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Photo_G_boy_in_wheelchair_with__dogRainbow Animal Assisted Therapy

“Read to the Dogs” is one of the more popular programs for kids at the Park Ridge Public Library. This program is made possible through the efforts of Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy. We thought we’d reach out to them and see how they—and the dogs—are doing during the pandemic. The following interview was conducted with Susan Burrows, the program coordinator at Rainbow.

MH: Hello, Susan. I just want to say thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. I thought our readers and those connected to the library might want to know how you are doing. Could you tell me again what your role is and how long you've been involved with Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy?

SB: Thank you. I serve on the board of directors and I'm Rainbow’s program coordinator. This means all program requests, overseeing of teams and programs, and who’s working where fall under my responsibilities. I had been a volunteer with Rainbow for 15+ years.

MH: How are you and the organization doing during COVID? What has the past year been like for you?

SB: We pulled teams out of hospitals in early March (2020), and sometime after that curtailed in-person interaction. We really haven't been working in-person since last March. All our programs right now are virtual. We have special needs programs, so in April, the Skokie Public Library asked us if we could continue our program virtually. At that point, we started adapting our teams to working a virtual environment. We've been busy training people and their dogs not only tech-wise (how to use electronic equipment, iPads and computers, et cetera), but how to host pet therapy via a virtual environment.

charlie_readingMH: It's certainly been a challenge as we've all had to adapt to the technology. It's great that you're still able to continue even during a pandemic in order to make a difference. How are the volunteers and the animals themselves doing? (That was one of the questions from one of our Children’s librarians, who was asking about our four-legged friends!)

SB: Everyone at Rainbow is a volunteer, there are no paid employees. The volunteers are in the same place as the community with different individual risk factors, family needs, and accommodations based on what is happening with COVID restrictions. The dogs are the same because they are family pets and they are adapting to not participating in the same kind of activities they did before. As time went on, the dogs—who were used to working and going into hospitals and schools—miss those interactions with people and the socialization with the participants in the programs. Socialization with the other dogs is something we are very much aware of as we move forward as well. We have protocols in place for when we are able to go back to in-person service, and also prepare the dogs for the changes in how we do things. How long programs might be, for instance, to get the dogs, handlers and participants feeling safe and comfortable again. We're making those preparations in the same way we made preparations to do programs virtually.

MH: I hope people realize that the animals are affected just as much as the people. They're used to that interaction, and all of a sudden, when it's cut off, it becomes a challenge. The animals have to be prepared... So many facilities rely on you and the animals!

SB: Rainbow pre-COVID did 250 visits a month in facilities all over Metropolitan Chicago. We are the oldest and largest pet therapy organization in Metropolitan Chicago. The dogs were used to working once or twice a week, so with the handlers and the dogs, that was a transition that they had to make. One of our resources besides the CDC is the American Veterinary Medical Association and we have followed their guidelines. These can be applied to everyone's pets now that people are home a lot more. With many ready to go back to work, how will your pets deal with the transition of not having humans around? Dogs are very connected to humans and need people. For therapy dogs, that's their primary attribute. Temperament and how much they enjoy working with people is the basis of what makes a therapy dog—their connection with people.

Med_training_class_1.25.20GMH: You said your visits are all over Chicago?

SB: Now, of course, we're not in as many facilities. A lot of facilities are not having pet therapy at this time because of all the other issues they are dealing with related to COVID. We are back in some hospitals virtually and we have different ways of doing that. We are also back in some schools virtually, but it'll be a while before we're back to where we were before because everyone is dealing with the restrictions—not just Rainbow. Families and schools and hospitals, as well as community centers and residential homes. All facilities are dealing with what's happening.

MH: How do the restrictions affect your services?

SB: They restrict our services differently. We partner and are in communication with different pet therapy organizations throughout the United States and locally. And we've shared information back and forth about different ways to do pet therapy: what's working, what isn't. The benefits of visiting (electronically) or doing animal assisted therapy with kids in a school are very clear. We've seen it in facilities where we only had in-person. And now virtual, we've seen it in places where we never went in-person. There is a continuation of that human-animal bond. Students are responding to the dogs. Patients are responding to the dogs. It's a different way of doing pet therapy, but it's a very valid and beneficial mode of expression, and that's something we all worked on.

There are benefits that no one actually thought about before. We visit children's hospitals. We've been going for almost 30 years, and now that volunteers are not allowed with patients, we’ve started visiting virtually using an iPad. There's a dog on one end and the patient on the other, and they do the same kinds of activities this way—things that they always did before. The hospital realized they were able to have patients interact with the dogs who normally wouldn’t be able to before. Patrons might have been immunocompromised or they might not have been able to visit a dog, and that's something that might continue even when we are physically on the floor again. This has opened up a whole new world of patients that weren't able to be with the dogs for different reasons.

photo_b_firefighter_CRU_(2)MH: Exactly. And if it worked well, keep doing it. That's great, Susan. While I was researching your website, I was surprised to read about the Crisis Response Unit. Could you tell me a little bit about that?

SB: Our Crisis Response Unit was started after 9/11 when we had a Rainbow team go to New York to work with other therapy teams from all over the United States. We came back and started the Crisis Response Unit—teams that have specialized training. The team chosen to work in CRU also receives an additional year of training in different modes of transportation and all kinds of terrain. We take them to fire departments where the firefighters might put on their gear and blow the sirens. The dogs see them and won't be upset when they see them in the field. They go to ranges where they might be shooting off guns and hear loud noises. They learn to work with the miniature horses in the Chicago area as they might be present at an event where our dogs would be. They learn to tolerate wearing boots because they could be going to places where it might be more dangerous to walk.

We're part of COAD [Community Organizations Active in Disaster], which is a board made up of not only federal agencies but others such as the Salvation Army or the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, Social Services, and others. We partner with 128 of these in the Chicago area. We are FEMA’s official animal therapy organization, and they call us in Illinois when they need dogs for disasters. We might be requested by a fire department, a police agency or federal agency, or a service agency like the Salvation Army to come to disasters or traumatic events that have occurred. We work with First Responders or survivors to help them cope with the crisis with some of the training that our teams have received in emotional first aid. When they visit someone who has undergone a traumatic experience, we have to look at what types of behaviors our handlers should have in interacting with that person. When there were shootings at Northern Illinois or Aurora, the CRU might be there. They could be in the schools in the Chicago area or go to areas where we had tornadoes or flooding. Our teams may be there afterward or at the centers where they are taking people's information. They're on call 24/7, so we never know when an agency might call us to say the teams are needed.

MH: Well, it's a wonderful service that you are providing, Susan. How can people support you if they'd like to?

SB: Rainbow is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit. We exist on donations and it's an all-volunteer organization. People can go to our website and donate at: or they can mail a donation to our site in Morton Grove: 6042 W Oakton, Morton Grove, IL  60053. We certainly appreciate donations! Rainbow has been in existence since 1987 and we do not charge for programs. All the people who work at Rainbow are volunteers with different backgrounds. We visit facilities such as schools, hospitals, libraries. We visit Misericordia. We're official partners with Kohl's Children's Museum. We do a lot of outreach programs for the community, like the kickoff to the Special Olympics, or visiting Girl Scout Troops, or teaching kids how to be safe around dogs at different venues. We have good relationships within Chicago and the community, and we use the dogs to help people—especially children and those with special needs—as well as patients in hospitals to improve their daily lives and their quality of life.

Photo_A_read_to_dogMH: You certainly have a great reputation in the community. I know a lot of people appreciate what you've been doing over the years. I want to say thank you again for taking the time to talk about your organization.

SB: We appreciate it. We have a strong presence throughout Chicago and we’ve certainly been visiting the local libraries, Park Ridge included, for many years. I know that our library programs—both working with kids with special needs and the read to the dogs programs—are our most popular with our members and with the dogs as well! We love going to the library!

For more about Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy, please visit:






crop_2_(1)A Director Says Goodbye

The end of 2020 marked the end of an era for us here at the Park Ridge Public Library. Library Director Heidi Smith has stepped down to pursue new career opportunities. We wish her well! I recently spoke to Heidi about her time in Park Ridge.

MH: What will you miss most about the Park Ridge Public Library? 

HS: The people! The Library team is so exceptional. The staff are professional, talented, warm, and fun. The trustees are engaged, thoughtful, bold, and caring. The volunteers are generous, dedicated, and kind. What a great combination! Add in the Park Ridge community, and PRPL is filled with the best people around!

MH: What surprised you-- either about the job or Park Ridge in general? 

HS: I think the thing that surprised me the most is how quickly the team integrated me into the Park Ridge family. That is such a rare and special thing, and it is an honor and privilege to be part of.

MH: Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of during your time as director?

HS: I am so proud of the work we have done during the pandemic. The Library is so much bigger than a building; when we all had to isolate and work from home, sparks were flying! There was so much creativity zooming across the internet, in and out of all of our homes, it was tremendous. I'm so proud of how the team pulled together, with creativity, camaraderie, and a dedication to make our service adaptations as safe and impactful as possible.

MH: What's next for Heidi?

HS: On January 4th, I joined my hometown library in Highland Park. I have a lot to learn, and while I'm excited about this new adventure, I will sorely miss my Park Ridge family. I wish you all the best, and hope to see you all at future staff reunions! (Don't lose my invitation, TONY!!!!)





Max2Max Steiner: An Interview with Author Steven C. Smith

The name Max Steiner may not be familiar to the general public, but the music he created is recognizable to millions of fans worldwide. Steiner was a pioneering film composer who invented techniques that are still used today to score a motion picture. He was responsible for the music behind some of the most popular movies from Hollywood’s Golden Age: King Kong (1933), Gone with the Wind (1939), Casablanca (1942), Now, Voyager (1942), The Searchers (1956), and countless others. Even the most casual moviegoer has heard the melodies of “Tara’s Theme” or the “Theme to A Summer Place.” And anyone who has ever watched a Warner Bros. film from the 1940s will have heard Max Steiner’s opening fanfare over the studio logo.

The story of Max Steiner is also the story of Hollywood itself. Through the course of his career, one can see the evolution of the motion picture industry, from the silent era to the widescreen spectacles of the 1950s. Steiner put his musical imprint on some of the most beautiful films ever crafted, and yet his own story was far from picture-perfect.

In addition to the trials he faced professionally as an artist, Max Steiner’s personal life was often chaotic and sometimes tragic. Financial mismanagement, four marriages, and a troubled son were the realities he faced when he wasn’t conducting on the studio recording stage. Now, for the first time, that story is brilliantly told in a new biography, Music By Max Steiner: The Epic Life of Hollywood’s Most Influential Composer (2020), by Steven C. Smith.

Steven C. Smith is a four-time Emmy-nominated journalist and producer of more than 200 documentaries about music and cinema. A supervising producer of the series A&E Biography, he has worked with George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow. He is also the author of A Heart at Fire’s Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann (1991). I recently interviewed Steven about his Max Steiner biography.


MH: Thank you, Steven, for taking the time to discuss your new book with us. When did you first discover film composer Max Steiner?

SS: I was about eight years old, so that would be 1971. One day, my family’s modest television set seemed to grow in size, to encompass all of Skull Island, as I watched King Kong for the first time. The characters, the settings, the action, and the music all made me feel that I was inside the movie. I’ve never forgotten the thrill of that experience.

After that, I began to notice when Steiner was the composer of films I was watching. And my love of classic movies and their soundtracks was encouraged by my older brother, Wayne Bryan, who was a Broadway actor by that time. One of Wayne's friends was a Hollywood Reporter columnist named Robert Osborne. Bob was also very encouraging. He would invite me to some of his elegant parties at his residence in Hollywood, and around the age of nine and ten I met some of the stars he’d later interview on TCM. That was a wonderful time.

Bob played a part in another memorable Steiner screening for me: in 1976, Gone with the Wind was shown for the first time on television. And since I had an early video recorder, Bob asked me to record GWTW for him, which I did!

MH: What motivated you to write a biography on him?

SS: I began work on my first book, A Heart at Fire’s Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann, while I was in college and it was published in 1991. After that, I had to figure out how to make a living—and writing books about composers, while very fulfilling, wasn’t going to pay my rent. From 1992 to 2015, I worked mostly as a television producer, making documentaries about Hollywood history. I was a producer on A&E Biography, on AMC’s series Backstory, and ultimately, I made over 200 programs for cable networks.

Then my happy world was hit by the cultural equivalent of a meteor: reality television! By 2007, reality shows had replaced the kind of documentaries I loved to make. Luckily, I found a perfect home at a production company in Hollywood, called Trailer Park. There, I produced “behind-the-scenes” pieces about films current and classic. These appeared on DVDs and Blu-rays for studios like Warner Bros., Universal, and Fox.

One day, Leonard Maltin, who’s been a friend since the Herrmann book, recommended that I interview Gary Giddins. Gary is a brilliant writer on jazz, and also the definitive biographer of Bing Crosby. He’s equally insightful about Hollywood filmmakers, and over the course of many on-camera interviews for my projects, Gary and I became friends. Then, in 2015, he changed my life. “How would you like to write a book for a series I’m editing for Oxford?” he asked. Gary explained that the series would include biographies of artists who had been overlooked when it came to book-length studies. He named some of the subjects they were considering, and when he said “Max Steiner,” I said something like, “Stop! I’m in!"

That was the beginning of a five-year adventure that took me to Vienna, London, New York, and to the libraries of my native Southern California. Luckily, most of the surviving paperwork for RKO and Warner Bros. productions were in Los Angeles and accessible to scholars.


MH: Having previously written a well-received biography on composer Bernard Herrmann, I would imagine that many of those research contacts gave you a solid foundation for writing this latest book?

SS: You’re absolutely right, Matthew. Sadly, almost all of the people I interviewed for Herrmann who also knew Max had passed away by 2015. But I still had the transcripts of those conversations, and I remembered many of their Steiner comments. Also, many of those individuals, like violinist Louis Kaufman and his wife Annette, had published books or articles detailing their friendships with Max.

Most significantly during my work on Herrmann, I became close friends with John W. Morgan, a film composer who was mentored by Max in the 1960s. John and Max spent long hours together discussing Steiner’s scores in detail, using his pencil sketches for reference. Max also talked about the people he worked with, how the studios worked…so thanks to John, I had insights I couldn’t have found elsewhere.

The other incredibly important person I met in the 1980s was James V. D’Arc, a superb (now-retired) archivist at Brigham Young University. Jim saved Max’s papers and scores and session recordings. Jim also preserved the papers of Max’s third wife Louise, who was Steiner's principal harpist for years and the mother of his only child. So without Jim D'Arc, mine would be a very different, much shorter book!

MH: Your library research was extensive. One of the primary resources for any Steiner research in this country is BYU, which I’ve visited twice. It must have been quite a challenge for you to organize and narrow down this wealth of information. Were there any details or stories you discovered during this journey which you had to leave out of the 400+ pages? 

SS: Indeed, there were. Thanks to Jim D’Arc, I had the “good problem” of going through thousands of primary documents—everything from Max’s private correspondence to his utility bills. In addition to the material at BYU, I found hundreds of pages in Vienna related to the enterprises of Max’s father Gabor, who could be the subject of his own book, and Max’s grandfather Maximilian, who convinced Johann Strauss Jr. to write for the stage, thus launching the golden age of Viennese operetta in the 19th century. Then there were the materials related to Max's Broadway years that I found in New York and elsewhere.

Holding these documents, which were often literally colorful—color printing in programs, handwritten letters—it was easy to feel that I was back in time, witnessing the creation of these stage works and films. And since Max lived 83 eventful years, and worked on approximately 300 movies, I did have to make choices about what to include and what to leave out. However, if I included everything I found, the resulting book would be literally exhausting. And since Max was a great dramatist who knew the importance of tempo, I wanted the book to move at a brisk pace. Hopefully I was able to find the right balance between giving time to key events and keeping a sense of forward momentum for the reader.

But some of the material I had to leave out or shorten has found a life elsewhere. For example, on January 29th I’ll be giving a webinar on Steiner for an organization in London—so for that, I’ll be sharing “new" information and imagery about Max's years in Britain (before he came to America).

MH: Music By Max Steiner is a fascinating read for film buffs. I knew I would be interested because of the Hollywood history, but I was equally engaged by Steiner’s background growing up in Vienna and all the musical influences that were a part of his life. What was your biggest discovery in researching Max’s life?

SS: I knew that Max’s father Gabor was a famous showman in Vienna. But I didn’t know that Gabor had created a massive amusement park that anticipated Disneyland by sixty years. It was called “Venice in Vienna,” and it was a multi-acre recreation of that Italian city, with canals, gondolas, palazzos. But the park also had this incredible mix of what some would call “high” and “low” culture: concert halls, rollercoaster rides, beautiful restaurants, wrestling arenas—you name it!    

You know the famous Ferris wheel we see in movies like The Third Man? Gabor had that installed. It was in his park, and it’s the last surviving piece of it. “Venice in Vienna” also had what appears to be the first movie theater in Vienna: it opened in 1896, just months after the Lumiere Brothers had their first film screenings in France. At age eight, Max was probably among the first people in Europe to see movies there. Gabor was decorated by the head of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Franz Joseph…so the Steiners were a very important family in Austria. At least until Gabor’s fortunes collapsed. And that’s when Max had to venture out and find his own way in the world.

MH: In addition to his symphonic film scores, Max Steiner wrote a song that became a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100—the “Theme From A Summer Place.” The Grammy Award-winning song literally turned Steiner’s fortunes around. But beyond its commercial success, the song seemed to have struck a nostalgic chord with that generation of the early 1960s. Listening to it now, it certainly evokes a special time and place, and that comes through in your description of it. Is it fair to say that this song is a prime example of how Steiner was able to adapt (his classical style) to the changing times?

SS: Yes, “Theme from A Summer Place” is a good example of how Max kept listening to the music of his time, even if it wasn’t music he particularly enjoyed. “Theme from A Summer Place” holds a very important place in Steiner’s life, because for decades, Max had been trying to write a hit popular song. And although he had a phenomenal gift for melody, as we know from his film scores, his various songs, with the exception of his theme from Now, Voyager, didn’t register as pop hits.

Then, in 1959, he scored A Summer Place; and for the young lovers Johnny and Molly, he wrote basically a pastiche of a simple rock’n’roll ballad, complete with repeating triplets a la “Blueberry Hill.” Well, for once Max did not expect that theme to have a commercial life. But it was recorded by easy listening conductor Percy Faith, and it became what Billboard Magazine named the best-selling instrumental in the history of early rock’n’roll. Written by a 71-year-old symphonic composer from Austria!

MH: The general public is probably most familiar with Steiner’s score for Gone with the Wind, notably his “Tara’s Theme.” Many of his film scores are available on cd or on YouTube now. Is there a particular score you would recommend to listeners?

SS: One of the joys of writing this book was discovering, or re-discovering, so many Steiner scores that are tuneful, moving, and often invigorating. Listening to the main title of Adventures of Don Juan starring Errol Flynn is like drinking three cups of strong coffee! And as I researched his life, I came to appreciate that Max was successful as a dramatic composer partly because he loved people, he loved life, he loved being in love. There was tremendous passion in the man.

As for scores I’d recommend, I suggest watching the following movies, then listening to the CDs of them: Johnny Belinda (one of Max’s favorites), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Key Largo, Of Human Bondage (1934 version), The Big Sleep, Mildred Pierce, Dark Victory, Jezebel, and The Letter. And that’s just for starters!

MH: Having just finished your book recently, I was struck by your keen sense of analysis. You really understand musical history and are able to write about the technical aspects of Steiner’s scores in terms most readers will understand. You write with the insight of a composer! Do you have a musical background?

SS: Thanks for the kind words, Matthew. I began studying piano and music theory when I was ten, and kept taking music classes through college. I had vague hopes of being a professional pianist, until I arrived at USC and realized that I was nowhere in the league of the musicians I met! Instead, I decided to try to write something about Bernard Herrmann, after learning that there was no book about his life. And that put me on what proved to be a very happy professional path.

MH: What are you working on now?

SS: Currently I’m enjoying the promotional phase of the Steiner book—and it’s very different from what I had imagined, due to Covid. Instead of showing up at book stores and libraries, I’ve been giving webinars about Max. And that’s actually been a bright spot in this miserable, tragic year of 2020: the webinars are being viewed by people around the world, and that’s enabled me to connect with individuals I never would have known otherwise. Max Steiner was such a gregarious person, I think he would appreciate the fact that we’re not only talking about his amazing body of work, but that he’s still bringing people together.

The Park Ridge Public Library would like to express its gratitude to Steven Smith for this virtual interview. For more about Steven’s work, be sure to visit his website:






This month, PRPL Focus visits with Emmy-nominated reporter Michelle Relerford of NBC 5 Chicago. Michelle has recently written a children’s book, Khi Has Fun at Home (2020), which has been self-published under her married name. Khi is the story of a household living through quarantine. Since this is a challenge many of us are facing during the pandemic, we thought this would be a wonderful story to share with families.


MH: Thank you, Michelle, for participating in this interview. What inspired you to write a children's book?

MR: Becoming a mom inspired me to write a children's book. My oldest son is 14 now, when he was 2 years old I wrote my first story. I really hoped a publisher would pick it up and when that didn't happen it discouraged me. This time with my second child… when a story came to me I knew I had to share it with or without a company to back it. I'm glad I found a way to make this happen!

MH: How did you manage to carve out the time from your schedule to write the book?

MR: It didn't take long at all! The words just popped in my head and line after line followed! As a reporter, I'm accustomed to writing things quickly. When I get stuck, that's my signal that the line isn't right and I need to think of something different. Writing for me is like a dance, when it's right it just naturally flows!

MH: What a great analogy! Were there any special challenges in writing for children?

MR: I didn't try to write a story for every age group. I wrote it in a voice that my 2-year-old son would understand and that made it easy. I imagined that I was telling him the story, and with that… I knew that toddlers in his age range would enjoy it too!

MH: Did you work closely with the illustrator?

MR: That was the toughest part! I did a lot of research and found illustrators with a style that I could fall in love with. I took the images that I felt worked best with my story and gave them to the illustrator who I feel knocked it out of the park (however my 14-year-old thinks his hair cut could've been better LOL). The biggest challenge was visualizing what every page should look like down to the outfits we all should wear, then painting that picture for the illustrator. I'm very happy with the results.

MH: What is the lesson you hope kids and families will take away from your book?

MR: Take this time to enjoy each other. It's going to be a tough winter, with more restrictions and fewer options to get out. We're all tired, but exercise your creativity and find the joy in little things with the ones you love. Oh, and just take it day by day!

MH: Do you see yourself writing for children again?

MR: I would love to. I still have that first story I wrote a decade ago… my first story will be my second book!

MH: Who are some of your favorite children’s authors—any recommendations for our patrons?

MR: I think my son is the best critic I know… he loves The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, Please Baby Please by Spike Lee, Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See, by Bill Martin Jr. and the classic story… Goldilocks and the Three Bears!

MH: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, Michelle!

MR: Thank you for this opportunity!





This month, PRPL Focus is highlighting the Park Ridge Public Library Book Clubs, which are an integral part of any library. I recently met with Sarah Roots and Rachel Depcik of Adult Services. Both are involved with the program and collaborated for this interview.


Zoom_Sarah_R_and_Rachel_with_booksFor those who may be interested, what is the Book Club Corner and how can patrons join?

We work with book clubs in the community to get the books they want to read and discuss. Book Club Corner is where you can place orders for your club, as well as find information about our book discussion sets and book club happenings (such as information about library book discussions, resources for clubs, and the book club newsletter). To join, visit and fill out the order form for your first book—it’s that simple!

What was the most popular or most frequently requested title of the last few years? Is there a particular author that is a favorite among clubs? 

Our three most popular books this year are Educated by Tara Westover, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, and The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. Educated was also our most requested book last year, and before that it was A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Some of our most popular authors include Ann Patchett, Jodi Picoult, Lisa See and Fredrik Backman. 

What does a Book Club get from registering with the Library's Book Club Corner? 

We obtain the books requested by clubs, so we can make sure everyone gets a copy. Book clubs get extended due dates so members will have plenty of time to read the book, and will never have to return a book before their meeting. Another big perk is access to new book discussion sets that we save exclusively for registered book clubs. A sampling of our new sets that clubs would not be able to get on their own right now include The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, Anxious People by Fredrik Backman, and The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline. 

What can book clubs do to keep going in these weird circumstances, where not everyone is comfortable meeting in person? How can they adapt and still get something out of their reading? 

We’ve heard from some clubs who are meeting virtually now, and other clubs might be comfortable meeting outside. Book clubs can help people to stay connected during these strange times, and reading is wonderful for so many reasons—books can comfort or challenge, let us escape or engage. In joining a book club, you might find yourself discovering books you wouldn’t have chosen yourself, and discussing books with others can help us see and understand things we might not get on our own. Anyone looking for a lively book discussion—and a great book to read—can sign up for our monthly virtual book discussions on Zoom. The discussion is led by a librarian and registration is easy via the library website calendar.

How long have you been involved with the Park Ridge Public Library Book Clubs and what has the experience been like for you?

Sarah: I’ve been working with the book clubs at PRPL since January of this year. It’s been wonderful getting to know some of the book club leaders and a lot of fun chatting about books. I’m so impressed with the number of book clubs in this community!

Rachel: I’ve been working with the PRPL book clubs for four years this December. We have over 70 clubs registered and it is so rewarding to be a part of that. I really enjoy connecting with the club members and hearing about their discussions.

Thank you, Sarah and Rachel! For more about our Book Clubs, be sure to inquire at the Adult Services Desk or call us at 847-825-3123.




Patron Spotlight


Welcome to another entry in our series devoted to you, our patrons. Over the course of twenty-two years, I’ve met hundreds of people while working at the front desk of the Library. Every one of them has a story. In honor of September’s Library Card Sign-Up Month, I interviewed one of our frequent regulars, Sara Trivedi…


MH: Hi, Sara, thank you for being in our spotlight this month! How long have you and your family been patrons at the Park Ridge Public Library?

ST: We moved to Park Ridge in June 2009, so, as soon as we could get proof of residency, we all got library cards right away.

MH: Where does your love of libraries stem from? Did you use the library a lot as a child?

ST: I grew up in Florence, a small town in the northwestern part of Alabama, and some of my favorite memories of my time there were going to the local library. My siblings and I would spend all our time on the bean bag chairs in the children's and young adult sections while my mother would browse around the stacks looking for her own new books to bring home. When I was younger, my favorite book series was Ann M. Martin's The Baby-sitters Club. As a middle-schooler, I was given the opportunity to volunteer as a student assistant in our school library. A few of my tasks were to re-shelve returned books and check out books for other students during their library visits. Later, I would get a similar experience as a parent volunteer at my kids’ elementary school library. 

MH: Sara, have you always been an avid reader? What about your kids? Any advice for those who may be struggling to find the right book, author or genre?

ST: I can't remember ever not enjoying reading...unless it was about an uninteresting topic for school, perhaps. And my two sons are bigger readers than I am. I'm not exactly sure what motivated their deep love of books, but I do know that, very early on, my husband and I felt it was important to read aloud to them each night before bed. Unless we are traveling or have a late night because of meetings or activities, we read something most nights...even now, when they're 12 and 16 years old! As we all have gotten busier in recent years, we know we won't be able to continue the practice much longer, but my oldest son says he'll listen until he moves away for college. Currently, we're reading the final book in The Mysterious Benedict Society series, by Trenton Lee Stewart. Finding books we all like hasn't always been easy, but when we find a good series like MBS or The Chronicles of Narnia, we know we're set for the next several months. Our all-time favorite series is The Penderwicks, by Jeanne Birdsall.

MH: How does it feel to be back in the library again?

ST: It feels wonderful to be back in the library again. Even though we'd checked out a large number of items just before shut-down (because of the pandemic), about eight weeks in, my youngest was longing for some new books. Going on walks around the neighborhood, he and I discovered that one block from our house was a little free library, which sustained us until the library began its contact-free pickup services, to our delight.

MH: What types of materials do you like to check out? What collections would you recommend?

ST: We mostly check out books, video games, movies, and audiobooks when we visit the library. Before the pandemic, when we would take road-trips to Michigan or Alabama, we would check out several audiobooks to enjoy along the way. My husband and I have listened to almost every David Sedaris audiobook in the library. And our whole family enjoys Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. We've listened to that one many times. My favorite genre is definitely memoirs, especially ones written by funny entertainers.

MH: Sara, COVID-19 has affected all our lives in one way or another. Has the Library been able to help you during this transition (to online learning)?

ST: Being able to check out items again has made things so much better for our family as we continue to spend more time at home because of the pandemic. Personally, I'm trying to be more mindful of this period in our lives since we ordinarily would have been getting busier as our sons grow older and become more involved in school and extracurricular activities. I appreciate the extra time with them, and try to remember that when we get impatient with each other. I don't think everything can (or should) return to the way it used to be—the pandemic has exposed a lot of inequalities in the world, and I'm hopeful these inequalities can be addressed in new ways now that everyone has slowed down enough to see everything.

MH: Thank you again, Sara!

ST: I'm so happy to be able to do this. Thanks again for asking me!




With kids returning to school (and e-learning), libraries are as important as ever in facilitating this transition. To learn more about what our library is doing, I sat down (virtually) with Children’s Services Manager Staci Greenwald.


MH: How can the library help with remote learning?

SG: The library has always been a resource for families looking to support students with research, enrichment and entertainment. Now as kids are learning from home, that support is even more crucial. Whether they are homeschooling or participating in remote learning through one of the local schools, many kids are not sitting in a traditional classroom on a daily basis this year. And that means that access to resources in those school buildings is limited as well. The schools are working so incredibly hard to provide access to everything, but the reality is that things are just different. The library, therefore, can provide access to many of the physical materials that kids can’t currently access at school. With roughly 85,000 items in the Youth Services collections, we have a huge selection of books, audiobooks, music and movies that can enhance and enrich the learning experience. For instance, struggling readers might find it beneficial to check out the audio and print version of a title and listen while reading along. This is a great way to strengthen virtually all literacy skills including comprehension, vocabulary and spelling. We also have a large nonfiction collection with texts that appeal to a variety of learners including narrative nonfiction, infographic style texts, picture nonfiction, facts and statistics and even some books that feature supplemental audio/video content via web links and QR codes. And then there is the Parent/Teacher collection which has resources for the grownups working with kids at home. We are continuing to add to this collection in an effort to better support families learning at home. Already it includes books about homeschooling, curriculum guides, test prep, project ideas and more.

We also offer many programs for kids of all ages. From book discussions to writing clubs, cooking classes to drawing programs, there is something for everyone. We understand that kids are spending more time than ever in front of screens with remote learning. Our goal with our programs is to make them as interactive as possible so that they are not passive activities, but instead the kids are actively engaging as they would in an in-person program. The screen is just the method of delivery that we have available during the pandemic. One of our newest programs this fall is Kids’ Yoga Break which will be offered on alternating Monday mornings at 11:00 a.m. Our hope is that it will break up the day for kids and give them a chance to recharge and reset to face the rest of the school day. Parents can join in too! And for those who want zero screen time, we are still offering our Pick-Me-Up crafts in the library. These are pre-packaged crafts that families can take home and make together at their own pace—no screens required!

MH: That’s very exciting! Now that we've had some experience in dealing with this challenge from the spring, what are some popular resources that patrons can take advantage of now?

SG: What we saw in the spring was a huge uptick in use of ebooks and eaudiobooks being accessed through Axis 360, Overdrive and Hoopla. We have continued to build those collections over the past six months, and I don’t see an end to that in the near future. And then of course there are the online resources, or databases. The library subscribes to a number of high quality online resources for patrons including WorldBook, Biography in Context, Science in Context,, CreativeBug and many more. I think families are going to find a great deal of support in all of these resources this year, but in particulare. This resource connects patrons with a live tutor who will guide you through even the toughest homework challenges. For those of us parents out there who haven’t been utilizing the Pythagorean theorem daily for the last 25 years, is there to provide the clarity of instruction that we might not be able to give our kids. They also will proofread papers and help with resume writing. For those looking for arts and crafts projects to do from home, we have CreativeBug. I LOVE CreativeBug! There are so many fun project ideas, and they are accompanied by simple, concise video tutorials that are easy to follow.

Another service we saw increase in the spring was our Book Matches which are personalized lists of books that the library staff puts together on demand. Patrons simply fill out a form (online or in person) that tells us a little bit about what they like/don’t like and we all work together to suggest titles and authors we think the patron might like. Now that kids are back in school and needing to choose books for book reports, reading logs or just as an escape from the everyday, Book Matches are a great way to get suggestions and try something new. Fun fact: There are Book Matches for all ages, even adults!

MH: We’ve received some nice patron comments about CreativeBug and Book Matches! Staci, I understand Youth Services has some things you're doing for School District 64?

SG: Yes! We have had a project in the works for quite a while that will allow students in D64 to access public library ebooks and eaudiobooks through their school’s Destiny library portal. Essentially, it’s a elibrary card for every child enrolled in D64 that gives them access to the materials in our Axis 360 Advantage account. It’s pretty exciting. We had been discussing ways to provide this level of access with several of the district Library Media Specialists and teachers even before the pandemic. Under the current circumstances, it has become even more essential.

MH: Do you have anything in the works that would assist parents and students?

SG: We have been testing out some new online resources right now in hopes that a few of them might be a good fit for eLearners and Homeschool families. We are still in the very early stages of evaluating what’s out there but have high hopes for some that will be able to provide curriculum support, lesson planning guidance, comprehension evaluation, coding tutorials and more. So keep an eye out for those!

September is Library Card Sign-Up Month. In addition to patrons who are already residents, students attending school in Park Ridge can qualify for a library card even if they live outside of Park Ridge. Please contact Patron Services to see who is eligible. 847-825-3123.





On Wednesday, August 5, the Park Ridge Public Library reopened its doors for the first time since March with its new “Grab & Go” service. During limited hours (M-TH: 10-2 & 4-8; Fri-Sa: 11-5), patrons can re-enter the building to pick up their holds, browse the collections, or speak to a librarian. We ask that visits be limited to 30 minutes. There is a building capacity of 50 patrons, and no more than 5 can access the first-floor meeting room at any one time. The meeting room is where all the reserves are currently held. In order to take advantage of Grab & Go, patrons must wear a mask upon entering and maintain a social distance of 6 feet. To date, every visitor has worn a mask and no one has challenged the requirement; they realize the mask policy is in place to keep everyone safe.

There was a flurry of activity on the first day during the initial opening. A general sense of excitement could be felt as people gathered outside the entrance, waiting to come in at 10am. Patrons seemed happy to be back in the building. "Coming back to the library after nearly five months was like coming home again,” said Heather Cherone, a long-time library user and Park Ridge resident. “Grab & Go was well organized, all of the necessary precautions were in place and the staff was helpful and friendly, as always."


Generally, between 15 and 20 patrons have been coming down to the meeting room during the course of each hour. These numbers will most certainly increase in the days ahead as more patrons become aware of Grab & Go. However, in the event the meeting room should become full, we will have patrons wait outside the room at the appropriate distance.

All the available holds are alphabetized (by the patron’s last name) on tables in the meeting room. Once the holds are picked up by the users, the items can then be checked out at one of the two checkout stations in the room, or in the Children’s Department, or in the second-floor lobby. We highly recommend that patrons bring their library cards in order to check out on their own. Staff will still be available in the event of any issues. In addition to the Patron Services staff, there are greeters in the lobby to direct visitors.

For those patrons who are not yet comfortable with the idea of coming back into the building, Patron Services will continue their “contact-free pick-up service” for those preferring to pick up their reserves outside near the entrance. Appointments can be made online at the library’s website or by calling our main number at 847-825-3123.




Irene Dunne RememberedIreneDunne

The following interview with Ann-Marie Streibich, granddaughter of actress Irene Dunne, was conducted by phone on May 21, 2020, by film historian Matthew Hoffman.

MH: Your appearance in 2014 was one of the more memorable evenings we’ve had at the Park Ridge Public Library Classic Film Series. You were very generous with your time, and that's why I wanted to reach out to you now for a (long-delayed) follow-up interview. When the library series (“Legends of Laughter III: The Screwball Comedies”) resumes, we're going to have a couple screwball comedies starring your grandmother, Irene Dunne. I thought now would be a good time to revisit her legacy with an interview with you… I know Irene was initially hesitant about doing comedy. Yet, despite that, she was recognized as one of the finest comediennes in the genre. She of course starred with Cary Grant in The Awful Truth and My Favorite Wife, both of which will be shown when we resume our schedule. Irene starred with many of the major leading men in the industry, and Cary was certainly at the top of that list. Did she share any memories of working with Cary?

AMS: Actually, not really. The only thing that I remember is that my grandmother always considered her acting as a job. The people that she fraternized with… she had such an array of different people in her life who were in business, they were in politics. They were mostly things around volunteering. She was very big on the Catholic Charities, and with that being said, that's really all I remember. She never socialized with him. She was proper, and I think that he was a little more wild.

MH: Irene was such a great actress—nominated five times for the Academy Award—but acting certainly didn't define her life. She was also a great humanitarian. Of which accomplishment beyond Hollywood was she most proud?

AMS: You have to remember I was a child, a young adult, and of course in retrospect, had I really appreciated what she had done… There is an autobiography, you know, that she wrote, and I should probably get a copy of that to you because there might be answers in there that could answer some of the questions. I would say that the most promising things were things that she did to enhance Catholic women’s education. She was a huge supporter of women.

MH: I mean, she certainly exuded a positive energy. She had that deeply-rooted Catholic faith, and that must have been a comforting presence for you growing up.

AMS: Right. With that Catholic faith... And when I say that, I say that with such reverence because she wasn't pious at all. I think certainly she saw a lot of things going on [in Hollywood], but like I said, it was her job. But she was very revered and respected by the Hollywood studio owners—and both the gossip columnists [Louella Parsons, Hedda Hopper], which normally you had to align yourself with one or the other. They both adored her. She was the first woman to negotiate an independent contract from the studio, which really did pave the way for women in the business.

MH: Not many people—then or now—have that kind of reputation or influence in the Hollywood community.

AMS: Well, you know, it's kind of interesting. If you look at actors like Reese Witherspoon, and their intention is very similar—the power of women.

MH: Ann-Marie, though she's been gone nearly 30 years, what lessons from her life help you today in dealing with present-day realities?

AMS: I'm very much into empowering women. I went to a private high school here in Los Angeles, Marymount, and four weeks ago I started a group—I’m calling us “The Marymount Zoomers”—and it’s starting out kind of small and it's grown up to twelve of us. But there's only like fifty people in our class! So my point is, I’m integrating people into this group. It’s been a month, and my intention that I brought up for them is that I want to ask this group if they would be interested in being a mentor, being a sponsor to another Marymount graduate right now, you know, who maybe isn't leaving in August to go to college. We're a very tight class. I have great admiration when I look at all the careers of all the people doing this in the class. With that being said, I think it's a really amazing collaboration to create a platform for our high school in general to use in other classes, to help young girls navigate their future, and it's obviously confidential, you know. We will try and match who can help who with the administration of the high school... My point is that this is something my grandmother would completely admire of me.

MH: Ann-Marie, my favorite movie of hers has always been Show Boat. Which of her films is your favorite?


AMS: I love Penny Serenade. I love it because my mother was adopted and there's that scene, you know, “I don't know how to bathe a baby!” When she was doing that scene, she really meant it! I also love Anna and the King of Siam because I have so many still pictures and I could just see her surrounded by those Asian children and really being… delighted on that set.

MH: Which was Irene's favorite? Do you remember?

AMS: Well, I can tell you the ones that weren’t her favorite like It Grows on Trees. Her later films were not her favorites.

MH: How did she feel about Theodora Goes Wild? Was that one of her favorites?

AMS: I don't remember, but knowing her spunk—when you see some of the smiles, the joie de vivre, the motorcycle kind of thing [from The Awful Truth]—she just had that nature where I can see that would have been fun for her to do.

MH: I know she was born in Kentucky and raised in Indiana, and she had the Chicago connection; she attended the Chicago Musical College with the hope of being an opera singer. Although she sang in many of her films, did she ever have any regrets about not having a full-time singing career? Did that ever come up?

AMS: You know, no, I don't believe she did because she sang in so many of her films. Maybe she considered, you know… she got different kind of training and exposure, but that’s conjecture. I wouldn’t know that. Clearly, whatever the training she had, she went for the interview for Ziegfeld for Show Boat, and that of course was made into the movie. She was young and just rolled with it.

MH: Ann-Marie, for those wanting to know more about your grandmother's life and legacy, where should they start?

AMS: That's a good question. I think if you're really interested, you'll find the answer yourself because there is enough out there. I mean even Wikipedia alone… Matthew, my daughter graduated from Notre Dame law school last May, and I bring that up because of my grandmother. There's a school that is kind of a sister school to Notre Dame, and it’s called St. Mary's College. My grandmother had given a commencement address there. And she also received a layman's medal—you can look up the significance of it—but it's called the Laetare Medal. I can send you some pictures, too, because it was so special… So the library at USC has an archive. My grandmother received the Laetare Medal, and the Laetare Medal is given to individuals—and you should look this up, too, to see who has received it—like from somebody in politics, somebody in education, or somebody in science, somebody in the Arts. My grandmother had received it as someone in the Arts. And I had set up a tour with the library archives people when my daughter graduated. I had a surprise for her. They had set up two tables of all the archives they had of my grandmother, and these were all, you know, print and were interviews, for instance. The recipient of the Laetare Medal is voted on and they don't know about it. Everything was in writing [such as when the recipient gets the letter stating they had been awarded the medal]. I mean, these two tables! So for my daughter's graduation gift, I gave her the Laetare Medal as I gave her the tour…. I always said to Haley, my daughter, “Your great-grandmother is watching over you every single second and that I know to be sure.” So I know it’s a highly-esteemed Catholic honor when my grandmother was addressing the women's college, and I have the speeches, too. I have a collection of all of her speeches.

MH: That’s a beautiful story. Irene was so well-loved—not just in the industry but in her humanitarian work.

AMS: Exactly. So that's why I say, she was a delegate for the United Nations. She was bred so well. She just did a lot for women. She adopted my mother, so the empathy that must have given her to support women who had no other means of support than to be in a Catholic hospital, who gave birth to these children only to give them up to an orphanage.

MH: She was certainly an inspiration to women everywhere.

AMS: Absolutely. To answer your question, delving a little deeper, I'm curious if I reread the script from her autobiography—there is a biography of her—the answer to that question would, I guess, be in there. But I'm not sure, and I don't have that here in Los Angeles, but I can also say that her friends were all very civic-minded, and her best friend was Loretta Young. And so Loretta and she were at the same church together, went to noon mass every day. And, of course, Loretta had an affair with Clark Gable...

MH: But no scandals with Irene!... I’m glad we were finally able to talk again, even by phone.

AMS: It’s easier for me. I can think quicker on my feet with bullet questions, but I think what I was a little intimidated about is the fact that there are just a lot of answers, and I can't say I know for sure that I know them all. And, of course, as an adult, I look back and wish I had had the wisdom to even ask those kinds of questions.

MH: Well, when it comes to her legacy and keeping her name alive, you are my main contact, obviously. I appreciate everything that you've done for me over the years.

AMS: Well, I will continue to do so as long as I can and help you…. Check out the Irene Dunne Society on Facebook. You'd be surprised at how much these people know. They come up with pictures and I'm like, “Where did they get that?” I mean, even pictures of my mother and my grandmother or my grandfather and my grandmother…

(Ann-Marie mentioned a gift she had presented me several years ago, a framed photo of Irene from Show Boat which included Irene’s writing on the back.)

AMS: I honor the energy, and I think that the intention behind these gifts… it gives me joy to keep my grandmother's spirit alive by showing the generosity and not holding and harboring anything that could mean something more to somebody else.

MH: It's great that you have that attitude and that's how you see things. It means so much to me, and that's why I wanted to try and pay it forward to some extent and get younger audiences interested in your grandmother's legacy and keep her name alive.

AMS: It’s interesting… So wish me luck with the Marymount Zoomers. I always say I'm really good at ideas and I'm really bad at execution, but I think something like this really taps into what I do best, and I do best by female collaboration. People say you're lucky if you can count your friends on one hand, and I'm completely surrounded by such strong spirits that it all comes from love for one another, I have to say…. As a matter of fact, I'm going to go start some volunteering serving meals at a church around here…  In her later years, I would probably say that was the biggest fulfillment of hers. I mean, as you know, we were just so close. So I know she would be proud of the woman I became.

MH: She would be very proud of you now. That’s wonderful that you are surrounded by so much support. 

AMS: I'm a very positive person, and I do have hope, and I think hope is what we are all praying for right now, and really digging deeper to understanding that we are so blessed. I know that so many people are really struggling, and it's so hard and people are dying… for those who can keep their heads above water and have faith and have hope. We can hold each other up.

MH: That's the only way you can approach it. Thank you again Ann-Marie. I appreciate you taking the time tonight to keep in touch. I wish you and your family well.

AMS: Thank you so much, Matthew!







The Pickwick Theatre is the most identifiable landmark in Park Ridge. It's been a source of pride for the community since 1928. Filling the theatre, however, is not always an easy task. Suburban multiplexes and the repertoire theatres of Chicago provide stiff competition for the Pickwick. Within this milieu, the Pickwick Theatre Classic Film Series strives to bring in good "box office." But once upon a time, the Pickwick's closest competitor was here—in Park Ridge. Few people today realize a second movie house once existed in town. In fact, it had been built years earlier. For those who appreciate the glorious movie theatres of yesteryear, we thought we'd post a few words about the forgotten "Ridge Theatre."

The Ridge Theatre was located across Hodges Park at 203 Vine Avenue (next to the building which now rents to the D’Vine beauty salon). It was constructed by the Park Ridge Amusement Company and designed by architect Elmer F. Behrns (1896-1975), who had worked on many movie theatres in Illinois, including the Egyptian in DeKalb and the Woodstock Theatre. Unlike the Pickwick's modernistic style, the Ridge Theatre's terra cotta facade distinctly recalled Spanish Colonial, and it was nearly identical to the York Theatre in Elmhurst. The York, which was also designed by Behrns, opened in 1924. Though we have no photos of the inside of the Ridge Theatre, we know that it, too, was patterned after the York.

The interior design of the Ridge was done in the style of the French Renaissance and was supervised by John Paulding and the McPherson Decorating Company. The interior included a dome decorated in silver-leaf that also featured a three-color lighting scheme. The rear wall of the theatre was near the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, which may have affected the acoustics during performances. But any screening would have certainly been enhanced by the $15,000 Gottfried pipe organ that had been installed.


The Ridge was originally part of the Chicago-based Lynch theatre holdings. "Lynch Theatres" received top billing above Ridge Theatre on the programs; it was affiliated with and operated by Balaban & Katz. According to a 1931 edition of the Film Daily Year Book of Motion Pictures, the Ridge seated 1200 while the Pickwick had 800 seats. This is inaccurate since the original design for the Pickwick had nearly 1600 seats. By 1941, years after the Ridge had closed, the seating capacity of the older theatre had dropped and was reduced to 800. (The Pickwick's seating capacity, meanwhile, would eventually drop to 1400, and today it is currently 850 with the newer seats.) Though the Ridge was a good-sized neighborhood theatre, William H. Malone, the town's second mayor and eventual developer of the Pickwick, thought the Ridge was simply not big enough. (The population of Park Ridge in 1928 was considerably less than 10,000.)

The Ridge opened its doors nearly ninety-six years ago on November 15, 1924—four years before the Pickwick. The first film shown was the silent movie Her Night of Romance, which starred Constance Talmadge and Ronald Colman. The mayor at the time, E. Leslie Cole, was there to greet the Opening Night crowd. The theatre operated on weekdays from 7:00 to 11:00 PM; Sundays 2 to 11 PM. There was a children's matinee on Saturdays from 2:00 to 6:00 PM. General admission was normally "15c for children and 35c for adults."

The programs that have survived reveal a theatre operating at the height of the silent era in the late 1920s. The movie ads featured names like Ronald Colman (Beau Geste), Harold Lloyd (Speedy), Dorothy Gish (Madame Pompadour), Renee Adoree (Back to God's Country), Victor McLaglen (The River Pirate), Myrna Loy (State Street Sadie), Lewis Stone (Freedom of the Press), Mary Philbin (Surrender), John Gilbert (The Big Parade), and hundreds of others. These silent films were given a voice thanks to the impressive Gottfried organ. Programs from the era reveal that several house organists performed on it during the course of the year.

A typical evening might include a double feature program, a "Junior Fun Frolic," or a Chinaware Night ("Free Chinaware to the Ladies.") Whereas today you might pay $14 to see TV commercials, back then you could see a two-reel comedy, a newsreel, and a movie serial chapter with the feature presentation. A wonderful ad for the jungle adventure Chang (1927) lists the added attraction of a "Crazy Cat Cartoon and Paramount News." Though the programs were simple bi-folds made up of silent movie artwork, they conjured up a strong sense of time and place. There was genuine excitement to be found with previews like: "Coming Next Week: Lon Chaney in The Unknown." A handful of other film stars and their films might also be listed for the following week.

The theatre was managed by Robert C. McGregor (1884-1954), who was also part owner. (Years afterward, he became an alderman in Park Ridge.) In The History of Park Ridge, author Orvis Jordan writes, "The Greater Chicago Magazine was enthusiastic over the modernity of the new show house. It had oil heat, which had only recently come to Park Ridge. It also had washed air. The entire output of United Artists, Paramount, First National, Universal and Fox was controlled, though not all of this output was used, for under McGregor no picture that would offend public taste was shown."

A 1928 advertisement in the Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World for the Kohler Electric Plant. The films on the marquee are The Big City with Lon Chaney and The Crowd. The building also included retail space for a lingerie and hosiery business.


Pickwick Theatre owner William H. Malone (1877-1956) eventually bought out his competitor, forcing the Ridge to go dark. It closed its doors in 1936. The Ridge made a brief comeback in the mid-1950s as an art house—renamed the Park Avenue Cinema—but it was a short-lived venture. In 1956, the theatre was converted to a Michael Kirby ice skating studio. The skating rink lasted until 1973. Then, ten years later in 1983, a condominium complex went up on the site of the old theatre. No doubt most people today, making their way along Vine to City Hall and the residential area, would never guess that a movie theatre had once stood there. Sadly, nothing visible remains. Even the Gottfried organ became a thing of the past. (If this instrument was relocated, it never survived to the present day.)

For more information about the Ridge Theatre and the era of American movie palaces, visit the following website:

Special thanks to Paul Adlaf of the Park Ridge Historical Society and the Reference staff of the Park Ridge Public Library.










pic2Patron Services:

Sometimes it’s just a voice you hear through the “Ring” doorbell speaker. Or maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of one as they quickly emerge from the front door (only to disappear again). So what exactly are those masked, Patron Services staff up to anyway? Since I’m one of them, I can tell you.

For the last three weeks, the Patron Services Department has been implementing the “contact-free pickup service” whereby patrons can pick up their hold items by appointment. Every day that the library is open, there are between sixty and seventy appointments to be processed.

Each morning, we print up a report of all the patrons who plan on visiting us that day. But the reports and appointments never end, and while we are preparing the items for that day’s pickup, members of our page team go around the library and pull the latest requests that will be picked up in the days ahead. Each day there are between 300 and 600 items requested. Items are located on the shelves and brought to the meeting room to be “trapped”—or triggered in the computer. The items, now showing as available for those patrons, are then bagged. A sea of brown paper bags—organized alphabetically on the tables-- gives an idea of just how many reserves are placed by Park Ridge patrons. Because of the restrictions on the amount of employees allowed inside a public space, there are no more than six staff handling all these materials on a given day.

From the meeting room, we collect the bags, containing all the materials the patrons want, and we begin the process of checking the items out to them. We do this using our efficient check-out stations, which print receipts that we enclose inside each bag. Then, at every hour, we place the paper bags out on the two tables in front of the library entrance. Patrons who have made appointments online or by phone are thus able to stop by and collect their materials at the prescribed time. Sometimes, however, patrons haven’t completed the process online—there is a button at the bottom of the reservation page that asks you to continue—so throughout the day we have patrons arrive looking for their bag that isn’t available yet. Other times, patrons simply get an email informing them that their holds are available but don’t realize you still have to make an appointment to pick them up. An email telling you that your holds are in doesn’t mean they will be out on the table that day. If you have any questions about making a reservation, please contact us at 847-825-3123.

It’s a lot of work, so we appreciate it when patrons show up to collect their items. The “no shows” are contacted the following day and we try and reschedule their appointment.

This week, in addition to continuing our holds service, we will begin the process of checking in returned materials. With over 30,000 items expected to be dropped off, this is no small task and precautions must be taken. Returned items must first be quarantined for a period of a week. Due to a lack of space, the library must store these materials where space is available, such as in the Children’s Department. The black plastic bags, seen in the picture below, contain many of the items that have been checked out these past several months.


For more about contact-free pickup:

For more about when and where you can return your materials:




StarsA Film For Our Time:

Stars in My Crown (1950)

What I'll always remember most is the image of the parson standing on the front porch of Uncle Famous' shack and facing the KKK. They've come to lynch the old black man, but this mob isn't made up of strangers. Under their sheets, they're the local townsmen, and every one of them has had some personal connection growing up with Uncle Famous.

Through every trial since the birth of this nation, there have been Americans who have challenged intolerance and oppression—characters not unlike Josiah Gray in Stars in My Crown (1950). The preacher, as portrayed by Joel McCrea, embodies the very best of what this country can offer. When he confronts the Ku Klux Klan at the end of the film, there's no shoot-out or sanctimonious sermon. Instead, Josiah shames them. But he does this in a way that I, the viewer, never saw coming.

What he does to those hooded townspeople is something that probably should be done to a great many people today who, through poor judgment, have aligned themselves with the worst elements of society. How many cling to partisanship over common decency? America's well is poisoned. Not from the typhoid in the water, as depicted in the movie, or from COVID-19, which has claimed the lives of thousands. No, this is something longer-lasting than a pandemic, and it's at the heart of Stars in My Crown.

Stars in My Crown is a film for our time, an episodic portrait of Americana that addresses the issue of racial intolerance. In fact, the story presents a dual conflict a town is faced with. Two diseases are tearing it apart—typhoid and racism. A parallel could be made to events in 2020, which makes Stars in My Crown all the more relevant now. At the time of its release seventy years ago, the film received the prestigious Freedom Foundation Award, which recognized its role in exemplifying the American ideal.

Set in the postbellum South, Stars in My Crown is the story of a small town, Walesburg, as remembered by the film's narrator, John Kenyon. What he recalls, however, is something more than a nostalgia for one's childhood—it's a longing for a special time and place. There were problems to be sure, but there was always the parson to guide the town through it all. And during the darkest hours, Josiah faced his own self-doubt and questioned whether he had failed the town. The story was based on the book of the same name by Joe David Brown with an adaptation by Margaret Fitts. Both the novel and the film took their title from a 19th century Protestant hymn, Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown.

Parson Josiah Gray embodies strength and empathy. It is through people like him that Walesburg has a spiritual foundation and a sense of community. McCrea biographer Tony Thomas wrote, “Stars in My Crown is one of the stars in the crown of Joel McCrea. The role of the strong, likeable pastor fits him like a glove. It is quintessential McCrea, thoroughly American and straight as an arrow. This pastor is no mere Holy Joe; when he strides into a saloon and slams a pistol on the bar the patrons pay attention. And when he faces down the Klanners there is no doubt that this is the man who could do it. He knows about prejudice and greed and ignorance, and how to do something about it. Josiah Doziah Gray is Joel McCrea at his best.”

Stars in My Crown features a wonderful ensemble cast: Ellen Drew as Harriet Gray; child actor Dean Stockwell as John Kenyon; James Mitchell as the practical doctor with more faith in medicine than in prayer; Amanda Blake as the schoolteacher; Alan Hale (in his last film); Lewis Stone; and Juano Hernandez as Uncle Famous. The previous year, Hernandez had appeared in Intruder in the Dust, another film that dealt with lynch mobs. Also in the cast, though uncredited, is James Arness. Both he and Amanda Blake would go on to star in the long-running television series, Gunsmoke.

The film was beautifully directed by Jacques Tourneur, a Paris-born filmmaker who is best known for the Robert Mitchum film noir, Out of the Past, as well as the horror films he made with producer Val Lewton at RKO. But the darkness of those earlier films has been replaced here by the light of a summer day. In a style that recalls the best of director John Ford, Tourneur’s rural compositions, character vignettes, and homespun humor make this distinctly American tale one of the stellar films of the 1950s—and perhaps the most underrated of the decade. Tourneur reportedly waived his normal salary demands in order to make the film his way without studio interference. As a result, he made what he believed to be his best.

There’s a wonderful introduction of the film on the online site reddit in which the moderator writes, “Tourneur conjures the palpable aura of one era giving way to another, with an emphasis on growth, renewal and healing—both spiritual and physical. Pastor Gray’s fight on behalf of Famous Prell for the community’s soul is paralleled with the story of a young, idealistic atheist doctor fighting a typhoid outbreak. As we transition from one era to another, the characters learn to see themselves not as divided polarities (young and old, black and white, men of faith and men of science), but as forces of complementary balance, inextricably linked together, each with inherent worth and dignity.”

Acknowledging this is the first step in solving our current troubles. Understanding the complementary balance of how society is made up—and accepting the inherent worth and dignity of the individual. From this starting point, you can then build opportunities to succeed.

A film for the entire family, Stars in My Crown was screened at the Park Ridge Public Library Classic Film Series in 2015 as part of a "Films of Faith" program. It's a title I wish more people would seek out, a comforting film in difficult times. In a society that is ever-changing—with values being reinterpreted—Stars in My Crown presents an image of America on film that was constant and reassuring. The film reflects a sense of community, a spiritual identity, and a fundamental decency—the bedrock upon which our house now stands. Stars in My Crown is a glowing memory and a vision of small-town America at its finest—an America that faced its challenges and overcame them.







Above: Teamwork! Allison (pictured bottom right) with her fellow nurses.

As part of our appreciation for all our essential workers, the Park Ridge Public Library has initiated the #parkridgestrong campaign through which our community can express its gratitude to our nurses, doctors, first responders, grocery store workers, family—even those who are simply staying home. To tie into this project, it was important for me to speak to someone who has been on the front lines and can tell us firsthand what it’s been like on a daily basis.

I recently did a virtual interview with Park Ridge’s own Allison Chaplin.

MH: Allison, thank you so much for your time. The community is tremendously grateful for what you and thousands of other health care professionals have done for us during the pandemic. If you could tell us where you work and your position at the hospital.

AC: I am a registered nurse and I work at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in the Lakeview neighborhood in Chicago. I am a float nurse, which means that I work on a different inpatient floor each shift. 

MH: How has your work and family life changed in the past ten weeks?

AC: My work life has changed greatly. The biggest change has been that I have to gown up before I go into rooms. It takes more time to don and doff the protective gear it takes to keep ourselves safe while taking care of COVID positive patients. Obviously, the biggest concern is contracting the virus and keeping myself safe and healthy. In saying this, this has affected my family life and I have not been able to see them in order to keep them from contracting the virus.

MH: What has been a touching way that someone has shared their gratitude with you or made you feel appreciated? Do you have an example of how you have impacted a patient’s life recently?

AC: Since family members have not been able to visit, I have been trying to do a lot of Zoom meetings for patients and their families. It means so much for the family to visualize a loved one and I have seen some tears shed virtually. Families are so grateful to the people who are taking care of their loved ones and they have been sending a lot of food to keep us fueled for the shift. 

MH: How have you been made to feel supported on the front lines?

AC: While being on the front lines, our hospital has been supporting us by ensuring our safety. Our hospital has mandated that all employees wear masks at all times. We also get our temperatures screened when coming to work. Finally, the hospital gives us the proper protective gear to take care of the patients, which includes an N-95 mask, gown, gloves, and a face shield. We also have the mental health staff available and respite rooms for when we need to de-stress. 

MH: What are you grateful for as a nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic?

AC: I am grateful for a renewed purpose and direction in my nursing career. I have stepped up and am now the charge nurse of the COVID units. I have [found a new purpose and] invigorated my passion for both the nursing field and my patients. 

MH: Can you give an example of something that has changed your perspective being an essential worker during this time?

AC: My perspective has changed in the fact that I pay more attention to isolation precautions. Pre-COVID, I can say that I was guilty of not always following isolation precautions or washing my hands frequently. However, this pandemic has made me hyperaware of hand hygiene and sterile technique. I bring this practice into my personal life as well and practice social distancing and frequent hand washing when out in the public. 

MH: What would you want people to know about what nurses and other medical professionals are experiencing right now? 

AC: I would just want the public to know that we are experiencing emotional and physical stress and that it is coming in waves. It has become our new normal but that does not mean it is any less stressful. With Illinois opening up soon, we just would like the public to remain respectful of the guidelines that have been recommended by the CDC so that there is not a surge in cases and that we can handle the influx at the hospital. By doing your part, you are helping the medical community conserve resources so they do not run out. Stay safe everyone! ☺


EmpireposterThe Empire Strikes Back:
A Fan Remembers

Guest Contributor:
Tony Letrich
Interlibrary Loan, Park Ridge Public Library

Forty years ago this week, The Empire Strikes Back—the long-awaited sequel to Star Wars—finally opened to almost universal acclaim from critics and fans alike...well, almost universal acclaim. For as big a Star Wars fan as I was—a follow-up to My Favorite Movie Of All Time was something I thought about every hour on the hour during the three year wait between movies—my initial reaction to Empire was No Thank You, I'll Pass...I was actually quite devastated.

Now in the interest of full disclosure I knew everything that was going to happen in The Empire Strikes Back a full month before it opened, thanks to my questionable decision to read the film's novelization, which someway, somehow got released to bookstores early. Reading the book was not a happy experience: the tone was all wrong, this was much darker, scarier—where was the fun, the Big Victory at the end? Why was this Yoda creature berating poor Luke Skywalker? And Darth Vader's Big Secret? Completely, totally unacceptable—I vaguely remember crying while brushing my teeth the night I finished the novel, thinking I waited three years just to wait ANOTHER three years to see if Han Solo—everybody's favorite Star Wars character--would survive his Carbonite prison. Like I said, totally unacceptable.

Those feelings definitely stayed with me a month later on Empire's opening day...But then it was time to see it a second time, approximately 20 whole minutes after seeing it for the first time. Since the Norridge Theatre wasn't asking us to leave, my group of Weber High School pals stayed put and experienced Empire again—and it was then that the film started to work its way into my skull. The sheer spectacle of the film was overwhelming: the massive land battle on the ice planet Hoth with the ragtag Rebels taking on the mighty Imperial AT-AT Walkers, all happening within the first half-hour of the movie; the chase with the Millennium Falcon through the asteroid field; the epic light saber duel between Luke and Darth Vader on the Cloud City of Bespin; and of course the Jedi Master Yoda, who 40 years ago seemed like the ultimate risk: if audiences didn't accept this Muppet-like creature who sounded strangely like Miss Piggy, the whole film would have collapsed under its own weight. But Star Wars guru George Lucas and Empire director Irvin Kershner rolled the dice, and today Yoda is a cornerstone of the Star Wars Universe.  

If The Empire Strikes Back was truly going to work, however, it had to rely on more than just spectacle. It took me a moment to come on board, but ultimately it is the joy of reuniting with our favorite characters from Star Wars but seeing them in new, unpredictable, sometimes scary situations that make the film so special. And then there are those moments big and small: the appearance of the bounty hunters, including the reptile-like Bossk, on screen for all of 20 seconds but still one of my favorite Kenner action figures..."Wars Not Make One Great"....Darth Vader in full-evil mode, presiding over the massive Carbon Freeze Chamber set..."I Am Your Father"...the Tauntauns, Dagobah, and of course Lando Calrissian—not to mention Lando's mysterious robot aide Lobot, who has The Greatest Eye Shift in the history of cinema—all this punctuated by one of composer John Williams' greatest, most lyrical scores.  

DSC03472It was all too much for this Star Wars fan to resist...and that I think is the true genius of The Empire Strikes Back: George Lucas and Irvin Kershner gave me something I didn't think I wanted—until they convinced me it's exactly what I wanted with all their imaginative, risky, typical-sequel-mold-breaking choices. Even with our heroes all facing an uncertain future, waiting another three years suddenly didn't seem like a bad proposition, it actually fired the what else was I going to obsess over every hour on the hour?

So, 40 years after its debut, is The Empire Strikes Back the greatest movie sequel ever?  Why yes, of course it is—was there ever any doubt?


Above: Part of Tony's Star Wars memorabilia
collection on display at the Library.



DinnerWhat’s For Dinner?

Since we’ve been “All in Illinois” and staying at home, some of us have had more time to cook. Others, maybe not so much. In either case, we went around asking for food recommendations from our library staff—specialties that can be easily prepared or just picked up. Here are some of their suggestions!

Stephanie, Administration

We've been cooking at home every night (which is usually the case!) and I have been trying out new recipes, including homemade pasta noodles and baked bread. But on the nights that things feel a little more rushed, my go-to is always a family favorite from Trader Joe's freezer section: Chicken fried rice and steamed pot stickers. Trader Joe's has so many frozen ready-to-cook meals that are easy, delicious and affordable! So lucky to have one nearby!

Alyson, Administration

We cook dinner almost every night. It’s usually a roasted vegetable and some type of poultry. BUT I will share with you this excellent scallop recipe that I encountered during this pandemic.

Here is the recipe for Garlic-Lemon Scallops:

¾ cup butter
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 pounds large sea scallops (I used small scallops because some in my household aren’t HUGE fans of the texture)
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Melt butter in a large skillet over a medium heat. Stir in garlic. Add scallops and cook on one side then turn over and continue to cook until they turn opaque. Remove the scallops and whisk, salt, pepper and lemon juice with butter and pour sauce over scallops. My final addition was a box of herbal flavored couscous to serve as a bed beneath the scallops. I bet a bed of mixed greens would also be delicious.

Prep time was about 10 minutes and cook time was 10 min.

Also, I have been baking cookies and sharing them with neighbors. Trying to keep everyone plump in case they get sick! So they have some reserves to battle the illness!!

Claire, Children’s Services

I just picked up a chopped salad from Sonny's -- my favorite! They also deliver through Grubhub. 

Lisa, Children’s Services

World’s Best Greek Potatoes | To Die For

Mary, Children’s Services

Here's a quick and easy recipe that I think is very good. 

Chicken and Couscous - Simply combine cooked couscous (plain or herb flavored), pesto sauce, and rotisserie chicken (shredded).  And viola . . . dinner! 

Lan, Children’s Services

We ordered from the family meal from Spuntino's this week and it was delicious. Although it says the meal feeds 6 (for $39.99), there's enough food for more than that. We had leftovers for at least another meal for the four of us. And if people are looking for breakfast or lunch, Lola's is open. We always love their breakfasts - and their value.

As for a dish to prepare, this is a great, fast and easy recipe and it works as a main course for vegetarians. It does call for fresh spinach and arugula but those are widely available at grocery stores.

Jazmin, Patron Services

I've been cooking a lot at home but also have ordered out a few times. These two favorites of mine can be found on Grubhub:

Falafel Dream, located in Chicago, has DELICIOUS food. My go-to's are the falafel sandwiches and a veggie combo dish which consists of hummus, baba ghannouj, rice, falafel, and Jerusalem salad.

Penny's Noodle Shop, located in Oak Park, is a mostly Thai restaurant. Love their veggie fried rice platter!

As for home-cooked meals, I've made vegan banana pancakes for breakfast using this recipe:

(The other day, I topped them off with some Nutella, and it's my new obsession!)

For dinner one night, I made some enchiladas in red sauce. The recipe I based them off of is found here I would recommend frying the tortillas a little first rather than just heating them up on a skillet. Also, I used black beans instead of pinto because they're my favorite. Budget Bytes, in general, is a fantastic website that includes a ton of yummy, budget-friendly recipes.

Alison, Patron Services

There are so many great family meals being offered at Edison Park and Park Ridge local restaurants! Nonno Pinos, Spuntinos, Firewater Saloon and Zias are some of the restaurants we have ordered from. We are trying to order out from one local restaurant a week to help support their business during these challenging times. 

Tonight, we are picking up popcorn from the Pickwick Theatre, the library's great neighbor from across the street!

Bob, Patron Services

I'd like to recommend Dolcetti bakery on Vine in Park Ridge. This small bakery is usually a great place to get a coffee and some nice pastries, but because of the current situation they are only selling frozen meals and some pastries to bake at home. The blueberry scones and chocolate chip cookies turn out very nicely!

Laura M., Patron Services

Pick up at Paradise Pup!... Besides supporting local restaurants, we have been cooking a lot! I have made my homemade mac and cheese, meatloaf and a crazy but yummy make ahead potato dish. We have done pork chops on the grill, my husband's gumbo with chicken and andouille sausage. My husband also makes his mom's chicken and rice recipe with French style green beans, mushrooms and garlic. For Easter we had a small rack of lamb on the grill and a small carver ham from Costco. I have also baked brownies and a cake. Now I am planning on banana bread and chocolate chip cookie bars.

Tony, Patron Services

We love picking up food at Bob-O’s and Lonnie’s Pizza, both on Irving Park just east of Cumberland.

Sarah, Reader Services

I'd like to plug Bryn Mawr Breakfast Club (at Kimball and Bryn Mawr in Chicago), which is still open for carryout and delivery.

Kelly, Reader Services

This week I made: traditional Cornish pasties -- made from grandmother's recipe. My great grandfathers and grandfather were iron miners in the UP of Michigan, so this is a family tradition.

I also made Indian Butter chicken with homemade naan.

Creamy French Onion soup with gruyere biscuits.

Bourbon-soy marinated pork tenderloin with roasted asparagus and mustard sauce.

Scalloped potatoes with ham.

Boneless pork chops in the instant pot served with southern fried cabbage.

For take-out (trying to limit to once per week!) we did a family meal from Graziano's in Niles, as well as tacos from Que Onda in Edison Park. And hot dogs from our favorite dog stand, Nick's, at Touhy and Harlem in EP.

Aida, Technical Services

One tool that has been saving me, is the old "crockpot"… I love simple, less than 5 ingredients recipes. My favorite is dumping chicken breast, any veggies in your fridge, (potatoes, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, your favorite spices etc.) 

I usually use plain salt n pepper. Cover it and forget about it. I also have a rice cooker. Add proper measurements, rice and water and forget about it. It turns out so good and smells great. You can eat it with tortillas and make a taco.

My son loves pancakes, so one of our fav's is mixing one egg and a banana and you have yourself healthy, delicious pancakes. Taste great! Simple!

As for ordering out, we have used Sunrise Grill (1930 E Touhy Ave, Des Plaines) Breakfast special. For $20 you get eggs, pancakes, sausages, bacon, French toast & hash browns. For those that are vegetarian, you can substitute meat for veggies. It literally feeds an army and it's a steal for the price. 

Another place we have used is "Que Onda" (curbside pickup)

Mexican Restaurant on Northwest Hwy. For $30, you get 14 tacos, rice, beans, shaved corn, chips, Guacamole and salsa. You can choose from steak, fish, shrimp, ground beef, chicken just to name a few. My favorite is their fish tacos. 



Things To Do At Home
(Not Involving A Book)

There is a wealth of information online about things we can do at home. We’ve compiled a list of a few of them—things other than reading a book. Although, for those die-hard readers who are undecided what their next book will be and would like to plan ahead, we have included some suggestions on that as well.

The following categories are ideas for you, and we’ve included many useful links to help guide you.


Ancestry Library Edition is temporarily available from home!
Try it today with your Park Ridge Library Card:

Ancestry is one of the best online sources for genealogy, made up of thousands of collections of genealogical records. Not sure where to start searching? Ask a librarian! Email to reach our Reference staff.

Build your family tree by searching over billions of public records and Census data. Get obituaries, marriage records, immigration papers, military information and more. You can find the link on our Databases page:

Also of note: Genealogy Activities for Coronavirus Quarantine


This one is important! Take 10 minutes to support our community - and the library - for the next 10 years. Take the census at


Free comics:


The 50 America’s Test Kitchen Recipes You Need Now
A special collection of 50 all-time favorite recipes free for everyone during the COVID-19 emergency:

Easy recipes you can make during coronavirus quarantine with five ingredients or less:

The best online resources for quarantine cooking at all skill levels. They include beginner-friendly recipes and ways to use what you have on hand:


Try this array of Skillshare classes to engage your creativity:

Stuck Inside? Come Hang Out with The Mighty Community!


Start a new hobby, keep your hands busy, and get lost in your own creative headspace – even for just a few minutes. And for those who are home with young ones, we guarantee this is screen time you can feel good about. Take your crocheting to a new level of cuteness with Creativebug! Use your library card to access thousands of tutorials, including lessons in crocheting from beginner to "OMGsh you made that?!" The site has thousands of award-winning art and craft video classes taught by recognized design experts and artists. Log in here:


Start your own routine at home. Need guidance? When it comes to personal fitness, check out Park Ridge’s own Drake Susral -- “Body By Drake” -- who is offering Zoom sessions:


Now is the ideal time to start a garden! There are daily online gardening classes:


Our personal favorites are the websites with online exhibitions that tell important historical stories using primary sources.

To learn stories from Chicago's past, we recommend Chicago History Museum's online exhibitions:,

or Lake Forest College's Digital Chicago:

Donate your time—transcribe letters for the Newberry Library, a world-renowned independent research library located in Chicago:

For history that isn't Chicago focused, we recommend the Digital Public Library of America online exhibitions:

It's hard not to include the Library of Congress in any recommendation list! There are many wonderful pages to explore on, but it can be overwhelming, so we usually recommend the "Today in History" page:

Learn a new language

Have you always wanted to learn a new language? This might be just the time. Try the Library’s Mango Languages database.

Mango Languages is an online language-learning system teaching actual conversation skills for a wide variety of languages. Mango uses real-life situations and actual conversations to more effectively teach a new language.

A mobile app is also available:



Be sure to visit the Library's website and #parkridgestrong to thank our health care workers, first responders, front line workers and everyone staying home.

Use your Library Card:

Apply for a library card through our online form (link below). One of our team members will email you your library card number and pin so you can access online resources and your account. Remember to pick up your card and show proof of residency when the library reopens.
UPDATE: For questions regarding your account including card expiration, resetting your pin on your account, renewals or overdue materials please email our Patron Services team at

The Library is offering all kinds of online programs: Virtual Open Knitting & Crocheting, Virtual Teen Craft Club, Virtual Teen Book Bites, Virtual Library Pub Quiz, Virtual Book Discussions and even a Teen TikTok Challenge!

Virtual programs calendar:


Catch up on past Oscar nominees and other legendary comedies and dramas, or revisit old favorites! Try Kanopy, our online streaming collection of feature films, documentaries, foreign language, and training videos, including the Criterion Collection, The Great Courses, the Frontline series, and international films? Right now they have a special Credit-Free Viewing Collection with 54 titles!

Also, try Hoopla:


Quaint English Village Murder Mystery TV Shows with A Million Seasons, For Your Binge-Watching Pleasure During These Hard Times:

ESPN has been broadcasting The Last Dance miniseries, about the Chicago Bulls historic 1997-1998 basketball season.


Staff recommendation: Some Good News:


How to visit some of Chicago’s best museums without leaving your house:

Online art courses:



Book podcasts:

Worst Bestsellers:

Hugo Award-winning SciFi fiction & nonfiction:

Pop Culture and Geeky Podcasts:

The Incomparable Network:

NPR “Fresh Air”:


Our recommendation for families is old-school!

“Those Were the Days” Saturdays on 90.9 FM (WDCB) 1-5 p.m. with Host Steve Darnall. This program offers the best in old-time radio. Besides being entertaining, the weekly broadcasts are always informative. Their ongoing coverage of World War II’s 75th anniversary has been exceptional radio.


Learn how to tie a tie, knit, dance, or change a flat tire. There are many skills you can learn on YouTube. The following article lists fifty of them:

Coping with the stress of living through a pandemic:


If you have no interest in hitting the golf links, maybe some audiobooks about sports will get you through this lull. Sports fans, we get it, everything is cancelled and you need a distraction. Try a sports story audiobook!
Find audiobooks free with your card at

Staycation from Home

Board a virtual tour of the Chicago River without leaving the house:

Enjoy WTTW’s Geoffrey Baer’s tours from your own sofa:

13 Virtual Train Rides From Around the World That You Can Experience Right Now:

Visit the most haunted places in the U.S. right from your couch:

Story Time

Story Time Live!

Starting May 5, join the library for virtual storytimes on Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings, and a pajama storytime May 13. Thursday morning storytimes will also continue. We can't wait to see you! Get details here:

Also of interest: Disney Bedtime Hotline is back to lull your kids to sleep with a nighttime story: 


During the pandemic it’s important to keep a journal. Future generations will be interested in knowing how we lived through COVID-19. The Illinois Digital Archives repository, for example, would certainly have interest in how Park Ridge adapted to the crisis.

If you’re feeling bold and would rather start that novel you’ve been putting off, inquire about the library’s Writers’ Group. We recently talked about the group on PRPL Focus.

Also of interest:





Friends of the Library: Books & Beyond

One of the biggest events of the year has always been the Friends of the Library Book Sale. Over the years, it has become a tradition to see the long lines of patrons arriving early on Friday for the Preview Sale and getting their numbers to go in. Saturdays would always see great crowds, and on Sundays, the local teachers never failed to take advantage of the reduced prices. I’ve attended the sale dozens of times and found good deals and rare finds. In fact, I’d say a large percentage of my own book collection has come from this sale, held twice a year. Whether you are a fan of popular fiction or vintage books, you’re bound to find something of interest—no pun intended.

Unfortunately, due to the current health crisis, the Library has had to cancel the 2020 Spring Book Sale. Since this event is sponsored by the Friends of the Library, I thought I’d reach out to these dedicated volunteers and see how they are doing. I recently spoke to Deborah Kuhlman, who is co-president of the Friends with Judy Donovan.

MH: Deb, thank you for your time. I’m sure that many patrons are unaware that a portion of the Library’s funds for programming and events come directly from the Friends. Is there a recent example?

DK: Thanks for reaching out. We are providing the monies for the Summer Reading Club prizes. (NOTE: Adult Services and Children’s have a team that works on purchasing the prizes with the Friends’ money. These will be gift cards. The Library is planning to buy as much from local businesses as possible.)

MH: It doesn’t sound like the Friends have slowed down.

DK: Although the Spring Book Sale has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Friends of the Park Ridge Library have not ground to a halt. We all have our fingers crossed that we will be able to host our Summer Taste of Park Ridge Pop-up Sale on Saturday, July 11. This annual event is held in the open air in front of the library and features great summer reading selections for children and adults as well as DVDs. We always have cookbooks, travel, and gardening books as well as plenty of fiction. Once the library reopens, we invite everyone to visit the Book Nook on the second floor outside the Quiet Reading Room, where you can find great bargains in hardcovers and paperbacks, audio books, DVDs, CDs, and magazines. The Book Nook is the perfect place to stock up between the Book Sales.

MH: What else can patrons do to support the Friends?

DK: We encourage everyone to consider supporting the Friends by becoming a member. Memberships start at just $25; more information can be found at: All money raised by the Friends goes to supporting Library programs and materials that are not covered in the Library’s annual budget. In addition, the Friends help to buy DVDs and video games for the library collection as well as licenses for movies shown at the library. If you have any questions about the Friends, our activities, or ways to participate, please email us at:




Rally Around Our Community: Part I

With our town facing tough challenges in the weeks and months ahead, I thought I’d reach out to some of the local business owners to see what we, the community, can do to help during the current pandemic. If you are an owner and need support, please contact us at the Library and we will include you in our efforts to get the word out. I posed the following questions:

  1. As a business owner, what types of things are you doing during the current crisis to either keep the business going (in a limited capacity) or have it prepared for re-opening? 
  2. Do you have any advice for customers or any suggestions of how they could support you?

Dino, owner of the Pickwick Theatre
We have a newsletter we send out weekly to keep our customers informed. We recently started a popcorn (curbside) pickup in which we deliver the popcorn right to your car as you pull up. This will be on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The service has gotten off to a great start. On the first day (April 15), we had 90 orders in the afternoon and 150 orders scheduled for the evening. In the future, we plan on offering ice cream as well. Visit the Pickwick Theatre website for schedule times: (Your popcorn will be handled accordingly with the staff following the proper health safety protocols. Gloves and masks will be worn by all staff handling and distributing popcorn.)

Additionally, to help support the theatre during this time, we have partnered with Magnolia Selects , which is offering a streaming service. They’ve teamed up with independent theatres around the country. If you sign up for their service, the theatre receives 100% of the net proceeds through June 30. After that period, ½ of the proceeds goes to the theatre. You’ll need a code: MOVIE141

For more about these services, be sure to go to the theatre’s website and click on “Sign Up” for their newsletter.

Chris, Dick Pond Athletics
These certainly are different times, but we do benefit from being in an amazingly supportive community.

I’m the Manager and we are a business that is deemed nonessential, so we have been closed for the last four weeks and we aren’t sure when we’ll open again. With the lock-in in place we’re all seeing more people out walking and running, and they need shoes. 

So what we are doing at our shop is offering free home delivery, Contact-less curbside pickup and free shipping if they’re more than 10 miles away. We have a customer history, so in many cases people are just getting the latest model of their current shoe. For new customers, I’m having them email me a video of themselves walking so I can evaluate their walking gait. I can use that to help narrow down the options and find that perfect pair. 

My advice to customers is to Just Keep Moving. Try to use these times to make changes.  I’m running more than I was before. I’m also keeping my shopping to a minimum at the moment but when I do need/want something I’m reaching out to local shops first. They need us now, and I want to make sure they’re still there in the future.

Ryan, Savvy Salon & Spa
Thanks for reaching out and recognizing small businesses during this uncertain time! I'm a fourteen-year hairstylist at Savvy and happy to answer the questions for you on behalf of our salon.

The salon is open weekday mornings to take calls to make/change appointments. We have been resting up for the rush we expect once this order is lifted and will continue to follow CDC guidelines to keep our space clean and safe.

Embrace the grays & put down the scissors and box color! Now is the perfect time to do some hair masks and take a break from heat styling. We can't wait to get back to work and make everyone feel beautiful again! If you're looking for a way to support the salon while we're closed, we have Bumble & Bumble products and gift certificates available for purchase over the phone.



LaughtonPark Ridge History
Did You Know:
The Day Charles Laughton Came to Town

Over the years, the Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge has hosted a variety of events with guests ranging from authors, to politicians, to movie stars. The latter should come as no surprise. Just last September actor Keir Dullea visited the Pickwick Theatre for a screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey. But few are aware that one of the greatest actors from Hollywood’s Golden Age appeared here in Park Ridge in the early 1950s.

The English stage and film actor, Charles Laughton (1899-1962), was recognized as one of the most distinguished actors of his profession, a term used so often that Charlie, as he preferred to be called, wanted to be distinguished for something else! He was the husband of actress Elsa Lanchester. Together they lived in a Mediterranean-style home on the Pacific Palisades bluffs of California, which overlooked the ocean.

No picturesque vistas greeted Charles Laughton when he arrived in the Midwest. Tuesday, January 22, 1952, was a cloudy, windy day during a typical Chicago winter. Laughton was in town to perform his “one-man act” at the Pickwick Theatre. At this point in his career, Charles Laughton had divided his time between personal appearances, such as the one in Park Ridge, and his work in a New York play, George Bernard Shaw’s Don Juan in Hell, which he was then directing and playing in with Agnes Moorehead and Charles Boyer.

Charles Laughton’s live performance tour was scheduled nationally, and his one-day appearance at the Pickwick would be his only stop in the area. The event was sponsored by the Women’s Circle of Community Church of Park Ridge. Tickets were just $2 and were being sold at Scharringhausen’s Drug Store, Avenue Gift Shop, Fenders Bootery, Dean’s Park Ridge Stationers, and the Community Church office. There were also locations in Des Plaines and Edison Park that offered limited tickets.


On that night, Laughton performed dramatic readings, everything from James Thurber to the Holy Bible—with a very apropos selection from Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers added for the occasion. (Laughton had played Samuel Pickwick in Mr. Pickwick at the Theatre Royal in London in 1928.) It was said that Laughton knew his material by heart and only used the books he carried out on stage as “props.” This was seemingly confirmed at a prior performance in which he held a copy of a Charles Dickens book upside down.

At the Park Ridge show, he read to a thoroughly captivated audience. There was intensity and warmth in the presentation. Even though the temperature outside had dropped below 20 degrees, the weather did not affect attendance. The Pickwick Theatre was filled to capacity, and in 1952, the auditorium had many more seats than are currently available, somewhere in the vicinity of 1400.

It is no wonder that the Park Ridge community came out to witness this theatre magic. Charles Laughton was famously known for his roles in such films as Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), in which he played the blustery Captain Bligh opposite Clark Gable, the comedy Ruggles of Red Gap (1935), the definitive version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), and the courtroom drama Witness For the Prosecution (1957). Laughton, a student of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, had made his stage debut in 1926. He later arrived on the New York theatre scene in 1931.

His Hollywood film debut came in 1932 when he appeared opposite Boris Karloff in director James Whale’s The Old Dark House. His major breakthrough in film, however, came in 1933 when he starred in The Private Life of Henry VIII. It was a performance that would earn him his only Academy Award for Best Actor. (He would later be nominated for Mutiny on the Bounty and Witness For the Prosecution.) Laughton also directed one film now critically praised as one of the greatest of the 1950s: The Night of the Hunter (1955).

But unlike stage or film, his performance at the Pickwick was unique. It was literally a one-man show, and that’s how Charles Laughton preferred it. For Laughton, it gave him the opportunity to play all the parts and become dozens of characters. Beyond his ability to deliver lines with dramatic effect, he proved to be a master storyteller who knew how to keep an audience engaged. He was once asked by a reporter how he chose his program. “I don’t know,” Laughton replied. “I may be on stage all of ten minutes before I ‘dig’ the spirit of the audience. Sometimes they’re in a mood for the ‘toughness of Caesar’; sometimes for the delicacy of ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’; sometimes for the lusty story of ‘David and Goliath’; sometimes for the solemnity of the ‘Psalms’; sometimes for one of Dickens’s Christmas stories, sometimes for one of his melodramatic passages; always for James Thurber, and old Aesop and stories and poems of romance never fail.”

There was an unpredictability about these performances. Even Laughton himself didn’t know what he might do on stage. A critic at the time had described Laughton’s readings as “a combination of the Sunday comics, an act of ‘Julius Caesar,’ a Bible service, a roller coaster ride, and a trip through the Looking Glass.” For his Pickwick appearance, which lasted two hours, Laughton closed the evening with a reading of Abraham Lincoln’s The Gettysburg Address. (This was one of those selections he had performed hundreds of times all over the country. A little over two months later he would recite an unrehearsed version of it on “The Colgate Comedy Hour” with Bud Abbott & Lou Costello.)

Charles Laughton may very well be the finest actor to ever appear on the stage at the Pickwick Theatre, or in Park Ridge for that matter. Nearly seventy years have passed since that January night. The old stage is covered now behind a new screen, and the memories of that show have long been forgotten, but if by chance there is someone out there who had been in attendance and spent “An Evening with Charles Laughton,” please contact us at the Park Ridge Public Library. We would love to have you share those memories. Perhaps one day the spirit of Charles Laughton will manifest once again at the Pickwick. How about a screening of Mutiny on the Bounty at the Pickwick Theatre Classic Film Series?


A special thanks to Larry in Adult Services (Reference) at the Park Ridge Public Library for his research in finding articles related to Mr. Laughton’s appearance at the Pickwick Theatre.






AdobeStock_92542125Park Ridge Writers’ Group:
An Inside Look

As a former student in the Fiction Writing program at Columbia College Chicago, I was excited to learn that our own Writers’ Group here at the Park Ridge Public Library has taken off in popularity. I recently sat down (virtually) with Kelly Mayer of Adult Services to get the inside story. Kelly will be doing a Zoom meeting of the group on Wednesday, April 22, at 7 pm.


MH: The Park Ridge Public Library offers a "Writers’ Group." Could you tell us a little about this program and when they meet?

KM: The Park Ridge Library Writers’ Group meets the first Wednesday of every month at 7 pm, at the library. A patron (Hilary Sopata) actually approached Sarah Vessalo about hosting the group at the library, as they were meeting at Panera Bread and it was getting too loud. I connected with Hilary and some of the other group members, and we started meeting last September.

MH: What is your role in the group?

KM: I facilitate the group. At this point, I come up with a topic for the meeting, based on member questions, or something that we had talked about in the last meeting. I generally give a short presentation about the topic, and then we discuss that and move on from there. If someone has work to read/discuss, we do that. I generally like people to submit work via our Google group before the meeting, so the other members can read and give thoughtful feedback, but we're definitely open to reading something someone brings that night. I really want the group to be a supportive environment where writers of all levels of experience can come and discuss and learn. I've always felt that talking about the craft of writing itself, even in regards to someone else's work, can spark ideas and breakthroughs in your own work. And of course, getting the words down on the page is the first and most important step. It doesn't matter that your draft isn't perfect—it matters that the words are on the page so you can revise them!

MH: Kelly, could you tell us a little something about your own background?

KM: I am currently working on my capstone project for my MFA in fiction at Northwestern, which is a novel told in linked stories, something like Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge. I started that when my kids were younger, but my final project got shuttled aside when my boys were in high school. Now that I have to think about writing for the library, I feel prepared to complete my capstone! 

MH: Is there a particular process you have to stimulate creativity in your group?

KM: I do try to connect members with authors I think might help them with their own writing. One of our members, Hank, brought in a piece he's working on where the main characters take a walk downtown as they flirt. The feeling of the piece reminded me of Stuart Dybek's Pet Milk and the young lovers on the L train, so I copied that and brought it in for Hank to look at. I try to recommend authors that inform the topic we are discussing. Hilariously, Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander novels, shows up in our discussions quite often—because she breaks all the conventions we commonly hold as writers, and is wildly successful. She's a good example of how a writer needs to try new things and break the "rules." 

MH: Could you say a few words about the importance of writing, particularly at this time when we are facing a pandemic?

KM: I think writing during this pandemic time is important. Writing is a great way to acknowledge and process feelings, as well as reduce anxiety. It's also important to keep a family record of these weird, historical times. I know we are all generally in the same situation, but no one experiences this pandemic in quite the same way. People should jot down their thoughts in a notebook, save their children's artwork, take pictures, etc. You never know what might serve as a spark for a really meaningful piece of writing.


Email for more information about the Park Ridge Writers’ Group.




Patron Spotlight

Welcome to our inaugural entry in a series devoted to you, our patrons. Over the course of twenty-two years, I’ve met hundreds of people while working at the front desk of the Library. Every one of them has a story…

Len Johnson has served the Park Ridge community in a variety of ways over the years. The Johnson family literally helped build the town with a brick business. After being a bricklayer himself, Len became a fireman, now retired, and he’s been the stage manager for the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra. More recently, Len was honored with a 2019 Community Star Award for his efforts to preserve the history of the Maine Flyer. This transport plane, a C-54 Skymaster, had been purchased through a bond rally by the students of Maine High School during World War II. This past February marked the 75th anniversary of the dedication of the Maine Flyer at the Douglas Aircraft Co. factory at Higgins and Mannheim in Des Plaines. After its years of service, the plane eventually wound up abandoned on an Indian Reservation in Arizona.

MH: Len, could you tell us what was the most challenging aspect of retrieving parts of the Maine Flyer for the Park Ridge Historical Society?

LJ: One of the most challenging aspects of being able to retrieve artifacts off of the "Maine Flyer" was taking almost ten years in back and forth Government and Indian Affairs bureaucracy. Constant back and forth negotiations with the Pima Indian Nation Chiefs was definitely frustrating. After several years of diligent persistence and explanations of the Maine Flyer's historical value to Park Ridge history and its community, the Pima Indians finally saw the value and importance of returning parts of the aircraft back to the place where it was born.

MH: You are an avid airplane enthusiast as well as a pilot. As a hobby, you’ve been part of a group restoring a B-17 bomber called the Desert Rat. Could you tell us more about that restoration effort and when you hope to complete it?

LJ: I began working with the B-17E "Desert Rat" restoration group back in 2009. This aircraft is a B-17 model "E" and very rare; it was built in 1941 right before WWII began for the USA. I believe that the Boeing Corporation only produced a little over 500 of this model "E". It was found in a scrap yard in Bangor, Maine, over 30 years ago by its current owner. Sections of the plane that have been completed or are near completion are the horizontal stabilizers, the vertical tail fin, the two wingtips as well as most of the fuselage. The right and left inboard wings which contain the two engines and the landing gear still have a lot of needed restoration as well as the right and left outboard wing sections. All four engines still have to be completely rebuilt at an estimated cost of approximately $100,000 per engine. This project has been a small group effort and has come a long way with getting much done above and beyond FAA Standards. As time goes by, much more money and qualified manpower hours will be required. At this point it looks like several more years of restoration are in store; but someday this B-17E, the "Desert Rat," will be Airworthy Certified and will become one of the oldest B-17's to fly as a historical museum to shows around the country. Currently there are only ten airworthy B-17's in the world. Boeing built just under 13,000 of these famous Flying Fortresses.

MH: You’ve also assisted behind the scenes with the Pickwick Theatre Classic Film Series. It was interesting to read that a classic movie starring James Stewart inspired your interest in plane restoration.

LJ: Jimmy Stewart is one of my favorite actors and yes, he was also a B-17 pilot back in WWII. When I was a kid living on the West Side of Chicago in Humbolt Park during the 1960s, my mother took my brother and I downtown on the CTA bus (my mom did not have a driver’s license yet and we only had one car that dad used for work) to do some shopping on State Street and then we went to see the movie, The Flight of the Phoenix. I was instantly bit by the aviation bug after seeing this inspiring movie of survival in the middle of the Sahara Desert and being able to engineer and build a make-shift aircraft from surviving aircraft parts and fly out of there back to civilization.

MH: In addition to airplanes, you are a rocket historian with an expansive collection of memorabilia related to space flight, particularly autographs from the Apollo astronauts. You were the leader of a rocket launching team for St. Andrew’s Lutheran in Park Ridge. Could you tell us how you shared that passion with younger students? What was that experience like?

LJ: My experience of leading the students of the St. Andrews Rocket Team, ORION, was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Our team was able to qualify for the TARC National Finals out in Manassas, Virginia, five consecutive years and also earned a two-year contract to work with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Three students from our team also were awarded a summer internship with NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. One of the students actually got to work with the Engineers and Technicians on the Upper-stage Simulator of the Ares 1-X Rocket that NASA built and launched at Kennedy Space Center for the Constellation Program, which was eventually cancelled around the same time that the Space Shuttles were retired. Many of our students went on to careers in Aerospace, proving that promoting STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) works for success. Along the way of our six-year existence, we got to meet many famous people in person such as Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Shuttle astronauts, the Secretary of Defense, Scientists and Engineers. There are just volumes of things that went into this program.

MH: Over the years you and your family have been regular patrons at the Park Ridge Public Library. Could you tell us about a time when the Library was able to assist you in your interests or in your research?

LJ: The Park Ridge Public Library has always been a friendly and helpful access point for our family since our three children were very young. My wife would always bring our children to the Library and introduce them to all the great things that the Library and its staff have to offer. Whenever I needed to do some special research for our rocket team or aircraft restoration, the PRPL would always be there to help out.

MH: Do you have any new projects you’ll be working on when the world gets back to normal?

LJ: When we all get back to normal, which will happen hopefully sooner than later, I will always have several projects to catch up on or start. Never a dull moment I say. Each and every day of life is a Blessing, and I have always said to take advantage of that time; don't procrastinate or hold things off because sitting in your rocking chair years down the road you might look back and say, why didn't I do those things when I was able and had the chance?

MH: As a former first responder, do you have any advice for families trying to get through the current pandemic?

LJ: As a retired firefighter/paramedic my advice to get through this terrible pandemic is to listen to the scientists and use common sense when doing anything. Stay safe by staying away from groups of people. Enjoy your family by staying in your home and keeping the virus out until the storm has fully passed. Cover up when out in public and wash, wash and wash your hands thoroughly. In the fire service they teach us two important things before entering a situation: Scene Safety and Universal Precautions (PPE). Godspeed!



Essential Park RidgePRtracks.PRPL._4.2020
by Lauren Maloney
special guest contributor

The new language in this new world has included social distancing, shelter-in-place and non-contact delivery. Social distancing is hanging out together, while apart. Shelter-in-place is a Cold War term in a time of worry about nuclear fallout and now used for the worries of 2020. Non-contact delivery is a strange combination of a sanitized hand-off sprinkled with a little bit of ding dong ditch. Of all of the words we have been using for the last few months the most remarkable to me has been essential. I have never actually thought about this word before and now I think about it all day long. Is essential the same as important? Is it the same for each of us? Is it collective or individual?

I am watching my family, my job, and my community all redefine essential. Our high school and college seniors, needing essential credits and coursework for graduation, have had a breathtakingly abrupt end to their experience and now the final diploma is the singular focus. Senior citizens need essentials and this is day-to-day living, such as basic groceries and medicines and the essential access to them. At work, both companies and employees have had to be agile and transform communication and collaboration to the most essential and important. We have had to define restaurants and ice cream shops as essential but hair salons and the library as not essential—it seems so random but at the same time is so deliberate.

As the trajectory of the Coronavirus changes every day we are all reevaluating the essential parts of each day. Should I make a concentrated and focused trip to the store and make sure to avoid going near anyone? How can I schedule a work call and not use up all the internet in the house when five other people also have online meetings? Can I afford to donate masks to others if my family might need them ourselves? Each day is simultaneously stripped down but also filled up—the essence of each day takes place and we decide what random things from the fridge will go together for dinner, we help each other with e-learning and we wave at neighbors from a faraway distance.

Park Ridge has always had a uniqueness that is hard to describe. Those of us who have lived here for a while know we are both a hidden treasure and a shiny pearl. Everyone in the community is trying to find new ways to connect and innovate and we are doing amazing things here! There are hearts in the windows and candles on the front steps supporting healthcare workers. Some of us try to manage a husband in ongoing social media memes with Lori Lightfoot. We are all keeping kids busy with sidewalk chalk and notes to the elderly. The church bells toll for loved ones who are remembered. The Park Ridge Care Team has a volunteer network of helpers wanting to assist others, and neighbors and friends exchange food and staples to help each other get through all of this just a little bit longer.

Park Ridge will get through the challenges we face and will come out of this together to shine in the light on the other side. We will share ourselves (and share our toilet paper) and trust that we are essential to each other which is the most important thing we can do—not only now, but always.


Check the Library News section of our website and the Park Ridge Community Network website for a list of services and ways to stay connected to your community.





Staff Picks: The Stay-At-Home Edition!

Are you looking for an escape from Covid-TV? Here’s what the Park Ridge Public Library staff are watching when they’re not working:



Heidi, Library Director
Getting caught up on Outlander on Starz. I guess you could say I’m binge watching Gov. JB’s news conferences each day; Anne with an E on Netflix, just started Great News on Netflix, and Some Good News on Youtube:

Stephanie, Administration
I've been 'binge watching' movies from the 80s....they remind me of the happy years of my adolescence and transport me to simpler times—and also to a time when going to the mall or movie theater was just what we did! Some are good to watch as a family. Here is a list of what I have watched so far these past 3 weeks: Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Back to the Future Trilogy, Hoosiers, The Rookie, The Big Easy, St. Elmo's Fire, Pretty in Pink, My Own Private Idaho, Say Anything, Can't Buy Me Love, The Lost Boys

Claire, Children’s Services
Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow version, also highly recommend the latest version, you can rent on iTunes!), Legally Blonde, A Man Called Ove, Amelie, Ex Machina, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Return to Me, Mansfield Park, The Commitments, Shakespeare in Love

Mary, Children’s Services
Serendipity with John Cusack (2001 - an oldie but a goody); The Jim Gaffigan Show is available on hoopla and really good for a laugh!

Lisa, Children’s Services
I've been re-watching The Office, starting from the beginning. It is so bingy! I've been staying up way later than I should because I can't stop watching it. It's hilarious, the writing is impressive, and the characters are so lovable and endearing. I am also addicted to the show Little Fires Everywhere, with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. Another binge-worthy one!

Lan, Children’s Services
Just discovered the series Four Weddings and a Funeral on Hulu. We're really enjoying it. It's rated MA but we watched it with our daughters (20 and 17).

Denise, Youth Services
Just went through hoopla and here are some of the movies that are on there that I love: 13 going on 30, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Zodiac, Room, Rent, Shakespeare in Love and Heathers. I have been binge watching The Good Fight which is on CBS All Access (which is offering 30 days for free right now!) It is the follow up to The Good Wife which you can also stream on CBS All Access or Hulu or Amazon Prime. You don't have to watch it first but if there is ever a time to jump into a 7 season show, this is it! 

Jazmin, Patron Services
Devil's Knot, It's a Boy Girl Thing, and The Black Stallion

Alison, Patron Services
Dead Poets Society is one of my all-time favorite movies. Thirty years later, the scene where Robin Williams encourages his students to Seize the Day (Carpe Diem) with the reading of a poem by Robert Herrick still resonates with me. It’s available on Vudu right now.

Laura M., Patron Services
I have been watching comedies, This is Spinal Tap, The Money Pit, also on Amazon Prime The Man in the High Castle (excellent, still not done). Also, good old tv shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Plus British comedies like Fawlty Towers and we watched The Ladykillers. Good stuff!

Grace, Patron Services
Here are some shows I’ve been watching (and rewatching!) lately:
Gilmore Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Outlander, Queer Eye, Love is Blind, Veronica Mars, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, You, Sense8, Orphan Black, The 100, One Day at a Time

Zena, Reader Services
I Am Big Bird, a documentary about the life of Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who played Big Bird on Sesame Street.

Cathy, Reader Services
Downton Abbey, Father Brown, 800 words, Shetland, Hinterland, Doc Martin, Poirot, etc. Mostly the Brits!

Sarah R., Reader Services
I've been watching The Great British Baking Show (5 seasons available on hoopla).

Rachel, Reader Services
Here's what I am binging: Tiger King (Netflix) Isn't everyone? Could not stop. Killing Eve (Hulu) Can't get enough of Villanelle and Eve. Have to close my eyes sometimes -- it's so dark and fun. The third season is being released early -- yay! Picard (free trial CBS All Access), because Star Trek gives me all the feels. Devs (Hulu): Thoughtful and mysterious science fiction.

Larry, Reference
Currently streaming Tiger King on Netflix. Insane people doing insane things, but lots of cute animals.

Grace, Reference
All on hoopla -British tv series The Detectorists, quirky fun comedy of two friends searching for treasure using their metal detectors, Star Trek movies, Doctor Strange and Doctor Who comics, and if you search under Disney Classics, you can find many illustrated picture books with narration option.

Brandee, Reference:
Marvel Runaways, Tiger King, Castle Rock, The Outsider

Lori, Reference
We binged the show Hunters on Amazon Prime.

Bob, Patron Services

I have a few TV shows from Canada that I am fond of. Anne with an E is a current production of the Anne of Green Gables story and is available on Netflix. Kim's Convenience is a funny show about a Korean family living in Toronto who own a small store. It is also available on Netflix. Murdoch Mysteries and Frankie Drake Mysteries are both shows about detectives set in Toronto around 1900 and the 1920's, respectively. Both are in the PRPL DVD collection.



staci_live_chatInstant Librarian: Introducing Live Chat

Need immediate assistance? Do you have questions about our online resources, your library card account, or maybe you just want to know more about the 2020 Census? You can now reach us via live chat on our website or via phone at 847-825-3123 every day from Noon to 6 p.m. Get help with downloads, databases and more in an instant with this live support feature! Our building may be closed now, but the Virtual Library is open for business. Staff are working to keep you connected—and informed—during this challenging time.

Have a general question and not sure where it should be directed? No worries! Chats will be re-directed to the appropriate department. Can’t get into Libby? Maybe it’s an overdue fee that is preventing access, so talk to us and someone from Patron Services will look into it. Need some guidance with that homeschool syllabus? A Children’s librarian will direct you. Live chat is quick and convenient. Like magic genies in the bottle, all your favorite librarians will appear in real time!

“What I love about the live chat capability is that it's a way for us to connect with library patrons and the Park Ridge community while still allowing us to be safe and take care of our own families,” said Staci Greenwald, Manager of Children’s Services. “This is such an unusual time for all of us! As a library, where so much of our service feels rooted to the building, this is a great opportunity for us to show everyone that we are more than just a building full of books. We connect people with information, technology, entertainment, books (of course), and each other. Chat is just one more way for us to stay connected.”

In addition to live chat, you can reach us by phone or email. If you do send us something after hours, we will get back to you the following day. For more about our online question service or how to reach each department by email, please visit our website:




Matthew C. Hoffman –
Library staff and blog contributor