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Friday, April 30, 2010

Scammers and Spammers - Stay Alert!

Recent conversations here at the Library tell us that Spring - and scams - are in the air! We wanted to warn you of scams we have recently encountered via email, cell phone and text message and give you some advice on staying secure.

One of our Reference staff received an email purporting to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and even included the official IRS logo. It informed her that she was due for a refund and - here's the part that should tip you off - all she had to do was send in her credit card number, PIN, social security number, issuing bank, etc. The IRS, your bank, a retail store, your Internet service provider - these entities will never ask you for that kind of information in an email. No matter how official it looks, never respond to these emails or call a phone number included in the message. Find an official phone number for the IRS or for your bank and make a call to inquire about the message. You will undoubtedly find out that you were almost a victim of "phishing," random messages sent out in a variety of platforms, just looking for that one, oblivious, innocent soul who will be conned into sending all kinds of personal information to someone who will take advantage of it.

Want to see how savvy you are to "spam" emails and "phishing?" One of our IT specialists recommends this Web site: 
Take the quiz there and see how much you know about scammers and spammers.

Another approach that I often take when I receive a suspect message - copy the email address, phone number or some of the other info and just pop it into a Google search. I did this last Sunday when I received a strange text message, supposedly from my bank, saying that my checking account had suspicious activity on it and that I needed to call the supplied telephone number immediately. I knew something was wrong because my bank does not have my cell phone number! I typed the phone number they provided into Google and sure enough, I found a Web site where people can go to log complaints about unwanted calls. Just that day, dozens of people had written comments about this same text message I'd received. It was not from any legitimate bank - the phone number directed you to an automated message, instructing you to punch in your bank account number and undoubtedly handing your bank information over to some con artists.

One more Web site you might find useful:  Something of a classic on the Internet, Snopes can help you make sense of another type of email, the one with a dramatic story of a kidnapped child, a corporate cover-up, a miracle cure or some other piece of slightly unbelievable news. These emails can be upsetting, harmful and embarrassing, if you're the one who passes on the story that ends up being false or far from the truth. For years, we've called these "urban legends," and Snopes has done a fine job of unravelling truth from fiction so bookmark their site as a reference tool and... be careful out there!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Do The Dewey 2010" Photos!

I make a couple dozen videos for the Library every year and some of the "Most Viewed" are slideshows of photographs taken at "Do The Dewey," our annual fundraiser. Here is this year's slideshow - enjoy! Want to watch it in a larger HD format? Go to the source here on our YouTube channel. Thanks to the Des Plaines Camera Club and our own Manager of Creative Services, Gina DeConti, for these awesome photos! (If you can make me look good in a picture, you are definitely an expert photographer!) If you've never been to "Do The Dewey," I think the smiling faces here tell you all you need to know. It's a fun, casual evening of food drink and entertainment for a great price and a great cause. Make a note to attend next year!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dewey, Thankem & Howe

Meaning, of course, we are thrilled to thank all the individuals and businesses who helped make our annual fundraiser, "Do The Dewey," a rousing success.

It takes a large group of volunteers from both the Library and the Rotary Club of Des Plaines to get the event off the ground and keep it in the air. We also thank the energetic and patient teens who volunteered to run back and forth with trays of food and who somehow kept smiling all night (that's one of them in our traditional "Dewey Pizza Pose" up above)! Making a big splash at "Dewey" this year was the Des Plaines Camera Club, who took photos of happy guests and activities and then displayed them on our video display system. Finally, we are indebted for the valuable donations of prizes, food, beverages and other items, donations which kept our costs down while we provided a fun evening of eating, drinking and merry-making.

Here's a big "THANK YOU" to everyone who attended and/or donated to the 2010 "Do The Dewey." We appreciate your support of the Library and the Rotary Club, even more so during these challenging economic times. Please, look over the list below and support these local businesses to show your gratitude for their decision to give back to the community. If you attended "Do The Dewey," watch for a recap slideshow right here within the next few days.

Event Sponsors:
Glenview State Bank
Complete Cleaning Co.
Outsource Solutions Group

Cash Donations:
Automated Logic
Julie Casey (In-Sight Marketing)
Stephanie & Mark Duckmann
John & Delight Eilering
Anne H. Evans
Gayle J. Gallagher
Mary Hartwick
Myrtle Klebe
Dave Samson
John Shea

Prize Donations:
Midwest TapeRosewood Restaurant
Violeta AtanasovaKane County Cougars
Dr. Michael BagbyLattoff Y.M.C.A.
Lurveys’ Garden CenterClub Casa Café at the Des Plaines Golf Center
The Field MuseumSkip Robertson
Party Time PalaceTom & Courtnay Simeone
The Malnati OrganizationPrairie Lee Print & Frame
Roberta JohnsonVeronica DeFazio
Adler PlanetariumCostco - Mt. Prospect
V. F. W. Post 2992Chicago Wolves
OM WorkspaceDennis Oster
The Choo Choo RestaurantNorine Murphy
Little Villa Restaurant & PizzeriaGiacomo's Ristorante Italiano
John HeckerKohl Children's Museum
Des Plaines Park DistrictArlington Park Racecourse
Noreen LakeJennifer Tsalapatanis
Flex FitnessHecker & Sons Aviation
Sharon LynchWhole Foods Market - Palatine
Dave WebsterChristine Posinger
Dennis & Sandra K. NorlinMarge Scholl
Karen McBrideSally Thomphsen
R. C. Wahl JewelersFrisbie Senior Center
Grand Victoria Casino - ElginShedd Aquarium
Nick & Gayle BisesiGiuseppe’s La Cantina
Drive PerformanceJerry Hug
Barbara RyanDave's Specialty Foods
Holly Sorensen

Food Donations:
Shop & Save
All On The Road Catering
Romano's Italian Restaurant
Caputo & Sons
Don's Dock Seafood Market
Cumberland Café
Oak Mill Bakery
Cheeseburger in Paradise
Giuseppe's La Cantina Restaurant
Chang Jiang Buffet
Via Roma Italian Eatery
Little Villa Restaurant & Pizza

Monday, April 19, 2010

Last Chance to "Do The Dewey" in 2010!

When's the last time you walked into the Library and someone asked you if you'd like some pizza? If your answer is "Never!" or "How strange!" then you need to buy your ticket and get here on Saturday, April 24, 2010, for the 8th annual "Do The Dewey" fundraiser!

I've told you before but it's worth telling you again: "Do The Dewey" is a fundraiser shared by the Des Plaines Public Library and the Rotary Club of Des Plaines. For a $35 ticket, you receive:
  • Unlimited soft drinks, beer and wine;
  • Unlimited "finger food," from appetizers to desserts, most of it donated by our fine local restaurants;
  • Fabulous live jazz, pop, blues and more from Jazz Couture, featuring the soulful saxophone of Nick Bisesi and the sassy stylings of vocalist Gayle Bisesi;
  • FUN, interactive lessons in everything from tai chi, Bollywood-style dancing, flower arranging, bonsai and Chinese calligraphy;
  • They just broke ground at the Des Plaines casino - start brushing up on your gaming techniques NOW with John Grochowski, Sun-Times columnist and "Casino Answer Man";
  • If the free food spread doesn't fill you up, try free samples of exotic teas and Capanarri's ice cream;
  • Find out what your handwriting - and your aura - say about you;
  • Try your luck for raffle and silent auction prizes.
It's three hours of pure entertainment and relaxation, for a low price, for two great causes. Come on out this Saturday night - buy tickets in advance at the Library registration desk or buy them online. The ticket price goes up to $40 at the door, so buy today and we hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Very Important News You Need!

With everyone shouting for your attention on the Internet, it's hard to be heard. We really want you to know the following information concerning online library services for the week of April 18-23, 2010.

Due to an equipment upgrade for our online catalog system, the following services will be completely unavailable from 6 PM, Sunday, April 18, 2010 through Friday, April 23, 2010:
  • All of the "My Account" services, including "Review My Account" (see what items you have checked out, on hold, overdue), "Renew My Materials," "Pay Bills," "User Password Change," "Register for Email Notification."
  •  "Place A Hold" - while browsing the catalog, you will not be able to place holds on items during this equipment upgrade period.
In addition, from Sunday evening at 8 PM until Monday morning at 8 AM, the Catalog will be completely unavailable. Finally, automatic hold notification will not be working, so if an item you placed on hold BEFORE Sunday comes in, expect to receive a phone call from a real, live member of our Circulation staff, ASAP. Given the typical amount of holds placed by our patrons, that may add up to a high number of phone calls, so please be patient. You will be notified.

Please, please, PLEASE: do all of your account maintenance this weekend before we close this Sunday, April 18. We apologize for the inconvenience but this upgrade is a necessity and is going to take several full business days.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Have You Hugged Your Bookmobile Lately?

Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 14, 2010, is National Bookmobile Day! Here at DPPL, we call our bookmobile the "Mobile Library," because golly, it's got a lot more going for it than books. The DPPL Mobile Library made its first stop in Des Plaines more than 40 years ago, welcoming patrons at Windsor Drive and Pennsylvania Avenue. There have been 2 additional "bookmobiles" since then, with the current vehicle beginning service in Fall of 1996.

In case you're thinking, "I've never heard of 'National Bookmobile Day' before," don't worry, your memory isn't going. 2010 marks the first-ever National Bookmobile Day, created by the American Library Association "to raise awareness about bookmobiles and the vital services they provide."In all kinds of communities - urban, suburban and rural - mobile libraries provide valuable outreach. They bring books, magazines, music, movies, even Internet access, to people who may have no other connection to those resources. Learn more about National Bookmobile Day and bookmobiles on the American Library Association Web site. 

Are you a fan of the DPPL Mobile Library? Why not use National Bookmobile Day as an opportunity to send in a note of support? You can do that right here, by typing in your comments. Anonymous comments are accepted, but you are welcome to sign your comment as well. We would love to hear from you! 

That's a photo of Phyllis Johnson, from our Mobile Library staff, giving the bookmobile a big ol' hug!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Want To Hear Another One?

I can't vouch for you but I am enjoying National Poetry Month so far! Up above you will find another of our poetry-reading videos, this time featuring our Director, Sandra Norlin, reading "The Problem," by influential American poet William Carlos Williams.

Williams is the kind of poet many students will explore during their school days and it occurred to me this morning that we have wonderful resources for those pursuits. Both our Youth and Adult reference areas have large, encyclopedic sets of books with biographies of famous poets as well as critical overviews of their works. Knowing how much people like to look for information online these days, the Library can also help, with databases like "Contemporary Authors." Don't get fooled by the word "Contemporary," as you will find poets like Edgar Allan Poe and Robert Frost, as well as current poets, in this handy online resource. A similar and very useful online source is "Literature Resource Center." "Literature Resource Center" is even more expansive in scope, covering writers from Homer of the ancient Greeks to contemporary African-American poet Rita Dove. It couldn't be easier to use, either - just type in a poet or a poem title and explore the list of articles you receive. (To use library databases from home, type in your DPPL card number after you click the link.)

Yes, of course, there is also Wikipedia, but remember that this community-generated "encyclopedia" can be factually skewed or even downright wrong. It is a fun and easy place to search for basic information about many poets, however.If you've been used to doing all your online research in places like Wikipedia, why not try some of the library's online resources instead? I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy they are to use and how interesting and varied your search results can be. And you don't need to be a student to enjoy these resources! You'll find articles from biographies, critical essays that really help you understand a poem, and current magazine articles that dissect how a poet is making his/her mark on society, culture and the arts. Don't forget to check out our online Poetry Theatre, too, where you can find more than a dozen poems read just for you by our own library staff (yes, including yours truly). Watch a few of these videos and see how poetry can come to life!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

More fun with National Poetry Month

As you've already seen, I'm a big fan of poetry and someone who believes the world might be just a bit happier and more relaxed if we all enjoyed a good poem once in awhile. (Insert disclaimer: yes, I'm one of those English majors your mother warned you about...) For the last week, I have been busy recruiting my coworkers to read favorite poems for the videocamera so that I can share them with you here on the Library Web site. This morning, we proudly unveiled our "Poetry Theatre" - you can follow that link to explore this special feature. At the "Poetry Theatre," you can also learn more about National Poetry Month and find out what books and recordings we have here at DPPL that put the spotlight on poetry.

You already saw a sample of our work as Bob Blanchard read "Casey at the Bat." Today, you can see another clip, featuring Youth Services Librarian Sara McLaughlin, who does a delightful job bringing to life some selections from "Once I Ate A Pie," a children's book celebrating our relationship with puppies and pooches of all kinds. If you've enjoyed the videos so far, go to the "Poetry Theatre" where there are 9 other videos to watch.

In fact, if you're a real lover of poetry - would you consider reading a poem for us? Our videocamera stands at the ready! If you would like to schedule a time to visit the library and perform a favorite poetic work so we can share it here, just send me an email:  We had such a great time working with you as our photographic subjects on Snapshot Day in February, we thought it might be really fun to get you performing in our "Poetry Theatre," too. Please give it some thought, we would love to include you. (Kids, teens and adults are welcome - consider reading as a couple or as a family, too.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

National Poetry Month - not just for scholars and schoolkids

Whenever I tell someone that I am a librarian, the standard response is a) some lame jokes about glasses, bun hairstyles and shushing; b) some even lamer jokes about cataloging my sock drawer. It's a nice opportunity to spread the word that there are all kinds of librarians doing all kinds of work. As a "Web Services" librarian, I don't wear glasses or a bun, rarely have call to shush anyone (in fact, I'm usually trying to get you readers to SAY something by posting comments!) and beyond one cataloging class in college, I have no interest in or experience with cataloging anything.

However, like many librarians, I do wear a certain amount of geekiness with pride and therefore I am delighted, nay, ecstatic to tell you about National Poetry Month. Since 1996, National Poetry Month has been celebrated every April. The recognition of National Poetry Month began with the Academy of American Poets, who have this to say about it:
National Poetry Month is a month-long, national celebration of poetry established by the Academy of American Poets. The concept is to widen the attention of individuals and the media—to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern. We hope to increase the visibility and availability of poetry in popular culture while acknowledging and celebrating poetry’s ability to sustain itself in the many places where it is practiced and appreciated.

I'm always a little stunned by people who bluntly announce that they "hate" poetry (and let's not get into people who don't like music...). There are so many types and styles and subjects, so to dismiss all poetry as unlikeable suggests to me a person who had one lousy English teacher in high school and can't get over it. Shakespeare's sonnets not your style? Try the New England plain-speaking of Robert Frost or Illinois's very own Carl Sandburg. Emily Dickinson too "out there" for you? Well, then don't try any Sylvia Plath, but look around. Conversely, if the classic poems you learned in school seem archaic and out of touch with your reality, then read contemporary poets like Billy Collins and Sharon Olds. If you find the creative and experimental use of language too much, then for goodness' sakes, read some poems out of a magazine, or pretty soon they won't bother to put poems in magazines. The New Yorker has wonderful poetry in every issue.

Many people say that poetry, like written drama, should be read aloud to be truly appreciated. I'm not sure if I agree with that sentiment, but nevertheless, I'm going with it this particular National Poetry Month. We will be featuring, here in PlainTalk and on the library Web site and YouTube channel, video clips of various DPPL staff members reading favorite poetry. The choices have been terrific so far and a tremendous representation of just how varied and dynamic poetry really is. To give you a sampling, I'm featuring here the first poem we taped, a classic baseball poem known as "Casey At The Bat." written by Ernest Lawrence Thayer and read here by Adult Services Librarian Bob Blanchard. (You can read more about "Casey" in another of our blogs, Positively Ellinwood Street, too)

All we are saying is, "Give poetry a chance." We think you'll like it more than you care to admit! Got a  favorite poem? Let us know by posting a comment here and we just might add it to our collection of videos this month!  There will be displays and other activities taking place this month at the Library in honor of National Poetry Month, so watch our Web site for more details.