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Douglas County Community Foundation

LPL Welcomes Legendary Gospel, R&B, and Grammy-winning Singer Mavis Staples

We are thrilled to announce legendary R&B and gospel singer Mavis Staples as our 780s Series music storyteller for 2018. She is a Grammy Award winner, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, and Kennedy Center Honoree.

Ms. Staples will spend an evening in Lawrence on April 4th to share stories from her 60+ year music career. A time and location will be determined soon.

“The 780s Series with Mavis Staples” is scheduled for Wednesday, April 4, 2018 and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.

“Mavis Staples is the embodiment of the gospel impulse in music,” said Brad Allen, library executive director. “She has sung songs of that have lifted people up for over 60 years, both as a member of the Staple Singers and as a solo artist. With April 4th marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, I am humbled and awestruck at our opportunity to bring to Lawrence such an iconic legend of both African American music and the 1960s Freedom Movement.”

A time and location will be announced soon. The program is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

​Here’s Mavis singing for the Obamas at the White House!

Ms. Staples began her singing career in 1948 at age nine, a small girl with a big voice in her family gospel group, The Staple Singers. The Staple Singers emerged as one of the biggest gospel acts of the 1950s, evolved to become an important part both of the 1960s African American freedom movement and folk music scene, and finally ending up as a chart-topping soul group in the 1970s. Their biggest hit, “I’ll Take You There,” has been called “the epitome of the Muscle Shoals sound” and ranks #276 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The Staple Singers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

Now let’s go back to 1972 with “Respect Yourself” from the Wattstax Concert with Mavis, Pops and her sisters…

Ms. Staples, now 78, continues to make records and perform live. She won her first Grammy with the 2010 album, You Are Not Alone, produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and Uncle Tupelo fame. Her most recent recording, If All I Was Was Black, another collaboration with Mr. Tweedy, was released in November 2017 and is one of her best, commenting directly on our current racial struggles in the United States.


Named for the Dewey Decimal range for music, the 780s Series is a gift to our community from the Harrison Family Fund of the Douglas County Community Foundation. The Series brings prominent music storytellers to Lawrence to share the stories behind their music. Previous guests have included Booker T. Jones (2015), Kim Gordon (2016), and Jimmy Webb (2017).

780s 2018 Mavis Staples logo suite


Read Across Lawrence welcomes anti-bullying activist Lizzie Velasquez

After first being bullied as a child in school for looking different and later online as a teenager when she discovered a YouTube video labeling her ‘The World’s Ugliest Woman,’ Lizzie Velasquez, who was born with a rare genetic condition that prevents her from gaining weight, became an advocate for victims of bullying the world over.

Lizzie will deliver our 2018 Read Across Lawrence keynote address. Her message of self-acceptance aligns beautifully with the themes in Wonderour 2018 Read Across Lawrence book pick about a young boy named Auggie with a facial anomaly.

Lizzie’s family-friendly event will resonate with all ages, but will be especially powerful for teens and kids who have experienced bullying themselves.

“Lizzie Velasquez is a wonderful capstone to our Read Across Lawrence events surrounding R.J. Palacio’s Wonder,” said Brad Allen, Lawrence Public Library executive director. “Her anti-bullying advocacy and message of kindness and acceptance are very much needed in the world right now.”


An Afternoon with Lizzie Velasquez
SUN | Mar 11 | 3:30 PM | Lied Center | All ages
1600 Stewart Drive, Lawrence, KS 66045
(785) 864-2787

Thanks to a generous gift from BNSF, this event is free and open to the public. General admission; no ticket required.


In December 2013, Lizzie Velasquez took the stage at the inaugural TEDxAustinWomen and gave a talk titled, How Do You Define Yourself? that has garnered over 13 million views across the web. Her story has been featured on Katie Couric, The Today Show, The View, Huffington Post, the Associated Press, and many other national and international media outlets. Her YouTube channel has over 793,668 subscribers.

Lizzie’s latest book, Dare to Be Kind, will be available for sale and a book signing will follow her talk.

FEB 10 – MAR 17

Read Across Lawrence is an annual, community-wide reading event that encourages everyone in Lawrence to read and discuss the same book. We’ll host book discussions and activities for all ages that explore R.J. Palacio’s themes of kindness and acceptance in her debut novel, Wonder. The Lawrence Schools Foundation and Lawrence Public Library Foundation teamed up and received a grant from the Douglas County Community Foundation to supply 1,000 copies of the book to students, teachers, and classrooms all over Lawrence.

BNSF logo
2017 RAL Partners Header Media Release

Game of Gnomes 2017

Starting MondayJune 5 through July 28, get ready for a summer fitness adventure into the great “ungnome”! Whether you’re House Lannister or House Stark, it’s your job to find all 21 gnomes we’ve hidden in various parks around town. Form a fellowship or strike out solo and earn some loot! Download the map here or pick one up at our Welcome Desk  starting June 5. Made possible with support from the Douglas County Community Foundation.

Here’s how to play:

  1. Visit the walking paths in the parks on the map.
  2. Each location has two gnomes. Find them, and their special names along each path.
    DeVictor Park has a bonus third gnome located in our Storywalk®.
    The gnomes at Rock Chalk are quite far apart, spanning between E 902 RD and E 1000 RD.
  3. Match the park’s number with the gnome names on your handout. Write the park’s number next to the gnome’s name in the blank provided.
  4. Find all 21 gnomes. We’ve included three “wild card” gnomes on the list to keep you on your toes (you won’t find them—they’re just decoys.)
  5. Fill out your contact info and return the sheet to our Welcome Desk to enter the raffle for your very own gnomes!

Gnomenclature GUARANTEED FINISHER PRIZES A coupon to Ad Astra Running A coupon to the Rolling Gnome Gaming Store A surprise tchotchke One of these four glorious finisher buttons — You choose! GRAND PRIZE RAFFLE To be announced… Oh, the suspense! Game of Gnomes pins small