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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays from PlainTalk

PlainTalk will be on a little holiday sabbatical until the new year. Thank you to those who sent in holiday decor photos for our contest, and congratulations to J. Murphy of Des Plaines, the winner of a $50 gift card.
The winning photo - I bet there's a lot of snow on that lawn tonight! :)

I hope whatever you do for the next week brings you tremendous satisfaction and joy, in the shape of lively family gatherings, religious services, sumptuous meals, gift exchanges, nights on the town with friends, or the simple delight of doing nothing much at all - sleeping in, curling up with a book, savoring cookies for breakfast, and not setting the alarm clock for a few days. If you are in the service sector and will be working while much of the country stays home, I thank you for the meals you'll serve, the sick you'll attend, the fires you'll put out, the planes you'll fly, the hotel rooms you'll clean, and the groceries you'll bag. Mostly, I hope the new year brings us all of more comfort, less anxiety and plenty to celebrate.

Best wishes from all of us here at the Des Plaines Public Library. We look forward to serving you in 2010.

The photo above is a view of the Christmas Around the World/Holidays of Light exhibit currently on display at Chicago's Museum of Science & Industry. I was privileged to spend the day there with friends this week and the holiday decorations are spectacular.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Show Us Your Bling!!! Holiday Photo Contest

This is such a great time of year to commute through Des Plaines because I really get a kick out of everyone's holiday decorations. Giant, inflatable Santas, icicle lights, glowing manger scenes, strings of Star of David garland, polar bears - no homemade snowmen yet, but I'm sure they're coming, if Tom Skilling has anything to say about it.

So, we'd like to make you a deal. If you've got an awesome holiday display at home, send us some digital pictures of it, along with your name, address and email address or phone. We're going to put them all together into a video slideshow here on our Web site AND - here's the good part for you: we'll put all the entries into the proverbial hat and draw a winner on 12/23/09. That winner will receive a $50 gift certificate to the Des Plaines restaurant of their choice. Our holiday gift to you.

Get those photos taken tonight and email them to me, Karen McBride, Web Services Librarian:

We will accept photos until NOON on Wednesday, 12/23/09. Winner will be drawn at 5 PM on 12/23 and notified via email or phone. We will use all of the submitted photos on our Web site - however, we will not identify the home address of each photo, for your safety and privacy.

Please - share your photos with us and ask your friends and neighbors to do the same. It's been a tough year for a lot of people. Let's spread a little holiday cheer and remind ourselves that Des Plaines is a great city full of terrific people.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chanukah Blues

Chanukah begins this night (Friday, December 11, 2009), with the first candle of the menorah being lit before sundown. I have a slight confession to make - being Roman Catholic, I'm prone to confessions - I wish Chanukah would become a holiday that everyone shared!

My first interest in Chanukah was purely surface level: I love the color scheme. Very shallow of me, I know, but the blues and whites of Chanukah, often with a touch of silver, are lovely to my eyes and much more appealing than red and green. (Would you ever wear red and green together in March or September? I think not.) When it came time to decorate the outside of my home for Christmas for the first time, I bought all blue lights. My Irish/Czech mother drove up and said, "It looks like Chanukah." I was secretly rather pleased.

From Jewish friends and colleagues through the years, I have learned more about the meaning of Chanukah, the history and significance underneath the pretty blue and white. I never bought into the glib, "Chanukah is the Jewish Christmas" story I heard from non-Jewish sources. Here's a "Chanukah in a nutshell" definition from the Chabad Web site, which seems like a very extensive resource if you are interested in Judaism:
"Chanukah -- the eight-day festival of light that begins on the eve of Kislev 25 -- celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality."
The holiday brings an emphasis on family celebration, faith, and - hooray - yummy treats for sharing. Here's a link to the Chabad site for Chanukah if you'd like to learn more. Chabad and F.R.E.E. in neighboring Niles also has Chanukah information on its Web site: check it out.

You may be of a completely different faith tradition, an agnostic, even an atheist, but I imagine most of us would still like to see light conquer darkness in our world and an end to the focus on material possessions which doesn't seem to get us anywhere. We have library materials on Chanukah for both adults and children: click here for a listing from our catalog, and remember you can search and borrow from all the other libraries in our consortium, too.

I wish our Jewish patrons, library employees and community residents a warm and blessed Chanukah. I know we recently had a comment about PlainTalk seemingly being a blog with a "Christian" outlook. I am only able to blog from my own knowledge base and human experience, but it is certainly never with an intent to make anyone else feel excluded or less valued. One thing I love about working at DPPL is that I share my work days with coworkers of many different faiths - Jewish, Muslim, and probably others of which I am not even aware. Lunchroom conversations also indicate that other coworkers are very comfortable not believing in a God of their choice. I appreciate that diversity, which more adequately reflects the world at large and which allows us to be a truly public library that serves everyone in our community, not just some.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Help for Local Businesses

When the recession went from theory to reality, late last year, we talked a lot at DPPL about how we could help job seekers and local businesses. One idea of mine was to produce short, informational videos about local businesses and put them online. Then, if a person was Google searching for that type of business in the Des Plaines area, they might find the video, learn about the business and perhaps make a decision that would help stimulate the local economy.

After 7 months of planning and preliminary work, I'm proud to announce that the project is finally open for business, so to speak. We have produced four videos so far and we'll keep adding to the list. It's time consuming but a labor of love for myself and Business Librarian Joanne Griffin. All of the videos are available at our new YouTube channel, DesPlainesBusiness.

Our first video highlighted the DP Chamber of Commerce and Industry, currently celebrating its 75th anniversary. Next we took an in-depth look at accounting and consulting firm Rozovics and Wojcicki. (Yes, one of their partners is a DPPL Board member. For the first few videos, it was helpful to ease in gradually, working with familiar faces who would forgive us for mishaps and less-than-smooth sailing.) Our project took us into the cozy kitchen of Via Roma. Our newest video features Accurate Auto Clinic and you can watch it up above. We'll feature individual videos on the Library Web site or you can check back to the YouTube channel to see what's new.

You'll notice two things when you watch the videos. We've branded each one with a "Des Plaines Means Business" tag line and a bluesy theme song. We've also put some fun into each one, letting our local business owners lighten up and share something unique about their personalities or the way they do business. I'm grateful to the four organizations who have worked with us so far and look forward to a busy 2010, making more videos. I'm also extremely thankful to my colleague Joanne, who knows all of these business owners from her involvement with the Chamber of Commerce & Industry and who makes my job much easier by arranging the logistics of each shoot. Know a local business owner that might be interested in a short, promotional video? Email me with the details.

Your public library is a lot more than books, videos and programs for children. How can we help you get to where you want to be in 2010 and beyond?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Quick News Flash!

Typically, when we receive a news flash email update from our Security Staff, it is not good news: there's been an injury, an argument, an unpleasant incident of some sort. Imagine our communal surprise when we received this from staff member Bob Walker today:

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Today a small Boy and his Mother came up to the Security Desk and handed me 2 bags and a box of food for the food pantry, The Mother said the Boy saved up the money for the food to help the Poor! The World's future seems in good hands!"

Who says you only hear bad news these days? Have a great Monday.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Those Singing Librarians Are At It Again!

I came on board at DPPL in May of 2007. A few months later, still the new kid but eager to do what I could to be a team player, I suggested to some musically-minded colleagues that we could offer to go Christmas caroling over at the Des Plaines History Center. It was quite a treat to sing traditional carols in the old-fashioned decor at the Kinder House. I never expected that, two years later, the "Singing Librarians" would be going strong and performing at all kinds of community events as well as here at the library. That's a photo of today's final rehearsal for this weekend's musical festivities (I am absent, since I am the photographer).

You may have heard us put on a live adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz" last Spring. You may have seen us wobbling along to the sounds of "Celebration" on our enormous parade float last July. If you're the kind of person who enjoys slightly over the top singing from a bunch of lovable and loopy librarians, well, we've got more for you.

We'll be caroling at the city's official treelighting event this Friday evening, December 4, in Metropolitan Square. After strolling and singing, we'll perform a few snazzy numbers on the stage at 6 PM. If that's not enough for you, we'll be back on Saturday afternoon at 12:30 PM over at Lake Wonderland (Lake Park/Lake Opeka the rest of the year).
Stop by and share some holiday cheer with us on Friday and Saturday. We hope to do some impromptu caroling in the library as well and when we do, join in with us - we sound better that way.

If you prefer your caroling more traditional and your harmonies more well-rehearsed, come to DPPL and hear the Canterbury Carollers in a free concert this Sunday from 2-3 PM.

Want holiday music you can bring home? Try these one-click searches for Hanukkah and Christmas CDs and music DVDs in our collection. Don't forget - you can also place holds on holiday CDs from our neighboring libraries, too, so if we don't have it, someone else probably does!

Hanukkah music

Christmas music