Kansas City Public Library

The Kansas City Public Library is a public system headquartered in the Central Library in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas City Public Library
Kansas City MO Public Library logo.jpg
Established1873; 148 years ago (1873)
LocationKansas City, Missouri
Coordinates39°06′10″N 94°35′02″W / 39.1027°N 94.5839°W / 39.1027; -94.5839Coordinates: 39°06′10″N 94°35′02″W / 39.1027°N 94.5839°W / 39.1027; -94.5839
Access and use
Population served218,765[1]
Other information
DirectorJohn Herron[2]

The system operates its Central Library and neighborhood branches located in Kansas City, Independence, and Sugar Creek. Founded on December 5, 1873,[3] it is the oldest and third largest public library system in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Its special collections, housed in the Central Library's Missouri Valley Room, has a collection of Kansas City local history, including original and published materials, news articles, post cards, photographs, maps, and city directories dating from the community's earliest history. The Library's Ramos Collection includes books, pamphlets, journal articles, and other materials relating to African-American history and culture.



  • Central - 14 West 10th Street
  • L.H. Bluford - 3050 Prospect Avenue
  • North-East - 6000 Wilson Road
  • Plaza - 4801 Main Street
  • I.H. Ruiz - 2017 West Pennway Street
  • Southeast - 6242 Swope Parkway
  • Sugar Creek - 102 South Sterling Avenue - (Sugar Creek)
  • Trails West - 11401 East 23rd Street - (Independence)
  • Waldo - 201 East 75th Street
  • Westport - 118 Westport Road
Community Bookshelf (Main Library)
Parking façade

Built in 2004, The Community Bookshelf (also known as the Library District Parking Garage) is a striking feature of Kansas City's downtown. It runs along the south wall of the Central Library's parking garage on 10th Street between Wyandotte Street and Baltimore Avenue. The concept of turning the parking garage into a bookshelf was part of an effort on behalf of the community to bring character to the needed structure.[4]

"The book spines, which measure approximately 25 feet by 9 feet, are made of signboard mylar that is laid over concrete panels and an aluminum substructure.[5] The shelf showcases 22 titles reflecting a wide variety of reading interests as suggested by Kansas City readers and then selected by The Kansas City Public Library Board of Trustees."[6]

The following books are depicted in the work:

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown; Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson; Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne; Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss; What a Wonderful World by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele; Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder; The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum; M.C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton


The Kansas City Public Library has an open door policy for patrons. Beginning in 2016, the Library's AmeriCorps VISTAs and the Outreach team began a program called Coffee & Conversations for patrons in order to tackle the issue of homelessness within the community. During the meeting, the library provides information to patrons on the topic of homelessness and other social issues. They also invite open dialogue during this time.[7] This program was modeled after a similar program from the Dallas Public Library.[8]

Additionally, the Kansas City Public Library has a program to help immigrants. The Refugee and Immigrant Services & Empowerment (RISE) program helps immigrants by providing information on resources, which help them pursue citizenship.[9]

The Library periodically hosts edit-a-thons on topics relevant to the Kansas City Area. Recent edit-a-thons have covered Kansas City Black History, Kansas City Jazz, and Kansas City Philanthropists.


In November 1873 a public library was conceived by the Kansas City Board of Education by arranging a course of six popular lectures as a fundraiser to buy books.[10] Superintendent of schools, Dr. James Michlejohn Greenwood, selected these first books. A record of the origin of the Kansas City Public Library was solicited by Major L. K. Thacher via a Board resolution, adopted on November 19, 1891, resulting in the pamphlet titled A history of the Kansas City Public Library from 1873 to 1893. Prepared by order of the Board of Education by J. M. Greenwood, December 1, 1892.[11][12]:5

...at all times one grand object has been kept steadily in view, that Kansas City was quietly laying the foundation for one of the best libraries in the entire country ... that would reflect great credit on the enterprise, perseverance and intelligence of those farsighted citizens who started this movement during one of the greatest financial depressions ever known in the history of the country.

— James Michlejohn Greenwood[12]:5–6


The Kansas City Public Library has received numerous awards and acknowledgements, including these:


  1. ^ a b c "Kansas City Public Library". libraries.org. Retrieved April 19, 2020.
  2. ^ "Administration & Governance". Kansas City Public Library. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  3. ^ Kent, Allen; Lancour, Harold; Daily, Jay E. (January 1, 1975). Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science: Volume 13 - Inventories of Books to Korea: Libraries in the Republic of. CRC Press. p. 393. ISBN 9780824720131.
  4. ^ "Kansas City Library's Giant Bookshelf". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  5. ^ 1969-, Johnson, Alex (2015). Improbable libraries : a visual journey to the world's most unusual libraries. Chicago. p. 135. ISBN 9780226263694. OCLC 890757518.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "Community Bookshelf". Kansas City Public Library. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  7. ^ Daniel, Rae (March 15, 2017). "Kansas City Public Library hosts 'Coffee and Conversations' for homeless". KSHB. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  8. ^ "Coffee & Conversation". Programming Librarian. April 24, 2015. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  9. ^ "REFUGEE & IMMIGRANT SERVICES & EMPOWERMENT (RISE)". Kansas City Public LIbrary. Kansas City Public Library.
  10. ^ Whitney, Carrie Westlake (1908). "The Free Public Library". Kansas City, Missouri: Its History and Its People 1808-1908. 1. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co. p. 349. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  11. ^ Greenwood, James Michlejohn (December 1, 1892). A history of the Kansas City Public Library from 1873 to 1893. Prepared by order of the Board of Education by J. M. Greenwood, December 1, 1892.
  12. ^ a b Wright, Purd B. (1937). Historical Sketch of the Kansas City Public Library, 1911-1936. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  13. ^ Lance, Keith Curry. "2018 Star Libraries By the Numbers | LJ Index 2018". The Library Journal. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  14. ^ CMALDEN (May 2, 2017). "Kansas City Public Library wins Paul Howard Award for Courage". News and Press Center. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  15. ^ ARYCHENER (September 26, 2012). "ALA Excellence in Library Programming Award". Tools, Publications & Resources. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  16. ^ Spencer, Laura (October 6, 2008). "Kansas City Public Library Receives National Medal". Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  17. ^ "2008 National Medal for Museum and Library Service brochure". Institute of Museum and Library Services. October 1, 2008. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  18. ^ "Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the National Medals for Museum and Library Service Ceremony". The White House. October 7, 2008. Retrieved April 23, 2020.

External linksEdit