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Saturday, March 28, 2009

"Step into the sun, step into the light..."

I can still remember when one of the biggest television events of the year was the annual showing of "The Wizard of Oz." In the 70s, when I was growing up, they often showed the movie on television in the Spring. I couldn't wait to watch it with my siblings, even though I was a little bit scared of it, too! My parents bought me the original Frank L. Baum novel for my 10th birthday and I also enjoyed that - although the singer in me missed the many fine songs that play such an important role in the film.

I bet you have childhood memories of "The Wizard of Oz," too, so why not come out and celebrate this classic American film with us next Saturday, April 4, 2009? This event will be filled with songs and games, crafts and treats for young and old alike.

The movie will be shown twice, beginning at noon and then again at 2 PM, in Room A on the first floor. Crafts and games will take place begin
ning at 1 PM in Room B/C and on the 2nd floor. At 1:30 PM, ahem, I invite you to a particularly grand event, a live performance of songs from "The Wizard of Oz," featuring yours truly and other members of the DPPL staff, known collectively as "The Singing Librarians!" If you're a dedicated fan, or if your kids love to play dress-up, wear "Wizard of Oz" style finery and join in the Costume Parade at 2:30 PM. It doesn't matter if you are a good witch...or a bad witch.

So, for a Saturday full of song, laughter and surprises, come on out and join the fun. This event is free and open to everyone. On behalf of The Singing Librarians, I say, "March up to that gate and bid it open!" and spend a magical day in Oz with all of us. See you on Saturday, April 4. And share your childhood memories of watching "The Wizard of Oz" here in our Comments section.

P.S. Don't forget the Friends Book Sale this weekend! See our home page for times.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Local Election Information

UPDATE: Election results, as of 12:35 PM, Wednesday, April 8, 2009.

Mayor: Martin J. Moylan
City Clerk: Gloria J Ludwig
1st Ward Patricia Haugeberg
3rd Ward Matt Bogusz
5th James Brookman

If you are a resident of Des Plaines, I imagine it is no surprise to you that local elections are taking place on Tuesday, April 7, 2009. To avoid any "surprises" on Election Day, it's not too late to spend some time researching the candidates, so that you feel confident and comfortable with your choices in the election booth. Listed below are some Web sites that can help you find out more about those running for local office. Wherever possible, I have listed the candidates' direct Web site; however, not all candidates have their own Web sites, so I have also included general sites with information on many candidates.

First, a reminder: early voting has already begun.
"Des Plaines City Clerk Donna McAllister has announced that 'Early Voting' will be conducted 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday though Friday and Saturday, 9:00 am to Noon, beginning Monday, March 16, 2009, and ending Thursday, April 2, 2009, in Room 103 of Des Plaines City Hall, 1420 Miner Street. "Early Voting" permits voters to cast a ballot without providing a specific reason. For additional information call the City Clerks Office at 847-391-5310. Please consult Cook County's website at to look up precincts, view sample ballots, verify registration, etc."

Get more information on the election/candidates from the City of Des Plaines Web site.

Cook County Clerk's Office "VoterInfoNet" Candidate statements:
Follow this link: Cook County Clerk's Candidate Statements online and you'll arrive at an alphabetical list of local general elections. Scroll down to the City of Des Plaines and you'll find statements from all 4 mayoral candidates and 2 of the 3 candidates for City Clerk.

Mayoral candidate Web sites:
Mike Lake - no specific site, here is his statement on the Cook County Clerk's site
Martin J. ("Marty") Moylan
Mark Thompson
Dick Sayad

City Clerk candidate Web sites:
Jennifer Tsalapatanis
Gloria J. Ludwig
Patrice McDonough

City Council/Alderman candidates:
Few of the city council candidates have specific Web sites. Many of them do have a statement posted on the Cook County Clerk's Web site - follow this link, then scroll down to find "Des Plaines" and each ward. Since most candidates do not have their own Web sites, I encourage you to use a search engine like Google and type in the candidates' name, plus the words "city council" to find more information from local newspapers and other sources. (To save typing trouble, copy and paste the candidates' name from this list.)

Alderman - First Ward

Michael Bausone
367 Oak St., #105, 60016

Eugene Fregetto
800 Laurel Avenue, 60016

Patricia Haugeberg
1702 Mill Street, 60016

Peter R. Tatera
675 Pearson St., 60016

Alderman - Third Ward

Matthew Bogusz
927 Prairie Ave., 60016

Wayne C. Elstner
583 Forest Ave., 60018

Michael Kochevar
1115 Stark Place

Alderman - Fifth Ward

James R. Brookman
702 Howard Avenue, 60018

Daniel P. Winiecki
1933 Plainfield Drive, 60018

Alderman - Seventh Ward

Joseph R. Kozenczak
137 Stratford Road, 60016

Dan Wilson
185 Stratford Road, 60016

Friday, March 20, 2009

It's Howdy "Dewey" Time!

Spring has sprung and that means our annual fundraiser, "Do The Dewey," is just around the corner! We hope you'll mark your calendar for Saturday, April 25, 2009 from 7-10 PM, when DPPL joins forces with the Rotary Club of Des Plaines for an amazing night of food, drink and interactive entertainment.

Even in this harsh economic climate, "Do the Dewey" is a great value, with tickets just $35 in advance, $40 at the door. That one low price includes all you can eat and drink, plus 3 full hours of live entertainment. This year's schedule includes the big band sounds of Bopology, a Strolling Psychic Sorcerer, chocolate tastings, chair massage, an authentic crime scene reenactment and investigation for "CSI" fans, Wii gaming, digital photography including print out postcards you can take with you, and so much more. Quite frankly, you probably can't park in downtown Chicago for 3 hours for $35! The evening will also include raffles and drawings for fabulous prizes, from pearls to wine to gift certificates. Thanks to the generous donations of our sponsors, you can easily eat, drink and win back even more than what you spent on your ticket. Plus, you'll have a great time while helping us accomplish great things, because your ticket price supports your public library and the good deeds of the Rotary Club.

So, get your advance tickets today, either by purchasing them at the Library during regular business hours, or buy them online through our secure service. Please tell your friends and neighbors, too - once you've Done the Dewey, you want to come back every year! It's a low cost evening of fun and excitement that also gives back to the community. Watch for updates as we add other entertainers and services to the Dewey schedule - and I hope to see you there.

Watch video and photos from last year's "Do the Dewey"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The rhythm of the saints

A few years ago, while working at a college library, I decorated one of the library's display cases in celebration of Saint Patrick's Day. It seemed like a good idea at the time, until one of my superiors, a person of intensely Sicilian-American heritage, snorted, "Where's Saint Joseph's display?"

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, Saint Patrick's Day is generally celebrated,
particularly by those of Irish heritage, on March 17 every year. Saint Joseph's Day falls just two days later, on March 19 (most years), and Saint Joseph is particularly beloved amongst those of Italian descent, but also for the Spanish, Polish and other ethnic groups.

Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, I felt fortunate because, while my family lacked a singular ethnic identity, we were so many things that we got to celebrate just about everything. My half-Irish mother loved the wearin' of the green, the eatin' of the corned beef and the green frosted donut and the general carryin' on that accompanied Saint Patrick's Day. My half-Polish (and more sensible) father encouraged us to wear red to honor Saint Joseph, and the parish church of my youth was dedicated to an Italian saint and the traditional Saint Joseph's Table was open to all.

Let's a get a few things straight. Saint Patrick was not Irish by birth, he was born and raised in Roman-occupied Great Britain (the area we now call Wales), kidnapped to Ireland, then he escaped and eventually returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary. Legend has it he banished snakes from Ireland - more likely, there were never any snakes there to begin with. Believe it or not, the color blue was first associated with Saint Patrick, but the Irish tradition of wearing green (often in the form of a shamrock on the lapel) to show Irish and/or Roman Catholic pride, seems to have overshadowed "Saint Patrick's Blue," at least in America. And many Protestant Irish wear orange on March 17 - just to make things more confusing. I am one hundred percent certain Saint Patrick never drank a green beer or sang that "Unicorn" song.

What about Saint Joseph? Well, even if you are not Christian, you may know of Saint Joseph being the husband of the Virgin Mary and what I guess one could call a "stepfather" to Jesus. He was definitely not Italian, nor Spanish or Polish, and seems to have lived his life in the area we now call Israel and Palestine, with time spent in exile in Egypt. The Irish love Patrick for bringing Christianity to their island, the Italians love Joseph for bringing rain, specifically rain that prevented a famine in Sicily during the Middle Ages. Hence the building of the "Saint Joseph's Table," an altar of praise brimming with good things to eat and drink, including the "zeppole," a donut-like concoction that resembles an Italian paczki (that's a "poonch-key" to the non-Polish speakers). Saint Joseph's Day celebrations take place from Chicago to New Orleans and in Spain, March 17 is Father's Day. I am one hundred percent certain Saint Joseph never even imagined a zeppole, much less ate one, and often wonder how he feels about being buried upside-down in so many peoples' backyards as they try to sell their homes.

For many of us, the traditions of Saint Patrick's and Saint Joseph's days hold deep religious significance, ethnic pride or just plain old fun. It is often said that "Everybody is Irish on Saint Patrick's Day," and if you've ever enjoyed a cannoli or zeppole, I'm sure you'd be happy to claim some temporary Italian heritage as well. Many think of these special feasts as being "Catholic" traditions, but both saints are important to the Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and other Christian denominations as well. And saints aren't limited to the Christian faith. So, enjoy this day of rest between the feasts of two great saints. Do you have a favorite saint, from any tradition? Feel free to share your story here.

Want to read up on the lives of the saints? See what books and other items we have available at the Des Plaines Public Library.

The Library has books and A-V materials on all kinds of religious traditions and perspectives. See the one-click searches below for a few examples:

Or, find books and movies that compare and contrast many religions: Religion One-Click Search.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How Can We Help You In Your Job Search?

I mentioned earlier this month that we are really focusing on you and your job search, your career change, this year at DPPL. Watch the short video above to find out some of our reference services aimed specifically at the business community and the job seeker. Also, check out the post below where I introduce you to HelpNow, which can assist your kids with their homework, but can also help you with proofreading and writing advice for your resumés and cover letters.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Reading, Writing and Resumés - Get Help Now!

A few months ago I told you about a new service here at DPPL called "Help Now." I want to take another opportunity to give it a shout out, because, well, I think you're going to love it once you try it.

HelpNow provides a number of online services from real, live, honest-to-goodness professional tutors. HelpNow assists students from grades 3 - early college, and also has services for adults in the working world. Tutors are available daily from 3-11:55 PM and you can access the service from the Library's computers or your home computer (as long as you have a valid DPPL card). What can the HelpNow tutors do for you?

Here's just a sample of the assistance that is available:

Proofreading of resumés and cover letters for adults;
Help for students of Math, Science, the Social Sciences;
Help in learning the Spanish language;
Live writing assistance as a student begins a writing project;
Detailed writing help when a student submits a draft.

HelpNow also makes learning fun for young students. The activity takes place in a virtual, private classroom, where student and tutor can write on a white board, type, work on charts and graphs, figure out math problems. For more detailed proofreading, documents are submitted through HelpNow's Web site and returned with helpful comments within 24 hours. The tutors are degreed and trained professionals who are encouraging and helpful. (By the way, your child's privacy is assured and tutors also undergo a rigorous background check) Want to watch a little demo of how HelpNow works? Watch the demo here (you must have Flash on your computer). Want to get more specifics on HelpNow? Visit our FAQ (frequently asked questions) page.

You can always access HelpNow from our official launch page at

Please try it out and give us your feedback.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Library databases - love 'em or...never heard of them?

Get a group of librarians together and ask them about their favorite databases. Go on, try it. For those of you who still cling to the stereotype that librarians are mild-mannered, cardigan-wearing pushovers, you'll be really surprised! Librarians know all about library databases and can compare the strengths and weaknesses of each, knowing all the finer details of these powerful research tools that open up a world of resources Google can't touch.

But why should
you care about library databases? Aren't they just a librarian thing? I'd be willing to bet you have a research need right now that could be met by just the right database - but you're probably spending an awful lot of time Googling instead. What makes library databases unique?
  1. They often offer full-text access to articles and other forms of information you simply cannot obtain off the free Internet: Full-text magazine and newspaper articles, going back many decades; Encyclopedia entries, complete with photos, high quality maps and statistical information; Specialized information from medical, legal and academic resources; Business and demographic information, to help you research an employer, an investment, a business partner or, put together a mailing list of prospects.

  2. They can be searched very specifically - you can not only enter your search terms but you can also ask for results from specific dates, publications, authors, SIC codes and a lot more.

  3. Some databases cover many subject areas, while some are subject-specific. At DPPL, we've taken a lot of the guesswork out of your research by creating helpful "Subject Guides," which include appropriate databases. When you want a wide variety of opinions on a topic, and want it from easily read news and magazine sources, use a general database. When you need expert opinions and the highest level of professional quality, reach for the more subject specific databases.

  4. And now, you can search many databases at the same time, including our Library Catalog of books, videos and music. If you've never even tried to search a library database, you can start with our new "1 Search" service, which allows you to search many databases, either by checking off the specific ones you want or letting 1 Search choose for you, by picking a subject category. Look for 1 Search here, on our main database page.
So, come on - don't let librarians get all the good stuff. Visit our master list of databases for adults, databases for kids, or our Subject Guides. I bet you'll find something you need.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cut back, downsized, laid off?

Even if you are one of the fortunate ones, an American who still has a job, you probably know someone who was laid off or permanently let go by their employer. Such an experience can be depressing, scary, even paralyzing - so the staff here at the Des Plaines Public Library wants to do everything possible to help. Check out our March Events calendar for a full slate of programs to help you get your career back on track.

First of all, we've got computer classes, for free, all year long. Never used a computer before? Sign up for Basic Computer Skills and Computer Practice & Playtime - pretty soon you'll be an experienced pro. Have pretty good mouse and keyboard skills, but unclear on how to use the Internet and World Wide Web? Try our Basic and Intermediate Internet classes. Need personalized help with a problem regarding a Web site or email? Stop into one of our Drop-In Email and Internet sessions. We also offer specialized classes in topics like blogging, photo editing on the computer and services like eBay. Visit our Computer Classes page to get all the details, including information on registering.

We offer free, private career counseling every month, too. This month's session is on Thursday, March 19, but check back every month for more dates. This free service offers expert advice on interviewing, networking, writing up a resumé and more. For more information or to check on the availability of sessions, call the Registration Desk, 847-376-2787.

Speaking of resumés, does yours need a facelift? Never written one before? Either way, you don't want to miss "Help, I Need a Resumé!" on Tuesday, March 24 beginning at 2 PM. You will not only get a professional presentation on what belongs in a resumé and how to organize it, but stick around and you'll get personal help in typing up your own resumé using Microsoft Word. Register here - space is limited.

Finally, do you dream of a career as a published author? Sign up for our free program, "The Secrets to Getting Published," featuring author Marcus Sakey. The program takes place on Wednesday, March 18, at 7 PM, and is part of the "Inside Writing & Publishing Series," cosponsored with participating North Suburban Library System libraries. Find out more about Marcus Sakey at his Web site.
Revitalize your career, make yourself an invaluable addition to a new employer, or take your job search into an entirely new direction - the choice is yours, but we're here to help.