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Friday, June 29, 2012

Celebrating the Fourth of July

Knowing that the Fourth of July is next week, I asked people in the library about their favorite Fourth of July traditions to share with you.

I'll start off. Personally, I love going to the beaches to watch fireworks. Fireworks are pretty amazing, but fireworks exploding over water are even better!

And here are some others:
I like to watch Wimbledon on the tube. Not very patriotic, I know. But I do like my tennis. - Gwen
Find a roof from which to watch all of the local fireworks displays simultaneously. - Claire
This may be nerdy, but I try to read the Declaration of Indepenence in its entirety every July 4. - Joel
AM: Watching the marching bands in the parade's. PM: Watching the flag fly as we celebrate with fireworks and icecream! - Liz
Why…March in the Des Plaines Independence Day Parade…of course! - Stephanie
So, be sure to look for us in the Des Plaines parade, grab a spot at your favorite fire works show in the area, read our founding documents, and tv!

Also, if you aren't in the patriotic spirit yet, come to our celebration of patriotic music, "You're a Grand Old Flag," this Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Register now!

Friday, June 22, 2012

History is Personal on Des Plaines Memory

Last month, the library and the Des Plaines History Center launched Des Plaines Memory, an online resource for local history. I spoke with Steven Giese, our Digital Projects Librarian, to learn more about Des Plaines Memory and how it has made history a very personal thing for him.

What is Des Plaines Memory?

Des Plaines Memory is an online collection of photographs, letters, postcards, newspapers and telephone directories. My job is to work with Shari Caine, the Executive Director of the history center, preparing and uploading historical materials to the web site. We are also interested in working with local organizations and businesses to archive historical documents they might have.

You must be very passionate about history!

I’ve never been what you’d call a “history buff.” Don’t get me wrong: I liked my history classes in school and I read the occasional historical novel. But history has always seemed sort of dry and far removed from my everyday life. But my attitude’s been changing ever since I started working on Des Plaines Memory.

Jefferson Township High School Postcard, circa 1910 

In what way?

Because of all this exposure to local history on Des Plaines Memory, I’m realizing that I can’t get away from it! When I grab lunch at the Sugar Bowl diner I can imagine that I’m sitting in the old post office as it was in 1915. On my daily commute to work I pass by the old site of Maine Township’s Jefferson High School and I think about a postcard of the school I added to the collection from a woman named Lucille to her old friend and classmate, Grace.

Children at Douglas Aircraft child care center

What else has surprised you about the project?

I've been amazed to see people connecting with the project in very personal ways. Sandra & Carol Schallawitz found a picture of their mother, Ruth, working at the Douglas Aircraft day care center during World War II. Lane Hudson found original photographs of several homes he bought and restored. He also left interesting comments about the histories of individual homes.

Any final thoughts?

Visit Des Plaines Memory often as new content is uploaded frequently. Leave your own comments or add posts to your Facebook page. Or you can follow us on Twitter and Tumblr.

Friday, June 15, 2012

All the National Geographic, None of the Clutter

Their yellow covers are so iconic. You can't help but recognize a National Geographic magazine when you see it. Beautiful images, wonderful writing. The world opening before you on the pages of this illustrious magazine. It's a love affair until you have a mountain of them in your garage or basement!

Maybe we can offer a little relief from your clutter problems. We now offer access to over 100 years of National Geographic magazine right from your home computer. You can see full reproductions of the original articles, including those gorgeous photographs.

As you can see from the screenshots above, the layout is very nice and easy to use. A bonus is that all of the articles and images are searchable. I happen to really like airships, or "dirigibles" as they were once called. A quick search reveals 7 articles (and 5 advertisements!) that mention "dirigible."

One other surprisingly neat feature is the "graphing tool." This isn't for making pie charts. The tool let's you enter a word and see how many times that word is mentioned in National Geographic (Google's Ngram viewer for Google Books is similar). In the example above, I searched for "war". You can see that the number of occurences shoots up in around 1917 and 1939--during two major world wars. Pretty cool, right?

While the online National Geographic might not capture all of the romance and history of the magazine, we think it has some pretty compelling features. Let us know what you discover in the comments below.

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.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Investment Tools and Tips

Source: Washington Post

Maybe you were caught up in the Facebook IPO frenzy. Perhaps you prefer predictable mutual funds. Either way, you know that good information makes you a better investor. Sure, you can use Yahoo! or Google for looking into companies and following trends. If you really want to crack your knuckles and get serious about your research, though, here are a few tools that the library provides (and are accessible from home):


Morningstar has in-depth information on stocks and mutual funds and can help you build a balanced portfolio. It also includes the Morningstar ratings.

Mergent Online

Mergent Online has current information on publicly held companies including company financials, EDGAR reports, news articles, annual reports and company histories.

Value Line 

 Value Line offers up-to-date expert analysis and commentary on stocks, mutual funds, and other types of investments.

So, go forth and prosper! And if you strike it rich, you'll remember your old pal, the library, right?

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.