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Making friends in America

Turkish born Gerard Cakan embarked on his journey toward becoming a U.S. citizen when he moved to the Schaumburg area in March 2016 to marry his girlfriend of three years. He was at the Library reading a flyer on English as a Second Language classes when a librarian told him about the Conversation Club. Out of curiosity, he went over to where the group meets and immediately saw Helen Stewart, community engagement librarian.

“I felt discouraged to come to the class, and kind of shy, but then I met Helen and she said ‘you’re coming to the club,’ and so I came,” Gerard said. “It just happened that the club was about to begin.”

Gerard, who has an excellent command of the English language, said he likes the Conversation Club because “it’s not a formal class for grammar. You learn about the things people are talking about.” Recent topics have been the Chicago Cubs, Bob Dylan and holidays. They also learn about our nation’s history and the special days on which we commemorate historical events. “This gives me knowledge of common things to talk about with other people,” Gerard said.

But anyone in the Conversation Club will tell you that learning is only one part of the experience. “When you come from another country, you don’t know lots of people or have connections,” Gerard said. “Then you make friends in the group and you realize you’re not the only one struggling to learn English and integrate.”

More Library success stories:

HIRED, thanks to the Teen Job Fair

Moneyball to motivational speaker

Uncovering his family’s history

Student Advisory Trustee follow-up: Avni Bavishi

Teen Writing Club inspires young authors

Teen Writing Club inspires young authors

High school senior Danielle Williams has been part of the Teen Writing Club for three years, nearly as long as author Penny Blubaugh has been leading it. Danielle’s passion for writing began in the fourth grade, but she couldn’t find a writing club during the years that followed…until her mom suggested the one that meets in Teen Place.

“It’s great because I can be around people like me and express my art more,” she said, adding she was afraid at first because she is “shy at heart” and didn’t know how other members of the group would like her writing style. It wasn’t long, however, before Danielle felt comfortable enough to share her work with her fellow writers.

“Meeting people like me helps me grow as a person and as a writer,” she explained. “Working on my writing with friends in Writing Club is much better than working alone at home.”

She credits Penny, her mentor and Writing Club leader, with making the club interesting and fun. Penny has led the writing club for nearly four years and is author of two young adult novels: Serendipity Market and Blood and Flowers. She says a typical meeting consists of 10 to 15 teens who write in many genres, including fan fiction, spy stories, ghost tales, contemporary realism, time travel, love stories and more. Her goal is to help them build confidence and feel comfortable performing in front of a group.

“I want them to feel like they have a place they can come and share their stories,” she said. “I get to hear all their wonderful stories and I’m so impressed with what they are writing and how they’ve progressed.”

A new venture for the Teen Writing Club is a book of their original works, including short stories, poems, artwork, and “Goodwin Mansion,” a suspense novella set in Chicago and written by several members of the group. It is available for check-out and can be found in the Teen Place collection on the second floor.

More Library success stories:

HIRED, thanks to the Teen Job Fair

Moneyball to motivational speaker

Uncovering his family’s history

Student Advisory Trustee follow-up: Avni Bavishi

Bringing the Library right to your door

Like many of our library visitors, Pat Draper loves to read. She always reserved books online from her Schaumburg home, then visited the library to pick them up. But as the years wore on, Pat found it increasingly difficult to walk through the Library parking lot. Unwilling to forego her favorite pastime, she continued picking up her titles, despite the challenge.

Then one day…

“By chance I went to a program at the Prairie Center, and there was a Library table there with Lisa (Nusret),” Pat said. “I told her I get books all the time, but it was getting hard for me. She told me there was an Outreach program and they could deliver books to my house…and it was free. I said ‘sign me up!’ I still go sometimes, like for the Senior Scams program, but Outreach is wonderful.”

Pat said she greatly appreciates the kindness shown to her by Lisa, as well as Hermez Biko, both of whom bring books and movies to her door. She additionally values the assistance offered by other areas of the Library.

“One day I suddenly had Windows 10 on my computer, because it had updated,” Pat said. “I went to the Computer Assistance area because I didn’t know how to get into my email. The woman at the desk helped me and told me about the Windows 10 class, so I signed up.”

Pat says she also enjoys the Library’s day trips, and doesn’t even mind the times when she goes solo, because there are always friendly people on the buses.

“You have a fantastic library,” she said. “It’s the best thing.”

More Library success stories:
HIRED, thanks to the Teen Job Fair

Moneyball to motivational speaker

Uncovering his family’s history

Student Advisory Trustee follow-up: Avni Bavishi

Learning new technology and research skills

Learning new technology and research skills

Recently awarded the Conservation@Home certification by the Barrington Area Conservation Trust, Schaumburg resident Herb Demmel is using Schaumburg Library to document his work in Sarah’s Grove. With help from the Library’s Local History Librarian Jane Rozek, Technology Instructor John Morgan and Digital Media Specialist Jeremy Slayton, the 85-year-old recently learned a few new tricks. He can now work with Photoshop to manipulate photos and PowerPoint to create slideshows. With these useful tools in his pocket, Herb was able to share his conservation efforts and historical research with many others in the community.

“I initially wanted to write a book about Sarah’s Grove and Friendship Village,” Herb said. “Then I thought about self publishing a book of photos, but it’s very expensive and would take too much time and money. I mentioned it to Jane Rozek, and she suggested PowerPoint, so that’s what I started doing.”

Before Herb began work as a conservationist and historian, he had a lengthy career in the corporate world, followed by a second career as a teacher at Elmhurst College. He eventually began using his passion for nature to preserve woodlands by removing the non-native weeds and brush, and clearing paths so others could enjoy the beauty and serenity of the woods.

“I started taking photos as I worked in Sarah’s Grove, then researching its history,” Herb said. “My first PowerPoint, ‘The Oaks of Sarah’s Grove,’ had 65 slides. I got all kinds of help from John with manipulating photos, using the scanner and PowerPoint. Next I researched the original owners of Sarah’s Grove. Jane helped with that. Then I did one on the Friendship Village woods, and Jeremy helped with the audio. This year I put together a presentation for Earth Day and showed it at Friendship Village.”

Herb says he’s continuing his work and plans to create more presentations…with a little assistance from his friends at the Library.

More Library success stories:
HIRED, thanks to the Teen Job Fair

Moneyball to motivational speaker

Uncovering his family’s history

Student Advisory Trustee follow-up: Avni Bavishi

Bringing the Library right to your door

Experience Butterflies

Most monarch butterflies live for just a few weeks. But the generation born at the end of the summer is an exception: this group lives long enough to fly to Mexico!

These special monarchs migrate up to 3,000 miles to escape the coming frosts of winter. Travelling up to 250 miles per day, they make their way to central Mexico, returning to the same trees each year. When spring comes, the monarchs fly back north to the United States and Canada to breed.

We are lucky enough to have some of this late summer generation of monarchs at our libraries! You can now see the monarch caterpillars on display at Central kidsZone and Teen Place, and at our Hoffman Estates and Hanover Park Branches. They will be caterpillars for about two weeks, then they’ll create a chrysalis to protect them while they take another two weeks to transform into butterflies.

While you can stop by any time to see the monarchs for yourself, we’ll have a special program for you to get the full butterfly experience – including tagging and releasing some adult butterflies at Town Square so they can begin their migration to Mexico.

Butterflies: Thursday, Aug. 4, 1-1:45 p.m. at Central kidsZone

Searching for even more butterfly facts? Visit section J 595.78 in kidsZone or 595.7 in non-fiction for some great butterfly books.

Meet Dot and Dash

We recently welcomed two new members to our Library tech family: Dot and Dash, the coding robots.

Dot is the brains of the outfit. Dot interacts with the world through his sensor eye and brings to life the code you create. Dash is all about action. Dash can dance, hop and move around the room based on the information you send him.

So how do they work?

Dot and Dash are controlled by apps on a smartphone or tablet. These apps turn coding into games, making it fun and simple for kids of any age to learn. Before you know it, you’re coding! The code you write can turn Dot into a hot potato for a fun game with friends, or navigate Dash through an obstacle course.

“Dot and Dash spark kids’ curiosity,” says the Library’s Youth Services Director Amber Creger. “Kids get so excited to discover new games and activities for the robots. And all the while they are learning coding, looking at the world in a new way and using their imaginations.”

Look for Dot and Dash at upcoming Youth programs, including two Tween programs in September 2016.

More Library success stories:
HIRED, thanks to the Teen Job Fair

Moneyball to motivational speaker

Uncovering his family’s history

Student Advisory Trustee follow-up: Avni Bavishi

Student Advisory Trustee follow-up: Avni Bavishi

Each school year, we welcome Student Advisory Trustees (SATs) to our Board of Trustees. These SATs attend the board meetings to learn what’s happening at the Library and to share the views of the junior high and high school students who use the Library.

Earlier this summer, we decided to check in with Avni Bavishi, SAT from the 2011-12 school year, to see where life has taken her in the last few years.

“I attended University of Illinois at Chicago for my undergraduate years, and I’ve just completed my first year at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine,” Avni said.

Wow! Color us impressed.

“I’m planning on becoming an academic physician,” Avni continued. “That’s still pretty distant in my future, but I’d like to incorporate both teaching and clinical practice in my career.”

Avni remembers her time as a Student Advisory Trustee fondly, saying it was a fantastic opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at a large, well-respected organization. She specifically noted her work in planning the Teen Place, saying, “It’s immensely satisfying to go back and see how much the teens use the area.”

So what advice does the future Dr. Bavishi have for current high school students?

“Get involved and get to know the people in your school,” Avni said. “My best memories and friendships from high school were formed through activities and sports. And if you love the Library, you should definitely consider applying to be a Student Advisory Trustee.”

More Library success stories:
HIRED, thanks to the Teen Job Fair

Moneyball to motivational speaker

Uncovering his family’s history

Meet Dot and Dash

Uncovering his family’s history

Hoffman Estates resident Fred Luft began using our genealogy research materials about two years ago, but his work on his family history began much earlier.

“I first started a family tree by hand around 1970,” Fred said. “My mom was my inspiration. She started sending letters to Chicago Catholic parishes and to other family members in the 1950s, looking for more information about her family.”

Today, Fred attends our monthly genealogy programs and uses the Library’s free genealogy materials to continue his research.

“Between my wife and I, we have 3,472 people in our family tree on Ancestry.com,” Fred noted.

But Fred is uncovering more than just the names of his distant relatives, he’s uncovering some very interesting stories, too.

“The history of my great grandfather Charles Ory was very unexpected,” Fred said.

Fred and his family always believed that Charles lived most of his life in Chicago with his wife and daughter. However, after much research, Fred learned that Charles Ory was born in France and lived there until 1888 when, at age 28, he immigrated to the United States with his wife and daughter. Then, while living in the Chicago area, Charles had three more children with that wife, and when she passed, he remarried and had five more children. Then, in 1905, Charles moved to Michigan with his wife and many of his nine children.

There’s even a story to accompany Charles’ passport photo, which Fred discovered through his research.

“In 1919,” Fred said, “Charles got his passport and went to New York City where he planned to take a boat to France to visit his brothers and sisters.”

But Charles’ steamship was held on the docks due to a union strike and Charles was never able to travel to France.

“I want to thank Schaumburg Library for having a person like [Genealogy Librarian] Tony Kierna who is always looking for additional ways to help us find more information about our families.”

Stop by our monthly genealogy programs, or visit SchaumburgLibrary.org to begin your family history research. You never know the stories you may uncover.

More Library success stories:
HIRED, thanks to the Teen Job Fair

Moneyball to motivational speaker

Student Advisory Trustee follow-up: Avni Bavishi

Meet Dot and Dash