Earth Day is a good time to learn more, get inspired, and even take some action. To pique your interest, we've selected fiction and nonfiction reads devoted to specific environmental concerns.
Protecting our water
The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan (nonfiction)
The Great Lakes—Michigan, Superior, Huron, Erie, and Ontario—hold 20 percent of the world’s supply of surface fresh water and provide sustenance, work, and recreation for tens of millions of Americans. But they are under threat as never before, and their problems are spreading across the continent. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is prize-winning reporter Dan Egan’s compulsively readable portrait of an ecological catastrophe happening right before our eyes, blending the epic story of the lakes with an examination of the perils they face and the ways we can restore and preserve them for generations to come. [e-book | print]
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy (fiction)
Franny Stone has always been the kind of woman who is able to love but unable to stay. Leaving behind everything but her research gear, she arrives in Greenland with a singular purpose: to follow the last Arctic terns in the world on what might be their final migration to Antarctica. Franny talks her way onto a fishing boat, and she and the crew set sail, traveling ever farther from shore and safety. But as Franny’s history begins to unspool—a passionate love affair, an absent family, a devastating crime—it becomes clear that she is chasing more than just the birds. [e-book | print | large type | audiobook]
The End We Start From by Megan Hunter (fiction)
In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z's small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds. This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees. [e-book | print | audiobook]
Protecting our climate
How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates (nonfiction)
Bill Gates has spent a decade investigating the causes and effects of climate change. In this book, he not only explains why we need to work toward net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases, but also details what we need to do to achieve this profoundly important goal. Drawing on his understanding of innovation and what it takes to get new ideas into the market, he describes the areas where technology is already helping to reduce emissions, where and how the current technology can be made to function more effectively, where breakthrough technologies are needed, and who is working on these essential innovations. [e-book | print]
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells (nonfiction)
Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as early as the end of this century. In his travelogue of our near future, David Wallace-Wells brings into stark relief the climate troubles that await—food shortages, refugee emergencies, and other crises that will reshape the globe. But the world will be remade by warming in more profound ways as well, transforming our politics, our culture, our relationship with technology, and our sense of history. It will be all-encompassing, shaping and distorting nearly every aspect of human life as it is lived today. [e-book | print]
We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer (nonfiction)
Jonathan Safran Foer explores the central global dilemma of our time in a surprising, deeply personal, and urgent new way. The task of saving the planet will involve a great reckoning with ourselves—with our all-too-human reluctance to sacrifice immediate comfort for the sake of the future. We have, he reveals, turned our planet into a farm for growing animal products, and the consequences are catastrophic. Only collective action will save our home and way of life. And it all starts with what we eat—and don’t eat—for breakfast. [e-book | print]
Protecting our plants
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (fiction)
Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry's brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits her father's money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma's research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction—into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. [e-book | print | audiobook]
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (fiction)
It wouldn’t be an environmentally focused reading list without a Barbara Kingsolver book; like The Signature of All Things, this also features a female biologist. From her outpost in an isolated mountain cabin, reclusive wildlife biologist Deanna Wolfe watches a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region. She is caught off-guard by a young hunter who invades her this private space, confounding her self-assured, solitary life. On a farm several miles down the mountain, Lusa Maluf Landowski, a bookish city girl turned farmer's wife, finds herself unexpectedly marooned in a strange place where she must declare or lose her attachment to the land that has become her own. [e-book | print | audiobook]
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (nonfiction)
Acclaimed biologist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also so much more. Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when work and love come together. It is told through Jahren’s stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota, with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work. [e-book | print | audiobook]
If you've already read Jahren's excellent memoir, she has a new book addressing climate changes, The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here [print].
You're raising a reader; the library is here to help.
Nurture early learning skills with Little Pages & Play Boxes, a monthly subscription for ages 0–2. These boxes are designed to build the foundation for reading in babies and tots. Each month's box includes:
Reading begins at birth, so library storytimes do, too. Each online session is filled with rhymes, songs, read-alouds, and simple movements to do with your tot, right where you are.
Baby Rhyme Storytime • 0–14 months
Miss Kelsey guides you and your baby through research-based activities and books that promote reading readiness. Sign in 15 minutes before the storytime for New Parents Meetup, casual conversation with other local parents.
10–10:30 a.m. Wednesdays, May 5, 12, 19 • SIGN UP (required)
Wiggling Ones • 12–24 months
Giggle, sing, and jam along with your toddler in this music- and movement-centered program led by Miss Heather.
10–10:30 a.m. Tuesdays, May 4, 11, 18 • SIGN UP (required)
View all pre-K storytimes and events
You know Lynda, the learning platform featuring thousands of video tutorials on a variety of subjects like programming, business, design, photography, and marketing. All those expert-taught courses are now part of Linkedin Learning, where they have a fresh new look that's easier to use. Plus there are new courses. And some are offered in other languages. Here's what else you need to know:
If you need help, visit the LinkedIn Learning FAQs or contact the library.
Go to LinkedIn Learning now.
Find other career-building resources in the Careers & Job-Hunting Guide.
Spring's mild weather has been a boon to the construction project under way at the library. Over the past few days, the walls for the new drive-up window and adjoining workspace were put up (pictured above) and the soffit for the new covered walkway (pictured below) was installed. The progress is encouraging, and it bodes well for the anticipated June reopening of the library building.
These are the services we're working to roll out after construction is done:
Of course, all building reopening plans depend on local COVID-19 measurements. If the situation changes, we may need to pause.
Thank you for doing your part to help bring the pandemic to an end. As of yesterday, Monday, April 12, all Illinois residents ages 18 and up are eligible to be vaccinated. Learn more about vaccine safety and efficacy, and how to schedule your appointment at VAPLD.info/coronavirus.
The library has received a $5,000 donation from the Butler Family Foundation. The gift was made by Lincolnshire resident Gilbert Adams in honor of his wife, Lynne Butler Adams, who was head librarian at Vernon Area from 1973 to 1985. The donation allows the library to begin a pilot program offering portable assistive technology devices for people with low vision, extending access to print materials.
The library is acquiring two types of handheld electronic devices that allow people with visual impairments to read print materials, regardless of format. The Ruby XL HD is a video magnifier with an auto-focus camera. When held up to a print source such as a book or newspaper, the device displays a clear, enlarged image on a high-resolution screen, which can be adjusted for optimal viewing. The Ruby XL HD retails for $895.
The OrCam Read will also be purchased. Priced at $1800, the device features a smart camera and reads text aloud from any printed surface or digital screen. The OrCam also responds to voice commands, allowing the user to request specific content, such as an entire page, headlines or the desserts section of a menu. This device is useful for people with low vision and those who are blind.
Initially the Ruby XL and OrCam Read will be made available to local senior centers. An early evaluation by Sunrise of Buffalo Grove was enthusiastic. Activities Coordinator Sue Church called both tools “amazing,” adding that the devices go beyond books to “help with daily living situations, including reading the paper, which I know residents with low vision miss.”
Church added that many lifelong readers would prefer to continue to read independently, not be read to. “For some, large print text has become a struggle,” she said.
As head librarian, Lynne Butler played a critical role in establishing Vernon Area Library and fostering its early growth. She began her work when the library was located in a temporary building in the parking lot of Adlai Stevenson High School. Butler took part in the ground-breaking ceremonies for the first library building, situated along Indian Creek Road. (Today that building is called “the Annex,” providing office and meeting space.)
Throughout her tenure, Butler faithfully served the public and attended board meetings before retiring in 1985. As an area resident, she has remained involved in the life of the library, attending author events, book discussions and retirement parties for her colleagues.
Vernon Area Library delivers books, DVDs and other materials to 13 local senior centers. For more information, visit VAPLD.info/seniors.
Vernon Area is among the 41 public libraries partnering to offer "Your City @ Home" — a series of virtual field trips and lectures from nine world-class, Chicago-area cultural destinations.
The online events kicked off on Saturday, April 5, with an at-capacity Shedd Aquarium event. Your City @ Home continues each weekend through May.
The series includes virtual tours of and talks from household favorites like the Chicago Children's Museum (May 1), the Art Institute of Chicago (May 15), and the Field Museum (May 22), along with the opportunity to discover smaller institutions such as the National Museum of Mexican Art (April 24) and the DuSable Museum of African American History (April 10).
"We are excited to offer this safe and accessible way of 'visiting' so many excellent Chicago-area cultural treasures right now," said Vernon Area Library Program Coordinator Roz Topolski. "We hope these events help those who are feeling stuck at home to experience something fun and maybe discover some new places to eventually visit in person."
The events are free, open to all and are hosted on the Zoom platform. Registration is required. View the calendar.
In the early days of the library construction project, the significant progress being made wasn't as obvious to the casual observer as this week's developments: The exterior walls went up and steel for the roof and decking are being installed, giving a clearer view of what lies ahead.
If all goes as planned, the library building will reopen for public access around June 1, after construction has wrapped up. That construction — a new drive-up service window, entryway, and covered walkway from the parking lot — is on track for a late-May completion. After that, we’ll need a few days to shift operations into the new space before reopening the new front doors.
The details of the building reopening are still being worked out. But here's what you can expect:
All building reopening plans hinge on local COVID-19 measures moving in the right direction. If the situation changes, we may need to pause.
Thank you for continuing to do your part to help bring the pandemic to an end. As a reminder, Lake County is now vaccinating frontline workers, anyone age 65 and older, people 16 and up with underlying health conditions, and certain essential workers. Get info about vaccine safety and efficacy, and how to schedule your appointment at VAPLD.info/coronavirus.
Staff continue to enjoy seeing your (masked) faces as you use the curbside service! We greatly appreciate your patience, grace, and understanding as we work to serve you. Librarians are available daily to assist you: get live help.
At its twice monthly drive-thru Food Pantry, Vernon Township is now serving
120 families, up from 75 families before the pandemic began a year ago.
If you can help meet this 60% increase in need, there are a few ways to do it:
What to donate? Items that are always needed include cereal, paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, etc.), and household cleaning items. Items that are currently needed include diapers, baking items, and condiments.
Remember: the library can only collect non-perishable items, but the pantry accepts fresh and frozen goods as well. For more info, visit the Food Pantry webpage.
Thank you for helping neighbors in need to strengthen our community!
Now eligible to schedule in AllVax:
Other frontline essential workers will be eligible in the coming days.
Openings at the Greenbelt Cultural Center (1215 Green Bay Road in North Chicago):
Any Lake County resident in Phases 1A, 1B, and 1B+ (seniors, frontline essential workers, and those with underlying co-morbid conditions) may schedule their appointment now at this site:
CALL (847) 582-1362 to schedule an appointment
To see all vaccination options, get more info about the vaccine, or find out about the vaccination phases, visit VAPLD.info/coronavirus.
Over the past year, we have witnessed increasing violence against our Asian and Asian American friends, neighbors, and loved ones. We recognize these acts of racial violence as part of a long history of harms inflicted upon Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) people.
We unequivocally condemn hate crimes committed against AAPI communities, and we are in solidarity with those affected.
To read more about the extent of discrimination and harm that the AAPI communities have been experiencing, we invite you to read this recent report from the Asian American Pacific Islander Council.
We are determined that our AAPI friends and neighbors feel safe in our community and supported by their library.
As a public service organization, we offer support, resources, and encouragement for those who are affected, those who want to actively participate as allies, and those who wish to engage more deeply on issues of race and equity.
For our AAPI friends and neighbors who are affected
Learn more about the Asian American experience
Dig deeper into the topics of equity, diversity, inclusion, antiracism and allyship
— Vernon Area Public Library