Inside the Numbers

statDo you like facts and figures? Like to impress your friends and family with your command of statistics? Do you have a reliable source to back up your assertions on Facebook or at the dinner table? Let’s face it, if you know a librarian, you know they’ll want you to cite your source.

Did you know:

  • In 2013 the most popular domestic airline route was New York to Los Angeles.  An average of almost 3,500 passengers made the trip each day.
  • The most popular spectator sport in 2013 was major-league baseball, with 76 million fans attending MLB games.
  • Americans spent an average of 28 hours stuck in traffic in 2011.  This wasted 13 gallons of gas per person.
  • More American households owned dogs (36.5%) than cats (30.4%) in 2011.
  • Americans ate 23.9 pounds per capita of frozen  dairy products in 2012.

These  tidbits of info and much more can be found in the Proquest Statistical Abstract of the United States. The Library has this comprehensive summary of statistics in both print and electronic format. Ask at the Reference Desk for the current print edition. The electronic version is available as one of the library’s many databases and  is accessible to St. Charles cardholders from home or office.

socialAnother electronic resource that provides demographic data is  Social Explorer. You can use this database to create maps and reports to illustrate statistical information. This resource is also available to St. Charles cardholders from home or office.

Questions?  Ask Us!



Where to Watch Fireworks

fireworks 2There are several locations in and near St. Charles where you and your family can enjoy Fourth of July fireworks.

St. Charles will have a fireworks display on July 4 at Pottawatomie Park, 8 North Avenue. The celebration will begin at 4 p.m. with a concert in the amphitheater by the Fox Valley Concert Band. This will be followed at 6:30 p.m. with a concert in the historic pavilion by Hello Dave. Fireworks begin at dark. 630-513-6200.

fireworks 3Batavia has its Sky Concert fireworks on July 4 at 9:30 p.m. at Engstrom Park, Millview Drive and West Main Street. The festivities begin with Savor-the-Flavor food vendors at the park beginning at
5 p.m.

fireworks 1Aurora’s fireworks are at 9:30 p.m. July 3 at River Edge Park, 360 N. Broadway Avenue. Festivities will begin at 6 p.m. with music and activities at River Edge Park and at McCullough Park, Illinois Avenue and Lake Street.  Aurora will hold a parade through downtown on July 4 beginning at 10 a.m. 630-256-3370

Wheaton’s fireworks begin at 9 p.m. on July 3 at Graf Park, 1701 Manchester Road. Food vendors and family activities will be in the park beginning at 4 p.m. A parade through downtown will be held on July 4 beginning at 10 a.m. 630-665-4710.

dog fireworksPlease remember that fireworks and pets don’t mix. The loud noises and light flashes make some pets so panicked that they simply run and may become lost or hurt. For tips to keep Fido and Fluffy calm and safe, check out this advice from veterinarians.












Buzz Buzz Buzz

bees 5Honeybees account for 80% of all insect pollination and play a crucial role in agriculture. Without their pollination we would see a significant decrease in fruit and vegetable yields. Here are some ways that you can learn more about these amazing insects.

On Saturday, June 13,  at 2 p.m., Harry Patterson will present a program at the Library on beekeeping, in the Huntley Meeting Room. He will discuss his experiences as a beekeeper and provide information on types of bees and issues such as colony collapse. He belongs to the Cook-DuPage Beekeepers Association and has been active on their board for many years. To register for this program, please contact the Reference Desk, or register online.

Garfield Park Conservatory has beekeeping programs and is home to multiple bee hives.  The Fox Valley Beekeepers Association and the Illinois State Beekeepers Association are additional sources of information.

The Library has a collection of books and DVDs on bees and beekeeping. Check our online catalog or Ask Us!

bees 2Bees 1bees 3







Starting from Seed

Seed Logo A new addition to the Library is a seed library, located next to the Reference Desk.

All the seeds are heirloom seeds, which means that they have been passed down from generation to generation. Seeds can be grown, saved and then planted again. A variety of both vegetable and flower seeds are available.

We hope to make the seed library sustainable. People are welcome to bring back saved seeds that can be replanted next season, but there are no requirements to do so.

If you would like to find out more about seed libraries and saving seeds we have several books on this topic.

 Seedswap: the Gardener’s Guide to Saving & Swapping Seeds by Josie Jeffery

Complete Guide to Saving Seeds: 322 Vegetables, Herbs, Flowers, Fruits, Trees and Shrubs by Robert Gough

Seed Libraries: and Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People by Cindy Conner






Questions?  Ask Us!







Outstanding Websites

Library Journal published an article recently highlighting “ten outstanding websites into which you can place your trust.”  Here are four of those websites that are “Good 2 Know” about.

airnowAirNow allows you to enter your zip code or state to find color-coded maps that rate local  air quality.  Find today’s forecast, tomorrow’s forecast and the air quality index.  AirNow was developed by EPA, NOAA, National Park Service and other local and state agencies to provide easy access to national air quality information.

nutritiondataNutrition Data was launched in 2003 “to provide the most accurate and comprehensive nutrition analysis available, and to make it accessible and understandable to all.” Learn how to read food labels, compare the nutritional content of foods,  and analyze recipes.  A daily needs calculator calculates the number of calories you burn and your body mass index.  You can also generate a list of foods based upon special needs, such as low sodium, high in protein, etc.

weathersparkWeatherSpark is a new weather website that provides interactive graphs that provide current weather information for 4,000 weather stations around the world.  Hour-by-hour graphs present data in an easy-to-read format.  You can also obtain historical information.

usgs USGS Earthquakes is a product of the U.S. Geological Survey. Use it to identify the location of the latest earthquakes worldwide and find out magnitude and intensity.  The USGS locates about 50 earthquakes each day.  The site includes a great deal of historical and real-time information.




Fascinating Women of History: Bette Davis

The Library and the St. Charles Heritage Center are co-sponsoring a program about Bette Davis on Tuesday, March 17, at noon in the Huntley Meeting Room (register). Known for her larger-than-life persona on and off the silver screen, Bette Davis was a movie star for almost 60 years and  appeared in about 100 films. The program features Leslie Goddard in the role of Bette Davis.

If you’d like to know more about Bette Davis, try one of these books:

The Girl Who Walked Home Alone: Bette Davis, a Personal Biography by Charlotte Girl who walked home aloneChandler

More than a Woman: an Intimate Biography of Bette Davis by James Spada

bette davis speaksBette Davis Speaks by Boze Hadleigh



Believe it or not, Bette Davis has a website that includes biographical information, quotations, and even a television schedule of her movies. If you can’t wait for a TV airing, the Library owns lots of her movies. Here are a few to try: Dark VictoryAll About Eve,  Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, and Deception.

Dark VictoryAll about Evewhatever happened to baby jane







Black History Month

Black history monthIn 1926 historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History chose the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.”  Woodson felt that black Americans and their achievements were not part of the general educational curricula and he was dedicated to change that.

Woodson specifically chose the second week in February to honor the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and Frederick Douglass (February 14).

The week-long observance became Black History Month in 1976 and it was officially recognized by the U.S. Government as part of the nation’s Bicentennial.  Black History Month is also referred to as African American History Month.

For more information search the library’s online catalog, see our Trending Topics site, or Ask Us!.




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