Go West Sponsors


Cutest Kids in the World


Go West Young Mom wants to feature the Cutest Kid in Your World.  Click HERE for details.


Great Libraries! Oswego Public Library's Montgomery Campus

You know how you can be inside some libraries and almost not know whether it’s day or night? Sometimes the windows are tiny, or located very high up on the wall, or even blocked by book shelves.

The library's exterior. Photos by Tara Burghart.Now that can be a valuable quality when you’re cramming for a big test or trying to get lost in a great novel. But when I take my toddler to the library nowadays, we’re more in the mood for light and charming than dark and cozy.

Light and charming is definitely what you’ll find at the Montgomery campus of the Oswego Public Library. This location only opened about 1 ½ years ago, and it is a real beauty, with a stone front and a low-slung quality that reminded me of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style architecture. 

Inside, the library has giant windows facing to the east, west and south, and the light just pours into the building. Because there is not much development in the immediate vicinity, you have a great view of some farmfields and patches of prairie.

My daughter and I spent about 90 minutes there last month, and during that time, we watched as the sun disappeared below the horizon.  It was just a wonderful time to spend a sunny, but very chilly, afternoon.

Click to read more ...


Great Libraries! West Chicago Public Library

When I published the last edition of the “Great Libraries!” series, reader wrote in on Facebook to ask if I’d seen the train at the West Chicago Public Library. Was it a train table? A model train? A train made of Legos? Well, it was just too intriguing not to check out.

The train at the West Chicago Public Library. Photos by Tara Burghart.I knew West Chicago had strong ties to railroads. The city has a summer festival called “Railroad Days” and whenever I pass through the city, it’s clear that it has more than its share of railroad tracks and old brick depots.

But according to the city’s website, the town began to form in 1849 when a railroad line arrived from Chicago. By 1850, more lines passed through the area, creating the very first railroad junction in Illinois. As a result, the town was actually called “Junction” for about 45 years before becoming West Chicago in the 1890s.

OK. There’s some railroad history you can share with the train enthusiast in your life. But back to the library.

The train it turns out is a wooden structure in the Youth Services department that kids can play on and climb through. You can see a photo with this story. The sign says it’s for children 6 and under but it would probably most appeal to toddlers through age 3. My 2 1/2-year-old daughter certainly loved it.

Between visits to other parts of the library, she spent a total of about 30 minutes climbing through it and yelling “Choo Choo!” and trying to enlist other kids at the library to be the conductor or engineer. She’s honestly not even that into trains, but I realized what an effect “Thomas the Tank Engine” has had on her when she pointed to the front and said, “Mommy, where’s his face?”

Click to read more ...


Great Libraries! The Batavia Public Library

Some evening, I will likely tell my husband I’m going to meet a girlfriend for a movie and instead head to the Batavia Public Library and curl up on one of its window seats with a classic novel.

The "Reading Cottage" in the Batavia Public Library. Photos by Tara Burghart.Actually, my husband wouldn’t care in the least if I told him I was heading to a library to read for a solo "girl's night out." But you get the idea.

The Batavia Public Library is located in downtown in a beautiful, huge building (54,000 square feet) opened in 2002. But it has all sorts of benches, window seats and comfy chairs where you can get cozy and enjoy a good book. And you can get absolutely toasty in the gorgeous Library Leaders Reading Room, which has a fireplace.

But perhaps the absolutely best place to read is reserved for the small fry. “The Reading Cottage” is a wooden playhouse located in the Youth Services department, and it has a tiny couch and two chairs inside. I would have loved to have a place like that in my library as a kid, and my daughter loves it now. She’s one of those children who hardly ever stop moving, but when we visit the Batavia library, she is quite content hanging out in the Reading Cottage, paging through books by herself or with a new friend she’s just made. Sometimes I even get to relax on the nearby catch and read a book of my own!

Click to read more ...


Great Libraries! Messenger Public Library in North Aurora

When it comes to library buildings, it’s hard to top one that has a screened-in porch. Books + Porch = I’m in heaven!

The Messenger Public Library in North Aurora.The Messenger Public Library in North Aurora actually has two charming screened-in porches, including one in the Youth Services department. They feature wooden furniture -- one even has a swing! The porches have storm windows in right now and are open year-round, although I’m told they are indeed chilly during the depths of winter. I’m especially looking forward to visiting in the spring to read books with my daughter on the porch swing and listen to the birds singing in the nearby woods.

The Messenger Public Library is located at 113 Oak Street, right along Route 31. It’s named after Emeline Schnelder Messenger, who nurtured what was then called the North Aurora Public Library for nearly 50 years. And it has a lot more than the screened-in porches to offer.

It’s such a beautiful structure – built less than 10 years ago – that when we first moved here, I drove by numerous times and admired it before realizing it was a public library and I could go inside!

It’s a one-story building, clad in stone. There’s a “Quiet Reading Room” featuring a gorgeous stone fireplace. It has a community room that can be reserved for meetings. And it’s just one of those libraries that gives off a cheery, friendly vibe – even on the recent cold, gray day when my daughter and I visited.

Click to read more ...