Kemper chosen to head national library agency

Michael Bushnell
Northeast News


Crosby Kemper III, the long-time Executive Director of the Kansas City Public Library has been tapped to head the Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). 

The U.S. Senate confirmed his appointment on Thursday, January 9, following the directive by President Donald Trump.

“I am honored,” Kemper said. “This is really a tribute to the wonderful work of the board and staff of the Kansas City Public Library and the place of leadership libraries in Kansas City have taken nationally.”

Kemper, who spent the last 15 years as the figurehead of the library, is credited in redefining the role of libraries and how they serve their public. 

Not one to stand on principle, Kemper was often seen donning period costumes for interviews with historical figures from Kansas City in his Emmy-winning “Meet the Past” series or wearing silly hats when reading to school children during a library story hour.

Amanda Barnhart, branch manager of the North-East branch of the Kansas City Public Library was excited for Kemper’s opportunity. 

“While the appointment leaves huge shoes to fill here in Kansas City, it’s exciting to know that someone with an extensive knowledge of libraries and library science has been tapped to fill a national role.”

During Kemper’s tenure with the Kansas City Public Library, he brought a number of awards to the organization including the National Medal for Museum and Library Service and 5-Star designations by Library Journal in 2013, 2016, and 2017. 

Kemper himself was accorded the Difference Maker Award from the Urban League of Kansas City.

Kemper becomes the agency’s sixth director, succeeding Kathryn “Kit” Matthew. He will serve a four-year term.

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