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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Value of a Library Card

Today's PlainTalk post features a guest writer: Veronica Schwartz, Head of Youth Services at DPPL. While preparing for "Library Card Sign-Up Month," I asked members of the library staff to share their feelings on the value of a library card. Veronica's essay captures, with warmth and enthusiasm, the life-changing experience of getting that first library card. The picture on the left is Veronica, her dad and her sister, under a stained glass panel you'll learn more about when you read her posting. Thanks, Veronica, for being PlainTalk's "guest star" today, and for all the work you do year 'round for the kids of Des Plaines and their families.

Last weekend I found a summer reading club certificate. My summer reading club certificate. From 1982. It had Pac-Man on it. For an extremely shy, introverted girl growing up in the small, semi-rural town of Adrian, Michigan, the public library housed in an old JCPenney’s building was my refuge. From a very young age, my parents frequently took my sister and me on visits to the library. And as soon as we were able to have them, our parents got us our own library cards.

The children’s department on the second floor became a second “home” for me. During the summer I loved seeing my name written on a big easel pad with a gold star next to it for every book I read. I scoured the new books shelf and carried armloads of books down the stairs during each visit. The librarians knew my name and took the time to talk to me about the books I read. The staff made me feel welcome, comfortable, important. At the library, I mattered.

Just months before graduating from college I was searching for direction for my life. Then, I remembered the staff at the public library and I knew that I wanted to become a librarian, a children’s librarian. I wanted every child who came into the library feel as important and respected as I was made to feel. So, in 1996 at the age of 23, I became a librarian.

In 1999 I was able to give a little back to the Adrian Public Library. They were looking for donors to fund a beautiful wall of stained glass “windows” featuring various children’s stories and characters. I had the privilege of funding The Ugly Duckling in memory of my mom, an avid reader and lover of the library.

To my mom and in particular to Mrs. Ehnis, Mr. Schact and Mrs. Berdyk, I say thank you for that small, paper library card that sent me down the path that led me to where I am today.

Share your feelings about the value of libraries and library cards - add your comments here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at DPPL!

"In 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim a week in September as National Hispanic Heritage Week. The observance was expanded in 1988 to a monthlong celebration (Sept. 15-Oct. 15). During this month, America celebrates the culture and traditions of U.S. residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries — Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively." (Information from the U.S. Census Bureau.)

Ready to kick up your heels and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? The Des Plaines Public Library has the perfect event for you, a live performance by Ballet Folklorico Mexico! These flamboyant, colorful and authentic performers will be at the library on Sunday, September 30 for a special family performance at 2 p.m. Continuing our theme of the value of libraries and library cards, this performance is FREE and open to all. You don't even have to register, just come to the library on Sunday, September 30 and enjoy (come early - seating is first come, first served). Bring the family, bring a friend. Ballet Folklorico Mexico's performances incorporate gorgeous costumes, folklore and traditions from many regions of Mexico. To learn more about this exciting dance troupe, visit their Web site right here.

Before or after the show, why not stop at one of our partner businesses for lunch or dinner? Don't forget, if you show your library card at one of these participating restaurants, you'll get a discount on your meal. In Library Plaza, show your library card at The Depot ($3.00 discount on any large or extra large pizza - yum!) and Quizno's (20% discount on your food order - hooray!). For an authentic taste of Mexico, to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and the performance by Ballet Folklorico Mexico, just walk across Lee Street to Mexico Restaurant - show your library card and you'll receive a 15% discount on your food order - muy bueno! (If you haven't already, watch our "Show Us Your Library Card" videos, right here in this blog, and learn more about this promotion. But hurry - Library Card Sign-Up Month ends September 30th.)

Want to learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month? Visit this terrific Web site developed by the Library of Congress:

A great site for kids to learn about Hispanic Heritage Month can be found at:

See you this Sunday, September 30 at 2 p.m. for Ballet Folklorico Mexico. Have more questions? Call the Youth Services Desk at 847-376-2839. Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Taking a swing at croquet (and bad puns...)

Last Saturday, September 8, 2007, the Des Plaines Public Library went where no library has gone before -- or at least no library of which we know -- by hosting our Centennial Croquet Tournament. 2007 is the library's Centennial Anniversary and one of Library Director Sandra Norlin's dreams for our celebration was a croquet tournament. It became quite obvious last Saturday afternoon that libraries and their communities are good at making dreams come true, and, that there's more of a demand for croquet than we could have imagined. The tournament was still taking place and inquiring minds wanted to know when we'd be holding our next one! The Library's Acting Head of Adult Services, Roberta Johnson, did much of the hard work and research necessary to make this event successful, fun and amazingly efficient - so we're not going to start bugging her about hosting another one. Not until her head stops spinning, anyway...

We told you about the tournament in a previous post, but if you couldn't make it, we hope you'll enjoy watching this slideshow of pictures from the day. The weather, iffy all summer, couldn't have been better if we'd been allowed to choose it ourselves. Glorious sunshine, a cool breeze, surprisingly few bees and 'skeeters, and roses of every hue scenting the air and dancing in the daylight. Our croquet opponents were intent on winning but good-natured in losing, and the Kiwanis Club sweetened everyone's day with genuine hand-squeezed lemonade. We want to thank our generous co-sponsors, the Des Plaines Park District, who also sent us the invaluable Josh Cantres, and G.L. Hills Funeral Homes. We thank our Board of Trustees who not only supported the event but also demonstrated their prowess on the playing field. Thanks to the local organizations who provided teams for play and, well, thanks to you, the residents of Des Plaines, for playing croquet, basking in the sunshine, grooving to the barbershop quartet, and making this a memory we'll always treasure. If you came to the tournament, whether as a competitor or spectator, we'd love to hear from you - please use the Comments feature just down below and tell us your feelings about the day. Don't forget to watch the photo montage video up above, or visit our YouTube channel.

Want to learn more about croquet so you can join in the next time there's a tournament or a friendly family game in progress? Check out these library resources (click on the links to find them in our catalog and place a hold).
  • Video "Let's Play Croquet" This VHS cassette is a beginner's guide to croquet. Learn also history of the game, equipment specifics, game rules, mallet grips, game strategy, setting up your courts, and professional tips from a tournament player.

  • Book Croquet by Steven Boga. Tips on stance, grip, and swing, plus the official rules of the U.S. Croquet Association.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Show Us Your Library Card - and here's why

We've already told you that September is "Library Card Sign-Up Month." Have you had a chance to read about the local businesses participating in our "Show Us Your Library Card" promotion? Bring your Des Plaines Public Library card with you while you're out shopping, eating, banking, or indulging in a workout or beauty treatment and you might be in for some big savings. Click here to see the full list of participants and the special values they are offering.

We've also made a fun and informative series of videos highlighting six of the local organizations joining us in this partnership. You can link to the videos from the thumbnail images just over to the right of this screen and also from our YouTube channel, PlainTalkTV. Each video features two businesses, including Lifecare Chiropractic & Wellness, A+ Nails & Spa, Mexico Restaurant, Prairie Lee Print & Frame, Mosaic Yarn Studio Ltd. and Alpine Camera. The videos were made by Joanne Griffin, our Business Librarian, and myself (your Web Services Librarian). We not only had a great time getting out in the streets and touring these businesses, but we came away very impressed by everyone we met. All of these local business people are very passionate about what they do and they take great pride in their success and the role they play in the community.

Speaking of community, don't forget that another proud and passionate community institution, your public library, is nearing its 100th birthday! Stay tuned for more details on our special Centennial Celebration, happening on Sunday, October 7, right here on Library Plaza. This past Saturday was our Centennial Croquet Tournament, and wow, did we have a great day! Watch here for a wrap-up and plenty of pictures - also, check the schedule for the Library Cable Network (Channel 24) to see their video coverage of the tournament and all of our Centennial events. In the meantime, don't forget to "Show Us Your Library Card."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

How much is your library card worth?

The American Library Association sets aside every September as "Library Card Sign-Up Month." If you don't have a card for your public library, well, it's the perfect time to get one! Of course, those of us who work in libraries have a natural appreciation for the value of a library card. How about you? Have you ever considered how much your library card is worth to you?

Your library card is a free movie ticket, an intellectual gateway, a remedy for boredom and music to your ears. Getting your books from the library is cheaper and almost always faster than even the online booksellers - and you get service from real, live, friendly people and we never charge for returns. :) (Um, we do charge when you don't return something, however...) What's better - watching a movie in a crowded, noisy cineplex with gum stuck under your chair or watching one of the library's DVDs at home, on the couch (gum optional), with your sweetie or your family, for free? Your Des Plaines Public Library card gives you immediate access to our own vast collections and those of all the other North Suburban Library System libraries. Go online through our Web site and you can search more than 20 libraries at the same time, order items through Interlibrary Loan and place holds on materials - all you need is a library card and a computer with Internet service. Your library card puts the motion into poetry, the help into self-help, and allows you to put into your own piggy bank what you might have spent on books, movies and music.

Would you like to learn just how much money you save every time you use your library card? The North Suburban Library System has developed a "Return on Investment" calculator, available right here. Next time you check out an armful of library materials, use this quick calculator to determine how much you would have had to pay for the same items if you had gone to a retailer. As the North Suburban Library System says,
"Your library is good for your community and is also good for your personal bottom line."

In celebration of Library Card Sign-Up Month, the PlainTalk blog will be featuring articles and even some videos about the value of libraries and library cards all through September. In fact, during September, you can save a whole lot more with your Des Plaines Public Library card - we've partnered with the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce & Industry and 25 local businesses to offer you discounts, special values and free gifts all month long! To see a list of participating businesses, click here. Come on, Des Plaines -- Show Us Your Library Card!

To learn more about Library Card Sign-Up Month, visit the American Library Association's Web site.