Need a Laugh? Check the Library

Humor’s healing quality and numerous resources at the Des Plaines Public Library.

This week’s column was submitted by Bob Blanchard, reference librarian at the .

Now, I’m not a doctor – and I don’t play one on television – but I know that a good laugh does wonders for a person. Laughter is the best medicine.

And if you’re looking for the right medicine, there’s no better place than the Des Plaines Public Library to get your prescription filled.

For years, I’ve been an avowed Marxist… of the Groucho kind. His legendary wit is even quoted in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, a reference desk staple that includes sayings from all the way back to 2600 B.C. Some are humorous, some not so much.

Whenever I need a Marx Brothers fix, the library fits the bill every time with books and old movies, including a documentary about the family.


Humor can be found on practically any shelf in our public library. Whether it’s in the fiction or nonfiction sections, on the third or fourth floor, a topic that one person studies seriously, say, theoretical physics, may be laugh-out-loud funny to another.

Then again, a comedian, or guest columnist for that matter, who cracks up one person may seem anything but humorous to another.

But seriously, folks, the power of humor may be best described in the book, Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration, by Norman Cousins. You will find it on the fourth floor under the call number 362.1967 COU.

The book recounts Cousins’ unusual recovery program for a life-threatening form of arthritis. His regimen included mega-doses of Vitamin C, combined with a positive attitude, love, faith, hope and laughter, induced by Marx Brothers films.

Cousins no doubt laughed all the way down the road to health, as he lived many more years than what his doctors predicted.

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Next time you’re in the mood for something to get you rolling on the floor laughing, come to the library. Laughter abounds among the aisles, and the friendly and fun-loving people who work at the library can help you find what is sure to tickle your funny bone. But we’ll leave our Groucho glasses at home.

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