KC Unbound

Whether you hang your hat in gingerbread Victorian or a warehouse loft, the Library has the tools to help you uncover the history of your home. The Missouri Valley Special Collections contain a wealth of historical records in print, on microfilm, and online.

Though you can use the online resources without leaving the house you’re researching (assuming it has an Internet connection), some items on this list can only be accessed by visiting the Missouri Valley Room during regular hours.

Librarians are also available to answer questions – call 816.701.3427 or email lhistory@kclibrary.org.

Don’t miss: For antebellum architecture buffs, an ongoing speakers' series on Kansas City’s pre-Civil War homes continues this Sunday, July 10, 2011, at 2 p.m., at the Plaza Branch, where Tom Cooke examines the history of the Bent-Ward House (more info).

10 Resources for Researching Your Home’s History

 

1. City Directories

Revision book

The Kansas City Public Library has ample resources for the art and craft of writing. Whether you want to craft your first romance novel, construe a personal memoir, or piece together a modern political treatise, you will find plenty of books about writing books in the library, scattered throughout the 800 call number area, in all of our branches.

Use our catalog to find titles such as How to Write Mysteries, by Shannon O’Cork, and Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Getting Published, by Brian Stableford. Doing a keyword search on your genre of choice, i.e., “screenplay writing,” will yield plenty of titles in such categories as romance, science, plays, short stories, poetry, essays, novels and more.

The day after a devastating tornado hit Joplin, Missouri, destroying a quarter of the city and resulting in 123 deaths, the Joplin Public Library was open for business.

Located about 12 blocks north of the six-mile-long path the F4 tornado cut through the town Sunday night, the Public Library has become a place of stability for a community in upheaval.

Library Director Jacque Gage reports that as citizens have begun to regroup and restart their lives, they’ve been using the Library’s computers, solid Internet connection, and charging stations. “We’re near police, fire, and the main grid,” Gage tells us. “Our fiber network hasn’t gone down once.”

Though the Library was undamaged, eight staff members completely lost their homes in the storm, and two others’ homes received significant damage. Two employees suffered injuries, including a broken arm.

“Five of the eight who lost their homes are only employed part-time, including a single mom (with a now-broken arm and no medical insurance),” Gage said in an e-mail sent earlier today to Missouri library directors.

¿Puede usted ayudarme? A Hispanic customer surprised me with this question one day. My eyes popped out of my head. True, I recently took Spanish That Works, an eight-week course designed to help librarians learn basic Spanish. But could I put to use what I studied in class to assist this lady right away?

Nervously, I introduced myself to her in Spanish. Then, the No hablo mucho español I barely remembered from Mr. Orozco came in handy.

After that eye-opening day, I made up my mind that I need más Spanish to better communicate with Hispanic patrons. Fortunately, the Kansas City Public Library provides a wide variety of Spanish-learning resources in book, CD, DVD, and electronic formats. On this Cinco de Mayo, why not take your first steps toward learning Spanish – or if you’ve already studied it, brushing up?

My criteria for choosing language-learning materials are: conversational focus, practicality, and audio quality. These beginning-level books offer vocabulary, phrases, and sentences that will get you started conversing in Spanish in no time.

Textile and needlecrafts are among the oldest crafts in human history. Along with the ability to craft rudimentary tools came the use of those tools to fashion draped skins and other natural fibers for protection from the elements. Humans are the only animal on Earth to wear clothing.

It might be argued that to both clothe oneself and one’s loved ones, as well as creatively and culturally express oneself through fashion choices, is a time-honored endeavor that reaches into the very roots of what it means to be human.

I suspect that it is no accident that as mass-produced clothing now overflows on department store racks across much of the industrialized world, a renaissance has taken place with a renewed enthusiasm for handcrafting in the textile and needlecraft arts. In addition, shows like Project Runway have spurred interest in the creative art of fashion design.

The Kansas City Public Library has a huge selection of books and videos to help you get started or expand your abilities in textiles and needlecrafts. So great is this selection, scattered throughout our Consortium system, (a Catalog search yielded more than one thousand titles on “quilting” alone), that I can only touch on some of the many materials available. But let’s survey some of the categories, along with some of the items available.

Everyone loves old family photos. Whether laughing at Uncle Mark’s 1976 baby-blue prom tuxedo or imagining the life of your great-great grandfather as you gaze at an image of him in a Civil War uniform, we connect with times past and pass along our traditions and memories to future generations through photographs.

With the advent of digital photography and the accessibility of affordable camera equipment, many of us have begun stockpiling photos on our computers. As with physical photos, these digital images are subject to loss and decay over time.

In order to make sure our descendants continue to have opportunities to learn about our lives, action needs to be taken today to preserve and protect the memories we capture using digital media.

When I first started using Twitter I followed @kcweather, a few people I knew, and a few librarians. As I got more daring, I branched out and started following authors. The first few I followed were people like @neilhimself (Neil Gaiman), @longshotauthor (Jim Butcher), and Warren Ellis @warrenellis and while they were entertaining they had too many followers to be able to interact with their fans in any meaningful way.

The school year’s winding down, and pressure to nail those grades is going up. As always, the Kansas City Public Library’s here to help. Whether you’re sweating that English paper or gearing up for a long night of calculus crunching, Brainfuse can hook you up with free online homework help from expert tutors any day of the week. All you need is a Library card.

Brainfuse is a suite of online tutoring services designed to help you master an academic skill, prepare for a test, or just get through a difficult homework problem by connecting you with certified online tutors offering a wide array of interactive, state-aligned activities for grades K-12. Tutoring help is also available in Spanish.

Brainfuse provides one-on-one homework help every day from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Access is available online on the Library homework help page. You must log in to Brainfuse using a Kansas City Public Library card and your PIN. (Forgot your PIN?) You can use Brainfuse from home, but you must first access it through the Library’s website.

 

Chat with a Tutor

 

Brainfuse has a lot of features. But if you want to start working with a live tutor right away, begin with Homework Help or Live Skills Building.

Photographs are treasured items you want to hold on to for as long as possible. Careless handling, improper storage, and exposure to the elements can all ruin precious memories. Whether a 150-year-old Daguerrotype or a Kodak snapshot from a few years ago, all photos require care. Here are some tips to help make sure you don't lose these valuable artifacts.

The Kansas City Public Library is recognizing Preservation Week (April 24-30, 2011) with two special sessions on caring for your photos, both print and digital (because digital images can be lost, too).

This Saturday, April 16, at 11 a.m., Missouri Valley Special Collections Librarian Lucinda Adams leads a presentation on Caring for Print Photographs. The following Saturday, Digital Projects Manager Jordan Fields will lead a presentation on Preserving Digital Images. Both presentations are free; RSVP online to attend.

Entrepreneurs know hard work, long hours, and difficult times. Every year, the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City salutes the Top 10 Small Businesses for their contributions to the well-being of our community.

Selection of the companies is based on growth or sustainability, excellence in employee relations, and outstanding service to the community.

This year’s nominees represent many industries and include an advertising agency, a pizzeria, a pet service business, and a company operating in the railroad industry. 

Entrepreneurs are not only vital to the economy, many of them are interesting people as well. Pick up one of these books from the Kansas City Public Library’s H&R Block Business & Career Center to read about what makes them tick and their secrets to success.

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose - Tony Hsieh

Clavinova

For this month’s Crafty Reads (a KC Unbound Blog series for people looking to take up new crafts and hobbies) we’ll be exploring the Kansas City Public Library’s resources for music performance and musical instruments. I’m pleased to report we have a good selection of materials! 

By the Book

Now, first things first – what if you don’t already play an instrument, or perhaps you’re helping your child find an instrument to learn? You might want to check out Which Musical Instrument Shall I Play, which describes string, woodwind, brass, percussion, and keyboard instruments, and outlines their importance in the production of various types of music. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments: From All Eras and Regions of the World might also be a good place to start. You might also want to browse shelves in the 784.19 call number area at any Library location for general books on musical instruments. 

Do you want to learn a craft or art, but don’t feel inspired or know where to start? Or maybe you’re already a crafter or artist but would like to learn more and dig deeper into your passion. At the Kansas City Public Library, inspiration and guidance can be found in a wide and wonderful selection of titles about many arts and crafts!

In a series of articles, I will seek out some of the titles available in different arts and crafts, make suggestions on how to search for titles and other resources, and explore other ideas on using these resources – in general how to get creative about getting creative! And as I have experience in running a business making and selling my own crafts, I will explore the “getting down to business” side of crafting in an article of its own.

In this first article, I’m exploring a craft near and dear to my heart: jewelry design! I’ve been designing and making jewelry since the 1990s, and I frequently use Library resources to increase my skillset and keep inspired.  

If you are new to jewelry creation, one of the first things to think about is what sort of jewelry you want to make and the material and tools you’ll need to make it. Beading? Beadweaving? Gemstones? Wire wrapping? Metalsmithing? Vintage-inspired? What about making your own beads, or other components, in polymer clay, precious metal clay, glass, or crochet?

The practice of making New Year’s Resolutions dates back to the ancient Romans, who not only established January 1 as the first day of the year but also invented the South Beach Diet (just kidding). Despite the timeless allure of starting over, it can be hard to stick to those year-end promises. The Library has many free resources that just might help you carry your best intentions well into 2011.

We’ve arranged this post by topic, focusing on some of the most popular areas of self-improvement. But that doesn’t mean you can’t research other goals like, for instance, quitting smoking, giving to charity, learning a language, improving your grades, or getting to know local history. Basically, If you can dream it, we can hook you up with a book, magazine, database, video, audio book, or maybe even a free class. Just apply the research techniques outlined below to your subject of choice.

Now, onto the Resolutions!

Before the days of TV and radio, merchants caught customers' eyes with brightly printed, alluring advertising trade cards for all kinds of products in the new, manufacturing-driven economy. The trade card explosion of the late 1800s was a short-lived but significant phenomenon, and the Missouri Valley Room holds nearly 1,000 such artifacts, including more than a few that highlight that most wonderful time of the year for advertisers – the Christmas holidays.

In addition to providing a rich resource for researching the history of printing, advertising, medicine, and fashions in late 19th century culture, the Missouri Valley Room’s collection of advertising trade cards gives a glimpse into the history of early Kansas City companies. The Kansas City Public Library received a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the Missouri State Library to digitize these trade cards.

Read on for a few choice selections, and explore our digital collection to find more advertising trade cards from our city’s past.

Corle Cracker and Confectionery Company

Update, September 2011: Since this blog entry was posted, more e-readers and devices have become available for use with Library e-books, including the Amazon Kindle. Visit our e-reader tutorial page for the latest information.

With an estimated 10 percent of adults planning to give e-readers as gifts over the holidays, the season of the e-book is truly upon us. As you prepare to wrap – or unwrap – that shiny new Nook or Kindle, check out this guide to checking out e-books from the Kansas City Public Library.

Just as with printed books, when it comes to affordable e-reading, libraries are a bountiful resource. The Library has a growing collection of more than a thousand e-books that you can download and transfer to your e-reader. We also have many more that can be read online through NetLibrary. This blog post will focus on downloadable e-books, which are provided to the Library through a service called OverDrive.

It takes a little time and a teensy bit of effort to check out e-books, but once you’re familiar with the process, it’s a breeze.

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