Archivist, Librarian, Editor, Writer, Volunteer
by Donna Childs
One of the first things Kris Ashley did upon moving to Portland was get a library card. A booklover at heart, she has an MLS (masters degree in library science), as well as experience working in bookstores and in publishing. While looking for a full-time library position, Kris has taken on two volunteer jobs at Multnomah County Library: on Wednesdays, she is responsible for sorting, pricing, shelving, and organizing the large-print materials at Title Wave Used Bookstore, and on Thursdays, she is one of three volunteers who scan and index items from the library’s Special Collections for The Gallery.
More than 100 years ago, civic leader, merchant, and philanthropist John Wilson bequeathed his collection of more than 8000 books to what would later become the John Wilson Special Collections at the Multnomah County Library. Although books form the majority of the collection, “Special Collections are more than books,” according to Kris. Among the items they have scanned are photos, letters, papers, art and craft items, Lewis and Clark Centennial memorabilia, and WPA creations (many of which are at Timberline Lodge). Kris and her fellow volunteers then turn the scans into PDF files to be put on the web.
Kris is well-qualified to do this work: her MLS studies included courses in archival preservation (which she loved), and while living in San Francisco, she created and organized an archive for the Mechanics Institute’s library. Since moving to Portland, in addition to volunteering at the library, Kris has done editing and photo research for writers, and some freelance grant writing. Fascinated by archives, Kris says her dream job would combine archival and library work with photo research, finding the most appropriate photos for writers to accompany their texts. Although the library may lose an especially knowledgeable, talented, and responsible volunteer when she finds that full-time job, someone will be getting a great employee.
A few facts about Kris
Home library: Gregory Heights
Currently reading: War for the Oaks by Emma Bull, An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle, and The Sin-Eaters Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
Favorite book from childhood: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl
A book that made you laugh or cry: The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston
Favorite section of the library: 641 - Cookbooks!
E-reader or paper book: "Paper, definitely. I want the feel and smell of a book."
Favorite place to read: "In an armchair, with my cat on my lap."
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