The Library was recognized on the strength of its signature programming, which in 2017 alone includes:
- A presentation in January by preeminent Supreme Court authority Jeff Rosen on implications for the court’s ideological direction, stemming from the 2016 election. It drew 660 people.
- A wide-ranging public conversation in May with former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. Attendance was 782.
- A summer series of monthly outdoor movies screened on the fifth-floor rooftop terrace of the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. The first two events this summer drew 200 and 250 people in May and June respectively.
- A yearlong series of locally produced exhibits in the Central Library’s first-floor Genevieve Guldner Gallery tied to the 20th anniversary of the art-nurturing Charlotte Street Foundation. The first two exhibits drew more than 7,300 viewers.
The award also spotlights the impact the Library has on enriching the Kansas City community:
- The L.H. Bluford branch, serving one of the most economically distressed corridors of the city, which houses a Health and Wellness Center in partnership with Truman Medical Centers and Health Sciences Institute of Metropolitan Community Colleges-Penn Valley.
- The H&R Block Business and Career Center, designed to aid in job searches, career development, entrepreneurial efforts, and formation and development of nonprofits.
- The Refugee & Immigrant Services & Empowerment (RISE) program, which connects local immigrants with quality services and resources through outreach and education.
- Free citizenship preparation classes, which teach basic U.S. history, offer a review of the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services “100 Questions,” and free English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.
- Coffee and Conversations, which invites patrons experiencing homeless to join Library staff and other patrons for coffee, snacks, and conversations on topics related to social inclusion.
“We are proud to be acknowledged for the role we play in the community, and what we provide Kansas Citians at their library,” said director Crosby Kemper III. “Our mission is to serve as the doorway to knowledge on all levels.”
The Library will be honored at a ceremony September 14 in St. Louis.