Photos from:

Susan Orlean
I grew up in libraries, or so it seems. My mother and I would take regular trips to the branch library near my house at least twice a week, and those trips were enchanted. The very air in the library seemed charged with possibility and imagination; books seem to have their own almost human vitality.

But over time, I had become more of a book buyer than a book borrower, and I had begun to forget how magical libraries are. I never stopped loving libraries, but they receded in my mind, and seemed like a piece of my past.

And then I started taking my own son to the library, and I was reminded instantly and vividly of how much libraries had meant to me, how formative they were to my love of reading and writing, and how much they mean to us as a culture. The next thing I knew, I was investigating the largest library fire in the history of the United States. The life and times and near-death experience of the Los Angeles Public Library was a story that felt urgent to tell, and gave me a chance to pay tribute to these marvelous places that have been such an essential part of my life.

Referenced from:

One City. One book. Different Minds.

Each year, we feature an important book through our annual Peoria Reads! one city, one book project. Since 2021 is the 20th year we are presenting Peoria Reads!, we have chosen a book particularly near and dear to our hearts — The Library Book by Susan Orlean.

In The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the 1986 suspicious and destructive fire at the Los Angeles Public Library, as well as its aftermath, to highlight the crucial role libraries play in our personal lives and our communities. From the humble beginnings of libraries to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity, Orlean brings libraries – even the charred remains of one – to life. Part history. Part mystery. All heart.

As we encourage our community to read and discuss this book – kicking off this year’s Peoria Reads during National Library Week (April 4-10) — we hope to increase awareness of the importance of libraries, in good times and bad. COVID has changed so much of life, including how you use your local library. We hope to use this year to remind you of all we have to offer.

Peoria Public Library has been educating and entertaining you since 1855.

If you enjoyed The Library Book, the titles below are presented as companion books. We’ve included something for all ages! Just click on the arrows to scroll.

PPL’s Reading Room

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Goals of Peoria Reads!

Peoria Reads! is led by Peoria Public Library with the help of community partners, Methodist College, Bradley University and Neighborhood House.

• Bring our diverse community together in ways to promote better understanding.

• Broaden and deepen readers’ appreciation for books dealing with significant issues.

• Bring more people into libraries, bookstores, and literacy institutions

• Increase opportunities for discussion between youth and adults

• Achieve a better understanding of ourselves and of our own humanity.


december, 2021