Once in awhile (read: frequently) I make assumptions that get me into a jam. For example, a few weeks ago I asked one of my DPPL colleagues if she would like to be this month's featured employee in the blog. She was iffy about it, but I figured with my cheery disposition and powers of persuasion, I'd win her over to the idea.
I was wrong, and here we are, late June, with no DPPL Person. I already have someone in mind for July, but she's about to attend the American Library Association annual conference and in no mood for my prying questions. One thing I firmly decided when I started the DPPL People feature was -- no column about me. You get enough of me in the blog, the videos, etc. However, I've painted myself into this corner, and June is fading fast. I'm also hopeful that, in the same way that Katie Couric allowed her colonoscopy to be broadcast on television to prove to people that it's NOT SO BAD, if I answer these questions and plaster my own picture on the Web site, my coworkers will realize it is relatively painless and feel more comfortable when I come a-knockin' in the months ahead.
Who am I? Karen McBride, Web Services Librarian at the Des Plaines Public Library. I have worked here just over one year. When patrons meet me they often ask if I am "new." That depends on how you define "new." But I don't have much in-person contact with the public because my job focuses on our Web site and online services. I write PlainTalk and make the Library's YouTube videos. I do occasionally work at the 4th floor Reference Desk, however, and you may have met me when we were passing out CFL bulbs, or at our carnival, croquet tournament, Do the Dewey, etc. I also chair the Library's Green Team. In my previous life I worked at a college library for 16 years, and I am really enjoying the vibrant, creative environment of the Des Plaines Public Library. That's my Yahoo avatar up above -- if you want to see what I really look like, watch one of our videos or look for me in the DP 4th of July parade next month. If things go as planned, I'll be hard to miss...
Three words that describe your current state of mind are…
Worried (I've been sick since Monday and have to sing for a wedding this weekend),
What is your most treasured possession? My Christian faith, and the sense of God's abundant grace and forgiveness that comes with it.
What is your greatest extravagance? Haircare products? The occasional overpriced concert ticket or hotel stay?
Who are your favorite writers? Simon Winchester, Bill Bryson, Jeffrey Steingarten in non-fiction. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O'Connor, A.S. Byatt, Arthur Golden, Tove Jansson, William Butler Yeats - that's a good start. I tend to have favorite books/stories/poems more than favorite writers.
Who are your favorite heroes of fiction (in writing, film, drama)? I tend to fall for weak, flawed characters, none of whom are heroic in any sense. If I must pick one, it would be Snufkin, the harmonica-playing wanderer in the Finnish childrens' books about the Moomins. He's cool, he's a musician, he's mysterious and the other characters deeply admire him, but he always keeps his distance and then disappears into the mist.
Name three persons/characters from history with whom you would like to have dinner. (I wrote these questions and sometimes I'm not sure what I meant. If the person is "from history," does he/she have to be dead?) Beyond any doubt, Jesus Christ. If the others can be living people, I would of course ask Bono, and then, honestly, I'd just want one of my best friends there to share the amazing experience with me. If the remaining two choices have to be deceased people, I'd like Mozart and my grandfather, Charles Rechka.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My selfless and generous parents, particularly for the way they care for my disabled sister. Bono, for being a multimillionaire rock star who is faithful to his wife and family while also working hard that others might be healthy, well-fed and happy. Anyone who sacrifices a life of comfort and ease to work with those who are poor, sick, downtrodden, victimized, dying.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? Jesus Christ. After that, it gets complicated, so better to leave it at that.
Who is your favorite artist? I really don't have one - again, I tend to like individual works of art rather than one artist. My dream home would be outfitted with art from the Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C., which are the national museums of Asian art. There's something incredibly graceful and soothing about Asian art.
Who is your favorite musician? A question like this could drive me insane. Music is as important to me as food and water. For the sake of keeping this short, my musical heroes include but are not limited to: Bono, Sting, Justin Currie, Robin Zander, Joni Mitchell, Rory Cooney and Kate Bush. Whew, that's a mixed bag.
The quality you admire most in a man is…Oh, I'm a sucker for a romantic guy, a guy who has good manners around a woman, who knows how to make a romantic gesture that isn't clichéd or presented out of a sense of obligation.
The quality you admire most in a woman is…The ability to live above gossip and competitiveness, in order to be an authentic friend.
Biggest pet peeve? Thoughtlessness and lack of empathy, which lead to everything from dangerous driving habits to noisy neighbors. We could all use a good dose of standing in someone else's shoes now and then.
Favorite food? A cheese pizza with green olives from Q's in Hillside, Illinois, followed by an enormous slice of dulce de leche cheesecake, smothered with real whipped cream, from the Cheesecake Factory. Washed down with a Pepsi, no ice. I am, have always been, a picky eater.
What three words would your closest friends use to describe you? Loyal, silly, and private.
Why did you choose to work in a library? I fell into it by accident when I needed a part-time college job. I tried corporate work after that and quickly realized the library was a natural home for me. My brain needs to be challenged on a daily basis, but my heart needs to believe in what I'm doing and my soul gets renewed if I'm doing something helpful for other people. All of that happens in a library.
What is your favorite thing about the Des Plaines Public Library? My colleagues work hard, with tremendous passion for what they do, but never take themselves too seriously and love a good laugh.
Name one, and only one, "desert island" book, CD or movie. Only one. Who wrote these questions? Oh. Yes. I did. I'm just wondering how I would play the CD or movie on a desert island, without electricity? Without electricity, I'd take The Bible. Remember the words of John Prine:
"If you're ever going on a big trip, you'd better be careful out there.
Start everything on the good foot - wear clean underwear.
Take along a Bible in the back seat, read of David and of Solomon,
For if you make a mistake in the bottomless lake, you may never see your sweetheart again."
I have enough songs in my head to last me a lifetime.
The movie of your life – who plays the role of you and what song plays over the closing credits? If it's a comedy, the mother/daughter team of Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson could cover the various stages of my life. If it's an action flick, I'd like Angelina Jolie but she doesn't make a good blonde. If it's a drama, Cate Blanchett. The movie would definitely be a musical, but it's too soon to tell how it ends.