Wednesday, April 24, 2013

World Book Night!

As some of you may have heard, yesterday was World Book Night! We were very excited to be a part of this annual book-giving event. If you haven't heard of it, here is an explanation from the World Book Night website:

Each year, 30 books are chosen by an independent panel of librarians and booksellers. The authors of the books waive their royalties and the publishers agree to pay the costs of producing the specially-printed World Book Night U.S. editions. Bookstores and libraries sign up to be community host locations for the volunteer book givers.  
After the book titles are announced, members of the public apply to personally hand out 20 copies of a particular title in their community. World Book Night U.S. vets the applications, and the givers are chosen based on their ability to reach light and non-readers. The selected givers choose a local participating bookstore or library from which to pick up the 20 copies of their book, and World Book Night U.S. delivers the books to these host locations. 
Givers pick up their books in the week before World Book Night.  On April 23rd, they give their books to those who don’t regularly read and/or people who don’t normally have access to printed books, for reasons of means or access.

For the second year in a row, the library has been proud to be among the book givers out in the community. We received boxes and boxes of books from the World Book Night organization!

Prepping the books before heading out!
Both at Prairie Lakes Community Center and the local Metra Station, volunteers from several departments here at the library braved the cold and rain to share over 100 books with light and non-readers. Since the rain delayed our plans for other, outdoor locations, we'll be out there again soon with more books. On another day when the sun is out, we'll be giving out books to folks who least expect it, and passing on the joy of reading.

And, if you got a book from us at one of those locations and would like to tell us you loved it (or hated it, we still want to know), come see us at the 3rd floor! We love making suggestions for what to read next. Spreading the love of reading is what we do best, and everyone who participated in this event gave their time and effort to do exactly that. Thanks to everyone who was out there with me passing out books, and everyone who took one!

Friday, April 19, 2013

In Honor of National Library Week, Librarians in Film

This week has been National Library Week, a time to celebrate and appreciate libraries and librarians in all the forms they take. As it comes to a close, let’s celebrate by taking a look at some of our favorites featuring a library or librarian!

Robot and Frank 
While compiling this list, this is the movie that occurred to me first. Robot and Frank is set in a not-so-distant future, and focuses on Frank, an aging ex jewel thief, who is determined to live on his own in spite of his children's protests. When his son buys him a servant robot, he protests and protests-- until he realizes that the robot is programmed to do whatever will help Frank-- legal or not. One of Frank's favorite places to go is the library, in no small part due to an obvious affection for-- who else?-- the librarian. Susan Sarandon plays Jennifer, a librarian who is struggling to keep up, as she must watch her library be taken over by a pushy young man and go entirely digital. When Frank decides to engage his robot to pull of one big heist in the library to win over Jennifer, things get messy. Especially interesting if you've ever considered the possible future of libraries in the digital age!

While not about a library, exactly, there is a great scene in Pleasantville that perfectly captures the spirit of public libraries. David and Jennifer are typical, if opposite, 90s teenagers, until they are sucked into Bud's favorite cheesy 1950s television show, Pleasantville, as Bud and Mary-Sue. When they discover that Pleasantville is not the idyllic world it seems to be, they start coloring the town-- literally. Soon, all the kids are experimenting at Lover's Lane and the library. My favorite line in the movie: "I mean, goin' up to that lake ["Lover's Lane"] all the time is one thing, but now they're goin' to a library? What's next?!"

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 
What would a list about libraries be without a trip to Hogwart's library? For this one, I'd like to share J.K. Rowling's personal apology to librarians for her representation of us with the strict and unhelpful Madam Pince. "I would like to apologize for you and any other librarians present here today and my get-out clause is always if they'd had a pleasant, helpful librarian, half my plots would be gone. 'Cause the answer invariably is in a book but Hermione has to go and find it. If they'd had a good librarian, that would have been that problem solved. So, sorry."

The Mummy
Who can forget the librarian Evelyn? I think she speaks for herself here:

And of course, there are many, many more. You can check out more here on our catalog website, or come and talk to us at the 3rd floor Readers Services Desk!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Des Plaines Resident Needs Our Help / Un Habitante de Des Plaines Necesita Nuestra Ayuda

His name is Neftali Hernandez, he is thirty-five-years-old, and he is in need of a bone marrow transplant.

Mr. Hernandez was not initially the subject of today's blog. I had planned to write about the Pulitzer-Prize winners. That's what we usually do here on Ellinwood Street: share our passion for books, movies, music, and the library. But sometimes life intervenes and our thoughts turn elsewhere.

Like many of you, I heard about the man who died just a few yards from the library at 7:30 am Tuesday morning. He walked into the path of a Metra train  bound for Chicago and was killed. Like many of you, I wondered about what had happened. I also searched online for additional information, including on Twitter, where I came across two articles on Patch about Neftali Hernandez.

It is too late to help the man who died near Miner and Pearson Streets, but it is not too late to help Mr. Hernandez, who has been undergoing cancer treatment for three years and needs to find a bone marrow donor.

Finding a bone marrow donor is not easy, however, because the donor's tissue type must be very similar to or identical to that of Mr. Hernandez. I called Mariana Sgarbi, who works for the Icla da Silva Foundation (affiliated with the Be the Match registry), and who coordinated a bone marrow drive for Mr. Hernandez on April 14th. She said that 66 people showed up to have their cheeks swabbed--to see if they might be a match--but that they have not yet learned the results. (Even if those kind souls who participated in the marrow drive are not a match for Mr. Hernandez, they  might be a match for another patient.) I also learned from my conversation with Ms. Sgarbi and from her recommended websites that patients are most likely to match donors of the same ethnicity, and that donors must be at least 18 and optimally under 45. (According to the National Marrow Donor Program website: "Doctors request donors in the 18-44 age group 90% of the time," although potential donors up to the age of 60 can join the registry.) This means a successful match for Mr. Hernandez is most likely to be Hispanic and between  the ages 18 and 44. (But donors of all ethnicities are needed to match other individuals. To learn more, visit  the National Marrow Donor Program website, where you can join the registry to become a potential donor, volunteer your time, and/or donate funds.)

Since speaking with Ms. Sgarbi, she has notified  me that another drive for Mr. Hernandez has been scheduled for Sunday, April 28th from 9 to 5 at Santuario de la Nuestra SeƱora de Guadalupe in Des Plaines, 1170 N. River Road. For additional information, you can contact Ms. Sgarbi at (773) 551-8222 or at Mariana@icla.org. Please consider sharing this information with others.

It is easy to feel regret about those we fail to help, but infinitely more useful to help those we can.

(The opinions in this post are those of Laura A. and not necessarily those of the Des Plaines Public Library)

Friday, April 12, 2013

April is National Poetry Month


Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

by Langston Hughes

Now maybe you, like me, are not as comfortable delving into a poetry collection as you are a political thriller or romance novel. National Poetry Month is an invitation to readers everywhere to take a break from prose and give verse a whirl.  Poets concern themselves with the same themes that fiction writers do: love, death, sex, pain and pleasure, and how we humans connect and disconnect in oh so many ways. Behind the lines, spaces, rhythms, and cadences of a poem are all the stories, real or imagined, that informed the poet's point of view. The short but powerful poem above, by Langston Hughes, is to whet your appetite for more works by so many other great American poets like Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe, Anne Sexton, Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Maya Angelou. Do you have a favorite poet?

Natasha Trethewey, the current U.S. Poet Laureate, and Kevin Stein, the current Illinois Poet Laureate, are both talented and accessible writers with a lot to offer fiction readers. Click to check out  Flounder by Natasha Trethewey, from Domestic Work and Poem Buried within a Time Capsule to Be Unearthed Spring 2097 by Kevin Stein from Chance Ransom, or any of the selections on the list below to find the stories that live within the lines.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

From Box Office to Library Shelf

Whenever a remake or book adaptation is released in theaters, we tend to see a heavy demand placed on the source material at the Readers' Services desk. But the great thing about boasting a collection of over 275,000 materials is there are many similar titles to check out while you wait for something else!

 The Host resonates with faithful fans

Although Stephanie Meyer's The Host isn't doing as well as anticipated, fans seem convinced it is a solid depiction of the science fiction romance book of the same name. Check out the book before seeing the movie. Also look for director Andrew Niccol's (superior?) science fiction film Gattaca.

Other movies about alien possessions include the sinister 1970's reboot of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Faculty (which also features Jon Stewart as a hip science teacher!). For another attack on the human race from an opposing force, check out the unintentionally humorous The Happening.

Evil Dead Possesses the Box Office

Although it is rated an extremely well-deserved R, Fred Alvarez's Evil Dead took the weekend box office by storm, grossing $26 million versus an estimated $17 million cost to make.The movie is brutal and unrelenting in its desire to show off its excessive use of practical effects versus CGI and pay proper homage to The Evil Dead.

Be sure to check out Scott Smith's The Ruins if you need a gruesome read about twentysomethings on a vacation gone very wrong. As for similar movies, Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell strikes similar notes with a more comedic angle, and be sure to rewatch Cabin in the Woods to spot numerous references to The Evil Dead.

A classic gets a highly acclaimed makeover: Dinosaurs in 3D!

Jurassic Park 3D is getting a lot of well-deserved love from fans new and old. Of course we have Jurassic Park and its sequels sans 3D, but maybe now is the time to read Micheal Crichton's Jurassic Park. I think you will be interested to see how many things were changed to make it a family movie!

Although it is truly hard to compare any movies to Jurassic Park, try the classic Steven Spielberg film E.T. or  another classic family adventure film from the 1990's: Jumanji.

To place holds or check the availability of any items I mentioned, click on the items below!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pretty as a Cupcake, Tough as a 75-cent Steak

In the process of participating in the afore mentioned DVD move, I've had many an opportunity to glance at movie covers. One thing that stood out to me was the intricate art of the tagline, something I learned to appreciate while setting up movie displays when I worked at a movie theater.  I've referred to them before on this blog, but they deserve more attention than a brief mention.

Film taglines run the spectrum from awesome to awful, passing through the mid-line of bromidic and unimaginative along the way. They can either use wit to generate excitement for its movie or be the shoddy result of some marketing exec's uncaring effort to pay the bills. In this age of easy internet access and mass media marketing where movie trailers are almost like little movie experiences on their own, the tagline really has become a vestigial part of the movie-making machine. Many of the taglines that struck my eye lately were from the decades between 1940 and 1970, when a movie poster was all the information someone would get of an upcoming film, short of the coming attractions segment of their theater-going experience. Here are some of my favorites of those:
"This story was filmed on location .... inside a woman's soul!"
"Life is in their hands - Death is on their minds!"

"She's the Private Lady of a Public Enemy!"
"They're here."
(The tagline of the title also refers to "The Damned Don't Cry!") 

Now, this is not all to say that there have not been recent classics. The following taglines have a concrete hold in pop culture, where their true value has been not in advertising the film but in serving as an eternal memento of the modern classic:
"In space no one can hear you scream."

What taglines do you enjoy?
"Life is like a box of chocolates ..."