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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Don't get zapped by your electric bill!

In times when we're striving more than ever to be both energy-efficient and frugal, the last thing you want to do is pay more for your electric bill than necessary.

We invite you to attend an event at the Library next Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 7 PM. The event is sponsored by the Des Plaines' DEEP GREEN committee, spearheaded by Alderman Mark Walsten. The event is free and will take place in our first floor meeting rooms - all are welcome.

What will you discover? Here's the word straight from DEEP GREEN's Web site:

"Residential, commercial and industrial customers will gain insight on dramatically reducing the cost of providing electricity for their homes and businesses. A patented green product, sold and distributed by the Core Energy Group, LLC, offers home owners a way to reduce their electric bills by 6 to 10 percent with a guaranteed 6 percent savings. According to the manufacturer, the product not only reduces energy cost and the carbon foot print, but also serves as surge protection for the whole house.

Attendees will learn how this product reduces carbon emissions, thus contributing to a cleaner and greener environment, and significantly lowers the affects of Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMF’s) in homes and businesses. The Deep Green Committee is offering information on this potential "cost saving" product. The City of Des Plaines does not endorse particular products or companies." Attendees will also receive instructions on how to read their ComEd bills.

No need to register, just drop in next Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 7 PM. See you there! For more information on DEEP GREEN and its activities, visit their Web page.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

DP Oakton Street/Elmhurst Road Corridor Study

Curious about the Oakton Street/Elmhurst Road Corridor Study and proposed redevelopment? The Library now has copies of the study available for your perusal. Just ask at the 4th floor Reference Desk.

Some background from the introduction to the study:

"..Des Plaines is a major shipping center for the northwest portion of the Chicagoland region, due in large part to its high level of multi-modal regional access. Downtown Chicago is only 17 miles away and is accessible by Interstate 90 and Metra's Union Pacific-Northwest commuter rail line. Three of the seven Class 1 railroads in North America run through Des Plaines, making it a significant link in freight rail traffic. (PlainTalk note: so that's why I get stuck at a freight train almost every day!) O'Hare International Airport, located adjacent to the city, is an enabler of air-related freight and shipping. Combined, these air, truck, and rail assets have helped define Des Plaines as a worldwide hub for air and rail freight shipments.

The relationship with O'Hare, however, comes with a trade-off. The noise of air traffic patterns often impacts the Des Plaines community. In order to assist local communities in planning for the future quality of life for their residents and businesses, the Federal Aviation Administration, through the Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act, has granted Des Plaines funding for local land use planning. The Oakton Street and Elmhurst Road Corridor Plan, one of the products of this grant, will define land use and redevelopment strategies within the O'Hare noise contour area, and recommend techniques to enhance residents' access to local goods and services."

If that intrigues you and you'd like to get all the details, ask for a copy (in library use only) at the Reference Desk, 4th floor.

"There's a stereotype that librarians are boring."

"And I think they want to change that stereotype to 'librarians are crazy.'"
Mo Willems, children's author and television writer.

I'm pretty sure he means "crazy" in a good way! Willems played emcee at the recent National Book Cart Drill Team Championship, held at the American Library Association conference in Chicago. As you may have learned from our Web site, our drill team, The Cart Wheels, brought home a coveted silver cart after tying for first place. What you might be wondering is: Why?

First of all, Willems is only partially right. Librarians are not only stereotyped as boring, but also as mean-spirited shushers, unfashionable frumps, and people who get paid to sit around and read all day. Studies have shown that many people actually suffer from "library anxiety," thanks to those unpleasant stereotypes. Well, we here at DPPL are determined to win you over and banish library anxiety from our midst. We like you - we really like you!

We've created an environment where you are welcome to work, learn and yes, play. On a daily basis, sure, we're busy cataloging, ordering new materials, answering tricky reference questions - we're also busy entertaining your kids while we dance around wearing clown noses. The book cart drill team arose out of our plans to celebrate our 100th anniversary two years ago. We wanted to wow you during DP's awesome 4th of July parade, and team leader Gail Bradley and co-captain Kathy Kyrouac took on the challenge. Judging by your rather rowdy applause, some stars were born that Independence Day.

Whether we're executing graceful formations with beglittered book carts, singing groovy disco songs on this year's parade float, hosting a swingin' evening at "Do The Dewey," or filming yet another wacky YouTube video, the point is this: we want you to think of us as your fun, friendly, helpful, personable neighbors over on Ellinwood Street. No buns, no shushing, no scowls. A little crazy, but in the best possible way.

Watch the Book Cart Drill Team Championship on YouTube!
Read all about the championship on the National Public Radio Web site, and in the blog Mental Floss.

Thanks to Paul Go for the Mental Floss link. In the photo, the Cart Wheels are (left to right): top row, Jacob Post, Bob Blanchard, Arlene Steiner, Gwen LaCosse; bottom row, Courtney O'Keefe, Phyllis Johnson, Gail Bradley, Eileen Gladish, Pat Nelson.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Telling Our Stories

From NBC's Matthew Samuels:
On Friday night, legendary CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite died after a long illness at the age of 92. In a world without the Internet and a 24-hour news cycle, Americans trusted Cronkite to provide the news every evening. A 1972 poll showed that Mr. Cronkite was more trusted than the president, the vice president, members of Congress, and other prominent journalists.
From Newsweek's Malcolm Jones:
(Frank) McCourt's voice took on a hard edge when he began to address the crowd a few minutes later. "I can do no more than tell the truth," he began. "People who think I have insulted Ireland or Limerick or my family have not read the book!" An ovation drowned out whatever he said next.
In the last few days, the world lost two great storytellers. Great because they captured our imagination, earned our trust, told our stories the way we needed them to be told.

Walter Cronkite needs no introduction. The veteran newsman spent so much time in American homes that he seemed more like your favorite uncle or a particularly wise teacher. Cronkite passed away at age 92 on July 17, 2009, after almost a century of life, and almost 50 years of clear-eyed reporting and sensible, compassionate commentary.

Frank McCourt may be less familiar, but not for lack of trying. After surviving a cruel and miserable childhood, the self-made man rose from hotel porter to well-respected school teacher to best-selling memoirist, turning painful memories of desperate poverty in County Limerick into the kind of fame most school teachers do not see. (McCourt's three books of memoirs have sold more than 10 million copies.) I remember gobbling up my copy of Angela's Ashes, after it was recommended by a friend. In its pages I learned not only what it was like to be Irish at a certain time in history, but what it means to be hungry, to be addicted, to be flawed, to be human.

Does great storytelling matter anymore? I think it does. If you've ever suffered through an afternoon of CNN in which the same story is told and retold, word for word, image for image, every 15 minutes or so, you probably feel the same. Internet news is often repetitive and numbing. I read the news online every morning and evening and I'm dismayed when "stories" appear to be copied-and-pasted from earlier versions, or when news reporting reads more like blogging - heavy on opinion and innuendo, light on facts. And how about the disgraceful number of recent memoirists who have grudgingly admitted that their books belong firmly on the Fiction shelf? Yes, writing fiction is also "storytelling," but manipulating your readers with a false promise is a rotten way to build an audience.

Walter Cronkite gave us the news without flashy graphics and theme songs. He had the courage to report on stories that might be unpopular (the Vietnam War), the wide-eyed curiosity to represent all of America as men walked on the Moon, and somehow managed to be completely engaged by his work while also properly detached from it - does that make sense? Frank McCourt might have waited too long to write his story, making a few factual errors along the way, according to his detractors. But in the end he left us with a moving chronicle of how strong and resilient a human spirit can be, how laughter can be squeezed out of some of life's most bitter moments, and how every person's story is precious, yearning to be told.

Books in our Library featuring Walter Cronkite
Books by Frank McCourt

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More job hunt help

Like me, you were probably startled and concerned when the Des Plaines Journal reported that the unemployment rate in Des Plaines was at 10.5% - higher than the state average of 9.9%. Neighboring communities like Elk Grove Village, Niles and Wheeling also have high rates of unemployment. Don't forget: your public library is here to help.
  • Use our free computers and low-cost printing to get your resumé up to speed and posted online.

  • Resumé need some editing? Use our free online service, HelpNow. You can submit your resumé online and in about 24 hours, it will be sent back to you with helpful suggestions. (HINT: you need a DPPL card to use this service from home.)

  • Brush up your networking skills and share tips with our new, free Job Seekers Group. The next meeting is on August 12 at 9:30 AM. Licensed career counselor Edie Kleinman leads the group and offers advice, support and motivation.

  • Are you a Twitterer? Sign up for our weekly Job Tips Tweet! Go to and you'll see the link to follow us on Twitter.

  • Browse around our Business site, too: it's packed with subscription databases that can help you pinpoint prospective employers by industry, size, location and other criteria. You'll also find the best job listings on the Web on the "Job Searching/Counseling" page.
Your tax dollars and donations support us - let us support YOU during this difficult time!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What a great day!

Des Plaines - we had a blast singing, dancing, book carting (is that verb?) and celebrating the 4th of July with you during this year's parade. Check out photographs from the parade, taken by some of our staff members, in the video below. See you next year!

If you enjoyed our entry in the parade, you can see additional footage of the book cart drill team and Singing Librarians on YouTube.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Let freedom ring!

Wow, it seems like summer just got started but here comes the 4th of July! It's been a tough year for our country and our world, but I think it's great that Des Plaines is continuing its traditions of a 4th of July parade and fireworks. When the going gets tough, it can be a very good thing to get outside, mingle with your neighbors, see your children smile and celebrate the freedom we can too easily take for granted.

Two reminders: First, the Library will be closed on Saturday, July 4 and Sunday, July 5, so our staff members can enjoy the holiday with their families and friends. We'll reopen at 9 AM on Monday, July 6.

However, many of us will be here anyway, participating in the fabulous 4th of July parade down Center Street! When we heard that the parade might be canceled, we were really saddened, so we're doubly excited that it's back on and we'll be able to participate. Our minds usually work overtime trying to come up with a new and unusual way to entertain you while we march in the parade. This year, members of our book cart drill team, The Cart Wheels, will be out in perfect formation. We've also got giveaways, including Summer Reading t-shirts celebrating the "Wild Women of Literature," thanks to our sponsor, Bishop Plumbing.

And speaking of wild women, the famous (or infamous - you make the call) Singing Librarians will also perform in the parade. You may have seen us Christmas caroling at the History Center or at Prairie Lakes, and may have caught our musical adaptation of The Wizard of Oz last April. Now we're taking our act on the road, literally, so watch for our float in the parade. We'll be singing great classic rock songs, a few disco favorites and, yes, even a tribute to that music legend the whole world has been talking about for the last week. We hope you'll join in with us, move your feet, clap your hands and sing along, because it's the simple pleasures like music, dancing, family, friends and the 4th of July that make life worth living.

Can't wait to see all of you on the 4th! The parade begins at 10 AM on Saturday, all along Center Street from Oakton Street to Prairie Avenue, rounding the corner over to the History Center on Pearson. Speaking of the History Center - don't forget their ice cream social. Enjoy root beer and ice cream right after the parade. Get full details from the City's Web site.