MCL Blogs

The default blog for all Library Blog Posts.

I have a toddler at home. She is curious, funny, likes to sing songs, is fearless on the slide. And lately she has been driving me a little crazy. If you are the parent of a young child, or have ever hung out with a two-year-old for a couple of hours, you know how things can be fine one moment before they suddenly go terribly wrong. Toddlers feel every emotion with their entire bodies. They have their own seismic counter at work, with an earthquake they have somehow swallowed that threatens to go off inside them at any moment. My block tower fell over? I will throw myself on the floor! I tore the paper I was coloring? I will rip it to pieces in frustration!

Sometimes I get a little jealous that adults can’t get away with acting out their emotions the way toddlers do. It looks so freeing to be able to let it all out and not care what anyone thinks. It’s that amazing ability children have of living forever in the present---the only moment is the here and now. It’s too bad one of us has to be the grown up and drive us home from the grocery store---otherwise I’d gladly trade places and stomp my feet up and down the aisles.

What has saved me from pulling my hair out is getting outside. There’s something magical that happens when fresh air hits her cheeks---she’s like a different kid! Tantrums turn into playing with whatever we might come across: rocks, sticks, leaves, pine cones. Everything is interesting and worth examining closely.

Activities can also help. Need something to do with your little one? A while back my colleague Joanna posted about fun things to do with kids this summer. And Portland is a great town for always having a cool festival going on in the summer months. The library will have a table at the Portland Pride Festival on June 13th and 14th, so come check us out! This year my wife and I are planning on taking our daughter to her first ever Pride Parade, as long as it doesn’t coincide with naptime. No one messes with naptime.

Two children smilingDental health is really important to our overall health; teeth and mouths need to be healthy so that we can eat, talk and smile, and they are also portals into our bodies, so it’s important to keep them in good working order.

How can you get a good start, if you’re a kid, or give your child a good start, if you’re a parent?

First, have a look at this page from the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives to learn about kids’ healthy mouths. You can also find out about teeth at different ages here, too.

There is also much more information on MedlinePlus, a great resource for health information and you can also check out the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)’s website for parents and caregivers.

Babies

Healthy baby teeth are important, too, even though they’ll later be replaced by adult teeth. Find out why baby teeth matter, and how to keep them healthy.

Children

Want to learn about your teeth, and how to keep them healthy? Start here.

Teens

How can you take care of your beautiful smile? Find out about tooth health here.

Parents

How much do you know about taking care of your child’s teeth? Try this quiz to find out! Want to learn more? Start here. Here are some more tips for taking care of your child’s teeth.

Get step by step instructions on brushing and flossing with your child here.

Does your child resist cleaning his or her teeth? Here are tips to help you and your child succeed.

 

Still have questions? Remember that your library is here to help. Contact us by email, phone or come right in!

 

The first page of The Hound of the Baskervilles, from The Strand MagazineMmm... cereal. For the longest time I dreamed of opening a food cart which would serve nothing but different variations on breakfast cereal - and this was before food carts were such a très-Portland thing. But wait a second! I’m getting off track. This blog post isn’t about cereals, it’s about another 19th century innovation: serialized novels, stories told in installments.

Serials are big right now. Television epics like Game of Thrones or Mad Men are all serialized stories, with each episode leaving you hungry for the next. There’s the true-crime podcast titled simply (and rather unimaginatively, in my opinion) Serial. And if you want to get creative, even something like professional sports could be considered a serial: you follow the story of the Portland Trailblazers through regularly occurring games, newspaper columns, and blog posts, as the story of the season unfolds in all its promise and anticlimactic tragedy.

Serials used to be a big deal in written fiction, too. The dead white guy that everyone always talks about is Charles Dickens, but there were lots of other novelists whose works appeared monthly in literary magazines of the day: Arthur Conan Doyle, George Eliot, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Wilkie Collins, and even Oregon’s own Abigail Scott Duniway, to name but a few. More recently, writers like Michael Chabon and Laura Lippman have released serialized stories in the New York Times Magazine.

If you want to really experience it 19th-century style, take a look at the Victorian Reading Project from Stanford University: you can download PDF scans of story installments from Dickens and Doyle exactly as they appeared in the magazines of the time. Try reading one installment every week, and see if you can resist the temptation to binge-read the entire story.

I’ve made a reading list of novels, both old and new, which started life as installments. I invite you to sit down, pour yourself a big bowl of serial, and dig in. One chapter at a time.

I just read a fun library book about a family that sailed from Kodiak Alaska to Australia with their ten month old son. The book came from the Fairbanks Alaska public library, but I picked it up at the Capitol Hill Branch of the Multnomah County Library. Interlibrary Loan made this possible.

Several times a year I want to read a book that Multnomah County Library, (MCL), doesn’t own so I put a request in for an Interlibrary loan, (ILL). It is an easy way to expand my reading horizons.

To get started you need to set up an ILL account. Just type ILL in the orange search box on the MCL web site. Then click on Service - Interlibrary Loan to get to the ILL information page. You will want to read the what we borrow and how to use Interlibrary loan pages. There is also a Create an interlibrary loan account link.

The process is more involved than placing a hold so feel free to ask your local librarian for help. You also need to be patient since a four to five week wait is fast for an ILL. Next time MCL doesn't have the book you want give ILL a try.

Oh, the book I read was South From Alaska, by Mike Litzow. He also has a blog, http://thelifegalactic.blogspot.com/, they are now sailing in Patagonia.

Multnomah County Library's Lucky Day service includes books for kids, teens and adults.  Lucky Day copies are available for spontaneous use and are not subject to hold queues.  Nobody can place holds on these items; it's first come, first served.  That means you might not have to wait at all for the most popular new titles!  You never know what you might find at your neighborhood library - it just might be your Lucky Day!

Upcycling is the transformation of an object from one use to another. A man’s shirt might become a little girl’s dress, for example. The best upcycling is when trash is transformed into treasure. Crafty people see potential where other people see waste, so the next time you wonder if there might be another purpose for an item that you are about to throw out, take a few minutes to search online first to see what’s out there.

 

Try a Google search using the words “upcycle”, “reuse”, or “repurpose” with the name of the object to be remade (for example, “tin cans upcycle”). One of the top results will generally be images for your search words, so click on these words to quickly scan for appealing ideas. There may be many ways to repurpose common objects and fewer for less common items. Some of the ideas are brilliant and some are daffy, but these might stimulate ideas of your own.

 

Many of the top results will be from Pinterest, the visual bookmarking tool. Of course, you can go directly to Pinterest and search using the same search terms that you used in Google. However, the search will generate slightly different results depending upon whether you use “upcycle”, “repurpose”, or “reuse” so be sure to play around a bit. You must have an account to search Pinterest but if you do not, it is easy to create one since all you need is an email and a password. The only personal information that you provide is your name, age, and sex.


Of course, the library has many books featuring upcycled projects and the best way to find these is to search by subject using the words “salvage waste” in either the Classic Catalog or My MCL. Alternately, you can do a keyword search using “upcycling” or “repurpose”.

Attention educators! Are you tired of using the same old books with your students every year? Attend one of our summer educator workshops to learn about the latest and greatest materials to use in the classroom.

 

Gotta Read This: New Books to Connect with Your Curriculum

Come to this workshop to learn about new books you might integrate into your language arts, social studies, math, science and arts curriculum.

 

For K-5th grade educators:

  • Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2-4:30 pm, Central Library U.S. Bank Room, 801 SW 10th Ave. Register by July 31.

 

For 6th-12th grade educators: Gotta Read This! online workshop

  • Select the subjects of greatest interest to you. Register by July 31, and we’ll notify you when this online workshop is available.

 

Novel-Ties (for 4th -8th grade educators)

  • Discover hot, new fiction to use in book discussion groups and literature circles. Register by July 31, and we’ll notify you when this online workshop is available.

 

Contact School Corps with any questions!

Divorce, estate planning, landlord/tenant issues, immigration, arrests and citations... Life is full of legal questions. How do you search for answers without being taken for a ride? We can suggest some excellent resources that can help you out.
 
A good place to start is Oregon Legal Research, maintained by law librarians. Learn how to research the law and represent yourself in court; find the answers to frequently asked questions (When can I leave my kids home alone? Where can I get a free power of attorney form?); and more. They also maintain a comprehensive Oregon Legal Assistance Resources guide (pdf) that can help you find local organizations that specialize in legal areas including disability rights, bankruptcy, political activism, bicycle law and crime victims' rights.
 
Link to Legal Aid Services of OregonOregon Law Help provides free and verified legal information for Oregonians. There are articles in many languages to get you up-to-speed on your rights and resources when it comes to your home, your job, government benefits and more. The site also helps you find a Legal Aid office near you.
    
The Multnomah Law Library in downtown Portland provides legal reference assistance and more six days a week. You can access various legal forms and complete NOLO legal reference books on common legal topics online, 24/7, through their website.
 
The Oregon State Bar public information page has user-friendly legal information, assistance in finding and hiring a lawyer, links to low cost legal help and more.

The Oregon Judicial Department can help you file a case, find a legal form and represent yourself in court. Check out their page devoted to family law for assistance with child custody and support, divorce, domestic violence, and parenting plans. The Multnomah County Circuit Court website can help answer your questions about Family Court.

If you have questions about your rights as a renter, you might want to contact the Community Alliance of Tenants. This statewide, grassroots, tenants-rights organization provides renters' rights information online; if you can't find the information you need, call the Renters’ Rights Hotline at 503-288-0130.

Link to Oregon Council of County Law Libraries.You can always contact us at the library and we can help you locate resources that might be helpful, or visit your local county law library for a wider range of materials.
 
Though we are always happy to help you locate resources and give you search tips, it is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law; we may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights.

Giving Help and HopeVolunteer Ronald Fabricante

by Sarah Binns

At Multnomah County Library, one easily meets people with diverse experiences and passions. Ronald Fabricante, Central Library's longtime computer lab assistant, is the embodiment of this. When I set up a meeting with Ronald he says he'll be easy to spot because he wears steampunk glasses with blue lenses, a great introduction to a man who is an experience connoisseur.

A lifelong learner, Ronald grew up reading, especially encyclopedias, in Manila in the Philippines, and moved to Oregon after graduating high school. Approximately 80 members of Ronald's extended family have moved here from the Philippines. His childhood in Manila inspired him to give back to the community in Portland. “I came from a poor family and a poor society,” he says. “I know what it's like to have nothing, so I want to help.”
Ronald started volunteering in the periodicals department, but moved to Central Library's computer lab over five years ago. Though working full time and studying for a computer science degree, he still helps patrons with technical questions and resume writing. “I love working there,” he says. “I've seen a lot of people who are discouraged, frustrated, for whom it's difficult to find work. I identify every resource I can for them. I'm happy to give them help and a glimmer of hope.”


Ronald Fabricante Quote: "I'm happy to give them help and a glimmer of hope."By now, Ronald's lab visitors know more about him beyond his work as a volunteer. Many of his regulars have become friends with whom he discusses art, books, and poetry. He prides himself in diverse activities that include film dates, watercolor painting, and weekly trips to write poetry at the Chinese Gardens, “a nexus of tranquility” as he says. He also speaks six languages, including Russian and Spanish. 


With all of his interests in technology and art, Ronald describes himself as both traditionalist and modernist. His interest in steampunk, a sci-fi/fantasy genre which combines 19th century technology with futurism, represents him: “I am connected to the past to learn and appreciate its continual relevance, but also look forward to a bright future.” When I ask if his steampunk glasses work, he replies with a laugh that they are functional. It's a fitting response for this technical engineer with the eye of an artist.

 

A Few Facts About Ronald

Home library: Central Library for browsing when volunteering, but most books come from Washington County Library system, nearer where he lives.
 
Currently reading: Wildwood. “I lamented when I finished Harry Potter and I've been looking for something to enjoy as much as I did that series.” 
 
Most influential book: The Da Vinci Code. “It's thought-provoking and has so many elements of fiction, history, religion, and travel.”
 
Favorite book from childhood: Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, novels by Filipino hero José Rizal, which expose the abuses of the Spanish colonizers in the late 19th century Philippines.
 
E-reader or paper? Both. Ronald uses an e-reader for textbooks but still loves the way a book feels!
 
Favorite place to read: Portland Art Museum and the Grotto. 
 
 
Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.
 
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.  Their website includes addresses and phone numbers for services as well as links to additional resources outside of the area.
 
Multnomah County Mental Health & Addictions Services
Provides mental health services to adults, children and families. They serve Oregon Health Plan members 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). Clasping hands; link to Northwest Pilot Project.
 
Northwest Pilot Project
Provides housing and other supportive services for seniors ages 55 and older who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.  Find 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.

Portland Women’s Crisis Line
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 online directory of services for people experiencing homelessness and poverty in  Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties.  It is continuously updated.
 
Smiling woman; link to Transition Projects website.Transition Projects
This organization can help with a variety of services including housing, showers, food box vouchers, clothing, laundry services, Tri-met tickets, information and referral and housing search assistance.

 

Multnomah County Library's Lucky Day service includes books for kids, teens and adults.  Lucky Day copies are available for spontaneous use and are not subject to hold queues.  Nobody can place holds on these items; it's first come, first served.  That means you might not have to wait at all for the most popular new titles!  You never know what you might find at your neighborhood library - it just might be your Lucky Day!

When the days get long and the house gets stuffy, Mother and two children smiling.there are lots of opportunities for you and your family to get out and be entertained without taxing your wallet!

Jump, climb, ride and play. Bring your kids to some structured and supervised playground programs all over the county. The City of Gresham and Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland are hosting field games, arts & crafts, free lunch and more with Summer Kids in the Park. Many Portland parks will also have organized sports, games, crafts and food with Playgrounds in the Park/Area de Juegos en el Parque. Safely bike and walk the streets of Portland all summer long during Sunday Parkways. Check out the variety of parks in Portland, Gresham, Troutdale, Fairview and Wood Village.

Saxafunky to symphonic. Enjoy live classical music performed by the Portland Festival Symphony and Chamber Music Northwest. The Portland Parks & Recreation summer concert series gives you opportunities to experience exuberant Baltic brass at Ventura Park, cumbia and salsa at Fernhill Park, Caribbean grooves at Kenton Park, and much, much more. Discover local music at Music on Main Street in downtown Portland. In Gresham, get down with the Music Mondays summer concert series. Cathedral Park Jazz Festival celebrates its 35th anniversary, while the Washington Park Summer Festival showcases opera, taiko drums, and soul. And don't miss all ages music festival PDX Pop Now!

Make a sLittle girl playing in splash pad.plash. Dive into free open swim hours at pools or run through some splash pads all around Portland. Cool down at the Gresham Children's Fountain or at one of Portland's four interactive fountains.

Pass the free popcorn. Big Hero 6 for the little ones, Field of Dreams for the grown-ups, The Princess Bride for everyone, not to mention Napoleon Dynamite, Captain America, Russian films, documentaries, and more; The Portland Parks & Recreation movie series has an outdoor movie for you!

All the world’s a stage. The Original Practice Shakespeare Festival will be performing The Merry Wives of Windsor, A Midsommer Night's Dreame, Richard III and other plays all over town, while Portland Actors Ensemble is presenting Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew in multiple parks.

Get festive with your neighbors. There are so many free neighborhood celebrations in the summer months! Hang out at street fairs in Alberta, Belmont, Division/Clinton, Fremont, Gresham, Hawthorne, Lents, Mississippi and Multnomah Village. Experience art at the Gresham Arts Festival and Art in the Pearl; celebrate the LGBTQ and allied communities at the Portland Pride Festival and Parade; create green spaces at the Green Neighborhoods Festival; celebrate your and others' culture at India Festival and Festa Italiana. Two children, their pet rabbit, and a giant library card at the Portland Pride Festival.

Free meals. School is out, but that doesn’t mean kids stop being hungry. No child (ages 1-18) will be turned away from receiving free lunches at locations all over the area, including the wonderful Midland and Rockwood Libraries. Find a location in your neighborhood and check out some other food assistance resources.

But wait, there's more! Check out all of the free events going on at your neighborhood library, including a series of hands-on camps for teens. 211info has a great list of low-cost summertime camps and activities. Most Portland Rose Festival events are free. Check out the Portland Parks & Recreation Summer Free For All website and the Metro calendar. Read the library's blog entries on free art and free museums. Check out the PDX Kids Calendar and the urbanMamas calendar to see what free events are coming up in the city. And don't forget to sign up for Summer Reading to earn books, toys, or coupons for local businesses. (Grown-ups, there's a summer reading program for you, too!)

Are you on your way to being a famous chemist?  Then you need some examples of those who came before you!  Or do you just need to write a report on a scientist?  Well, we've got you covered for that too.

A great first stop is the Biography in Context database.  (If you're using this outside the library it will ask for your library card number and pin, so have those at the ready.)  You can search by name if you know who you want information on or click "Browse People" on the upper left and select "scientists" from the drop-down menu to explore your options.

Check out the booklist below for some more ideas!  Need more help?  That's what we're here for.  Contact a librarian to get what you need.

laptopAt your Multnomah County Libraries, you can find a wide array of free computer classes - from computer labs where you can get extra assistance to e-book and e-reader classes to office productivity skills, like spreadsheets and word processing.  Here are some other great options:

  • Free Geek - Free Geek offers a range of educational opportunities including hands-on experiences in their Build and Adoption Programs as well as a wide variety of desk-based learning in their classroom.
  • Portland Community College (PCC) - offers a wide variety of computer and IT courses, tailored to fit your situation - find out more about their computer education programs
  • Mt Hood Community College (MHCC) - for East County residents, MHCC offers many in-person and online computer classes through their Community Education program
  • Portland Parks & Recreation - offers basic computer and Internet classes for senior

Three dozen Head Start preschoolers loudly proclaim in unison, “1-2-3, we are awesome!”Markham Head Start self portraits

The refrain was a fitting recognition of the hard work of these young artists, who contributed Andy Warhol-style self portraits to an art show at Capitol Hill Library in Southwest Portland. On May 5 the children gathered with families, teachers and supporters to show off their colorful art.

“When I first saw these self portraits, I was blown away,” said Neighborhood House Executive Director Rick Nitti. “They create a reflection of self and an expression of self esteem. This partnership with the library is fantastic.”

Markham Head Start self portraitsThe event was the brainchild of teachers at Neighborhood House’s Markham Head Start Classroom in partnership with Capitol Hill Library staff to engage children and families with the library as preparations for summer begin.

After proudly showcasing their work, the students joined Capitol Hill’s youth librarian, Natasha Forrester, for an interactive reading of Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh and sang a song about friendship with lyrics in English, Spanish, Somali and Swahili.

Each month, library staff (including Natasha or Suad Mohamed, a Somali-speaking library assistant) visit Markham Head Start classrooms to delight children with stories, songs and crafts. It’s part of Multnomah County Library’s mission to support and serve educators, children and families beyond the walls of the library. Many of the Head Start program’s students are Somali immigrants, and Capitol Hill Library is the first in Multnomah County to feature a Somali-speaking staff member. Suad leads the Somali Family Time program at Capitol Hill and she also selects books in Somali for Central, Midland and Rockwood libraries.

The partnership, one of many between the library and nonprofit agencies across Multnomah County, serves multiple purposes. It helps new immigrants become familiar with the services of the library in their native language and become comfortable in a setting that can help contribute to their success throughout their education and later in life.

“This is special,” said Head Start Program Director Nancy Perin. “It’s such a diverse, multicultural group and bringing them all together at the library, it’s special.”
The exhibition is expected to last through May 15.Markham Head Start self portraits

Multnomah County Library's Lucky Day service includes books for kids, teens and adults.  Lucky Day copies are available for spontaneous use and are not subject to hold queues.  Nobody can place holds on these items; it's first come, first served.  That means you might not have to wait at all for the most popular new titles!  You never know what you might find at your neighborhood library - it just might be your Lucky Day!

President Obama and former President Clinton at the White House, September 2014In May 2015 the Obama Foundation announced that the Barack Obama Library and Museum will be located on the south side of Chicago with a winning bid from the University of Chicago.  Presidential libraries are generally established in a city that is significant in the life of the President and the Obama Presidential Library will be no exception.  The Obama Library is planned where First Lady Michelle Obama grew up and where the President began his political career as a community organizer. The Barack Obama Library and Museum will be the 14th Presidential Library administered by the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA). 

Presidential libraries do more than just house the papers of former Presidents, they also act as monuments to the men and seek to shape their legacies. The earliest Presidential Library administered by NARA is that of Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States. The Hoover Presidential Library & Museum is all inclusive, from Hoover’s birthplace cottage to his and his wife’s final resting place. This isn’t unusual. In all, nine American presidents are, or will be buried on the grounds of their Presidential libraries.

Entrance to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and MuseumThe Presidential Library system itself began in 1939 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt donated his Presidential papers and other historical materials to the federal government.  Before that time all Presidential papers were considered the personal property of the President after they left office. As one would expect many materials have since been lost or were even intentionally destroyed such as the personal papers of Calvin Coolidge and the correspondence between Martha and George Washington.

Today in addition to the NARA administered Presidential libraries, older collections have sometimes been successfully brought back together digitally if not physically. The Theodore Roosevelt Center is one such example, whose mission it is to digitize copies of Roosevelt’s personal and Presidential papers wherever they may physically be. They are available online for all to access and include both film clips and audio recordings.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library Presidential SealPresidential libraries are spread across the country. If a grand road trip to each location isn’t an option, you can often access selected parts of their collections online. For example, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has an online collection of Historic Speeches that can be watched or listened to and the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum has a 360 degree artifacts Presidential Gifts collection . You can access a full lineup of Presidential Libraries websites and print resources on the topic in the Multnomah County Library’s Presidential Libraries resource list.  Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like additional help.

 

Photograph of donation boxes, by Flickr user Joe Schueller.Is simplifying and spring cleaning in full swing at your house? Have you accumulated quite a collection of unnecessary belongings that need to go? In my house the answer to both is, yes! Luckily there are many resources to help you find where to donate or recycle these items.

Oregon Metro is my go to site for information on where to donate, recycle, or as a last resort dispose of as garbage. They have a database where you enter what you want to get rid of and it finds places to either donate, recycle, or dispose of it. There is also information on where to bring hazardous wastes, neighborhood collection programs, and tips on reducing waste in the first place.

211 Info is a clearinghouse of resources. Simply put in your zip code and "donation" in the search bar and it brings up a list of organizations that accept items ranging from glasses to camping gear. If you like more of a list format this is the website for you.

If you have questions about recycling check out Earth911. They have a recycling guide as well as a search feature to find local places to recycle. 

What about that growing collection of old electronics? Free Geek accepts donations of computers, phones, and other electronics. If able to be reused your device will be refurbished and donated back to the community, how cool is that! If it can't be reused your device can be recycled through Oregon E-Cycles. If you aren't able to make it to Free Geek, Oregon E-Cycles has many other collection sites

If you aren't able to go to donation sites the good news is there organizations that can come to you. The Vietnam Veterans of America and The Arc of Multnomah-Clackamas both offer pick up services.

Finally here are my my personal favorites:

  • Have you noticed those green boxes popping up all around Portland? They are part of the Gaia Movement USA. They are an easy way to recycle your clothes and shoes. Use their map to find a drop off box nearest you. 
  • SCRAP accepts a wide range of art and office supplies. Just be careful not to leave with more than you donated!
  • The Rebuilding Center accepts building supplies and it's a fun place to wander around for hours. They also offer a pick up service.

What library blog would be complete without mentioning that the Friends of the Multnomah County Library can accept your book and DVD donations? If you have a small donation your local library will be happy to accept it.


Do you have questions about recycling, donating your unwanted posessions to local organizations, or anything else?  Librarians love questions, so please call, email, or text us -- or just ask the librarian on duty the next time you're at the library in person.  We'd be happy to help you get more information, or even just help you get your curiosity satisifed.


 

heading from an early page of the Ledger Index to City of Portland Deaths

Have you ever had trouble finding an obituary for a Portland ancestor who died around the turn of the last century?  You’re not alone!

In the 19th century and even in the early 20th, newspapers often put obituaries in with the regular news, making them hard to find.  This was also before it was common for Portland newspapers to include a "Daily city statistics" section listing the names of people who had died in the city recently.  So it’s no wonder that it can be a big challenge to find Portland obituaries from before about 1910.  

But I have good news for you: if your ancestor was a Portlander, and if they died within city limits 1881-1917, their death was probably recorded in the Ledger Index to City of Portland Deaths.

A page from the Ledger Index, showing December 1913 deaths.  Click for a bigger version.

What is the Ledger Index?

The Ledger Index to City of Portland Deaths is a long list of people who died in the city of Portland 1881-1917.  It’s quite a bit more robust than most modern death indexes -- in addition to the name and death date of each person included, it includes details like the address or name of the place where the person died, their cause of death, and (in some years) the name of the cemetery where they were buried.  This additional information makes the Ledger Index a pretty decent substitute for obituaries.  

Here’s what the Ledger Index actually looks like.  The library has a microfilmed copy, which is why it’s white text on a black background.

Finding your ancestor

The Ledger Index is arranged by date of death -- because of this, it’s sometimes referred to as the “Chronologic Index.”  If you know the date your ancestor died, simply go to that date and hopefully you’ll find them!

If you don’t know your ancestor’s date of death, try looking for their name in the Oregon State Archives’ Oregon Historical Records Index.  This index includes most records from the Ledger Index to City of Portland Deaths.  If your ancestor is listed, their date of death should lead you to the correct page of the Ledger Index.

Detail of a January 1882 Ledger Index page showing racial classification.  Click for a bigger version.

Racial classification in the Ledger Index

There are some challenges to using the Ledger Index.  The information in the Index is a primary source, created a full century ago, and it is a government record reflecting the mainstream standards and ideas of its time.  There is no context or commentary to interpret the index for you -- you will have to provide your own analysis.  

One thing these records show us is the unexamined racism of the past.  The Ledger Index states the race of each person listed, often using terms that are decidedly not used in polite speech today: “Chinese,” “Colored,” “Half-Breed,” “Mulatto,” “White,” and possibly others.  Some of these terms appear on detail from January 1882 at left.  In later years, single-letter abbreviations are used.  There is no key showing what the abbreviations meant, but I’ve guessed that “C” stands for “colored” (meaning Black or African-American); “W” for “white;” and “Y” for “yellow” (meaning Asian or Asian-American).   

Detail of a January 1882 Ledger Index page showing causes of death.  Click for a bigger version.

Causes of death in the Ledger Index

This detail from a January 1882 Ledger Index page shows some familiar-sounding causes of death: “still born,” "consumption," “scarlet fever.”  But read if you read through a few pages worth of deaths, you'll also find unexpected causes like “softening of spinal marrow.”  If you find your ancestor’s death has officially been recorded due to something that doesn’t sound like it would kill a person, be prepared to draw gentle, careful conclusions.  And remember, you may need to do some research to discover what a cause-of-death term meant in the past. 

Portland deaths only

Another thing to beware of when using the Ledger Index to City of Portland Deaths is that it only includes people who died within the city limits of Portland.  And the city was quite a bit smaller 100 years ago than it is now! 

Map of historical annexations to the City of Portland (pdf, from Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability)Fortunately, the Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability has a very helpful map showing historical annexations to the city of Portland (pdf), which you can look at to get a sense for where city limits were during your ancestor’s lifetime.  

Of course, people are mobile.  The Ledger Index lists people who died in Portland, not people who lived there.  Your ancestor who lived in Linnton or East Portland or St. Johns could well have died within Portland city limits, particularly if they died in an accident or in a hospital.

Using the Ledger Index, and getting help with it

You can consult the Ledger Index to City of Portland Deaths at Central Library.  Ask at any reference desk, and the librarian on duty will help you get the volumes you need.  To read it, you’ll need to use one of Central Library’s microfilm machines -- read more about that in my colleague Ross B.’s post Microfilm at the library.

But you don’t have to visit the library to tap the riches of this great resource --  librarians are always happy to help.  Just get in touch with us by phone or email via Ask the Librarian, and we’ll do our best to answer your questions or help you plan your research. 

In the meantime, happy researching!

 


Do you want to know more about finding other local obituaries?  Take a look at my post Where is that Oregon obituary? 

Or if you'd like to step it back a bit and learn more about family history research with obituaries, my colleague Kate S. walks you through some of the basics in her post on Obituaries 101.


 

Outline of the U.S. and image of a camera lens, with the words "CHOOSE PRIVACY" beneath them.What does privacy mean to you? Is it a place where no one is watching you or listening to what you say? Thanks to our ever-connected gadgets (our phones, computers, televisions, e-readers) such places are becoming more and more scarce. Every digital breath we take is noted, collected, and recorded for future marketing or security purposes.

Should we care? After all, we get many benefits by giving up our privacy: we receive recognition from others, we can easily share and communicate with groups of friends, we get free email. But a world without privacy is also a world where you are not free to ask questions or seek information without being monitored.

Libraries care about privacy, and the American Library Association has declared the first week of May to be Choose Privacy Week. Why? “Because the freedom to read and receive ideas anonymously is at the heart of individual liberty in a democracy” (from ALA's "Why libraries?" webpage). 

To learn more about online privacy, attend one of the library's upcoming Privacy and Safety Online classes. You can also take a look at Portland Community College’s Privacy Online guide: it includes videos and links about the ways that privacy is compromised online, and tips for how you can protect it.

Book cover for Intellectual Privacy by Neil RichardsIf, like me, you’re more of a book person, I’ve made a reading list called “Privacy? What’s privacy?” - it includes current books that will help you start to answer that question. If you’d rather get your dystopia in a make-believe format, another reading list, “Surveillance stories and privacy parables,” includes books and DVDs about the privacy-less society that we just might be headed toward.

Are you taking steps to protect your privacy? Or have you already given up on the notion of privacy? Leave your comments below (and please feel free to do so anonymously).

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