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Friday, December 20, 2013

Read the world's breaking news with Library Press Display

This month we're featuring Library Press Display, your online portal to the world's news. Library Press Display gathers together thousands of papers from around the world. They're searchable and readable right from your computer (yes, you can do this from home).

Where did that article come from?

If you have used other resources to find newspaper articles, you know that it's easy to get the text, but harder to understand how the article originally appeared in the paper. I really like to see how the article was laid out, what appeared around it.

Library Press Display really excels in this area. Not only can you click on a story and read it, but you can see the full page spread too.

A little bit of fun stuff too

Of course you'll find breaking news and all of the world's sad stories in Library Press Display. But you can also come across fun stuff like crossword puzzles. You can even view all of the daily horoscopes from over 350 papers!

Truly the world's news

If one word describes Library Press Display for me, it would be "wordly." I feel more connected to far flung places browsing and reading through it. The great thing, especially for our community, is that you can read so many papers in their original languages.

Give it a try today!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Books for a smarter, happier, better you from 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, let's look at some of the books that we think will make you smarter, better, and happier. Whether you want to know how to your smartphone or get new insights into history, here are some of our favorites.

Nine Years under
Nine Years under
"Six Feet Under meets The Wire in a dazzling and darkly comic memoir about coming-of-age in a black funeral home in Baltimore"

Picked by Steven, Reference Librarian

My IPhone
My IPhone
"Step-by-step instructions with callouts to iPhone images that show you exactly what to do."

Picked by Lalu, Reference Assistant
Psychology & Self-Help

"Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so."

Picked by Lalu, Reference Assistant
Religion & Spirituality

Living the Quaker Way
Living the Quaker Way
"As an antidote to the complexities and challenges of modern life, award-winning author Philip Gulley offers the opportunity to participate in a world where the values of the Quaker way"

Picked by Gwen, Reference Assistant

David and Goliath
David and Goliath
"Uncovers the hidden rules that shape the balance between the weak and the mighty, and the powerful and the dispossessed."

Picked by Cathy, Reference Librarian
What My Mother Gave Me
What My Mother Gave Me
"In What My Mother Gave Me, women look at the relationships between mothers and daughters through a new lens: a daughtere(tm)s story of a gift from her mother..."

Picked by Cathy, Reference Librarian

The Particle at the End of the Universe
The Particle at the End of the Universe
"The Particle at the End of the Universe, Caltech physicist and acclaimed writer Sean Carroll takes readers behind the scenes of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN"

Picked by Steven, Reference Librarian

Confessions of A Bad Teacher
Confessions of A Bad Teacher
"An explosive new look at the pressures on today's teachers and the pitfalls of school reform"

Picked by Steven, Reference Librarian

"A bootcamp in Utah in 118 degree heat. A raw food diet. Hypnotic suggestions... These are just a few of the stops Lauren Kessler makes on her journey to reverse time from the inside out."

Picked by Gwen, Reference Assistant
A Dog Walks into A Nursing Home
A Dog Walks into A Nursing Home
"the story of how one faithful, charitable, loving, and sometimes prudent mutt...taught a well-meaning woman the true nature and pleasures of the good life."

Picked by Gwen, Reference Assistant

The Pioneer Woman Cooks A Year of Holidays
The Pioneer Woman Cooks A Year of Holidays
"Holiday favorites for all year round, from the #1 New York times bestselling author and Food Network personality"

Picked by Lalu, Reference Assistant
Art & Photography

"This book brings together some of the best-known images from Brassais...showcasing them alongside previously unpublished photos and archive material"

Picked by Christina, Reference Librarian

The Guns at Last Light
The Guns at Last Light
"Tells the dramatic story of the titanic battle for Western Europe from D-Day to the thrust to the heart of the Third Reich."

Picked by Joanne, Reference Librarian

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

24 Holiday Songs to Download

Celebrate the holidays with free downloadable songs from the library. Everyday this month we'll be posting a fun holiday classic to download. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for daily updates.

We're also posting the songs to our 24 Holiday Songs page. So, you can go back and pick and choose your favorites.

Need help downloading songs from the library? See our Freegal help page for more info.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving and Hanukkah

We hope you have a very pleasant Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and holiday weekend. The library will be closed on Thursday, but don't worry! We're open again on Friday. If you're too stuffed to come to the library, you can always check your account online or download a book or a magazine to your device.

Do you have kids to entertain this weekend? Check out the kids activities on World Book Online. I like making small books for my son to draw in and this "Bind you own book" activity looks like a lot of fun. So, explore and have fun.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Beer, it's brewing at the library

Brewing beer at home is a popular DIY activity and we want to help you learn more about it. Scott Pointon, a home brewing advocate, will lead a program at the library called "You can brew it" next week. We also have some useful resources for learning more about beer and brewing. But first, some interesting facts about beer…

Beer, it's everywhere

Did you know that many ancient cultures brewed beer? In fact, evidence of beer has been found as far back as 6000 B.C. According to our World Book Infofinder article on beer, "The ancient Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Teutons all made beer." To which I say, "Thanks, ancient people!"

According the same article, people in the Czech Republic "consume more beer per capita (per person) than any other country." Luckily for them beer is kind of nutritious (in moderation, of course) since it contains "carbohydrates, proteins, and vitamins and minerals." China is the biggest beer producer (which I wouldn't have guessed), followed up by the United States.

Beer, it's a big business

I happen to be a big fan of craft beers brewed by small operations. But the reality is that most beer in America is produced by a handful of players (conglomerates, really). According to a 2013 industry report, "The US beer market is highly concentrated, with the top four players holding 85.2% of the total market volume." And based on the fact that in 2012 the beer market made $79,409.6 million (!) in revenues, those big players aren't doing too badly.

What are those big guys selling to the market? Mostly lagers which "generally have a pale color and subtle, balanced hop and malt flavors". Lagers account for "35.2% of the market's total value" Nearly 1 in 3 beers is a lager!

Beer, it's more than lager

Nothing against lagers, but home brewing and craft brewing have made many types of beer available to us. India pale ales, for instance, have surged in popularity thanks to the aggressive, heavily hopped "West Coast" style. The beauty of doing it at home, of course, is that you can experiment with new flavors and ingredients to suit your tastes.

Our program on November 20th at 7 p.m. Scott will introduce you to the basics of home brewing. Come checkout some of the equipment you'll need and how the brewing process works.

Beer, it's something you can learn

If you'd like to read up on beer or checkout a book about brewing, start with a few of these selections from the library. Happy brewing!

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Write a 50,000 word novel during NaNoWriMo

If you've always wanted to write a novel, but the thought of a blank page terrifies you, then NaNoWriMo is for you. Don‘t let the empty page paralyze you! National Novel Writing Month, which happens every November, is a chance to set your fear to the side and just write. Does just starting seem overwhelming to you? Let the library help.

The Library: Your NaNoWriMo partner

To help you get started with NaNoWriMo, we're hosting a kick off party on Tuesday, October 29th. You can learn more about NaNoWriMo, get signed up, and meet past participants. In November, we'll have weekly “write-ins” every Tuesday starting at 6 p.m. The write-ins are a great way to crank out a few thousand words, win silly prizes, and meet other NaNoWriMo participants.

Why should you come to the write-ins? Since you have to write 50,000 words by the end of month, the write-ins are crucial to your survival. This chart show my daily word counts for the last two years. See those spikes in activity? Those are write-ins that I attended. Each time, my productivity does way up.

If you need more write-ins and more NaNo support, Oakton Community College also can help. They‘re hosting write-ins at the Des Plaines campus, have a few special events, and great resources to help you survive NaNo. Visit their NaNoWriMo resource guide to learn more.

Social writing is fun writing

Frankly, I think “write-ins” are the best part of NaNoWriMo. You‘re sharing in a fun and stressful event with other people, and get to talk about writing and books with like-minded people. It‘s worth mentioning that last year‘s participants went on to start our writing group.

Interested in this DIY writing extravaganza? Come to our kickoff party on October 29th and visit our NaNoWriMo page to learn more.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Download Free Music Faster with Freegal

Freegal music—our downloadable music service—has a new home page that makes downloading music easier and faster. You also can download music videos to keep, just like the music tracks. Freegal includes the entire Sony catalog in addition to a huge collection of independent music through their partnership with Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA).

Here's a look at some of the benefits of the new layout:

Easy browsing

Start browsing even before logging in with your Des Plaines Library card. Share links to albums and songs with your friends.

Know what's new

Get news and learn about upcoming releases. Imagine grabbing a song of a popular artist the day it is released.

Genres for everyone

Not interested in POP?  Every genre is represented.  How’s Bruce Springsteen or the opera Parsifal for variety.

Starting downloading

Find things you want to download then transfer to other devices, or use the Freegal APP on your mobile device. All you need is your DPPL library card and get your three free songs (or one video and a song) per week.

To get started go to right to Freegal or visit our eDPPL page to learn more.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

The library. Your original DIY destination.

We're celebrating the spirit of inventiveness, craftiness, and plain old get-your-hands-dirty doing something for yourself this fall at the library. Visit our DIY page to see upcoming DIY themed events and get inspired by fun project ideas from Pinterest.

Why DIY?

It should be no surprise that DIY is on everyone's minds these days. From home improvement shows to a slew of crafty magazines, you see DIY projects and skills everywhere. And why not? Knowing how to learn a new skill and do it cheaply is a very useful skill.

We have been in the business of helping people learn new skills for a long time.

And right there in the middle of it all are libraries. How many times have you turned to us for a book about carpentry or auto repair or quilting? We have been in the business of helping people learn new skills for a long time.

Inspiration tools

Just like you need a good hammer or saw if you want to build a table, you need good DIY tools if you're going to learn a new skill or tackle a new project. We're featuring everything from events to resources that will help you DIY.

Maybe you need to research those hammers and saws with Consumer Reports, or get up to speed with yarns and threads with a digital magazines. Maybe you're looking for a whimsical craft for your kid's room. Check out our DIY page for an ongoing dose of DIY inspiration..

DIY Stories

Of course for every successful DIY project there are (many) hilarious stories of DIY-failure. Sadly, the popular Regretsey is no longer around. Buy, you could spend some time enjoying Pinterest Fail.

While sites with Pinterest Fail are hilarious, they actually teach a very important lesson. You won't hone your DIY skills unless you try something new and risk messing it up. Maybe really messing it up. But, you'll never know until you try.

Do you have any stories of DIY failure (or success)? Leave your story in the comments.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

4th Floor Computers Unavailable During Remodel

You can see pictures of the project on our Facebook page.

The 4th floor public computer center will be closed from August 29th to September 9th for remodeling. We'll be reorganizing and installing larger work stations, improved seating, a centralized help desk and additional resources to make using computers at the library more comfortable and productive.

If only construction was this easy!
During the remodel, the following will not be available to the public:
  • adult internet computers and printers
  • the flatbed scanner
  • 4th floor study rooms
  • the print reference collection
  • the Business Reference collection
  • the computer lab
  • the Work Center collection
  • seating west of the nonfiction collection

WiFi will not be affected and will remain accessible throughout the building.

Questions?  Let us know via email at, by phone at 847-827-5551, or stop by 4th floor reference desk.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Director's Obsessions: Biography in Context and Guillermo del Toro

When you see a movie like Pacific Rim by Guillermo del Toro, you leave the theater wanting to know what makes the director tick. Sure you could turn to IMDB or Wikipedia, but Biography in Context should be one of your first stops for obsessive director research.

Pacific Rim in a (giant mechanical) nutshell

If you haven't seen it yet, Pacific Rim features giant robots (called Jaegers in the movie) and even larger creatures (or kaiju) that spawn from an intergalactic rift between dimensions. Crazy right? Yes, and fun and interesting at the same time.

The director, del Toro, is well known for movies like Pan's Labryinth and Hellboy. His movies have a fairy tale, larger than life quality. You feel that there are deep fears and obsessions fueling them. What's interesting too, is that he often makes genre movies—comic book movies, sci-fi movies—but always add a twist to them.

From broad overview to deep dive

I like using Biography in Context for this kind of research. The resource offers a wide range of materials including encyclopedia articles, magazine stories, audio files, and more. With del Toro, you can get a really high level overview of this life with entries from Contemporary Authors. Or, you can dive into reading interviews with him and story about Pacific Rim. One of the featured stories is titled, "Guillermo del Toro's 'Eternal' Monster Obsession."

I also appreciate the inclusion of audio stories from sources like NPR. I click on a story titled "Guillermo Del Toro, On Monsters And Meaning." You get a full text transcript and the audio of the story. In this particular article, del Toro talks about growing up watch kaiju films in Mexico and his theory about kaiju and their appeal, particularly for little kids.
"...kaiju are sort of the revenge of kids because we are born in a world that is too big for us..." -Guillermo del Toro

Get started with Biography in Context

Definitely take a look at Biography in Context. It's a great way to get background information about a well-known person, but also to get a snapshot of who that person is at a moment in time. This is particularly useful for contemporary figures like movie directors, a certain royal couple, and more.

You can also jump right to the page about Guillermo del Toro, if you want to learn more about him and his work.

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? Use our online form to sign up. Any Des Plaines resident can apply. Start now.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Let's start a coffee shop with ReferenceUSA

Reference USA, a powerful tool for finding information about businesses and people, just got even better with its new mapping tools. The resource always allowed you to create really customized searches by things like industry, business size, income, and so on. But the mapping tool just makes it so much more useful and interesting. Let me show you why.

Let's start a coffee shop

I happen to love coffee, and let's say that love it so much that I want to open a coffee shop in the area. Starting a business is a risky proposition, so it helps to understand your market. Reference USA has always made it easy to pull up a list of coffee shops like so:
  1. Search for U.S. Business
  2. Select Custom Search
  3. Choose by Buisness Type >> Keyword/SIC/NAICS

In this example, I typed in coffee shops, but it suggests I include Cafes as well, and why not? I COULD press "View Results" and see the list and go on my way. But that's kind of boring.

Lists are boring, maps are cool

The new mapping feature takes this kind of search to a whole new level. Under Geography I select "Map Based Search" and a new window appears at the bottom. The trick is to press the "Open Map" button that appears there instead of the "View Results" button above

Press the button and there is a map with...nothing on it? The map starts out with the entire U.S. in the window, so you need to zoom in by entering a zip code under "Zoom to."

Drawing shapes for knowledge and profit

Ready for the fun part? Once you're zoomed in, you can use the "Area" or shape tools to slice up the results on the map. In this example I want to see how many coffee shops are in a wider area around Des Plaines. So I do the following:
  1. Select Define Radius
  2. Pick a center point
  3. Click and drag outwards to draw a circle
I can see in the sidebar that Radius 1 contains 29 results. I can click there to see those results. You can refine things even more by drawing a smaller circle inside the larger one. This way you can hone in on a specific area. The Draw Shape tool even lets you draw crazy polygons if you want to define a specific neighborhood.

Our tour comes to a close

So that's been a little taste (dare I say, sip) of what you can do with the new mapping and visualization tools in Reference USA. You'll also find heat maps and charts. Check it out and let me know if you have any questions at

P.S. If you're an iPad user, Reference USA has an iPad app available in the App store.

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? Use our online form to sign up. Any Des Plaines resident can apply. Start now.

Photo credit:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Have you seen Zinio's new look?

Our digital magazine stand, Zinio, got a new look recently and it's going to make you read more digital magazines. From browsing to checking out, using Zinio is just a little better. Here's a quick look at some of things that have changed.

What's in your store?

Magazines are meant to be browsed. Think about how you see them displayed most of the time. Covers out, facing you from shelves. They're big and bold and colorful. Find something that catches your eye? Pick it up and look over it.

The new look echoes this experience of scanning magazines covers. You don't have to create an account or log in before you see what we have on our (virtual) shelves. Just go to our Zinio account, browse, and checkout the magazine you want to read.

Click and checkout

Account creation and logging in are also much easier now. Both of these actions are tied to checking out a magazine. When you click on a magazine you want to read, a menu comes up asking you to log in (or create an account).

With your information in hand, you're off to the races, the magazine reading races, that is (which actually sound kind of fun).

Read more magazines

Whether you're new to Zinio or haven't used it in a while, I encourage you to check out the new look. I find myself reading more magazines because it very easy to find them and check them out to my device.

Before you get started, remember that you need three things to use Zinio:
  1. A DPPL library card
  2. A library Zinio account
  3. A retail Zinio account (for and for their great apps)
Any questions? Check out our Zinio resource page for videos, instructions, and the complete list of magazines are available to you.

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