The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri

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.

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