107 NE Monroe Peoria, Illinois 61602-1070


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      April 2018
        Volume 27, No. 4

Peoria Speaks Talks Elections and New Bellwether Project

On Thursday, April 12th from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at North Branch, Dennis Anderson, executive editor of the Peoria Journal Star, will lead a Peoria Speaks community conversation exploring what 2018 election issues participants are concerned about, how they’re reacting to debates and campaign developments, and why. This event is free and open to the public.

At this event, Illinois Humanities and the Peoria Journal Star will launch The Bellwether, a public-opinion storytelling project designed to help Americans better understand one another’s perspectives on politics and the world - and to generate media coverage of politics that starts with what ordinary Americans care about. As the 2018 election kicks into high gear, so does the flood of media coverage.  The public will hear from the candidates about why voters should choose them, from the commentators who dissect those candidates’ statements, and plenty of predictions from pollsters about who’s got the edge.

The Bellwether project will follow 10 to 12 participants from April to October. After attending the initial Peoria Speaks discussion, members of the group will receive text messages up to once a week from Journal Star staff to stay in touch about how they’re responding to the election, and the media’s coverage of the election, as it progresses.  In October, just before the general election, the group will come together once more and explore how their perspectives have developed since April.

Project participants from all backgrounds and all levels of political engagement - Democrats, Republicans and independents; likely voters as well as non-voters are welcome.  No prior experience is needed: the only requirements are a cell phone with text messaging (SMS) capability and a willingness to participate in two community conversations and respond to a text message about once a week.

The Bellwether offers an opportunity to connect with a diverse range of people in the community for open, constructive dialogue about the issues that matter to you.  In an age when partisan shouting matches dominate social media and cable news, it’s an opportunity to talk across political divides in a way that’s about listening and building understanding, not winning a debate.  It’s also a chance to make your voice heard in the media: your input will help guide the Journal Star’s election and politics coverage.

Those interested in joining the focus group, visit the following link to complete our prospective participant survey: http://bit.ly/2tgcYSj 

Anyone may attend the intial Peoria Speaks discussion, it is not necessary to fill out the survey to attend.

Library Journal Names Roberta Koscielski 2018 Mover and Shaker

Library Journal has named Roberta Koscielski, Peoria Public Library Deputy Director, as a 2018 Mover and Shaker! This prestigious national award comes as a result of Roberta’s long history working toward goals that benefit the community with the library and with Common Place Family Learning Center.

Roberta has been involved in helping launch projects such as Don’t Shoot, Peoria Reads!, and educating the community on the skyrocketing opiate epidemic. Roberta believes libraries are” a place to learn about issues, discuss them together, and work on solutions.”

Congratulations, Roberta!

Photo by Mitchell L. Rose


Embrace leadership at your library: Celebrate National Library Week April 8-14

For National Library Week 2018, libraries nationwide are celebrating the many ways libraries lead their communities through the transformative services, programs and expertise they offer. 

April 8 to14 is National Library Week, an annual celebration of the life-changing work of libraries, librarians and library workers. Libraries aren’t just places to borrow books or study—they’re also creative and engaging community centers where people can collaborate using new technologies and develop their skills and passions.

Libraries of all types have long been evolving to meet the needs of the communities they serve. Diverse groups including elected officials, small business owners and students depend upon libraries and the resources they offer. Resources like e-books and technology classes, materials for English-language learners and programs for job seekers are just a few ways libraries and librarians are transforming to lead their communities. Community members can also develop their own leadership skills at the library, with endless opportunity to build skills and confidence through resources and programming.

Peoria Public Library helps lead the community by making sure every Peoria Public School student has the opportunity to have a library card, leading the way with education and resources on the opiate epidemic, providing meeting space for a wide variety of civic and not-for-profit groups, offering free access to the music and art created within our community, and spearheading literacy efforts in areas where the ability to read is life-transforming.

“The library helps lead our community by advocating for widespread access to crucial services and lifelong learning,” said Leann Johnson, Executive Director. “Libraries level the playing field for people of any age who seek information and access to technologies to improve their quality of life.” 

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April.

Wilhelm, William, Bill, and Billy…What’s in a name?

By Amber Lowery

I’ve always loved names. As a young adult, I loved going through baby name books to look up meanings and similar names. Perhaps this was an early sign that I was meant to be a genealogist, my love for names. It also gave me a great base of knowledge when I started my genealogy journey.

Many people like to talk about name changes at Ellis Island (which did not usually happen that way). But families forget how our ancestors assimilated to life and culture in America. There was not the legal court process of changing a name that there is in place today. Some immigrants came looking forward to new opportunities; a new country, a new occupation, a new culture, a new language, and a new name. Others changed their names to simplify things. 

Wilhelm transitioned to the more English-sounding, more Americanized name of William and quickly got nicknamed to Bill or Will, and for the little ones, Billy and historically, Willie. Even better, they usually liked the name so much or followed traditional naming patterns such that each generation in the family would have more than one William or some derivative of that name.

One of my favorite names to use as an example is Margaret. Maggie, Margie, Megan, Molly, Peggie, Polly, Rita, Greta, Daisy and Maisie are common and, in some cases, historic nicknames for Margaret. I could go on. Just look at the number of nicknames for other well-known names such as Elizabeth, John, Mary Anne, and Robert. 

 Learning name variations for not only nicknames but other languages can be extremely helpful when it comes to researching your family history. Reading about traditional naming patterns can help identify the next link in your line. 

The next time you wonder about your name and the names of your ancestors, come visit us at the Main Library in the Local History and Genealogy section and learn more about your families’ names.

Hot New Titles Coming in April 2018

By Robin Helenthal

The author of Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier, returns to the era of the American Civil War with In Varina: A Novel. Varina Howell has limited choices for marriage and when she marries Jefferson Davis who is older and a widower, she hopes this will give her security as the wife of a Mississippi landowner. Davis decides to pursue a career in politics and becomes the president of the Confederacy which puts Varina in the middle of one of the darkest moments in American history. When the Confederacy begins to fall, her marriage over and the country divided, Varina takes her children and escapes Richmond and travels south. The book is a novel of an American war and its after effects. It is also the story of a woman who finds herself and her family fugitives due to the political activities of her husband. She must suffer the consequences of her involvement in those activities.

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer begins with Greer Kadetsky, a shy college freshman, madly in love with her boyfriend Cory, but still trying to figure out her purpose in life. When she meets Faith Frank, a woman who has been a leader in the women’s movement for decades and is also a great motivational speaker, she feels her inner world light up. As Faith mentors Greer to make something more out of her life, it begins to take her away from her love story with Cory and point her towards a future she has only dreamed about. This is a novel about ambition, friendship, mentorship and power. It is not just about who we want to be, but also who we want to be with.

The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse by Alexander McCall Smith is a story of love, hope and friendship that takes place during World War II. Val Eliot, a young English woman, is working on a farm during the war when she saves a Border Collie named Peter Woodhouse from an abusive situation. Val soon realizes that he would be safer with Mike, a U.S. Air Force pilot that she has met and become friends with. Peter Woodhouse soon becomes Dog First Class and the base mascot while Mike and Val fall in love. When Peter Woodhouse brings Ubi, a German corporal into their midst, it sparks a friendship but also a great risk that could endanger them all. Is the power of friendship enough to bring sworn enemies together?

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