Parking garage

Parking garage facade of 25ft tall row of books in Kansas City, Missouri Central Library downtown is amazing | CJ Combes

Parking lot facade by the Central Library in downtown Kansas City, MO.Dean Hochman from Overland Park, KS, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

If you’ve never visited the Central Library Branch of Kansas City, Missouri’s public library, the parking lot facade alone might tempt you to go. It’s so hard to walk past without stopping to look at the giant books in the library. The beauty of the architecture inside the library is an added bonus.

Known as the Community Library, the book spines are approximately 25 feet high by 9 feet wide. Edges are mylar for signage. Seriously, that’s an amazing idea. In 2006, due to the need for additional parking downtown, a garage was built and the community was asked to come up with ideas to improve the appearance of the structure. The idea for the library was creatively remarkable.

The shelf features 22 spines that 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. Their final selection was made on March 16, 2004. The library was completed between March and fall 2004. (Source.)

Some of the book titles included are Catch-22 by Joseph Heller good night 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 parking lot on 10th Street between Wyandotte St. and Baltimore Ave.

central library

If you’re researching an ancient topic, the Special Collections stored in the Central Library’s Missouri Valley Room are worth a visit. Here you will find a great collection of local Kansas City history. I was looking for old newspaper articles from the 1940s and they were well preserved there on microfilm. The library also has originals of published articles, photos and postcards. This branch might also become your go-to spot due to its historical past and architectural beauty.

Parking garage for the Kansas City Public Library, Downtown Central Branch.Photo by Nightryder84, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Interestingly, in 1937, a book titled, Historical sketch of the Kansas City Public Library, 1911-1936, with extracts from the Librarian’s Annual Reports, 1911-1920 by Purd B. Wright was published. This publication provides a detailed history of the library’s beginnings and growth. The digitized version can be viewed 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 will enjoy reading this article to feel the passion of the people involved in creating the library. The goal was to have the best library in the country. A brief overview of the library’s history can be found on the library’s website.

Thanks for the reading. Visit your local library soon.

Deena S. Hawkins

The author Deena S. Hawkins