actively, in fact the only punishment that scares him is not being able to go to the library. Besides anime and reading his favorite past time is eating. In the future he plans to study law and become a prosecutor.

Just how does a Library book find its way onto the shelf? With the recent release of the highly-anticipated Go Set a Watchman, this is a good opportunity to give you a behind the scenes look at how things work at the Kansas City Public Library.

Purchasing decisions start in the Collection Development department, run by Debbie Stoppello. The Library is always adding new titles: It could be a newly-released crime novel or a perennial favorite children’s book. High demand titles and bestsellers are almost always purchased, but the Library also tries to acquire a good selection of award-winning books, significant cultural or literary works, as well as 'in-fill' or replacement copies of books that are already in the collection.

A classic like To Kill a Mockingbird is a perfect example of a book that is consistently in print and in demand. As existing Library copies are lost or damaged beyond use, they are replaced with newer editions. The Library also has to keep up to date on so-called 'serial' releases, such as travel books, software manuals, and other items that need to be updated regularly to keep the information correct and current.

Each location in the Kansas City Public Library system is also different in its reading habits, so you may notice different types of books available at the branches. You might find more children’s books at a branch frequented by more families with young children, or perhaps more books in languages besides English at branches near larger immigrant populations, but patrons can always request items from any location in the Library system for pick up at their preferred branch. (And books not available at the Kansas City Public Library may be borrowed from libraries throughout the country through Inter-Library Loan.)

Ordering new releases pose an interesting challenge. How does the Library know how many copies they’ll need to order for the different branches? It's demand that drives the ordering, according to Stoppello. Even before the book has been delivered, it is listed in the Library’s online catalog allowing users to ‘place a hold’ on the item, putting them in line to check it out once it is available. We've found that for most titles, ordering additional copies at a ratio of one copy per every five holds gives the Library enough copies to fill holds in a timely manner and meet demand over time. So if a book has 20 holds in the system when it comes time to finalize the order, four additional copies will be purchased on top of the quantity the Library had planned to purchase.

For blockbuster books such as Go Set a Watchman, Stoppello has the book added to the Library's catalog as soon as possible, in this case a full six months in advance, giving users plenty of time to place their holds.

Once the order is placed with the distributor, it's a matter of waiting for the release date. Publishers strictly enforce releases on new and popular books at both bookstores and libraries. With Go Set a Watchman, the boxes from the distributor arrived in the morning on the release date, Tuesday, July 14.

At this point, they're ready to be processed and put into circulation. Delivery Service staffers like Hannah inspect the new book shipments and add the items to the Library's computer system, so their locations can be tracked at all times.


From here, books are ready to go to their destination (out to the branches to go on the shelf, or to the hold shelves to fill individual users' hold requests.) They are marked accordingly and put into totes awaiting delivery drivers to take the books to their destination branches.

By mid-afternoon, all the books had arrived at the appropriate locations, ready to be picked up by readers.

With so many holds placed on a popular book, it can be a long time before you might actually see a copy sitting on the shelf. To address this, the Library created the Browsing Collection, also called "New & Notable." These are additional copies of books set aside in displays at our Central, Waldo, Trails West, and Plaza locations.

Browsing collection books can be checked out, but only for two weeks at a time, and they cannot be renewed. Items in the browsing collection also cannot be placed on hold, in order to make sure that as many copies as possible of new titles are available for patrons to check out when they visit the Library.

If you need longer to finish reading a book, these titles are still available through the regular catalog system, with standard check out times (21 days) and the possibility of renewal.

Want to read Go Set a Watchman?

It’s currently available from the Kansas City Public Library in multiple formats: as a print book, an audiobook, an eBook, and a digital audiobook.

You can place a hold through the online catalog links above, or call us at 816.701.3442 or visit your favorite Library location to speak with a librarian who will be happy to help you.

About the Author

Liesl Christman

Liesl Christman is the digital content specialist for The Kansas City Public Library, managing content for the Library's blogs and social media accounts. She is an unabashed enthusiast of comic books, roller derby, and all things food.

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