MCL Blogs

The North Portland Library recently unveiled a special collection devoted to the history and experiences of our region’s Black community. The Black Pacific Northwest Collection features the literature, music, film and other creative expressions of the Black experience in the Pacific Northwest and is part of the Black Resources Collection. The collection includes Raymond Burell’s celebration of the Vancouver Avenue Baptist Church, Lucas N.N. Burke’s history of Portland’s Black Panther movement, the poetry of S. Renee Mitchell and Samiya A. Bashir, and Renée Watson’s award-winning Piecing Me Together.

We knew it was important for the scope to be of local interest but wanted to broaden it beyond the Portland experience, so this collection includes authors and subjects throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and northern California. You’ll find works by the University of Washington’s emeritus Charles Johnson and works about the late Seattle-based playwright August Wilson. Check out this new collection by visiting the North Portland Library or by searching “Black Pacific Northwest Collection” from the home page.

Help grow the Black Pacific Northwest Collection

This special collection currently features about 200 titles, including works of fiction, nonfiction, films, and even zines — but we’d like to add more, and we need your help! You know the creatives here in our community and beyond — the writers, musicians, filmmakers, historians, social scientists — documenting the rich Black experience in our region. Tell us about them. Have them get in touch with us. Or, if you have written a book, made a record, created a film, compiled a bibliography, let us know. To suggest materials to add to the Black Pacific Northwest collection, please visit North Portland Library or email Kirby at kirbym at multcolib.org.

(Photos are by Cheyenne Thorpe.)

 

Your body is a pretty amazing place to be.  Every day things try to make you sneeze, make your nose run, make you cough, or even something worse - throwing up!  Lucky for you, your immune system fights them off - most of the time.

Immune System, Nintendo Style...... Biology.

Using some great online resources you can get an overview of the immune system, find out how your body responds to an attack on your immune system by playing an immune system game, and even quiz yourself to see what you know!

And you can always contact a librarian for even more info!

Josh R, selections and acquisitions clerk
For Josh, helping library patrons is all about getting the materials they want into their hands in the shortest amount of time. As a part of the selections and acquisitions team, he’s been a part of several changes that are impacting how the library purchases and distributes materials. 

"Today, libraries are competing with Amazon and other entities. Our patrons want the newest materials and quickly. We have to adapt."

A few years ago, the library’s Collections and Technical Services Team re-designed their workflow to help meet the demand. Materials used to sit in the receiving building for 4-6 weeks after they were purchased. Each part of the process — unboxing, sorting, cataloging — taking too much time. Thanks to a new workflow, patrons now get materials in three days or less.

"We’re constantly changing our work and changing the way we think about our work. It’s an exciting time to be at the library. We are re-examining what it means to build a collection in the age of modern libraries."

Josh has a passion for literacy and working with people. While attending a technical high school in Portland, he lost interest in his automotive major but found his way into the school library, where he became a teaching assistant. Directly after high school, he joined Multnomah County Library as a page (now called Access Services Assistant), checking in books and shelving holds.

He wanted to get to know more about each neighborhood, so he began subbing at different library branches, meeting the community and staff at each location. With a curiosity to know more about the technical work of the library, he transitioned from working at a branch to his behind-the-scenes position on the Technical Services team.

Day-to-day, Josh diligently focuses on being a good steward of the library’s resources and helping manage the collections budget. He orders materials from book and media vendors, ensuring the library is getting the items needed, at a good price, and when possible, having them pre-processed so they can get into the hands of library patrons as quick as possible. He is constantly evaluating any changes in how collections budgets are spent and determining whether there are collections that needs attention. He also provides internal customer service, buying materials for the library’s youth and adult outreach programs, such as Books 2U, Summer Reading, and the Every Child Initiative.

"I enjoy feeling connected to the library, even though I don’t interact with the public as much as I did working in a branch. I’m proud that our library works hard to deliver the materials that patrons ask for. We respond directly to people and let them know if their suggested items were purchased, and if they were, how to place a hold on the item. Every time our library makes a change to improve our system for the better of our patrons, it’s gratifying. I know we’re making a difference."

On January 22, 2018, Ursula K. Le Guin left us. To mitigate our sorrow, she left behind poetry, novels, essays and stories, as well as a legacy of speaking out about things that matter: books, reading, and of course, libraries. In this guest post from 2015, she rankled against choosing favorites, and then gave some thoughtful and surprising recommendations. She will be missed.

I have lived in Portland for 56 years now, raising kids, writing books, and reading books. I never would have got through those 56 years without the Multnomah County Library.

“Favorites” -- A favorite book? Impossible! Seven favorite books? Impossible! I have too many favorite books. A lot of them are a lot of other people’s favorites too, so they don’t need to be mentioned. But I’ve just been rereading one that has pretty much slipped outof sight, and I want to remind people of it, because it’s a terrific novel: Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man. It came out in 1964, won the Western Heritage Award, and got a nice movie based on it. But it’s way, way better than the movie. Little Big Man is a highly improbable story told so well that you believe it.

For one thing, you want to believe it. And also you can trust it, because the true parts of it are true. The history (and ethnology) is real. There’s no whitewashing the racism and greed that have always threatened the American dream of freedom. You get the story of what really happened at the battle of the Little Big Horn, not all that Custer hype. You get an entirely new view of Wyatt Earp, Calamity Jane, and several other celebrities, too.

Like Mark Twain, Berger has a pitch-perfect ear for how Americans talk – and think. And like Mark Twain he can ruthlessly indict human stupidity and bigotry while never losing his temper, and being really, really funny. Old Lodge Skins is my hero. I love this book. I wish every high-school kid in America could read it. And then (like me) read it again twenty or forty or sixty years later...

As for nonfiction, I have to mention Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which brings together scientific and medical research (and hypocrisy), the biography of an almost invisibly elusive black woman, the exposure of an act of exploitation, racism and social injustice, and the writer’s own deeply respectful involvement with the people from whom she won this absorbing, troubling, wonderfully told story.

How about a favorite piece of music? Can I have two, please? OK! One is the short opera Galileo Galilei by Philip Glass, performed here in Portland two years ago (a recording of that performance is available now from Orange Mountain). The stage set was all magical circles and spirals and pendulums, lights moving through shadows, illuminating the story that spirals back in time from the dark end of Galileo’s life to a radiant, joyful beginning. Set, words, and music, it was and is completely beautiful.

And for a change of pace. . . how about Hoyt Axton singing “Five Hundred Miles.”  (Find it on the CD Greenback Dollar: Live at the Troubadour). There are several versions of it on YouTube. I like the one where the visual is just a b/w video of a train that comes and goes by and is gone.

Five Hundred Miles ~ Hoyt Axton

For more great recommendations, customized just for you, try My Librarian.

Signs that say Hope and Despair.
When you are seeking help, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. This is a selective list of social service organizations and places that offer housing, shelter, mental health counseling, escape from abusive situations and other basic needs for people who are homeless, jobless or going through personal transitions. If you have any questions or need assistance finding services, contact us and we'll be happy to help!

When in doubt, start here: 211info

211info is a comprehensive support hub for referrals to food, shelter, housing, foreclosure assistance, health care, and much more. Calls are confidential, anonymous and free. Certified Information and Referral Specialists assess the situation and refer callers using a locally managed database of over 4,200 programs in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Telephone interpreters are available for help in more than 150 languages. Dial 211 from any phone; text your zip code to 898211; send an email to help@211info.org; or search resources online.

Other resources:

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare

Cascadia provides mental health counseling for people with psychiatric and substance use challenges. They provide crisis intervention, addictions treatment, and housing services for people who are very low-income.

Multnomah County Mental Health & Addictions Services

Provides mental health services to adults, children and families. They serve Oregon Health Plan members enrolled in Health Share of Oregon/Multnomah Mental Health as well as people who have no insurance or resources. Their Mental Health Call Center is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week; call 503-988-4888, 800-716-9769 (toll free) or 503-988-5866 (TTY).

Northwest Pilot Project

Provides housing and other supportive services for seniors ages 55 and older who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Help finding housing, transportation help, advocacy and referrals to other resources and services. NW Pilot Project recommends calling 503-227-5605 before coming in.

Outside In

Outside In is a community resource for homeless youth.  They provide health services, counseling and shelter, as well as programs and education.

Call to Safety

Offers 24 hour telephone crisis counseling for victims of domestic and sexual violence; call 503-235-5333 or 888-235-5333. The organization also offers support groups and direct service counseling for victims of domestic violence and childhood sexual abuse.

Rose City Resource

Street Roots publishes this very comprehensive directory of services for people experiencing homelessness and poverty in Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties.  It is updated twice a year.

Transition Projects

This organization can help with a variety of services including shelter, showers, food box vouchers, clothing, laundry services, Trimet tickets, information and referral, and housing search assistance.

Geoff Brunk
Library Outreach Services Coordinator Geoff Brunk has been with Multnomah County Library for 21 years, but his library career started halfway across the world in Taipei, Taiwan.

Geoff, who is fluent in Mandarin, has a degree in Asian Languages and first went to Taiwan to study for what he thought would be one year — it actually turned out to be ten. There, he started working at the National Central Library in international exchange, contacting libraries from around the world and exchanging books with them. His passion for libraries continued as he made his way to Oregon and began working for Multnomah County Library.

Today Geoff continues his work with diverse communities. As part of the library’s Outreach Services team, he helps people across Multnomah County access library materials through several programs: Words on Wheels, a volunteer-supported library program that matches specially-trained volunteers with homebound patrons; a lobby service program that provides library materials to senior living communities each month; and through outreach to 50 organizations that assist people without permanent housing.

Each of these programs is meaningful for Geoff because of the opportunity to connect with patrons who may not make it into a library branch:

"I love hearing from community partners how Multnomah County Library’s shelter program improves their guests’ and clients’ lives. It’s fun visiting the senior communities, seeing residents from different cultures poring over books and movies in their native languages, then catching up with our staff and one another at these library-focused gatherings. And I enjoy playing matchmaker, going along with Words on Wheels volunteers on their first visits to their patrons’ homes. It amazes me how often the pair have things in common."

As part of the library’s effort to connect the houseless community to library services, Geoff manages library donations to local shelters and organizations. Last year, with delivery help from volunteers, the library donated 15,000 materials in English and Spanish, from books for leisure reading to titles on GED test preparation, substance abuse and recovery, parenting, and mental health.

During his outreach, Geoff meets a variety of patrons, young and old, English-speaking and non-native speakers. In recalling a special moment, he remembers a Mandarin-speaking patron, a woman in her 80s, who called asking for United States citizenship information.

"After checking with our resident expert on naturalization, Lisa Regimbal, MCL’s adult literacy coordinator, I sent this patron exactly what she needed. A few months later, when we visited her apartment building, she came over to thank me. She’d just gotten her citizenship and was excited and grateful for the information the library provided. It was wonderful to have helped a person become a proud new US citizen."

 

Ursual Le Guin photo
When I learned of Ursula Le Guin’s passing, my world stopped spinning for a time. I reflected on her influence with a mixture of gratitude, admiration and awe. Ursula’s contributions to libraries, reading, literacy and to our community are immeasurable. She was tenacious, principled and gracious beyond words.

I first read The Left Hand of Darkness as a graduate student in library school, enthusiastically exploring my early feminist righteousness. Ursula Le Guin was a beacon to me then. I would have never imagined that, decades later, I would pass a lovely Portland winter’s afternoon in her home sipping tea, chatting about her life, career, ebooks, politics and her love of Multnomah County Library.

And, oh how Ursula put her library love into action! She was a deep and genuine friend to Multnomah County Library. She offered a list of her favorite works. She was a singular voice in support of issues that matter. She served on the Multnomah County Library Advisory Board in the 1990s, and she shaped how our library addressed issues that are important today. She leaves an impressive body of work, and she remains one of our library’s most popular authors.

For decades, Ursula Le Guin offered Multnomah County Library her unwavering support. She spoke, wrote and acted in support of library funding at every turn. She celebrated our milestones (even writing a poem celebrating Central Library’s reopening in 1997). She took on pivotal issues and daunting opponents: advocating for the rights of authors and artists; affordable library access to ebooks; and the importance of a person’s fundamental and constitutionally protected right to read, think, and pursue knowledge without scrutiny or constraint.

In her 1997 remarks about Central Library, she said, “A library is a focal point, a sacred place to a community; and its sacredness is its accessibility, its publicness. It’s everybody’s place.”

Of the many wonderful memories I have as director of Multnomah County Library, that gray afternoon with Ursula Le Guin is one of my most treasured. I will be forever grateful to have encountered her. May we honor her legacy by embodying who she was and what she stood for, in our own lives and communities.

- Vailey

19th century marriage certificate

Can’t remember when your divorce was final? Need a copy of your birth certificate? Trying to remember when your parents got married? Looking for your grandmother’s death certificate? These are all examples of vital records: documents related to a person’s birth, marriage, divorce and death.  If you’re looking for any of these, the library is here to help!

There are a few things to keep in mind when searching for vital records at Multnomah County Library:

  • Public libraries don’t keep archives of public records. You can request copies of birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates from the Oregon Center for Health Statistics.
  • The library does have indexes you can use to verify vital records information in Oregon. However, these indexes don't cover all time periods -- and the most recent year is 2008.
  • The library has a wealth of genealogical resources including useful blogs on topics such as finding obituaries and researching house history.
  • Many historical vital records are available from the Oregon State Archives.
  • Library staff are always happy to assist you in your vital records search.  Please call us at 503.988.5123 or email a librarian anytime.

Getting copies of vital records

Most vital records in Oregon are available through the Oregon Center for Health Statistics. Because there are restrictions on who has access to these records, you will need to provide a significant amount of information about yourself and/or the subject of the vital record. Also keep in mind that the Center for Health Statistics charges fees for vital records. The more research they have to do, the higher the fees.

In order to ensure you receive the correct record, expedite your order, and potentially save yourself some money, you can consult the Oregon Vital Records Indexes available at the library. These indexes provide the name(s) of the individual(s), the county in which the event occurred, the date, and the record number. You can use these indexes yourself at the Central Library or contact the library and have a staff person search for you. Should you need vital records for states other than Oregon, check the Centers for Disease Control's list Where to Write for Vital Records for every U.S. state and territory.

Birth records

The state of Oregon began recording births in 1903 but there is no statewide index to birth records. If you need your own or an immediate family member’s birth certificate contact the Oregon Center for Health Statistics.

For genealogists, birth certificates more than 100 years old can be accessed by anyone.  If you need local birth records, you can use the Ledger Index to City of Portland Births which is focused on the years 1881-1917 within the city of Portland. Keep in mind, however, that the city was much smaller then than it is now.

Marriage records

If you need to verify marriage information, Multnomah County Library has the Oregon Marriage Index (1906-1924, 1946-2008). This index is organized by the name of either the groom or bride and is also available through Ancestry Library Edition (accessible only in the library).  To get a copy of your own or an immediate family member’s marriage certificate, contact the Oregon Center for Health Statistics.

For marriages that occured in Multnomah County from 1990 to the present, there is an online lookup tool that will show the date of the marriage and allow you to order a certified copy for $4.00, a less costly alternative to ordering through the Oregon Center for Health Statistics.  Images of marriage licenses are not available through this site.

For genealogists, anyone can request a marriage certificate more than 50 years old. In Oregon, counties issue marriage licenses, so to find records that are not included in the Oregon Marriage Index you can check the Oregon Historical County Records Guide.

Divorce records

If you need to verify divorce information, Multnomah County Library has access to the Oregon Divorce Index for 1925-2008. Online, Ancestry Library Edition (accessible only in the library) also has Oregon Divorce Records, 1961-1985. If you need a copy of your own or an immediate family member’s divorce certificate, contact the Oregon Center for Health Statistics. If you need the full court record and divorce decree, you will need to contact the issuing court, usually the county circuit court. To help, Multnomah County Archives & Records Management has prepared a handy guide to obtaining divorce records and decrees.

For genealogists, anyone can request a divorce certificate more than 50 years old. If you’re looking for the court records, some counties have all of their circuit court records but others turned over their older documents to the Oregon State Archives.

Death records
Graveyard in Gjemnes, Norway

If you need to verify death information, Multnomah County Library has the Oregon Death Index (1903-2008). This index is also available through Ancestry Library Edition (accessible only in the library). If you need a copy of an immediate family member’s death certificate, contact the Oregon Center for Health Statistics.

For genealogists, anyone can request a death certificate more than 50 years old. You can also search for local deaths before 1903 using the Ledger Index to City of Portland Deaths (1881-1917).

If you still have questions about vital records or other genealogical research questions call or email a librarian to get personalized help. If you’d rather have face-to-face assistance, ask the librarian on duty the next time you visit the library. We're always happy to help!

 

 

In 1990, former President George H.W. Bush signed the proclamation declaring the month of November as Native American Heritage Month. The proclamation celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments of the peoples who were the original inhabitants, explorers and settlers of the United States of America.

Looking for somewhere to start finding information about a specific tribe? The library has book recommendations and databases that provide historical information about Native Americans including daily life (language, food, shelter, clothing, culture etc.), for readers and researchers of all ages.

Perhaps you want to search an online map with state by state information, or browse a list of tribes to learn about native languages and culture?

Interested in researching your own Native American ancestry? The American Indian Records in the National Archives provides information on how to get started with your research. We also invite you to visit your local library branch to use the genealogy database, or contact the library for individualized booklists or to make a one on one appointment with one of our friendly staff members.

The library will also be hosting programs for all ages throughout the month to celebrate the rich history of the original inhabitants and settlers of the Pacific Northwest.

  • Exploring Ancient Native American Techonology - Try out your own engineering skills while discovering technologies designed by Oregon's first engineers.
  • Native American Indian Storytelling and Drumming - Listen to traditional stories and songs of the Kalapuya people of the Willamette Valley.
  • Dream Catcher Weaving - Participate in a workshop to learn about the history and mystery behind the dreamcatcher while weaving your own.
  • Meet DASH'KA'YAH and COYOTE - Shoshone-Bannock poet and storyteller Ed Edmo will be be sharing stories of DASH'KA'YAH and COYOTE that will delight all ages.
  • Personal Totems - Listen to traditional Native American stories and poems while you create a totem pole that represents aspects of your personality.
  • Native American Jewelry Making - Use traditional items such as bone beads and leather to create one-of-a-kind jewelry.
  • Columbia River Native Basketry - Join Pat Courtney Gould as they discuss and present the timeless artform of twined baskets.
  • Stinging Nettle for Cordage - Learn about sustainable nettle harvesting methods to make cordage or yarn.
  • A Lens on Contemporary Indigenous Art & Culture - Meet contemporary Klamath Modoc artist Ka'ila Farrell-Smith as they share their art practice and philosopy. They will also give a overview of intersectional Indigenous, people of color (POC) artists and collectives.  
  • Ethnobotany of Kalapuya - Learn about the traditional plants and cultural heritage of the local Kalapuya and Chinook tribes.
  • Columbia River Native Women - Learn more about the lives of Columbia River Native Women and their roles in both traditional and modern Native American Indian society.
  • Edible Native American Food Plants - Learn about which berries are edible when you are out hiking, and how Native Americans used food plants like huckleberry, cedar, sweetgrass and other plants for basketry and medicine.

A 1975 chart of Yaquina Head to Columbia River
What is a nautical chart?

To someone who has not been at the helm of a vessel, a nautical chart might look like nothing more than an oddly detailed water map.  To a boater, a nautical chart is much more than a “road map” of the water.  Instead of roads it details water areas, ports, and coast lines; it also includes information about depth of the sea floor, obstructions, restricted areas, recommended routes, and aids to navigation such as lights and buoys. The main purpose of a nautical chart is to give boaters up-to-date information to avoid grounding or traveling in restricted waters, and to navigate safely for themselves and the vessels around them. 

Where can I find current navigational charts?

The United States Office of Coast Survey (USCS) has been producing nautical charts for more than 200 years, ever since President Thomas Jefferson asked for a survey of the coast in 1807. The USCS has made and maintains over 1,000 charts at varying levels of detail that cover all of the U.S. and U.S. territory coastal waters and the Great Lakes. These charts are conveniently available online for viewing and downloading. They are free of charge and regularly updated.

To find a particular nautical chart, start at the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Charts for U.S. Waters Online Chart Viewer. From the Online Chart Viewer you can select a region to view or navigate using the Graphical Catalog. Also available are BookletCharts for printing to help recreational boaters locate themselves on the water.

The Graphical Catalog shows the outlines of charts that are available on a basic geographical map. As you click on a chart, information to the right of the map show you the coordinates for the selected point as well as the Chart number, panel number, and scale of the chart selected. When you zoom in on an area, more detailed charts with larger scales become available to select. The name of each nautical chart is listed below the map as a Panel Title, as well as the date of the most current edition. Each nautical chart is available to be viewed online, downloaded as an RNC (Raster Navigational Chart), or ordered as a paper chart. In addition to finding nautical charts by browsing the map, you can also find nautical charts by entering the coordinates of the location you are seeking.

In addition to these current nautical charts you can also find nautical charts to view at the library by searching for cruising atlas in the online catalog.

Chapman Nautical Chart No. 1 by the U.S. Coast Guard
Did you know that nautical charts may have more than one compass rose printed on them?

A compass rose shows both the true North in the outer circle and the magnetic North in the inner circle, and the difference between the two is called the magnetic variation.  It is important to always use the compass rose nearest the area for which you are plotting directions. For detailed guidance on how to read a nautical chart, check out How to Read a Nautical Chart by Nigel Calder or Chapman Nautical Chart No. 1 from the U.S. Coast Guard.

What did nautical charts and maritime maps look like in the past?

In addition to modern nautical charts, the USCS also has beautiful and detailed historical maps and charts available on their website. Other recommended historical resources are The Charting of the Oceans by Peter Whitfield (an overview of Europe’s charting history) and Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor by Hali Felt (in the 1950s, Marie Tharp turned her husband’s records of sonar pings measuring the ocean’s depth into illuminating maps of the ocean floor that proved for the first time the theory of continental drift).   

Finding these charts can be complicated! If you have any questions, do not hesitate to Ask a Librarian.

The NOAA website includes this note: Use the official, full scale NOAA nautical chart for real navigation whenever possible. These are available from authorized NOAA nautical chart sales agents. Screen captures of the on-line viewable charts available here [on NOAA's online chart viewer] do NOT fulfill chart carriage requirements for regulated commercial vessels under Titles 33 and 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations. 

Close-up image of microfilm in a microfilm reader.
Microfilm & microfilm readers

Microfilm is photographic film used to record miniaturized images on sheets or reels. Often these are images of pages from newspapers and magazines. The reels of film use less space than the original items (for example, 50 years of Sports Illustrated on film takes up the same space as 1 year of the paper magazine, and the boxes of microfilm can fit in one small drawer). To read the microscopic images on film, you use a microfilm reader which enlarges them for you.

Two digital microfilm readers are located at Central Library. These readers offer many new options for editing and saving images from microfilm, including the ability to crop, enhance images and add notes.

Digital microfilm machines at Central Library.
So, what kinds of magazines and newspapers does the library have on microfilm?

All sorts! Here is a selection of historic gems that are available at Central Library for your micro-perusing:

  • The Black Panther, 1968 to 1980
  • Harper’s, 1963-2013
  • Macworld, 1984 to 2005
  • Reader’s Digest, 1922 to 2013
  • TV Guide, 1953 to 1994
  • and many, many more!

In addition to national publications like the ones listed above, Central Library also has a large collection of local newspapers on microfilm, including the Oregon Journal, The Oregonian, The Portland Telegram and the Willamette Week. For more information about searching in local newspapers, take a look at the blog post “Research with historical Portland newspapers, beyond the Oregonian.”

Microfilm readers are also located at the Gresham and Sellwood libraries. These locations have smaller collections of microfilm materials which are specific to their communities like The Gresham Outlook and The Sellwood Bee.

Newspaper article about the Grateful Dead
A couple of notes before you begin your micro-searching:

  1. When you use microfilm, it is like browsing through a big stack of newspapers or magazines arranged by date. If you don’t know the exact date for the article that you are seeking, you might need to use an index (usually this index is a book or an online resource) to look it up.
  2. Some magazines and newspapers are only available on microfilm at the library, but many are also available through the library’s online databases. These databases can sometimes be a better choice for your searching.

Remember, you can always Ask a Librarian and we will be happy to help you find the information or articles that you need!

Juliet Takes a Breath book cover
You know that moment when you are reading a book that you realize somehow mirrors your own life? For me that book is Gabby Rivera's Juliet Takes A Breath. Like many young folks I was intent on escaping the town that I had called home for most of my life and wanted to discover myself in someplace new. At some point my attention turned to moving west, and about 12 years ago I finally found my new home in Portland.  Juliet Milagros Palante has always called the Bronx her home, but she has her sights set on Portland. Before she leaves home, Juliet must do one thing, come out to her family. While eating dinner with her loved ones, a few hours before she is about to board the plane that will take her from the east coast to the west, she reveals her truth. Although her mother will not speak to her Juliet begins her journey to a strange new land. Juliet has a plan: figure out what it means to be queer and brown while spending the summer in Portland interning with Harlowe Brisbane, the author of one of her favorite books. In this candid coming-of-age story, Juliet discovers herself as a feminist and as a queer Latinx, finds a her community and falls in love.
Cunt: a Declaration of Independence
 
The fictional author, Harlow Brisbane, wrote a book that strikes a chord with Juliet, opening her up to the world of feminism.  Like Juliet, my introduction to feminism, radical politics and the Pacific Northwest came in the form of an eye opening book by Inga Muscio, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence. While this wasn't the first book about feminism that I had read, it was the first one that did not have an academic tone. It was a book that was passed around among my group of friends, sparked frank and often hilarious discussions, and changed the way that I moved in my female body. And like Harolow Brisbane's fictional feminist tome, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence is the kind of title that would make some passersby uncomfortable. Gotta love a book that has that kind of power!

 

In the early years, our city was called The Clearing, but in 1845, landowners Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy flipped a coin to choose an official name. Pettygove came from Portland, Maine, and Lovejoy was from Boston, Massachusetts. Pettygrove won two out of three tosses, and so our city is Portland. 

Photo of Pioneer Courthouse Square
Here are some of the historic places that make Portland special:

  • Benson Bubblers: These four-bowl drinking fountains are unique to Portland.
  • Pioneer Courthouse Square has been a school, a hotel, and a parking lot but is now considered the city’s “living room.”  
  • The Portlandia statue is the second-largest copper repoussé sculpture in the U.S. (The largest is the Statue of Liberty.)
  • Skidmore Fountain was designed to be a source of drinking water for people, horses and dogs.
  • The Pittock Mansion was the home of Henry Pittock, who arrived in Oregon penniless on a wagon train in 1853.

Because of the many bridges crossing the Willamette River, one of Portland’s nicknames is Bridgetown. Some of the bridges that connect the east side to downtown are more than 100 years old!

Photo of Lewis and Clark Exposition
What did Portlanders in the past do for fun? The Rose Festival, which still happens every June, started in 1904. The next year, Portland hosted the Lewis and Clark Centennial Expositionwhich attracted more than 1.6 million visitors. Children liked to visit the amusement parks at Oaks Park and Jantzen Beach.

You know it rains a lot in Portland, but did you know that our city has often flooded? In the flood of 1894, downtown Portland was flooded and people got around in boats. In 1948, the Vanport flood destroyed a housing area that was home to many African Americans.

For more information on Portland history, view the past and present photos at Portland Then and Now or check out the city’s Portland Timeline.

Here's a video that shows some of the changes in Portland:

 

Still have questions? Contact a librarian for help!

Tracking down a historical stock price can be really easy... except when it’s really hard. It is a common question that we get at the library during tax season.

Here is an example of an easy stock price search.

1. A stock price is needed for a company for a particular date. (Let’s say Nike on February 13, 2009.)
2. You go to a website with historical stock information (like Yahoo! Finance or Wall St. Journal’s MarketWatch), search for the company name or ticker symbol, and voila! You have the closing price for that day. (Keep in mind that the closing price may or may not already be adjusted.)

But this only works if the company is still in business and hasn’t changed names, hasn’t been involved in a merger or acquisition, and is still trading on the stock exchange under the same ticker symbol. If any of those situations are not the case, the historical price that you need might not be available online.

Take, for example, Macy’s, which went public in 1922 under the name R.H. Macy, and which for many years traded under the symbol MZ. You won’t easily find historical stock prices from before 1992 for this company on Yahoo! Finance or in other online databases because in 1992 Macy’s merged with Federated Department Stores. (Thanks to New York Public Library for this example!)

Steps for trickier stock price searches.

So how does someone get a historical stock price from before 1992 for Macy’s, or for any other company whose historical prices aren’t online? There are two steps: first, researching the company history to find out any information about different names, ticker symbols, and listings on stock exchanges; and second, looking in a newspaper or newspaper database for the date that you need. The library can help you with both of these steps.

Step 1: Research the company history.

This step can require a little detective work. It is where you figure out the name and ticker symbol of the company or security at the time of the historical price and the stock exchange which it was trading on. Here are several sources that the library offers for learning about a company’s history (you may need to look at more than one of them in order to get a full sense of a company’s history):

  • Capital Changes Reporter: Lists capital changes (such as mergers and splits) for companies, by date, and includes information about stock exchanges and ticker symbols that the company traded under. Available in print in the Science & Business room at Central Library, or online through the CCH Intelliconnect database.
  • International Directory of Company Histories: Provides detailed corporate histories for many companies, both U.S. and international. There are currently 156 volumes. Available in print in the Science & Business room at Central Library, or online through the Gale eBooks database (note: the most recent volumes are only available in print).
  • Mergent Intellect: Available through the library website. A database with lots of information about companies, including company histories.
  • Directory of Obsolete Securities: Lists and gives brief info for companies and banks whose original identities have been lost to events like changes in name, acquisitions, mergers, or bankruptcy. Available in print in the Science & Business room at Central Library.
  • EDGAR: This is not a library resource, but it is freely available online through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and we can help you if you have trouble using it! It contains many documents that public companies are required to submit to the SEC, including company reports.

Step 2: Look up the historical price in a newspaper or other source from that historical date.

Once you have done some research about the company whose stock price you are looking for (and hopefully learned their name, ticker symbol, and the stock exchange they were traded on at the time of the historical price), you are ready to find the stock price in a newspaper or other source from that time. Note that you’ll want to look at a newspaper or publication for the day immediately after the date for which you need the price, since the price would not have been published until the next day’s paper. Here are two sources for this, both of which are available electronically through the library website:

  • New York Times Historical (1851-2009): Contains scans of articles from the New York Times, including stock prices. Choose “Advanced Search,” enter the date that you are looking for in the “Publication Date” section, and choose “Stock quote” from the “Document Type” menu. Leave the other search boxes blank, and do your search. You will retrieve a list of articles containing stock prices - to find the major stock exchanges, choose the articles with the most page numbers, then look in them for the company whose stock price you need.
  • The Historical Oregonian (1861-1987): This database will be most useful for stock prices of companies from the Pacific Northwest. Enter the date you are looking for in the “Date(s)” box, and then do a search in the "All Text" box for a word like NYSE or NASDAQ which would appear on the page with stock prices.

In addition to these electronic databases for the New York Times and the Oregonian, the library also has a number of useful resources available in print and on microfilm at Central Library:

So there you have the basic steps for finding historical stock prices. It can indeed be a little bit of a research project sometimes. But don’t despair! Librarians are happy to talk to you about your particular stock price need, and to help you find the information you are looking for. Just get in touch with us using one of the methods on our Contact a librarian webpage. Happy stock price searching!

Whether you are researching Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, or any country in between, these sources have the facts you need!

Photo of a globe

Culturegrams is an encyclopedia in which you can find out about the history of your country, as well the daily lives of its citizens. There are great printable maps and images of the country’s flag and lots of photos. You can even listen to the country’s national anthem or sample recipes! If you aren’t at the Multnomah County Library, you’ll need to log in to the encyclopedia with your library card and PIN. You’ll want to choose the Kids Edition.

Another great place to learn about the people who live in other countries is Dollar Street. The creators of this site collected 30,000 photos from families in 50 countries, so you can see how they work, cook, sleep, and play.

Looking for a picture of a county’s flag? Just click on the small image at the CIA World Factbook to get a larger printable version of the flag, as well as information about what all its symbols mean.

If you still need help with your research, contact a librarian for more assistance. Bon voyage! 

Need to know the capital of New Jersey? The senators from Hawaii? Or famous people from Oregon? Dig into the sites below to find the answers to those questions and more!

United States map

 

If you just need the basic facts about a state, visit State Facts for Students. Here you can find state population, capitals, area, and symbols. 

To dig a little deeper, go to U.S. States from National Geographic Kids, which also lists geography, wildlife, history, and other fascinating facts for each state. 

Fact Monster's The Fifty States is similar; it also includes short sections on the economy and tourist attractions of each state. Don't miss the links on the first page of this site, which allow you to compare states in a variety of ways and play games or take quizzes to test your knowledge.

Want to find the official website for each state? Find a list of those at the State Government page of USA.gov

To find articles about a state's history, visit Explore the States. Here you can also find stories about local events and customs.

If you are trying to learn the names of all 50 states, try watching Fifty States That Rhyme, which uses them in a song. Or, if you need to learn the state capitals, watch the States and Capitals Song video.

Finally, if you need a map of a state, visit the National Atlas's list of state maps. You can find several different types of maps for each state; you can either view them online or download a map as a PDF.

Didn't find what you need here? Contact a librarian if you need more help with your research. 

 

 

 

Do you need to know the national holidays of Sri Lanka? Find the agricultural products of Ecuador? Or maybe print an image of the Nigerian flag? You’ve come to the right place!

Culturegrams is an encyclopedia in which you can find out about the history and geography of a country, as well the daily lives of its citizens. There are great printable maps and images of the country’s flag and lots of photos. You can even listen to the country’s national anthem or sample recipes! If you aren’t at the Multnomah County Library, you’ll need to log in to the encyclopedias with your library card and PIN. 

Image of world map
The CIA World Factbook has a wealth of information about the geography, people government and economy of countries, most of it in a table format. You can also visit their Flags of the World section to get a printable version of a country’s flag and information about what all its symbols mean.

At Background Notes from the U.S. State Department, you’ll find maps and flags for each country, as well as a history of its relations with the U.S. and links to in-depth country studies from Library of Congress.

The BBC has a page of Country Profiles, which are a good source for current events, as well as fast facts and timelines. And don’t miss National Geographic’s Destinationsa great source for travel articles, maps and colorful photos.

Another great place to learn about the people who live in other countries is Dollar Street. The creators of this site collected 30,000 photos from families in 50 countries, so you can see how they work, cook, sleep, and play.

Not finding what you need here? Contact a librarian for more help.

Five Themes of Geography

When you are learning about country, city or other place, ask yourself questions about the five themes of geography:

Location

  • Where is it? Geographers refer to absolute locations (like a street address or latitude/longitude coordinates) and relative locations, which show the relationships between places (for example, Vancouver, WA is just north of Portland, OR).
  • How far away is it from your home?  The Distance From To site will help you find out.

Place

  • Are there physical features like mountains, rivers or deserts? What is the climate like? The World Book encyclopedia includes an atlas with specialized maps, including terrain, farmland, and climate data. Choose the Student edition, and then click on Maps and Atlas. If you aren’t at the Multnomah County Library, you’ll need to log in to the encyclopedia with your library card number and password.
  • What are the traditions of the people who live there? Culturegrams is a great resource to learn more about the customs and lifestyles of people around the world. You’ll need your library card number and password to use it.

Human-Environment Interactions

  • How do people use the land? National Geographic’s Map Maker Interactive lets you create a map of your own. Choose to include features like land cover (crops) or human impact on the environment.
  • Where do most people live and why? This video will help you understand why certain areas are more commonly settled.

Movement

Photo of train

  • How do people travel to the country? How do they get around when they are there? When researching a country in the World Factbook, find the transportation section, which highlights roads, airports and railways.
  • Does the country export goods to other places? What goods does it import? At the Atlas of Economic Complexity, you can type in questions such as “What did Canada export in 2013?”
  • Why might people come to or leave a place? This article will help you understand why such movements occur.

Regions

  • How is the country similar to its neighbors (language, traditions, etc.)? At NationMaster, you can compare statistics on two countries or even two regions.
  • Are there political divisions (states, provinces, etc.)? Find this information in the World Factbook in the government section.

Not finding what you need here? Contact a librarian for more help.

Pyramid photo
Ancient 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.

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.

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