107 NE Monroe Peoria, Illinois 61602-1070

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Due to a power outage, Lincoln Branch closed at 5:00 p.m. today (Thursday, October 22).


Reading Room

“Best Sellers from Past Decades” – Explore what Americans were reading from the 1930s through the 1980s! 

Best Sellers of the 1970s

by Jessica Gallo

For October, we’ll take a look at the 1970s.

In many ways, the early 1970s were a continuation of the 1960s.  Several groups, including women and minorities, were still fighting for equal rights; the Vietnam War still dominated the news and inspired nationwide protests.  Gradually, though, members of the white middle class began to push back against the trend toward a more liberal government, instead wanting a return to traditional family values and political conservatism.  Eventually, however, the decade would be dubbed the “Me Decade,” due to waning interest in social issues and a stronger focus on the self and one’s own interests and enjoyment.

Literature in the 1970s was widely varied and constantly evolving.  Self-help and diet books became popular, which can be attributed to the “Me Decade” emphasis on self-improvement.  A great deal of non-fiction was written about Nixon and the Watergate scandal.  Criminal non-fiction, or true crime, also became a popular subject matter.  Helter Skelter, about the Manson murders, was published in 1974. A few years later, in 1979, Norman Mailer published The Executioner’s Song, for which he won a Pulitzer.  Satire was a commonly used element in the writing of authors like Kurt Vonnegut (Breakfast of Champions, Slapstick), Richard Adams (Watership Down), and Richard Bach (Jonathan Livingston Seagull). 

The 1970s also saw a so-called “black women’s literary renaissance.” Authors like Toni Morrison (The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon), Alice Walker (The Third Life of Grange Copeland, Meridian), and Maya Angelou (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings) published popular, culturally significant works that are still highly regarded and studied today.  Asian-American women found a voice as well in the 1970s.  Maxine Hong Kingston published No Name Woman and The Woman Warrior, starting her on a successful literary path and opening the door for many to follow.

The 1970s saw a rise in the popularity of the paperback novel. Genre fiction was increasing in popularity, and it was sold most often in mass-market paperback format, which was cheaper to produce.  The latter part of the decade saw a huge surge in the publication and readership of horror novels in particular.  Stephen King emerged as a literary force, releasing Carrie in 1974 and following it up with several more books that decade, including The Shining, Night Shift, and The StandThe Exorcist and The Amityville Horror were both published in the 1970s as well, each resulting in successful movies and many lost nights of sleep.

Finally, a new category of literature began to emerge in the late 1960s and grew into its own in the 1970s.  The publication of The Outsiders in 1967 gave readers what would become known as young adult literature.  Geared toward teenagers who wanted characters with whom they could identify and stories with some grit and realism, the genre has become popular with adult readers as well.  In the 1970s, The Chocolate War; That Was Then, This is Now; and Run Softly, Go Fast fulfilled the need for books for young adult readers.

Some of the above titles can be found on the shelf at Peoria Public Library locations.  See a staff member if you need help in placing a hold to get these works from other libraries.

Check back in December, when we’ll take a look at best sellers from the 1980s!


More Undertakers’ Records at Peoria Public Library

by Amber Lowery, Local History and Genealogy

Last year, an incredible part of Peoria’s history was rediscovered in a forgotten storage space, thanks to the work of Bob Hoffer. Undertakers’ Records for Peoria County 1872-1915 are an incredible wealth of information for those researching their family history in the Peoria area. The Peoria County Genealogical Society was granted permission to transcribe these records and make the information available. The first volume was completed last year to the delight of many. As of last week, the second book, covering from 1882-1899, was printed and bound in two volumes. Volumes 2A (1882-1890) and 2B (1890-1899) will be available for research in the Local History and Genealogy section of the Main Library.

“Best Sellers from Past Decades” – Explore what Americans were reading from the 1930s through the 1980s!

By Jessica Gallo

For August, we’ll take a look at the 1960s.

The 1960s were a time of social and political unrest in the United States. The decade saw major national events such as the Cuban missile crisis, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, and the Vietnam War. The public was able to stay up-to-date more easily with current events, with color television bringing breaking news footage directly into their living rooms; by the end of the decade, over ninety percent of homes had at least one television. People took to the streets to protest war, as well as inequalities based on race and gender. In pop culture, the Beatles were hugely popular, the British invasion was happening, the Motown and San Francisco sounds were popular, and the decade culminated in 1969 at Woodstock.

The literature of the 1960s was, of course, bound to reflect the politically charged climate of the era. Writers like Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller (Slaughterhouse-Five, Catch-22) utilized absurdity and black comedy to explore subjects like war and bureaucracy. To Kill a Mockingbird and Black Like Me are among the many works to deal with racism in America. Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, while black female writers (Maya Angelou, Gwendolyn Brooks) offered their own unique take on what it meant to belong to a racial minority and be a woman in an era when both groups faced inequality. The Beat poets, who had emerged after World War II, remained popular and influential due to their political and cultural criticism.

Aside from the political, two genres that changed or emerged in the 1960s were science fiction and the so-called “New Journalism.” Science fiction had to expand as a genre because many of the original themes, such as space exploration, had become a reality. Some notable titles include A Clockwork Orange, Dune, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Solaris. New Journalism was a style in which the author investigated a real-life subject using a journalistic approach, but then wrote in a style more suited to a novel. The writer immersed himself in learning about his subject, but wrote without the traditional objectivity of a reporter, opting instead to develop character and dialogue and writing in a distinct voice. The most famous example of this style is Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, published in 1965. Other notable authors using this style were Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese. Many of these works were serialized and published in magazines, as the format and the cost of producing them made them unappealing to newspaper publishers.

A few other works from the decade that stand the test of time are The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Valley of the Dolls, 100 Years of Solitude, The Outsiders, Rosemary’s Baby, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the Steve McQueen Collection, True Grit, Agatha Christie’s Poirot series, and several James Bond titles.

Some of the above titles can be found on the shelf at Peoria Public Library locations. Others, especially the more obscure titles, are often available in various central Illinois libraries.
See a staff member if you need help in placing a hold to get these works from other libraries.

Check back in October, when we’ll take a look at best sellers from the 1970s!

2019 Big Read Grant Awarded to Peoria Reads!





Peoria Reads!  to Read and Celebrate Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

In Spring 2019


June 5, 2018—Peoria Reads! is a recipient of a grant of $6,575 to host the NEA Big Read in Peoria and the surrounding community. A national initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Peoria Reads! is one of 79 nonprofit organizations to receive an NEA Big Read grant to host a community reading program between September 2018 and June 2019. The NEA Big Read in Peoria will focus on activities will take place in spring 2019.

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant is by Roz Chast, a longtime cartoonist for the New Yorker and tells the story of Chast’s parents’ final years through cartoons, family photos, found documents and narrative prose. Peoria Reads! chose this book as so many in the community have elderly family members who need assistance. Younger generations are dealing with conflicting emotions, memories and the many practical challenges of the last days and passing of older family members. Told with humor and pathos, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant is a book that will launch discussion and entertain while it offers comfort.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support opportunities for communities across the nation, both small and large, to take part in the NEA Big Read,” said NEA Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter. “This program encourages people to not only discuss a book together, but be introduced to new perspectives, discuss the issues at the forefront of our own lives, and connect with one another at events.”


The NEA Big Read showcases a diverse range of contemporary titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire conversation and discovery. The main feature of the initiative is a grants program, managed by Arts Midwest, which annually supports dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read selection.

Lead partners for Peoria Reads! are Peoria Public Library and Common Place.  Each year a variety of other community organizations participate including Bradley University, Illinois Central College, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Delta Kappa Gamma, Methodist College, Peoria Public Schools and Notre Dame High School and others. Peoria Reads! was founded in 2002.

Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,400 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $19 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past eleven years, grantees have leveraged more than $44 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 4.9 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, approximately 82,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and 39,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, please visit arts.gov/neabigread. Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more about NEA.

Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25 years. For more information, please visit artsmidwest.org.

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Best Sellers from Past Decades: the 1950s

by Jessica Gallo

On the surface, the 1950s was a time of increased material prosperity and growth of the “suburban” lifestyle.  The stereotypical family consisted of a father with a successful career, a stay-at-home mother, and their clean-cut children.  Beneath the surface, though, stress simmered and anxiety stemmed from conflict both at home and abroad.  Here at home, people fought for civil rights and women’s rights.  Some chafed against the constraints they felt from trying to live up to the American ideal of success.  Stresses from overseas included the Cold War and fear of the spread of Communism, the Korean War, and the start of the Vietnam War. 

Novels in the 1950s had little tying them together in terms of an overriding theme.  Topics varied as widely as the experiences of their authors.  The decade gave us a wealth of enduring classics: Catcher in the Rye by Salinger, Lolita by Nabokov, Lord of the Flies by Golding, Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Capote, Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged are just a few.  Several of these books made the PBS list of 100 books for The Great American Read. For more information about The Great American Read check under the Events tab on this website.

1950 saw the first African-American winner of the Pulitzer in Gwendolyn Brooks (poetry – Annie Allen).  Ralph Ellison published Invisible Man, a novel about an idealistic young, black college graduate who fights to maintain his optimism in an America still plagued by racism.  And though the decade’s literature is often viewed as male-dominated, women, including Sylvia Plath, Shirley Jackson, Flannery O’Connor, and Edna Ferber, found both commercial and critical success.

One literary movement that stands out in the 1950s is the Beat movement. Centered mainly in bohemian artists’ communities in California and New York, Beat writers sought to liberate poetry from academics and make it accessible.  They felt alienated from society, celebrated non-conformity and spontaneous creativity, and they felt a strong connection to the Transcendentalists of the mid-19th century, including their focus on environmentalism.  Their writing was less formal and more profane, which led to obscenity trials for two of the movement’s most prominent names – Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs (Ginsberg and his publisher won, while the ban on Burroughs’s Naked Lunch was overturned on a later appeal).  These trials paved the way for a more liberal approach to publishing.  The most famous author to come out of the Beat movement was Jack Kerouac, whose On the Road is consistently ranked as one of the best novels of the twentieth century.

Many of the above titles can be found on the shelf at Peoria Public Library locations.  See a staff member if you can’t find what you want and need help in placing a hold to get these works from other libraries.

Check back in August, when we’ll take a look at best sellers from the 1960s!

Children's Award Winners

Every year, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, honors and bestows prestigious awards for outstanding children’s books. The three main awards are the Newbery Medal, the Caldecott Medal, and the Coretta Scott King Book Award.

The Newbery is named for the 18th century bookseller John Newbery and is awarded to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. 2018’s winner is Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly. The synopsis is “Filipino folklore and real life converge at the bottom of a well. Even while following signs and portents, the characters are the definition of creative agency. Masterfully told through shifting points of view, this modern quest tale shimmers with humor and authentic emotion.” Three other books got Newbery honors this year: Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes; Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds; Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson.

The Caldecott is named in honor of 19th century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awards to the artist of the most distinguished picture book for children. 2018’s winner is Wolf in the Snow written and illustrated by Matthew Cordel. The synopsis is “In this spare, nearly wordless picture book, a girl and a wolf cub each get lost in the snow and rescue each other. Cordell uses pen and ink and watercolor wash to capture the frenzied snowfall and the brave girl’s frantic, frightful journey. Fairy tale elements and a strong sense of color and geometry offer an engrossing, emotionally charged story.” Four other books received Caldecott honors: Cat, Little Cat illustrated and written by Elisha Cooper; Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut illustrated by Gordon C. James; A Different Pond illustrated by Thi Bui; Grand Canyon illustrated and written by Jason Chin.

The Coretta Scott King Book Award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and honors his wife for her courage and determination to continue the world for peace and world brotherhood. The award is given to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. 2018’s author winner is to Renee Wilson who wrote “Piecing Me Together.” The story is “an inspiriting tale in which Watson pulls the reader into Jade’s world by sharing Jade’s love for the Spanish language and providing a different, yet necessary story of Black womanhood.” 2018’s illustrator award winner is Euka Holmes, illustrator of “Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets.” In the book, Holmes’ “mixed-media collage images balance the tone and tenor of the new poems created by the authors, while paying homage to each of the featured poets in the subtle details extracted from various aspects. “

Peoria Public Library always waits with excitement to see the winners of each year. We have current award winners and many, many past years’ winning books as well.

To see past winners of these awards and more, check out ALSC’s website: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia

Check out our online catalogue to see our selection of award winners: www.peoriapubliclibrary.org

*Award information and synopsis found: http://www.ala.org

Best Sellers From Past Decades

by Jessica Gallo

“Best Sellers from Past Decades” – Explore what Americans were reading from the 1930s through the 1980s!  For February, we’ll take a look at the 1930s.

The 1930s were dominated by economic depression, drought, and growing concern over the Nazi threat in Europe.  Some readers faced the problems head-on, reading social commentary and economic primers, while others chose to escape into romance or adventure novels.  Notable authors of the decade whose works have stood the test of time include Pearl S. Buck, Willa Cather, Sinclair Lewis, Thornton Wilder, Margaret Mitchell, Virginia Woolf, John Steinbeck, and Daphne du Maurier. 

Some notable works from the time period are: The Good Earth by Buck; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; Gone with the Wind by Mitchell; The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings; The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck; The Thinking Reed by Rebecca West; Northwest Passage by Kenneth Roberts; Rebecca by du Maurier; The Citadel by A.J. Cronin.

Sinclair Lewis published It Can’t Happen Here, a fictional, cautionary tale about the rise of fascism in America.  How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie has coached generations of readers in their efforts to find personal and professional success.  Novels published in the 30s that had a lasting impact in the form of sequels, movies, and television productions include Captain Horatio Hornblower, which is a series of novels by C.S. Forester, The Citadel by A.J. Cronin, and Anthony Adverse by Hervey Allen.

Some titles that found success at the time, but aren’t as well-remembered, include Miss Bishop by popular author Bess Streeter Aldrich, All This, and Heaven Too, a mystery by Rachel Field, Years of Grace, a Pulitzer winner by Margaret Ayer Barnes, and an inspirational novel by Lloyd C. Douglas called Green Light.

Some of the above titles can be found on the shelf at Peoria Public Library locations.  Others, especially the more obscure titles, are often available in various central Illinois libraries. 
See a staff member if you need help in placing a hold to get these works from other libraries.

Check back in April, when we’ll take a look at best-sellers from the 1940s!


Film Noir Festival

Our Film Noir Festival is back for another year this March. Steve Tartar hosts a movie and discussion each Saturday in March at 2:00pm at the Main branch in the auditorium. Each showing is free and open to the public.

This year the festival has picked movies that focus on bookstores with each movie having a bookstore scene in the storyline. Come early and browse our Friendly Finds Used Bookstore, run by our Friends of Peoria Public Library, and find some hidden treasure and get inspired by our bookstore. Then settle in to watch a classic noir film in digital projection and sound.


Here’s a short synopsis of each film being shown during the festival:


March 3: The Big Sleep (1946) starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall-

“Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he's seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love.”


March 10: Ministry of Fear (1944) starting Ray Milland- “Stephen Neale has just been released from an asylum during World War 2 in England when he stumbles on a deadly Nazi spy plot by accident, and tries to stop it.”


March 17: Vertigo (1958) starring Jimmy Stewart

“A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend's wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her.”


March 24: Man Bait (1952) starring George Brent

“The married owner of a bookstore is attracted to his sexy blonde clerk. He finally gives in to temptation and makes a pass at her, but that only results in him getting enmeshed in blackmail and murder.”


March 31: The Big Steal (1948) starring Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer

“An army lieutenant accused of robbery pursues the real thief on a frantic chase through Mexico aided by the thief's fiancée.”





Please see our website for more information, www.peoriapubliclibrary.org, or call 309-497-2000.

*All synopsis were found on www.IMdB.com

Peoria Reads! 2018

Once again Peoria Public Library and Common Place have teamed up with several Peoria community partners to bring the city PEORIA READS! This year’s book is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. "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. 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.

To go with reading this fantastic book, PEORIA READS! has planned numerous special events. There will be several book discussions and talks about the genre and topic of the book at the library’s many branches. The Main Library gallery will have the “Museum of Civilization”, which is modeled after the Museum of Civilization described in this year's selected book Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Come see objects that would have been familiar just a short time ago but as civilization changes, so do we.

There is a cartoon workshop planned, as well as a movie showing of Warm Bodies (R) and a discussion of the movie. The last special event planned is a severe weather program done by a Warming Coordination Meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Lincoln.

So join us for this year’s PEORIA READS! book: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. For more information and event schedule check the PEORIA READS! website: www.peoriareads.com

January Reading Adventures

The weather may be frightful during the month of January but Peoria Public Library has lots of fun reading adventures for you to go on during the month. One adventure is the “Around the Library Reading Challenge.” This challenge takes place at Lakeview and McClure branches and is for all ages. Go into Lakeview or McClure branch and get a challenge sheet and read through the non-fiction side of the library. Read one book from each part of the Dewey Decimal System to complete your reading challenge. Turn in your sheet to be entered into a drawing for a $10 gift card for Barnes and Noble. (There will be one winner from three age categories.)

The other reading adventure is one that takes place at all the library locations for all ages. This adventure is called “Winter Reading Treasures.” There are different reading challenges for different age groups. Pick up your reading log for any branch and “unearth hidden gems.” When you turn in your reading log you can choose your prize from the treasure bob. Turning in your reading log gets you an entry into a prize drawing for a $10 gift card. There will be one winner per branch and there will also be one grand library-wide prize! The lucky winner gets a new Kindle Fire Tablet.



Check out our calendar for more events and more information about these great reading adventures. http://www.peoriapubliclibrary.org/calendar