Kansas City Public Library

Kansas City Public Library

Today’s stop on the Kansas City tour is the Kansas City Public Library. Well, actually it’s the parking garage of the library, as it’s just super cool. The two-story high books cleverly cover the parking structure create an appropriately iconic look to the downtown neighborhood called the Library District.

The garage was created by local design firm Dimensional Innovations, and local residents got to choose which titles would be represented in the bookshelf. There are actually 22 spines displayed across the entire structure (this is only half of it) to create a “community bookshelf.”

I’ve been wanting to sketch this for some time, but the sheer amount of lettering and writing on the spines of the books perplexed me. Since the tour is almost ending, I decided to finally give it a shot, and this is the result. I started with ink as I normally do and then doodlewashed it with nearly every color in my palette.

I remember as a child I used to love to join my mother for laundry day. We weren’t one of the wealthy families and didn’t have a washer and dryer at home, so each weekend we would go to a strip mall to do laundry. Around the corner was a library, and I would always sneak away and look at books there. I’ve always loved stories, but particularly loved them as a kid. They take you places you can’t afford to go.

Mystery stories were always a favorite. I had just finished a book called 2-minute mysteries which was filled with what you might expect. After just a few pages you had to guess what really happened or “solve” the mystery. The power had just gone out for the week due to an ice storm, so since I couldn’t go get more from the library, I began to write my own, long into the evening, via a kerosene lamp.

In the midst of reading the original mysteries, I realized they were stupidly simple and relied on one key fact that provided the solution. So I grabbed my encyclopedia for inspiration. Soon the creative juices were really flowing.

A dog accused of murdering a woman because of her red handkerchief was vindicated (dogs can’t see red). Or, a cat was found to be a hero, vindicating another cat when his nightly meowing proved it was actually old Mrs. Hinklebutt stealing those peaches (cat’s rarely meow at other cats, preferring to spit, purr, or hiss, and don’t have a sweet tooth like dogs). I also loved animals.

I’m actually not sure if my mom still has any of these in her war chest of precocious little Charlie memorabilia. But I’m not interested in reading them again. I’d rather remember it the way it felt. I was about to have my book on that library shelf. I was going to be a rich and famous author creating complex mysteries that would delight and confound readers of all ages. And I would be able to buy my family all the wonderful things that those rich people had, like our very own washing machine.

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30 thoughts on “Kansas City Public Library

  1. That sounds like the grooviest parking ramp in the Midwest! And neighbors choosing which books–wow. Really collaborative cool. And you managed to cram the story of young Charlie into this post! Well done, mister. You should think about writing a column or book or something. You’re pretty good at getting the reader engaged.

  2. What a great idea for your library. Thanks for drawing the structure, well done. When I visit new cities, I always visit the libraries. In Las Vegas we have dozens of Libraries all over the city. Because we don’t have an official large city art gallery, the libraries all display local art.
    I love your story about your childhood writing. Thanks for posting Charlie, it’s always a treat hear what’s happening.

  3. What a cool building! You did a great job with it. I used to read the “2 Minute Mystery books with my kids. They loved to read them before bed. I bet your mysteries were more clever!

  4. What a touching story my friend! 💜 Really cool parking garage! And you painted it FABULOUSLY! 😊 I love to create my own stories too – sounds like we both have AMAZING imaginations. 😊🎨💜🌈

  5. When I was perusing my emails I realized you had a second post I missed today… When I saw the title KC Library…. I thought YEAH!! WOOHOO!!! HE DOODLEWASHED THE LIBRARY!!! I quickly scrambled to find the post 😉 The parking garage exterior is one of the most intriguing “buildings”! Fabulous watercolor 🙂

  6. Charlie!! You keep blowing my mind, guy! What the heck (as my now grown daughter would say)?! Kirk is right. You need to write! Wow! I used to want to be a writer too but wow, guy, I just love to read your little “columns”! Seriously. Loved the painting, because I always do. And I am still and have always been a library geek, so this one in particular wowed me from start to finish. But sometimes I forget about your lovely work because I get so enthralled in the story. Thank you for brightening my morning, Charlie O! As they say in Baltimore, you’re O-mazing!

  7. Wow! Ok, two things, first: Little Charlie was as amazing as big Charlie, your stories sound great and I think could still find a place in the world today; second: Your sketch is fantastic! What a creative place you live in and what a great eye for detail you have. Really love how you wove the past and present, and even left room for my own memories of libraries and wash days. Thank you for sharing these…bravo.

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