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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.


  1. Barb was my supervisor when I worked at the library in high school, as well as a friend to my family. She was a wonderful person and will be greatly missed.

  2. My mother Barbara was everything to me and her family and friends were everything to her. At the Des Plaines Public Library her coworkers became family and the library patrons her friends. When she went to work while suffering from the effects of chemo or the cancer itself, I knew she was spending some of the little time she had left in a supportive environment with family and friends; Knowing this comforted and gave me a sense of peace. I thank you all for that gift! So much of Mom's life was in the library and I know the Library will forever hold a part of her.


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