Grade school field trips always brought a mischievous sense of joy. It felt like playing hooky but with no dread of being caught because your classmates and teacher were along for the fun.

A field trip, because it breaks the routine of classroom lessons and the cafeteria,  holds the promise of discovery. New place, new sights, new smells, new knowledge, new people, new ideas.

Although my yellow school bus days are definitely in the rear-view mirror, field trips remain a favorite pastime — not just as a chaperone accompanying her children on their elementary school excursions, but as a business owner who believes stepping out of the office means working smarter.

One of my favorite destinations is the Linda Hall Library, surrounded by the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. It’s the nation’s largest independent research library devoted to science, engineering and technology.

I discovered this immaculately kept brick building with lush grounds a few years ago when it hosted an intriguing exhibition, “This Time It’s Personal: Innovation in Your Home,” that chronicled patented household inventions room by room. The same display space near the front of the building now holds a Panama Canal collection ­— it’s the centennial of its opening — with artifacts from Office Engineer A.B. Nichols, who lived and worked in the canal zone from 1904 until it opened in 1914.

Walking into Linda Hall Library feels like the animated books and shelves from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” have sprung to life. The buildings hold 220,000 square feet of library space and more than 32 miles of books and journals.

"The Tazza," one of the largest pieces of malachite in North America, is the focal point of the main reading room of parquet wood floors, oak paneling and tall windows. My favorite spot to read and write is upstairs, overlooking this stunning space. 

The lower level contains a mix of new and old. The William N. Deramus III Cosmology Theater features a 114-inch screen that displays images made with the Hubble Space Telescope and other astronomic resources from around and above the world. The Rare Books room contains abstracts and journals that date to the 1500s, and include landmark scientific studies by Copernicus, Newton and Darwin. This section contains beautiful illustrations of plants and animals that inspire me with life's incredible possibilities each time I walk through its door.

Field trip season is upon us. Put Linda Hall Library on your short list.

New place, new sights, new smells, new knowledge, new people, new ideas.


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