Library Life

Google Fiber

The Kansas City Public Library could become one of the first public libraries in the nation to provide customers a free connection to Google’s cutting-edge high-speed fiber optic network. But we need your help to get it.

Though Google will deliver on its promise to provide a free connection to libraries, schools, hospitals, community centers, and other public buildings in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., there is a catch.

Google is not going to hook up those buildings unless the people who live in the neighborhoods around them demonstrate an interest in getting Google Fiber at home.

In other words, Google is not going to build the physical infrastructure for Fiber without some indication people will subscribe to the service. That’s why it has carved the two cities into “Fiberhoods.” These areas must each meet a designated threshold of pre-registrations (usually about 10% of the pop. density) by a deadline of September 9, 2012, or no one in those neighborhoods will have a chance at getting Fiber.

Ritchie Momon

When Ritchie Momon thinks of his history at the Kansas City Public Library, the image that stands out is of an open door.

The door stood across a courtyard at Southeast High School. Beyond it lay the school's library, where Momon would head every day after school and during summers as a kid.

Later, in his freshman year at Southeast, he would go through that door to work the card catalog as a library clerk.
It was there that Momon learned to become a steward of knowledge.

"Before the computer age, when you needed to know something, books were the first line on information, the first place you'd go," Momon says.

Now, 31 years after his first job at Southeast, Momon is about to become director of one of the biggest libraries in the city, the Kansas City Public Library's Plaza Branch, where he will succeed the recently retired Dorothy Elliott as Branch Director.

Like so many great librarians, Momon worked his way from the ground floor up, moving through just about every department in the system before turning branch manager. He worked through college and while getting his MLS at the University of Missouri (for which he took a year off, the only year he hasn't worked in a library in three decades).

Medical Explorers

Libraries don’t just open up books for young readers. We also open doors on potential futures, new friends, and better ways of living. (And sometimes we even have fun doing it, too.)

For the second year in a row, Medical Explorers, a partnership between the Kansas City Public Library and Truman Medical Centers, is helping Kansas City teens explore careers in medicine and learn how to make healthier choices in their daily lives.

Every Thursday in July, 47 teens from the Southeast, North-East, and L.H. Bluford Branches are coming together to explore careers in medicine by visiting local medical sites and connecting with health educators. Through a series of weekly field trips and two lock-ins, they will not only learn about jobs in medicine, they will also learn how to make healthier choices in their lives (whether it’s diet and nutrition or STDs) and have a blast getting to know other teens from across the city.

“Medical Explorers is unique in that it mixes fun with health and information,” says Mary Thompson, the Library’s Outreach Manager.

Coach Mark Twain

In by far the biggest landslide of this entire literary All-Star extravaganza, Hannibal's own Samuel Clemens (better known to book-ball fans as Mark Twain) was chosen Off-the-Shelf coach.

But lest you think the contest for chief was a shutout, this final draft saw some of the most creative write-in voting of the entire series so far.

Yesterday morning, the Major League Librarian Selection Committee (a shadowy organization powered by Thai noodles and the smell of old books)*, took to Facebook and presented its official nominees for a Regional Author to coach OTSAS: Mark Twain, Langston Hughes, Jim Butcher, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Though Twain took an early lead, candidates rolled in from all corners of Kansas and Missouri. Here's the final ballot as it appeared on this morning at the close of voting:

Though Twain prevailed by an out-of-the-park margin, the poetic Hughes garnered a respectable second place, write-in contestant Daniel Woodrell of the Ozark League came in third, and Independence hometown hero Butcher came in fourth.

And with that, our Literary Midsummer Classic closes.

Here's the final roster:

Pitcher Lisbeth

The last time a write-in candidate made it to the MLB All-Star roster was in 1974. The Dodgers' first baseman Steve Garvey was elected by fans and went on to win MVP. The same could apply for Lisbeth Salander, the Off-the-Shelf All-Stars' fan-elected Femme Fatale Pitcher.

Pitcher: Lisbeth Salander

When we posted our official librarian-chosen nominations for Pitcher yesterday at noon (as we have each day since the Off-the-Shelf draft began on July 1), we offered up four Femme Fatale choices that had, we thought, the best mid-season stats of any ladies in the league: Scarlett O'Hara, Winter Santiago, Cathy Earnshaw, and Emma "Arsenic Arm" Bovary.

But apparently they weren't what the people wanted. When an unknown drafter wrote in Salander, aka The Girl With the Dragon Fastball, fans rallied, and Lis shot to the top of the ballot, garnering more votes than any other player in this entire draft. Coach Larsson would be proud. (Other great write-ins: Scout Finch, Amelia Bedelia, Amanda Wingfield, and Camille Preaker.)

Charlotte's Web

As Kansas City buzzed with All-Star game activity over the weekend, we got great help from our customers in choosing three more fictional players for our Off-the-Shelf All-Stars.

Now, we’re not sure whether Mr. Hyde, Tarzan, and Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web will take direction from our yet-to-be-named Coach, but they do make for an interesting lineup.

Off-the-Shelf Recap

If you’re just joining us, over the past week, we’ve been asking our fans on Facebook to vote for characters to play on our literary Off-the-Shelf All-Star team, on which each position is based on an archetypal character from a different genre of fiction. Every day, July 1-10 (leading up to the big game at the K), we’ve offered up four librarian-approved nominees for each base and allowed people to write in their own.

Before we get to voting for our second-to-last position, Pitcher, let’s meet the three new players who came in over the weekend.

Catcher in the Rye

Holden Caufield always dreamed of being a catcher. Though this year's Off-the-Shelf All-Star voting won't find the incorrigible Caufield behind the plate, he'll have plenty of opportunity to field fly balls from Center Field. Find out who Holden beat for his coveted spot, and help us choose more fictional all-stars!

Center Fielder: Holden Caufield

In J.D. Salinger’s 1951 classic The Catcher in the Rye, 17-year-old Holden Caufield cuts a mopey, defiant figure as he wanders lonely on the streets of New York, contemplating existence and where he fits into it (or doesn’t). In many ways, Center Field is the perfect position for him. Holden can freely indulge his angst in the open expanses of the Outfield – he’d just better mind those deep fly balls.

Holden faced some tough competition in the voting that took place yesterday on the Library's Facebook page. Rookie Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games enjoyed the lead for most of the day, with Bella Swan of Twilight and Junior of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie bringing up the rear. But when the dust of teenage rebellion settled over the Outfield, Holden was our clear champ.

Calamity Jane

‘Bout time we got a lady in the game! Straight from the pages of Larry McMurtry’s Buffalo Girls comes Calamity Jane, American frontierswoman and Off-the-Shelf All-Star Third Baseman. Once Jane’s warmed up, it’ll be time to pick a Teen Idol for Center Field!

Born in 1852 in Princeton, Missouri, Martha Jane Canary was a wild one. She was christened “Calamity Jane” during her time spent fighting Native Americans for the military and later became friends with Wild Bill Hickock in Deadwood. In McMurtry’s 1990 historic romp of a novel, an aging Calamity travels to London as part of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show to perform for Queen Victoria.

Now, as the 2012 MLB All-Star Game hubbub ramps up in Kansas City, the Kansas City Public Library is proud to welcome Miss Jane as the first woman on our literary bookball team.

Ender's Game

In our closest contest yet, Ender Wiggin won by a single vote to become the Kid Genius Shortstop on our Off-the-Shelf Literary All-Star Team. And as today is July 4, we’re asking your help choosing an American Hero or Heroine to cover Third Base.

Instant Replay:

As we rolled out of bed this Independence Day morning (a bit later than usual, as the Library is after all closed for the holiday) the Facebook vote was tied for the OTS team’s key defensive position: Kid Genius Shortstop.

Would it be Donald J. Sobol’s plucky neighborhood boy detective or Orson Scott Card’s interstellar schoolboy turned decorated space strategist?

Ender’s zero-g laser tag skills must have kicked in at the last minute, because a vote flew in for the interstellar prodigy just in time to end the heat before its 9 a.m. deadline. Wipe your eyes, Encyclopedia fans – there can be only one.

Elsewhere in the race, Harriet the Spy came in at second runner-up, followed by dreamy little Charles Wallace of A Wrinkle in Time. Teenage criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl made a surprise cameo as a write-in from All-Star recruiter Kim Carter. (Thanks, Kim!)

Bond vs. Bourne

James Bond is the New York Yankees of bookball. He must be. Overexposure is surely the reason the world’s greatest pop-culture spy got fed to the sharks in the contest over Second Base on the Library’s Off-the-Shelf Literary All-Star Team.

Or maybe yesterday's Facebook voters wanted a younger, American spy. After all, second runner up – also trumping Bond – was John le Carre’s aging, bureaucratic MI6-er George Smiley of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy fame. And the poor old Pimpernel? He slumped into last place with 0 votes.

So it’s with open arms that we welcome Robert Ludlum’s whip-fast, young battering ram Jason Bourne (born: 1980) of The Bourne Identity & sequels as the spy who will come in from the cold to play Second Base.

Though he won’t have the swagger of 007 or sophistication of Smiley, Bourne will bring sheer a physical menace the other spies lack. You won’t see this second baseman skipping practice to seduce the other team’s sexy double-agent relief pitcher. Bourne means business. Let’s just hope his tendencies for amnesia don’t apply to the rules of bookball.

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore

The Off-the-Shelf All-Stars challenge is officially underway, and the first baseman of the Library’s literary baseball team has been chosen. Wielding a mammoth magician’s glove at 1B is Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts!

The legendary wizard of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books narrowly beat out a spry contender in J.R.R. Tolkien’s elfin archer Legolas – who really is more of a shooter than a catcher anyway, if you think about it - and will be providing a studied, stolid defensive presence at first sack.

Harry's sage mentor rose atop a field of Fantasy-lit first basepersons that included The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and reader-submitted nomination Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings (thanks for that one, Nancy!).

The battle for the bag took off quickly when we posted the Facebook Question Sunday morning, asking you to vote for our suggestions or add your own using the fill-in form. We hope to see another close contest today as we announce the genre and nominations for …

Second Base: Famous Spies

OTS Logo

It’s the bottom of the ninth, two outs, bases loaded. The game is tied. The sci-fi flyboy steps up to the plate. He grips his plasma bat and digs in. The 19th century mad scientist on the mound takes the signal from the pirate catcher and concocts a poisonous curveball.

The Off-the-Shelf All-Stars are playing for keeps.

It’s All-Star summer for Kansas City and Major League Baseball, but here at the Library, we’re picking all-stars of our own – from the pages of our favorite books.

And you’re going to determine who makes the cut.

Off-the-Shelf All-Star Poll: July 1 – 10, 2012

Every day starting this Sunday, July 1, and leading up to the big game on Tuesday, July 10, we’ll ask fans on our Facebook page to nominate a fictional character from a specified genre to be an honorary Off-the-Shelf All-Star.

Each day of the series will bring a surprise genre. We might ask for an otherworldly wizard to pluck would-be homers off the left field wall, or an evil genius to snag grounders at short.

Rain Garden at the Ruiz Branch

The I.H. Ruiz Branch has long been an oasis of learning in the Westside neighborhood. Now, with help from Kansas City's leading environmental nonprofit, that oasis has gotten greener.

Horace Peterson portrait

Every great collection has to begin somewhere. For the Black Archives of Mid-America, it was in the trunk of Horace Peterson’s car in 1970s Kansas City.

Mayor Sly James

Summer Reading is upon us. The Library's branches are bustling with children piling into puppet shows and raising the roof at musical hoedowns, with teens texting and tweeting book reviews, and families dutifully logging reading hours to win prizes.