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CJ Coombs

The parking garage facade of a 25 feet high row of books at Kansas City, Missouri's Central Library downtown is amazing

Parking facade by downtown central library in Kansas City, MO.Dean Hochman from Overland Park, KS, U.S., CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

If you have never visited the Central Library Branch of Kansas City, Missouri's public library, the facade of the parking garage, alone, might encourage you to go. It's so hard to drive by without stopping to look at the giant library books. The beauty of the architecture inside the library is an added bonus.

Known as the Community Bookshelf, the book spines are about 25 feet high by 9 feet wide. The spines are made of signboard mylar. Seriously, it's an incredible idea. In 2006, because of the needed additional parking downtown, a garage was constructed and the community was asked for ideas on how to make the structure look better. The idea of the bookshelf was creatively remarkable.

The shelf showcases 22 spines which list 42 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. Their final selection was made on March 16, 2004. The bookshelf was completed between March and the fall of 2004. (Source.)

Some of the book titles included are Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. To see the full list, click here.

The row of books is along the south wall of the library's parking garage on 10th St. between Wyandotte St. and Baltimore Ave.

Central Library

If you're working on research on an aged topic, the special collections stored in the Central Library's Missouri Valley Room is worth a visit. There, you'll find a large collection of Kansas City's local history. I was looking for old newspaper articles dating back to the 1940s and they were nicely stored there on microfilm. The library also has originals of published items, photos, and postcards. This branch could become your favored location too because of its historical background and architectural beauty.
Parking garage for Kansas City Public Library, Central Branch downtown.Photo by Nightryder84, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Interestingly, in 1937, a book entitled, Historical sketch of the Kansas City public library, 1911-1936, with extracts from annual reports of librarian,1911-1920 by Purd B. Wright was published. This publication provides a detailed historical record of the beginning and the growth of the library. The digitized version can be accessed online at the University of Michigan or the University of California.

The 88-page book is also available in print at a handful of Missouri libraries including the Central Library. If you are a history buff, you'll enjoy reading that piece to feel the passion of those involved with the inception of the library. The goal was to have the best library in the country. A brief overview of the library's history is on the library's website.

Thank you for reading. Visit your local library soon.

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