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Monday, June 29, 2009

Printing Made Even Easier

I fondly remember all the talk, 10-15 years ago, about a "paperless society." We certainly rely on electronic communication more and more these days, but paper remains a cold, hard fact of life. Homework assignments, resum├ęs, photographs, driving directions - sometimes it's better to have a piece of paper on hand. However, buying and maintaining a printer at home can be expensive and frustrating, especially when your printing needs are infrequent.

Did you know that you not only have access to printers here at DPPL but that you can now send print jobs from your wireless computer, even from your home computer, to the library for printing? Betcha didn't. :) It's a fairly new service, which we've rolled out without much fanfare.

Printing at the Library is inexpensive - $0.10 for black and white, $0.50 for color. Your DPPL card acts as a debit card for the printers, or you can buy a copy card. Printing from the library's computers is pretty standard: select "Print," your print job goes to a print workstation, and at that point you need to swipe your card, pay for your printouts, etc.

Now, what about when you want to bring your laptop to the library and print, OR, what if you are on your home computer and would like to send an item for printing to the Library? Here are some links to the instructions:

Instructions as a Word document
Instructions as a PDF

I would suggest you begin with opening up one of those files and saving it permanently to your computer for easy reference. Once you've tried it a time or two, you can also bookmark the printing service Web site directly.

I think if you try it once, you'll find that it is very straightforward. Do remember that if you are at home, you will have to come to DPPL, 4th floor computer area, and pay for/pick up your copies during our normal business hours.

Have questions about printing @ DPPL? See our friendly, helpful IT techs up on the 4th floor, they are the workstation wizards! Oh, and speaking of normal business hours, don't forget that we are closed Saturday, July 4th and Sunday, July 5th in celebration of Independence Day. But do look for us in the 4th of July parade - I'll even be there as part of the sensational Singing Librarians!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's 90 degrees - summer has arrived!

...with a vengeance! Of course, your public library is a great place to keep cool on these sultry days. Last summer, we asked you, our PlainTalk readers, to tell us about other great summer activities in the Des Plaines area. I'm going to list those suggestions below and ask the question again: what would you add to this list?

Got a favorite DP summertime experience you want to share with other residents?

Send me an email at and just like last summer, you'll be entered into a drawing for a $20 Panera Bread gift card.
  1. The contest is open to DPPL cardholders only - so please include your name, phone number and card number in your email.
  2. You must be 13 years of age or older to enter - so kids, if you have a suggestion, ask mom or dad to email it to me.
  3. Send as many ideas as you want. You will receive one entry for the drawing for each suggestion - however, you cannot enter any of the ideas from last year's contest, listed below. You'll have to be creative, because last year's ideas were great. Since there is only so much you can do in town, feel free to include the wider Chicago suburban area.
  4. Deadline: Midnight on July 3, 2009.
  5. Library staff members are not eligible.
Here are last year's summertime fun suggestions - use them for inspiration and send me your ideas today. Good luck in the contest!

1) The Des Plaines 4th of July parade! Get up early and find your spot on Center Street this July 4th. It's a great all-American tradition. NOTE: despite rumors to the contrary, there will be a 4th of July parade this year. Don't miss it!

Golf at the Des Plaines Golf Center. Play the executive nine, practice your chipping, drive at the range or just eat at the snack bar. Submitted by Paul Go.

3) Sail at Lake Opeka. Or golf at their course. Or even just take in a concert there. Submitted by Paul Go.

4) See the Barefoot Hawaiians perform at Lake Opeka on July 15th! It's always a great show- especially the firedancers! Submitted by Anita Vaughan.

5) Pack up the kids and head to Mystic Waters. It's especially great to go in the evening when it's hot. Pack your dinner and enjoy it on the patio near the pool and then go for a swim. A perfect summer evening! Submitted by Anita Vaughan.

6) Enjoy a day in the park. Des Plaines has many neighborhood parks that are family friendly. Take a look at the park district's course catalog and discover a new park to enjoy. Submitted by Anita Vaughan.

7) Drop by Pesche's and hunt for new ways to liven up your garden- herbs, perennials, tomato plants- it's all there! Submitted by Anita Vaughan.

8) Take a walk around the neighborhood..... and then treat yourself to a coffee at our new Starbuck's on Lee Street. Submitted by Anita Vaughan.

9) Try an evening class at Oakton Community College's Alliance for Lifelong Learning. Summer non-credit classes are available in many areas- everything from knitting to cake decorating to ballroom dancing. Submitted by Anita Vaughan.

10) Go mini golfing at Mountain View Mine at Prairie Lakes Park. Submitted by Leah Kadamian.

11) Watch the wildlife (turtles, frogs, birds and fish) in the pond at the Friendship Park Conservatory. Submitted by Leah Kadamian.

12) If you want to take a quick dip in a pool but don't want to spend a lot of money, go over to the United Methodist Campground Swimming Pool on Algonquin Road just east of River Road. It's not fancy but it is a large pool that is not usually crowded and the entrance fee is inexpensive. Submitted by Leah Kadamian.

13) Seeing live actors on stage is a wonderful way to spend a summer evening! The Prairie Lakes Theater features great stage performances geared towards the whole family. Looks like Peter Pan will begin there on July 24. Submitted by Leah Kadamian.

14) The Des Plaines History Center (781 Pearson St.) is a great place to take children on a rainy summer afternoon. They offer unique craft projects like candle dipping and presidential button making. You can even make your own lava light! It is best to call before you go (847-391-5399), so you can get a schedule of the projects featured each month. Submitted by Leah Kadamian. Here's a hint for another suggestion (ahem) - there's another place in town that's a GREAT PLACE for free summer activities for kids and adults.

15) If you have young children who are just learning to roller skate or ride a bike you can take them to the bicycle path that runs along Beau Park (under the ComEd power lines). There is safe and easy access to the path at Leahy Circle East. And, since the pavement is in good condition, it is perfect path for those just learning to skate or ride. There is the added benefit of a very nice playground just west of Beau Drive. However you should bring your own water bottles since there are no water fountains along the way. Submitted by Leah Kadamian.

16) Lissette Branick suggested a number of fun, no-fuss activities families can do together, like bike riding, fishing, swimming, and just spending quality time together.

17) She also suggested taking your dog for a walk - we saw lots of furry friends at the 4th of July parade on Friday morning, and Lissette's family has a puppy named Pebbles. Suggested by Lissette Branick.

18) Building a bonfire and having a cookout are two ways to have fun right in your own backyard. Suggested by Lissette Branick.

19) Go to the park with friends. Catch fireflies! Suggested by Lissette Branick.

20) Why not visit the Library? You can get books and enjoy some time reading and also borrow movies that the whole family can enjoy. Suggested by Lissette Branick.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Relay for Life is just around the corner

Once again, the Library is proud to be part of the Relay for Life, Des Plaines/Park Ridge. This year's Relay takes place on Friday, June 26, 2009 at Maine West High School, on Wolf Road in Des Plaines.

Our team, the Book Babes, works hard all year to raise funds for Relay, through bake sales, plant sales, "Denim Dayz," even a spare change jar in the lunchroom. But the Relay event is where the babes are separated from the boys, so to speak - the Book Babes always seem to be amongst the top fundraising teams in our local Relay and we're so proud of them. We have a new captain this year, Cheryl Gladfelter, as our captain of many years, Veronica Schwartz, takes on the even bigger responsibility of chairing the entire event. We're grateful for the boundless creativity and energy these two young women bring to our organization!

If you've never been a part of Relay for Life, take a few minutes to watch the above video. It features lots of photos and footage from last year's Relay (and a nice song by Keith Urban!), and you'll get a sense of what a fun, lively and joyful community event it is. You don't have to be on a Relay team to come. Bring your family or a friend, walk for awhile, buy some raffle tickets or snack items, make a donation - you can make a valuable contribution with even a small gift, because it all adds up in the end. Undoubtedly the threat of cancer has touched your life in some way - here at the Library, we lost two long-time coworkers, Barbara Saletnik and Kathy Kyrouac, in just the last calendar year. That's two too many, and we are determined to be a help in finding a cure. So come on out and visit with us at Relay as we honor our former colleagues, our family members and friends, both those who succumbed to cancer and those who have survived.

Want more information? Want to make an online donation? Visit the local Relay Web site:

Friday, June 12, 2009

TODAY show: Libraries lend a hand in tough times

Looks like the rest of the country is catching on to something you, our patrons, have known all along - the Library brings you great value, every day! Did you see this segment on the TODAY Show? As our country's economic situation has worsened, one thing remains clear: public libraries are an indispensable part of society. Computers, free wireless Internet, printers, scanners, copy machines, free checkout of entertainment items like books, DVDs and CDs, job assistance programs, great free events for people of all ages and interests, access to dozens of online research tools - you can make a big impact on your budget with a visit to your Library.

Want to get an idea of how much you save when you use the Des Plaines Public Library? Use this "Return on Investment" calculator.

Curious about how much DPPL does every year with your tax dollars? Here are some statistics:
  • 803 programs held in 1008, with over 17,000 adults and children attending;
  • 1,111,558 items circulated in 2008: 725,000+ for adults, almost 386,000 for children;
  • In May 2008, 85,862 items circulated; in May 2009, that number went up more than 13%, to 97,434;
  • 85,271 reference questions were answered last year;
  • 88 public computers and 14 public printers are available, 7 days a week, along with free wireless.
Yes, your tax dollars keep the Library up and running, but if you make use of our resources, you can make that money back in no time and save yourself quite a bit more. Has DPPL made a positive difference on your household's "bottom line?" Tell us how.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What's What in DP

A few nights ago, I bumped into an old friend while walking through a store parking lot. She said, "How about lunch some time - but not in Des Plaines! I always get lost when I go there!"

Des Plaines might be a suburb of Chicago, but it can sure feel like a big, bustling city all on its own. If you need information about what's happening here in town, a very good resource is the City's own Web site: If you haven't used it recently, give it a try - it's been totally revamped and I find it pretty user-friendly and "transparent." If the menu choices overwhelm you, try what I do: up in the top right hand corner, there's a little box that reads, "Search Website." Type a few, simple terms in there, hit your Enter key, and you almost always get to the information you need. The "News Headlines" column further down on the right hand side is also helpful for things you need to know now. (Did you know vehicle stickers and pet licenses must be purchased by June 30? Get the info.)

The Library Web site also has links to information about Des Plaines - check out the Life in Des Plaines page. You can even find the current weather there! We could really use your suggestions for developing this part of our Web site - what other information should we feature there? If you'd like to suggest something, email me and I'll seriously consider your ideas (or, just type your comments here). Be as creative as you'd like, as long as the information reflects life in Des Plaines and is legitimately helpful to residents and visitors.

Let's help alleviate that "I always get lost when I go there!" feeling and make Des Plaines a place that feels easy to find, live in, work in and enjoy. Thanks to the Wild Onions Web site for the photo of four DP landmarks.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Held in the Heartland - June 12, 2009

Please stop by on Friday, June 12, 2009, for an informative and compelling exhibit, "Held in the Heartland." From 12 noon until 7 PM, all are welcome to view the exhibit in the BUS-eum, a unique museum on wheels that brings history into your neighborhood. "Held in the Heartland" brings to life the story of German POWs held in the Midwest from 1943-1946, including those held at "Camp Pine" in the Des Plaines area.

At 7 PM on June 12, we also invite you to a free reception and lecture by Irving Kellman, a docent for TRACES Center for History and Culture. Kellman will speak about the German POW experience in the United States. Area residents are invited to bring stories, photos, letters, artwork or other mementos of their families' direct encounters with Camp Pine POWs who worked in the Des Plaines area.

Learn more about TRACES, "a non-profit educational organization created to gather, preserve and present stories of people from the Midwest and Germany or Austria who encountered each other during World War II."

Read about "Held in the Heartland" in the Daily Herald newspaper

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fast facts about your library account

I mentioned in my last post that I've been doing usability studies with some of our Library patrons. If I've learned one thing, it's that our patrons are savvy computer users who come to the Library knowing exactly what they want and need.

If I've learned anything else, it's that people don't always know the ins and outs of using our online system AND all the benefits of having a library card. So here are a few helpful hints to make your library transactions easier and more convenient while also providing access to dozens of other libraries in our shared consortium.

1) As soon as you received your DPPL card, your account was set up for you. Unlike other Web sites, you don't have to go in and enter your personal information, choose a password, etc. To access your account for the first time: Go to the "Catalog" link on our home page, choose "My Account" or "Review My Account." You'll be taken to a screen where you can:
Make your choice from this menu, enter your full library card number, no spaces, and your "generic" beginning password, which is the word "patron." (without quotes)

You're in! It's that simple. Since "patron" is everyone's generic password, we recommend you change it to something only you will know and remember.

Once you start searching in the Catalog for books, DVDs and CDs, you should notice that you can search only our Library's holdings, but 24 other area libraries as well. You might be thinking, "Well, my local library is convenient, I don't want to drive to Algonquin to check out a book!" Good news - they'll send the item here to Des Plaines for you to check out. Just use the blue "Place Hold" button on the left side of the item's record. Put in your library card number and password, and we'll call or email you when it's ready for you to pick up.

One more trick that will really speed up your holds - when you click into the Catalog, notice the log-in boxes up in the blue-green banner at the top of the screen. Put your card number and password in those boxes before you start searching. Then, when you're ready to place a hold, you won't even need to enter your information, even if you request dozens of items.

Want help remembering these fast facts? You can, of course, bookmark this page, or a similar page on our Web site. The next time you're at the Library, stop by our Information Desk on the first floor and pick up a handy bookmark with these instructions. Think of your library card as an "information muscle" - give it a good workout and it will always come through for you!