MCL Blogs

newsradio cover

It was a dark and drizzly night in Portland, Oregon...

Thanks to the magic of Roku, the hilarious and irreverent Newsradio was on my television. Nothing could have been better. Then, out of the elevator, arrived the cast of Mr. Show.

Mic dropped. Laughs ensued.

During the 90s and early 00s a collective of writers and comedians produced a body of work featuring each other in one form or another. However, when shows like this aired, the internet was merely a buffering baby - finding and watching these shows was not a click away. Well worn VHS tapes and personal retelling after a ten mile uphill walk through the snow filled the gap until the current overabundance of content was available. 

 

Haven’t seen the Kids, Bluths, or the Party Down crew in a while? Check out this list and say hello!

The Library is Like Falling Into HeavenVolunteer Carla Lang

by Sarah Binns

Carla Lang is one of those people with whom you can start talking about books and look up from your conversation to find two hours have passed without your knowledge. The phrase “voracious reader” can be overused, but in Carla's case it is true. It’s a lifelong trait: “When I was growing up my dream was to be locked away in the library. As long as there was a store nearby,” she adds, pragmatically.

Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Carla later drove her VW bus all the way to Alaska - and stayed for forty years. When she and her husband moved to Nome in the early '70s, the local library association was little more than a women's social club. “Over a period of a few years we transformed into a working association with an eye toward a true lending library that was funded by the city,” she explains. Through their efforts, library funding was eventually secured, and Nome's Kegoayah Kozga Public Library continues to this day.

Shortly after Carla and her husband moved from Nome to an apartment above the Sellwood Library in 2006, she noticed a sign soliciting volunteers. She started as a paging list volunteer in 2007, pulling items that patrons have put on hold. On her inaugural day, Carla was dismayed to locate only a few of the books on the 100-book list. “It turns out it was the previous day's list!” she laughs. She says the paging list is “the ultimate Easter egg hunt” and intends to go on doing this task.

Carla also volunteers with Words on Wheels, a Library Outreach Services program which delivers books to those unable to go to the library. She's been with some of her patrons for two years now and still enjoys bringing them book suggestions. When it comes to the library and reading, Carla says, “It's like falling into heaven. I never mind waiting in lines because I always have a book with me. As long as I have a book, I'm fine.”


A Few Facts About Carla

Home library: Sellwood Library

Currently reading: The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

Books that made you laugh or cry: Dave Barry's books make her laugh; “I try to avoid books that make me cry,” she says, "but The Art of Racing in the Rain was one that did."

Most influential book: Probably Lord of the Rings; “I always go back to it, I've read it at least 14 times.”

Guilty pleasure: “All books are guilty pleasures! But probably my science fiction.”

Favorite book from childhood: Little Women, Uncle Tom's Cabin, “and a story about a young girl in the Revolutionary War that I can't remember the title of!”

Favorite section to browse: New books, graphic novels, and staff picks

E-reader or paper books: Paper, though e-books are a nice option when on the go.

Favorite place to read: In bed in the morning with a cup of coffee or a chair in her apartment loft with good light.

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

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!

Photo of Ross on cell phone, with copy of Press Start to PlayYour XBOX is broken, your iPhone is dead and, on top of all that, the power is out. You need a book to read! I recommend Press Start to Play, a new collection of short stories inspired by video games.

The stories are short, snappy and really diverse in the ways that they translate video-gaming into fiction and then use it to speculate on the future of our society. Action? Yes. Dystopia-utopia, with laughs? Sure. Horror-filled text-based-game bleeding into reality? That too. Some big-name authors are included in the book, like Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky), Ken Liu (Grace of Kings) and Andy Weir (The Martian), among many others. You can find Press Start to Play in my reading list Great reads for gamers v2.0.

It is a good time to be a video gamer in Portland. OMSI has an exhibit called Game Masters which is running through May 8, 2016. Local super-arcade Ground Kontrol is getting ready to expand and double in size. Multnomah County Library is in on the action, too: Troutdale Library will be holding a spring break gaming week for teens in March 2016, and local nonprofit Pixel Arts is presenting game design programs for kids and teens at libraries around the county.

So, what are my personal top 5 favorite video games of all time? I’m glad you asked.

  • Curse of the Azure Bonds (1989, DOS)
  • Ultima VII: The Black Gate (1992, DOS)
  • Street Fighter II Turbo (1993, Super NES)
  • Gran Turismo 2 (1999, PlayStation)
  • Dragon Age: Origins (2009, PlayStation 3)

Share your own favorites in the comments! Bonus score if you can suggest a book match for your favorite game.

Now let's play some Curse of the Azure Bonds! (Warning: the following video contains spoilers as well as 1980s D&D awesomeness.)

C:\>_

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!

Many people think censorship applies to only to books, but actually, it applies to any art form.  In this latest example, it's drama.  In January 2016, a Connecticut high school production of the play Green Day's American Idiot, was cancelled by the principal and drama director because “a very small number of extremely vocal people” objected to the mature content and language of the full Broadway production.  What they didn't know was the the director had started to work with the publisher to develop a version appropriate for high school productions.  Read all about it in this blog post written on Feb. 8, 2016 on the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom blog.  And if that's not enough, be sure to ask a librarian!

Want to shake up your reading patterns? Tired of reading a book from cover to cover in a sequential order? Here are two reading suggestions from the Hollywood Library’s Teen Book Council where you get to choose the order you read the stories, and invites you to pick your own pattern.

 

Ghosts of Heaven Book CoverSiena Lesher, sophomore

Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

True, history goes in chronological order, but that doesn’t mean all stories flow that way. If you were to rearrange the order of certain events in life, you would wind up with an entirely different plot, and The Ghosts of Heaven proves that. A collection of four short tales, you can read them in any order and get a different story each way. It’s a very interesting set of stories, each written in a different style of writing, and I would highly recommend it.

 

 

 

 

Turnip Princess book coverArden Butterfield, freshman

The Turnip Princess by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth

These German fairy tales were lost in an archive for over 100 years, and were recently discovered a few years ago. The stories are fairly short, but there is a large variety in what they are about. The stories are grouped by topic-- tales of romance, of magic, of animals and of banished princes which can make the book feel somewhat monotonous. I would recommend jumping around in this book, instead of reading it cover to cover.

This book is bland. The stories, for the most part, are told without emotion, just matter-of-factly stating whatever happens. While this contributes to the monotony of the story, I also think it makes it feel more dreamlike, in the way that in dreams the wildest things happen completely deadpan. I would recommend it to anyone interested in fairy tales, or interested in German medieval culture.  It isn’t a gripping page turner, but it was very good nonetheless, especially from a historical perspective.

 

Looking for more great reading suggestions? Try one of these picks of the month.

 
 

Feeling a little frozen these winter months? Needing an emotional jolt? Here are three reader reviews that teens from the Hollywood Library’s Teen Book Council think will break your heart open.

I'll Give You the Sun - Jandy Nelson - CoverAlisa Folen, sophomore

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is a beautifully written book that weaves together a complex story about friendship, love and a hint of magic. Noah and Jude are twins, but they could not be more different. Noah is an amazing artist, yearning to go to the highly acclaimed art middle school in his town.Jude loves to socialize and hang out at the beach, surfing and arguing with her mother. The story is told from their alternating perspectives, allowing the reader to gain a better understanding of their complex relationship. The language used in I’ll Give You the Sun creates an entire world, and makes an average California beach town seem like the most magical place on earth. Each chapter is told at a different time in the plot, which can be confusing at first. Overall, I would highly recommend to everyone, but especially those who enjoy mystical subplots and figurative language.

 

 

Orbiting Jupiter - Gary Schmidt - CoverElsa Hoover, sophomore

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

 

Orbiting Jupiter follows 6th grade Jack as his family starts fostering Joseph; a 14 year old boy with a daughter. Joseph, after spending time in a juvenile detention center, is left scared of the world and only wants to be with his daughter. Jack soon befriends him and tries to help him in any way he can. The characters in this book are multi-dimensional and  not at all stereotypical, and they are written to have complex emotions and thought processes. The themes are subtle, and help  to keep the book’s realistic feel. The plot is well executed--at the beginning you are dropped right into the middle of an action so the characters, background and setting are introduced throughout the first few chapters. The whole plot was executed beautifully with a slow burn that made you need to keep reading. The characters and plot were so realistic it made you feel like you were reading a news article (in a good way). So it was inevitable to feel for them and their struggles. I would recommend this book if you have three hours, and want to go on an emotional rollercoaster.

 

The Bunker Diary- Book CoverSiena Lesher, sophomore

The Bunker Diaries by Kevin Brooks

Written in the confines of a minute room, six individuals wait for their fate to be determined. They have no control - “he” has all the power there. “He” put them there. “He” holds all the cards. Told from the point of view of Linus, a sixteen-year-old boy. The Bunker Diary is an excellent representation of the many forms of human nature - from addiction to assertion, as the six try to hold onto the hope of escape. This book was a real page-turner, and very complex for such a simple situation. Just a quick note: don’t start this book late at night - you will finish it at 4:00 a.m., unable to sleep, the last events playing over and over in your head.


Looking for more great reading suggestions? Try one of these picks of the month.

burnt toast bnb coverLooking for literary love, but the burning desire to read a romance novel is nowhere to be found?

I was once like you.

Shrugging off the ridiculous covers, improbable plots, and ridiculous characters -- campy melodramatic stories with overwritten sex were a no go. That is, until I read a few of them. Then a few more, including the entertaining, The Burnt Toast B&B.

Derrick Richards is a ruggedly handsome lumberjack and reluctant bed and breakfast owner. He wants nothing more than to leave the hospitality world behind. Ginsberg Sloan is his “city boy” guest looking for respite and recovery at the cheapest place to stay in town. Regardless of the creature discomforts Derrick offers, Ginsberg is determined to make the B&B home.

After peeking in on  their trials, tribulations and um… that too. Derrick and Ginsberg offer a reader their own break from the real world with a few hours of drama, love, and a happy ending.

Go ahead. Give a romance a chance.  

A large pile of library booksOne of the many perks, or pitfalls depending on how you look at it, of working in a library is that you have access to more books than you will ever be able to read. If you are a bit of a pack rat, like myself, you are constantly taking home books and you end up with a "to read" pile that is as tall as a toddler. While cleaning up my room over my weekend, I decided to stack up all of the books in my room (and this isn’t even all of the books that I have checked out) and snap a picture. Will I read all of these books? Probably not, but here are some of the titles that I am most excited to dig into:
 
Why would a lactose intolerant person, like myself, want to read a book about ice cream? Just look at the title! The title itself is delicious, and the pictures inside even more so. Big Gay Ice Cream is a yearbook of ice cream recipes, and while I might not be able to consume delicious frosty goodness myself...I can dream (of ice cream). 
 
This is a complex  graphic novel that is difficult to explain. It is an exploration of visual perception and how words and images work together to create meaning.
 
I can’t wait for the Suicide Squad movie to come out, so in the meantime I plan read up on the Squad’s exploits. 
 
Social justice meets superheroes! In Coral City crime is out of control and a group of young citizens team up to rise up and fight back, sparking a worldwide revolution.
 
World traveler and photojournalist, Elian Black’mor discovers a hidden refuge for all manner of supernatural and mystical creatures. This collection of Black’mor’s fictional observations is so beautifully illustrated that it begged to be taken home.
 
So, I've shown you my book pile. I invite you to show me yours!
 

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!

"Stand By Me (1986) is a great movie because  you can watch it fifty times in a row and never get tired of it. You can connect with the characters and laugh at the jokes. It’s an amazing coming of age movie that everyone can enjoy." - Hazel Spivey, Hollywood Teen Book Council

The Hollywood Teen Book Council got together to think about what books  these unforgettable characters would read if they were growing up today.

Gordie from Stand By Me

Gordie - Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt  

Sensitive, nice guy Gordie, much like Okay for Now’s Doug Swieteck, lives in the shadow of an older brother. Both find their support in the communities they create around them. They are both tender and tenacious, smart and strong, and have a writer’s heart.

Chris - Stand By MeGreat Gatsby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris - The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Who would be most likely to reinvent themselves but Chris? Smarter than he lets other see, and with a worldly understanding, we see him drawn to weightier novels full of symbolism. He would both resonate with the observant Nick Carraway as he does with Gordie, and identify with Jay Gatsby.

 

 

Teddy - Stand By MeA Game of Thrones

Teddy - A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Fantasy is Teddy’s  genre all the way, and he would love the escapism of the Game of Thrones series. Full of abrasive characters, and unexpected resolutions will appeal to the often volatile Teddy.

Whales on StiltsVern  - Stand By Me

Vern - Whales on Stilts by M.T.Anderson

Of the group, Vern still has a foot in childhood, where the others are older than their years. He is often the butt of everyone’s joke, but is still a loyal friend. We think that something with a bit of wackiness and humor would appeal to his comic-loving side. A little fantasy, but still set in the current world.

 

More Than 1000 HoursVolunteer Shirley Bernstein

by Donna Childs

“Volunteer!” That’s Shirley Bernstein’s message for everyone who is able and interested. She believes that volunteering is good for older people because it gives them a way to get out, to interact with others, and to feel useful. For young people, it can be a way to test out a potential career.  

Shirley practices what she preaches: she has accrued more than 1000 hours at the Hillsdale Library. Twice a week, she sorts and alphabetizes children’s picture books and checks in holds for Hillsdale patrons. She sorts the picture books because that’s what needs doing, but she prefers the holds, because she finds out about new books this way.  

Shirley enjoys the freedom of volunteering: she can come in a little earlier or stay a little later, or even come in an extra day if there is a lot to do. But most of all, she likes being appreciated. When asked to name the best part of volunteering at Hillsdale, she replied, “They say ‘thank you’.”

Shirley has three sisters living in the Portland area, one of whom was a director at Store to Door,  a non-profit organization which delivers groceries for those who can’t shop for themselves. They take orders over the phone and deliver groceries, prescription medications, and household items to seniors and people with disabilities, filling more than 7000 orders annually, delivered by volunteers, one of whom is Shirley. She works there on Mondays and at Hillsdale on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She participates in activities at the Multnomah Arts Center on other days.

Shirley came to Portland in 2004 from Philadelphia. She worked at a hospital there for over 40 years in the mailroom and making deliveries to nurses’ stations. But after two of her sisters relocated to Portland for a job, Shirley decided to move here too. Now three of them are here, with another in Seattle, and a brother in Florida.  Shirley is happy with her useful and family-centered life in Portland.


A Few Facts About Shirley

 
Home library: Hillsdale Library
 
Currently reading: Take Six Girls: the Lives of the Mitford Sisters  by Laura Thompson
 
Favorite section to browse: Biographies
 
E-reader or paper books: Paper books
 
Favorite place to read: Living room sofa
 
Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.
 
 
 

Andy Ricker, the James Beard Award–winning chef behind Pok Pok, lets us know his favorite cookbooks, meals and his thoughts on the Portland food scene.

 

1. Do you have any favorite cookbooks, books or cooking blogs that have inspired you?

Picture of Andy Ricker

"Thai Food" by David Thompson; "The Joy of Cooking"; "The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating" by Fergus Henderson; "White Heat" by Marco Pierre White; "Cous Cous and Other Good Food" by Paula Wolfert.

 

2. What do enjoy most about the Portland food scene?

The dedication the chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, food makers and gatherers have to using local products of the highest quality and being in a community that supports this ethos.

 

3. List your top 2 favorite meals (of all time or even this week).

Last week in Phrae, Northern Thailand, I had an amazing meal of expertly made local food at a restaurant called Jin Sot. The owner is a ninja. A Tai Yai/Shan restaurant near my home here in Chiang Mai reopened after a long hiatus, during which time I was jonesing badly, and much to my relief, the food had not changed at all: delicious egg curry called Khai Oop being my favorite dish.

4. Do you have any library memories to share?
When I was a kid growing up in rural Vermont, we had no TV so reading was our entertainment. We would go to the town library (Jeffersonville) and check out as many books as were allowed per person and devour them over the week.

Inspired to try your hand at Thai cooking? Check out our booklist below for our favorite Thai cookbooks that you can check out from the library. If you are feeling particulary adventerous, try your hand at making the egg curry dish that Andy mentioned, Khai Oop.

Most years the flu peaks between December and January, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, this year it’s peaking in February. When we’re talking about the flu we’re talking about influenza, a virus, and not the “stomach flu” which is usually caused by bacterial infection.

The Flu Center is a one-stop shop for information about the flu, including the most important information: should you go to school? If you like some science with your viruses, diseases, and conditions, NPR has a great visual explanation 

of what is happening inside your body when the virus invades. Ick.

Thanks to advances in medicine, the flu isn’t life-threatening in most cases in this country, but that wasn’t always the case. About 100 years ago millions of people died in a pandemic that swept the United States, and from that pandemic doctors and scientists learned a lot about how to battle the flu. You can pretend you are one of those scientists and try your hand at predicting the next flu strains and creating a vaccine. If you want to know more about what causes a pandemic, here’s an explanation involving people, pigs, and ducks.

Want to know one of the basic ways you can try to keep from getting the flu? You’re probably already doing it. And don’t forget you can always contact a librarian for even more info!

 

DEQ map of Air Toxicity in Portland, OR

February 3, 2016, The Mercury recently reported findings of high levels of arsenic and cadmium in the air in SE Portland. Days later, the DEQ released a map that showed many areas throughout Portland to be affected.

If you are wondering, “Should I get tested for arsenic or cadmium poisoning?” this Portland Mercury article cites Dr. Gillian Beauchamp, a Toxicology Fellow at the Oregon Poison Center at OHSU, who offers advice.

A timely resource for updates on current action by Portland residents (meetings, information sharing, etc.) is the Facebook Public Group Inner SE Air Quality. Although the focus is SE Portland, there’s much information about air quality in other areas in the city being shared here too. Inner SE Air Quality is also sharing community-generated/created Google maps of cancers and serious illnessesa map for people that have tested for heavy metal exposure, and a map showing results of soil testing for heavy metals.  Check here for updates on community meetings you can attend. Neighbors for Clean Air Facebook page is another good resource.

If you are interested more broadly about air quality in Portland, check the ToxNet map. Use the Beta version and click on "zoom to a location" then enter an address to see emissions near you. If you click on "more" you can see the levels of toxins a facility reports. This doesn’t report these recent SE Portland findings.

There has been concern about a cancer cluster in SE Portland.  The Oregon Health Authority’s Cancer Registry researches possible clusters in communities. 

Questions? Call, text or email a librarian to get personalized help – or ask the librarian on duty the next time you're at the library.  We will do our best to find the right resource or service for you!

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!

Learn a new language with us. Mango Languages.Learning a new language has multiple benefits: you can communicate with people at home and around the world, and at the same time you also exercise your brain.

Although scientific studies vary, there seems to be agreement that learning and speaking multiple languages is good for your gray matter. It may even delay the onset of dementia*. It will certainly improve your je ne sais quoi.

Here are a few of the language learning resources available to you from Multnomah County Library:

  • Mango Connect: This online app is easy to use and full of quick exercises for learning over 50 different languages. You move through lessons at your own pace, and you can spend a lot of time on it or just a little bit each day.
  • Language Exchanges: The library offers in-person language exchange programs in Chinese, French, Spanish, and Vietnamese. These events are intended for both English speakers and English learners. Half of the event is spent practicing in the non-English language, and the other half is spent practicing English. All levels are welcome! These programs are informal, fun, and a great way to meet people in your community.
  • Books: The library has lots of books (and audiobooks) for learning languages! The best way to find these is by asking a librarian - they will guide you to the books and resources that are perfect for you.

For even more language learning ideas, take a look at the library’s Language learning topic page. If someone you know is working on learning or improving their English, be sure to also check out the library’s Learn English webpage.

You’re never too old to learn something new!

*: For more information about the science of languages and the brain, read “Delaying Onset of Dementia: Are Two Languages Enough?” (2014) in the online journal Behavioural Neurology.

 

Most people know that matter can exist is three main states: solid, liquid, or gas.  But did you know that there are two less common states called plasma and Bose-Einstein condensates?

 

Harcourt School Publishers has a great online tool that lets you see how molecules behave in various states of matter.

 

Did you know that water is the only thing on earth that can naturally occur as a solid, liquid and a gas?  Watch the video below to learn about water in various states.

 

You probably know what freezing and melting are.  But can you name the other phase shifts?

 

Image showing the phase changes of matter

 

To learn more, check out these study cards or try some of these science experiments.

 

Portland is a crafty town, so it may not be surprising to learn that many of the people you interact with every day have a secret DIY identity. The barista you see every morning could have a side business making homemade cheese. Your server at your favorite restaurant might sell hand-drawn pet portraits at Last Thursday. And what about the library paraprofessional who helps you do your trusty research? Let me introduce our new DIY series MCL Makers, which highlights library staff throughout the system who make things in their spare time.

Our first MCL Maker is Programming Librarian Anne Tran. When she's not working at the library, Anne makes homemade soap and sells it at different farmer's markets and craft fairs. We thought we'd ask Anne a few questions about her craft. Picture of Anne's homemade soap

How long have you been making soap?

I've been handcrafting vegan and palm-oil free soap since 2011.

How did you learn to make soap?

I took a cold-process soapmaking class with my mother-in-law and was so intrigued by the process, I borrowed all the soapmaking books I could find.

Have you used any resources from the library to further develop your craft?

Besides the soapmaking books in our MCL collection, I am also an avid Interlibrary Loan user.

Have you taught others how to make soap or shared your skill in any way?

I talk about soap with my friends and family all the time! Maybe a tad too much.

What advice do you have for the new soapmaker just starting out?

My advice to a new soapmaker is to always borrow books from the library before buying them. It will save you money and let you really hone down on the ones you want. 

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