MCL Blogs

Writer's Market 2016Writers work hard to find an appropriate home for their work, a publisher they can trust with the very important job of connecting the written work with the eyes of readers. This can be a process fraught with emotion and frustration!

First off, there are bound to be a lot of rejections - I haven’t been able to nail down an authoritative number, but I keep hearing that the average rejection rate for writers is 90%, or 95%, or 97%. Submission guidelines are strict and picky, and reading periods are these little windows of time when your submission will be admitted for consideration… if you miss the window, you may have to wait another year for that particular submission.

But how does one decide where to submit their work in the first place?

Book publishers

If you have a book that’s ready to meet the world, you might be seeking an agent or a publisher, or researching small presses that accept submissions, either as part of a contest or an open reading period. Books like the Writer’s Market and the Poet’s Market are classic sources for information about publishers, updated in annual editions. These are pretty basic listings, with description of what’s published by different publishers, as well as contact and submission information. There’s also the Literary Market Place (LMP), an in-depth directory of the book publishing industry. A little more practical and personable advice can be found via Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents. Poets & Writers magazine has an excellent database of small presses, which allows you to search using criteria such as form, genre or style, submission fees, payment (if any), and reading period (try the advanced search!).

Wait, what are these small presses you speak of? Generally speaking, they are book publishers that operate on a smaller scale of business than the Big Five Publishers - either they make less than a certain amount of money per year, and/or they publish a smaller number of books per year. There are lots of them, and they may have open reading periods and/or contests. You don't need an agent to get your manuscript into their hands. Many are members of the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), which also maintains a useful searchable directory of its members. For a helpful overview about choosing between small and large publishers, and the self-publishing option (see below for more on self-publishing!), you might enjoy this article from The Huffington Post. It's published by the authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, another handy resource for the process.

Literary magazines or journals

What are literary magazines? In short, they’re print or online magazines publishing a variety of authors all at once. These are especially found in conjunction with poetry and short stories, although essays, reviews, and novel excerpts may be found in them as well. Literary magazines cannot be summarized, such is their variety in terms of readership, distribution, and style. The library maintains subscriptions to some excellent literary magazines.

The Review Review is an online magazine dedicated to literary magazines - news, reviews, and a database of magazines. Lynne Barrett’s essay “What Editors Want,” published in The Review Review, is a must-read if you are considering submitting your work to literary magazines! Poets & Writers magazine has an excellent searchable database of literary magazines, too. Both of these can be searched by many criteria to narrow down the wide world of literary magazines to some of the magazines that publish work like yours.

Entropy Magazine is another excellent online source for info about where to submit work that’s ready right now: it has listings for literary magazine, chapbook and book publishers’ reading periods. It also has a top notch small press database.

Don’t forget that when submitting your work to a literary magazine or book publisher, your chances are best if you have some understanding of the style and type of writing that they publish. That means you have to read the magazine, and read the books published by the press! While the library can’t carry everything published by small presses, can do our best to help you find the publications you seek, whether it’s on our shelves, online, in bookstores, or via Interlibrary Loan. Please ask us!

Self-publishing

Of course, you could self-publish your book - this option is getting easier and more popular all the time. See our blog post about self publishing, and our reading list

You might also enjoy these other blog posts about self care and practical matters for writers:

The Care and Feeding of the Writer

The Business of Writing

 

 

Four Welcome to Reading color coded kit bags and bookmarks

Learning to read is an exciting time. Finding books your child is interested in at the right reading level can be a challenge. Library staff is always ready to help. We've added another way to make that process easier for you and your child: Welcome to Reading Kits!

Multnomah County Library has kits at four levels: Starting Out (yellow), Building Skills (blue), Reading More (red), and On My Own (purple). Each color-coded bag contains 5 fun books and an information sheet on how to determine your child’s reading level, how to order more kits, and other activities you can do to help your child become a stronger reader. Some kits have books on a specific theme, like Comics, Dogs and Cats, or For Real! Facts. Many kits are called Five to Try, and contain a variety of books at the reading level. Explore several kits and help your child discover what he or she loves to read. Ask library staff about Welcome to Reading Kits today!

Young Bilingual VolunteerVolunteer Mia Strickler

by Donna Childs

Mia’s parents adopted her from China and made sure she learned about the culture and language of her birth country. She has visited China, and she went to schools with Chinese Immersion programs. At Woodstock Library, Mia helps Amber Houston, the Chinese bilingual staff member who does storytimes, with behind-the-scenes work, such as props, arts and crafts, and keeps track of participants. She also leads the craft activities. Woodstock was the first library in Multnomah County to offer a Chinese-English storytime. Amber reads stories in Chinese, and then retells them in English. Participants include English speakers who want to learn Chinese and Chinese speakers learning English.

Now a senior at Cleveland High School, Mia is considering pursuing a career in medicine. She attended a medical camp at OHSU to explore career possibilities in the medical field. According to her, despite her love for Woodstock Library, she reads science blogs more than she does books.

Her volunteer involvement extends far beyond the walls of the library. She has volunteered at her church, for the Heifer Project, served meals at a food kitchen and at her church, and created and sold ornaments and cards made from her original photos to earn money for the Oregon Food Bank. She is active in her school’s National Honor Society. All this, and she is only 17!


A Few Facts About Mia

Home library: Woodstock Library
 
Currently reading: A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
 
Favorite book from childhood: The Harry Potter novels
 
Favorite section of the library: The DVD section
 
E-reader or paper books: Paper
 
Favorite place to read: In my room, on my bed

Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

Naturalization ceremony at the Grand Canyon, 24 September 2010.The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) states that an average of 710,000 people have become new U.S. citizens each year since 2010. Even with that remarkable figure, there are still 22.1 million immigrants in the U.S. that are not naturalized citizens. These 22.1 million include permanent residents legally in the U.S., unauthorized immigrants, and legal residents with temporary visas. In Oregon, less than 40% of the  more than 390,000 immigrants are naturalized citizens. Why is that? While no single answer applies to everyone, for many the process can be overwhelming and complicated. Multnomah County Library can help with language learning opportunities and citizenship classes. Staff can also direct you to resources that help immigrants become naturalized citizens.   

Local Resources

There are many organizations throughout the Portland metro area that offer resources to aid those seeking citizenship:

Legal AssistanceDohes Elias Haney's naturalization certificate, 1917

Those seeking citizenship often require legal assistance, especially with the USCIS N-400 form. Most citizenship classes do not focus on paperwork requirements but there are organizations that can provide that type of help. There may be a fee for legal services:

USCIS Citizenship Resources

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service provides many resources online for those seeking to become naturalized American citizens.

If you still have questions about becoming a citizen contact a librarian to get personalized assistance. We're always happy to help!

 

Pyramid photoAncient Egypt is fascinating! You can learn about how the pyramids were built (and about the treasures found inside), how mummies were made, and how to write in hieroglyphics. The ancient Egyptians also made numerous advances in science and architecture.

Did you know that the Ancient Egyptian civilization lasted for over 3000 years? Learn more about the pharaohs, or about the daily life of the average Egyptian.

Here are four sites which have information on many topics related to Ancient Egypt:

The British Museum has an extensive website that covers subjects such as geography, gods and goddesses, trades, and Egyptian life.  You can read the stories to find out more or participate in challenge activities.Image of sarcophagus

Click on a map of ancient Egypt to find out about topics like farming, temples, and warriors at the DK Find Out website.

The History Channel has several videos to watch, as well as a written history of ancient Egypt.

The Children’s University of Manchester Ancient Egypt site is great for younger kids and includes online activities.

Enjoy your exploration of Ancient Egypt, and don’t forget to contact a librarian if you need more help.

A college degree is one of the most expensive items you will ever buy. It can leave you in debt for years, so you want to be as smart as you can about your education. When you attend college, you are "buying" a college degree, much as you purchase other big-ticket items. So, you want to make sure you get your money's worth.

Barnard College

Figuring out what college is going to cost

The U.S. Department of Education has a useful website called College Scorecard. You supply information about the type of degree you are looking for and locations or regions that you are interested in, and you'll receive results that show the average annual cost of tuition and fees at each matching institution, the graduation rate, and the annual average salary of their graduates. It's a great website for getting an overview and comparing what different colleges cost.

Another great place to research college pricing and student aid is at The College Board website. There is a wide variety in prices charged by institutions of different types and in different parts of the country, so it can really pay to do your research.

Looking at online colleges? They can sometimes offer you more flexibility and easier access than traditional colleges. Check out Affordable Colleges Online to see, by state or by subject, which colleges offer affordable options. 

Be sure to add in what your room and board costs will be, including your meal plan, books and supplies, and other personal expenses

Your Personal Resources

Before you apply for student aid or scholarships, you'll need to figure out the amount of money that you and perhaps your parents can afford. Some parents choose to contribute and others believe that it is the student's responsibility to pay for college.

If you are saving for college, the State of Oregon offers the Oregon College Savings Plan which provides tax advantages. 

Federal Student Aid

If you plan to apply for aid, check and double-check the application deadlines. State and college aid may have earlier deadlines than federal aid. When you apply, you want to be in the first stack of applicants, not the last. You can check the federal and state application deadlines at www.fafsa.gov.

The first step to apply is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Financial aid experts recommend that all students fill out the FAFSA because it is used by colleges and grant-makers to figure out financial need. 

The fastest way to fill out the FAFSA is online at www.fafsa.ed.gov, but you can also get paper forms at all our public library branches: Just ask at a reference desk. Give yourself plenty of time to fill out the form. You'll need to have information about your financial situation and you or your parents' federal tax forms from the previous year at hand.

Using the information that you supply on the FAFSA, the financial aid office at your college will determine that amount of aid you may receive.

Book Partners, Volunteer Partners

by Sarah BinnsVolunteers Carole and Emily

Library patrons know the volunteers they see face-to-face, such as those who teach computer classes or work with the Summer Reading program, but what they don't see are the volunteers who devote their time to getting library books into the hands of the right patron every day. Two who work behind the scenes are Carole Parkinson and Emily Hollingsworth. Carole began volunteering at Gregory Heights Library in 2010 and Emily in 2011.

Together Carole and Emily work every Monday morning on the paging list, a daily document listing around 200 items placed on hold by patrons throughout the system. After finding these items, some of which are in the wrong place or missing, Carole and Emily send them off to the right branch.  “Carole takes the last page of the paging list and I go process the yellow crates,” says Emily. Towers of yellow crates full of books greet Emily. These are books from other libraries that patrons at Gregory Heights have placed on hold. As soon as Emily checks in an item, a patron receives that delightful email notification that their hold is available and the item is shelved on the pickup shelf. Carole's paging list shift is about two hours; Emily spends as much as four hours.

Carole and Emily are lifelong book-lovers and met in 2009 through Pageturners, an MCL-sponsored book group, before they began their complementary volunteer shifts. “I've always worked with Carole at the library,” says Emily. “She was my go-to when I started on the paging list and didn't know where anything was!”

Both came to library volunteering almost immediately upon retirement several years ago. In their spare time, Carole enjoys knitting and Emily gardens, but both remain passionate about books and recommend checking out the Lucky Day section (where patrons can find popular new selections without waiting for a hold).

While patrons don't always see the work that Carole and Emily do, anyone who places a hold at Gregory Heights has reaped the rewards of their efforts. Says staff member Andres Chavelas, “Their contribution to the work flow on Monday mornings is unparalleled.” After five years on the job, neither woman shows signs of stopping. “I love doing the paging list,” says Carole. “I'd hate to miss it!”


A Few Facts About Carole and Emily

 
Home library: Gregory Heights for Carole; Midland for Emily.
 
Currently reading: Carole is reading The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler and Emily is reading The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck.
 
Favorite book from childhood: Carole’s favorites were horse books such as My Friend, Flicka and Thunderhead.  Emily liked the Cherry Ames nurse books, which she buys when she sees them at estate sales.
 
Favorite section of the library: Cookbooks and knitting books for Carole; Lucky Day books for Emily.
 
Most influential book: For Carole, The Island at the Center of the Earth by Russell Shorto; for Emily, The Wright Brothers, David McCullough's latest biography.
 
E-reader or paper? Both, says Carole, who enjoys the ease of looking up words on her Kindle. Emily prefers paper, although she uses her Kindle when she travels.
 
Favorite place to read: In bed where she can concentrate, says Carole; somewhere comfortable like a bed or a couch, says Emily.

Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

Esther Stutzman, storytellerStorytelling is an ancient art form of connecting cultures, passing down customs, and preserving history. Religious leaders share spiritual stories with their congregation; politicians share historical moments with their constituents; grandparents share traditions with their grandchildren. For historians, it was a way for us to make sense of and explained events of the past.

Stories have been told and retold, passing down from generations to another, as myths, legends, ghost stories, epic adventures, fables, and fairy tales. Oral tradition is part of every culture throughout history and it continues to be a part of our community today.

Tellabation!™ is a night of storytelling celebrated world-wide during the month of November. Throughout the county, you can find storytelling performances and workshops celebrating our oral history.  

Multnomah County Library offers storytelling programs for Native American Heritage Month in November, as well as for other communities all year long. Can’t go to one of our events at the library? You can find other Tellabration events at Portland Storyteller's Guild and City Club of Portland.  

With Halloween approaching there are lots of skeletons to be seen, but did you know that you have a skeleton hiding inside of you? Human beings have 206 bones to be exact! Your skeletal system is the body system made up of all of your bones, joints and cartilage. Along with your muscular system, it makes it possible for you to walk, run, sit, stand, swim and move around the world.
 
To learn more about the skeletal system check out this article from KidsHealth.org or for teens at TeenHealth.org You can also check out the library's databases, a trusted source for homework help available free with your library card. Kids InfoBits has some great articles for kids in grades K-5 about the skeletal system. Simply log in with your library card then search for “skeletal system,” “bones,” or “skeleton” to find lots of information.  Two great resources for middle schoolers and high schoolers are eLibrary and InfoTrac Student Edition.  Both databases are free to use with a library card and provide access to electronic reference books, journal articles, newspapers and media. 
 
Check out this video about the Skeletal System from KidsHealth:

If you want to explore this topic more, or if you have more questions about any of this, Ask a Librarian! We’ll be happy to talk more about it.

Finding and securing affordable rental housing is a challenge. There are a number of reasons for this, from a low vacancy rate of only 3% to the steady gentrification of Portland neighborhoods since 2000.   While the exact rate of increase is variable depending on neighborhood and data collected, an October 2015 State of Housing in Portland (pdf) report found that “average rents across the city have increased between 8-9%, or roughly $100 per month, since this time last year.” On October 7, 2015 the Portland City Council declared a housing emergency with Mayor Hales agreeing that renters need protection. The hope is that the declaration and subsequent actions taken will help with both increasing affordable housing (defined as no more than 30% of one’s income) and also begin to address the rising number of people experiencing homelessness in our community. Immediate Portland City Council measures require landlords to give more notice to tenants before rent increases and no-cause evictions.

Colorful icon of a house

What do you do if you find yourself looking for rental housing in this tight environment? What happens if you find a no-cause eviction notice taped to your door? What can you do to keep good relations with your landlord and ensure you are retaining your tenant rights?

The rental housing market in the Portland metro area is the tightest it has been in many years and is currently one of the hardest in which to find affordable housing in the country.  It is tough out there!  You are not alone, however.  There are many resources and organizations that can help and your library can help connect you to these resources.

Where do I look for housing?

There are many places online that you can do a general search for housing. They include but are not limited to:

Be aware of possible scams and do not send payment in advance to secure housing.  Be skeptical of any listing that looks too good to be true.

You can also search for housing and housing assistance specifically for people and families on limited incomes using these resources:

The lists are long and the process is overwhelming.  Where can I get more help?

  • 211info is a great place to start for a directory of community renter resources including deposit/fee assistance, eviction prevention, housing search assistance, neighbor and landlord mediation, renters rights, and renting classes.

  • Oregon CAT - Community Alliance of Tenants is a tenant membership organization that declared a Renter State of Emergency in September 2015 to address rent increases and no-cause evictions. In addition to a Renters’ Rights Hotline (503) 288-0130, they have many valuable resources including information on how to find and keep affordable housing, how to research a prospective landlord, as well as a Landlord-Tenant Law Booklet.

For help staying in your current home look to:

Contact your library for assistance getting connected to the right housing resource.  We are happy to help!

A Cheerful Volunteer

Volunteer Allan Karsk

by Donna Childs

Allan Karsk is the sort of smiling, good-humored fellow whose presence makes one feel happier. He was born, raised, and went to college in Nebraska before moving to Portland as a young man. He worked as a medical technician in Nebraska and continued that path here, at the Red Cross, where he worked until he retired.

That’s where the library comes in. As a library patron, Allan often thought what a pleasant place his Hollywood Library might be to volunteer. When the current hold system, which shares books and media among all 19 branches, was inaugurated, he realized that volunteers could help process all those holds. He now comes to Hollywood twice a week to do his part to keep the holds working well.

On Tuesdays, Allan searches for books requested by other libraries, enters the information, and labels them for the receiving branch. On Fridays, he processes books received from other branches, shelving them by patron name or number. In addition to feeling useful by helping to keep the hold system functioning smoothly, Allan likes finding out about unfamiliar books as he processes them. And, as a piano player, he has found some interesting music; he has even bought some at the library’s Title Wave Used Bookstore. Most importantly, though, he values the interaction with Hollywood library staff and the many interesting conversations he has had over the years.  

While Hollywood was being renovated, Allan volunteered at two other neighborhood libraries: Belmont and Gregory Heights.  While he found it interesting and useful to see how other branches work, he’s happy to be back in his home library at Hollywood.

 


 

A Few Facts About Allan 

 

Home library: Hollywood Library
 
Currently reading: The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons
 
A book that made you laugh: Anything by Carl Hiassen
 
Favorite section of the library: Fiction
 
E-reader or paper? Paper
 
Favorite place to read: In my recliner at home
 
Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

Looking for rental housing and apartments can be frustrating, but Craigslist is a great place to get started. Craigslist is like an online bulletin board. You can use it to find a home to rent or buy.

Getting Started
  1. Go to http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites.

  2. Find your city or state (Craigslist serves the whole world!)

Choose Portland for Portland and the Portland metro area (Beaverton, Gresham, Troutdale, etcetera.)

 

Housing/Apartments on Craigslist

Many rental properties are listed on Craigslist. You can view listings in a list, with pictures, or on a map.

 

  1. In the housing column, choose the option you want. If you are looking for a house or apartment to rent, choose apts/housing.

  2. Type a keyword or keywords into the search box.

    • This could be a feature of the neighborhood you want to live in. For example, if you want to live near public transportation, you could enter the keyword bus.

    • A keyword could also be a feature of the dwelling you are seeking. For example, the keyword light might help you find apartments or houses that let in lots of light.

  • A keyword can also help you find a particular neighborhood, for example: Kenton.

 

  1. Limit the search by price, size, and number of bathrooms and bedrooms on the left side.

  2. Limit the search by using the checkboxes on the left side to find listings that are cat or dog friendly, that

  3. have wheelchair access, and more.

  4. Click housing type to specify what kind of house or apartment you are looking for.

  5. Click parking and laundry if you want to choose these features.

 

The top of the screen gives you options for viewing the results.

 

 
 
Thumb shows you small images, gallery shows you larger images, and map shows you locations. The map option might be really important when you’re searching for a place to live.

Map view

When you use the map view, you can click the bubbles to zoom in and get more information.

 

When you find a listing you would like to pursue, read the entire listing carefully. You may need to click a show contact info link to see the phone number for the listing.

 

Avoid scams: be skeptical of any listing that looks too good to be true. Do not send money or other forms of payment in advance to secure a home. Do not give personal information to anyone whose identity you cannot verify.


Find more information on avoiding scams at Craigslist: http://www.craigslist.org/about/scams.

Need more help?


Craigslist help: https://www.craigslist.org/about/help/

Try this tutorial: http://www.gcflearnfree.org/searchresults?q=craigslist

The library also offers a class called Using Craigslist. To see if that class is available now, you can search for it in the search box, or check here

 
 
For many children and teens, it is difficult to find books with multi-dimensional characters and  compelling stories that reflect their lived experience. Censorship is not the only barrier preventing people from reading certain books. There is a more insidious process -- when writings don’t get published at all due to reluctance to publish books about people from cultures and situations out of the mainstream.

There is a current national campaign, We Need Diverse Books, to promote diversity in publishing for children and teens. One of our librarians, Alicia, got the opportunity to see W.N.D.B. founding members speak earlier this summer. People of different races, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, religions, mental and physical challenges exist in our society. Studies have shown that there are relatively few books being published that reflect this diversity of potential readers.

Three debut young adult novels Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, Under A Painted Sky, and Far From You are great examples of books that reflect this diversity of potential readers.  These books have nothing in common except for having well developed heroines with riveting narratives.

In Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, Isabel Quintero produced a powerful coming of age story about a likable, young, smart, resilient Latina, facing various challenges in her life. She finds courage and humor from her friends, family and creative writing. She has problems ranging from her father’s meth addiction and  body image concerns. Read other coming of age stories that are touching, realistic, and hopeful with characters who are from diverse cultures and circumstances.

In Under A Painted Sky, Stacey Lee created an historical adventure story about two girls, one African American and one Chinese American, who escape harrowing circumstances in the pre-Civil War West. They disguise themselves as boys and runaway to freedom and the California Gold Rush. Here are some other wonderful books with historical adventures of teens on the run plus a few books to give historical background behind some of these stories.

In Far From You, Tess Sharpe tells a story of mystery and endurance of a bisexual, disabled teen girl recovering from trauma and substance abuse. Check out these books featuring diverse teens dealing with some dark events.

As part of Banned Book Week (September 27-October 3), Multnomah County Library is hosting a panel discussion featuring the authors of the above books,  Isabel Quintero, Stacey Lee, and Tess Sharpe. The conversation will be moderated by local professor and author, Swati Avasthi. We are calling this event Censorship by Omission: The Diversity Deficit.

Please mark your calendars and join us for Censorship by Omission at Midland Library (805 SE 122nd Ave, Portland, OR 97233) on Saturday, October 3rd, at 2-3:30 PM.

Statue of Roman godGreek and Roman mythology share many of the same gods and goddesses in their stories, but most often the names are different. It can be difficult to keep straight who is who when referring to them with either their Greek or Roman name. Is it Zues or Jupiter? Is it Hera or Juno? Is Aphrodite or Venus? Encyclopedia Mythica has a great list of major Greek deities and their Roman counterparts. When we are reading Percy Jackson we are working with the Greek names, but our planets are named for the Roman Gods and Goddesses.

When studying Greek and Roman mythology consider using some of the library’s databases. Using the “Reference Center” in World Book Encyclopedia can expand your study on the subject. Search for “Greek and Roman divinities,’ and you will get another chart matching up Greek and Roman counterparts with links to learn more about the individual deities. Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL) is another online resource that will lead you to a variety of online e-books full of mythological information.

If you are trying to keep track of who is related to who in the Pantheon (all the gods of a people or religion collectively), Greek Mythological Link has great genealogy charts as well as maps. History for Kids also has brief descriptions on the differient gods as well as book suggestions for further reading, many that you will find here at the library. Check out some of our reading suggestions too.

Artist's drawing of D.B. Cooper.It was a hot day in Central Library. The air conditioner was busted, the doors were propped wide open, and, thanks to the latest forest fire out on the eastside, the air was about as smoky as the Virginia Cafe circa 1975. I thought about lighting up myself since it couldn’t make things much worse in here, but then I remembered that I quit smoking 20 years ago. Something bad was going to happen, I could feel it.

Mercifully, this is not the actual condition in the library at the moment! Everything is just fine. But if this scene appeals to you for some reason, maybe you should be reading more Portland crime fiction.

Did I leave something important off this list? Let me know!

A Committed Reader and TeacherVolunteer Ivy Wong

by Sarah Binns

Multnomah County Library volunteer Ivy Wong loves to talk about books, which means our interview for this article derailed several times as we discussed Harry Potter (the books of which she gradually collected as she grew up), The Hunger Games, and Sherlock Holmes mysteries (some of her favorites). Interestingly for someone as committed to reading as Ivy, her library volunteer work focuses on its people, not on its books. As an English as a second language (ESL) teaching assistant, Ivy provides an invaluable resource to many of Portland's immigrants and others who want to improve their communication skills.

Ivy grew up in Portland with Midland as her home library, though she recalls being awed on occasional visits to Central. While currently working on her bachelor's degree in business through a dual PCC/PSU program, she also volunteers two nights a week at Midland, organizing her college classes around the ESL classes. When I marvel at her commitment, she smiles. “Summer is easier” to balance, she says, “class ends an hour or two before I teach,” so she can go home and eat dinner; during the school year, however, she often eats in the car to make it to her students on time.

In the classroom, Ivy helps patrons with speaking and writing on a theme to get them familiar with English. She enjoys “being able to interact with those who come in for the classes and hear their different experiences.” She says she's met people from all over the world and through her students has picked up some Spanish and Ukrainian words, in addition to brushing up on her Chinese, which she also speaks.

In her spare time -- not that she has much of it -- Ivy reads, of course, with a preference for autobiographies and mysteries. She remembers checking out as many as 25 books at a time when younger. Now, however, she focuses more on her textbooks, but still tries to find time to read in the evenings. It's a lovely testament to her commitment that she says she'll keep teaching at Midland as long as the classes are offered and the students keep coming back.


A Few Facts About Ivy

Home Library: Midland Library

Currently reading: Textbooks for school, mostly business and writing books

Favorite book from childhood: The Boxcar Children series. “I always checked out one of the books when I went to the library.”

A book that made you laugh or cry: In high school, she read the last book in the Princess Diaries series and it struck a chord. “I was having some issues in school and the book made me look at [the situation] differently than I did before.”

Favorite section of the library: Fiction, for the variety

E-reader or paper?  Both. “Whatever way I can get access to a book, that's the way I'll read it.”

Favorite place to read: The library or a bookstore

 
Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

Photo of My Librarian Darcee meditating with running child in backgroundIf I’ve learned nothing else from my twenty-five years as a perpetual beginning yoga student, it’s to honor where I’m at in the moment. And in this moment I’m a total mess.

School started yesterday and with it, the slow begrudging shift back into scheduled living. I have a hard enough time just getting myself out the door in the morning, so trying to corral a free-spirited and easily distracted kid in addition, is easily my least favorite part of parenting.

The one thing that helps quiet my mind and find focus in the eye of the storm that is the morning ritual, is a regular yoga practice. Like many, I don’t have the time nor money to get to a yoga studio as often as I’d like and I lack the focus to go solo at home. That’s why, in anticipation of amped up school mornings, I’ve been turning to Hoopla.

Did you know that there is a treasure trove of wide-ranging yoga instruction videos available to stream right now on Hoopla? I didn’t until recently. So I tried a few out.

I started out bold with a Vinyasa class with Clara Roberts-Oss, jumping in at Episode 3, Twist it out Yoga.  The mountain setting was lovely but the Vinyasa flows were too fast and unfamiliar for me. Then Clara said “booty” and “awesome” one too many times and I went into child pose and didn’t come out.

Humbled by Clara, I next visited Rodney Yee Complete Yoga for Beginners -Season 1, starting with his morning workout. There’s something extraordinarily calming about Rodney Yee and this was a gentle and meditative workout.  And yes, for twenty glorious minutes and a few thereafter, the morning was all tranquil waters and clear skies. Then I got whacked in the face with a foam Thor hammer and realized I’m going to need something with a bit more vigor to reach a deeper calm.

I think I found my go-to class in Hatha Yoga with Cameron Gilley. Yoga videos can veer towards cheesy and over-produced, but Cameron comes off as just a straight-forward tattooed guy on a pink mat in front of what looks like a drizzly Northwest marina. Flow with Grace & Slow Burn Hatha feel a lot like the average yoga class you’d attend at any number of Portland studios and for me, that’s a good thing.

With a limit of eight checkouts per month, I can’t rely on Hoopla workouts entirely to keep me calm this school year. But maybe it can provide the bridge I need to finally inch towards a regular home yoga practice. And when I do lose my cool (because I will), perhaps I can return back to center just a little bit faster.

Check out my list for more online resources and books to help build your physical yoga practice at home. Are you loving an online yoga class that I've overlooked? Share your favorites in the comments!

Challenger Deep book coverThe National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 1 in 25 Americans live with a serious mental health condition. Teens that are  facing these challenges--mental and physical--or caring for someone that is, know that they are very real and intense.

Teens want to understand, and to be understood.

The Hollywood Teen Council focused a month of reading on books that explored both mental health conditions and physical disabilities. One book that stood out was Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman, illustrated by his son Brendan Shusterman.

Sienna Lesher, Grant High School student and Hollywood Teen Book Council member, wrote this review:

“The bottom of the trench is only scratching the surface of the earth.”

Caden Bosch suffers from severe mental illness, causing him to live most of his life in a false reality, he sees himself on a boat sailing for the deepest point on earth: Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench. His life on the boat is hard, but really, life outside was no better. Though hard to understand at first, this book is beautiful and surreal, and I would definitely recommend this to another teen.”

Everybody Sees the Ants book cover

In A.S. King’s, Everybody Sees the Ants, Lucky has been having dreams where he visits his grandfather in a POW camp in Vietnam. Soon he starts to have daily visions of a Greek-Chorus-like group of ants that start to weigh in on the events of his life where he is dealing with severe bullying and his parents potential break-up.  

Alisa Folen, Grant High School student and Hollywood Teen Book Council Chair, created this playlist inspired by “The Ants.”

 

 

Hiding Tonight by Alex Turner

Hero by Family of The Year

Take A Walk by Passion Pit

Cigarette Daydreams by Cage the Elephant

Getting to Know You by Spazzkid

Oblivion by Grimes

The Hunt by Youth Lagoon

Silhouettes by Colony House

 

What is gentrification?

Gentrification is the process by which neighborhoods undergo a rapid increase in value as properties are purchased and renovated by wealthier people than those currently living in the community. This most often occurs in poor and working-class urban neighborhoods resulting in the displacement of those residents. In recent years the signs of gentrification in Portland are easily identifiable and abundant. New owners purchase properties then either improve or tear down and replace what was there. This leads to rents going up dramatically, wealthier people moving into the neighborhood, and area businesses becoming more upscale. All this means that less wealthy, long-time residents can no longer afford to stay.  In fact, a 2015 study by Governing Magazine found that Portland, Oregon has experienced this gentrification process more severely than any other U.S. city since 2000. This has had a profound impact on many Portland neighborhoods as housing costs continue to rise.  More and more people are unable to remain in the neighborhoods where they have long resided and some are unable to find affordable housing within the city limits at all.

What causes gentrification?

Gentrification can happen in any neighborhood where property values suddenly rise as newer, wealthier residents move in, invest in improvements and/or new construction then displace those who have previously lived there. Often, gentrification is a legacy of past policies that restricted people of color to certain neighborhoods and denied them access to financing. This process occurred through redlining. This excerpt from the documentary Race: The Power of an Illusion illustrates how redlining worked:

 

 

In Portland, African Americans were largely restricted to North and Northeast Portland, so it is no surprise that those are two parts of the city undergoing the most rapid gentrification. The Oregonian’s “Roots of Gentrification” series provides an excellent overview of the changes in the city that have greatly contributed to the gentrification of North and Northeast Portland.  Also, the city’s State of Housing in Portland report provides a good overview of the scope of the problem.

 

What has been the result?

While gentrification has affected areas across the city, among the most impacted has been North and Northeast Portland, the long-time center of the city’s African American population. The impact on that community has been profound. Largely priced out of their homes, the city’s black residents are increasingly moving into east Multnomah County where housing is less expensive. This has meant there is far less diversity in traditionally black neighborhoods. A clear example of gentrification in an historically African American community is the Alberta neighborhood. Studies done in 1992 and 2015 show just how much the area has changed. Gentrification also contributes to the rapid increase in rent. A recent study showed Portland's rents rose at  the nation's sixth-fastest rate over the last five years.

 

What is the solution?

That all depends on who you ask, but because gentrification is not the result of a single, simple cause, there is likely no single, simple solution. It is an issue intimately tied to other challenging social problems surrounding race, class, and economic opportunity. The City of Portland has prepared a study of gentrification risk that identifies different strategies to address the issue. Recently, the Portland Housing Advisory Commission recommended a significant increase in the amount of public money spent on affordable housing. In August 2015, city leaders announced new projects in Northeast Portland to provide jobs and subsidized housing. A coalition of community groups has recommended a comprehensive 11-point plan to combat gentrification but still recognize that there is “no silver bullet” that will solve the problem. To address the issue of high rent, the Portland Renters Assembly organizes meetings across the city and would like to take direct action against the rising cost of rent. Clearly, a variety of tactics are needed to ease the most damaging effects of gentrification. It is impossible to know now what will ultimately be the result.

Sexual orientation, sexual identity, and gender identity have been getting more attention in the news lately, with the Supreme Court decision about same-sex marriage and Caitlyn Jenner's public transition.

Confused? Curious? Concerned? All of the above? The library is a great place to learn more. Teen Health and Wellness has informative articles and also offers teens the opportunity to submit your own stories and videos.  

If you're in or close to Portland, the services of the Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center and TransActive Gender Center may be helpful.

No matter where you are, you can call, text, or chat YouthLine.

And the video below, LGBTQ: Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities, is a good brief overview of these topics that includes stories from several youth.

 

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