107 NE Monroe Peoria, Illinois 61602-1070

Reading Room

This Month in Peoria History: April

by Ellie Nielsen

4-3-1839: The cornerstone of Jubilee College was laid on this date.

4-26-1879: It was announced that wires would be strung over the entire city of Peoria for the telephone company.

4-11-1884: The City Brewery was purchased by the Leisy Bros of Keokuk, IA.

4-3-1897: A small cyclone did a great deal of damage in downtown Peoria.

4-14-1903: Officials began razing one of Peoria’s earliest schools, Hinman School at 511-513 Monson St.

4-20-1907: The first interurban car ran from Bloomington to Peoria.

4-20-1910: It was announced that Anheuser-Busch would be building a flat iron block at Knoxville and Main.

4-15-1926: The first air mail plane arrived at Peoria from Chicago on this day. Charles Lindbergh was the pilot.

4-3-1958: A W Oakford presented a 17 volume pictorial history of Peoria to Librarian William Bryan of the Peoria Public Library.

“The air mail arrives!” announced the front page of the Peoria Evening Star on April 15, 1926. This marked the first-ever mail delivery to Peoria by airplane, flown by pilot Lieutenant Charles A. Lindbergh. About 50 Peorians came to greet him when he landed. Lindbergh was hired by the Robertson Aircraft Corporation in late 1925 to serve as chief pilot for the air mail service between St. Louis and Chicago, which included stops in Springfield and Peoria. The newspaper from that day states that he brought 918 pieces of Peoria mail with him from New York and Chicago and received 540 pieces of mail which were then “dispatched from Peoria to Springfield and St. Louis.” A little more than a year after this event, Lindbergh would achieve international fame by making the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris in the Spirit of St. Louis. On February 20 and 21, 1928, Lindbergh returned to his old air mail route with the purpose of promoting the U.S. Air Mail Service, once again making a stop in Peoria. This time he was received by a throng of about 10,000 Peorians.

Illinois Humanities Council to Fund Books for Peoria Reads!

Illinois Humanities Council Awards $36,653 in Grants; Next Cycle Ends Soon


CHICAGO, IL- December 17, 2013—The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) Board of Directors has awarded a total of $36,653  to nine nonprofit organizations across Illinois for development and production of public humanities projects. Community support for these projects totaled $359,372. The grantees are:

  • People and Place: An Exhibit on Irish and Mexican Immigration in Galesburg - Knox College ($1,275) Funding to support an exhibit and panel discussion about the experiences of Mexican and Irish immigrants who arrived in Galesburg in the mid- to late nineteenth century.
  • Moving Dialogues - Audience Architects ($5,000) Funding to extend the series Moving Dialogues: Global Exchange to a series of six public conversations, focusing this time on communities where English is a second language.
  • Completing the Circle, the Life of Dr. Carlos Montezuma - University of Illinois, Champaign ($4,578) Funding to support a documentary film on the life and accomplishments of Dr. Carlos Montezuma, the first Native American graduate of the University of Illinois.
  • Carl Sandburg in Elmhurst - Elmhurst Heritage Foundation ($3,300) Funding to support a series of programs between December 2013 and April 2014 commemorating the author and poet’s connection to Elmhurst, Illinois.
  • "Displaced" to "This Place" - Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture ($5,000) Funding to support a year-long exhibition and accompanying series of public programs called Displaced this Place beginning April 2014.
  • Reconstructing Haiti - Northern Illinois University ($4,850) Funding to support a series of public forums beginning January 2014, complementing an exhibition on the 2010 earthquake in Haiti at the Anthropology Museum in Dekalb, Illinois.
  • General Support Grant - Lincoln-Sargent Farm Foundation ($5,000) Funding to support a year-long series of activities for students and the community, at the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historical Site, beginning January 2014.
  • Peoria Reads "Warriors Don't Cry" - Peoria Public Library ($2,500) Funding to support public programs related to Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High, the selection for the 2014 edition of Peoria Reads.
  • General Support Grant - The Poetry Center of Chicago ($5,000) Funding to support the work of the Poetry Center of Chicago, which provides programs year-wide that use poetry as a catalyst for community achievement.

The IHC invites nonprofit organizations to apply for its next cycle of grant awards by January 15, 2014. Any nonprofit group, organization, or institution is eligible to apply for financial support from the lHC. The IHC funds public projects in the humanities, including documentary films, local and community history projects, literary symposia, and oral history projects. Nonprofits with annual budgets of $250,000 or less can apply for technical assistance grants, and nonprofits with a primary focus on the humanities can apply for general support grants. 

Potential applicants may review and download grant applications and guidelines by visiting www.prairie.org/grants. Please call 312.422.5580 or send an email to ihc@prairie.org. IHC program officers are available for consultation, and new applicants are encouraged to contact program officers for grant advice. 

The IHC makes it a priority to fund projects developed by, for, or aimed at reaching new or historically neglected audiences. The IHC also encourages applications for projects about American history and culture.

For more information about the IHC or the grants program, please call 312.422.5580 or visit www.prairie.org

About the Illinois Humanities Council

The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) is an educational organization dedicated to making the humanities a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities in Illinois, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. This year, it marks 40 years of developing or funding educational activities and programs throughout the state, including lectures, seminars, performances, exhibitions, films, library discussions, and written materials – all free and open to the public. Organized as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1973, the IHC is now a private nonprofit (501 [c] 3) supported by state, federal, and private funds.

Media Contact:
Carlos Velázquez
(312) 422-5580, x233

- See more at: http://www.prairie.org/news/illinois-humanities-council-awards-36-653-grants-next-cycle-ends-soon#sthash.LsdoYY6o.dpuf

How the Library can help you with Affordable Health Care

  Peoria Public Library is hosting Heartland Health Care in 30 sessions in library computer labs over the next few months as well as offering an information portal at www.peoriapubliclibrary.org under the Research tab to help the public understand the process of applying for health care insurance, and find the correct web links to do so, under the new law.
  The Insurance Marketplace opens October 1 and during this first year, remains open until March. Under the Affordable Health Care Act, everyone must have health insurance or pay a penalty at tax time. The information consumers need to know about who should apply and what they need to do can be found collected at http://www.peoriapubliclibrary.org/healthcare-portal.
  People desiring help from a trained counselor are invited to come to Main Library on the first and third Tuesdays as well as the first Saturdays or to Lincoln Branch on the second and fourth Tuesdays through December 14.
  Librarians and counselors are not able to help insurance seekers decide what plan to buy, however they can point the way to correct information, helping them avoid scams and walking them through the process of applying.
  Those who have health care insurance, are on Medicare or have Veteran’s benefits do not need to apply for new insurance.

Call for Artists for 49th Rennick Art Show

The Peoria Historical Society will once again hold their annual Rennick Art Show at the Peoria Public Library Gallery. Artists are invited to submit work in late April for the May 2013 show. The Peoria Historical Society has expanded the list of mediums and is offering a $300 Best of Show cash prize.  For complete details, entry form and identification for your piece check at any library desk, the Peoria Historical Society or download the form.

Get Tax Help at the Library!

Peorians have come to rely on Peoria Public Library during tax season. Now that all forms are electronic and taxes are filed electronically, the public computers and our free wifi are great tools. We do still carry plenty of paper tax forms as well, but only the most common ones.  Others can be printed for you if you are not comfortable with finding and printing them yourself.

AARP has, for many year, offered free assistance with filling out tax forms. Remembering that these tax preparers do this work as volunteers, and volunteers are harder to come by, they now only offer this service at North Branch. From February 5 through April 10, someone will help you with your simple tax forms on Wednesdays from 11:00  a.m.  to  7:00 p.m. and on Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., except for the first week of every month when tax help will be available on Friday (February 7, March 7, and April 4) from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. instead of Thursday. The tax preparers are in the McKenzie Room at the front of the library.

If you were hoping to get help nearer to downtown, ask at any library desk and our staff will help you find other sources of free help for filling out tax returns.

In other news, those who have used the Circuit Breaker program in the past should be aware that most of that program has been discontinued and Peoria Public Library will not have those forms.

Remember that we also have many reference materials that can help you understand how to file your taxes.  A librarian will be happy to help you find what you need.

North Branch Staff’s Favorite Reads

As a Reader’s Advisor I am often asked who my favorite author is. I thought it would be fun to poll the North Branch staff as to their favorites. Even considering the wide variety of experience and ages of the staff, I was surprised at the diversity of the titles.  We are a wide read bunch!

The next time you can’t decide what to read, just wander into any of the Peoria Libraries.        We’ll be happy to make recommendations.

Mary : Fydor Dostoevsky’s Crime & Punishment, Agatha Christie’s Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Pat: James Joyce ‘s Ulysses, Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain

Lisa: Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor, Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague

Barb: Thyra Ferre Bjorn’s Papa’s Wife, Toni Morrison’s Beloved

Deb: Georgette Heyer’s The Masqueraders, David Eddings’ The Belgariad Series

Doug:  J R R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations
Shruti: J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series

Breanna: Deborah Blum’s  The Poisoner's Handbook : murder and the birth of forensic medicine in Jazz Age New York, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood & David Wong’s John Dies At the End

Maria: Julie Garwood’s For the Roses, James Patterson’s Along Came a Spider:
Leann: Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind, Sue Monk Kidd’s Secret Life of Bees (audiobook)

Ali: Chris Fabry’s Dogwood, Kristen Heitzmann’s The Edge of Redall

Rachel: Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.

Anna: Umberto Eco’s, Name of the Rose, Gunter Grass’ Tin Drum

Peoria Public Library Board of Trustees Appoints New Director

     The Peoria Public Library Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Tuesday evening during the regular Board meeting to appoint Leann Johnson, who has been serving as Interim Director since November 2012, to the position of Library Director.
     Ms. Johnson has been with Peoria Public Library for 28 years, serving as Interim Director three times and spending 17 years as Assistant Director. She also served as Manager of Branches, Manager of the former Business, Science and Technology Department and Staff Liaison to the Building Committee throughout the recent building project. She came to Peoria Public Library from a position with the former Illinois Valley Library System.   An Illinois native, she holds a B.A. in English from Eastern Illinois University and a Masters of Library and Information Science from The University of Illinois.
    Linda Daley, President of the Peoria Public Library Board of Trustees said,  ”We were delighted that Leann Johnson accepted the position.  She is an experienced, talented, local professional with exactly the qualifications we were seeking.  She possesses the skills and knowledge we need to lead the Peoria Public Library into the future.  She will become the permanent Library Director immediately.”
   Margaret Cousin, Chairman of the Personnel Committee said, “Peoria Public Library has undergone a brilliant renaissance as a result of our recent capital development campaign. Leann Johnson's qualifications and depth of experience are impressive. The Board is confident she is the ideal candidate to serve as Director to lead the Library as it evolves to serve our community's needs and interests.
    Peoria Public Library recently completed a $28 million building project that remodeled and /or expanded four buildings and constructed the new North Branch. The buildings were designed to allow the staff to provide excellent, cutting edge service to Peorians.  In the past year circulation has increased by 24% with door traffic up 54%.

YA Spotlight - The Latest Young Adult Literature

Welcome to our new blog series, “YA Spotlight.”  Each month, we will bring you a variety of YA titles, new and old, to add to your to-be-read pile.

January is full of exciting new YA titles.  Some of the standouts are Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi, Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, and The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. 

Veronica Rossi’s Into the Still Blue is the final book in her dystopian/sci-fi trilogy that includes Under the Never Sky and Through the Ever Night about a world where civilization is divided into two groups – those who live in environmentally-controlled communities where virtual reality is more common than actual reality and those who live outside in the real world.  The communities outside are populated by tribes who struggle to survive in the harsh environment where violent energy storms threaten them daily.  What happens when the two groups have to join together and escape their crumbling world?  Will “Dweller” Aria and tribal leader Perry stay together in the end?  This dystopian/sci-fi romance will keep you on the edge of your seat.  For fans of: Divergent by Veronica Roth and Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Newcomer Rosamund Hodge has re-imagined the classic Beauty and the Beast with Cruel Beauty.  Website Goodreads describes it as “a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.”  Receiving early praise from book reviewers, this tale of a teen that is forced to marry the evil ruler of her kingdom is a good choice for fans of fantasy and romance.  For fans of: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Bestselling author of middle grade and young adult novels, Laurie Halse Anderson’s latest book is getting rave reviews.  Like several of her previous novels, The Impossible Knife of Memory tackles a tough issue.  In this case the issue is post-traumatic stress disorder.  The main character, a teen girl, struggles to take care of her father – a veteran of the war in Iraq – while trying to maintain a normal teenage life.  For fans of: Speak and Wintergirls, also by Halse Anderson

Check out these exciting new titles and more at any Peoria Public Library location.  If you’re an adult and like to read YA, consider joining the YA for Adults Book Club that meets the 3rd Tuesday of every month at 6:30 at the Lakeview Branch.  Look for more information on our book club page.

August/September YA Spotlight - The Latest in Young Adult Literature

Welcome to our blog series, “YA Spotlight.”  Each month, we will bring you a variety of YA titles, new and old, to add to your to-be-read pile.

This month brings you a special double dose of recommendations.  Enjoy these books that will get you in the mood to go back to school or take your mind off of it.

Have you read Harry Potter yet?  Has it been a long time?  Maybe you should pick it up again.  If you were in grade school the last time you read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, you may have a completely different reading of it this time.  What better way to settle into a new school year than to experience it with Harry!  For readers who have read it before or those who have not read it but have always wanted to.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli is a contemporary book about a boy who falls in love with a strange new girl at his high school.  Stargirl is not normal, which bothers Leo.  She is confident in her strange ways and enchants the other students for a while.  When she falls out of grace, Leo tries to get her to be more normal.  For readers who enjoy simple, well-written books.

In The Reece Malcom List by Amy Spalding, Devan moves to Los Angeles to live with her mother after the death of her fater.  Devan’s mother is Reece Malcom, famous novelist, and there is very little else Devan knows about her.  As Devan adjusts to life with her mysterious mother, she also has to adjust to her new school.  For readers who enjoy fun teen coming-of-age with a little romance on the side.

For first-year college students, there is Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando.  After Elizabeth and Lauren receive their roommate assignment for their freshman year, they start emailing each other about things like who will buy the fridge or microwave.  As they get closer to college, the girls’ relationship helps them deal with what is happening at home.  For readers who are nervous about their first year at a new school.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick is a high school romance with a supernatural twist.  Good girl Nora is paired with new student Patch in Biology class.  She feels uncomfortable around him, but is not sure why.  Things unravel when Nora discovers that Patch is a fallen angel and she plays a major role in an ancient battle.  For readers who enjoy Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver and other contemporary with a fantastical twist.

In I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter, Cammie attends a prestigious boarding school for young women.  What makes the school unique is that she’s learning martial arts, covert operations, and how to break CIA codes.  This is a school for spies.  When Cammie meets a boy who thinks she is an ordinary girl, she enlists the help of her fellow spies-in-training to pull of the biggest operation yet: being in a relationship.  For readers who enjoy mysteries, light-hearted romance, and espionage.

Check out these exciting new titles and more at any Peoria Public Library location.  If you are an adult and like to read YA, consider joining the YA for Adults Book Club that meets the 3rd Tuesday of every month at 6:30 at the Lakeview Branch.  Look for more information on our book club page.

New U.S. Currency Reader for Visually Impaired Launched!

by Amir Drissi of Peoria Public Library Outreach

The National Library Service has partnered with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to launch a new U.S. currency reader for the blind and/or visually impaired. This gadget stems from the government’s “Meaningful Access Initiative,” aimed at helping individuals who have difficulties identifying U.S. currency.

The portable device dubbed the “iBill Talking Bank Note Identifier,” is about the size of a key fob and has the ability to distinguish U.S. banknotes of any denomination. Simply slip the bill into the reader and it will acknowledge the bills value using three different methods; value by voice, pattern of tones, or pattern of vibrations, all at the press of a button.

For more information, eligibility requirements or to sign up for the iBill or any other National Library Service programs, please call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323), contact the Peoria Public Library Outreach Department at 1-309-497-2068, or checkout the links below.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing:


U.S. Currency Reader (iBill) Program Application Download:

Spanish Application

English Application