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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Get Well Soon, Linda!

Just a short and sweet PlainTalk today, to send thoughts and prayers to a great colleague and a "Friend" of the Library in every possible way, Linda Knorr. If you frequent the Library's third floor (you know, the "fun floor," as Readers' Services Manager Jo Bonell calls it), surely you know Linda. Always ready to help, Linda is an expert on many topics, from mysteries and thrillers to gardening. You can frequently read her very engaging posts in Positively Ellinwood Street, our sister blog about books, movies and music. She's not only a dynamic member of our staff, she's an important part of our annual Relay for Life team and has been an active Friend of the Library, too. She also happens to live right here in Des Plaines.

Last week, all of us at DPPL were shocked to hear from Linda's loving hubby Ken that one of the "usual suspects" - a migraine or something similar - resulted in a trip to the hospital with a more serious diagnosis. The good news?  Linda is home and recuperating now. I know Linda and Ken (and family cat Maggie) are regular PlainTalk readers so this seemed a good place to send her some comforting, encouraging thoughts. Linda, we miss you but we're happy to hear that you are home and making progress. Make sure you have a pile of great books and a nice comfy place to curl up with Maggie while you recover. :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Finding The Words

Ever been called upon to make a statement, a speech, a eulogy, a toast, and found yourself at a loss for words? It is said that Americans fear public speaking more than anything else. I find that hard to believe: as Jerry Seinfeld once quipped, most people would rather be at their own funerals than giving the eulogies? However, I accept that public speaking causes tremendous anxiety and nervousness. We've all sat through lectures and speeches that were maddeningly dull, awkward or inept. No one wants to be that unappealing speaker, so we agonize over finding the right thing to say in the right way. The next time you're in that situation, let the library be of service.

We have dozens of books, CDs and videos on the topic - you can see a complete list here. Whether you need help with a persuasive business presentation, a thoughtful toast for your best friend's wedding or conquering your stage fright, expert advice is waiting on our shelves.

There are other helpful resources for speech-making besides "how to" guides. Perhaps you'd like the perfect quotation for a starter or to wrap up your remarks. How about over 300 books of quotations for inspiration? Whether your tastes run toward Bruce Lee, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martha Stewart or Albert Einstein, we have that quote to make your speech or presentation memorable.

Many times, what you need to really make your point are cold, hard facts. That's where our Reference department can come in handy. You don't want to get caught with Wikipedia as your only source! Our list of research databases, available 24/7 with your DPPL card, gives you one-click access to encyclopedias, magazine, journal and newspaper articles and other specialized sources for statistics and facts. Can't find what you need online? Talk to our Reference staff and they'll scour our Reference books and other sources to track down the facts you need.

I happen to enjoy public speaking. I've been performing as a professional musician for about 30 years and speaking to an audience seems downright easy compared to singing! I lecture and give workshops to patrons here at the library as well as other library professionals and I constantly turn to library resources for inspiration and fresh material. Put the library to work for you next time you're asked to "say a few words" or need to make that once-in-a-lifetime business presentation or a speech to honor a special person in your life. I promise we won't let you down.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pillars of Honor - the World War II Memorial Comes to Des Plaines

If you've had the privilege of visiting Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area, you understand the somber grandeur and emotional resonance of the war memorials and Arlington Cemetery. Imagine how much more profound these solemn and beautiful places are to veterans of military service or to the family members of those fallen in war. Then imagine how difficult it might be, due to age, failing health or even economics, for some of those veterans and family members to travel to D.C. and see the memorials in person.

I'm not sure if "The Moving Wall," the traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial, was the first replica of a national memorial that toured the country, but it was the first I had seen. In fact, I saw it here in Des Plaines, July 4, 1988, quite a few years before I had the opportunity to travel to D.C. and see the full-size memorial. Did you see the Vietnam memorial when it was here in town?

I'm pleased to tell you that another traveling memorial is making its way to Des Plaines - the original scale model of the National World War II Memorial. You can read all about it on the "Pillars of Honor" Web site. The traveling memorial will arrive at the Des Plaines Public Library on Sunday, August 29, 2010 from 2-4 PM. World War II veterans and their families will be the honored guests but the public is welcome - read/print the event invitation here (pdf). For additional information, you may contact Pillars of Honor, a locally based organization which hopes to bring this memorial to other US locations as well. You can call Pillars of Honor at 847-954-0520 or email or visit their Web site:

If you cannot make the opening ceremony, the memorial will remain at DPPL (third floor) through Friday, September 3, 2010. Stop in and take a moment to reflect on those who sacrificed their lives in what is called the deadliest conflict in human history, with an estimated 50-70 million fatalities. We are honored that the Des Plaines Public Library was selected to be the first stop for the Pillars of Honor.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Update on Interlibrary Van Delivery Service

Just a quick update on the status of interlibrary van delivery service, which is more of a work-in-progress at this point than what we'd call a "fait accompli." (I assume everyone in Des Plaines speaks French, right? KIDDING. If you're lost you can look it up: That's what librarians do.)

First of all, let me repeat: if you need a book, DVD or CD and we don't own it, we will try everything within our power to get it for you. We tried to emphasize that as boldly and loudly as possible, but in case you missed it, get the details here.

Now, on the newsy front: two recent developments leave us hopeful that some form of regular interlibrary van delivery will return to Des Plaines in the coming months. First of all, a committee representing the north suburban area libraries, of which we are a part, is preparing a Request For Proposal, inviting delivery services to make us an offer we can't refuse. We are in the midst of preparing our budget for 2011 and it includes some funding for interlibrary van delivery.

Secondly, some enterprising folks in the library world applied for an LSTA grant to pay for renewed van delivery service. This grant money, while administered by the state of Illinois "Library Services and Technology Act," is actually federal funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. If that grant money arrives in a timely fashion, we have been told that Des Plaines Public Library will be added back unequivocally into the van delivery route.

So if you are the sort who believes in luck, send some positive energy here to your friendly, neighborhood public library. We are appreciative of the individuals and committees that are working hard to find creative responses to this budget issue. We also appreciate that many of you have taken the time over the last two months to voice your disappointment and frustration over the van delivery issue. I hope this update reminds you that we do listen to your concerns and complaints and we act on them whenever possible. I write it here often but perhaps not often enough: when you have complaints or suggestions for the library, the best place to speak out about them is right here at 1501 Ellinwood Street. Call, email, send a letter or stop in and talk to someone. In just the last week, I have called or text messaged 6 patrons about problems they've had with library service or suggestions they've made. Every one of those conversations was beneficial to me and to the patron.

That's what I have for you today. I hope to have more news, and good news, soon.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Why Would I Want To "Text A Librarian?"

Text messaging is a funny thing - polarizing, I'd say. I have friends and family members who don't text and don't want to. My parents, both in their mid-seventies, are reluctant to even use their mobile phone, an older model without any features like texting or a camera. That's okay. My overall feeling about technology is: use what works for you, not what everyone tells you to use.

Nevertheless, I find myself doing more and more text messaging. I have friends who text me any hour of the day or night, the messages often coming like rapid-fire conversation. Faster and more concise than email, I also find that texting commands a bit more attention. An email says, "Hello - look at me at your convenience." A text message says, "Hey, I need you right now!"

Last February we rolled out our "Text A Librarian" service and it's growing more popular all the time. Have you tried it? It couldn't be easier.
  • From your mobile phone (if it offers text messaging), send a message to 66746 
  • Make sure the first word of your message is dppl. If you simply want to register for the service and use it at a later time, that's all you need to do. You'll receive a confirmation message and some instructions. 
  • You can also add your first question after the dppl code. Once you've sent in your first question, you no longer have to type dppl - the system will recognize you and send your questions to our library.
Example: Text message to 66746 --> dppl what are your hours today?
After that first question, you no longer need to type dppl.

What kinds of questions do we get?
Can I get the # for the Honda motorcycle dealer in the area?
What are the hours for the nearest DMV office?
Do you have a copy of There Are No Children Here on the shelf?
Is it too late to register for the program on jewelry making?
What are the seven deadly sins?

Obviously, questions with short answers work best. If you need more detailed and in-depth assistance, "I need help with my term paper on Herman Melville," best to come in person or email the Reference Desk. Save our SMS/text number 66746 on your phone and try us the next time you're stumped. Note: we can only answer your text questions during regular business hours, although I have been known to check in from home after-hours. A few more details for the curious - when you send us a text message through this service, it comes to our desktop computers, not our phones. We type our responses into a Web application, the service translates those answers back into text messages. Your cell phone number and other identifying information are kept completely private.