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What’s Your KC Q? Library and KC Star Team Up to Find Answers
What do you want to know about our community? Beginning October 3, the Library and The Kansas City Star are combining resources to find answers to questions about regional topics ranging from the history of barbecue to the stories behind local landmarks. In a new partnership called What’s Your KC Q?, readers submit questions, the public votes on their favorites, and a team of librarians and reporters digs in and reports back with answers.
 
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"The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out." --Voltaire

Welcome to the inaugural post of Off the Page, the Kansas City Public Library’s blog for readers. Like most bloggy ideas, this one has many mothers. It started first with, "Hey, we should have a blog! Other libraries have blogs. Can we have one, too?" No one’s really sure who said this first. The folks who make up the Readers’ Advisory Team were enthusiastic about the notion and looked at lots of other library’s blogs. We made a list of what we liked, what we didn’t and what we wanted to see in a blog of our very own and then we met the person who could make it happen for us.

The KCPL Webgoddess. She waved her magic mouse-shaped wand, translated all her web spells into this mysterious code, and presented us with a forum in which to wax prolific on all things bookish.

And get this. She has expectations. She actually insists upon timely, interesting, entertaining, edifying posts. Bwahahahahahah! No. Seriously. We’re going to do this.

At least once a week, our faithful readers can expect to see reading suggestions, musings on the book news of the day, interesting facts and tidbits about authors, books, biblio-history, beloved characters and all things literary that strike our contributors’ fancy.

Enjoy a few novels set in the Renaissance before the Kansas City Renaissance Festival starts on August 30, 2008. From mysteries to romances to art-inspired works of fiction, authors depict this influential era to great effect in these books.

Mystery

The Savage Garden book jacket

Renaissance era Venice provides the backdrop for the novel Dirge for a Doge by Elizabeth Eyre. Signor Sigismondo, with the help of his faithful servant Benno, investigates the aristocrat Niccolo Ermolin’s murder. The list of suspects is long, more corpses appear, and a secret diary seems to hold some of the answers.

For a literary mystery that delves into the architecture and landscape of the Renaissance, try The Savage Garden by Mark Mills. Cambridge student Adam Banting travels to Tuscany in 1958 to study a famous Renaissance garden at the Villa Docci estate. He discovers a connection between the garden and two deaths: one in 1548, the other during World War II.

The Kansas City Public Library hosted two events in September that offered a look at the influence of Zimbabwe on international art. On September 4, 2008 at the Central Library, Roy Guthrie, the owner of Chapungu Sculpture Park, talked about how the troubled country of Zimbabwe became a destination for contemporary art collectors. On September 6, 2008 at the Plaza Branch, children enjoyed the works of a master stone carver from Zimbabwe as he chiseled stone into art. Explore the country and culture of Zimbabwe through these books or take a look at some news sources to learn more about current events in this nation.

Zimbabwe culture | Life in Zimbabwe | Fiction by Zimbabwean authors | Zimbabwe in the news

Celebrate the 125th anniversary of Coco Chanel’s birthday this week. Born on August 19, 1883, Chanel transformed the fashion industry and women’s clothing in the twentieth century. Discover why in one of these biographies, learn how fashion inspires creative fiction, or sit down and watch high fashion on film.

Biographies

 Her Style and Her Life book cover

Coco Chanel comes to life in Axel Madsen's biography, Chanel: A Woman of Her Own. Madsen discusses Chanel’s personal history, business successes, affairs with influential men, and much more.

Chanel: Her Style and Her Life by Janet Wallach details the impact Coco Chanel had on fashion. She popularized the “little black dress” and women’s pants, brought us the fragrance Chanel No. 5 and men’s tailoring to women’s clothes. This book includes many photos, as well as an account of her entire life.

On August 28, 2008 at the Plaza Branch, Tom Bloch discussed his new book, Stand For the Best: What I Learned After Leaving My Job as CEO of H&R Block to Become a Teacher and Founder of an Inner-City Charter School. Explore a few books or movies about urban education, the charter school movement, or how to make your own career change.

Urban education | Charter schools and school choice | Career changes | Movies

Urban education

Stand for the Best book cover

Stand For the Best: What I Learned After Leaving My Job as CEO of H&R Block to Become a Teacher and Founder of an Inner-City Charter School
By Thomas M. Bloch
Twelve years ago, Bloch was CEO of H&R Block, the world's largest tax-preparation firm. After much soul-searching, he resigned to become a math teacher in an impoverished inner-city school in Kansas City. Bloch tells what it was like struggling to make a difference to his students.

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