Blog

This Week in the Prairie Patch: September 27-October 5

Plant Updates:

Thank you for following the chronicles of the Prairie Patch all season. This is our last post of the year and we hope you found inspiration for your own garden or at least an excuse to visit the Prairie Patch. Our last harvest and Garden Giveaway will be Oct. 3. We hope to have a few more peppers, tomatoes, swiss chard, squash and herbs to share.

From Oct 3-Nov 2 we will have a Monster Hunt in the Prairie Patch for kids and families.

On Oct. 17 we will have Family Pumpkin Decorating in the Prairie Patch, registration required.

Prairie Patch Stories:

We requested your memories of the Prairie Patch and received the following from Cathy Streett:

My favorite memory of IPPL Prairie Patch this year was the last STEM session with the children. We had 3 families and one single child. We split up the families and they harvested green beans, tomatoes, swiss chard, basil, various squash including a small pumpkin. They each took turns weighing the produce and then taking a little sampling home to share with their families.

It's been a joy to help the children discover the process of planting seeds, watching the plant grow and then harvesting the fruit. They are so enthusiastic and eager to show me the newest bugs and ask questions as they learn.

It is a blessing to have this space available for all to just come down the hill and enjoy the peace, watching for butterflies and bees and watching the garden grow!

Book Recommendations:

Climate-wise landscaping: practical actions for a sustainable future

Landscaping with Bulbs

The Kids' Outdoor Adventure Book: 448 great things to do in nature before you grow up


October Programs for Littles!

Check out what programs we have for your littles in October!

If you like to learn while having fun, check out…

Stories + STEAM LIVE via Zoom
Wednesdays at 6p.m.
Ages 3-6 with an adult present.

Little Learners Storytime LIVE via Zoom
Tuesdays at 9:30a.m.

If you like to move and grove, check out...

Rollick & Roll LIVE via Zoom
Wednesdays at 10:30a.m.

Storytime on the green outside Barbara's Bookstore in the Burr Ridge Village Center
Friday, October 9th at 10:30a.m.
Space is limited

If you're looking for some Fall Fun, join us for...

Family Pumpkin Decorating
in the Prairie Patch on Saturday, Oct. 17th
Sign up for one of the following time slots:
1-1:30p.m.
1:30-2p.m.
2-2:30p.m.
2:30-3p.m.

You can also take part in our Spooky Scavenger Hunt in the Prairie Patch! Pick up a clue sheet at the Kids & Teens Ask Us desk or request a copy for pickup from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Search for spooky characters in the garden beds and win a prize!

Halloween Show + Tell LIVE via Zoom
Monday, Oct. 26th at 10a.m.

Come Trick or Treating at the library!
During the week of Oct. 26-30, we will be giving out goodie bags on the 2nd floor or through Curbside Pickup upon request, while supplies last. The bags will be safely packed by staff wearing masks and gloves to give your child an opportunity for some safe Trick-or-Treat fun.
*The bags will contain activities and candy. Let us know if you would like a bag without candy.


This Week in the Prairie Patch: September 20-26

Tuesday 9/22 is the first day of Fall! Are you doing anything special to celebrate? The weather is supposed to be lovely all week, so come enjoy the new season during a visit to the Prairie Patch.

Plant Updates:

Lead by volunteer extraordinaire, Cathy Streett, we are starting to winterize the Prairie Patch. This includes planting cover crops (red clover, oats, and peas) to help add nitrogen into the soil for healthier plants next year. We will continue to harvest and share via Garden Giveaways through the end of September. We will also do an official fall clean-up in October and plant our remaining plants and bulbs in anticipation of Spring.

Book Recommendations:

Container Gardening for all Seasons

Fine Cooking Soups and Stews: No-fail recipes for all seasons

All the President's Gardens

Share Your Prairie Patch Story:

Did you have a memorable experience in the Prairie Patch this summer? Reading in the shade, eating ice cream on a bench, playing in the Mud Kitchen? We're harvesting highlights to share on the blog the end of the season. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your story.

Seed Library:

Are you interested in helping plant future gardens? To learn what you need to do to save your seeds and donate to our Seed Library, email Natalie Williams: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Groundbreaking Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on September 18 at the age of 87. She was nominated for her position by President Bill Clinton, and served from 1993 until her passing. She was a true champion of justice and fought to end gender discrimination. Ginsburg notably co-founded the Women's Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union in 1972. Decades later, she inspired the Lilly Ledbetter Fair pay Act, which helps workers win pay discrimination claims. 

She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2002 received the ABA medal from American Bar Association in 2010. Her legacy will live on as a champion for women, girls, and anyone who dissents the notion of inequality.

For more information on Ginsburg's life, read Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and LawRuth Bader Ginsburg: a Life; or Notorious RBG: the Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Read My Own Words for an autobiographical account of her life.

Young readers will enjoy I dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes her Mark and Ruth Bader Ginsburg: the Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality.

You can also check out or stream RBG on Hoopla.


This Week in the Prairie Patch: September 13-19

Photo of the bug hotel (with limited vacancies) in Bea's Garden. Photo by Cathy Streett.

Plant Updates: Our peppers are getting bigger and we still have tomatoes growing. A few have been eaten by critters, like our beans, but we're hoping to still have some to harvest. For reference, our Garden Giveaways will continue through the end of September. Cathy, one of our volunteers, has seen a variety of pollinator insects in the garden lately, including something (potentially a  Grass-Carrying Wasp) building in the bug hotel in Bea's Garden. See the photo for more detail.

Do you have a K-2 student looking for something to do in the Prairie Patch? They can take part in our Sight Word Scavenger Hunt! Pick up a clue sheet at the Kids & Teens Ask Us desk or request a copy for pickup from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. When you've found all the sight words, your clue sheet will reveal a hidden message. Bring the message to the desk and receive a prize book! Ideal for K-2 learners.

We also have a few additional outdoor programs available in September, both in the Prairie Patch and at local spots. See here for details.

There are still monarch butterflies and hummingbirds in our area. Be a citizen scientist and your observations with our friends at Journey North.

Book Recommendations:

Illinois, Indiana & Ohio Month by Month Gardening: What to do to have a beautiful garden all year

Midwest Native Shrubs and Trees: Gardening alternatives to nonnative species: an illustrated guide

T-Veg: The story of carrot-crunching dinosaur

Share Your Prairie Patch Story:

Did you have a memorable experience in the Prairie Patch this summer? Reading in the shade, eating ice cream on a bench, playing in the Mud Kitchen? We're harvesting highlights to share on the blog the end of the season. Email Megan Lawrence with your story.

Seed Library:

Are you interested in helping plant future gardens? To learn what you need to do to save your seeds and donate to our Seed Library, email Natalie Williams: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This Week in the Prairie Patch: September 6-12

Plant Updates: Observers of the weather and readers of last week's post might think there is a correlation with this week's cooler, rainier weather. Wouldn't it be great if that were true? We're hoping for a few more weeks in the growing season despite the obvious signs of fall that are starting to appear daily. Garden Giveaways continue to be available in the library's lobby.

Programs: Do you have a K-2 student looking for something to do in the Prairie Patch? They can take part in our Sight Word Scavenger Hunt! Pick up a clue sheet at the Kids & Teens Ask Us desk or request a copy for pickup from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. When you've found all the sight words, your clue sheet will reveal a hidden message. Bring the message to the desk and receive a prize book! Ideal for K-2 learners.

We also have a few additional outdoor programs available in September, both in the Prairie Patch and locally. Click here for details.

Book Recommendations:

This is the Sunflower

Sunflowers for Megan

Bronze and Sunflower

Share Your Prairie Patch Story:

Did you have a memorable experience in the Prairie Patch this summer? Reading in the shade, eating ice cream on a bench, playing in the Mud Kitchen? We're harvesting highlights to share on the blog the end of the season. Email Megan Lawrence with your story.

Seed Library:

Are you interested in helping plant future gardens? To learn what you need to do to save your seeds and donate to our Seed Library, email Natalie Williams: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Netflix Debuts New Storytime Series Celebrating Black Voices


The past few months have brought on a new wave of celebrating stories, particularly stories that highlight the African American experience. Today, Netflix debuts a new series called Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices

The series, hosted by teenage activist Marley Dias, showcases celebrity readers sharing children's books by Black authors to spark kid-friendly conversations about empathy, equality, self-love, and antiracism. 

Readers include Karamo Brown, Misty Copeland, Lupita Nyong'o, Common, Tiffany Haddish and more.

All 12 episodes are instantly available on the Netflix Jr. YouTube channel.

You can also check out one of the library's Rokus with Netflix to start streaming your storytime today!


This Week in the Prairie Patch: August 30-September 5

Sunflowers are the plants to 'see' this month for our Sensory Garden. Look for the blue signs to help guide your sensory experience .

Plant Updates: Despite our garden team's hard work, the heat and lack of rain has definitely gotten to a few of our plants, especially the squash and cucumbers. There are still blossoms and small fruits growing on these plants but we have seen the loss of foliage and vines. Did you know squash and cucumbers are related? They are both members of the gourd family and botanically both are considered fruit, even though they are often considered vegetables. 

In good gardening news, we have several types of peppers now visibly bearing fruit and our tomatoes continue to ripen. Garden Giveaways remain available in the lobby. Our harvest days are typically Monday, Wednesday, Saturday.

Book Recommendations:

The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest

The Joy of Pickling

Ultimate Book of Step-by-Step Cooking and Gardening Projects for Kids

Share Your Prairie Patch Story:

Did you have a memorable experience in the Prairie Patch this summer? Reading in the shade, eating ice cream on a bench, playing in the Mud Kitchen? We're harvesting highlights to share on the blog the end of the season. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your story.

Seed Library:

Are you interested in helping plant future gardens? To learn what you need to do to save your seeds and donate to our Seed Library, email Natalie Williams: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



September Programs for Littles!

Check out what programs we have for your littles in September!

If you like to learn while having fun, check out…

Stories + STEAM LIVE via Zoom on Wednesdays at *6p.m.
Ages 3-6 with an adult present.
*Note the time change from previously held classes

You can also take part in our Sight Word Scavenger Hunt in the Prairie Patch! Pick up a clue sheet at the Kids & Teens Ask Us desk or request a copy for pickup from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. When you've found all the sight words, your clue sheet will reveal a hidden message. Bring the message to the desk and receive a prize book!
Ideal for K-2 learners.

If you want to get out and about for stories, songs, and fun, check out…

Outdoor Family Storytime across the street at the Darien Community Park
Register for either Mondays at 9:30a.m. OR Thursdays at 6p.m.
For families with children of all ages. Bring a picnic blanket or lawn chairs!

Storytime on the green outside Barbara's Bookstore in the Burr Ridge Village Center
Friday, September 18th at 10:30a.m.
For families with children of all ages.

If you like to make music, check out…

Mini Musicians
Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to schedule a custom, 15-minute Mini Musician session weekly in September, for children 18 months - 7 years with a caregiver. You can also listen to Miss Heather's curated playlists anytime on Spotify. Classes are held via Zoom.

If you want your child to have some one-on-one time…

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a 15-minute Storytime One-on-One
Stories, rhymes, and games through Zoom
for children ages 18 months – 5 years

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a 15-minute Babytime
Songs, rhymes, and sign language for you and your baby through Zoom
for children birth – 17 months

Remember, you can still…

  • Request a Kindergarten Readiness packet to help engage your little learner and prepare them for success in the next stage of schooling
    Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your child's name and your pick up preference (Curbside Service or at the Kids & Teens Ask Us desk)
  • Get a Little Shop Mystery bag. Stop by the library to pick one up or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request one for pick up through Curbside Service.

This Week in the Prairie Patch: August 23-29

European paper wasp on tropical milkweed. Photo by Cathy Streett

Plant Updates: We continue to see a variety of blooms in the garden, including zinnias, butterfly bush and tropical milkweed (pictured left) The orange impatiens at the north end of the garden have tripled in size since being planted in June. Our regular harvesting continues on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Through our Garden Giveaway program (available in the lobby) we have harvested and shared over 43 pounds of produce so far this season.

Be a citizen scientist! Our friends at Journey North have started their fall Monarch watch and are looking for observations to help document the fall migration. Click here to learn more and participate.

Book Recommendations:

Pugtato Finds a Thing

Jam Session: A Fruit-Preserving Handbook

Second Nature: A Gardener's Education

The Ultimate Container Gardener: All you need to know to create plantings for spring, summer, autumn and winter

Share Your Prairie Patch Story:

Did you have a memorable experience in the Prairie Patch this summer? Reading in the shade, eating ice cream on a bench, playing in the Mud Kitchen? We're harvesting highlights to share on the blog the end of the season. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your story. 

Seed Library:

Are you interested in helping plant future gardens? To learn what you need to do to save your seeds and donate to our Seed Library, email Natalie Williams: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




This Week in the Prairie Patch: August 16-22

Plant Updates: This week we're harvesting dill, sage, carrots, beans, tomatoes, bell pepper, kale and mint. Look for our Garden Giveaway table in the library's lobby. 

Sensory Garden: Don't miss the sunflowers! They are blooming in several beds. The rest of the sensory garden includes dill, sage, squash and ornamental grass. Look for the blue signs indicating this curated experience.

Programming: We have a handful of outdoor programs for kids, including a Monday morning yoga class on August 24. Click here for more information and to register.

Meet the Garden Team: The Prairie Patch is maintained by a handful of IPPL staff and community volunteers. Each week, we will share information about a different team member. This week, meet Natalie!

Role: Library staff

Where are you from? Michigan originally, but I've lived in Chicago most of my adult life

How long have you been a library patron? I have worked at IPPL for 7 years

What do you like about gardening? I love the magic of watching new things grow out of seemingly nothing. I love the first sprouts of spring and every new little zucchini or pepper that appears. I also like realizing just how many seeds we eat as food...like peas, corn, and beans.

What are your favorite gardening books?A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Gardening Lab for Kids by Renata Fossen Brown

What is your favorite thing to grow? I like growing things in the "cucurbits" family - squash, zucchini, pumpkins, and cucumber.

Do you have a favorite gardening quote or phrase? "To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow." –Audrey Hepburn

Book Recommendations:

Seed saving: A beginner's guide to heirloom gardening

Show up for salad: 100 more recipes for salads, dressings, and all the fixins you don't have to be vegan to love

Red Pepper, yellow squash: A book of colors

Seed Library:

Are you interested in helping plant future gardens? To learn what you need to do to save your seeds and donate to our Seed Library, email Natalie Williams: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Get A Kindergarten Readiness Packet!

Do you have a child who is getting ready to start Kindergarten? 
Sign up to receive one of our Kindergarten Readiness Packets.
Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request a packet, personalized for your child, that is full of fun ways to practice the skills needed to start this next chapter.

Packets can be picked up through Curbside Service or at the Kids and Teens Ask Us desk.

This Week in the Prairie Patch: August 9-15

Plant Updates: We have patty pan squash, summer squash and several varities of tomatoes ready for harvest this week. We're also continuing to harvest swiss chard, carrots and herbs. New blooms in the garden include a pink butterfly milkweed and sunflowers. Our Garden Giveaway is daily in the lobby.

Sensory Garden: Our latest sensory walk was installed, look for the blue signs and  explore sunflowers, dill, sage, squash and ornamental grass.

Programming: We have a handful of outdoor programs for kids in the Prairie Patch, including a Monday morning yoga class on August 17 and 24. Click here for more information and to register.

Book Recommendations:

Green Green: A community gardening story

Old Manhattan Has Some Farms

Chicago Gardens: An Early History

In Search of Meadowlarks

Seed Library:

Are you interested in helping plant future gardens? To learn what you need to do to save your seeds and donate to our Seed Library, email Natalie Williams: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Business owners: Reopening and Staying Open

Reopening and Staying Open - How to Assess the Past 60 Days and Prepare for What's Next
Thursday, Aug 6, 2020  at noon. 

This live SCORE webinar will help you figure out your best steps. SCORE, a nonprofit resource and education partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration, provides mostly free assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs.

The expert presenter will cover:

  • Creating a profit & loss statement for planning purposes
  • Positioning yourself in the market 
  • Managing capacity limits in your place of business
  • Planning for extended adjustments due to the coronavirus and other long term consumer changes


Register and SCORE will send the recording if you can't make it.

Click here for their list of upcoming webinars. Take a look at their recorded webinar list here.

Find information about our local SCORE chapter.


Honoring Olivia de Havilland

Legendary actress Olivia de Havilland passed away on July 26 at the age of 104. She was one of the last remaining stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Her career spanned more than fifty years and forty-nine feature films. She won Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role for To Each His Own and The Heiress. Olivia was well known for her roles in Gone with the Wind, The Snake Pit, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte. She had an ongoing rivalry with her younger sister, actress Joan Fontaine.

Backed by the Screen Actors Guild, Olivia took Warner Brothers to court in 1943 when it added time to her original contract as a penalty for turning down roles. The California Supreme Court ruled in her favor in what became known as the De Havilland Law, which loosened the grip studios had on their actors.

In 1952 Olivia's handprints and footprints and handprints were added to a concrete slab at Grauman's Chinese Theater, and in 1960 she was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was awarded Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2017 by Queen Elizabeth II.

Watch a few of Olivia de Havilland's movies or read a biography about her on Hoopla.