Willmott and Brooks to host After Hours at the Library

Book your ticket to explore your library! The Lawrence Public Library Friends & Foundation (LPLFF) will host “After Hours at the Library"—a fundraiser—Friday, March 1, 2024 at 7:00 pm.

by Kayla Cook, Media Relations & Communications Specialist and Heather Kearns, Marketing & Patron Experience Supervisor

Join the "LPL Flight Crew" for a library party you don't want to miss!

Eager library passengers will soon don “airport chic” attire (think comfy enough for travel, but nice enough to get a last-second upgrade) and travel to one of the top local destinations, Lawrence Public Library (LPL), for a night of food, cocktails, and fun.

On Friday, March 1st at 7:00 pm, “After Hours at the Library: Explore Your Library” takes flight with Academy Award-winning director Kevin Willmott and Library Storytime star, Deja Brooks, in celebration of Lawrence Public Library marking ten years in the reimagined library at 707 Vermont Street.

Passengers will enjoy live piano jazz by the Harry Miller Trio, classic American tunes with Marvin and Ann Hunt, and a psychedelic adult storytime with Barry Barnes. A global menu loaded with delicious in-flight bites will be served by Maceli’s, Limestone Pizza, The Eldridge House Grille, Mass Street Fish House, Lucky Seb’s Dumpling Bar & Grill, Squishington’s Candy, Minsky’s Pizza, and J. Wilson’s. Bartenders from 715 Restaurant will create a signature cocktail (and mocktail) for the evening, while Lawrence City Commissioners will serve wine, soft drinks, and beer donated by Free State Brewery.

To commemorate ten years in the “new” building, passengers will receive a passport to ten adventures that include games, prizes, and behind-the-scenes walking tours into areas unknown. Starting with taking a keepsake photo at the Ad Astra Photo Booth, they’ll then gamble to win a prize at Book Sorter Roulette, complete the Fiction Loop .5k for a pizza reward, enjoy craft time with paper airplanes in the Kids Room, experience virtual reality (VR) travel in the Teen Zone, tour the SOUND+VISION Studio, learn about the library’s new DIY Memory Lab project, find snacks in the Secret Sky Lounge, and guess the value of book donations in the Book Garage.

Mid-flight, Kevin and Deja will begin shuttling passengers to the library’s Atrium to see building plans for a future community space, the DIY Memory Lab, where anyone can easily digitize their photos, videos, and documents for free.

Festivities will conclude with a reveal of this year’s Basket Raffle winners. Tickets to win baskets are on sale at the library and online at lplafterhours.com, opens a new window. You don’t need to be present to win.

“Libraries have had a huge impact on my writing and ideas. When I was making one of my early films, CSA: Confederate States of America, I’d come to Lawrence Public Library to look at a wide variety of books connecting to my vision for the film. The fact that it was all right there helped me to merge my vision into a solid approach.” —Kevin WillmottFilmmaker, Professor, and Academy Award-winner

Guests attending the party on March 1st will have the chance to win two, over- the-top “Megabaskets” that include, among other things, tickets to see the Kansas City Chiefs from the suites (say "hi" to Taylor for us!) and a personal tour of Allen Fieldhouse with the voice of KU Jayhawks himself, Brian Hanni. You must attend the party to win these.

In addition to this year’s Fund-A-Need DIY Memory Lab, proceeds from the 2024 library fundraiser support essential library initiatives like RetroActive events for older adults, the Beach Author Series, 780s Music Series, Summer Reading, the Booktoberfest Community Read, and more. Don’t miss this chance to party with your friends and neighbors!

Book your flight now for a good cause., opens a new window

Q&A with Kevin Willmott, Academy Award-winner

What is one of your favorite things about Lawrence? About the library?

The library always has the latest books and publications. It remains at the front of what is happening in the world. The internet is great but the library places things in context. A community context. There is something different about holding a book and examining the larger connections to any subject. 

Has using public libraries had any impact on your film work? On your success in general?

Libraries have had a huge impact on my writing and ideas. For instance, when I was making one of my early films CSA: Confederate States of America. I would come to the library and look at a wide variety of books connecting to my vision for the film. I would go down the aisles pulling books on slavery, on the Civil War, on World War 2, on Confederate leaders, on Abraham Lincoln, on the Civil Rights struggle. The fact that it was all right there helped me to merge my vision into a solid approach.

How did you become interested in filmmaking?

I always loved movies as a kid, we went every weekend. Not just any movie, “grown folks” movies: westerns, war films, Godzilla, Dracula, Sci-Fi, James Bond, and as a teenager the “Blaxploitation” films. We never went to Disney movies. That was against the law on 10th Street in Junction City. Even when other kids wouldn’t go with me, I went by myself. Try and make a kid go to the movies by themselves today and they’ll think you’re crazy. But I’m glad I did that because it makes you earn a love of film. You create a personal relationship with that film that is just between the two of you. I would argue it enters your conscience on a deeper level and perhaps affects how you see the world. For me, I was no longer a fan, I was trying to find a way to somehow do this in my life.

What advice would you give to our library patrons interested in pursuing filmmaking? Are you familiar with our SOUND+VISION Studio? Any advice on how to grow this free service for young filmmakers?

I wish I had access to that as I kid, that is a wonderful opportunity to make art and film. Perhaps, you could offer a contest or challenge on doing a project using the facility, that can help students learn to use the equipment on their own. 

What are you reading?

Unfortunately, I don’t get to do much pleasure reading because I am constantly reading things for the various projects I am writing or pitching. I am reading books  on Jimi Hendrix, The Defender newspaper in Chicago, Billy Strayhorn the jazz musician, and numerous other things.

The video you directed about the library, A People’s History of the Lawrence Public Library, is still a joy to watch to this day! What was the most notable part of the creation process for this project?

It was fun to show the cultural and social importance of the new library. Lawrence has one of the best libraries in the country and the vision for it makes it special. It was an honor to celebrate that.

You probably took a limo to the Oscars, right? What about taking Dottie next time? (We’re kidding!) 

If I get there again it’s a deal!

What’s next for Kevin Willmott? 

I am working on a documentary about the great Alvin Brooks in Kansas City. I also have several feature films I hope to start shooting in the near future.

Q&A with Deja Brooks, Storytime Star

What is one of your favorite things about Lawrence? About the library?

(About Lawrence.) I would have to say the diversity of our community.  (About the Library. ) Where do I begin?! The fact that our library has something for everyone and is a safe place for all who enter is just the beginning of what I love about our library. 

How long have you performed the art form of drag?

2024 is my 20th year of performing the art of female impersonation

Has using public libraries had any impact on your drag persona? On your success in general?

The fact that I have LPL as a stage for Deja’s Reading Rainbow, opens a new window certainly has impacted not only my drag persona but has provided a storytime for all families to come together and share stories of love, acceptance and being different. To me that is success! 

What are you looking forward to most as a host of the annual library fundraiser?

With this being a big year for our library, 10 years of stories, it excites me that I get to share this with Kevin Willmott. I have had the opportunity to share this special night with Patrick Kelly and Kathleen Sebelius, who were outstanding co-hosts. But bring on an Oscar Winner! This year will also prove to be equally exciting as we will be traveling throughout the library collecting stamps on our LPL passports! 

What’s next for Deja Brooks?

I always have something up my sleeve… Maybe it’s time to schedule our next BINGO night benefiting the Lawrence Public Library Friends & Foundation (LPLFF) or to finally finish my children's book

Feel free to share any additional information about your experience as a supporter of Lawrence Public Library and now Chairperson of the Friends & Foundation Board

One thing that I would like to say is, thank you. Thank you to our amazing staff at LPL, patrons who utilize all facets of the library and to those who continue to support our library through attending events and donating when possible to keep programing at the forefront of what makes the library what it is for the Lawrence community.



After Hours at the Library

Lawrence Public Library Friends & Foundation