This Is Not Your Mother's Public Library

Chicago has new campaign; Plainfield starts texting

With everyone looking for bargains and ways to save money these days, the Chicago Public Library wants to remind people of its vast selection of free media.

Many folks only become familiar with their local library when they need to do research, but it's much more than just a few dusty encyclopedia sets and reference books. The Library offers novels, children's books, newspapers, magazines, DVD rentals, music, high-speed Internet, and more.

Last month, the Chicago Public Library began its "Not What You Think" campaign and held a design contest, inviting artists to create a poster using the library's URL ( Thirty finalists have been chosen, and tonight the winner will be announced in the Winter Garden of the Harold Washington Library Center (400 S State St).

The winning entry will be reproduced on T-shirts and posters around the city. You can take a look at the finalists' work at Flickr, a photo-sharing website.

Also updating their look is the Plainfield Public Library, which is now just a text message away. It is the first library in Illinois to offer the texting service.

But just what would you text a librarian about?

"A lot of (the questions) are more basic. If it's a more complicated reference question, we would reply back that we'd love it if you'd give us a call," Assistant Library Director Lisa Pappas told the Plainfield Sun. "But we have the ability to send them websites via text, so we can say, 'Here's a great source.'"

Patrons can also text questions about hours of operation or scheduled programs.

To send a message, dial 66746 on your cell phone, type in the keyword "askppl" followed by your question. Regular text message rates apply.

"(Text-A-Librarian) is just another way for us to reach out to the community," Pappas said. "There are a ton of people who text. It's so simple."

Matt Bartosik, editor of Off the Rocks' next issue, is a texting pro.

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