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Peoria Reads! will offer a variety of programs and discussions in March and April to enhance and expand the discussions around Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, this year’s one-city, one-book choice. The book examines a world that has fallen to a pandemic and what happens 20 years after most of the world’s population is wiped out. No ordinary disaster story, this one is seen through the eyes of a troupe of actors and musicians who save Shakespeare and classical music. Complete information about Peoria Reads!, the book, the events and more is available at www.peoriareads.org and updates are found on the Peoria Reads! Facebook page as well.
The project launched with an exhibit The Museum of Civilization, in the Main Gallery at Peoria Public Library Main Library. It ends on Saturday, February 24, but is modeled after the museum in the book, that showcases items once highly used daily and now obsolete as civilization changes.
A variety of book discussions will be held at various locations, including on Sunday, March 18 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. A further discussion into plague literature will be lead by Dr. Lirim Neziroski on Thursday, April 19 at North Branch. Other discussion times are listed at peoriareads.org.
On Thursday, March 15 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m., experience what it’s like to face a pandemic like the one in Station Eleven with an evening at Methodist College, 7600 N. Academic Drive. See a live action simulation of the progression of an epidemic outbreak in a hospital and its effects on the population and health care providers. There will also be an interactive lab on transmission of diseases. Then attend the final “debriefing” discussion while enjoying refreshments. Registration is limited, so please contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) to reserve your spot.
Children in grades 3 through 5 are invited to take part as well with the American Red Cross Pillow Case project on April 2, 3 and 4 at various library branches, when they will learn to prepare for a disaster. Since a graphic novel is a key element in Station Eleven, a J.M. Hunter Cartoon Workshop will be offered on April 4 at North Branch from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Registration is required for these events. Please email email@example.com or call 497-2143.
The Peoria Reads! events wrap up with an examination of severe weather here in Illinois with Chris Miller, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, National Weather Service, Lincoln, Illinois during which, in a fascinating presentation, he will present the facts about the history, and current statistics about, severe weather in Illinois. See the big picture in a way weather is seldom presented. It takes place on Thursday, April 26 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at North Branch
Peoria Reads! is entering its 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. 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.
By Jamie Jones
Nationally recognized Peoria author Tim Pletkovich will speak at the Peoria Public Library McClure Branch Library at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 15, and at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, about his new book, Nuns, Nazis, and Notre Dame: Stories of the Great Depression, World War II, and Fighting Irish.
Pletkovich will examine the early life of decorated U.S. Army veteran Gerald A. O’Reilly. The son of a prominent Wall Street banker and grandson of a U.S. ambassador under three presidents, O’Reilly was raised in Brooklyn, New York, during the 1920s and ‘30s. His story takes us from the bleachers at Ebbets Field in trolley-car Brooklyn to the hallways of Notre Dame during legendary football coach Frank Leahy’s national championship years, to the innermost thoughts of an elite Tenth Mountain Division soldier thrust into the horrors of battle in Italy’s harsh Apennine Mountains.
A brother-in-law of former United States Senator James L. Buckley and the late William F. Buckley, Jr., O’Reilly provides glimpses into the lives of one of the twentieth century’s most revered political families. His nephew, novelist and humorist Christopher Buckley, recently described his uncle’s narrative as “quietly heroic. His splendid soul is on full display....” Buckley said. “I have known [Gerry] for over half a century, and knew that he had served with valor in World War II in the fabled Tenth Mountain Division. But until I read this memoir, I had no idea what he went through. And why would I have? He was not the kind to talk about it....To quote James Michener: ‘Where do we find such men?’” O’Reilly is the last surviving member of his military company.
Pletkovich will be autographing copies of both Nuns, Nazis, and Notre Dame and his award-winning debut work, Civil War Fathers, at the March 15 and March 17 events.
By Mary Spengler and Pat England
Calling history lovers of all ages! Peoria Public Library is offering an exciting challenge to celebrate Illinois’ 200th birthday. From April 1 to May 31, email “selfies” or other photos of yourself visiting five historical sites and monuments around Peoria from a list of the twenty we provide, and you will be entered into a drawing to win some amazing prizes.
Participants 18 and up have the opportunity to win one of two prizes. The first prize is an Ancestry DNA kit, perfect for exploring your roots and using alongside Ancestry Library Edition, free at all Peoria Public Library locations. The second prize is a Peoria Historical Society sponsored tour, for the winner and a friend, of two of Peoria’s most famous homes, the Flanagan House Museum, constructed in 1837, and the Pettengill-Morron house, once home to abolitionist Moses Pettengill who was close friends with Abraham Lincoln.
Teens or children 18 and under who take part will be entered into a drawing to win an Instax mini-camera.
Participants who provide photos of themselves visiting a minimum of five locations may also complete our local history trivia sheet to have two extra tickets entered into the prize drawing.
#PeoriaStoryChallenge is the perfect opportunity for children and adults to learn more about Peoria’s rich history. Giant Oak Park, Peoria Public Library Lincoln Branch and Richard Pryor’s hometown statue are just a few of the fun destinations that will be listed. All photo entries and trivia answers must be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 31, and may be posted to the Peoria Public Library website and social media to promote #PeoriaStoryChallenge. Be sure to check the website at peoriapubliclibrary.org for more information.
By Amber Lowery
When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), suddenly everyone you know becomes Irish. Everything becomes green in honor of our collective Irish heritage. This is mildly amusing as the color of St. Patrick is supposed to be blue according to many trivia and historical websites. In fact, I once read there are more people who claim to be descendants of Ireland in the United States than there are actually Irish people in Ireland. But nowadays that is easy to prove with DNA.
If you ask anyone who spends significant time around me, they will tell you that I’m always talking about DNA. I talk to family, friends, coworkers, patrons of the library, and even total strangers about DNA testing and genealogy. Some would say I’m obsessed with DNA. I will admit that I just might be.
We’ve all seen the ads for commercial DNA testing from some of the top companies in the United States. Among them are recognizable names such as Ancestry.com, 23andme, FamilyTreeDNA, and MyHeritage. These companies spout beautiful commercials with picturesque scenery about discovering who you are. But trust me; this is only the tip of the iceberg of what you can learn with DNA. For much like said iceberg, DNA goes deep. It can also rip a massive hole in your titanic mountain of research. But let us look at the positive features of DNA.
Recently, I used DNA matching results to break a reinforced brick wall in one of my Irish lines. I had done the traditional research, trailing back through census records, hunting down obituaries, obtaining death records and all information stopped at my great-great-grandparents. As far as I knew, they left Ireland around the time of the Great Potato Famine, but HOW? Did they come alone? What part of the massive wave of Irish immigration were they? Did they know each other long before they married in 1863 and settled down in Peoria to start a family? Brick. Wall.
Fortunately, I was recently contacted by a match, but she wasn’t sure where our families connected. Using our mutual matches provided with our DNA results, I realized very quickly which family line she matched, but based on how close our DNA was, she had to be related further back than I had information on. So, I did what any good genealogist does, I dove into research, scouring other family trees, checking records, and contacting people who had done a DNA test, but did not show a family tree.
With all my gathered information, I went to my DNA buddy. Like Sherlock Holmes, I laid out my evidence, showed my work, drew my conclusion and then waited with bated breath. My DNA buddy agreed with me. After six years of searching and coming up short, my reinforced genealogic al brick wall went down without a fight.
With access to AncestryLibrary at Peoria Public Library, I was then able to track down and find baptismal records for my great-great-grandmother, which included her parents’ names, baptismal records for her older siblings, her parents’ marriage record, and more.
So what does this have to do with the library? Everything. Do you have questions about doing a DNA test? Come to the library. Have you taken a DNA test and do not know what to do with the results? Come to the library. Want to learn more of your Irish (or not-Irish) heritage? Come to the library. We are here to help you discover more about you. Perhaps the luck of the Irish will be with you, too.
By Robin Helenthal
As You Wish by Jude Deveraux begins with three very different women who meet by chance in Summerhill, Virginia and find they have much more in common than they could have ever thought. Olivia is a 60-year-old newlywed whose first marriage was unhappy and long and she is excited to be starting a new life with a man she has always loved. Kathy is a 40-year-old woman, married to a handsome and successful businessman, who she finds out, is in love with someone else. The youngest of the trio is Elise at twenty plus who is married to a man her parents picked for her. She finds out he has a pregnant mistress and is willing to go to any lengths to get Elise out of the picture. Even though all three women are at the summerhouse for different reasons, they share their regrets, wishes and dreams. When they get a chance to fix the wrongs from their past, they find that dreams really can come true.
In The Woman Left Behind: A Novel by Linda Howard, Jina Modell works in communications for a paramilitary organization. She loves her job but when she shows a skill for spatial awareness she gets reassigned to a GO-team as an on-site drone operator. Levi, the team leader of the unit that Jina has been assigned to does not have a lot of confidence that she will make it through training because she is not especially athletic but she works hard and becomes an important part of the team. Behind the scenes, a Congresswoman with an agenda to destroy the G0-teams has set a trap to ambush the squad in Syria. When the base is attacked with explosives, the rest of the team is out on their mission, and Jina who had stayed behind to control the surveillance drone escapes to the desert. Somehow she has to make it to her crew before they are sent out of the country, and Levi not knowing whether she is alive or dead goes back to search because you never leave a soldier behind, especially one that you are in love with.
Tangerine: A Novel by Christine Mangan begins when Alice Shipley arrives in Tangier with her new husband and runs into Lucy Mason, a person from her past that she has not spoken to for more than a year. The two had been inseparable roommates at Bennington but after an accident they went their separate ways. Alice has been afraid to travel around on her own in Morocco so when Lucy tries to rebuild their friendship by helping Alice get out of her apartment and explore the country she goes along. When Alice’s husband goes missing, Alice starts to question her relationship with Lucy, the feelings of being controlled and subdued start to remind her why her friendship with Lucy had come to an end. Where is John? What were Lucy’s true motives for coming to Tangier?
Peoria Speaks is a new monthly community discussion program meeting on the second Thursday of each month at North Branch at 6:00 p.m., which will focus on topics of interest to Peorians. Funding for Peoria Speaks is being provided by Illinois Humanities through their Illinois Speaks program. Illinois Speaks is a small group discussion program founded in November 2015 aimed at strengthening the democratic process through community dialogues across the state of Illinois.
Discussion topics differ from month to month and across regions and are often related to current events, questions and issues arising in a community. At each of the Peoria Speaks monthly discussions, a community “expert” will provide a 10 to 15 minute overview of the topic and then the group will further discuss the topic. The first two topics are about Crime and Policing in Peoria and Human Trafficking.
On Thursday, February 8 at 6:00 p.m., the discussion will center on Human Trafficking. Human trafficking has 24.9 million victims globally who are trapped in modern day slavery. There were 202 cases of human trafficking in Illinois in 2016. What is Human Trafficking and is it happening in Peoria? Carol Merna, Executive Director at the Center for Prevention of Abuse, will explain the types and indications of human trafficking and describe some human trafficking victims’ stories After her presentation, we will discuss what participants can do about human trafficking, the second largest crime in the world.
On Thursday, March 8 at 6:00 p.m. the discussion will center on Crime and Policing in Peoria. Last fall, the Peoria Police Department, along the with University of Illinois at Chicago, conducted a survey regarding crime and policing in Peoria. The survey would be used to improve policing and develop strategies to reduce violent crime in Peoria. Kathleen Kelly, Management Analyst with the Peoria Police Department, will provide us with information about the survey and the results. After her presentation, we will discuss whether the survey results match the participants’ responses to the survey questions and make suggestions on improving police-community relations in Peoria.
“Illinois Humanities (IH) is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Illinois General Assembly [through the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency], as well as by contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed by speakers, program participants, or audiences do not necessarily reflect those of the NEH, IH, our partnering organization or our funders.”
By Karla Wilkinson
The entire month of February at Peoria Public Library is dedicated to celebrating the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The beloved author of the Little House on the Prairie series was born in Pepin, Wisconsin on February 7, 1867, and became famous for the fictionalized account of her family’s role in settling the West. The North Branch will host a display from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum in Mansfield, Missouri February 5 to 28. This panel display contains photographs and information relating to Mrs. Wilder, her famous “Little House” books and America’s westward expansion.
In addition, Peoria Public Library will welcome Laura Ingalls Wilder historian Caroline Fraser for a program about her new book Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Ms. Fraser’s book uses historical records to fill in the gaps in Wilder’s biography to reveal the truth behind the woman who wrote the famous autobiographical novels. The visit by Ms. Fraser to the North Branch on February 22 at 6:00 p.m. will include a talk about the relationship between Laura and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. An author herself, Rose encouraged and influenced her mother’s writing, while her own works were of a wildly different nature. Rose’s most famous work was probably Let the Hurricane Roar, but she is also known for writing controversial and fraudulent biographies of famous people. Guests at Ms. Fraser’s program will learn about Laura, Rose, and the role of Yellow Journalism. Copies of Prairie Fires will be available for sale and signing, with proceeds benefitting the Friends of Peoria Public Library.
Join us in celebrating the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder by visiting the North Branch in February.
February 5-28: Laura Ingalls Wilder Travelling Exhibit
February 22, 6:00 pm: “Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and the Creation of the Little House Books” with author Caroline Fraser
By Jamie Jones
Nationally recognized Peoria author Tim Pletkovich will speak at the Peoria Public Library McClure Branch at 1:30 pm on Saturday, February 10, and at 1:30 pm on Monday, February 12, about his book, Civil War Fathers: Sons of the Civil War in World War II. The book is composed of narratives of World War II veterans whose fathers fought eighty years earlier in the American Civil War. In Civil War Fathers, the World War II sons talk about their lives growing up with their elderly Civil War fathers during the 1920s and ‘30s, and how the difficult years of the Great Depression did much to prepare them for their own military service. Pletkovich’s presentation will focus on the father-son combination of Wisconsin Governor William H. Upham and his son Fred. Currently a resident of Fort Collins, Colorado, Fred was featured three years ago in a National Geographic video concerning his father’s first meeting with President Lincoln during the Civil War. The meeting between Upham and Lincoln led to the former’s appointment to West Point in 1862.
New York Newsday columnist William F.B. O’Reilly has called Civil War Fathers “an American treasure” and a “must-read because of Pletkovich’s extraordinary eye for human details.” Pletkovich was also recognized for Civil War Fathers at the 2017 Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival in Marshfield, Missouri, with the Ella A. Dickey Award. Past award recipients have included former First Lady Laura Bush, former Texas First Lady, the late Nellie Connally, and 1972 Democratic Party presidential candidate and former United States Senator, the late George McGovern. Pletkovich will be selling ($25) and signing copies of his book at the February 10 and February 12 events. Part of the proceeds from the book sale will benefit the Friends of Peoria Public Library.
Desperate for something new to read? You can download an e-book or audiobook from several different sources on our website with your library card and PIN. You can also stream music from Freegal or find books for bored kids with or without sound and some even have games! Put your time indoors to good use and do some genealogy research with Heritage Quest or start learning a new language with Mango.
While Peoria Public Library rarely closes, it is important to remember that books can be renewed and returned when the blizzard is over and there are plenty of library resources available to you on your computer or mobile device. Keep the number handy – (309) 497-2000 and bookmark the website www.peoriapubliclibrary.org.
The Film Noir Festival returns to Peoria Public Library for the 16th year in March! Every Saturday in March at Main Library enjoy some of the best of Film Noir with host Steve Tarter. See gems of the genre on the big screen with digital projection and sound each Saturday at 2:00 p.m. All showings are free.
This year Film Noir focuses on bookstores! Each of these films has a bookstore scene. Right outside the Auditorium you will discover the Friendly Finds Used Bookstore run by the Friends of Peoria Public Library. All proceeds support library programming, so come early and pick up a gently used book to take home. Then settle in for a great Film Noir experience.
March 3: The Big Sleep starring Bogart and Bacall
March 10: Ministry of Fear with Ray Milland
March 17: Vertigo starring Jimmy Stewart
March 24: Man Bait featuring George Brent
March 31: The Big Steal starring Mitchum and Greer
By Amber Lowery
Working on genealogy is a lot like being in a relationship.
When you first start working on your family’s history, everything is beautiful and bright and golden. Names and dates come to you with ease. You spend all your time with genealogy and when you have to do other things, such as eat, sleep, or go to work, you resent that you cannot ignore them to continue working on your tree. You collect pictures and obituaries and records of your family’s history from a number of websites. You go to the Peoria Public Library every day. Everything is GREAT. Genealogy is EASY!
Then you have your first argument. Were Poppa Joe and Nana Marie married in 1919 as you were always told? Or….were they married in 1920 according to the family bible? You wail as you dig through your brand new binders, frantically delving into the pile of papers you have accumulated in the last three weeks. Then, while on Ancestry Library Edition at the library, you discover a new record that states Nana and Poppa were married in 1919, just like you were told. Just like that, hearts and flowers all over again.
Then your relationship becomes more committed. You only participate in conversations if you can weave in your latest family history discovery. Days off are spent in courthouses and vacations are planned around visiting a place your ancestors once lived. You call and email distant cousins to talk about what they may have heard about genealogy. You have long conversations with the librarians, learning about blogs, societies, and brick walls. You have to work a little harder, but it is worth it. You are being tested…DNA tested.
After a while, there is a rough patch. Times are hard, records are few and/or missing. You and genealogy fight more than you get along…and you start wondering if the magic is gone. Maybe you break up for a little bit and spend some time apart. Maybe you question why you ever took up with a scoundrel like genealogy. Then one day an obscure little notation will catch your eye. You will long for the days that you hung out all day at the Peoria Public Library researching. Tentatively, you will reach out…and genealogy will be waiting for you. You take up anew and are glad you did.
So if you have hit your rough patch and are not sure if you are ready to start again, come down to the Main Library. We would be happy to help you try to get over your rough patch and fall in love with genealogy all over again. If you are wary of getting into a relationship with genealogy, stop by the Peoria Public Library and let us show you how your family history is worth falling for.
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