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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sibling Revelry: Meet "Positive Ellinwood Street"

PlainTalk has been rolling along for over a year now and I'd love to know what you think of it. Is it useful? Does the writing and subject matter hold your interest? Anything you'd love to see more of in PlainTalk? You can always post your comments and suggestions here in this blog - just use the "Comments" link down below. If you're worried about having to sign up for a Blogger account or putting personal information online, no worries. You can comment anonymously, or with your initials/first name and there's no need to sign up for an account, unless you desire it. I would love to see PlainTalk become a place where people in the Des Plaines community can voice their opinions, especially those that relate to the Library.

That being said, there's a new kid in town (great - now I'll have THAT song in my head all day!). If you haven't yet read PlainTalk's "sibling" blog, Positively Ellinwood Street, you're missing out on a treat. Positively Ellinwood Street, which I will call "PES" for short, is a group effort, written by the staff of our Readers' Services department. Once or twice a week, a new post appears on PES, and the subject matter is widely varied but always engaging - the common threads being reading, watching, and listening. In the past month, there have been articles on Neil Diamond, short stories, great comedy films, Banned Books Week, and the "mysteries" that our patrons bring to us: "Can you help me find a book I read 10 years ago? All I remember is there was a bird on the cover..."
Book and movie reviews from our open-minded but opinionated staff can help you find your next great reading or viewing experience, and will also invite you to explore the depth of our CD collection. You may find that someone on our staff has taste very similar to your own, so you can look forward to that person's next post and, yes, leave your own comments and suggestions. Another PES author may encourage you to plunge into a subject area or genre you'd never considered.

You will find links to Positively Ellinwood Street all over our Web site -- always on the home page, the "What's New" page and the "Read/Watch/Listen" page, too. Take a few minutes to say hello to PlainTalk's sibling blog - I think you'll find yourself returning again and again. An aside: Positively Ellinwood Street's cool name sprang from the imagination of staff person Laura Adler, inspired by our street address and the piquant songwriting of American legend, Bob Dylan.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

DPPL People - Meet Angy Socha!

If it's not impolite to say I have a favorite part of my own blog, PlainTalk, then I will say it: I really enjoy the monthly "DPPL People" feature.

Not because I'm lazy and it gives me a chance to lay low, but because it lets me shine the spotlight on my wonderful coworkers. This month's featured DPPL person is no exception. Angy Socha, from our Circulation department, is just one of those people who makes things happen and yet never loses the smile on her face. I can see, every time she interacts with other staff members or with the public, that she loves her work and consequently people respond to her with appreciation and gladness. if you're a Des Plaines Public Library patron, you've undoubtedly encountered Angy at the Information/Registration desk, checking out materials, helping folks pick up their held items, taking care of overdue fines and registering people for new library cards.

If a patron writes a compliment for our suggestion box, there's a good chance it's about Angy. Like a lot of people at DPPL, she's known for going above and beyond. If you attended last year's Centennial Croquet Tournament, you saw Angy's lovely artwork, depicting characters from "Alice in Wonderland." At our "Do the Dewey" fundraiser, she helps out in the kitchen, providing seemingly miraculous platters of food that never diminish! And to prove she's a favorite amongst her coworkers, Angy was the hands-down winner of our "Christmas Sweater" competition at the staff holiday breakfast, earning the kind of enthusiastic cheers usually reserved for rock stars and athletes...
Here, Angy tackles our DPPL People Questionnaire, giving you a chance to get to know one of our best and brightest. Take it away, Angy!

1) Three words that describe your current state of mind are...
Introspective, grateful and optimistic.

2) What is your most treasured possession?
My freedom.

3) What is your greatest extravagance? I will occasionally pay exorbitant amounts of money for really good theater tickets.

4) Who are your favorite writers?
Jane Austen and Charles Dickens (I'm a Classics girl). I also like everything by Amy Tan.

5) Who are your favorite heroes of fiction (in writing, film, drama)?
The heroines in Jane Austen's novels. They were strong, independent women in a society that was narrow and restricting. Also, Superman.

6) Name three persons/characters from history with whom you would like to have dinner.
Only three? Victor Frankl, Jane Austen and Francis of Assisi.

7) Who are your heroes in real life?
Ordinary people who are not afraid to stretch beyond their comfort zones in order to make a difference in the world.

8) What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My babies: my children and grandchildren.

9) Who is your favorite artist?
Vincent Van Gogh. He was pure of heart and lived for his art. And his colors are magnificent!

10) Who is your favorite musician?
There are too many good ones to choose just one, but I really like Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schoenberg, who wrote the music to "Les Miserables" and "Miss Saigon."

11) The quality you admire most in a man is...

12) The quality you admire most in a woman is...

13) Biggest pet peeve?

14) Favorite food?
Veggie pizza

15) What three words would your closest friends use to describe you?
Warm, intelligent and witty (and, of course, humble, whoops...that's four!)

16) Why did you choose to work in a library? I've always loved libraries. They are the keepers of knowledge, culture and freedom of thought. I also love working in, and serving my community.

17) What is your favorite thing about the Des Plaines Public Library?
The people.

18) Name one, and only one, "desert island" book, CD or movie. Only one.
A nice, thick volume of world history. Reading about the collective human experience would help put my situation in perspective.

19) The movie of your life -- who plays the role of you and what song plays over the closing credits?
Valerie Bertinelli - before Jenny Craig. The song would be "Now and Forever" by Carole King.

Monday, September 22, 2008

We've got Friends in the right places

Are you one of those people who can't get enough of books? Are you irresistibly drawn to every new bookstore you pass, whether it's big and smells like cappuccino or tiny and crammed floor to rafter with STUFF? Like a lot of people right now, however, you may feel like your budget is stretched too thin to accommodate your passion for new things to read.

Of course, the Library is just the place to fulfill your craving, since you can check out an armful of books for free. And next weekend, September 26-28, 2008, the Library can also satisfy your urge to bring home some books you can treasure forever, through our Friends of the Library Used Book Sale.

If you've never browsed a Friends Book Sale, be prepared to spend some time. The Friends spend months organizing all the books, magazines, videos, CDs and other items that are donated. Then they open the doors and let you grab the bargains. Cookbooks, art books, VHS sets, children's books - you're bound to find something that's just right for you.

If you're really serious about buying books, why not become a Friend yourself? For just $5.00 a year (or $10.00 per year for an entire family) you can support the Library and get early access to all three Friends book sales. Get more information here on being a Friend of the Library. This year's preview night is Friday, September 26 from 6-9 PM - open to members only, so pay your membership dues and you'll get an "all access" pass. Pretty cool, eh?

What do the Friends do with the money they raise? They support the Library's mission to be the ideal community resource, whether you are seeking to work, learn or play. The Friends fund some of our most exciting programming and recently funded the design of our very cool new Teen Web site, for which I am most grateful! Another Friends project near and dear to my heart: our brand new reusable Library tote bags, on sale for just one dollar. In fact, that's another thing you'll be able to buy at the book sale this weekend - buy a bag and fill it up with your purchases and you will help the Library and help the world get a little greener (buying used items like books is also very green).

Friends of the Library Used Book Sale
Members only preview night: Friday, September 26 from 6-9 PM
Open to the public: Saturday, September 27 from 9:30 AM - 4 PM
Sunday, September 28 from 1 - 5 PM

More information on the book sale and donations

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Learn more about Nevus and the Nevus Awareness Quilt

Today's PlainTalk features a guest blogger, Heather Imhoff, Head of Public Information at the Des Plaines Public Library.

Have you ever heard of the term Nevus? I hadn’t when I was contacted by Des Plaines resident Jennifer Schwartz last month about displaying a Nevus awareness quilt here at the library.

Jennifer’s six-year old daughter Michelle is living with a Giant bathing suit trunk Nevus. Nevus (plural nevi) is the medical term for a birthmark. One out of every 50 people is born with a small mole or birthmark, but a “giant nevi” is defined as one over eight inches in diameter. Giant nevi occur in about one in 20,000 births and do not disappear as the child grows older. Giant nevi can present medical challenges. The cause is unknown and the cells that form these large moles on the skin can also appear in the brain and spinal cord and cause neurological problems or even death. The psychological challenges can be equally daunting. Kids (and adults too) with nevi deal with insensitive and even cruel reactions, stares, and finger pointing on a daily basis.

Jennifer and Michelle have received a tremendous amount of information and support from Nevus Outreach, Inc., and want to raise awareness for the group through the Nevus quilt, which is on display in the library’s second floor Youth Services department through October 11, 2008. You can see Michelle with the quilt in the photo up above. The group and quilt were “put together with love by parents who have child afflicted with giant nevus" and the quilt "is intended to travel the country to help make the public aware of this birth defect and also to find a cure”.

Michelle’s mom writes: “Michelle is 6 years old and lives a very active life. She is not slowed down by her Nevus one bit. Michelle has visited a number of doctors over the past six years. She has seen a dermatologist Dr. Mancini of Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago every six months up until recently. She has seen pediatric plastic surgeon Dr. Bauer, also at Children’s Memorial Hospital., to see if her Nevus could be removed. But because of the shape of her Nevus, we can not remove it. Which is OK, there is really no reason except cosmetic for it to be removed. By the time she was two, Michelle had had an MRI every six months to monitor any lesions on her brain or spine. She does have a very small lesion on her left temporal lobe, which has gotten smaller over the years and is now being checked once a year. Michelle does not have any lesions on her spine. These lesions can sometimes cause tumors, but in Michelle’s case this is not happening. We brought the Nevus quilt to Des Plaines so that everyone in our community can be aware of this rare form of birthmark.” Here's a picture of Michelle's nevus:

I personally feel it so important for any parent or child facing a challenge to know that they don’t have to face it alone. I myself have a daughter born with congenital developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) and know how challenging, both emotionally and physically, it can be to help a child (not to mention yourself!) deal with an affliction that makes them physically “different”. Luckily, my daughter’s dysplasia was able to be corrected through surgery, castings and braces. Throughout, I found tremendous support and practical information via a site and the Yahoo discussion group “hipbaby”. I found it amazing and comforting that I could log onto this group at anytime of the day, ask a question or just vent, and there was always someone there who knew where we were coming from!

(Photo of Heather's daughter in her cast)

So thanks Michelle and Jennifer for sharing your story – and this important information with us! To learn more about Nevus Outreach, Inc., pick up a pamphlet at the library or visit

Want to connect with an online support group? Search for one at Yahoo! Groups,
or Google your area of interest plus the phrase "support group."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Flood and Road Closing Information

From the City of Des Plaines Web Site:
Emergency Notification - 10:45 am,
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

According to the National Weather Service's Report of 10:45 am, Tuesday, September 16, 2008, the Des Plaines River near Des Plaines is at 8.02 feet and is expected to fall below 8 feet this afternoon. Predictions indicate the River will be below flood stage by 1:00 am, Wednesday, September 17, 2008.

If you need to drive to or through Des Plaines, you may find it helpful to know which roads are still closed due to flooding. Please call this number for the latest, updated information: 847-391-5394. Please use caution when driving through Des Plaines and give yourself plenty of extra time to reach your destination.

Got flood pictures? Want to post them on the Internet? Email pictures (please resize them to 1024 X 768 or smaller) to:

Monday, September 8, 2008

What's Happening this Month at DPPL

Wow - it's September! Already!! Watch the short video up above and learn about just a few of the programs and special events taking place at the Library within the next few weeks. We remind you that you can always register to vote at the Library. From the end of September through the first week of October, we will have additional Voters' Registration tables set up to accommodate those who wish to vote in this year's presidential election. Bring two forms of current identification including one with your current home address. You must be a US citizen and you must be 18 years of age by the time of the election (November 4, 2008) to vote this year. For more details, call the Library at 847-827-5551. If you choose to register at the Library, you must register by October 7, 2008, to be eligible to vote in November. (Late registration, after October 7, 2008, can be accepted at the Office of the Cook County Clerk, 312-603-0906.)

I'll remind you again in a few weeks, but the last weekend in September brings our awesome Friends of the Library Used Book Sale! Check out the display case in our west hallway for a preview of some of the great stuff the Friends have for sale. Please mark your calendar for Saturday, September 27 and Sunday, September 28 and shop the book sale for used treasures that also help support your Library. Are you a dedicated bargain shopper? Join the Friends for just a $5.00 annual membership fee and you can shop at the preview night on Friday, September 26. Get more details here about the Friends Book Sale.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"In the midst of winter,"

"...I found there was, within me, an invincible summer." Albert Camus

With sorrow and gratitude, the staff of the Des Plaines Public Library mourns the loss of one of our "family" members, Barbara Ann Saletnik, Assistant Head of Circulation Services.

Barb, as she was known to us here at work, began her career at DPPL 18 years ago with a part-time job, shelving books. This was her family's community library, as Barb was a 42-year resident of Des Plaines. For approximately 10 years, Barb held her current position, helping to oversee our incredibly busy circulation department. In 2000, as part of that role, she coordinated the details of the Library's move into its then-new space on Ellinwood Street - a massive undertaking.

Just one way in which Barb went above and beyond for the Library was her tireless work for our fundraiser, "Do the Dewey." Barb was the one who kept the food and drinks flowing and the food-serving volunteers motivated and well organized. Her knack for flower arranging also contributed to the beautiful, lavish spreads she created for this annual gathering. I can recall her helping to get things set up for "Dewey" this past April, and marveling at how she remained cheerful and patient with chaos all around her and her health issues challenging her on a daily basis. Barb was a major force of inspiration for the Library's Relay for Life team as they raised funds for cancer research, but beyond that, she inspired all of us with her gentle presence and what I'd simply call a joy for living, a joy that she brought to each day and the work she needed to do.

Beyond the walls of the Des Plaines Public Library, Barb served as a gracious, thoughtful ambassador into the library community at large by helping to plan the very popular "Reaching Forward" conferences for library support staff.

If you met Barbara at our information and registration desk, through her conference work, or had the pleasure of her friendship, we invite you to leave your words of remembrance here, by adding a comment to this post. The quote above, from Existentialist Albert Camus, was one of many that Barb displayed in her office. In the library world, words mean more, perhaps, than they do in other realms. Here are a few other quotes, the words with which Barbara Ann Saletnik surrounded herself during the work day, no doubt to uplift and encourage herself, the way her spirit uplifted and encouraged all of her coworkers. She will be deeply missed.

"I sustain myself with the love of family and friends." Maya Angelou
"My God, this is a hell of a job!" Warren G. Harding
"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission." Eleanor Roosevelt
"They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety." Benjamin Franklin

Read a tribute to Barb from the Daily Herald newspaper.
Read the obituary in the Daily Herald newspaper for Barbara Ann Saletnik.