How to give wisely

There are thousands of charities that spend time and money soliciting donations.  How do you make informed decisions on which organizations to support?

A good place to start your investigation is with Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities on their finances, accountability and transparency.  The home page states that Charity Navigator is “your guide to intelligent giving.” looks for well-run but underfunded charities.  Its tag line is “real change for your dollar.”  Their top-rated charities are “evidence-backed, thoroughly vetted, and underfunded.” is run by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. “seeks to assist donors in making informed judgments about those that solicit their support.”’s  mission is to gather and disseminate information about every IRS-registered 501 (c)(3).  GuideStar does not evaluate charities but rather it provides as much information as it can find so you can make the best decision possible.

For more info on wise donating look here.




“Paws” for Holiday Pet Safety

Pets in hatsNow that the holiday season is here,  pet owners should pause and consider how decorations and changes in the home environment might pose safety issues for their pets. The ASPCA and petMD remind us of some important safety tips to keep our furry family members safe and avoid trips to the animal ER.

Be sure to hang tinsel out of your pet’s reach. Kittens love tinsel and will put it in their mouths. Ingesting tinsel can potentially block an animal’s intestines.

If you put up a live Christmas tree, be sure to keep pine needles away from your pets because the needles can puncture the animal’s intestines.

Mistletoe, poinsettia and holly plants are poisonous to dogs and cats.

Edible tree decorations such as popcorn strings will attract your pets and could lead to them tugging at the decorations and possibly knocking down your tree.

Keep gift wrapping supplies (paper, string, ribbon, etc.) away from your pets so they don’t try to eat them.

Keep wires out of the reach of your pets to avoid the risks of shock and electrocution.

Remember that dogs often tear their toys apart and swallow the pieces, which can cause internal problems. The answer is to give your dog chew toys and treats designed to be safely digested.

Safe toys for your cat would be a new ball that is too big to swallow or a catnip toy.

Enjoy decorating for the holidays but do it in a way that keeps your pets safe.

Pets in hats 2









The Realities of War

There is news coverage  of battles, air strikes and skirmishes  in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other faraway places. However, often the stories of the soldiers who fought  in these conflicts is not told. Some recently published books highlight some of these stories.

One Million StepsOne Million Steps: a Marine Platoon at War by Francis J. West is the story of one platoon that suffered extraordinarily high casualties in Afghanistan.

Level Zero Heroes: the Story of U.S. Marine Special Operations in Bala Murgab, Afghanistan by Michael Golembesky follows a Marine Special Ops team on assignment in a remote Taliban stronghold.Level Zero Heroes

My Life as a Foreign Country by Brian Turner covers the author’s war experiences in Iraq and his life back home.

The Invisible Front: Love and Loss in an Era of Endless War by Yocki Dreazen is the tragic story of a family having to cope with the loss of two sons, one in combat and one from suicide.

For other titles check our online catalog or Ask Us!

My life as a foreign country

Invisible Front










Voting Begins for Illinois Residents

voteThe 2014 General Election will be held on Tuesday, November 4.  Early voting began on Monday, October 20 and ends on Sunday, November 2.

If you are not registered to vote you may still register at one of the five Kane County locations set up for grace period registration.

The Kane County Elections website provides detailed information on polling places, sample ballots, registration status and much more. If you need instructions on how to use the eSlate voting maching, there is a  link on the website for a demo of the eSlate.

You will find information on the various candidates in the print newspapers located in the library’s Magazine/Newspaper area or by reading the electronic versions available through the library’s website.

Questions?  Ask Us!


Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week

What do these books have in common?

  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey
  • Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

They are all on the  list of the Top Ten Challenged Books for 2013.  The American Library Association publishes this list each year, in conjunction with Banned Books Week.

“The ALA promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them.”

To learn more about this topic visit the ALA’s website.  Protect your right to READ.




Interesting Reads about Interesting People

If you enjoy reading biographies, here are a few suggestions that you might like.

Alvin YorkAlvin York: a New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne by Douglas Mastriano is the life story  of one of our most famous soldiers.  York was a reluctant hero of WWI.

Jack London: an American Life is written jack londonby  Earle Labor,  the official biographer of London and the curator of the Jack London Museum in Shreveport, LA.   Labor had access to London’s letters and diaries.

Jim HensonJim Henson by Brian Jay Jones covers the life of the creative genius who brought us the Muppets.

Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space Sally Rideis authored by Lynn Sherr, the ABC reporter who covered NASA for many years.  Sherr covers Ride’s life from her early years as a childhood tennis star all the way to her rise in the male-dominated space program.

For other titles check our online catalog or Ask Us!




The Great War

World War I began 100 years ago on July 28, 1914. Until the start of World War II, this war was known as The Great War or The World War.

madcatThe war began in the Balkans, a part of the world with a long history of conflict, but it soon spread throughout Europe and the Ottoman Empire. The United States was officially neutral until it entered the war in 1917.

About nine million soldiers died, far more than in any previous conflict.  There were also countless civilian deaths and injuries as well as extensive property damage.

madcat1Trench warfare was widely used and  a system of trenches zigzagged along the Western Front. Horse cavalries were also used, and Germany’s initial invasion of France and Belgium included eight cavalry divisions (more than 40,000 horses).

World War I saw the first use of the airplane as a weapon of combat. The British invented the tank, and a young George Patton saw action in the newly formed U.S. Tank Corps of the American Expeditionary Force.

The SleepwalkersThe war ended November 11, 1918, with the victory of the Allied Powers over the Central Powers. The Paris Peace Conference in January, 1919, drafted the Treaty of Versailles. The end of the war saw the collapse of old empires (Austro-Hungarian Empire and Ottoman Empire) and the creation of new countries. The maps of Europe and Southwest Asia were redrawn.

For more information try one one of the books shown here; check our online catalog;  or Ask Us! 


Freedom Summer and the Civil Rights Act

Freedom Summer was a campaign launched by several civil rights groups in June 1964 to register as many Mississippi African-American voters as possible.  The state of Mississippi had historically excluded most blacks from voting.

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer and the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

For more information, try one of  these titles.

Freedom Summer: the Savage Season that Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy by Bruce Watson

An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by Todd Purdum









The Bill of the Century: the Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act by Clay Risen

We Are Not Afraid: the Story of Goodman, Schwerner & Chaney and the Civil Rights Campaign for Misissippi by Seth Cagin

Bill of the CenturyWe are not afraid








For more information Ask Us!


Fascinating Women of History: Amelia Earhart

Historian Leslie Goddard will present a program  on Amelia Earhart at the St. Charles Public Library on May 29 at 12:00 pm. If you would like to learn more about Amelia Earhart, try these books and DVDs:

am1Amelia Earhart: a Biography
by Doris L. Rich


Amelia Earhart the thrill of itAmelia Earhart: the Thrill of It
by Susan Weis


Amelia Earhart dvdWhere’s Amelia Earhart
 (National Geographic DVD)

Check our online catalog for more titles, or read more
about Ms. Earhart, or other aviators, right now in
Biography in Context.

As always, feel free to Ask Us!


Happy Birthday, St. Charles!

St.-Charles-3The City of St. Charles will celebrate its 180th birthday in May. Here are some fun facts about our city, also known as the Pride of the Fox!

  • Read Ferson, Ira Minard, and Evan Shelby founded the city in 1834 and named it Charleston.
  • The city was incorporated in 1874.
  • The Baker Hotel, built by Colonel Edward J. Baker, opened in 1928.
  • The Municipal Building was completed in 1940. It was built as a donation to the city  by Colonel Baker and Mr. and Mrs. Lester J. Norris.
  • St. Charles received a special recognition in 2011 from Family Circle Magazine. We were named  the number one place in the country to raise a family.
  • St. Charles has a land area of 15 square miles and 32,974 people, based on the 2010 U.S. Census.
  • The Fox River divides the city between east and west. Avenues are on the east side of the river and streets are on the west side.
  • The first bridge across the river was built in 1836.
  • There are more than 2,100 businesses in St. Charles and those businesses employ more than 34,200 people.

Want to learn more? Visit our St. Charles History page, or walk down the Avenue from the library (as we’re on the east side of the river) to the Heritage Center.

St. Charles LogoSt. Charles Baker Hotel