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Monday, November 28, 2011

Engage Des Plaines!

The journalism professor and internet critic Jeff Jarvis has a maxim about the internet that I quite like and think about often. He says, "Disruption is the law of the jungle and the internet." Without doubt the internet has radically changed the way journalism is done and the way news is spread. News is just one example among many including shopping, job searching, researching, and dating!

Disruption can be both frightening, but also create tremendous opportunities. I just wrote my last words for NaNoWriMo last night, a month-long writing contest. People sign up to write a 50,000 word novel in a month and post their progress online. Not only was I able to participate in this event with thousands of other people virtually, I was able to find groups of people who were meeting up to socialize and write together--people that I would never have met otherwise.

The internet, in other words, has all kinds of political, social, even personal, consequences. To better understand some of the consequences, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago received a grant to study community engagement and information seeking behavior in Des Plaines. What does this mean? It means that they are interested in talking with you about how you deal with the disruptive forces of the internet in your daily life. How do you follow local politics? How do you learn about new books to read? How do you find out about events in the community?

To facilitate these conversations, the library will hosting a series of forums and focus groups over the coming months. This Saturday, December 3rd, will be the first forum. We are inviting the community to register and attend the forum to talk about. Click the link below to sign up.:

Register for the public forum.

You can also learn more about the grant and the project at the Engage Des Plaines website. The project also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Celebrating Thanksgiving

I have been a vegetarian for several years now. In fact, I don't really remember what turkey tastes like. Nonetheless, over the years, it has been fun to establish new Thanksgiving traditions while also incorporating old ones. So, on Thursday, this is what I'll be preparing for the big meal:

  • My mom's cranberry salad (oranges, apples. celery, pecans, and cranberries in jello)
  • Crispy cheese wafers
  • Fake turkey
  • Mushroom gravy
  • Wild rice stuffing with goat cheese
  • Roasted yams
  • Peas
  • Homemade pumpkin/butternut squash pie

For those of you who are preparing birds on Thursday, Bob in our Reference department shared the USDA's Seasonal Food Safety fact sheet for turkeys. Be sure to consult this useful list of tips and advice for making sure all of your friends and family survive the holiday!

Finally, I would like to remind you that the library will be closed on Thursday, November 24, 2011. We will also be closed on Friday, November 25, 2011 as the entire staff of the Des Plaines Public Library takes an unpaid furlough day arranged to help the library meet its budget constraints during hard times.

Remember that you can still place holds and renew books from the library catalog and download ebooks and eaudiobooks from MyMediaMall. while the library is closed.

Have a happy holiday!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What is SOPA?

In case you haven't heard, the House of Representatives will have a public hearing today on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). You can view details about the hearing on the House's website. Content industries support the bill; internet companies like Facebook and Google oppose it. 

So what is SOPA? The bill would allow content owners, say a movie studio, to quickly take down websites that host or link to pirated materials. Supporters of the bill claim that they need the ability to respond quickly to the proliferation of pirated material online. Opponents claim that the bill leaves too much control and discretion in the hands of these content producers and would deny websites due process. In fact, one group is declaring today (November 16th) American Censorship Day.

The issues raised by SOPA and the controversy its causing  highlight how the internet is an incredible force for disruption and change, altering everything from the way we read books, get daily news, and watch television. Amidst all of this change, legal structures and processes to deal with our new online life often struggle to keep up. 

A good example is the issue of online piracy. People quickly learned how easily digital copies of music files, for instance, could be made and shared. According to the Recording Industry of Association of America, however, this simple act of copying and sharing has cost content industries billions of dollars. Of course, many people argue that the RIAA's number don't add up and that, in fact, online piracy is on the decline.

The implications of a bill like this are unclear for libraries. Several prominent organizations that represent libraries and librarians have written a letter opposing the bill (pdf).

Regardless of the outcome of this bill, it certainly is interesting to watch as our social and legal structures try to keep pace with technology and innovation.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Library Board Meet and Greet

If you have been reading PlainTalk for the last few years, you know that we are striving to make the governance and operations of the library more open and transparent for you. You view the board minutes and reports on our website and view Boad meetings on our Vimeo channel (last month's meeting is embedded below). Making Library Board meetings and minutes accessible online is not only legally mandated but also an important part of this process.

As a part of their effort to be transparent and to engage the community, two members of the Library board—Steven Mokry and Vince Rangel—met library patrons in the lobby last Tuesday night. According to Mr. Mokry, the event gave them a chance to interact with some of the library patrons they are working to serve. When reflecting on the event, Mr. Mokry said:
The patron's are always appreciative at the Library, thanked the Staff, and the Board, though many don't know all the workings of the Staff and the Board... I encouraged a patron to attend a Board meeting and speak for just a few minutes... I think the person left feeling his or anybody's voice could be heard.
That last point is probably the most important take away. For a library like ours to flourish and thrive, we have to listen to your feedback. Events like the Board member meet and greet are just one way to do this. As Mr. Mokry explained:
I think it a good thing to reach the citizen in some of the ways that President George Mageral and others on the board have talked about.......Ward Meetings, Civic Events, Meet and Greet, just to name a few.
The next Library Board meeting will be held here at the library on November 15, 2011 starting at 7:00 pm.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Looking for Career and Company Information?

Are you tired of looking in all of the wrong places for company and career information? We love trees at the Des Plaines Public Library (we really do!) but recommend the following resources instead of a hollowed out cedar:

Career Transitions aims to be a “career center in a box.” It’s a program that walks job seekers and career changers through the job searching process. It includes:
  • A career assessment survey to help you find a career you’ll love
  • A school and program search tool
  • Resume & cover letter assistance
  • Job interview preparation


The DPPL librarians also want you to know about HelpNow, a useful resource for honing your cover letter and resume. -Brodie

HelpNow can help you craft a more powerful resume and cover letter. After you create an account,  upload your documents to the Writing Lab and receive comments and corrections from a tutor within 24 hours. You can also refresh your computer skills or learn new ones in the Adult Learning Center. All tutors possess a four-year college degree, and have prior teaching/tutoring experience.

Reference USA

Reference USA can help you locate and research companies you might want to work for. It has detailed records for millions of businesses that include Human Resource contact names and management directories. It also includes data on company size and number of employees as well as business descriptions and links to job postings.

Business Source Premier helps you to arm yourself with information about your prospective employer before that all important interview. It includes articles from magazines, journals, popular trade magazines and newsletters. It also has financial data, industry reports and company profiles. 

Can I access these resources from home?

Yes, you can!

With a valid Des Plaines Public Library, any of the links above should take you right to the online resource.

Don't have a library card? Stop by sometime and get one. Any Des Plaines resident can apply.