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Monday, February 22, 2010

In loving memory of Judy Reiss

Please read the favorite memories of Judy Reiss posted by our Youth Services department in their wonderful blog, Kidding Around.

For all the wonders modern technology brings to our days, there are times when there is no substitute for "being there." I am away from the Library at this time, participating in a technology/leadership training institute in Springfield, Illinois. I'm typically homesick while traveling anyway, but today unusually so - yesterday, February 22, 2010, everyone at DPPL learned of the unexpected and sudden passing of Judy Reiss, a much-loved member of our Youth Services department for 12 years.

I have dozens of pictures and videos of Judy - of course, they are all on my work computer which I cannot get into right now. I'm happy to share a few thoughts and the photos I happen to have saved on my personal laptop. I hope my coworkers will write thoughts and remembrances here, too.

The loss came so quickly and I know, even from a distance, that my colleagues must be struggling to get through the work week under the burden of the sadness. I also know "Miss Judy" was a friend and an inspiration to many, many children in Des Plaines. In the photo above, she's charming some kids with her thoughtful reading of a story. I've watched her fearlessly challenge a roomful of 10 year old boys, armed with Legos of every shape and size, and seen her cheer on their work and creativity.

One thing I truly loved about Judy: she was very happy and willing to be silly when the occasion called for it, as you can see in this "Clowning Around" photo with Judy's coworker Elizabeth Bialobrzewski. Whether it was telling jokes in clown make-up to entertain kids, or acting like a lovesick teenager in our "Mr. Totebag" video, Judy brought a sense of joy to work every day.

Judy lived with a gentleness of spirit and that rarest of qualities - pure and simple kindness. I never saw her lose her temper - well, maybe once, during baseball season. I'll get to that in a moment. But I've sat through lengthy meetings with her, in the midst of heated discussions, and she remained the picture of calm. It doesn't surprise me at all that her reading voice could calm a gaggle of antsy kids, it had much the same effect on all of her "grown-up" colleagues. If you are ever missing Judy's voice and want to hear it again, she is the narrator of our "It's Easy Being Green" YouTube video. She did a wonderful job on this project and I really enjoyed getting to know her during our hours of working on the script and voiceover.

In fact, our DPPL Green Team was planning a new video and we were certainly hoping Judy would take part. Judy was one of the first to volunteer for the Green Team and came to every meeting full of great ideas and suggestions. You can see Judy's "Go Green!" booklist for kids here on our Web site. She was so proud of her daughter Kelly, who has made quite a name for herself online as "The Vegetarian Librarian" and as a staff person at the Chicago Center for Green Technology. Yep, Kelly is a librarian, and thank you to my colleague Sara McLaughlin for posting in the comments here that Judy's son Kevin is also a librarian! I agree wholeheartedly with Sara's comment that Judy has left all of us a wonderful legacy and our profession is the better for her dedication and enthusiasm and the nurturing she provided to her children that led them to library work.

Here she is with Bob Blanchard and myself when we unveiled the plastic bag recycling in our atrium.
Besides "greenness" and library work, Judy and I shared one other passion, a love for those blue-clad Northsiders, those heartbreaking boys of summer we call the Chicago Cubs. I knew I had found a real friend at work as Judy rejoiced and then commiserated with me in that painful autumn of 2008, when the Cubs got so far, but not far enough. But while I was clenching my fists and railing against the gods of sport, Judy did what she always did: she kept smiling and stayed hopeful, positive, encouraging. I think if she could have brought the Cubs into the Storytime Room with some Legos, she might have worked magic. It is hard for me to imagine today that she, as Cub fan Steve Goodman once put it, has "season tickets to watch the Angels now." I think she'll find a way to barter them for an angel's-eye view of Wrigley

Please, coworkers, family, friends of Judy, feel free to add your comments here. Judy, your absence leaves an unfillable space in our library & in our hearts but your gentle spirit will live on in memories and all the good works you did for us and our community.

Judy's obituary is available in the Chicago Tribune.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Text a Librarian - How Cool Is THAT?

You've been calling us with reference questions for years. You've probably been emailing us for well over a decade. Let's move into the 21st century: you can text us your reference questions!

We're rolling out a new service called "Text a Librarian." Did you know more Americans send text messages rather than making phone calls? In 2008, U.S. mobile subscribers averaged 357 text messages a month!

Now, texting is a good way for you to reach your library, too.

Here's how "Text a Librarian" works - it's so simple you won't believe it.
  • Dial 66746 on your mobile device;

  • Begin the body of your message with the 4 letter code: dppl;

  • Then type your question and hit send.
Save 66746 in your address book with a nickname like "library" so it's easy to get to us. This service is only available during normal business hours but you will receive a message if we are closed so you know the message went through.

A helpful tip: you only need to type "dppl" in the first time you send a message from a particular device. After that, our system will remember you. It will not, however, reveal your mobile phone number to us, so your privacy is protected and your number cannot be sold to pesty telemarketers.

Pretty simple, isn't it? Give it a whirl, whether you need a quick fact (what's the population of Des Plaines? what's the date of Memorial Day this year?), directions (is the library north or south of Oakton Community College?) or even library information (what are your hours today?). If you do try it, please let us know what you think of this new service.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Our Usual Valentine's Day Madness

I know, I know - Valentine's Day was yesterday and once the weekend is passed, the stores have moved onto St. Patrick's Day, Passover and Easter. I wasn't ready! Making videos for YouTube is an inexact science and I was also enjoying the photos we took on Snapshot Day. Consider this silly little video your intermission while you wait for a full video of all the Snapshot Day photos. I finally have all the pictures from our 9 different photographers so I need a day or two to put them all together.

We seem to have developed a tradition for Valentine's videos here at DPPL and this year was no exception. Watch us overact, listen to me oversing, and (I hope) laugh at our dramatic portrayal of how difficult it can be to part with the library books and movies you have truly, madly, deeply enjoyed.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snapshot Day - see yourself in these pictures?

Thanks to your enthusiastic response to Snapshot Day! We took well over 100 photos of our busy library and its friendly patrons. Here is a photo slideshow featuring a selection of pictures - if your photo isn't in here, don't worry! We have lots more photos to edit and put on our Web site! This is just the beginning - enjoy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snapshot Day - see some photos

Many libraries across Illinois are participating in Snapshot Day today. One activity that the Illinois Library Association suggests is uploading photos of a typical day's activity in the library. If you'd like to see the photos uploaded so far, check out the Flickr photostream.

Scroll down the page and you can give us your comments and favorites in our online survey.

Snapshot Day - what we've learned so far

I think we've all had time to dig out of the snow and get back to normal, at least whatever counts as "normal" for Chicago in February! The Library was very quiet this morning but is gradually filling up and we're doing our best to document a typical day here as part of the Illinois Library Association's "Snapshot" - One Day in the Life of Illinois Libraries.

I've posted an online survey where you are welcome to share your comments about why you like the Des Plaines Public Library. If you haven't filled it in yet, you can do so below. I thought I'd share with you what a few patrons have written thus far.

"I go mostly with my 3 year old daughter. There is such a large assortment of books and movies for her to choose from."

Favorite thing? "The library staff. They work hard for us!"

"My favorite thing is the up-to-date Music collection. The library is really keeping up with current music trends!"

"The check out system is so easy. I can place a hold on books from multiple libraries without traveling. Staff at the each floor is very knowledgeable." ap.

"Its beauty. It lifts my spirits to see a well-designed, well-cared for public facility in Des Plaines -- for us all to share."

"I really enjoy the selection in the Book Club section. I can always find an interesting read there when I'm not sure what I want to read next. It makes it convenient to find newer (though not aways) popular books, similar to browsing a bookstore. Also, I love the foreign film selection. There are many titles I've never seen in a video store, so I was very happy to discover this!" Sue H.

Just a few of the comments we've received and we would love to hear from you about why you use DPPL, what your favorite part of the Library is and any other love you'd like to share with us - after all, Valentine's Day is just around the corner and "Love Stories" is still the most searched book topic here at the Des Plaines Public Library - so we know there are some lovers out there! Thanks for your comments so far, we really do read and appreciate them. I'll share photos and video from Snapshot Day as the day continues. Stay warm and dry out there.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Snapshot - One Day in the Life of Illinois Libraries

Next Wednesday, 2/10/10, is "Snapshot" Day. The Illinois Library Association, faced with drastic budget cuts across the state, is just asking for a little love. :) We'll be collecting lots of statistics that day, taking photos, interviewing patrons, basically capturing one day in the life of a typical public library (although personally I think we're a lot better than "typical").

If you'd like to help, one thing you can do: answer one or all of the questions in the quick online survey below.
Tell us why you use DPPL, what resource, department, person or service makes it valuable and helpful to you. Maybe you can share a success story - how the Library encouraged you to read more, to learn computer skills, to look for employment, etc. It's your story, so only you know the answers to the questions, but we would love to hear from you. Think of it as an early Valentine to your friendly neighborhood public library of more than 100 years. If you stop in and visit us next Wednesday, you can share your stories with us in person - you might even catch me running around with the videocamera and I'd love to add you to our photo/video montage of the day. It's our honor and pleasure to serve this community and we would love to hear why the library matters to you. Thanks.

Monday, February 1, 2010

You say "potato..."

I say, "patate," or "aardappel," or "pomme de terre." That old "potah-to-potato" song "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" celebrated the differences between pronunciations of English words, but take it global and you've got major communication problems. Being fluent in a second or even third language is something every global citizen should consider. If you've had the dream of learning a new language or brushing up on an old one, we have a new online service you'll want to try - Mango Languages.

Mango uses real-life situations and actual conversations to more effectively teach a new language. It includes instruction for 22 foreign language and ESL (English as a Second Language) courses for speakers of 14 different languages. Browsing through the language list, I'm excited about the possibilities! I studied French in high school and could really use a refresher course and Mango offers both a Basic and Complete lesson plan for francais. About 15 years ago I tried in vain to learn some Irish via a cassette tape. I've been searching for a convenient way to try again and I can't believe Mango offers Irish, too! The 23 languages offered cover many continents and countries so you are likely to find something you want or need to learn.

To use Mango in the library, just go to our Reference list of databases and click "Mango Languages." You will probably want to use Mango from your home computer - follow the same link, just have your DPPL card number handy to authenticate yourself for free access.

Our goal for 2010 is to help you get wherever you need to go in the neighborhood, the world, in life. If learning a language is part of your plan, try Mango Languages and let us know what you think.