One of the busiest places in the North Topeka Arts District is Roundtable Bookstore. The family-owned and operated business opened just ahead of the pandemic and was the retirement dream for Dad Scott Howard. When lockdowns occurred, he decided to keep his day job driving a regional UPS truck. Son Andrew already had a demanding IT job with a local school district, while another son, Rain, works another job when he’s not serving as the store’s coffee barista and salesclerk. Andrew will tell convention viewers how the family pivoted from their original expansion plans because of the pandemic and about other exciting plans for the store’s future. Currently, the unique store has new and used books and an expanding local author section.
Birthed on a bar stool less than fifty feet from its front door, Prospero’s fills an historic 1890 building originally housing a grocery store its first 20 years and a hardware store for the next 90 – very possibly the longest continually operated retail space in KC.
On a cold November 19th, Prospero’s opened on the anniversary of Silvia Beach’s famed Parisian bookstore Shakespeare and Company – the birthplace of the Moderns (Hemingway, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, etc.). Prospero’s quickly earned a reputation as home to a significant portion of Kansas City’s literary, music and arts scene.
During its off hours, Prospero’s maintains a selection of books outside on its sidewalks 24-7 for those visiting at the nearby KU Medical Center or traveling the bus lines, or those simply in need of a read. Individuals are encouraged to slip $ beneath the door. In addition, Prospero’s maintains free book boxes throughout the urban core. Prospero’s is co-owned and operated by Tom Wayne and Will Leathem, both of whom live in the neighborhood and one of whom is almost always behind the counter.
Topeka Shawnee County Public Library is not just a place for books. It’s a local cultural center with its Alice C. Sabatini Art Gallery, its Millenium Café, Chandler Booktique and numerous exhibits and special events. The beautiful facility has free meeting rooms and before the pandemic, District 1 members met upstairs in one of them, after grabbing a bite to eat at the café.
During the pandemic the library transitioned to new services that included patron book pickups and even local deliveries. Interim Chief Executive Director Thad Hartman will be talking to convention viewers about how the library is being positioned for the future and about its relationship with local authors. He is responsible for leading the library in achieving its mission of sparking curiosity and connecting our community through literacy and learning.
Thad began his career as a shelving assistant at the library in 1993 and has worked in a variety of positions since then. He has led numerous projects throughout his career, including the implementation of the Library @ Work program, community center computer labs, and the facilities master plan.
As a lifelong Topekan, Thad developed his love of the library by checking out Choose Your Own Adventure books, sports biographies, and books about bigfoot. Thad’s proudest moments at the library include being a member of the 2016 Library of the Year, being named an American Library Association Emerging Leader in 2006, and once managing the library softball team to a 1-11 record.