Thanks for visiting. We aren't actively blogging here anymore. Please visit us on our new site.

Monday, November 30, 2009

“If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one.”

Or maybe two or three. The quote above is from the venerable Mother Teresa, who knew a thing or two about feeding hungry people.The good news is, we all know something about feeding hungry people and we also know there are more hungry people in our country, in our neighborhood, than there were even a year or two ago. Doesn't take much to help, does it? Some cans of soup, some pasta and sauce, mac and cheese, pancake mix - I figure that much right there will run you $10.00. Throw in some packages of toilet tissue, toothpaste, some household cleaners, and you're at, what, $20.00? $25.00? You've just fed a person, maybe two or three.

My good buddies in Readers' Services are making it extra-easy for you to feed some people this winter. Read about their food collection, going on now through December 7, 2009. Drop it off here while you check out your DVDs and cozy holiday novels, they'll do the heavy lifting and moving. I plan on picking up some bags of food to donate - how about you? I know we're in a collective, societal funk over the recession right now, but surely we can snap out of it long enough to feed someone. The food collection here at DPPL will benefit our local Self-Help Pantry and Closet - so your good works will help an individual or family close to home, and if that doesn't cheer you a bit I don't know what will.

Also - are you an occasional delinquent when it comes to returning library items? We'll have good news for you early in 2010, when we kick off our first-ever "Food For Fines" event. For a few weeks, we'll erase some of your overdue fines in exchange for food donations. Watch our DPPL home page and PlainTalk for more details.

If you're really charged with the holiday spirit and feel blessed to have financial comfort, why not contact the Self-Help Closet and Pantry directly to see what other assistance you can provide? Call 847-375-1443 or visit their Web site.

One last thought, again from Mother Teresa: "There is hunger for ordinary bread, and there is hunger for love, for kindness, for thoughtfulness; and this is the great poverty that makes people suffer so much." Donating food this season will alleviate both of those hungers, for ordinary bread and for extraordinary kindness, at least for one person. Maybe more. Do what you can.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Are We Thankful Yet?

Sunday night, I had the misfortune of being dragged into that very famous fast food restaurant - you know, the one that got its start right here in Des Plaines? Golden arches? Get the hint? Mom and Dad had promised my disabled sister some dinner at said establishment and she thinks it's a treat, so I tagged along. I was ready to lose my marbles after 10 minutes. The so-called "fast" food took 15 minutes to order (I am not exaggerating), another 10-15 minutes to arrive and even then, our order was short two items. There was a children's birthday party going on, which involved nothing but screaming and frequent trips to the restrooms. Another group of parents and kids chattered in another corner. Amusingly, the recorded background music was playing Bob Dylan's "Tangled Up In Blue." I felt like I was on Mars.

Then I took a deep breath and told my inner whiner to shut up. I had a warm coat, cash in my wallet, a hot and somewhat tasty chicken sandwich in front of me, the love of family, a car to get us there (and get us safely far away...). The only reason I was tired and impatient was from a 6 hour high school class reunion the night before, which was restorative and amazing and fun beyond belief. All this in a world where millions live on less than one dollar a day. I shouldn't be crabby, I should be ashamed of myself.

There's a wonderful Conan O'Brien clip going around the Internet in which comedian Louis CK laments, "Everything's amazing and nobody's happy!" We complain about waiting an hour while the plane idles on the runway, when it used to take 30 years to get from New York to California. We complain about how slooooow the Internet is when we didn't even have it available a few years back. When did we stop marvelling at new inventions and conveniences and begin to take everything for granted?

The only way it will change? A massive shift in mind-set, followed by an equally massive change of behavior. Don't limit your gratitude to an hour at your house of prayer every week. When you're tempted to gripe over that long line or slow computer, think of what your life would be like without those services, or if they were available only to the wealthy and powerful. Got a job? Be thankful. Got your health? Be thankful. Got loving family and/or friends? Thank them. Got shoes on your feet and somewhere to sleep? Praise your particular God or your lucky stars for those things every day.

Want to see the world become a more grateful place? Share what you've got. We are currently collecting NEW hats, gloves, mittens and scarves at our Mitten Tree, on the Library's second floor. Items for children and adults are welcome. We are always collecting food for the Self-Help Closet and Food Pantry, just look for the red barrel in our atrium, but right now our 3rd floor Readers' Services staff is taking up a special food collection: details here. One of my favorite stories in the Christian Bible is that of the widow's mite. The rich come to the temple treasury and make what seem like grand donations, but they leave plenty in their own pockets. The widow comes with her last, small coin and gives it away. We're told she is the one who will be richly blessed for giving all that she has. Give thanks this Thursday - and give help if you can so that others can be thankful, too.

Need a smile? Drive down Prairie Avenue, west of Graceland, and watch for a house just east of the railroad crossing, (sorry, I don't know the cross street) with huge letters on the front lawn spelling out "Give Thanks!" Love that sign of holiday joy!

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Mitten Tree Time!

Nothing gives you that warm, fuzzy, holiday glow quite like giving to others and making a difference right in your own community. You can do that by stopping by the Mitten Tree on the Library's second floor.

The Des Plaines Special Events Commission and the Health & Human Services Division of the City of Des Plaines coordinate the Mitten Tree Project during the holiday season. The purpose of the Mitten Tree Project is to collect new hats, gloves, mittens and scarves for individuals within our community who are in need.

The collected items are distributed to local school children in need - adult-sized items will be distributed through the Self-Help Closet and Food Pantry.

Drop off the new hats, gloves, mittens and scarves during regular Library hours, now through December 18, 2009. The weather might be pleasant today, but we know the cold and damp is coming. Help brighten someone's winter with a nice new hat or pair of gloves. It won't cost you much and I know it will warm you up, too.

Our beautiful Mitten Tree display was designed by Manager of Creative Services, Ellen Glickman.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife..."

The Des Plaines Public Library was very proud to host a special Veterans' Day celebration last week, on Wednesday, November 11, 2009. The event was the work of American Legion Post 36 and the Des Plaines History Center, who brought together local veterans along with activities especially for children, who were home from school that day. It was a wonderful opportunity for all residents to share their gratitude to our veterans and learn more about their unique place in American history. The event allowed many children to meet a real veteran, see artifacts from their years of service, write letters to veterans and active troops, and even try on historical military uniforms. Enjoy the video of moments from that day, including a moving tribute to POWs-MIA along with beautiful choral arrangements from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Like the music? Check out the CD at the Library - click here for availability and call number.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Don't read this blog!

Just for today, though. I'm stealing a little of PlainTalk's space to introduce you to something new, also in blog form, from the Library - a music blog called "this beat goes on."

DPPL has more than 20,000 CDs in its ever-evolving collections. If you like to sample what is new and unusual in music, borrowing our CDs is a fiscally responsible way to do that. Being able to buy songs online, one at a time, can prevent the buyer's remorse that comes when you love one song and buy the whole album. However, you can even save yourself the 99 cents by borrowing the CD, getting your fill of that one song and then returning it. If you're like me, occasionally an old, long-forgotten song suddenly worms its way back into your brain and won't let go (I'm not being imaginative - they call these "ear worms."). Why not find the song here or from one of our consortial libraries before running out and buying it? Sometimes those old favorites turn out to be less glorious with the test of time.

To help you discover the hidden treasures of our CD collections, David Whittingham from Readers' Services and myself will be introducing you to specific CDs as well as special sections. You can find the blog by visiting, or by clicking on "Great Music" under the "Read/Watch/Listen" menu. I hope that "this beat goes on" inspires you to listen bravely and creatively.

Friday, November 6, 2009

update on "i have a voice"

You can read all the details on "i have a voice" below. Today we had a special visitor to DPPL, Des Plaines' very own Michael Senesac, who is one of the individuals featured in the "i have a voice" photo exhibit. You can see Michael here as he looks today, a handsome young man, posing by his portrait. “I’m proud that my friends, my school and my family will see this,” stated Michael.

Michael's mother Fran was instrumental in bringing "i have a voice" to the Des Plaines Public Library. "I think it's so important that people see that people with Down syndrome and other disabilities fit into our community and thrive." Amen to that, Fran!

Read more below and don't forget that there will be a special reception featuring a talk by Nancy Gianni, founder of GiGi's Playhouse, an awareness center for individuals with Down syndrome, on Saturday, November 14, at 1 PM in our Storytime Room. Please join us next Saturday!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

i have a voice

Do you have a pet peeve? I do. It's when someone uses the words "retard" or "retarded" as a so-called joke. If you ever wonder what a librarian looks like when her head is about to explode, just try it with me some time. What makes it even worse is when it flies from the mouth of a friend, from someone I consider to be an intelligent, compassionate, sensitive adult. Yet it shouldn't take a great degree of intelligence or even sensitivity to figure out that a developmental disability is no joke - should it?

Yes, my skin may be thinner than yours because I have a loved one, my oldest sister Susie, with a developmental disability. As a family, we have endured countless episodes of staring, laughter, finger-pointing, name-calling - it's a wonder we like people at all anymore. But I do like people, and I think any opportunity for the rest of us to learn what life is like for the disabled is an opportunity that should be seized. So I am delighted that DPPL is hosting an eye-opening exhibit of photography, "i have a voice," this month, November 2009. (Thanks to generous sponsorship from the Friends of the Library.)

You see, the sad thing is that, along with mindless cruelty, an awful lot of people think developmental disabilities should be looked upon with pity, even embarrassment, with the unfounded notion that people with such disabilities won't amount to anything. If you still feel that way, I'm encouraging you to get over it - today. Stop by and spend some time contemplating "i have a voice" this month or attend the reception on Saturday, November 14 at 1 PM. You'll get an intimate glimpse into the lives of 24 beautiful, interesting, bright and also exceptionally normal individuals. They also just happen to share the condition called Down syndrome. The photos were professionally shot and each is displayed with some personal information about the subject - hobbies, academic interests, dreams and goals. Bring your children to see and learn from these photographs and stories. If you love someone with a developmental disability, come and see and be inspired for the future.

"i have a voice" is the creative effort of a local organization called GiGi's Playhouse. GiGi's grew out of the desire of one mother, Nancy Gianni, to find help, support and resources when one of her own children was born with Down syndrome. It has grown from a small storefront in Hoffman Estates into five locations and there is much more to come. You can learn more about GiGi's Playhouse by visiting their Web site. I am particularly proud to call Nancy, her daughter GiGi and the whole rest of the Gianni gang my friends - they are doing extraordinary work and so many are being nurtured by that initial seed Nancy planted. While you're admiring the "i have a voice" exhibit, you can also pick up a brochure and learn more about the photos, a related book project and GiGi's Playhouse. If you attend the talk and reception on November 14, you can meet Nancy Gianni as well.

Please take some time out of your next Library visit to be warmed, encouraged, challenged, even confronted by "i have a voice" and the stories it tells. The exhibit is on the 2nd floor in the alcove behind the elevators and will be here at DPPL through November 30, 2009.

Hate the misuse of the "r" word as much as I do? Here's an organization trying to do something about it: The R Word: Change the Conversation

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Best wishes, Veronica and Joe!

Share in a little Halloween madness, DPPL-style, by viewing photographs from the wedding of our Head of Youth Services, Veronica Schwartz. Veronica married her beau and fellow lover of Halloween parties, Joe DeFazio, in a colorful, lavish and joyous celebration on Saturday, October 31, 2009. See if you can spot any of your favorite staff persons, disguised as witches, popular movie & TV characters, singers, even novels and historical periods! A memorable beginning to what we know will be a lifetime of love for Veronica and Joe.