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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

DPPL People!

In my never-ending quest to bring you something new and unusual in our PlainTalk blog, welcome to the first edition of "DPPL People" (with "DPPL" pronounced "Deeple," of course).

This monthly blog post will put the spotlight on one staff member of the Des Plaines Public Library. Some will be faces you know, and perhaps even love, from our public service areas. Some will be the hardworking people behind the scenes. Each featured employee will answer a series of 19 questions, based on the well-known "Proust Questionnaire." The answers will give you, our patrons, some insight into our work, our love for books and other forms of expression, and a brief glance into what motivates us and inspires us to work in a library.

Our first featured staffer is Roberta Johnson. Roberta was recently named the library's Head of Adult Services, after serving many years as the Readers' Services Manager. You may have encountered Roberta working at the Readers' Services and Reference desks, leading a book discussion group or even taking charge of our Croquet Tournament! Read on and learn more about Roberta...

Three words that describe your current state of mind are…
Content, optimistic and ready to try something new.

What is your most treasured possession?
My house. I found this question so difficult to answer. I have art and keepsakes and photos and so forth that I love, but I would not weep to lose anything except my little two bedroom castle. I still dream once in a while that I have to move back to our apartment in Andersonville.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Japanese face cream. (You thought I was going to say shoes, didn’t you?)

Who are your favorite writers?
Living: Geraldine Brooks, Neil Gaiman and Joanna Trollope. Dead: Patrick O’Brian, Shakespeare and Robertson Davies.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction (in writing, film, drama)?
King Theoden (Lord of the Rings), Detective Arkady Renko (Gorky Park) and Dr. Stephen Maturin (Master and Commander)

Name three persons/characters from history with whom you would like to have dinner.
C. S. Lewis, Shakespeare and Galileo.

Who are your heroes in real life?
The people who don’t know they are heroic: my single friend who is raising twin boys with special needs, that Albanian guy who rescued me when my car (so stupid!) ran out of gas on the tollway, my former boss who gives money to every homeless person who asks, every single time.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My son, Ben.

Who is your favorite artist?

Who is your favorite musician?
Peter Gabriel. He's the only performer with whom I've been completely tongue-tied.

The quality you admire most in a man is?
Being a good father.

The quality you admire most in a woman is?
Being a good friend.

Biggest pet peeve?
People who are proud of their ignorance.

Favorite food?
Calamari. Ask anyone. Not only are they delicious, but you can put the little tentacles on your fork and make them dance!

What three words would your closest friends use to describe you?
I asked, and they said: smart, funny and brave. I don't think "brave"
means I'll run into a burning building, but rather that I'm willing to
put myself in new and different situations.

Why did you choose to work in a library?
I found that the library was a community center as well as a vast
collection of stories. I could satisfy my desire to own 300,000
books and also do some good for the neighborhood. Librarians
really believe in fairness and truth and sharing, even if we
occasionally get caught up in our appreciation of rules and order.

What is your favorite thing about the Des Plaines Public Library?
That we try to say "yes" to everyone.

Name one, and only one, "desert island" book, CD or movie. Only one.
The King James Bible. Though I was really tempted to say Swiss
Family Robinson by Johann Wyss. I read that over and over as a
kid, convinced that it would save my life one day. Personally, I
hope I am cast away with an endless supply of fishhooks, needles
and thread, wood, fresh water, friendly animals that let me ride
them . . .

The movie of your life: who plays the role of you and what song plays over the closing credits?
Joan Cusack, and "I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock and
Roll" by Nick Lowe.

We hope you enjoyed getting a chance to learn more about staff member Roberta Johnson. Keep reading PlainTalk every month and get to know all the DPPL People!

The lovely photo of Roberta in our Rotary Heritage Room
was taken by Readers' Services staff member David Whittingham.


  1. Dipple, not deeple.

  2. Well, by my reckoning, the "D" is pronounced "Dee," that makes it...Deeple. Your mileage may vary, but Dipple doesn't rhyme with People.

  3. A fellow staff memberFebruary 6, 2008 at 4:31 PM

    I enjoyed "getting to know" the more personal side of Roberta. We usually see mostly the professional side of her. Great picture!


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