107 NE Monroe Peoria, Illinois 61602-1070

Join the Bookin' It Walking Club This Year

Need help starting a consistent fitness routine? Join the new  Bookin’ It Walking Club and get a little support! The club will meet each Tuesday for a 30 minute (or longer if you’re up for it!) walk at Lakeview Branch. Some days speakers will talk about fitness and routines. Walks will be inside on bad weather days and outside when the weather is nice. We will keep track of goals and milestones. Members who complete 24 weeks will be entered into a drawing for a fitness- related prize! Combine your weekly library visit with a fitness walk for an easy way to achieve your goals.

Starting Over With Your Genealogy

By Amber Lowery

Have you ever been ready to just take all of your genealogy research and toss it out? Just stuff it all in the garbage and walk away from it? Wipe your hands clean of the binders, folders, and piles of dusty old books? 

I was in that state last year, until I read a great blog that came out last year called Genealogy Do-Over. The blog, written by the incredible Thomas MacEntee, suggested doing just that. With winter setting in, this is the perfect time to start on this project and plan for a less overwhelming, more organized approach to genealogy research in 2018.

The first thing MacEntee proposed is we take all of our previous research and set it to the side. Then we prepare to research like it is our first time, but keeping the skills and knowledge that we have accumulated over the years. As we get deeper into genealogy, our research methods are honed and sharpened. We learn to look for the details buried in obituaries, family histories, news clippings, and vital records. 

For example, did you know that Peoria had a number of different newspapers, but they did not necessarily report all the same information? Perhaps you have an obituary for Great-Grandfather Edwin from the Peoria Journal, but did you check the Peoria Evening Star to see if perhaps that copy mentioned his mother’s maiden name? No? Well, then, off you go to Peoria Public Library Main Library to look at the microfilm and see if any new information is waiting to be discovered.

Maybe you have a bit of genealogical information on an ancestor in an old photocopy but you cannot remember where you got it from. Bring it with you on one of your planned research days and ask one of the staff in the Local History department if they recognize the source.

Rediscover your passion for the hobby by going back to the beginning with fresh eyes. Perhaps the breadcrumb you seek is already among your research, waiting to be found. If it is not, make a trip to the Peoria Public Library to explore our resources and talk to staff about avenues you may be missing in your research.

Hot New Titles Coming in January 2018

By Robin Helenthal

The Music Shop: A Novel by Rachel Joyce is both a love story and a journey through the power of music. In 1988, llse Brachmann walks into a small music shop at the end of a dead-end street in a run-down neighborhood. The owner of the shop, a man named Frank, has a way of connecting his customers to the right piece of music that they are looking for or need. llse asks Frank to teach her about music. Frank and llse both have emotional baggage that they need to overcome but with the healing power of music and love they just might be able to connect and save each other.

Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell is the story of the first production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as told by Richard Shakespeare, William’s younger brother. The two men have been at odds for years. While Richard has dreams of being an actor in the London playhouses which is a world in which his brother dominates, he is actually a penniless actor that makes ends meet by minor thievery and his silver tongue. As William’s star rises, Richard’s seems to fall. When a priceless script goes missing, Richard is suspected and to clear his name and escape the gallows, he must play the part of a lifetime and call on all the skills he has learned on the stage to save himself. From the glittering stages to the darkest alleys, we get an inside look at what it might have been like in the world of theatre during the time of Shakespeare.

Eternal Life by Dara Horn is the story of a woman with a problem, she can’t die. 2000 years ago, she made a sacred bargain to save the life of her first born son, Jack, in the time of Roman occupied Jerusalem. Although she has tried to free herself from the bargain, there is only one person who understands her and he has been stalking her through the centuries, telling her they belong together. Now her children and grandchildren are obsessed with finding immortality their own way, from digital currency to genetic engineering which would change her fate and theirs. This book celebrates the power of faith, the point of death, reasons for living and the bonds that exist between generations.

Peoria Reads! announces Station Eleven as 2018 Choice

In a world plagued by disasters, Station Eleven, the award-winning book by Emily St. John Mandel, seemed an obvious choice for the 2018 Peoria Reads! One City, One Book read. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel’s fourth novel, won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, was a finalist for the National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner Award, was an Amazon Best Book of the Month, and was named one of the best books of the year by more than a dozen publications. It’s been translated into 27 languages. “Equal parts page-turner and poem” (Entertainment Weekly), the novel is set 20 years after a devastating flu pandemic destroys civilization as we know it. A woman moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians until they encounter a violent prophet who threatens the tiny band’s existence. “Possibly the most captivating and thought-provoking post-apocalyptic novel you will ever read” (The Independent London). “It’s hard to imagine a novel more perfectly suited, in both form and content, to this literary moment” (The New Yorker). “I kept putting the book down, looking around me, and thinking, ‘Everything is a miracle’” (National Public Radio). The author herself said, “I wanted to write a love letter to the world we find ourselves in.”

Peoria Reads! is entering it’s 16th year of asking Peorians to read and discuss the same great book. Peoria Reads is a joint project of Common Place and Peoria Public Library. A wide variety of book discussions and other activities are being planned to help readers explore and understand the themes found in Station Eleven. While funds are not available this year to provide free copies of the book, many copies may be borrowed from Peoria Public Library as books, e-books and audio books. With more time to relax and read over the winter, read the book now and be ready for the citywide discussion. A copy of Station Eleven makes a wonderful gift for yourself or the readers in your life, as well! Watch for more information at www.peoriareads.org

Winter Reading Returns in January

Winter is a great time to delve into reading and this January and February all ages can complete reading challenges to earn prizes and be entered into the library-wide grand prize drawing for a Kindle Fire HD. Watch for information and challenge sheets.  You will choose 12 challenges to complete and when you finish, just turn in your log sheet. 

The real reward is finding "hidden treasures" to read, but you will also get to grab a prize from our treasure box, be entered into the branch competition to win a $10 gift card and be entered to win the Kindle Fire HD. Information will be available at each location.

Music in the McKenzie Returns in 2018

Music in the McKenzie has been bringing free Sunday afternoon concerts to Peoria Public Library North Branch for six years and is announcing the schedule for year seven, 2018! The concerts are held from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the McKenzie Room. They are family friendly and often have attendees dancing in the aisles.  Artist CDs are usually available and purchasing them helps support The Friends of Peoria Public Library, who provide much financial support for Children’s Programs.

The concert season starts on Sunday, January 21 with Sally Barris. Sally Barris is an A-list Nashville songwriter who has had songs covered by such top-level artists as Kathy Mattea, Martina McBride, and Lee Ann Womack. Her song “Let The Wind Chase You”, recorded by Trisha Yearwood and Keith Urban, received a Grammy nomination for vocal collaboration in 2009. While her writing credits impress, fans and peers are most captivated by her bright spirit and expressive mountain soprano. 

On Sunday, February 25 hear Flatland Harmony Experiment, a “high octane” four piece string band from Indy.  Flatland Harmony Experiment dances with a single large diaphragm condenser microphone to share their music with audiences. Stylistically, their original music flows from tunes that echo the founding roots of bluegrass to progressive gypsy and all places in between. Conscious lyrics, a thread of harmony, and instrumental virtuosity permeates the music of the Flatland Harmony Experiment. 

Local favorites Goodnight Gracie perform on Sunday, March 11, with their well-loved variety of genres including covers and originals. On April 22 enjoy some American roots and Celtic soul music as Switchback takes the stage for the afternoon.

Join the P-Town Bluegrass Allstars on May 20. This collection of musicians from a variety of musical backgrounds is always a treat as they join their talents.

Sunday, June 10 Mike Cheesman steps out of the English pub, The Fox Pub and Café, where he regularly performs, and comes to the McKenzie Room. A transplant from England, Mike has a passion for history and storytelling, and his songs encompass genres including pop, folk, and country.

The Sally Weisenburg Band performs on Sunday, July 15. The Sally Weisenburg Band  play mainly clubs, festivals and private events regionally in the Midwest. Known for blues and R&B interpretations, they can also play anything from standards and Motown to instrumental surf music.

Sunday, August 26 brings the Nathan Taylor Band playing country folk blended with heartland jazz and delta blues.

Enjoy some toe-tapping tunes, sweet waltzes and Americana music with Blackest Crow on Sunday, September 23 and on October 21 Chicago native Edward David Anderson performs his blend of blues, rock, folk and bluegrass.

On Sunday, November 11, hear Still Shine, a group of like-minded, seasoned musicians blending acoustic roots and progressive bluegrass. By mixing mandolin, harmonica, banjo, acoustic guitar, upright bass, and tight harmonies they quickly gained a following around Central Illinois and the Midwest.

 The December concert has not been booked as of this writing, but watch for more and it will be announced soon.  Be sure to join us for these free concerts in 2018!

Are You Hungary For More?

By Amber Lowery

One of the most intimidating parts of researching a family tree is when you’ve traced your family back to “the old country”…and you do not speak the language. Throw in the fact that sometimes our ancestors came from places where borders and languages change causing records to be a confusing headache. 

One of the lesser known waves of immigrants to Central Illinois was that of the Hungarians. In the early 1900s, the railroads and steam ship lines sent recruiters to the Austrian-Hungarian empire to recruit workers. A flood of Hungarians came and settled in the Bloomington-Normal region of Illinois, creating a small enclave. Just 200 years earlier the Hapsburgs recruited ethnic Germans to settle in Austria-Hungary, repopulating areas that had been reclaimed from the Turks. This group from the 1700s is known as the Donauschwaben. Today, in Bloomington-Normal there is active group known as the American Hungarian Family Society that is nearly 100 years old and was created by those immigrants.

If you live in Central Illinois, you may well find your “German” ancestors spent several hundred years on the Great Hungarian Plain. There are resources available to you and here are a few: 

  • The Black Sea German Research – this site is helpful if your family was the migratory type and may have come from another country before settling in Hungary. (http://www.blackseagr.org/index.html)
  • The Hungaricana – a Hungarian-run site that offers information in English. However, the records are in Hungarian or possibly another language. One of the best offerings is a 1767 census of households by region. (https://hungaricana.hu/en/)
  • Google Translate – Use Google’s translation site to figure out what the record says. (https://translate.google.com/)
  • Donauschwaben –Your family could have been part of the 1700s German migration to Hungary, known as the Donauschwaben. Please check out this excellent resource for more on that group. (http://www.dvhh.org/)
  • German and Hungarian 1828 Census – Using the Family Search website, you can search the catalog for this source and then narrow down which area of Hungary your ancestors came from. Within that link is a listing of the names of the heads of households in 1828. (www.familysearch.org)
  • Mango Languages – interested in learning more about the languages of your ancestors? Peoria Public Library has a subscription to Mango Languages to help you learn! 
  • Check out our website today. Use your Peoria Public Library card to access the tools to expand your skills when it comes to genealogy and translation. (www.peoriapubliclibrary.org/all-databases/)

Hot New Titles Coming in December

By Robin Helenthal

Year One is the first book in the Chronicles of The One Trilogy by Nora Roberts. It starts on New Year’s Eve. The first signs of sickness and the people’s fears begin to spread. The government collapses and the electrical grid fails. As the power of science and technology begin to withdraw, magick begins to gain power. Some of it is good, but the evil lurks around corners and appears even in the ones that you love and trust. Survivors that are immune to the sickness begin to head west. Among the travelers are Lana and Max, Chuck a tech genius, Arlys a journalist who is using her pen and paper to record the truth and Fred, her optimistic young coworker; Rachel, a doctor and Jonah, a paramedic who are trying to keep a young mother and her three infants alive. In this world of survivors, every stranger met could be a savage or a rescuer. None of those traveling west know why or where they are heading but what is ahead will shape their lives and the lives of all those they meet. The end has come. The beginning comes next.

Now That You Mention It is the latest novel by Kristin Higgins. For Nora Stuart, life has been one step forward and two steps back. She wants to become a Boston medical specialist and receives a Tufts scholarship that will help make this a reality when she is hit by a car and wakes up to hear her boyfriend hitting on another doctor while she is laying in the emergency room possibly dying (or so she thinks). When she gets out of the hospital, she moves back home to Maine to try and put her life back together. So with a difficult mother, a wild-child sister who is in jail and a remote niece who wants to get off the island as much as Nora had fifteen years earlier, she has her work cut out for her to bring the family back together and patch up their relationships. This is her chance to begin again.

Enchantress of Numbers: A Novel of Ada Lovelace by Jennifer Chiaverini, is a fictional account of the captivating life of Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace and the daughter of Lord Byron. When Ada was child, her mother who was a mathematician did not want her child to be like her father so she banished fairy tales and fantasy from the nursery and gave her daughter a thorough education in math and science. Then Ada meets the inventor, Charles Babbage and helps him realize his vision of an Analytical Engine. She falls in love, discovers what caused her parents’ separation then learns how to step out of her parents’ shadows. Ada discovers how to achieve and help support the new technology that would shape the future of computing and embrace the passion that she has for learning and dreaming.

Lincoln Branch Hall of Fame Honorees Named

Margaret E. Cousin and Cynthia Smith were named to the Peoria Public Library Lincoln Branch Hall of Fame at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 17 at Lincoln Branch, a restored Carnegie Library.

The Lincoln Branch Hall of Fame was established by the Peoria Public Library Board of Trustees in order to recognize individuals, families, corporations, foundations or organizations which have supported the Peoria Public Library Lincoln Branch through distinguished effort or substantial financial donation.

An individual, family, corporation, foundation or organization may be nominated in recognition of outstanding contributions to the establishment and support of the Peoria Public Library Lincoln Branch over the years, which resulted in its improvement, national recognition as an important historical structure and ability to continue providing library services to the people of Peoria.

Margaret E. Cousin became a champion for Lincoln Branch Library in 2007 when she began attending Peoria Public Library Board Building Committee meetings as a representative of the Central Illinois Landmarks Foundation (CILF), a group that was concerned about how the historic Carnegie building would fare during a massive library renovation project. Margaret and CILF wanted to safeguard the historical integrity and longevity of Lincoln Branch to the greatest extent possible, in part because they had been instrumental in getting the Library declared a Local Historic Landmark by the City of Peoria Historic Preservation Commission.

Margaret’s multi-year commitment to the Peoria Public Library Building Committee and their weekly meetings led to a long-standing seat on the Peoria Public Library Board of Trustees. Her continued interest and passion lead to her involvement in the successful application process to have the Peoria Public Library Lincoln Branch listed on the National Register of Historic Places. She authored most of the application and participated in the formal presentation of the application to the State of Illinois Historic Preservation Agency Board of Directors. Through persistence and dedication, Margaret’s efforts led to Peoria Public Library Lincoln Branch being placed on the National Register of Historic Places.



Cynthia Smith was appointed Manager of Lincoln Branch in February 1999, after serving on the Lincoln Branch staff since 1996. She has played a key role in making the Lincoln Branch a true center of the Southside community. With energy, dynamism and hard work she has spear-headed efforts that have exceeded all expectations for this branch library since the decision was made to significantly expand the facility as part of the voter-approved capital improvement program for the entire Peoria Public Library system. Year after year, under her leadership, Lincoln Branch has received a Project Next Generation grant from the Illinois State Library, bringing advanced technological experiences, as well as life skills, to an underserved population. Events such as the fall Halloween and spring Egg Hunt parties entice broad sections of the community to experience what the library has to offer. As an extra incentive to encourage children to participate in Summer Reading, she has solicited and received donations of bicycles that are given away during drawings to children who read all summer. In 2017, over 60 donated bicycles and helmets were awarded. Organizer of the long-time book club, Read On Book Club, she helps this group find, read and discuss African-American literature and has planned many author events, hosting authors from the New York Times best-seller lists who are now eager to visit Peoria. Cynthia has hosted an annual Gala that raises funds for the Friends of Peoria Public Library featuring an elegant evening with an award- winning author, fine food and music, all held in the historic Carnegie Lincoln Branch. Cynthia Smith has helped to make Lincoln Branch a vital and unique part of Peoria.

Explore More About The Vietnam War on November 11

On Saturday, November 11 at 1:00 p.m. at Main Library Auditorium, Peoria Public Library will present a program with Randy Prunty, Vietnam War veteran who served aboard a PBR boat, as he speaks about his Vietnam War experience. Then Random Strangers, the musical group made up of Steve Fairbanks and Chuck Mahieu, also Vietnam Veterans, will play music of the era.

The program is intended to further the discussion of the documentary The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. The program will be held in the afternoon after the Veteran’s Day parade downtown and will provide an opportunity to continue honoring the sacrifices and understanding the experiences of Vietnam Veterans.

Peoria Public Library was selected by the American Library Association (ALA) and WETA Washington, DC, to receive a programming kit for “The Vietnam War,” a 10-part documentary film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that began airing on PBS stations in September 17 and has been repeated.

In “The Vietnam War,” filmmakers Burns and Novick tell the epic story of the conflict as it has never before been told on film. The film features testimony from nearly 80 witnesses, including Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides.

Peoria Public Library was one of 50 U.S. public libraries selected to receive the kit through a peer-reviewed competitive application process. The Peoria Public Library has received a copy of the 18-hour documentary series on DVD, with public performance rights; the companion book, The Vietnam War: An Intimate History by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns; a programming guide, promotional resources, partnership opportunities and more. The kit is designed to help libraries participate in a national conversation about one of the most consequential, divisive and controversial events in American history. Peoria Public Library has purchased additional copies of the DVD and book, available for checkout.
The project is offered by the ALA Public Programs Office in partnership with WETA Washington, DC.