7 of Kansas City’s Coolest Libraries

No more shushing, hostile glares and deadly silences. Today’s libraries are media-savvy meccas. 435 enlisted the help of English teacher Susie Whitfield to write a primer of the best places in KC to expand your mind and horizons.

1. The Kansas City Public Library

Formerly the 1906 First National Bank, the Kansas City Public Library’s impressive interior pays loving tribute to the past. Admire the soaring columns of what was once the bank’s lobby, and tiptoe inside the Stanley H. Durwood Film Vault (with its 35-ton steel door!) which doubles as a theater for local film societies and organizations. Guide children and teens through hours of reading exploration on the second floor. On the third floor, find the Grand Reading Room, which features a 34-foot ceiling and the technology necessary for modern computer use. Investigate your genealogy, the Civil War and the Ramos collection of African-American history and culture. See the Missouri Valley Room, with its sweeping Daniel MacMorris murals illustrating the history of the region.  Listen to famous authors, view special exhibits, and have a coffee with your new book club in the Nine Muses Library Coffee Shop. And don’t forget the giant mylar Community Bookshelf on the parking garage—a Tripadvisor must-see!

14 W. 10th St., Kansas City, MO | (816) 701-3400 | kclibrary.org

2. The Linda Hall Library

From its opening in 1946, the Linda Hall Library has been collecting works that chronicle the development of scientific concepts since the 15th century.  See actual copies of the works of Copernicus, Newton and Darwin. View exhibits such as “It’s Alive,” which investigates the scientific discoveries that inspired Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein. Listen to Dr. Michael Rippee, a sports neurologist at Kansas Medical Center, discuss concussion research. Watch the night sky on the 114-foot display screen of the William N. Deramus III Cosmology Theater. Before you leave, stroll through the urban arboretum, which contains 338 native and non-native trees.

5109 Cherry Street, Kansas City, MO | (816) 363-4600 | lindahall.org

3. The Mid-Continent Public Library

Mid-Continent Public Library’s multiple branches offer a wide variety of learning experiences to help you “go beyond the book.” Learn how to cut the cable cord by exploring different devices and services. Visit the Midwest Genealogy Center, and do a little background check on your ancestors. Create a Genealogy Heritage Album. Take a walking tour of Historic Independence. Sign up for a 10-week series of toddler, preschool and family story times to prepare your child for kindergarten. Listen to bestselling author William Kent Krueger’s discussion of his latest book, “Desolation Mountain”. Learn how to protect your business from cyber attack, or learn about basic business practices for food trucks from the experts. Sign up for Gale Course Tutorials, Universal Class Tutorials or business and technology with lynda.com.

2700 NW Vivion Road, Riverside, MO | (816) 741-6288 | mymcpl.org

4. The Harry S. Truman Library

Both a library and museum, the Harry S. Truman Library has a permanent exhibition of Truman’s life and presidential years. Take a tour of the White House — in miniature! Discover the oral histories of famous Americans such as Dean Acheson and Earl Warren. Learn about Truman as a captain in World War I. View the reproduction of the Oval Office just as it looked during the Truman administration. Try to count the hundreds of gifts from heads of state and ordinary Americans. Enjoy the famous mural “Independence and the Opening of the West” by Thomas Hart Benton. In the library’s courtyard, visit the graves of President and Mrs. Truman and their daughter Margaret Truman Daniel and her husband, Clifton Daniel.

500 W. U.S. Highway 24, Independence, MO | (816) 268-8200 | trumanlibrary.org

5. The North Kansas City Library

This library earned four stars out of a possible five in the Library Journal’s Index of Public Library Service, an annual ranking. Here you can sew up a storm in Common Threads, which offers sewing instruction and all the supplies you need. Search your genealogy records with HeritageQuest Online, a treasure of American genealogical sources. Take a chair yoga class, learn to knit, or learn basic painting techniques. Delight in A Moveable Feast: A Cookbook Club and Potluck Party, which gathers fellow foodies to focus on granitas, stone fruit pies, tarts and galettes, or come to Taste-test Thursdays to sample flavors of turkey.  Watch the KC Ballet, which will be presenting a variety of dance scenarios from “The Wizard of Oz”. Before you leave, help choose America’s favorite book with KCPT Reads.

2251 Howell Street, North Kansas City, MO | (816) 221-3360 | nkcpl.org

6. The US National Archives-Records Administration

Interested in doing a little detective work? This library allows you to order copies of civil, criminal and other federal court records. You can also search historical military records and unit histories, naturalization records and bankruptcy records. Trying to research your family history? Browse a list of researchers who specialize in records held at the library. Ancestry.com is free while you visit when accessed from a special link on archives.gov. Family Search, Castle Garden and Ellis Island websites are also free and available from any computer. History buffs, don’t forget to check out the archives’ amazing list of webcasts and online events.

400 W. Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO | (816) 268-8000 | archives.gov/kansas-city

7. The Johnson County Library Monticello Branch

Welcome to the 21st century! Johnson County’s newest $18-million-dollar library is now open. Use the drive-up window that allows you to pick up your books quickly, and find laptops throughout the building that allow you to conveniently tap into the internet. Schedule a meeting in one of the multiple high-tech meeting rooms that facilitate community gatherings. Relax on the Rooftop Terrace outdoor area that offers an environmentally conscious green roof equipped with comfortable seating, charging stations and Wi-Fi. Take the little ones to the “storywalk path” that helps them learn about letters and sounds. Help (nag) your teens to enjoy specially selected materials on the second floor while you browse the adult fiction and non-fiction.

22435 W. 66th Street, Shawnee, Kansas | (913) 826-4600 | jocolibrary.org

TECH ALERT: The Johnson County Central Library has a “MakerSpace” that is equipped with 3D printers, video equipment and Macs to encourage your creative musings. 

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