MCL Blogs

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Search for a job on Craigslist ... really?

Yes, really, because aggregator job boards don’t go there so you should. An aggregator site is one that sends its ‘spiders’ crawling over the web to gather together links to jobs listings (or other things). Among the biggest are Indeed and SimplyHired. One aggregator that pulls job listings directly from company websites is LinkUp, which means they should have fewer duplicate, out-of-date or scam listings. Niche boards are those that focus exclusively on a particular area of employment - a couple of examples are Idealist, which lists both paid and unpaid opportunities in the nonprofit sector, and Madden Industrial Craftsmen for welders, machinists and other industrial positions in the Pacific Northwest. This About.com Job Searching page has links to lists of niche boards covering all different sorts of work.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act) was passed into law in 2010, Photo of a stethoscopebut the reforms that it requires are spread out over time. You can get all sorts of information about the law on a federal level, including the full-text of it, at www.healthcare.gov, a website created by the United States Department of Health & Human Services.

A major aspect of the law that will go into effect soon is the creation of Health Insurance Marketplaces in each state. These marketplaces will provide information on insurance plans for consumers to compare, with costs laid out up-front. According to the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Srvcs., “most people will be able to get a break on costs through the Marketplace.” Information about coverage and enrollment in health insurance through these marketplaces is required to be provided beginning in October 2013. Coverage will start in January 2014.

The marketplace for Oregon will be called Cover Oregon. Visit their website to learn about the marketplace, sign up for email updates, and use a calculator to estimate if you will qualify for financial assistance. There is also a frequently-asked-question section with answers to many questions that you might have about the program.

There are also several other health care programs that already exist and provide assistance to individuals who qualify: the Oregon Health Plan and the Healthy Kids programs are both administered by the Oregon Health Authority. The Oregon Prescription Drug Program is a program to help uninsured or underinsured Oregonian get access to discounted prescription medicine. A good way to find more assistance programs is to call 2-1-1, a statewide, free referral service.

At the end of this post is a list of books that explore the history and debates around health care in the United States. If you still have any questions about health care, remember that you can always ask a librarian! We are here to help you find the answers that YOU need.

Update, 7/28/13:

You may have seen ads on Trimet buses around town, advertising health coverage from “Oregon’s Health CO-OP”. This is not the same thing as Cover Oregon. The Oregon’s Health CO-OP is going to be a new nonprofit health insurance provider which will begin enrolling customers on October 1, 2013, and will begin providing health insurance coverage on January 1, 2014. Funding for new, consumer-owned (co-op) health insurance providers is part of the Affordable Care Act - each state was originally required to have one of these nonprofit providers (although this requirement has since been removed), but Oregon is going to have two of them! The Oregon’s Health CO-OP and another co-op called Health Republic were both approved by Cover Oregon and will be offered along with other health insurance providers in the new Cover Oregon marketplace.

You can read more about these co-ops in this 5/13/13 article from Oregon Live: “Oregon upstart health co-ops to challenge mainstream insurers”.

“Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” We’ve all seen and heard that ad on TV. But if you decide to get a medical alert device, or are helping an older friend or relative get one, you might be ready to scream “Help! I need a device but can’t decide which one to get!”

Here’s some tips to make things easier. First, make a list of features you want the medical alert to have. The Federal Trade Commission has some good advice about things to consider. An article called “Personal Emergency Response Systems” from CRS – Adult Health Advisor (June 2012) also gives a checklist of possible concerns [ Note: to read the article, you may have to enter your library card number and PIN]. This blog post from Huffington Post, Post 50 examines three major designs and providers of each kind.

It’s hard to find unbiased reviews. For example, AARP offers a discount to members, available through ADT Companion Service, but this comparison by a competitor, Life Station, makes some arguments against it.

Luckily, Lawserver Online RatingLab’s comparison of medical alerts provides product reviews, advice about comparing them and a ratings chart. You can also go to the Better Business Bureau and do a search for “medical alarms” limited to your zip code, to find how they’ve rated local services.

If you are trying to help an older person who lives out of state, you might also want to find out what is available to them locally. You can use this eldercare locator to find agencies where they live, that can help you.

Be wary of phone salespeople, and online ads; there are lots of scams out there. The resources we’ve listed should help you find a reliable device that will work for you.  Need more help? Contact a librarian and we'll be glad to help. 

 

We realize that there's a constant flow of hot, new books, music and movies all vying for your attention. Of course, if you want it, it goes without saying that a lot of other people want it too. That's why you'll often see long lines of holds waiting for the latest and greatest thing.

When you're looking for something that has a lot of holds on it, you may also see a list starting with "While You Wait for..." We put these lists together for you, thinking that you might like to explore some other options while...well...while you wait for that wished-for item to show up at your neighborhood library.

These lists are made by library staff who enjoyed that movie or book that you're waiting for. We hope you'll find some undiscovered gems among them. So what are you waiting for? Explore all of the "While you Wait.." lists. Happy hunting.

Where do you go once you’ve mastered sewing basic items of clothing and are ready to branch out into more challenging fashions?  

Step one is to make sure you are getting the best out of your sewing machine.  The Sewing Machine Classroom is more than just information about your machineIn the first chapters, Charlene Phillips talks in-depth about needles and thread. Think of it this way -- you can have the best car (sewing machine), but if you use the wrong tires (needles and thread), then the only thing between your car and the road (fabric) won't perform well. And may crash--badly.

Picking out a more advanced pattern can be intimidating, but the website PatternReview.com helps you get the scoop on which patterns work and which don’t. The site is a little clunky and cluttered, but there is a wealth of information there. You can create a free profile to access sewing pattern reviews, get reviews of sewing machines, visit forums, find tips and techniques, register for classes and the list goes on. If you need help with anything to do with sewing clothing, you can probably get your answers here.

You might be intimidated by trying a more complicated garment because you are worried it might not fit and you will have spent all that time creating something unwearable.  Check out Fitting & Pattern Alteration by Elizabeth G. Liechty. I’ve found fitting solutions in here I’ve never seen anywhere else.

So now you’ve got it to fit, how do you give your garments that extra special touch?  Try some couture techniques.  Claire Shaeffer has really studied couture garments in depth and has stellar techniques in her book Couture Sewing Techniques, as well as interesting histories of some garments from couture designers. Made a v-neck top that gaps? She’ll tell you how to fix that.  Know all about closures? This will tell you even more.  Claire is also featured on the Couture Allure Vintage Fashion Blog.

If you are making a shirt, take a look at David Page Coffin’s book, Shirtmaking:  Developing Skills for Fine Sewing, and companion DVD, Shirtmaking Techniques, in order to get seriously professional results:  well-turned collars, perfect plackets, and impeccable hems.  I would recommend these techniques even if you aren’t sewing a shirt. They can be applied in other areas of other kinds of garments. For example, I use his instructions for attaching a sleeve cuff to attach waistbands to pants as a way to avoid bumpy corners.

If you’ve gotten to this point, you’re probably ready to try some tailoring. Tailoring, a volume from the Singer Reference Library, goes over classic tailoring techniques, but gives you the option of shortcuts with modern fusible stabilizers, too, making the process a little less daunting. 

Maybe you’re still not sure what you want to sew next. Look for some inspiration in the form of online blogs.  Two standout blogs I regularly visit are Gretchen Hirsch’s blog, Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing and Peter Lappin's Male Pattern Boldness. Gertie sews her own clothes with a vintage flair, and has transformed that into a successful teaching business, a book, and even her own line of patterns.  For every creation, Gerie provides tutorials or photographs of the process.  Peter makes dresses and suits and everything in between.  He also takes photos of his sewing process which are really helpful, and his writing style is a joy to read, even if you don’t sew.

And, lastly, if you’re feeling really adventurous, check out this drool-worthy blog of period costumes at Before the Automobile. Wow!

Rebecca is a library clerk at Belmont who has been sewing since a very young age, but recently realized she was resting on her laurels and needed more of a challenge.

 

When it seems like the rain is never going to stop, don’t despair! Whether your tastes run more towards Portland puppets or Troutdale trains, Multnomah County has no shortage of fascinating and quirky museums that won’t cost you anything. (Check the links for updated hours and contact information.)

Whimsy. Revisit the toys of your (or your grandparents') childhood at Kidd's Toy Museum. And if your pipsqueaks are pleading to ponder a plethora of puppets, perhaps Ping Pong's Pint Size Puppet Museum is your pleasure.

Safety. Witness the evolution of fire fighting at The Safety Learning Center & Fire Museum. You also might find the Portland Police Museum rather arresting.

History. We love that the Gresham Historical Society museum is housed in an original Carnegie library! Not to be outdone, the Troutdale Historical Society has three museums: The Barn Museum, The Harlow House, and The Rail Depot. And don’t forget, the expansive and amazing Oregon Historical Society is free to all Multnomah County residents; just be sure to bring a proof of residency that includes photo identification.

Miscellany. OHSU's Ernest Starr Memorial Museum of Dental Anomalies will give you something to chew on, as will the medical history exhibits in the Main Library. If you're interested in "the art and industry of the cast letterform," then the Museum of Metal Typography is definitely your type. Then float on over to the Lincoln Street Kayak and Canoe Museum to learn more about indigenous small watercraft and suck up some cleaning history at the Vacuum Museum at Stark's Vacuums.

Free Museum Day Portland and Portland on the Cheap both have information about when paid admission museums might cut you a break. And for more on free and not-free-but-still-great museums definitely check out the Hidden Portland website, which was an invaluable resource for this blog post!

P.S. More in the mood for an art gallery ? Check out Rainy Days, Part 1: Free Art.

Humans bond over food, don’t we?  Bowls Around Town Project logoWe get together over a meal casually, as well as mark major milestones with a special meal.  Food or meals from childhood often take on a mythic status, as in the case of the macaroni and cheese served at my father’s elementary school in Cleveland, Ohio.  My mother spent 50+ years of marriage trying to replicate that recipe … which was – knowing cafeteria food – probably awful.

Artist Michael J. Strand understands the pull of food. He wants to collect your recipes – for cafeteria mac and cheese or the special stuffing you serve at Thanksgiving or your grandmother’s tamales. He wants to collect your stories of preparing and eating that recipe. Through Bowls Around Town, a collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Craft, Strand hopes to gather these treasures from you.

Picture a wooden box … inside is a large hand-thrown ceramic bowl and a book.  Place a hold on the box (found here in the catalog), check it out, take it home. Think about a dish with special meaning to you. Prepare it. Eat it. Take lots of pictures (instructions on where to send these are in the box). Write your recipe in the book along with a bit of its history and what happened when you prepared and ate it this time.  

Bring the box and its contents back to the library.  Return it on time so someone else can share their story.  

Bowls Around Town ProjectBowls Around Town at Multnomah County Library will circulate from May 16 to September 21, 2013. 
Museum of Contemporary Craft logo

“Who picks these books!?” That could be a question someone asks about In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. This well-written classic true crime stands up to the tests of time, but the violence can be a turnoff for some. When it comes to book groups, such as our library’s Pageturners groups, a great book for discussion is not necessarily liked by all.

As a facilitator my response to that question is, “I’m glad you asked. Let me give you the inside scoop.” In May, Pageturners book groups are busy picking their books for the next calendar year, which begins in September. Most groups pick by gathering votes from regular attendees, or, as I like to say, book groupies. Books on the ballot come from recommendations by groupies, awards lists, book news, and discussions with other facilitators. My little secret: my nominations include books that I hope to read, but won’t get around to unless my group reads them.

I thought I’d share with you a few books that have already been read by Pageturners book groups, but are likely to make another appearance on a group’s list sometime soon, like In Cold Blood. Many people first come to a group for a book they like, but keep returning for the books they might not otherwise read. Perhaps you’ll catch the bug and attend a Pageturners book group near you...there’s nothing like that aha moment when a book’s deeper intentions are revealed through lively and thoughtful discussion.

The Sisters Brothers  by local author Patrick deWitt captures the craziness of the gold rush era along with a complex relationship between brothers who navigate an odyssey through that 1850s underworld. Who knows, perhaps some enterprising facilitator will persuade the author to join their discussion.

You might think this collection is for children, but a revisit to The Jungle Books in adulthood will introduce you to the stellar writing of Kipling, and your more sophisticated awareness will pick up on the global politics of an Imperial era. Nancy, the facilitator of the St. John's Pageturners, shared all kinds of show and tell...maps, pictures of animals, plants, the author, and more.

This year, seven Pageturners groups readThe Warmth of Other Suns  by Isabel Wilkerson. It will certainly be a choice in the next year as well. It is about the “Great Migration” - the large movement of blacks from the South to the North and West from the time of WWI to the seventies. The story follows the lives of three people, making it very readable, while it bursts with rarely encountered historical facts.
Patricia, administrator of North Portland Library and Pageturners facilitator, said, “Though my family participated in the "migration,"the book still put things in perspective and explained a lot, like why my highly educated, architect uncle decided to move from Baltimore to California. The book just helped make sense of so much.”

Where do you go to find a new doctor, or health care professional?  How do you know if your doctor is licensed or board certified?

Here are some resources to help you find information about health professionals.  These tools allow you to search in a variety of different ways - by physician name, by geographic area or by medical specialty.  You can find a doctor's education and training, area of specialty, licensing information, and even malpractice claims.

The Oregon Medical Board licenses physicians and other health professionals such as acupuncturists.  On this site, you can look up a physician or other healthcare provider,  and find out when they were licensed, if their license is active and if they have malpractice claims filed against them.   Be sure to read the information about what constitutes a claim against a physician.

DoctorFinder, sponsored by the American Medical Association, is a physician locator.  It also provides basic professional information on amost every licensed physician in the United States, including doctors of medicine and osteopathic medicine.

DocFinder from AIM, the Administrators in Medicine,  sponsors this site from which you can search for physicians anywhere in the United States.  This list is only as complete as those State Boards that make the information available, however.

MedlinePlus, from the National Library of Medicine offers a comprehensive list of directories on its website.  You can locate a physician by specialty or by geographic area.  You can also find organizations for almost anything medical or health related.  Organizations can be a good resource for information too.  For instance, the American Headache Society has a page to help you locate a headache specialist?

Remember to always evaluate the information you find on the Internet and use websites you trust when researching medical information!

 

Thomas Nast: The Father of Modern Political Cartoons The author of this biography, Thomas Nast The Father of Modern Political CartoonsFiona Deans Halloran, has written a fascinating book about the complex and controversial work of Thomas Nast, whose cartoons portrayed the political and social events of 19th century America. "Nast’s work marked an important transformation of political cartooning. Before the Civil War, cartoonists’ work relied on dialogue rather than imagery. To Nast, the picture became the message: text commonly was relegated to a caption or appeared in the picture as a broadside. Many historians call him the father of modern American political cartooning. His work remains in the first rank of that genre, expressive and passionate." -from: Simpson, Brooks D. "Thomas Nast." American National Biography (2010):  Biography Reference Center.

An interesting sidenote in the American National Biography is that there is no complete collection in a library or archive of the papers of Thomas Nast other than three volumes of "scrapbooks" of his cartoons in the New York Public Library. The most complete record is in the periodicals that originally published his cartoons.

Infinite Jest; Caricature and Satire From Leonardo to Levine
Infinite Jest: Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to LevineThe drawing for this bookcover is part of a series titled Collection of Grimaces, lithographs from 1823-1828 by the french painter Louis-Leopold Boilly, who began the set with exaggerations and contortions of his own face. Infinite Jest is the catalog of an exhibition last year from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring works of the Museum's collections from 1590 to the present.  The book explores the varieties of intent of these images: as simple caricatures and forms, as visual satire, and as weapons to mock the political and social power of celebrities and political leaders. The website for the exhibition features an interesting short introduction about the history and artists whose works are included in the catalog.

For more on caricatures and political cartoons in art,  take a look at the booklist sampler of titles from Central Library. You can place holds for delivery to your closest neighborhood branch. 

Millions of consumers get health information from magazines, TV or the Internet. Some of the information is reliable and up to date; some is not. How can you tell the good from the bad?

First, consider the source. If you use the Web, look for an "about us" page. Check to see who runs or sponsors the site: Is it a branch of the government, a university, a health organization, a hospital or a business? Focus on quality. Does the site have an editorial board? Is the information reviewed before it is posted? Be skeptical. Things that sound too good to be true often are.  Is the site current and has it been updated recently?  Scroll to the bottom of the page for update information.  Is the information factual or does it represent opinion?   You want current, unbiased information based on research.  And finally, ask who is the intended audience of the site—is it consumers like us, or health professionals. 

As you look through the following material about evaluating health information specifically, you will realize that you can use the same criteria to evaluate other information you find on the Web.  Think about bias when you are looking for consumer reports about a product;  think about currency of information when you are evaluating the purchase of a computer;  and think about sponsorship and authority of a site if you are trying to find a lawyer.  

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/evaluatinghealthinformation.html
MedlinePlus offers an overview of evaluating health information and also provides links to more articles to help you find reliable, authoritative health information.

http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/evaluating_health_information/

University of California San Francisco provides this overview of criteria to use when judging the reliability of health information, including red flags to watch for.

http://www.mlanet.org/resources/userguide.html

The Medical Library Association provides this comprehensive article about finding and evaluating good medical information and includes a selection of “Top 10 Most Useful Consumer Health Sites”.

If you look through the Library catalog for books about chairs, Bookcover: The Chair: Rethinking Body, Culture, and Designyou will find a whole array of titles about the history and design of chairs for interiors. However, this book has a different focus; it is more of a sociological tour through the chair as familiar object and how it affects us on an everyday basis. As compared to the Library's other books about chairs, this book is mostly text, with few images. The small black and white images are in a resolution that only allows them to be used for basic identification of styles, nothing more. The text, however, is entertaining, generally humorous and conversational, with advice about why chairs can be uncomfortable and how the ergonomics could be improved.

Quote: "Without a doubt, their effects are profound. What is true of the chair is true of all the artifacts we create. We design them; but once built, they shape us. As sitting in chairs spread to the common person over the centuries, it left its mark on the human body and human consciousness. The chair offers a glimpse into our collective ideas about status and honor, comfort and order, beauty and efficiency, discipline and relaxation. As our ideas change, so do our chairs." - from the introduction to The Chair, by Galen Cranz.

The Common Grant Application Form was developed by Philanthropy Northwest to facilitate the application process for grantmakers and grantseekers within its region. Before applying to any nonprofit funder that accepts a common grant application form, be sure to check that your project matches the funder's stated interests and ascertain whether the funder would prefer a letter of inquiry in advance of receiving a proposal. Also be sure to check whether the funder has a deadline for proposals, as well as whether it requires multiple copies of your proposal.

For details on funders and grantmakers, search the Foundation Directory Online Professional, available at the Central Library.

Questions? Ask the Librarian.

Want to impress your friends by serving them that delicious crab and mango salad from The Heathman menu? Need help replicating the flaky, crispy crust that ring the pies at Ken's Artisan Pizza? Ready to try cooking with Caprial? Then this is the blog post for you. Check out these great cookbooks that offer recipes from some of Portland's favorite chefs.

 

 

Savor Portland Cookbook offers recipes from over 25 area restaurants including several James Beard Award winners and Stumptown stalwarts including Papa Haydn's, Saucebox, Veritable Quandry, Paley's Place and Higgins. A culinary glossary and a list of sources for hard to find ingredients will help guide your dishes to success. You can preview the book here

 

 

 

Few can do comfort food better than Lisa Schroeder, the chef behind wildly popular Mother's Bistro and Bar. Chicken and Dumplings, Pot Roast (oh, that pot roast!), Meatloaf and Mac n' Cheese are some of the delicious homestyle plates offered at Mother's. Lisa has shared over 150 of her fabulous recipes in Mother's Best: Comfort Food That Takes You Home Again.

 

 

 

If you've never eaten one of Ken's Artisan pizzas, or croissants, or walnut bread, raisin bread, brown bread, or a brioche bun, or.....sorry, I got lost daydreaming for a minute there! Well, if you haven't yet tried one of these delectable treats, you must go grab one of his out-of-this-world creations. Go ahead, I'll wait. Okay, see what I mean? This man knows dough! And he's sharing his secrets with us in Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast.

 

 

 

Caprial and John Pence have been feeding Portland for the past seventeen years, first from their Sellwood Bistro and now at Supper Club and by teaching cooking classes at their Chef's Studio or in your own home. If you want to try making some classic cuisine that is sure to please, check out Caprial and John's Kitchen: Recipes for Cooking Together.

There has been much tragedy in the news lately and consequently, much talk about how we prevent further tragedies. One topic we are hearing a lot about involves gun control, and today the Senate will be voting on the current gun control measure in Congress. We hear from gun control advocates, we hear from gun rights activists - there are a lot of opinions and facts out there - and it can be overwhelming. But the library is here to help.

We have an amazing resource called Congressional Quarterly Researcher (or CQ Researcher*) that consists of weekly reports written by experienced journalists on current issues. Each report includes an overview, background, data tables, images, opposing viewpoints and bibliographies, and features comments from experts, lawmakers and citizens on all sides of every issue. The different topics they cover are varied, and one of the most recent reports was on gun control*, published in March of 2013 . Whether you are doing a report for school, preparing an op-ed piece for your local paper, or just staying well-informed, CQ Researcher is an excellent first step.

Also see this recent post titled Gun rights and gun control, which includes a reading list.

And as always, if you want to dig even deeper, Ask a Librarian! We're here to connect you to the information you want and need.

* Note: you will need your valid Multnomah County Library card number and PIN to access this database from outside the library

Flowers are blossoming and so are the possibilities for learning about how to manage your finances. April is National Financial Literacy month, and there are all sorts of ways that you can celebrate!

Come to the library and attend a program on topics like budgeting for specific goals, teaching your kids about money, talking about money with family members, or tackling student loans.

Portland Community College is hosting a Dollars and $ense Expo at the Cascade and Southeast Center campuses on April 16th and 17th. Topics covered will include community-based resources, avoiding scams, transferring funds as an international student, managing your budget, and helping to lower the cost of higher education.

Innovative Changes, a local nonprofit, is offering a Financial Empowerment Clinic focusing on debt and credit building on Saturday April 20th from 10am-3pm at their office in the Lloyd Center Mall, Suite 2010. Workshops include building credit, raising a “money smart” kid, proposed debt collection reform, unfair debt practices, and student debt. Budget doctors will be on-call for diagnoses and the Multnomah County mobile library will be there with books on budgeting and debt. There will also be hourly raffles for local business gift certificates. For more info about this clinic, call 503-249-5205.

If you’re not able to come to an event in person, you can also find ways to get involved online!

  • Try the 52-week Money Challenge. It’s very straightforward and if you complete all 52 weeks, you’ll have saved over $1,300!

And any time of the year is, of course, a good time to check out a library book. We’ve got books on all sorts of topics for learning about your money:

If you have diabetes, diet and exercise are key to controlling the disease. Learn how following a meal plan and engaging in regular physical activity can help you manage your diabetes.

For more on specific exercises for older adults, check out Go4Life®, the exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

The information on Diabetes was provided by NIHSeniorHealth and developed by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health.

 

Bridging Cultures is dedicated to promoting understanding and mutual respect for people with diverse histories, cultures, and perspectives within the United States and abroad.  Its most recent effort is the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf, a collection of books, videos and other resources  addressing both the need and the desire of the American public for trustworthy and accessible resources about Muslim beliefs and practices and the cultural heritage associated with Islamic civilizations.  

Another feature of the Bookshelf collection is access to a library resource tool, Oxford Islamic Studies Online (OISO).  With your library card number and PIN, use this resource to access thousands of reference entries, chapters from scholarly and introductory works, Qur'anic materials, primary sources, images, maps, and timelines. This resource provides a first stop for anyone needing information and context on Islam.

The Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys is a project of the National Endowment for the Humanities, conducted in cooperation with the American Library Association. Support was provided by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. Additional support for the arts and media components was provided by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

When faced with a blank page, how do you begin a new writing project? Sometimes just getting the pen moving or keyboard clicking feels like the toughest aspect of creative writing.

Writing prompts or exercises can help you create an entry point into your work, provide a little momentum, and release the pressure of the scary expanse of white page. Whether you’d like to write a novel, short stories, poetry, memoir or other nonfiction, you have to start somewhere.
 
There are some great books that offer advice about the craft of writing, advice about the writing life, as well as offering prompts to get you started. A few web resources also offer writing prompts, including Poets & Writers magazine and LitBridge.
 
Of course, writers and other artists find inspiration in all sorts of places. Perhaps a visit to browse the shelves at your favorite library will turn your eye to something that makes you want to write!

Portland City Archives: A2001-004.94 : 219 N Cherry StNearly every house history researcher wants to see old photographs or drawings of their house.  Who wouldn't, right?  Unfortunately for Portland-area house history buffs, this can be one of the hardest bits of house history ephemera to track down!  But don't despair; there are surviving photographs of some houses and it is possible (sometimes) to find them. 

The challenge is that there has never been a comprehensive house-portrait project in Portland -- or any other city or town in our area -- so there is no treasure trove of photos of local homes that you can dig through.  You might wonder, if there's no big archive of house pictures, where should you start?  There are a few possibilities:

First, ask your neighbors or the people in your neighborhood association.  People who live on your street may have their own old photographs of family events, parties, or other occassions which include your house in the background.  And a bonus -- when you find that long-time resident and photo-saver, they may share stories about past residents of your house or other interesting neighborhood lore!

Houses sometimes appear in the background of photographs taken to record activity on the street.  The city of Portland has a lot of photographs of infrastructure and maintenance work they've done over the years.  City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A1999-004Many of these images are carefully preserved in the Portland City Archives collection. These images usually show city workers doing something in the neighborhood (such as repairing the sewer like in the photo at left) or were taken in connection with city planning work, like a street scene before the installation of a new traffic light.  You can search for records (including photographs) using the Archives' catalog, Efiles, but most photographs in the collection aren't available online.  To look at photographs in person, you'll need to visit the Archives reading room downtown (1800 SW 6th Ave., Suite 550; 503.865.4100).  Be sure to read the Archives' policies and tips for researchers before you visit!

The Oregon Historical Society library is another treasure trove for house history researchers.  Their collection includes more than 2.5 million photographs and negatives of people, communities, commerce, and life in the Pacific Northwest -- with a focus, of course, on Oregon.  A few of these images are available online in the library's photograph gallery, but most are available only by visiting in person (1200 SW Park Ave.; 503.222.1741).   Again, be sure to read the library's policies, hours and tips for researchers before you visit!  (And a note: Multnomah County residents can use the Oregon Historical Society library for free if they show picture i.d.; most others must pay an admission fee.)

Another potential source for house portraits and street scenes is the Vintage Portland blog.  Every weekday the author posts a historic photograph (or sometimes a map or drawing) of Portland.  The posts are sorted into categories for neighborhoods, street names, time periods, and topics.  For example, if you are curious about the development of your neighborhood as well as the history of your house, you might want to look at the blog's many aerial photographs; or you might try looking at a neighborhood street like Foster Rd., Powell Blvd., or 82nd Ave.

If the house you're researching happens to be in the Albina district, you may find a photograph of it in The History of Albina, by Roy E. Roos.  The book begins with a brief a history of the district (and former city), but it also includes brief architectural history for a selection of houses and other buildings that are representative of different eras in Albina's development.  Many of the brief house histories are illustrated with contemporary photographs or have no pictures, but some have historic photographs or drawings.

Have fun hunting for a historic photo of your house!

 

  Questions? Ask the Librarian.

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