107 NE Monroe Peoria, Illinois 61602-1070

Main Library HVAC Construction to Finish in December

The heating and air conditioning project that has kept the first and second floors of Main Library closed since September is drawing to a close.  Unforeseen issues may delay the reopening slightly past the projected December 3 opening date that has been advertised.  Watch the Peoria Public Library website and local media for information as to to when Main Library will resume full operations.

Several parts of the system that will heat and cool the large five story building must be custom-made. Those custom-configured pieces are key to having heat operational in the building and being able to reopen all floors to the public. The Gallery, which has new exhibits in November and December, as well as Local History and Genealogy, remain open. The Friendly Finds Used Bookstore is also open Monday through Wednesday and Saturday, from noon to 4:00 p.m. 

Public computers, books, movies, magazines and other services on the first and second floors will not be available until the HVAC project is finished and those floors reopen. However, a wide selection of materials as well as public computers are available at North Branch, Lakeview Branch, McClure Branch and Lincoln Branch. The Peoria Public Library website at www.peoriapubliclibrary.org is available 24/7 and allows patrons with library cards to perform research searches, download books and music, access local history information, reserve and renew books and much more from anywhere the internet can be accessed. Use the online catalog to reserve books and have them sent to the branch of your choice for pickup. You may also call 309-497-2000 for assistance in having questions answered, renewing materials or finding a new book to read.

Look for all of Main Library to reopen this December!

Veteran Artists Explore Experiences with 22VA Art Show

Art therapy is often used to help people recover from trauma and illness. Veterans have found art to be an effective means to capture their experiences and work through the anguish caused by being in battle. 22VA is a group that was founded to help bring awareness to the issue of the stress our veterans are often under as they adjust to civilian life.  For some, it takes a lifetime of work to heal. 22VA has helped publicized the tragedy of veteran suicide, which claims the lives of 22 veterans a day. This equates to around 30 suicides per 100,000 veterans, a rate that is more than double the rate for the civilian population.

Headed by Michael Ragan and Randy Prunty, 22VA is a group of veteran artists who want to help reduce the number of veteran suicides. Again this year they have been recruiting veterans to show the public their talent, their emotion and the importance place art can hold in healing the spirit. Some veterans were artists previous to their service, others have become artists and others are using it as therapy.

Works to be shown include paintings, prints, photography, sculpture, jewelry, models and more. All forms of art work created by veterans are welcome

All veterans are invited to show their work. The show opens December 21 and veterans who want to participate are invited to contact programming@ppl.peoria.lib.il.us or call (309) 497-2150. Memorabilia is also a welcome addition to the exhibit.

The show runs through January and a reception date is to be announced.

Six Degrees of Separation

By Amber Lowery

Years ago, there was a popular game called “The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” The premise of the game was that, in theory, one could connect the actor, Kevin Bacon, to any other actor or movie in six steps or less due to his prolific career. It’s an amusing party trick if you are knowledgeable of all things Kevin Bacon.

So, what does this have to do with genealogy?  (Spoiler alert: everything in life has to do with genealogy.)

Amusingly, in my several years of working in Local History and Genealogy, it’s become a running joke that I am related to everyone in Peoria. In fact, I have developed my own version of Six Degrees of Separation. Various branches of my family have been in the Peoria area for over 180 years, so I find that I have distant connections to many Peoria families. As such, on more than one occasion, as I have been helping someone with their research, I will recognize a name and make a connection between their family and my own.  Thus we have the Six Degrees of Separation to Amber Lowery.  At last count, I believe I have had 15 such interactions with patrons. That does not count all the times I have connected people I know and work with to my family tree. My most recent victim, I mean… discovery, was that a coworker and I are 10th cousins.

Now, it is your turn. As families gather to celebrate the winter and yearend holidays, talk to your family members and learn more about your extended tree. Take the opportunity to ask those visiting relatives for information about past and current relatives you may not know. Build your family tree out and make connections to distant members who may have more genealogical information to share. Give yourself the gift of time to come down to the Peoria Public Library and work on your research and ask questions of our knowledgeable staff. And who knows, maybe you’ll find you can play the Six Degrees of Separation game with co-workers, neighbors and members of your gym, too! Happy Holidays!

Hot New Titles Coming in December 2018

By Robin Helenthal

Of Blood and Bone is the title of the second book in the planned trilogy, Chronicles of the One, by Nora Roberts. This title follows Year One but this book can also be read on its own. After The Doom which takes place in Year One, the world has settled into its new normal. This story focuses on the training phase of the girl who will be The One. At the age of thirteen, Fallon Swift is expected to leave her family and train with a mysterious mentor named Mallick for two years in the mystical forest where the elves and fairies live. During this time, she will be learning spells, training with swords and sparring with ghostly figures in order to build her strength and abilities. While doing this she will find allies to prepare with for the war to come. She also meets a shadowy figure in her dreams which becomes more real as she becomes able to travel through spaces in a flash. This person is a son of New Hope and along with his twin sister, will be Fallon’s partner as the Change is coming and they will try to create a better world. This book bridges the time between The Doom and the war to come between the New Hope and the Uncannys.

The Three Secret Cities is the latest Jack West Jr. novel by Matthew Reilly. After Jack won the Great Games, he threw the four legendary kingdoms into disorder. The shadow world that has its own history, rules and prisons and which exists beyond the real world is about to explode into our world. To stop this from happening, Jack must find The Three Secret Cities which are the lost cities of legend all while being hunted by the greatest hunters in history who must make sure he does not finish this task.

Moondust Lake by Davis Bunn is a story about searching for the things in life that matter, embracing them and never letting go. Buddy Helms works for his father and has proven himself time and time again, even saving the company from financial ruin. For six years, he has tried to earn his father’s love and respect and after being told again how unworthy he is, he leaves the company. On the recommendation of his church counselor, he goes to a retreat at Moondust Lake, located outside of Miramar Bay. Kimberly Sturgiss is a psychotherapist who has survived her own tragic past and has the ability to help her patients let go of what burdens them. She is acquainted with the Helms family and knows what challenges Buddy faces because many are similar to ones she has faced in her heartbreaking past. Together they help each other learn to let go of past emotions and to trust again.

Most of Main Library HVAC Project On Track

The installation of the new heating and cooling system at Main Library is well underway and still projected to finish in time to reopen all of the Main Library in early December. The very last portion of the project, installing a new main electrical panel, may be delayed as contractors wait for a part. This delay will possibly affect library operations. The library’s phone and electrical systems are based at our Main Library so any shutdown will necessitate closing all our locations for two days while the new system is installed. Please watch the library website at www.ppl.peoria.lib.il.us or social media for information. Call (309) 497-2000 anytime for library hours and availability.

On October 11, the original library boilers and water coolers were lifted out through hatches that were built for that purpose when the library was constructed. Cranes hoisted the boilers, weighing almost 2,300 pounds each, from Lower Level Two straight up and over the top of the building to waiting flatbed trucks. The bright orange boilers flying sky high had the full attention of passersby. The giant tanks will be replaced by small, very efficient heating and cooling units, offering level temperatures and cost savings on utility bills and repairs.

Duct work on the main floors of the library continues through the month of November, however the Gallery, Local History and Genealogy and Friendly Finds Bookstore remain open.

Lincoln Branch Hall of Fame Honorees Named

Edward J. Barry, Jr. and Linda E. Daley were named to the Peoria Public Library Lincoln Branch Hall of Fame at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 16 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 or ability to continue providing library services to the people of Peoria.

Edward J. Barry, Jr. was a member of the architectural team that was working on bringing the dream of a reimagined Peoria Public Library system to life when in 2010, Mr. Barry proposed to the Library Board of Trustees that they apply for a National Register of Historic Places designation for Lincoln Branch. The building was one of the few remaining original Carnegie Libraries that has continued to function as a public library throughout its existence and, as such, is an architecturally-significant gem in the heart of Peoria. The plan for Lincoln Branch was to restore the original building while expanding the footprint with a thoroughly modern addition that could provide twenty-first century library service. On October 20, 2010 a request, with a Statement of Integrity written by Ed Barry, was submitted to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. In January of 2011 the Peoria Public Library was invited to apply for National Register of Historic Places designation. Ed recruited members of Farnsworth Group, River City Construction, and Roeckers to complete sections of the complicated reports, working on many pieces himself as well as directing work on the slide presentation to the final hearing and accompanying Trustees to the presentation in Springfield. The Lincoln Branch application faced significant hurdles throughout the restoration process. Through the multi-year, often frustrating and discouraging battle to meet the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency requests, Ed Barry provided passionate, capable, committed support to the project. His inspiration for and continued dedication to pursuit of the historic designation were the driving force behind achieving the ultimate goal of placing Peoria Public Library Lincoln Branch on the National Register of Historic Places, thus preserving it for generations to come.

Linda E. Daley served as a Trustee of the Peoria Public Library governing board during the “Close the Gaps: Libraries for All” Peoria Public Library capital improvement project which began in 2006. The newly created strategic plan called for offering facilities capable of providing cutting edge library service. One of the guiding lights of this capital improvement program was the equitable distribution of public library services to all neighborhoods and sections of the City of Peoria. Thus, when the decision was made to add the new North Branch to the far northwest corner of the City, “closed the gaps” and made sure that the older, south side part of our community received the same attention by advocating for the expansion of the Lincoln Branch. She also served as the Chairwoman of the Library Board of Trustees Building Committee at this same time, managing the entire design and construction phases of that process during committee meetings conducted weekly for a multi-year period. In spite of several major challenges, such as the $500,000 in additional expense at the Lincoln Park site required to relocate historic grave features in order to accommodate the Lincoln addition, Linda successfully guided the Building Committee, Board and Community to the completion of the Peoria Public Library Lincoln Branch which stands as both a recognized historic monument and a beacon for literacy and community service in Peoria’s south side.

Peoria Public Library to Host “Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American WWII Experience”

National GFBNEC Exhibition Unveils Little-Known History of Peoria, Bradley University

Bradley University, in partnership with the Peoria Public Library, will host “Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American World War II Experience” from November 9 to December 13, 2018. The national exhibit, sponsored by Go For Broke National Education Center in Los Angeles, highlights little-known acts of conscience and community by local Peoria residents, Bradley University and other organizations during the turbulent days of World War II.

Funded in part by a grant from the National Park Service, “Courage and Compassion” covers events from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the fateful decision to incarcerate Japanese Americans in wartime camps to the postwar fight for redress. Visitors will learn about the Nisei (second-generation Japanese American) WWII experience and its legacy, engage with questions about what courage looks like during a time of crisis and consider the relevance to today’s society.

During World War II, more than 25,000 Japanese Americans resettled in the Midwest after being forcibly removed from their homes and incarcerated in concentration camps far from the West Coast. The majority settled in the Chicago area, but a sizeable number found their way to smaller Midwestern cities like Peoria. From 1943 to 1946, more than 130 Japanese Americans moved to Peoria where they found employment, new homes, and a welcoming local population.

Japanese Americans found a rare opportunity to continue their education at Bradley University (then known as the Bradley Polytechnic Institute) and the Saint Francis Hospital School of Nursing. Although many resettlers left the Peoria area after the war, several families chose to make it their permanent home. The exhibition follows the stories of the Yamada and Kataoka families as they adapt to the harsh Midwestern winters, navigate their new communities, and find acceptance in central Illinois.

The exhibit will be on display November 9 to December 13, 2018 at the Peoria Public Library, 107 NE Monroe, Peoria, IL, 61602, Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the Gallery on Lower Level 1. The exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information, please visit www.peoriapubliclibrary.org.


By Amber Lowery

A couple of years ago, while in the depths of researching genealogy, I got to thinking about family traditions.  As the season of family gatherings approaches, it’s no wonder the topic of family traditions circles back to my mind of late. Oddly enough, I could not identify any traditions that we had. I considered the fact that perhaps what we did was so...normal to me, I didn’t consider it a tradition. But then, I thought about other families who talk about their traditions and the more I thought on it, the more I came to the conclusion that I needed more information. So I did what everyone does in this situation. I talked to my mom. 

When even she had trouble naming specific things, we went further afield and called my aunt. As it turns out, we have a couple of unique traditions. But how does this relate to genealogy? Simple, traditions are ways we have of doing things, celebrating events, or preparing a meal together that were passed down in our families. Perhaps it is using Aunt Mabel’s recipe for stuffing, spending Thanksgiving sorting out the Christmas decorations, or reading a family classic with everyone together. (Taking bets on whether or not Uncle Charlie needs the fire extinguisher this year, is probably not a good example of a tradition.) What did our grandparents and great-grandparents do to prepare for this season? With all the upcoming social gatherings and family obligations, now is the time to ask these questions of the family members you may not get to see every day. Ask Aunt Mabel what her secret is to her exceptional stuffing. Then when you’ve gathered your stories, come down to the library and check out a book on how to preserve those traditions that your family looks forward to every year. Stay and research other traditions we may have forgotten over the years. Be thankful for this time with your family, however you choose to spend it. Oh, and my family’s traditions? For Thanksgiving, we have macaroni and cheese with chicken nuggets….and that’s not just for the kids’ table.

Hot New Titles Coming in November 2018

By Robin Helenthal

Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates is a time travel novel set in both New Jersey in 2039 and in Wisconsin in 1959. When the novel begins, you meet, 17-year –old Adriane Strohl who is the narrator of the story. It begins during her senior year in 2039. She is to be the valedictorian of her senior class which, unfortunately, gets her noticed by the authorities of the “True Democracy” of the North American States or the NAS. After she speaks at her commencement, she is arrested by Homeland Security for treason and cast out of modern society. She is sent back in time to Wisconsin in 1959 as Mary Ellen Enright to attend Wainscotia State University and be reeducated in the hopes that she can return to her own time. While in Wisconsin, she is told she will be under constant observation and must not reveal her real identity. She falls in love with her psychology instructor, Dr. Ira Wolfman and is convinced that he is a fellow exile. As Adriane begins to question her former life and adjusts to the new one, the book ends, leaving the reader to question the meaning of the title.

Master of His Fate by Barbara Taylor Bradford is the first book in the House of Falconer series set in Victorian England. James Falconer is the son of a struggling merchant and has ambitions to rise above his station in life and become a “merchant prince.”Alexis Malvern is the daughter of one of London’s most successful businessmen and known for her business insight and charitable work after setting up a safe house for battered women. Despite years of vowing that she would never marry, she falls in love with a well-to-do banker, Sebastian Trevelyan. They have a whirlwind courtship and engagement and then are separated by tragedy. James and Alexis meet late in the novel when he is hired by Alexis’s father. They are united by single-minded interest in the Malvern family business, so their meeting sets the groundwork for future books in the series.

Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg, the author of The Story of Arthur Truluv, is the story of Lucille Howard who teaches baking classes out of her home to fill her days now that her friend Arthur has passed away. There are many characters in the story who come and go out of her kitchen: Maddy and Nola, Arthur’s daughter and granddaughter; Iris Winters who is new in town and trying to move on from her divorce; Abby Summers whose cancer diagnosis is a challenge that is affecting her family and Tiny Dawson who visits the local diner each day but can’t get the courage to ask out the waitress, Monica Mayhew who in turn, wishes that he would. Lucille’s kitchen is the center point that of the town and highlights the joy that comes from the little things in life.

Main Library Construction Continues

Main Library closed the first and second floors on September 17 in order to install a new heating and air conditioning system. While those floors are closed until they reopen on Monday, December 3, the Gallery, Friendly Finds Bookstore and Local History and Genealogy remain open.

All other branches are open regular hours and books and other materials may be accessed there as well as public computers and wifi.  There are no public computers available during construction at Main Library, or holds pickup. In addition to all other branches, patrons can download books and music, as well as do research, from the library website at www.peoriapubliclibrary.org.

At some point near the end of the project, all locations may be closed for a few days as the main electrical panel is replaced at Main Library. That electrical service interruption will disrupt the computer system, phones and catalog at all locations. The shutdown will be timed to cause the least disruption possible and will be announced on the library website. Please watch for cranes and other construction equipment in the alley and parking lot at Main Library.

The project is replacing the original 1960s system which is difficult to repair and inefficient. Funds did not allow for the system to replaced during the library’s building project which was completed about seven years ago.  The project was planned to coincide with more temperate weather as staff will continue to work in various departments in the building and there will be no heating or cooling. In addition to erasing the threat of a sudden, emergency closing during an HVAC failure, the new replacement system will be far more efficient, saving money and freeing space in mechanical rooms at Main Library.

New items that would normally be on the shelves at Main Library will be sent to branches during the closure of the first and second floors, so patrons can access them. Some groups that normally hold meetings at Main Library may be assigned to other branches, so please check with your group or call to confirm the meeting location. Phone assistance will be available as always by calling (309)497-2000.