Some people live for opening up the crisp pages of a brand new story they can dive into. In my youth, I could relate to that. I devoured new book after new book. As I aged, however, I saw that habit change. Of course, I still pick up a new book occasionally, but if you were to ask me what I am reading now, nine times out of ten, I’ll say I’m re-reading one of my favorites.


Generally speaking, my genre of choice is Juvenile and Young Adult supernatural/fantasy fiction. Contemporary titles have never been my thing, because we live in a contemporary world filled with a gamut of experiences and emotions, reading about it has never kept my interest. The books that have caught my eye and embedded themselves inside my soul all have had some element of fantasy, witty dialogue, hints of romance and hope.


Some would say, what’s the point of re-reading a book? You’ve read it already. You know the beginning, middle and end. Why pick it up again? To each their own, but in my opinion, that’s the best thing about re-reading. You know the journey you’re in for. You know the feelings you’ll experience while following the hero of the novel through their journey. And best of all, re-reading your favorite book brings back all the memories of reading it the first time.

Currently, I’m re-reading Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I remember the first time I read it as an advanced reading copy prior to the novel’s publication in 2005. My mother brought it home like she had so many other advanced readers through the years thanks to her job as a youth services secretary at a local library. There was no hoopla surrounding this book or the unknown author who wrote it. Of course, I immediately got sucked into the charm of Twilight just a few months before the rest of the world would get Twilight fever.  

Like many, I fell in love with Edward Cullen hard, and even bought an early run T-shirt, released through Stephenie Meyer’s site, proclaiming me part of the I Love Edward Cullen Fan Club. I haven’t worn that shirt in a while, but I can’t part with it, because of the impact Twilight made on me. I remember reading it for the first time and how much joy it brought to me then, and during countless re-reads. 


Reading Twilight brings me back to one specific day. I had finished the book and fully fallen in love with every aspect of it. On a very special day in October, I believe, of 2005, Stephenie Meyer was on her first book tour, going to Barnes and Noble Booksellers around the United States talking up her vampire romance. Twilight fever hadn’t hit the world yet, so my local Barnes and Noble in Old Orchard Shopping Center had set up about 20 chairs between the stairs and the opening to the kids section. There was a table set up no more than six feet away from the first row of chairs, where Stephenie and her publicist sat. The crowd wasn’t large. I honestly don’t remember there being more than ten people there: my mom and I, a woman who clearly hadn’t read the book and was just there for the autograph, and maybe three or four others. I believe Stephenie read some of Twilight to us and then took a moment to answer questions. 


What I remember most about that event, however, is going up to the table to get my book signed by Stephenie Meyer herself. This woman, who had written a book based on a simple, but vivid dream and had no idea that just a few short months later, she’d be the author everyone was talking about, was sitting at an uninspiring table, looking a bit out of her element, looking almost as nervous as I was, a junior in college, who was, in a word, starstruck. In hindsight, I know exactly what I would say to her now, but in the moment, all I could do was compliment her on her book. 


Standing in front of her, Stephenie tried to make small talk with me for a moment. “You look kind of like Bella,” she said with a smile. I don’t remember what I said back to her, probably something boring like ‘thank you,’ but that compliment is one I will never forget. I mean, when the author of one of your favorite books tells you you look like the main character--you remember it forever. I’d like to think that when Stephenie and the producers were casting the film version of Twilight, she thought back to the day she met a short brunette girl with porcelain skin and a heart shaped face at one of her first book signings.


The time I could have chatted with her would have been such a gift--one that will never come around again, because the world, like me, fell in love with her Twilight Saga. The green author I met that day at the signing is long gone and my chance to really talk to her about her books went away with her. That being said, I still love that day and re-reading Twilight, especially re-reading the book she signed, always brings me back to this moment when I actually met Stephenie. 


If I’m being honest, I am a different person now than in 2005, when I first read Twilight and had this signing experience. I’ve grown and, honestly, will tell you straight out that I hold the sequels and movies in far less regard than the book that started it all. Even so, that doesn’t make Bella being asked out to the Sadie Hawkins-style dance repeatedly to Edward’s delight, any less fun.


Re-reading your favorite books not only transports you back to a story you love, but also to the place you were when you were reading it. That is one of the joys of re-reading that doesn’t get discussed as often as it should. Maybe your favorite title is one you read around your wedding day. Or, sadly, around the time a loved one passed away. Maybe your favorite book was given to you by a very dear friend and is a reminder of their love. Re-reading can bring up to the surface so many memories and feelings you may not have thought or felt for a while. 


Twilight isn’t the only book I love to revisit. I’ve re-read The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper numerous times since I picked up The Grey King as a sixth grader. The Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger is one I enjoy revisiting as well. The same goes for the fantastic series Vampirates by Justin Somper, the poorly named, but oh so good, Immortal Beloved series by Cate Tiernan, and my favorite of all of Stephenie Meyer’s books, The Host.


I want to set a challenge for you. Take a minute and think about a book or books you haven’t read in a while. Books you loved. Books that made an impact on you. Next time you’re looking for something to read, consider re-reading one of the books that came to mind. Take notice of the emotions or memories that come up while re-reading the title. Enjoy the reunion with whatever book you choose, because it’s sure to be an adventure, even if it’s the second, third, or the hundredth time.

  Adult Services Assistant Librarian Ashley Brooke Sero


Hello Neighbors,

As a part-time employee of the Barrington Area Library, I am used to having my extra time taken up at home engaging with my three young children. However, as many have done during quarantine times, we desired to address a few back burner projects. One of the more manageable projects was to improve our home’s landscaping. Undertaking this endeavor could not be done without the kids, so, I needed to find ways to involve them while still completing the tasks. What I discovered through experience and research is sure to benefit our family, and hopefully yours, for many seasons to come.

Lesson One: Let them dig and dump!
The boys were well-pleased with using small shovels and their construction toys as equipment, alongside me as I was digging holes. At times they even wanted to use their “Super Gecko” muscles and push on the shovel with me. Another task they loved was dumping all of the mulch and rocks like it was a worksite. When they were bored, they would then wander off to other parts of the yard. Let us not forget that all of this gardening is exercise, so it wears them out!

Lesson Two: Explain things and ask them questions.
Despite things taking longer, these two simple interactions go a long way toward their education and enthusiasm for the job. Before bed we would talk even more when I would ask what they had fun doing and what portions they were not fond of. This is also a great way to expand upon their interest and find books which cover topics like bugs, dirt, animals, flowers, science, etc.

Lesson Three: Consult online resources.
I admit this was something that only happened after the outside work was nearing completion, but I am happy to have found these online resources. It allows me to focus on repetition and retention of all the knowledge that was learned. A fantastic website is Looking under the “Educational Resources” tab, one will find parent and teacher resources, book lists, activities, and lesson plans among other topics. The next menu selection is “Gardening Toolbox,” which is beyond description. It works as a supplement to the educational resources and covers topics ranging from photosynthesis and square foot gardening, to nutrition, and creating storybook gardens.

The second site to visit is the PBS parents website. There is a terrific article on how children are affected mentally, physically and emotionally by gardening. At the bottom of the article there are more PBS-related resources and videos.

I hope you all enjoyed this little post and that you find it beneficial in some way. Don’t forget to get those pumpkin seeds started if you want to skip the public patch this fall. Two pumpkin links are: and

Stay safe,

Melissa Potoczek-Fiskin
Melissa is an Adult Services Assistant Librarian who has been working in libraries since 2008. She began working at Fox Lake District Library and later moved to the Barrington Area Library in 2017. Sharing ancestry knowledge and know-how alongside Kate Mills is her work passion. When outside of the library, one will find her playing and reading with her three children. Their favorite family pastimes are gardening, cooking, and exercise in some form.

The world of Kpop is a fascinating one, filled with exciting concepts, slightly scandalous agency practices and above all, amazing dance moves. Becoming an idol in Korea is very different than what you would experience in the United States. After a potential idol is accepted into an agency like SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, JYP Entertainment or one of the smaller agencies, it can take years of training before they make their debut. Some trainees, as they are called, never even get to the point of debuting. It’s a long, hard road that takes hours of practice and training in singing, dancing and acting. But for the lucky ones, all this training is worth it, as they eventually debut as a soloist or part of a group. One article stated that on average 100 groups debut in South Korea every year, but less than 5% survive.


You’d think an idol who has debuted would have it easy, but that’s when the real work begins. Usually, the group has a concept and songs given to them by their agency. They work on a solo track or mini album, shoot their music video and then promote it on a variety of shows to get their song in front of as many people as possible. For many, even if this sounds exhausting, the hard work is worth it if it means achieving their dream of being an idol.

Believe it or not, Kpop idols come from all over the word, even Chicago! NCT 127’s Johnny is Chicago born and raised and was scouted through a worldwide talent search hosted by one of the big three agencies, SM Entertainment, in 2007 at the age of 12 and has been active (ie: no longer training) in the kpop world since 2017. Chicagoan Johnny is seen on the top left of the photo below. His fellow bandmates Mark, Yuta and Win Win come from Canada, Japan and China, respectively. And that’s just in one band-- there are actually quite a few idols who were born outside of South Korea.

NCT 127

While all idol groups are unique, one thing that is the same across the board is the importance of being well-trained in dancing. Many kpop music videos showcase their idols doing intense, synchronized dance routines that are then studied and covered by kpop fans around the world. The style is similar to old school American boy bands, like Backstreet Boys or N’Sync, but kpop groups take their dancing to a whole new level with their stylized hip-hop and jazz funk moves. Moves flow into one another, which few bands outside of South Korea have ever achieved.

At Barrington Area Library, we’re doing our best to embrace the kpop wave. You can download songs from the ever popular BTS through Hoopla today, as well as some other kpop groups and covers. Not only that, but we recently hosted two kpop dance tutorials during our virtual Fandom Fest. Taught by Katie Moffitt, dance teacher at Surpreme Dance Studio and member of kpop dance group Prism Kru, we learned choreography to Kill This Love by BlackPink and Boy With Luv by BTS.



Perfect your moves on demand by watching these panels and more from Fandom Fest on YouTube right now! We'd like to thank everyone who celebrated some of our favorite fandoms with us doing BALibrary Fandom Fest! It was a blast and we hope you come to celebrate with us again next year!


  Adult Services Assistant Librarian Ashley Brooke Sero


Hello Neighbors,

Today, I will look at a sanity-saving activity my husband and I implemented to get us through these unprecedented times. In order to still feel like there was a world outside of our home, and to give us time to converse without the kids hanging on us like trees, we used car-contained travels. There really is not much one has to do, but in order to make it fun, we would use two websites to add interest for our adult minds. The two websites we consistently use are the McHenry County Scenic Drives webpage and the Historical Marker Database. I will provide all the links at the end of this post. Along the way we discovered many things while we played car games, talked, and took in the scenery.

Two establishments we found while driving the scenic roads are a cheesery and a berry farm. The cheesery is run by the young Sass family who are farmers in the Crystal Lake/Marengo area. If there wasn’t a photo of their roadside sign on their blog page and instagram account, we would have never known this existed. The Heider’s Berry Farm in Woodstock is another destination which has a great roadside sign you cannot miss. Besides the two businesses, we also drove Dick Tracy Way in Woodstock and experienced Chicago, empty, before their major shutdown.

If you are like me and you get excited seeing historical markers, then the Historical Marker Database is the place for you! This website is phenomenal! From their menu selection you are able to choose four ways of searching: current location, geographical list, 44 groups for series, and 68 categories for topic. The website provides a great photo of all the markers if you don’t want to get out of your car, or cannot because of a busy road. Three markers we saw were Alan Pinkerton’s house and Cooperage in West Dundee, a sign post discussing the expansion of Illinois’s northern border in Hebron, and we also stumbled upon the Goodrich Homestead. This last one is still an occupied residence so we did not stop outside.

I hope this provides you with some ideas and can add some extra interest to your next car ride!

Stay Safe,

Melissa Potoczek-Fiskin
Melissa is an Adult Services Assistant Librarian who has been working in libraries since 2008. She began working at Fox Lake District Library and later moved to the Barrington Area Library in 2017. Sharing ancestry knowledge and know-how alongside Kate Mills is her work passion. When outside of the library, one will find her playing and reading with her three children. Their favorite family pastimes are gardening, cooking, and exercise in some form.

Sunshine in your hair, tiny crumbs of dark earth beneath your fingernails, the buzzing of a bee as it flits about from bloom to bloom.  It's the time of year that avid gardeners dream about.  Welcome to the perfect days of mid-June.

However, it goes without saying that summer 2020 is unlike any we have witnessed in living memory.  Backyards and patios are open, but our summer pastimes have been placed on hold.  As the country struggles with a new illness and old racial unrest, I’ve turned to my veggie plot to keep me grounded (literally).  As I struggle to understand my place in this new world, the silence of the garden provides me a place to think.  I take in the fresh air, let go of my fears.  I find solace that even amid the uncertainty, basic truths still stand.  The earth is fertile and the clouds bring rain.  The number of new flower containers and veggie plots in my neighborhood makes me wonder exactly how many folks out there are feeling the same pull towards nature.  

It's possible you're one of those people.  Perhaps you have fond memories of a grandparent growing loads of fragrant basil, or biting into a fresh picked raspberry and having it stain your fingers red.   Or maybe you just need a new hobby since sports are canceled.  Regardless of your motivation, Zen or otherwise, it's not too late.  Even if you aren’t ready to commit to an entire plot or raised bed, a single tomato plant grown in a container can provide you with a sweet burst of pure deliciousness.  Just as rewarding is the pride that comes from nurturing a plant from seedling to harvest. 


What You’ll Need:

  • A sunny spot
  • Water
  • Soil
  • A container for the soil (if you’re not planting directly into the ground)
  • Seeds or veggie plants  


Best plants for you to grow:  

Grow something you will eat.  Many beginner gardening articles praise the ease of growing radishes or starting onions from sets (that’s the lingo for baby onion bulbs).  Forgive me, but I’ve never been excited to eat either one of those on their own.  They have their place in the kitchen, but they are never going to inspire the next generation of home gardeners.


Ivy’s recommended plants for beginners:

TOMATOES.  Once you’ve grown your own tomatoes, you will never want to eat a hothouse grown fruit ever again.  Now that the night-time temperatures are above 50 degrees, this is a great beginner option.  While it’s too late in the year to plant seeds, your local greenhouse or home improvement store should still have a nice selection of plants.  Look for plants with fresh green leaves near the top.  Tiny yellow flowers mean you’ll have a harvest sooner than later.  If the plant seems rather tall, or leggy, don’t fret.  Run your finger along the stem.  Feel those tiny hairs?  If you plant that stem deep into your soil, they will turn into roots.  More roots lead to more flavor.  

ZUCCHINI.  This versatile vegetable is very easy to grow, as long as you have enough space.  Zucchini can still be started by seed for another week or two.  Otherwise purchase a small plant and expect it to quadruple in size over the next two months.  Zucchini can be eaten raw or cooked, turned into noodles, and roasted nicely in the oven or on the grill.  The yellow flowers are also edible, and considered a deep fried delight in the Italian countryside.

HERBS.  Basil, parsley, cilantro, mint, and sage are all quite easy to grow in a container.  If you happen to have a sunny spot near your kitchen, it's very satisfying to go outside and pick your ingredients leaf by leaf.  Just keep in mind that mint is invasive, so don’t plant it directly into the ground.


If you discover you have a green thumb,  BALibrary is here to help.  We have a wide range of gardening titles that you can put on hold and pick up in the parking lot starting June 15th.  Are you a visual learner?  We have streaming video options as well!  Kanopy has a six episode series of The Great Courses', “How to Grow Anything”.  For those of you that prefer e-books, don’t fret.  We’ve got you covered with Overdrive.


Happy Gardening!

  Adult Services Assistant Librarian Ivy Dally


For five years now, Barrington Area Library has celebrated fandoms of all kinds through events that focused on Doctor Who and Star Wars back in the day to what has become a highlight of the year for so many of our customers and staff, BALibrary Comic Con. While we can't geek out on our fandoms in the same way we normally would this June, the planning committee was determined to save this event from cancellation. Why? Because the world needs it. 

Celebrating your fandom, whether it’s Harry Potter, Anime, Supernatural, Kpop, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Sherlock, Star Trek, is such a wonderful way to lift your spirits, spread a little of that good, excited energy to others and maybe help brighten their day in the process. We’ve all had those days where we just aren’t having any of it. We want to just sit in a chair, frown and feel generally down. It’s in those times where your passions, in this case your passion for whatever fandom you love, really can be a lifesaver. 

For me, when I’m having a crummy day or am out of sorts, I know all I need to do to cheer up a bit is turn on Supernatural. It instantly makes me feel good watching the show’s brothers, Dean and Sam, continuing the family business of saving people and hunting (supernatural) things. (And incidentally is available at the library and highly recommended! You won’t regret hopping on this 15 season train.) Debating with others in person, through zoom meet ups or even just by posting about it on my social media also helps and could very much be helping others who are just as uplifted by the fandom.

For you, it could be re-reading your favorite Harry Potter book or watching ‘your’ Doctor in Doctor Who. It could be debating over whether Wyatt or Flynn is the best man for Lucy to fall for in Timeless or fantasy planning your trip to Once Upon a Time's Storybrooke, so you can have a hot cocoa from Granny’s. Whatever it is, we wanted to make sure we gave everyone the chance to celebrate their fandom, even when faced down by the villain we’re currently up against.

So, get your cosplay ready, because we’re not throwing in the towel! This year's planning committee has pulled out all the stops for our first ever Virtual Fandom Fest!  June 15-June 19, we’ll be celebrating fandoms of all kinds through video panels and live discussions that are sure to get you in the comic con mindset! Panels include a live discussion with one of the top cosplay groups in the area, Age of the Geeks, two stellar kpop dance tutorial from dance teacher Katie Moffitt to get you moving (class 1, class 2), a crash course in the art of airbrush by Christopher Messer and a live discussion with Chicago’s very own Chicago United Quidditch team, who will be talking about the ins and outs of quidditch in real life. We’ll also have storytimes for the younger set and some awesome craft projects you can do at home.

We encourage everyone to get into the Fandom Fest spirit and interact with us throughout the panels and on social media! Take that cosplay out of retirement for the cosplay panel, wear your house colors for the quidditch panel-- let’s have fun with it!

For exact panel times and information on how and where to find our Fandom Fest programming, visit our website. Have questions? We’re here to answer them-- just email us at In times of darkness and confusion, coming together to celebrate what we love is the best medicine and Fandom Fest aims to fill that prescription! We’re excited to bring Fandom Fest to you all and hope you’re excited, too!

  Adult Services Assistant Librarian Ashley Brooke Sero


During the upcoming summer months, as we work toward safely reopening the Library building and offering more in-person services, our Adult Services staff members were eager for an opportunity to share ideas and inspiration with you. So welcome to The 505: Dispatches from the (Virtual, for the moment) Reference Desk!

We thought you might enjoy meeting our team of writers in this first post. Then watch for new posts with creative ideas for making the most of your summer, while at home, in the backyard, or safely exploring the neighborhood. You'll find plenty of book suggestions, too, of course!

Sam Adams-Lanham
Sam is a Community Engagement Librarian, reader, people person, dog-lover, gardener, spouse, empty-nest mom. Curious by nature, working to overcome my implicit biases. Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff hybrid, so Ravenpuff? Firm believer that most answers can be found either in the library or in community. “The thing about learning is, once you’ve earned it, no one can take it away from you.” B.B. King

Ivy Dally
Ivy is an Assistant Librarian in Adult Services, as well as a member of the Gallery in the Library committee. Her reading is varied, from high fantasy to regency romance and anything that deals with mindfulness practices. When she’s not reading, you will find her writing her own novel, gardening, or trying a new project from Pinterest.

Corinne Groble
Corinne is an Adult Services Librarian who oversees the Homebound delivery service and senior services at the Library. She enjoys reading non-fiction, especially nature and science books, and also door-stopper fantasy novels.

Liz Kirchhoff
Liz Kirchhoff is an Adult Services Librarian, responsible for ordering e-books, fiction, and audiobooks, as well as coordinating book-related programming. She reads for a national genre book award committee, so you can usually find her with a romance, mystery, science fiction, or fantasy title in hand.

Melissa Potoczek-Fiskin
Melissa is an Adult Services Assistant Librarian who has been working in libraries since 2008. She began working at Fox Lake District Library and later moved to the Barrington Area Library in 2017. Sharing ancestry knowledge and know-how alongside Kate Mills is her work passion. When outside of the library, one will find her playing and reading with her three children. Their favorite family pastimes are gardening, cooking, and exercise in some form.

Ashley Brooke Sero
Ashley has worked around books for over 10 years, first as a bookseller, and now as an Assistant Librarian in Adult Services. Her favorite books tend to live in the realms of the magical and fantastical. Besides reading, Ashley is an avid fangirl of too many TV shows to name from here and abroad.