Explore The Library of Things!

Did you know that Algonquin Area Public Library has a collection of unique items for digital preservation, crafting, photography, and more?

The Library of Things contains tools and equipment for special projects, such as transferring treasured home movies to digital formats, to save you money and storage. Considering a new hobby?  Try some of our crafting tools before buying your own. You'll also find items for gaming, photography, and technology. New items are being added regularly. Many Library of Things items require an Algonquin Area Public Library District card to check out, so be sure to check with a staff member. Browse the collection through our catalog, or give the Adult Services department a call.


GoPro Hero 5- Compact and lightweight, this camera combines the portability of a point and shoot camera, and a camcorder. Packed into a rugged frame that's waterproof and virtually indestructible, take this camera where your phone can't go!


Controllers - Need an extra controller for your kid's next sleepover? The Library of Things has controllers for XBOX, Wi, Nintendo Switch, and Playstation. Borrow, don't buy, and keep the gaming going all night long.

Digital Preservation

Tell Me a Story Kit- Visiting family this summer? This kit will help you collect and record your family members' stories, to create an oral history that will be treasured for generations. In addition to the recorder, the kit contains an Oral History Workshop booklet of suggested topics to help you get started.


Kodak Ektagraphic III Slide Projector - Curious about those boxes of old slides in Grandma's basement? This simple carousel slide projector uses a rotary tray to load slides, and project photos and slide shows right on your wall. Combine it with the Tell Me A Story Kit, to capture precious family stories and memories before they're lost.


Karaoke Machine - Rock the house at your next party with this fun to use kit, that contains two microphones, a cradle to connect your smartphone, and discs containing 300 songs.

Seed Library Journal #4- April 11

After a week (at least) of gray skies and temps in the 40s, the sunny weekend was the motivation I needed to plant my Seed Library seeds! I'm using the tabletop greenhouse I got for my birthday, but you can find seed trays and accessories at most garden and hardware stores.  The Seed Library has lots of vegetable, herb and flower seed varieties available. Check out our catalog online, and request seeds here. An Adult Services staff member will notify you when they're ready to pick up.

Step by step, here's how I planted my seeds:

Soil Prep

I used a good quality potting mix that's made specifically for starting seeds. This one is very  lightweight, and contains a mix of peat moss, vermiculite and organic plant food.







After pouring the mix into a wheelbarrow, I added water until the soil was the consistency of crumbly brownie mix. An old Little Tikes garden trowel was perfect for mixing and scooping the potting mix.

Filling the seed cups

After punching drainage holes in the bottom of the egg cartons, I added potting mix, gently tamping  it down into the cups to reduce air pockets, and give the seeds a warm, damp place to sprout.

Once the egg cartons were filled, I placed them in a waterproof tray.

Planting the seeds

Now the fun part! I opened each Seed Library packet and carefully poured the seeds into a small container. Since some of the seeds I selected are tiny, this made it easier not to lose them! Then I labeled the cartons for each seed variety, and used the labeling sticks to create a small hole for each seed. While I didn't know the preferred planting depth for every variety, I'd read that 1/4" to 1/2" is a good depth to use for most plants.

Carefully using the edge of the seed envelope, I dropped one seed into each hole, and brushed potting mix over the hole to close it.

The wait begins!

With all the seeds planted, I lightly watered once more, before covering the planting tray to trap the humidity. The soil needs to be kept at 60-70 degrees, so I have a warming mat underneath the planting tray to keep the seeds warm. The potting mix needs to be damp but not soggy, so I'll check it each day and water as needed.

Once the seeds sprout, it will be time to add the grow light.

Have your Seed Library seeds sprouted yet? Share your progress on the AAPLD FB page!

Celebrate National Library Week with The Big Library Read!

It's National Library Week, and what better way to feel the library love than by joining an international celebration of reading? The Big Library Read is the world's largest digital book club, with over 20,000 libraries participating, including Algonquin Area Public Library District.

Taking part is easy. Between April 4 -18, use the Libby digital library app to download the spring selection, Music Is History by Questlove, with no holds and no waits. After reading, check out the discussion questions here, and share your thoughts on the discussion board. Post about the book on social media using #biglibraryread, and you'll be entered into a drawing to win Apple AirPods Pro.


Music Is History combines Questlove’s deep musical expertise with his curiosity about history, examining America over the past fifty years.

Focusing on the years 1971 to the present, Questlove finds the hidden connections in the American tapestry, whether investigating how the blaxploitation era reshaped Black identity or considering the way disco took an assembly-line approach to Black genius. And these critical inquiries are complemented by his own memories as a music fan, and the way his appetite for pop culture taught him about America. A history of the last half-century and an intimate conversation with one of music’s most influential and original voices, Music Is History is a singular look at contemporary America.

Photo by Daniel Dorsa

Questlove is known to television audiences as the Musical Director for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. He is co-founder of the groundbreaking Philadelphia hip-hop band The Roots, which also serves as the Tonight Show house band.  He made his directorial debut with the Academy Award winning feature documentary Summer of Soul. A drummer, DJ, producer, culinary entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author, he is set to direct the upcoming feature documentary on Sly Stone.

The 1950 Census is Here!

The 1950 Census is Here!

The excitement is real for genealogy fans. On April 1st, the 1950 Census was released by the National Archives. The 1950 census is available to browse at the National Archives website: https://www.archives.gov/research/census/1950

This census is not yet fully indexed, but there is a search engine for the AI (machine) index- it's kind of like OCR for handwriting, so you can imagine how imperfect it might be. You might be lucky with a first name/last name search, but if you do not find who you are looking for, try again after a few weeks.
Try these steps to find your ancestors:
  • If you know the complete street address, city and state, use this website to determine the Enumeration District: https://stevemorse.org/census/unified.html
  • At the National Archives site linked above, use the ED # to search for your ancestors. You may need to scroll through several pages.
  • Check the pages at the end of each film set for the enumeration of those who were "not at home" when the census taker came by the first time.

If you have questions or want an overview of this process, sign up for our May 17th program: Your Guide to the 1950 Census with Lisa Louise Cooke. This virtual program will not  be recorded, register here!

1950 census snip

Join The Spring Fling Reading Challenge!

Spring forward into a new reading challenge for adults, running April 1- May 15 at Algonquin Area Public Library.

The Spring Fling Reading Challenge invites you to give your reading a seasonal refresh, with a BINGO game that combines reading and simple activities, to complete up to five horizontal, vertical, or diagonal rows. For each completed row, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card from a local restaurant. (Drawing is exclusively for AAPLD cardholders).

To get started, log into Beanstack and select the Spring Fling Reading Challenge. You can also pick up a BINGO card at the Adult Services desk, or at the Eastgate Branch. After reading one book, you'll receive a Jersey Mike’s coupon. Track your progress on paper, or in Beanstack. The Challenge concludes on May 15. All BINGO cards/squares must be recorded in Beanstack or at the Adult Services desk by May 16 to be eligible for the gift card drawing.

The Spring Fling Reading Challenge display at the Main Library features books that fit many of the themes on the BINGO card.  Each book on the display contains a bookmark that shows which theme the book fits. For more suggestions, just ask a staff member, or browse our Spring Fling Reading Challenge online catalog to place a hold.

Bonus tip-- some books fit more than one theme, so you can count the same book for up to two different squares!

Read on for some book suggestions.

Library Reads Pick

The Maid by Nita Prouse - Molly Dunn throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. But Molly's orderly life is turned on its head the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself very dead in his bed. Before she knows what's happening, Molly's odd demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect and she finds herself in a web of subtext and nuance she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, a medley of friends she didn't realize she had refuses to let her be charged with murder--but will they be able to discover the real killer before it's too late? (This also counts as a Debut Novel).

Debut Novel

Carrie by Stephen King -  Even mega-bestselling authors have to start somewhere! This 1974 novel about a lonely misfit teen girl whose telekinetic powers unleash terror and death at her high school prom, launched Stephen King's career, and brought horror fiction to the mainstream. If you've never read this one, here's your chance. (This book also counts as a Book with Flowers on the Cover)

Set In Illinois or Written by an Illinois Author

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson - It’s 2008, and the inauguration of President Barack Obama ushers in a new kind of hope. In Chicago, Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy-League educated Black engineer, is married to a kind and successful man. He’s eager to start a family, but Ruth is uncertain. She has never gotten over the baby she gave birth to—and was forced to leave behind—when she was a teenager. She had promised her family she’d never look back, but Ruth knows that to move forward, she must make peace with the past. (This book is also a Debut Novel, and a Library Reads Pick)

What is a First Cousin Once removed?

First Cousins, Once Removed?

"What does it mean when a cousin is 'once removed'?" This is a very common question! Family relationships can definitely be confusing, and not just for the beginner genealogist. I've put together this ladder image to help explain how "once removed" refers to the generational separation between two cousins. Let's take a look:

At the top of the image, the "family ladder", we have an ancestor couple, Grandma and Grandpa.

On the next level are their children, who are siblings to each other.

The next step down (or generation) contains the children of the siblings on the step above. These people are 1st cousins to each other.

The next generation, pictured on the next step of the ladder, are the children of all the 1st cousins on the step above. These people are 2nd cousins to each other.

When you consider your relationship to your 1st cousin's child, this child is one generation "removed" from you and your cousin (1st cousins). Thus, you and the child are 1st cousins, once removed (1C1R) to each other.

Try this yourself by drawing your own family ladder. Place your grandparents at the top, their children on the next step, and so on. Next, draw it with your great-grandparents, instead. You will be an expert at figuring out cousins in no time!

Do you have other questions about genealogy? Attend the AAPLD Genealogy Interest Group on April 12. Register now!


The Seed Library Journal #3, March 23

Another gray and blustery day, but spring is getting closer. Next week, I plant my seeds from the Seed Library.

Asters and Bee Balm will go in the butterfly garden we planted beneath our boys' old swing-set. Bees and hummingbirds love this garden, too. Put feeders out in April to attract these tiny wonders on their northern migration.



Giant delphinium will be planted in this bed near the driveway.


If you've planted your Seed Library seeds, we'd love to hear how they're growing!  Check out our Seed Library catalog online, or stop by the Adult Services desk and fill out a seed request form.

Genealogy Events

Your Guide to the 1950 Census

Join us at this entertaining and informative webinar for a look at the long-awaited 1950 census, recently released by the National Archives! 

In this session you will learn:

  • Interesting and little known stories behind the 1950 census
  • What this census can reveal about your family, (and who you will NOT find!)
  • The important documents associated with this census that you can access right now!

Register for this webinar HERE. You will receive a link to join the virtual Zoom meeting upon registration. This program will not be recorded.

Lisa Louise Cooke is author of several books including The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 3rd edition.

Lisa produces and hosts the popular Genealogy Gems Podcast, and weekly videos at the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel.

She offers a Premium Membership at her website featuring exclusive on-demand genealogy education, writes a regular column for Family Tree Magazine, and produces the Family Tree Magazine Podcast.