Mid-Continent Public Library

Writer Ray Bradbury was an American icon. His work straddled genres, uniting the seemingly-disparate worlds of science fiction and high literature, haunting readers' imaginations with side shows, skeletons, bright stars, the dark skies of space, solitary front porches and late night train whistles. 

Ryan Schuessler / KCUR

Ask any genealogist – they’ll say researching family history begins and ends with stories: tales from Ellis Island, settling the frontier, fighting in the Civil War. These stories, and more, are all being told over and over again at a library in Independence, Mo. – but if you’re there, all you’ll hear is silence.

“This is the largest free-standing public genealogy library in the United States,” says Cheryl Lang, manager of the Midwest Genealogy Center.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Say you’re researching for a book report. Or looking up local history. Maybe you want to learn to some do-it-yourself home repair. Chances are good you’ll log on to the internet and get your answers in a few minutes without leaving your chair.

This leaves old-fashioned libraries with a problem: how to get people back to the stacks.

One local library has a unique solution for facing the future by embracing the past. The new branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library literally joins a 21st century building with a pre-Civil War home.

Kent Smith / courtesy of the Lawrence Public Library

The John Cotton Dana Award is considered one of the most prestigious in the library marketing and public relations field.  Out of eight winners this year, two area libraries - Lawrence Public Library and Mid-Continent Public Library - were recognized.