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First Night and Civil War in Springfield Exhibit Kick Off New Year at the Library

When darkness falls and doors close on all the library branches at 5 p.m., on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, the Park Central Branch will reopen at 5:30 p.m. with magicians, musicians, face painters and poets.

Not quite a “Night at the Museum.” It’s our lively contribution to Springfield’s annual First Night celebration. The Park Central Branch is one of 10 downtown venues featuring local talent and family-friendly activities.

At 5:30 p.m. kids can enjoy face painting, balloon twisting and Chinese name painting; 5:30-7:30 p.m. is the zany Fishin’ Magicians; 7:30-9 p.m. is singer/guitarist Lyal Strickland; and 9-10:30 p.m. is MO Slam Poetry.

Tickets are available at many area sites including the Park Central and Brentwood branch libraries, the Library Station and Library Center. Cost is $8 each or $30 for a family four-pack in advance. Children age 3 and under are free.
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Friday, Jan. 5, is the opening of a First Friday Art Walk photo exhibit at the Park Central Branch depicting soldiers, civilians and artifacts from Springfield during the Civil War. It’s a collaborative exhibit from the Library and Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, but it’s special for another reason.

“Civil War in Springfield” kicks off a week-long series of programs and exhibits devoted to observing the 150th anniversary of three major events: the 1863 Battle of Springfield, Marmaduke’s Raid through the Ozarks and President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Find out how “Quinine and Courage” won the Battle of Springfield at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 8. See if you think Fritz Klein is Abraham Lincoln reincarnated at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 9; Learn who was worse: bushwhackers or bushwhacker hunters, at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 12. Hear how enslaved families fared in Missouri communities at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11. And that’s just a sample of what’s planned.

A full schedule of events is in Bookends and online at; printed programs are available in all branches. All of the events will beat the Library Center; other exhibits will be at the History Museum for Springfield-Greene County, the Library Center, Library Station and Wright County libraries, which are observing the 1863 Battle of Hartville.

Kathleen O'Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at

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