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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Almost - But Not Quite

I haven't posted to PlainTalk for a few days because I've been frantically tying up the loose ends of our new Web site. We sure had hoped to have it finished by May 28, 2008 - however, if you have any experience with Web site design, you know things rarely go according to plan. So, we're asking for your patience for just a few more days, with a new launch date of Monday, June 2, 2008. It's disappointing to me, as I'm just about to celebrate my one year anniversary at DPPL and was looking forward to the new Web site as the culmination of 365 days' worth of work. However, chin up -- now it will simply be the culmination of 369 days of work! Don't worry, the old site won't disappear until the new one is ready, so our "virtual branch" will always be here for you. Wait for'll be worth it!

Karen McBride,
Web Services Librarian
Des Plaines Public Library

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Countdown to a new DPPL Web site

Did any of our sharp-eyed PlainTalk readers notice that our blog got a little bit of a makeover earlier this week? Just a subtle change from shades of green to shades of blue, but there's method behind my madness. In just a few days, the Des Plaines Public Library will be rolling out a brand new Web site for you. While celebrating our 100th anniversary last year, we made a commitment to also "Create the Future," and part of that future is a new, completely redesigned and enhanced Web site for you, the people who use it.

Why a new Web site? Our current Web site has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. In the beginning, when the site was small, it was easy to add a new page and then provide a link to it on a prominent place on the home page. But as page after page got added on, the home page was getting difficult to organize and the site difficult to navigate. So now we've got a clean slate on which to build, with a lovely and elegant new logo to let you know you've found the Des Plaines Public Library online.

We've also added lots of fun and useful new features - we hope the new Web site is a place that you will enjoy visiting and spending time, much like the library's building on Ellinwood Street. Wait until you see our new Children's section. With cute animation and graphics designed to make kids feel like they're in our youth department, even children too young to read will learn about the library while having fun with hippos, giraffes and leaping fish. You can see some of these darling cartoon characters at the top of this post. Teens will be getting an entirely redesigned section soon, too, and the designers are fast at work on a Web site with funky, hand-drawn graphics and less formal language, where we hope teens will feel welcome.

What else is new? A "Starting Places" section points specific types of library users in the right direction, with links for kids, teens, parents, adults, seniors and others. Our Event calendar listings have been made more specific, so you can go right to events for kids, teens or adults. Our Readers' Service section has been greatly expanded into "Read/Watch/Listen," because that department also covers movies and music. One really exciting new service will be "Positively Ellinwood Street," a blog written by our Readers' Service employees. They will tell you all about what new books and movies are coming, as well as sharing their recommendations and reviews with you, filling you in on our book discussion groups and more. Don't get hung up on what a "blog" is -- it's just a new, instant way of publishing information on the Web. I'm delighted that my colleagues in Readers' Services are about to become Internet "content creators" - not just surfing the 'Net, but, um, stocking it with new stuff, too!

Our blogs, videos and other news will have a special home on our new site, labelled "What's New." In an effort to let you get to know us better, we've also included more photographs on the site, and lots of "email us" links so you can communicate with us.

When can you expect to see the new Web site? Within the coming week. If all goes as scheduled, head to on Thursday, 5/29/2008, and you should find our new "virtual branch" waiting for you. We'll let you try it for a few weeks, then we'll want to hear your comments and feedback, so watch for an online survey, too. In the meantime, I'd better get back to work - putting together a new Web site isn't easy but it sure has been challenging and rewarding, and I hope you are proud of and happy with the results!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Library News Updates!

It's a busy Monday morning and I've got all the news that's fit to print.

First of all, congratulations to the Book Babes (forgive me for being self-congratulatory with that statement!), our Relay for Life team. The Book Babes were the top fundraising team for this year's Relay for Life Des Plaines/Park Ridge, earning Gold Level team status by raising $5254,00 and counting...(we're selling baked good and candy in the staff lunch room right now!) To the right you can see the truly dedicated members of the Book Babes who did the entire 12 hours of Relay for Life: Linda Knorr, Eileen Gladish, Gail Bradley, Joanie Sebastian, Veronica Schwartz (our fearless leader) and Kathy Kyrouac. What I want to know is: how do these women look so radiant and happy after 12 hours of walking and trying to stay warm in the wee hours of the morning? Proof that doing good for people is better than any beauty product on the market. It may also be the magic cookie bars that Linda made...

Other library members of the Book Babes included Francine Gralak and her daughter Kat, Pat Horn, Bob Blanchard, and yours truly, along with Bonnie Gaynor. All of us were grateful that our library buddies and family members came out to cheer us on, too. We walked, we sold raffle tickets and baked goods, we bought raffle tickets and snacks from other teams, we even bounced in the Moon Walk and hula hooped (hooray for the Web Services Hula Hoop Team!). I hope to have a short video to share with you later this week, featuring not only the Book Babes but many of the other Relay for Life teams and events.

Now -- I said I had all the news, so here's item number 2. The Library has distributed the last of the CFL bulbs that we had. The City of Des Plaines has a small supply left, so if you'd still like to get your three, free CFL bulbs, call the City first before arriving. We regret that the Library has no more bulbs to share, but we were excited to see how many people in Des Plaines want to take part in saving energy and becoming more "green."

News Flash Number Three: speaking of going green, we want to give you advance notice that the Library will soon be selling good quality, reusable tote bags for just ONE DOLLAR. That's right. Just a buck. Not too many useful things you can get for a dollar these days. But it's important to us to stop choking the Earth with plastic bags that don't decompose in landfills - we want to leave a positive legacy behind for the children we serve in our Youth Services department today, and that legacy doesn't include mountains of trash. So we'll be making these new, large and sturdy bags available to you for just one dollar. How can we do that? By buying responsibly and through a very generous donation from our amazing Friends of the Library. Watch this space for more information about the bags as soon as they arrive.

TA DA! News Flash Number Four: A reminder that the Memorial Day holiday falls on Monday, May 26 this year, so the Library will be closed next Sunday, May 25 and Monday, May 26, in observance. We will reopen on Tuesday, May 27 at 9 AM. We hope that you and yours have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend, with time to reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day.

That's all for now but if it's this busy on Monday, you know there will be more news later this week.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Meet the Book Babes at Relay for Life 2008!

Come on out to the Des Plaines/Park Ridge Relay for Life, Friday, May 16, beginning at 6 p.m. at Maine West High School in Des Plaines. This is the sixth year the library's team "The Book Babes" have been not just raising funds, but crushing the competition, in my humble opinion. Maybe that's just pride talking, because this year, I'm honored to be babe-a-licious enough (or, perhaps, bookish enough?) to be part of the library team. Want to help us make a difference? There are lots of ways to get involved.

You can make an online donation through our team's Web site: The Book Babes.
So far we have raised just over $4,000.00.

You can also come out to the Relay event and buy raffle tickets, snacks, luminaria and other items -- all proceeds going straight to Relay for Life. Our own team is raffling off an iPod Shuffle with a $25 iTunes gift card; a Gevalia coffee maker; and a beautiful necklace of freshwater pearls from a well-known local jeweler. We're also supplying the sweet treats to keep Relay walkers on their feet, so stop by the Book Babes booth for cookies, brownies, candy and more, with every penny benefiting cancer research. Can't make it? Keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we spend a chilly night "bookin' for the cure."

Making this year's Relay extra special for us is that we're walking in honor of four of our co-workers, all cancer survivors and we're just overwhelmingly delighted about that:
From left to right: Kathy Kyrouac, our Webmaster; Pat Horne, one of our Children's Librarians; Bob Blanchard, Adult Services Librarian (aka "Johnny Bulb-Head"); and Barbara Saletnik, from Circulation Services.

Many of the Book Babes walk because we also have family members, friends and loved ones who have been lost to cancer or, on a more hopeful note, who have survived cancer thanks to the marvelous research being done for a cure. When I visited the Book Babes at Relay last year, I had already experienced the pain of losing two good friends to this terrible illness, but more recently had celebrated with another close friend upon his recovery. Since last year's Relay, my own father has been diagnosed with cancer, but after only a short round of treatment, he is doing better than ever. That tells me that the research and hard work is paying off, and made me determined to lend my own efforts to the cause of the Book Babes and Relay for Life. So please come out and see us tomorrow, Friday, May 16, 2008, at Maine West High School, 1755 S. Wolf Road in Des Plaines. We'll be setting up shop and opening for business around 6 p.m. and your favorite library folks would love it if you said hello. I'll try to post more pictures and an update over the weekend.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Don't forget to pick up your free CFL bulbs

The library has received a second shipment of CFL bulbs to share with Des Plaines residents. If you didn't receive yours during our first giveaway, on Earth Day, stop by soon - bulbs are almost GONE. In fact, between April 22-23 this year, we gave away 5,000 bulbs and we have distributed more than 2,000 bulbs in the past week.

Every Des Plaines household is eligible to receive THREE free CFL bulbs, a real value considering the price of these bulbs at retail stores. Light bulbs are available at the Information/Registration Desk on the library's first floor. Please make sure you take an informational handout with your bulbs. The handout contains important information on proper disposal of the bulbs after they burn out. CFL bulbs contain small amounts of mercury and care must be taken when disposing of them. They may not be placed in your regular garbage pick-up, and please take care to keep the bulbs away from children and pets. There are plenty of drop-off locations available so disposing of the bulbs is very convenient - and, CFLs last so much longer than regular bulbs, you won't need to dispose of them for a long, long time.

Bulbs are going fast and when they're gone, they're gone. So come in and get yours today, and while you're here, say hello and check out some new books, DVDs or CDs.
The bulbs, which are being used to reduce energy and prevent greenhouse gas emissions, were made available to Des Plaines as a member of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus through a grant from the Northern Illinois Energy Project (NIEP) and the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NIEP). For even more information on how to "go green," use our helpful Web guide and watch for the City of Des Plaines' "DEEP GREEN" programs, at locations throughout the city.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Celebrating our Volunteers

Earlier this month, the Des Plaines Public Library paid tribute to some very special people - our volunteers, who put in countless hours of hard work and dedicated service to keep the library running efficiently. As our Head of Public Information, Heather Imhoff, said at the luncheon, we truly could not manage without our volunteers. Some make sure that the library's hundreds of thousands of items are correctly placed on the shelves. Others help out with interlibrary loan tasks, reference projects and cleaning - you have no idea how dusty library shelves can get! We're so grateful to these folks and it was our pleasure to provide a lunch for them, along with some keepsake gifts, and - a little entertainment, in the form of Wii bowling on the library's awesome big projection screen. Next time you see someone working in the library stacks, ask if they're a volunteer, and if so, give them a big "thank you." It takes a generous person to work so hard without the benefit of a paycheck or other "perks." Interested in becoming a library volunteer? We need you! More information on our volunteer positions can be found here, along with an application form.

Hey - I just noticed that this is my 101st PlainTalk post! How am I doing? Do you like the library's blog? Is it helpful and interesting? Do you have suggestions for future columns or regular features? Please post a comment here and let me know what you think. Or, if you'd prefer to send a private message, email me at I hope that you enjoy reading PlainTalk and pretty soon, you'll be able to double your fun. When we unveil our completely new Web site at the end of May, we'll also be introducing a different kind of library blog, "Positively Ellinwood Street." PlainTalk is a general blog about the library and also about the Des Plaines community. Positively Ellinwood Street will be written by our Readers' Services staff, the people who are totally in the know when it comes to what to read, watch or listen to next. Positively Ellinwood Street will contain reviews, recommendations, information about book discussion groups, lists of soon to be released books, movies and music and, well, a lot more. Our new Web site is coming in just a few weeks and I'll tell you more about it soon. But please let me know what you think of PlainTalk so far. I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

DPPL People - Meet Joanne Griffin!

It's May and that means it's time for another edition of DPPL People, this time featuring Reference librarian Joanne Griffin, who also happens to be the library's liaison to the Des Plaines business community. You will often find Joanne assisting patrons at the fourth floor Reference Desk, and she is also an active member of the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce - you may remember her star turn in last year's series of library videos spotlighting local businesses (which can you find on PlainTalk TV).

Joanne takes an active role in the library's Green Team, too, and was a huge help to me when we recently decided to create an online index of "Green" resources and an expanded business/career section for our new Web site. Say hello to Joanne the next time you're in the library, but in the meantime, you can learn more about her by reading her answers to our DPPL People Questionnaire, down below. Every month we spotlight a different library employee, so remember to check back at PlainTalk frequently!

Three words that describe your current state of mind are…
Only two come to mind and they seem to be opposites. Centered and questioning.

What is your most treasured possession? The 2 sharpest knifes in my kitchen.

What is your greatest extravagance? My garden.

Who are your favorite writers? I read a lot of mysteries, my favorites are those set in foreign countries. Years ago my favorite writers were Alice Hoffman, Isabel Allende. But lately I don’t necessarily have strong favorites. It is a little like asking a parent to choose their favorite child.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction (in writing, film, drama)? Well, I recently saw a copy of A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole sitting at the Reader’s Services desk and was reminded how much I loved reading this tragic comic book about the people you never meet when you visit New Orleans and was mesmerized by the main character Ignatius J. Reilly. Overweight, underemployed, living with his eccentric mother he falls into one adventure after another with a cast of other eccentric characters. It was like watching an accident yet I kept rooting for him.

Name three persons/characters from history with whom you would like to have dinner. Queen Elizabeth I of England a survivor who kept reinventing herself and took England from a tiny island nation to a world power.

Who are your heroes in real life? If I named someone it would be Billy Jean King who really changed the world of sports for women. It is one thing to strive to create a career for yourself but another to envision changes that others in the future will reap the benefit of.

But I think heroes are often unnamed or unknown. A friend once told me a story about her boss who was the first woman who reached a higher, male only position at a major Chicago bank (Continental Bank, I think). She told my friend that being in that position gave you the privilege to eat lunch in a private lunchroom. She said that as she first walked down the center aisle of the lunchroom all the men gave her a frosty stare.
In my personal life, one of my heroes is my sister-in-law. She is a great mother and was a wonderful daughter-in-law to my mother.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? “Greatest love” sounds so potentially tragic: like Romeo and Juliet. I can tell you about my latest love. My brother’s family have a new dog called Trixie. She is half Cocker Spaniel and half Dachshund and is always very happy to see me.

Who is your favorite artist? I don’t have a favorite artist but I do have a favorite painting. Jules Breton’s The Song of the Lark somehow seems to resonate with my personal ‘story’.

Who is your favorite musician? I like music but I am not possessive about it. I like many types of music but the “harder” the rock the less I like it. I like the soundtrack from the Chinese movie In the Mood for Love. It has Latin jazz, traditional Chinese, a mix of modern and old. I like the music of a modern Polish composer Henryk Gorecki, particularly Symphony 3 - Sorrowful Songs. I like a French singer called Patricia Kaas. My musical tastes are eclectic.

The quality you admire most in a man is… a man who really likes women of all ages, really likes the gender. Sort of the opposite of a misogynist.

The quality you admire most in a woman is… confidence in herself.

Biggest pet peeve? I’m sure I have peeves but I don’t think I have a pet peeve.

Favorite food? When I was younger I used to love cheesecake and blue cheese and I never ate beef. Now I like many different foods in moderation. What I really like is a well prepared food. I would much rather have smaller portions of well prepared meals than a lot of cafeteria food.

What three words would your closest friends use to describe you? Loyal, funny and curious. At least my husband thinks I am funny.

Why did you choose to work in a library? Well, as you can see from my answers. You can’t pin me down. I don’t like to have “one” favorite. I’m a generalist and a public library is a great place to be if you are a generalist.

What is your favorite thing about the Des Plaines Public Library? It doesn’t rest on its laurels but is always trying to improve.

Name one, and only one, "desert island" book, CD or movie. Only one. I would take a randomly selected volume of the World Book encyclopedia. But not the X, Y or Z volumes that are smaller. I’d like the variety of topics even in a single volume.

The movie of your life – who plays the role of you and what song plays over the closing credits?
Someone with a French accent, maybe Catherine Deneuve or Juliette Binoche and some Debussy over the credits.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

What's Happening This Month at DPPL - May edition

How on earth did May get here so quickly? I was starting to think that the mountain of snow I gazed upon outside my office window was never going to melt and then I woke up to tulips. In order to keep you posted on events and programs at the library, I've been making you little preview videos every month and posting them here in PlainTalk. Have you watched them? What do you think? They're just meant to be short and sweet, to whet your appetite for music, art, politics, book talks, whatever we're doing in the next few weeks. Of course, if you need all the details, you will always find them on our Events calendar. You can register online through the calendar for those programs that require registration, but remember - many of our programs are drop in as you are and all of them are free. Can't beat that, given how the prices of so many other items and services are skyrocketing! So, check out our "What's Happening" video for the month of May, and scroll down the page on PlainTalk and watch our video recap of "Do the Dewey," too. You'll see how much fun we had entertaining a library full of guests and we hope it inspires you to join us next Spring for Dewey '09.