See the Moon at Waukegan Public Library

Post date: Monday, February 24, 2014 - 11:51am

On Monday, March 10, the Lake County Astronomical Society will present an evening of moon gazing from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. across the street from the Waukegan Public Library on the corner of County and Clayton Streets.

In cooperation with local libraries, the Lake County Astronomical Society’s (LCAS) program, titled Astronomy Under The City Lights (AUTCL), is an opportunity for people of all ages to view the craters and mountains of the moon and Jupiter with its moons with powerful and sophisticated telescopes including a special hands-on telescope that everyone can operate.

Called “Dobbie”, this kid-friendly telescope is specifically targeted for use by children 9-14 years old. It has a 6-inch mirror and an eyepiece that magnifies objects 48 times. This allows great views of the Moon, planets, double stars, and bright deep sky objects, like star clusters, gas clouds, and remnants from supernovae.

You can join the event at any time and leave at any time, no registration is required. This outdoor event depends on dry weather and acceptable sky conditions to allow viewing, so it is subject to postponement. All children who attend the program will receive a special surprise.  Additionally, there are free astronomy bookmarks from the LCAS Star Reader program available at the Library.

LCAS has been doing astronomy outreach events at libraries for 30 years and since the AUTCL program was developed in 2008, they have given over 3,500 kids their first view of the Moon and planets. For more information about the Astronomy Under The City Lights program, see

Music and romance on Valentine's Day at Waukegan Public Library

Post date: Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 5:52pm

Enjoy the romantic sounds of 1920s jazz with a special Valentine’s Day concert on Friday, February 14 in the Bradbury Room of the Waukegan Public Library. The West End Jazz Band takes the stage at 1 p.m. and will be followed by a special showing of the 1926 romantic silent film “Don Juan”.

From Chicago, the West End Jazz Band has recreated the nostalgic sounds of the 1920s and 1930s for 34 years. With music that ranges from beautiful ballads to zany, nonsense songs to straight dance medleys, the West End reflects the romantic and sweet side of the golden age. West End has been invited to some of the most prestigious jazz festivals, played concerts throughout the United States, and toured Europe twice. The band has seven CDs and has regularly played the Sunday Jazz Brunch at the Milk Pail near Elgin for the past twelve years.

Directly following the performance, everyone is invited to stay and watch the silent film “Don Juan” at 2:30 p.m. Premiering on August 6, 1926, and starring John Barrymore, “Don Juan” was the first feature-length film with synchronized Vitaphone sound effects and musical soundtrack, though it has no spoken dialogue. It holds the record for the film with the most kisses in film history, with Don Juan planting 191 kisses on various females during the course of the film, an average of one every 53 seconds.

Drinks and baked goods will be available for purchase by the Friends of the Waukegan Public Library and popcorn will be served during the film. Waukegan Public Library concerts are generously sponsored by the Friends of the Waukegan Public Library.

To listen to a clip of the West End Jazz Band, visit  For questions about library concerts, call Rena Morrow, Marketing and Exhibits Manager, at (847) 623-2041, ext. 231.

Waukegan Public Library confronts low literacy rates head on

Post date: Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 2:56pm

At the City Council meeting on December 16, 2013, members of the Waukegan Public Library staff presented a statistical overview of the city’s literacy rates and the Library’s vision for the future that prioritizes its commitment to literacy for preschoolers through adults. Also known as “Literacy 2020”, the library’s future direction will concentrate on classes, programs, and resources that help community members be successful as literate individuals, employees, and citizens, regardless of barriers such as language, income, or age.

“A literate community is a successful community,” stated Richard Lee, executive director of the Waukegan Public Library. “Since Andrew Carnegie gave the City of Waukegan the funds to build the first library, we have been in the learning and literacy business. Libraries are not about books, they are about reading, resources, and access to information.”

Over the past year, library staff pulled together data and conducted surveys to determine the levels of literacy in the Waukegan community and what factors contribute to low literacy. Research showed that 17% of Waukegan residents live below the poverty level, higher than the average state level of 13%. “The United Nations defines poverty as a lack of capacity to participate effectively in society,” said Lee. “We know that literacy and the ability to read is a crucial factor in helping residents have more opportunities to be successful and essentially raise them out of the cycle of poverty.”

However, poverty is just one of the causes that hold residents back from being successful. Research pointed to other reasons that include a lack of education, language differences, health issues, and low technology skills, all factors that are related to basic functional and cultural literacy, in essence, knowledge as fundamental as when to go to the doctor, how to read street signs, or even how to print a form from a website.

For the last 30 years, the Waukegan Public Library has maintained literacy programs for adults and families with the help of partner organizations like the Literacy Volunteers of Lake County and outside funding sources. While a component in the overall library mission, literacy services had always taken a back seat to more established library priorities: the collection. Moving forward and away from a more traditional view of the library, Lee announced that the library’s new direction more firmly aligns the library’s own resources, including budget, staff, and space, to literacy. “I guess it’s been one of our best kept secrets, but now will be our number one priority.”

“Our new vision is called the Path to Learning and Literacy and highlights four of the target areas where we feel we can have the most impact and make a difference in the community from birth to adulthood,” said Elizabeth Stearns, Assistant Director of Community Services. Kindergarten Readiness, Grade Level Reading and School Readiness, College and Career Awareness, and Adult and Family Cultural and Functional Literacy are the four major areas that the Library will focus its relevant and innovative programming with the goal to increase literacy levels by 25% by the year 2020.

Summing up the presentation, Lee echoes how vital literacy is to our community. “The ability to read affects everything from graduation rates to employment as well as crime, health care, and our overall standard of living. At the library, we are committed to creating a community of readers from cradle to career. When our residents are successful, our city will be successful.”