Kansas City’s Community Bookshelf

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We wonder if the books are arranged according to the Dewey Decimal System? | Photo by @mcrleonel

Table of Contents

Kansas City’s downtown has some iconic landmarks — the Western Auto building, the T-Mobile Center, and a giant bookshelf?

It’s Library Week, so we figured it would be fun to flip through the pages of a KC landmark.

Kansas City Library’s Community Bookshelf consists of 22 book spines that list 42 titles. The books, ~25 feet tall by 9 feet wide, are made of signboard mylar. Two glass elevators bookend the seismic shelf.

Don’t judge the books by their cover. The community bookshelf — which might just be the world’s biggest bookshelf — is actually a parking garage built in 2004 to create additional downtown parking. It runs along 10th Street between Wyandotte Street and Baltimore Avenue.

The public was asked to submit their favorite book titles, and the final selections were made by The Kansas City Public Library Board of Trustees. To keep yourself booked with a long TBR list, check out the titles on the Community Bookshelf. A list can be overwhelming, so we grouped them according to genre below:

KC History

  • Kansas City, Missouri: Its History And Its People, 1808-1908 by Carrie Whitney
  • Kansas City, Missouri: An Architectural History, 1826-1990 by George Ehrlich
  • Tom’s Town: Kansas City and the Pendergast Legend by William M. Reddig
  • Farm by Richard Rhodes
  • Mr. Anonymous: The Story of William Volker by Herbert C. Cornuelle
  • Journeys Through Time: A Young Traveler’s Guide to Kansas City’s History by Monroe Dodd
  • I Was Right On Time by Buck O’Neil
  • The O’Donnells by Peggy Sullivan
  • Independence Avenue by Eileen Bluestone Sherman
  • Truman by David McCullough
  • PrairyErth by William Least Heat-Moon
  • Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell

Classics

  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • Black Elk Speaks by Black Elk, as told to John G. Neihardt
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) by Gabriel García Márquez
  • Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  • O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

American History

  • Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, And The Opening Of The American West by Stephen Ambrose
  • Journals of the Expedition by Lewis and Clark
  • The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes
  • Messages From My Father by Calvin Trillin
  • Virgil Thomson, a Reader by Virgil Thomson

Philosophy

  • Tao Te Ching by Lau Tzu
  • The Republic by Plato

Children’s Books

  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  • Stella Louella’s Runaway Book by Lisa Ernst
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
  • Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • What A Wonderful World by George Weiss
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  • M.C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton


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