MCL Blogs

The default blog for all Library Blog Posts.

Ben Franklin was always thinking and exploring new ideas. He was a practical man who invented things that helped make life better.

1. His kite flying experiments to study lighning and electricity are still famous today.

2. He was the first person in America to invent a musical instrument.

He called it the Glass Armonica.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Lightning rods are still used today on buildings and houses. Lightning rod from the Franklin Institute

 

4. Bifocal glasses allow people to use just one pair of glasses to see thing far away and close up.

5. The Franklin stove kept houses warmer and used less wood than fireplaces.

Ben Franklin invented or improved many other things as well. He never patented any of his invetions or made money from them.

If you want to discover more about Ben Franklin and his inventions watch this

documentary from the History Channel, or ask a librarian.

 

Is writing by hand a lost art in this age of typing and tapping our words? For some of us who are old enough to have been taught proper handwriting in elementary school, but young enough to have been composing our written works on the computer for most of our writing lives, the state of our handwriting may have gone deeply downhill.  

Does it matter? The importance of handwriting is a subject that’s certainly open to a variety of opinions. Portland’s influential handwriting teachers and authors Barbara Getty and Inga Dubay (creators of the Getty-Dubay italic handwriting method and authors of Write Now: The Complete Program for Better Handwriting) say that poor handwriting is like  “mumbling on the page.” In The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication, author Margaret Shepherd says that a handwritten note “says to the reader, ‘You matter to me, I thought of you…’” There’s certainly something to be said about the grace and character of handwritten words. You can read about the history of handwriting in Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting, by Kitty Burns Florey, orThe Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting, by Philip Hensher.

Indeed, there are resources for those of us who would like to improve our handwriting. Better Handwriting by Rosemary Sassoon is a brief, basic guide with practical tips. The aforementioned guide by Getty and Dubay has exercises for clear, legible italic writing. While you’re writing by hand, you might also enjoy making some fancy letters! Draw your Own Alphabets: Thirty Fonts to Scribble, Sketch, and Make your Own by Tony Seddon, or Scripts: Elegant Lettering from Design's Golden Age by Steven Heller might be fun. If you get really motivated, you could take a class at the Portland Society for Calligraphy.

Handwriting, of course, is distinct to each of us. What does your handwriting say about you? If you’re interested in deciphering the meaning of the loops and slants, you might enjoy The Definitive Book of Handwriting Analysis: The Complete Guide to Interpreting Personalities, Detecting Forgeries, and Revealing Brain Activity through the Science of Graphology, by Marc J. Seifer. Or perhaps Your Handwriting Can Change your Life (by Vimala Rodgers)!

Let’s face it we all get distracted once and while.  Unfortunately, sometimes this happens when key information is being conveyed in chemistry class.  Or maybe you were paying attention but you just need a refresher.  Where can you get the information you need for your homework right now?  Try these great resources!

1.  Watch a video from Khan Academy
Sometimes it’s easier to learn from a video than from a textbook.  Khan Academy has high quality videos on a wide range of chemistry topics and includes useful questions and answers posted  by other viewers.  Did you miss your class’s discussion of acids and bases?  Not sure what the word “stoichiometry” means?  This is the place for you.

2.  Take a look at the Mathmol Text Book from NYU
OK, so you don’t want to ask your friend what the difference between mass and volume is.  That would just be embarrassing, right?  But if you google it, you might get a horrible, unreliable site made by a third-grader.  Instead check out the Mathmol Text Book.  It includes lots of great basic information and you know you can trust it because it is prepared by the New York University Scientific Visualization Center.

3.  Sign into Live Homework Help from Tutor.com
Did you know that every day from 2pm-10pm you can get help from real, actual tutors online?  Well, you can!  All you need is your library card and pin number to sign in from home.  You can get rock star level help with your chem homework and you don’t have to bother that one friend of yours that you keep calling.  Don’t have a computer at home?  Come to a library and use one of ours!
 

The short answer is, Yes, people still try to ban books

Here's a recent example right here in Oregon.  In January 2014 some parents in Sweet Home challenged the use in an 8th grade Language Arts class of the critically acclaimed Book Coveryoung adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.  According to an article in the Albany Democrat Herald, two parents asked for the book to be removed from the 8th grade curriculum. 

The result?  Again reported by the Democrat Herald, on February 13, 2014, after 3 hours of public testimony the Sweet Home School District reconsideration committee "voted Wednesday to retain the young adult novel, but [the superintendent] will be responsible for determining the appropriate grade level for its use..."

What's the fuss about?

"This work of young adult fiction tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to improve his future, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, [the book], which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings...chronicles the adolescence of one Native American teen as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live." --Amazon.com

Even though the book received the 2007 National Book Award for Young People's Literature, it's also been the center of controversy for profanity, racism, discussion of sex, abuse and alcoholism.  But as one of the teachers said, "...it's use...prompts the most intense discussions about racism, bullying, tolerance and the daily choices students make in handling relationships." 

I think that's worth keeping.  What do you think?

And remember, if you need more help be sure to Ask the Librarian!

March is Women’s History month and what better way to celebrate than learning more about the pioneering women from this great state? Three women you cannot ignore when doing any research are Lola Green Baldwin, Beatrice Morrow Cannady, and Abigail Scott Duniway. 

On April 1, 1908, forty-eighty-year-old Lola Greene Baldwin became the first woman sworn in to perform public service for Portland, becoming a full time paid policewoman. She was put in charge of the new Women’s Protective Division and crusaded for the moral and physical welfare of young, single working women. Visit OPB to view a video about her. Oregon State University Press has an introduction online to the book Municipal Mother about Baldwin. 

Lola Baldwin, Oregon Historical Society

Beatrice Morrow Cannady was a renowned civil rights activist in early twentieth-century Oregon.  She was editor of the Advocate, the state's largest, and at times the only, African American newspaper.  View the OPB special to learn more about the numerous efforts Cannady launched to defend the civil rights of the African Americans in the state. Black Past, an online reference to Black History, features an excerpt from a book about Cannady.

 Beatrice Morrow Cannady, Oregon Historical Society

Abigail Scott Duniway was Oregon's strongest voice for the cause of Women's suffrage. OPB has a film about her, as well as a piece on the Oregon Suffragist movement.  Duniway was a true pioneer, known for her tireless efforts for women’s suffrage and women’s rights and as one of relatively few female newspaper editors and publishers of her time. The library resource Biography in Context has a biography of Duniway and a helpful resource list for more in depth research. 

The Oregon Encyclopedia has detailed information and photos about these women and many more female pioneers in Oregon's history. The Oregon History Project, created by the Oregon Historical Society, is a great online resource for learning about Oregon's past and the people who shaped the state.

If you want to explore this topic more, or if you have questions, simply Ask a Librarian! We’re happy to help. 

Data Guru

by Donna Childs

Picture of Peter Reader

Peter Reader has made a career of helping people find and use information. Information is only useful if it can be accessed and organized—and that’s where Peter comes in. Renaissance man, Peter grew up in Nome, Alaska, and majored in music in college. Music has been a lifelong love—he plays the accordion and sings with the Bach Cantata Choir. Peter lived in an Eskimo village and worked as a realtor. He started his 30-year career in Alaska and the continental US with the Bureau of Land Management and later moved into administration. He became fascinated with computers in the 60’s, long before the personal computer, and discovered that he loved programming. Among other things, he helped build a payroll system for Bonneville Power Administration. After retiring in 1994, he volunteered at his local NE Portland police precinct, building a database since they had none. This led to a dozen years of running his own consulting business. 


When he retired a second time, he approached the Multnomah County Library to offer his skills. June Bass, Program Manager in Volunteer Services, put him to work on the volunteer database containing hundreds of volunteers from all 19 library branches. For the past 7 years, Peter has worked two days a week on the volunteer database, transferring and tweaking information, creating reports, entering volunteer information, and deleting anything redundant or outdated. The library has substantially overhauled its database twice during these years, keeping Peter especially busy. In 2009 he received a county-wide volunteer award for his work with the new database. June Bass says, “I cannot imagine any volunteer program implementing a new database without a person like Peter...” Aptly named, Peter Reader is also an enthusiastic reader, especially of science fiction. He and his wife have a library of more than 2000 books, in addition to an extensive collection of classical music CDs.

A Few Facts About Peter

Home library: Albina Library

Currently reading: I just finished Rick Atkinson’s trilogy on World War II.

Most influential book: No one book, but Tolkien blew me away in the 60’s.

Favorite book from childhood: A Treasury of American Folklore, ed. by B.A. Botkin (I have used up four copies.)

A book that made you laugh or cry: H. Allen Smith—anything by him.

Favorite section of the library: Science fiction

E-reader or paper book? Paper 

Favorite place to read: In my room

See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

Pigsqueak plant (Bergenia cordifolia)Do you need to learn the parts of a flower?  For a start, look at this clear diagram provided by the American Museum of Natural History.  For more descriptions of the flower parts and what they do, investigate "The Great Plant Escape".

 

 

 

 

This interactive flower dissection activity will give you even more practice in sorting and labelling, then will test your knowledge of flower parts.  Once you're on this site, you can start the activity by clicking on OK in the "try this" box (it's not necessary to download).  To reach the quiz, click on "Label" after you've dissected the flower.  This activity includes clear, printable pictures with descriptions of what each flower part does.

Parts of a flower diagram

If you learn well under pressure, you should look at this timed quiz.  You'll notice that some diagrams, such as the one at this site, may include more terms than you'll see on other diagrams.  You can play this game by clicking on "start" (there's no need to download), then begin pointing and clicking to label the parts.  Try it out, and challenge yourself to keep shortening your time!

If you want more information, contact a librarian through your computer or at your local library. 

It’s widely known that smoking tobacco is dangerous:  a major cause of lung cancer, chronic lung disease and premature death.  Not to mention bad breath. 

But what about e-cigarettes?  Since you are inhaling only nicotine vapor, they must be safer than tobacco cigarettes.  Right?

It’s actually unknown if e-cigarettes are safe.    Discovery Health has put together ten facts about e-cigarettes that question the safety of the devices.  For instance,  they go unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration and the side effects of inhaling pure nicotine have not been studied.  Despite the unknowns, double the number of teens tried e-cigarettes in 2013 than in 2012, according to the National Youth Tobacco study, summarized by the American Cancer Society.

What about hookahs?  Since hookahs are legal, social, infrequent, and the smoke passes through water, are they healthier than smoking regular tobacco or marijuana?  No, says the Centers for Disease Control.  But, like e-cigarettes, youth are using hookahs at increasing rates, alarming doctors.

This is a topic where I really needed to pay attention to reliable sources.  Though I found many videos extolling the benefits of hookahs and the safety of water pipe smoke, the source of this information was usually a guy filming a video in his garage.  Whenever you look for health or medical information, especially about drugs, think about the reliability of the source and the potential biases of the writer, video host, or organization.  For more on evaluating health information on the web, take a look at librarian Mary B.’s blog entry

Woman SneezingThe days are finally getting longer, but it is still pretty dark outside! This weather makes me wonder, “Am I getting enough Vitamin D?” “Should I be taking extra Vitamin C or zinc to ward off winter sniffles?”

The information we get about using vitamins and supplements and herbal remedies can be contradictory and confusing. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine if what we’re reading or viewing is an advertisement or a news item. However, there are trusted resources you can use to find information about vitamins and supplements.

The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) is part of the National Institutes of Health. ODS exists to help consumers like you find information about vitamins and dietary supplements, including botanicals. Visit the ODS website to find out what vitamins and supplements have been shown to help with certain health conditions and which have not. You can also find nutrient recommendations (how much of a particular nutrient you need) and fact sheets on many dietary supplements. The website also provides consumer protection information, like safety information and tips on spotting health fraud.

Another great source for information about dietary supplements, botanicals, vitamins, and other alternative or complementary medicine options is MedlinePlus. This website is the National Institutes of Health’s site for patients. Click the Drugs & Supplements button or use the search box to find information on a wide variety of drugs, supplements, and herbals.

MedlinePlus includes information like: what the research says, side effects and warnings, information about how an herb interacts with other medication, and more.

 

​“What caLeopold von Kalckreuth - The Artist's Wife Reading in Bedn I do for you?” I ask my friend undergoing chemo. “Oh, just bring me a funny audiobook to distract me.” I used to arrive with stacks of them, but over time I’ve developed a list of greatest hits that work well for our recuperating loved ones. Some criteria: Not too embarrassing for one unrelated adult to read aloud to another, not too many worrying situations (why did I think that book with a scene where the author is interrogated by the protagonist was okay?), and of course, the kind of humor that makes for belly laughs. Some people claim that anything by David Sedaris will work, and there are plenty of those to choose from, but moving beyond that, here are my three greatest hits for the healing, or anyone wanting a laugh. 

​The story of the beleaguered corporate drop-out Samantha as she tries to fake her way through a live-in cook and cleaning job in Sophie Kinsella's The Undomestic Goddess has left men and women alike unable to stop laughing. Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods seems like it might be a macho mind over matter tale of a journey on the Appalachian trail but is instead a tale of absurd urban warriors. The humor and scenery together make a great distraction. Richard Peck’s look back at his Grandma in the 1930s is so funny because Grandma is not the usual grandma of memoirs. She ​exaggerates, connives, trespasses, and contrives to help the town underdogs outwit the establishment. While A Long Way from Chicago lives in the children’s section, it's a great read for adults. 

What if all those times you're waiting around you exercised instead? 

We need exercise! To stay healthy, reduce stress and maintain a healthy weight, it’s important for kids to exercise one hour a day. Yup, scientists have discovered too much sitting can actually kill you in seven different ways. Since computer and TV screen time means you’re sitting a lot, break up your viewing time with some fun moves that make you active.

But how about using your screen time to  improve your moves? There’s lots of online videos made to get you moving. This kids’ twenty minute dance and fitness workout is like having your own fitness instructor bring the class right into your home. Put together basketball moves for a ten minute recess break. Or how about a reggae  or a hip hop instant recess?  A twenty minute yoga stretch break can make you feel refreshed. Workout with a friend or exercise with your family. Quit eating gummy bears and get silly with the gummy bear dance instead. Or go crazy and just dance like nobody’s watching.


More questions about exercise?  Contact a librarian to be sure you get what you need.

3 eggs =18 gummi bears =1 glass of milk= 200 calories.This is 200 Calories is a fun video that compares what 200 calories of different foods looks like. It also talks about what a calorie is, and why calories aren’t the only thing to consider in planning a healthy diet.

What Does 200 Calories Look Like? is a poster that compares visually 200 calories of more foods.

Wondering how many calories are in your favorite drink? This look at calories in drinks compares calories in soft drinks, juices and coffee drinks. Don't forget, serving size matters!

The Fast Food Nutrition Calculator lets you calculate the nutrition of meals at fast food restaurants. Select the items you want to eat then see how many total calories, grams of fat, and could it be? - vitamins -  are hiding inside your favorite meal.

Need more help?  Contact a librarian to be sure you get what you need.

.

 

This video explores the integral role horses played in Nez Perce history and how they relate to the tribe’s culture today.


When researching Native Americans of Oregon, the Oregon Blue Book provides a good introduction to Oregon tribes, and has information on current tribal leaders and the economy of the tribe, plus an overview of the tribe’s history and culture.

Native Languages of Americas provides information about the original inhabitants of Oregon and includes a map of where they were located.

The Northwest Portland Area Health Board provides history and geographical information for the nine tribes that make up its membership.

The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians provides information about Oregon tribes and a list of links to their websites, plus information about natural resources, economic development and tribal government for the Cow Creek Band.

Access Genealogy contains an overview of the history Oregon tribes, and links to many tribes' individual websites.

You can also search the library’s catalog, or do an online search for a tribe’s name. Many tribes have their own websites, which contain current information about tribal affairs, and might also include historical material.

If you still need more help, contact a librarian to be sure you get what you need.

The IRS is now accepting tax returns until April 15, and the tax software choices for e-filing are numerous.  Have you asked yourself, “Aren’t they all the same?”  If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the choices, here are several web sites that compare features of various tax software products to help make an informed decision of where to turn next. 

Reviews.com has gathered a list of 19 online tax software products and chose 6 leading products to review based on 67 features.  They also include a discussion on which online tax software features matter the most, and why?  TaxSoftware.net has reviewed their top 5 online tax software products, comparing the costs and benefits of each.  top10taxsoftware.com lists their selections for the Top 10 Best Tax Software products, along with informative articles like “10 Tips for Choosing Tax Software”.

There are many other web sites that provide information and reviews for online tax software, but the sites mentioned above can be a great starting place.  I found them to be very helpful guides to making a decision on which product to use, and hope you do to!

Happy Tax Season!

February is Black History Month and there are five exciting events happening at MCL to help celebrate.

Music and dance are important aspects of Black culture and there are many opportunities this month to experience traditional African dance. If you are in SE, head over to Midland Library and participate in the West African Dance series with Habiba. Students will learn the origin, technique, and purpose of the dances and corresponding rhythm. Featuring traditional African vocal music, call and response style songs, and drumming from Ghana, Senegal, and Guinea, classes begin this Thursday February 13, 2014 @3:30PM, and continue for five weeks. 

More interested in watching than participating? Visit Troutdale Library in East County, to see the Mathias Galley African Dance Ensemble on Sunday February 16, 2014 @ 2PM. Mathias will perform a ceremonial African flower dance that is used during weddings, births, and holidays. If you missed the amazing drumming from Shi Dah at the beginning of the month at Midland Library, you still have one more chance to catch them. The group will be drumming at Kenton Library on Saturday February 22, 2014 @ 3PM. Shi Dah performs Ghanaian drumming, dance, songs, and rhythms.

North Portland Library hosts a unique program from Portland based artist Damaris Webb for teens and adults that explores what is means to be black. "Box Marked Black" explores challenging questions: Is it the shade of your skin? The kink of your hair? Where you grew up? Is it learned? What is its language, both in the body and on the tongue? See the performance and join the conversation on Sunday February 23, 2014 @ 2PM. 

If you are looking to do research in honor of Black History Month, be sure to access the Black Resources Collection at North Portland Library. The Collection offers more than 7,000 items—books, film, periodicals, music, and more—relating to the African American experience. One of the Collection’s special features is the Fisk University collection  which contains reprints from the Fisk University Library Negro Collection. These reprints are historical works written by and about African Americans between 1800 and 1930. Michael Powell of Powell’s Books donated these volumes.

Want history with a more local focus? Central Library presents “Who is York” on Sunday February 16, 2014 @ 2PM. York, slave to William Clark and comrade on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, was an unofficial member of the Corps of Discovery, and has been omitted from many historical accounts of this journey.

At the library we see every day as an opportunity to celebrate Black history and the culture, and this happens weekly with our Black Storytime for children and their parents/caregivers. Join us Saturdays at North Portland library (10:30) or Midland Library (11:30)  as we sing, read, dance, and play!

 

Father of the Blues, An Autobiography, by W. C. Handy. Collier Books, Macmillan, c. 1941.

"In the meantime, I had occasion to recall my first experience with a talking machine. That had been back in Helena, Montana, in 1897. I had made a record with my minstrel band on an old cylinder machine, funny contraption, that old affair. To hear the recording you had to place two rubber tubes in your ears. Each record began with a spoken announcement much like the radio announcer's lines today. Before we played, the announcer spoke into a horn and said, "You will now hear Cotton Blossoms as played by Mahara's Minstrel Band on Edison records." After playing our number, each one of us was permitted to put the rubber tubes in his ears and thus listen to ourselves. Other music lovers who wished to hear the record had to pay five cents for the privilege." - from Father of the Blues, An Autobiography, by W. C. Handy. Collier Books, Macmillan, c. 1941. p. 179

William Christopher Handy was one of the earliest members of ASCAP, and self-published his compositions throughout his life, including a span of years up to 1921 in partnership with Harry Pace, a songwriter and music publisher. After he died in 1958, his family took over the Handy Bros. Music Company, maintained at present by his grandchildren: Handy Brothers Music Company. The version shown here of "The St. Louis Blues" was published in 1914, and sold at Meier and Frank in downtown Portland, that offered an entire department just of sheet music for local musicians.

On April 5, 2014, the Multnomah Youth Commission held the 3rd Annual Rob Ingram Youth Summit Against Violence at the Ambridge Event Center (1333 NE MLK Jr. Blvd).

Youth Summit Against Violence photo

The youth-planned, youth-led event featured in-depth exploration of school, gang/police, and dating/sexual violence.

Multnomah County Library supports the summit's goals and has compiled these resources:

 

 

 

Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits bookcover

Dorothea Lange : a life beyond limits / Linda Gordon. London ; New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2009.
A fascinating book of the stories behind Dorothea Lange's powerful photographs.
Scene 3, excerpt:
"We found our way in, slid in on the edges. The people who are garrulous and tell you everything, that's one kind of person, but the fellow who's hiding behind a tree, is the fellow that you'd better find out why. So often it's just sticking around, not swooping in and swooping out in a cloud of dust; sitting down on the ground with people, letting the children look at your camera with their dirty, grimy little hands, and putting their fingers on the lens, and you let them, because you know that if you will behave in a generous manner, you're very apt to receive it. I don't mean to say that I did that all the time, but I have done it, and I have asked for a drink of water and taken a long time to drink it, and have told everything about myself long before I asked any question. 'What are you doing here?' they'd say. 'What do you want to take pictures of us for?' I've taken a long time to explain, and as truthfully as I could. They knew that you are telling the truth."  - Dorothea Lange [p. 191-192]

Listen!

 

Stellar Blue Jay

Chirp chirp. Tweet. Awk! Caw, caw. Skree, skree, skree-chip!

   Blue Heron on a fence

Even in the city, birdsong is all around us. We call it “birdsong,” but why do they sing? Why do birds make those noises?

Well, why do people sing and make noise? Sometimes we sing for fun and from joy, and maybe birds do too. But a lot of the time we humans make sounds in order to communicate with each other. It turns out that birds are doing that, too. Other birds understand them. Sometimes other animals understand them, too!

I was amazed when I took a class at Metro and discovered that humans can learn to understand a little bit of bird language. It’s like there was a secret code going on all around me, and I never even noticed it. But now sometimes I can crack the code. I can tell when a mated pair of birds is telling each other “I’m over here -- I’m safe!” and “I’m over here -- Me too!” Sometimes the birds alert me that there is a predator nearby -- or that they are worried because I’m nearby.

Birds pay attention to everything going on around them. Paying attention to birds is a great way to get an insider’s view into some of the secrets of your local ecosystem.

Crow on Portland water fountian

Want to learn more about birds, their language or their place in our local ecosystem? Take a look at OPB’s Field Guide videos; visit a local park and take a walk with a naturalist; ask a librarian or check out some of the great books below.

Profile picture, ReadWomen2014When writer and artist Joanna Walsh created a set of women author bookmarks she was surprised by the positive response from friends. In a Buzzfeed article, "#ReadWomen2014 Aims To Bring Gender Equality To The Literary World" Walsh said, "the bookmarks were created because I’d been too lazy to send Christmas cards, and was shamed into it by the beautiful cards I was sent, especially by illustrator friends.” As her project gained fans, she went on to create a twitter hashtag, #ReadWomen2014, to promote a year of reading women authors.

Since Walsh published her original list, many people have added their own spin to #ReadWomen2014. Here at Multnomah County Library, we decided to make a list with a selection of Northwest women authors, and Laural, a librarian here, created a list of women who create comics. Whose on your list?

 

 

Pages

Subscribe to