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Friday, May 28, 2010

Library System Changes And What They Mean For You

Please read this post if you are someone who uses our online catalog to "place holds" - i.e. borrow items - from libraries other than DPPL. This system is about to change - but the option to borrow items from other libraries will remain in other forms. You may have read recent news articles or even heard rumors about the North Suburban Library System and the libraries within the system, including DPPL. Read this post and learn about changes coming in June 2, 2010 and beyond. We want to make sure you are accurately informed while this situation continues to unfold.

1) Beginning June 2, 2010, DPPL patrons will only be able to "Place Holds" in the Catalog on items owned by the Des Plaines Public Library. Holds placed on items owned only by other libraries will not be accepted by the online system. We know our patrons have become very accustomed to using this convenient system. However, there are still other means by which you can borrow items from other libraries - keep reading.

2) Holds that DPPL patrons have placed in the past but that have not yet been filled will remain valid. We will review those holds individually and determine the best way to fill the request. A staff person will contact you about your options.

3) The primary reason for these changes is the loss of daily van delivery service to the Des Plaines Public Library. This service was provided for free by the North Suburban Library System. The system received its funding from the state of Illinois. Due to the state budget crisis, this is no longer an option.

We know that many patrons rely on this inter-library delivery service to return items borrowed from neighboring libraries as well. We will continue to receive van delivery service twice a week, at least through September 15, 2010. It may take longer to get items to the originating library but they will be returned. If timeliness is a concern, you may want to consider making the trip yourself. 

4) Need an item we do not own? Remember, your DPPL library card is valid at libraries across the state. We are considering a number of options by which you will be able to request such items through our Web site. In the meantime, we advise you to:
  • Speak to a staff member in person, via telephone, email or our "Text A Librarian" service (text 66746, type dppl in the body of your msg);

  • Try WorldCat as an alternative. WorldCat is an extensive catalog of libraries around the world. Search by author, title, subject or keyword. When you find an item that IS NOT OWNED BY DPPL, click the link that reads: Borrow this item from another library (Interlibrary Loan) and fill in the online form. This service has worked well for many years and provides a great alternative to the "Place Holds" option in our Catalog. It may not be as fast as local van delivery but we know how important it is for our patrons to be able to borrow and enjoy items from a wide variety of libraries.Please be aware that you cannot request items through WorldCat that our library owns, even if they are currently checked out.
All of these arrangements may change again as the situation with the state budget and the funding of library systems shifts almost daily. We will continue to provide you with gracious assistance, efficient service and generous borrowing policies - just let us know how we can help.
Want to read more?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wish Des Plaines a Happy Birthday!

In my last post, I informed you of Des Plaines' almost unpronounceable milestone, the demisemiseptcentennial - the 175th anniversary of our city. So, if you were going to give a toast or send Des Plaines a birthday card, what highlights would stand out for you? If you were throwing the party and wanted everyone to rise from their chair and praise some quality or trait of the birthday girl, where would you begin?

Here's your chance. Julie Andrews-like, I'm going to list a few of my favorite things about Des Plaines. I invite you to do the same in the comments section here. They can be memories of days gone by, traditions and places that have stood the test of time, even dreams for the future. One doesn't get to be a grande dame of 175 years by resting on one's laurels, so let's give the lady her due.

I'm biased but I think it's wonderful that there's been a public library in this community for more than half of those 175 years. (102, going on 103) I do wish I could have seen Des Plaines' original Carnegie library, as those are often really cool buildings with neat architectural elements. That being said, when I arrived at the current library building for my job interview three years ago, talk about WOW factor. You had me at "Enter Here."

I'm a big fan of little details: the friendly reminders on the flashing sign at Damiano Diesel Service on River Road (currently telling you to say "Please" and "Thank you"), the old-fashioned glitz of the Des Plaines Theatre facade and the Sugar Bowl sign;  the big, leafy trees that line so many of the residential streets; church bells tolling out a hymn as I walk to my car on a quiet winter night; the ethnic diversity of the restaurants and elbowing into the crowds for some kolacky at Shop N' Save; the sweaty, smiling faces lining the curb for the 4th of July parade and walking the path at Relay For Life.

I like that I can get both a cheeseburger and a "pup" (hot dog) in Paradise without ever leaving town. I like to admire the monuments and statues at All Saints Cemetery for a different view of "paradise" - some day I'll be brave enough to talk a walk through! I like that there is always something happening outside my window on a given day - a plane overhead, a rumbling train, a thunderstorm, a traffic jam, kids on bikes and babies in strollers, dogs barking and birds chirping. (Occasionally a cicada to break things up.)

How about you? What makes this city special for you? You won't be around for the semiseptcentennial (350th anniversary) so this is your golden opportunity. Leave a comment below.

Des Plaines historic photo courtesy of the "Pleasant Family Shopping" blog by "Dave." Cicada photo by me, outside my window here at DPPL, summer 2007.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Happy Demisemiseptcentennial!

Or, for people like me who are math-challenged, Happy 175th Birthday, Des Plaines!
In this relatively new country of ours (new compared to, say, ancient Greece or even ancient Britain), we have an unfortunate tendency not to preserve and appreciate our history. Let's make sure that doesn't happen here in this city which has a colorful history and a promising future.

One way you can help preserve Des Plaines' history is to support our Des Plaines Historical Society/History Center - in fact, next Friday evening, May 21, you can support the History Center and whoop it up for Des Plaines' 175th birthday all at the same time, by attending the Des Plaines 175th Anniversary Community Party. Tickets are just $40 per person. Save money by buying a table of 8 for $280. The ticket price includes fabulous and world-famous BBQ from Smoque plus two beverages.The Library will be highly represented (and each employee paid for his/her ticket, just FYI) and we'd love to see you there and share a wonderful evening. There will be live music and raffles all within view of the sunset over Lake Opeka, in a tent, so we can face anything Chicago weather throws at us!

So, say it slowly now: demisemiseptcentennial. You can watch our Library Director, Assistant Director and Head of Public Information Services say it in the video clip up above. Come on out and give Des Plaines a rousing birthday celebration!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Community Checklist

Here's a quick look at library and community news you need.
  • Tomorrow, Friday, May 14, 2010 - the Library and Mobile Library are closed all day for staff training. We will reopen at our regular hour on Saturday, May 15, 2010. While we're closed, you can always use the online features on our Web site:

  • Since we'll be closed on Friday, you can participate in what might truly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the homecoming parade and mini-concert by American Idol contestant Lee DeWyze in neighboring Mt. Prospect and Arlington Heights. Learn more details from the Daily Herald.

  • With all the rain we got overnight, it's hard to imagine those dog days of summer, when your lawn and outdoor gardens will be parched. Why not purchase a rain barrel? The City is hosting a rain barrel sale. The barrels are $55 each, come in a variety of colors and are a wonderful way to save money and water. Get all the details. You can order online and pick up your barrel at Public Works in a few weeks.

  • This Saturday, May 15, 2010, don't miss the Park District's Spring Fun Fair, taking place from 9 AM to noon. The activities are centralized around Mountain View Adventure Center, 510 E. Algonquin Road, in Des Plaines, as well as a few other locales in that area. "Touch-A-Truck," Pooch, Pet & Pedal Parade, Kite Fly, Bike Safety Course, Climbing Wall, and the Aquafina "Pitch, Hit and Run" competition are just some of the family-friendly activities, most of which are free or very low cost. More details.

  • Next week, May 20-May 23, 2010, representatives of veteran organizations will be selling traditional red poppies for "Poppy Day," with proceeds benefiting hospitalized veterans. Please be generous!

Friday, May 7, 2010

All In The Family

Wow, has it been difficult to make plans with my family for Mother's Day and my niece's birthday, both this weekend. Imagine how challenging it must be for families who choose to work together. Every day, year after year. Maybe this is why many businesses choose to emphasize their family-owned status - it's a way of saying, "If we can cooperate and work well together as a family, imagine how well we'll work with you!"

Do you have a favorite family-owned-and-managed business here in Des Plaines? In the past, PlainTalk has featured local businesses like Via Roma, an Italian restaurant owned by a husband and wife. Now, you can watch the video above and meet the Wahl family, specifically Bob Wahl and his daughter Heather Wahl Cieslik. R.C. Wahl Jewelers should be familiar to Des Plaines residents and those who work in or visit our downtown area. It's a lovely store and I recently spent a sunny day there, admiring the beautiful gemstones and settings and learning more about this family-owned business, now with its fifth generation in place behind the counters. If you're in the market for a very special piece of jewelry or a watch (hint hint, Mother's Day is Sunday, May 9!), try R.C. Wahl. I couldn't help but notice how knowledgeable everyone on the staff is, how distinctive the designs are and the personal, comfortable level of service. You're not going to find that at the mall!

What other family-owned-and-operated businesses make a significant difference here in Des Plaines? Feel free to add your comments here. In these times of economic difficulty, it is important that we support our local businesses whenever possible, so let's give them a shout-out here.

Oh - and Happy Mother's Day to all of our PlainTalk moms and grandmoms. :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Drinking + Driving = A Deadly Combination

Since it is prom and graduation season and the fun, summer months are just around the corner, it's a good time for some serious advice from the Des Plaines Police Department.

"The Des Plaines Police Department wants residents to be aware of the following information:

Young drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 are more often in alcohol-related crashes than any comparable age group. In 2006, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA), 7,884 drivers, ages 15-20 years old were involved in fatal traffic crashes - killing a total of 8,666 persons and injuring 300,000 more.

As the weather warms and activity increases, so does the incident of drinking and driving, a deadly and dangerous combination. Around prom and graduation season, you can expect an elevated level of participation between the police department, community and businesses through education and enforcement strategies aimed at reducing the incidents of underage drinking.


  • It is illegal for anyone under 21 to drink alcohol
  • Under age 21, the brain is still growing and negatively affected by alcohol
  • Parents can be prosecuted under the law for hosting underage drinking parties
  • Parents can be held responsible if their children consume, purchase or possess alcohol
  • It is unsafe and illegal to drink and drive (PlainTalk note: That goes for mom and dad as well as the teens in the household!)


  • Call other parents to ensure social events are alcohol free and chaperoned
    Refuse to supply alcohol to anyone under 21
  • Lock up your alcoholic beverages
  • Make sure that alcohol is not brought in to your home or on your property by your teen’s friends
  • Report underage drinking parties to police - Call 9-1-1

Motor vehicles are the leading cause of death for 15-20 years old in America. Parents play a crucial role in reducing the incident of underage drinking and driving. Always remember that you or any adult who serves alcohol to underage youth, or who is aware of it being served to underage youth on their property, can be liable for damages. If a serious injury or death occurs you could face a $25,000 fine and 1-3 years in prison."

We thank our Police Department and local organization MCYAF (Maine Community Youth Assistance Foundation) for their diligence and care in keeping our young people safe. On a personal note, I am a professional singer outside of my work here at the Library and some of my singing work includes funeral services. Funerals are never happy occasions but some of the most heart-breaking and painful that I have ever experienced have been services for the very young, killed while driving drunk or in a vehicle with a drunk driver at the wheel. The death itself can be an unbearable loss, particularly for parents, but it goes even deeper, destroying families & friendships, causing depression and damaging communities. Do your kids, their friends and your whole community a big favor this summer season and stop teen drinking and drug use before it starts.