For many people, meeting library staff outside of a branch is their first experience with Multnomah County Library. Through community outreach events, library staff members significantly impact people who have never been to a library or cannot visit a library location. 

The library provides services specifically created for Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Black and Indigenous communities. These services are provided by staff who identify as part of those communities. Dedicated staff from the library's six language and culture groups step outside library branches and meet with seniors in living facilities, children about to start school, soon-to-be first-time parents, and families in group homes, among many others. 

The Spanish language team collaborates with schools, community partners and nonprofits to connect with patrons in and out of the library. 

At large events, Spanish library staff will set up a table with activities, free books and resources. Staff enjoy offering games like Lotería and sharing information about how the library is a fun place for the whole family.

Jeannine González, bilingual Spanish youth librarian

Jeannine Gonzalez, bilingual Spanish youth librarian, has coordinated outreach events in schools, childcare centers, parks and family shelters. 

Jeannine says that "the outreach work at family shelters has been an opportunity to interact and connect with families who are in a time in their lives where they can't make it into the library, or public library services are completely new to them as is the case with many immigrant families."

Library staff bring books, giveaways and a craft activity each visit. "The activity portion provides a reason for families to hang out for a bit, and if they are interested in learning about library services, it's an excellent opportunity. Giving away books also helps families build their own little libraries and give ownership to children over something that is only theirs," says Jeannine.

Bilingual Spanish Youth Librarian Pati Morán enjoys connecting with young children and their parents at smaller community events. Through the Early Kindergarten Transition (EKT) program, she connects with parents whose children will be entering kindergarten. The program encourages early literacy and presents resources to parents on how to best support children in learning how to read. 

"Sometimes in these programs, we also connect parents with resources like housing, food and computer help," says Pati.

Pati is also able to connect parents with Alonso Melendez, the library’s bilingual Spanish digital equity and inclusion coordinator. Alonso develops digital skills classes and runs the tech lending program. 

"The computer classes I do with adult learners are a great opportunity to provide community members with the support in a culturally and linguistically responsive way that they can feel comfortable with," says Alonso.

Students in Alonso's classes learn a wide range of computer skills, from basics like turning a computer on and typing, to sending emails, browsing the internet, and using Zoom. 

In collaboration with El Programa Hispano, Bilingual Spanish Library Assistant Laura Bradshaw works with senior citizens and meets with them via Zoom.

"Latino elders are one of the most vulnerable populations that present a variety of needs such as access to health care, economic security, and cultural and language barriers, among others. Our elders experience isolation, and gathering as a group at El Programa Hispano helps them to socialize and keep active," says Laura.

Through this virtual program, Laura provides storytimes, conversations and resources for seniors. 

"I love to hear the elders' personal stories, their sense of humor is wonderful, and they are always grateful," says Laura.

The Spanish team does an average of ten or more outreach events each month at different community locations, and they are not the only language group to do this type of work. Library teams are also present and providing services at specific Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, Black and Indigenous community events. For help connecting with specific language or cultural services at the library, call 503.988.5123. 

This is a long post showing meal resources in Multnomah County (and beyond). We start with school districts and then move to community organizations we know of that are helping the community. Please let us know if you need further assistance.

Para ver esta información en español, haga clic en Recursos de alimentos para familias. To see this information in Spanish, click Recursos de alimentos para familias.

Multnomah County School Districts

Multnomah County school districts continue to provide meal assistance during the summer. The SUN Service System also has information on accessing food.

We have done our best to provide current information. Please confirm meal availability through the links shared below.

Centennial [updated 9/6/22]

The SUN food pantry at Parklane Elementary, 15811 SE Main St., Portland, is open Fridays from noon to 1:30 p.m. Stop by to access 3-5 days’ worth of FREE, fresh, and healthy food for your family. Please bring your own bags. No identification or income verification materials required. Anyone is welcomed to shop!

Food 4 Families will have food distribution on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month (except March 2023), during the school year, at Centennial High School, 3505 SE 182nd Ave, Gresham, 97030. 4:00pm to 5:00pm. Click here for distribution dates.

David Douglas [updated 9/8/22]

There are food pantries at the following David Douglas schools. Click here for a calendar that shows hours of operation and any closures.

  • Floyd Light Middle: 10800 SE Washington St. Mondays, 3:30 P.M to 4:30 p.m.
  • Cherry Park Elementary: 1930 SE 104th Ave. Mondays, 3:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
  • Earl Boyles Elementary: 10822 SE Bush St. Tuesdays, 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. 
  • Mill Park Elementary: 1900 SE 117th Ave. Tuesdays, 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Gilbert Park Elementary: 13132 SE Ramona St. Wednesdays, 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Menlo Park Elementary: 12900 NE Glisan St. Thursdays, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. 
  • David Douglas High, South Campus: 1500 SE 130th Ave. Thursdays, 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Gilbert Heights Elementary: 12839 SE Holgate Blvd. Fridays, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. 


Gresham-Barlow [updated 9/8/22]

Click this link for meal resource information. There are food pantries at the following schools:

  • East Gresham Elementary: 900 SE 5th St., Gresham. Tuesdays, 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Food boxes.
  • Highland Elementary: 295 NE 24th St., Gresham. 2nd Wednesday of the month, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Food pantry.

Other community food box information can be found at The Sunshine Division and Snowcap Community Charities

Parkrose [updated 9/6/22]

The SUN pantry at Shaver Elementary : 3701 NE 131st Pl. is open Wednesdays, 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Portland [updated 8/22/22]

This section will be updated when meal program information is available.

Reynolds [updated 9/6/22]

    Food pantries are located at the following schools. Click here for more information.
    • Glenfair Elementary: 15300 NE Glisan St. Tuesdays, 4:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.
    • Reynolds High: 1698 SW Cherry Park Rd., Troutdale. Last Tuesday of the month, 2:30 p.m.
    • Alder Elementary: 17200 SE Alder St. Wednesdays 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    • Reynolds Middle: 1200 NE 201st Ave., Fairview. Fridays 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
    • Wilkes Elementary: 17020 NE Wilkes Rd. 1st Friday of the month, 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    • Davis Elementary: 19501 NE Davis St. 2nd Friday of the month, 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    • H.B. Lee Middle: 1121 NE 172nd Ave. Call 503-255-5686 for information on accessing the food pantry
    • Walt Morey Middle: 2801 SW Lucas Ave., Troutdale. Call 503-810-9604 for information on accessing the food pantry

    Agencies, Community Organizations and Restaurants

    Information may change so please check their websites if a link is provided.

    C3 Pantry (NE): 6120 NE 57th Ave., Portland. Tuesdays, doors open at 11:30am, shopping is 12-1pm.

    Crossroads Food Bank (NE): 2505 NE 102nd Ave., Portland. Thursdays 9 a.m. to noon and Saturdays 10 a.m. to noon.

    Faithful Savior Lutheran Church (NE): 11100 NE Skidmore St., Portland. Food pantry Saturday, October 15th from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

    Mainspring Food Pantry:  They suggest following them on social media to see locations.  Their current free food pantries are located at:
    • Dawson Park, 1 N Stanton St. Every 1st Tuesday from 10am to noon
    • Victory Outreach, 16022 SE Stark St. Every 3rd Tuesday from 10am to noon
    • East Portland Community Center, 740 SE 106th Ave. Every 2nd Wednesday from 9am to 11am
    Meals 4 Kids: serves qualified children and families within the City of Portland. Please visit their website to complete a request form.
    Northeast Emergency Food Program (NE): 4800 NE 72nd Ave., Portland. Open Thursday and Saturday, 10:30am to 1:30pm. Food boxes are prepared in advance for walk or drive up pick up.
    Parkrose United Methodist Church (NE): 11111 NE Knott St., Portland. Food pantry open 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
    Portland Adventist Community Services (NE): 11020 NE Halsey St., Portland. Offering prepacked food boxes for pick up,  Monday – Friday 9am– 11am. They also provide a mobile food pantry service to some neighborhoods.
    One Hope Food Pantry (NE): Located at 5425 NE 27th Ave., Portland 97211. Open for drive-through and pickup Saturdays, 11 am - 1 pm. Food boxes are available each week and a hot meal is served on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays.
    Sunshine Division (SE):  free emergency food boxes to pick up or be delivered. They are located at 12436 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97233. For hours and more information, please visit or call 503.609.0285.
    William Temple House (NW): 2023 NW Hoyt St., Portland. Offering a walk-in pantry, Tuesday-Thursday, 11 am-2 pm. A guide to the pantry can be found here.
    Lift Urban Portland (SW):  Located at 1838 SW Jefferson St., Portland 97201. Food pantry hours of operation are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. A random number lottery takes place 5 minutes before opening to determine your place in line.
    Portland Open Bible food pantry (SE):  Located at 3223 SE 92nd Ave., Portland 97266. Pick-up food boxes, information can be found here. Pantry times are Tuesdays 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Thursdays 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. You can also place an order online.
    For more information about access to food for families including the Oregon Food Bank, please call 211, or  text "FOOD" or "COMIDA" to 877-877 for Meals locations. or visit
    Self Enhancement Inc also has a list of community food resources that includes sites in Multnomah, Clackamas, Washingon and Yamhill counties in Oregon and Vancouver, WA area schools. Click the link and scroll down to food resources.

    Lecia Michelle is the author of The White Allies Handbook: 4 Weeks to Join the Racial Justice Fight for Black Women. She is a librarian by trade with experience at universities and public libraries. 

    Author Lecia Michelle

    Q: What is your background as an author?

    LM: This is my very first book. I have been a librarian for a really long time, so of course, I enjoy libraries, books and learning. I also started a Facebook group back in 2016 that focused on racial justice. We do training in the Facebook group for white women to be allies. Along with this, I started writing a ton of articles about racial justice. So all of that kind of prepared me to write this book, and what I noticed was missing was giving people steps to be an ally. So I decided to write a book that focuses on that part.

    Q: How did you develop the four-week program for becoming an ally?

    LM: There is too much to do in one week, so this makes it less overwhelming for people who are trying to work on being an ally. I wanted to make sure that each week we built on the previous week. I think this made it more manageable. I also wrote it in a way that keeps you constantly thinking about your own progress, where you are falling short, and also keeps you motivated. 

    Q: What are the key tools needed for a person to make a difference in the racial justice fight?

    LM: If you are a white person wanting to be effective in racial justice work, you must constantly be doing work on yourself. You have to be aware of how you're contributing to the problem or how you have contributed to the problem, and you have to be able to fix it. It’s very daunting to have to confront people who you consider friends or family, but you have to because those are the people that you have the most influence over. So those are the ones that you may need to have a conversation with about race.

    Q: If you could give people one piece of advice on how to make a difference in racial justice or what the next step is to take, what would it be?

    LM: Keep working toward the goal of antiracism work. So if you are getting tired, frustrated or overwhelmed, have an accountability partner you can talk to about that, but you have to keep going. I’ve met so many people who start out and then they get burnt out. Well, you know, it’s very privileged to say I’m tired. I don't want to do this anymore. But I don’t get to step away from Blackness. It is who I am. So I just say, understand that when you say you will do ally work and antiracism work, that my expectation is that it is a lifelong commitment and should be a lifelong commitment. 

    Q: Your program 7 Questions About Allyship You Were Afraid to Ask, is coming up on Thursday, October 20. What do you hope people get out of this experience?

    LM: I hope they are less afraid of either starting to be an ally or really stepping up their ally game. I hope I can make them feel more comfortable to be an ally and speak up and understand that part of your ally journey is going to be making mistakes and speaking up. 

    Check out author Lecia Michelle’s book recommendations!

    "Mara Bazua, Administradora de la Biblioteca de Holgate

    Cuando Mara Bazua llegó a los Estados Unidos de Guadalajara, México, ella no tenía una computadora. Fue a principios de la década de 2000, cuando los teléfonos celulares eran nuevos, las redes sociales recién estaban empezando y las aplicaciones de empleo acababan de pasar de formularios en papel a formularios en línea.

    Mara visitaba la biblioteca y usaba las computadoras públicas para revisar sus redes sociales como una forma de mantenerse conectada con su familia y amigos.

    “Durante mucho tiempo no pedí una tarjeta de la biblioteca porque no sabía que era gratis. Iba a la biblioteca y solo pedía un pase para usar la computadora,” dice Mara.

    “Me sentaba entre los estantes y miraba los libros y los ponía de vuelta en su lugar. Sabía exactamente dónde iba cada libro.”

    Durante una visita, una bibliotecaria le dijo a Mara que podía pedir prestados los libros para llevar a casa con una tarjeta de la biblioteca gratuita. Mara se sorprendió de que la biblioteca aquí fuera gratis, y con una gran sonrisa le dijo a la bibliotecaria que quería obtener una tarjeta de la biblioteca. Inmediatamente la bibliotecaria ayudó a Mara a obtener su tarjeta de la biblioteca y Mara estaba muy feliz de que ahora se podía llevar los libros a casa. 

    “En México existe ese concepto pero sólo puedes llevarte ciertos libros dependiendo de tu membresía. Estaba contando mi dinero. Pensé que era como pagar el alquiler. Estás alquilando un libro pero tienes que pagarlo. Fue increíble que me prestaran libros y no tuviera que pagar”, dice Mara.

    Mara conocía los estantes de la biblioteca como la palma de su mano y, a veces, incluso ayudaba a la gente en la biblioteca sin ella trabajar ahí. Los bibliotecarios notaron el interés de Mara en los libros y su amor por la biblioteca, así que un día le preguntaron: "¿Por qué no trabajas en la biblioteca?"

    Mara comenzó a trabajar en bibliotecas en 2009 y en 2011 visitó la Biblioteca de Holgate por primera vez. A principios de 2017, Mara comenzó a trabajar para la Biblioteca del Condado de Multnomah en la Biblioteca de North Portland. Después de siete meses, Mara comenzó a trabajar a tiempo completo en la Biblioteca de Gresham.

    “Siempre me gustó leer y sabía mucho sobre los libros. Me sentía como un pez en agua, trabajando en un empleo que me gusta, en el que soy bienvenida y donde se valora mi educación,” dice Mara.

    En el 2020, Mara se convirtió en la supervisora ​​de operaciones y de servicios juveniles (Youth Services Outreach and Operations Supervisor).

    “Es increíble y mágico como todo ha cambiado tan rápido, y todo comenzó simplemente yendo a la biblioteca, igual que la gente de nuestra comunidad, para sacar fotocopias, imprimir o usar las computadoras. Nunca imaginé cuántos servicios ofrece la biblioteca. Les daba mi identificación a las bibliotecarias para obtener un pase para usar las computadoras, y poco a poco el personal me hizo sentir bienvenida. Me pregunté —por qué son tan amables conmigo… pero luego aprendí que las bibliotecas son así con todas las personas. Quieren que las personas se sientan bienvenidas,” dice Mara.

    En 2021, Mara se convirtió en la Administradora de la Biblioteca de Holgate, donde supervisa las operaciones diarias de la biblioteca y los empleados.

    “Cada día es una nueva aventura y experiencia de aprendizaje. Aprendo mucho sobre la comunidad diversa de Holgate y todas las diferentes culturas,” dice Mara.

    Mara no vino a los Estados Unidos con amigos o una familia grande, pero la biblioteca ha sido un lugar donde ella puede conectarse con otros lectores y gente que habla español, y donde ella se ha sentido en comunidad.

    “Como inmigrante, estas conexiones te ayudan a no sentir tanta nostalgia. Te hace feliz hablar tu idioma, conocer a otras personas y ayudar a la gente.”

    Obtenga más información sobre la historia de la Biblioteca de Holgate y manténgase actualizado sobre el proyecto del Bono para la expansión y renovación de las bibliotecas del Condado de Multnomah. Ahora también puede ver cómo se verá la Biblioteca de Holgate después de las renovaciones.

    Over three million children in the United States experience a disability and almost all of them attend school.

    This wasn’t always true. Read Judith Heumann’s memoir of her life as a disability rights activist or watch the documentary Crip Camp to learn about the political and social fight for the rights of people with disabilities to receive an education, hold a job, and access the community.  Through these fights, the government formed the systems we use today to ensure that children with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education.  

    Look out: acronyms ahead!  You may need a special education glossary like this one from is a fantastic resource for parents looking to understand the special education system, what you can expect, and how to advocate for your child.

    Birth to Kindergarten

    Some disabilities are apparent from birth, and some come to light in the first years of growth and development.  In Multnomah County, the Multnomah Early Childhood Program (MECP) provides early intervention services for children with disabilities between birth and kindergarten.  

    If you have a concern about how your child sees, hears, walks, talks, plays, or learns between birth and kindergarten, you can ask for a developmental evaluation.  Screen your child’s development using this online tool from the Oregon Screening Project out of the Center for Human Development at the University of Oregon.  Call 503-261-5535 to get in touch with MECP for early intervention services.  They will do several observations and interviews to assess your child.

    The results of the MECP evaluation may diagnose your child with a disability and qualify them for early intervention special education services.  Early intervention could include services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, parent education, and special education preschool.    You’ll meet with a team to develop an Individual and Family Support Plan (IFSP) that outlines which services your child and family will receive, how much, when, and where.  MECP services are free.  They are part of public school.

    School Age

    Children with disabilities in grades K-12 have Individualized Education Plans (IEP) or 504 Plans.  Both outline what services and accommodations a child needs to be successful at school. 

    A child will qualify for an IEP if they have one of 13 disabilities defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  IEPs have a more formal, standardized format and process for describing a child’s present levels of development, their annual goals, accommodations and modifications, service levels, and classroom placement.  

    A child qualifies for a 504 Plan if they have any disability that interferes with their ability to learn or navigate their school day.  There is no standard format, but the plan usually lists the services, accommodations, and supports the school will provide and the names of the people who will provide them.  

    Learn more about the differences between an IEP and 504 Plan and what you can expect from each.  

    If a child has an IFSP, you and your team will write an IEP or 504 Plan when they go to kindergarten.  

    Some disabilities may not become apparent until a child enters school: ADHD or dyslexia for example.  Parents or educators who notice a child struggling in school can request an educational evaluation.  That evaluation may lead to a diagnosis and an IEP or 504 plan.  Getting an evaluation and effective IEP after starting school has been known to require persistence. 

    When an IEP is in place, the child’s entire educational team meets annually to write the IEP for the coming year.  As a parent, you are an important part of that team.  The IEP includes a section for parent input where you can write about your child’s strengths, interests, and challenges to help the school know your child.  Your child is assessed every three years to determine that they still qualify for special education services.

    Graduation and beyond

    During the IEP meeting of your child’s sophomore year of high school, you’ll begin talking about diploma options and plans for after high school. 

    Getting help

    You don’t have to navigate this system alone!  Families and Communities Together (FACT Oregon) is a statewide group offering broad support for families experiencing disability. They offer help through parent education, connection to community, and a support line connecting you with other parents to help answer questions.  The IEP Toolkit and The IEP: What You Need to Know online training are two of their most popular resources.

    Special education can be complicated and confusing, and you might feel you need a second education about special education.  The many resources and support options help you understand and advocate for your child throughout their school life.

    This article was written for our Family Newsletter, available in English and Spanish. Please sign up and you can email us at with any questions.

    The start of a new school year can be a stressful time as families transition to a new schedule and students adjust to new teachers and classmates. We want you to know that the library is here to help! We have pulled together some resources to assist you, and encourage you to contact us at for any further support.

    Educational Support

    Oregon Department of Education (ODE) Students & Families: Find resources on everything from school busing to graduation requirements

    Parent/teacher conferences: Prepare ahead of time for parent/teacher conferences to feel more comfortable and confident. 

    Who’s Who in Your Child’s School: This article from Reading Rockets introduces you to the various teachers, administrative staff and organizations you might encounter in your child’s school.

    Tutoring: We have listed a variety of free tutoring opportunities on our blog, including the library’s K-12 Virtual Tutoring service, providing 30-minute sessions with adult tutors once a week on Tuesdays.


    Meal resources for families: We try to keep this post up-to-date on meal resources in Multnomah County (and beyond).


    Mental Health Moment: Back-to-school anxiety: Going back to school has always made kids - and their caregivers! - anxious. We share some ideas to help smooth the transition. 

    Multnomah County Student Health Centers: Student Health Centers are like having a doctor’s office at school. They offer comprehensive primary and mental health care services to all Multnomah County youth ages 5-18. There are no out-of-pocket costs. 

    The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) Mental Health and Well-being: The ODE is committed to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of Oregon students and their families. 

    Talking with teens about mental health: As caregivers, we must listen to our teenagers and reach out if we see concerning signs. Here are some resources to help.

    What we can do to prevent bullying: Library staff offer resources, information and book recommendations about bullying and bullying prevention. 


    Affordable Connectivity Program: Provided by the FCC, this program helps households afford the broadband they need for school or work by providing a monthly discount.

    Library computers and internet access: The library offers free access to computers, chromebooks, printers and scanners within our library buildings. We also offer technology assistance in other ways. Please contact our Tech Help for more information or call us at 503.988.5123.

    This article was written for our Family Newsletter, available in English and Spanish. Please sign up and you can email us at with any questions.

    How the library promotes literacy through music

    On Tuesday, Aug. 30, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners held a board briefing at which library representatives spoke about the critical connection between music and literacy, and the impact writing and music production has on youth in detention settings.

    County Commissioners and Books to Beats presenters linked arm in arm

    Director of Libraries Vailey Oehlke introduced the Board to the work that Jody Redifer, a Multnomah County Library Black Cultural Library Advocate, and David Shine, a social studies and English teacher for the Multnomah Education Service District (MESD), have brought to the Donald E. Long School (DEL) for the past three years through the Books to Beats program. 

    Guest speakers also included Cherie Hernandez-Archuleta, a 17 year old who participated in the music program and volunteered in the Donald E. Long Detention Center's on-site library, as well as five-time Grammy Award winner and Portland native, Esperanza Spalding.

    Jody provides a variety of library services to youth who are incarcerated at the detention center. There, they have access to a collection of over 8,000 books, library volunteer programs, and music classes with a recording studio. 

    While he has selected some titles, Jody says he’s found that, “kids are the best selectors for their library.” He encourages them to read books out of their comfort zones and works with the teens to find culturally specific books and biographies written by people from marginalized communities.

    Many of the youth incarcerated at the Donald E. Long Detention Center interview for the popular library volunteer program. All get hired and through the position, find an invaluable opportunity to learn about books and literacy.

    “They help me curate the collection based on what they see and don’t see in the library,” says Jody.  

    However, both Jody’s and the youth’s favorite way to engage with the library is through music class, or “studio time.” Students come to class with notebooks full of lyrics, and a newfound determination to succeed in their school work and change their lives.

    One example of this is Cherie, who was previously detained at the detention center, and was among those who found refuge in studio time. She shared her story about how she grew up in the system and in and out of group homes. When Cherie discovered she could volunteer at the library, she took the opportunity.

    “I completely changed and it really wouldn't have been if it wasn't for Jody and the recording studio this time around,” says Cherie. 

    “I was reading about this poet Jimmy Santiago Baca, and how he learned how to read and write on his own in prison. And I just started writing poetry, and I fell in love. I loved that I could figure out how to rhyme and put my feelings on paper and make it all make sense to me — a different coping skill,” says Cherie. 

    Cherie worked with Jody to record her poems in the recording studio. 

    For many students at Donald E. Long School, the library’s music program is the first time they have an opportunity to learn how to write music, or even express their feelings through the written word. It’s also the first time they can learn how to use a recording studio, make beats and see it all come together. 

    “I have recorded youth talking about absolutely heartbreaking upbringings and the things that happened to them. I have also recorded youth talking about their greatest joys and very special people in their lives. In these sessions, I see a lot of common threads among the youth at DEL, and among youth in general,” says Jody.

    David Shine helps students develop their writing skills through his English classes. 

    “I use music in my curriculum every day… I use it to teach writing, figurative language, narratives, abstract thoughts, current events, history —  the list continues,” says David. “When we talk about literacy, it goes far beyond reading and writing. Literacy is really about the ability to communicate effectively through various channels.”

    “Poetry in its purest form is reliant on rhythm, form, structure, and pattern, as is music,” he continued. “Even spoken traditions and oral word poetry, they rely very heavily on rhythm, pattern and structure.”

    David then shared testimonies about students who he has worked with in this music program that because of it, recommitted to school, left the detention center in good standing and have continued on with their education - even one who graduated and is now a youth counselor. 

    “It’s really pretty amazing when you get a group of kids together who wouldn’t even even talk on the streets, or who may even be from rival gangs, and you see them working together and helping each other write and critique the music. There’s usually a lot of laughing and joking around that happens as well,” says Jody.

    Acclaimed musician Esperanza Spalding spoke of how music has influenced her life, sharing that it was through music and the library that she was able to fulfill her schooling and feel a sense of belonging. 

    “Music was the only place that I felt capable, where grownups were affirming my intelligence and my capacity,” says Esperanza. “(The library) was also the place where the books I needed to fulfill my home schooling requirements came from.”

    Books to Beats presenters talk at County Commission meeting

    She shared how one of the pivotal moments of her adolescence was coming to the Central Library for a jazz program where musicians welcomed any young person that would want to learn about instruments.

    “There is something about feeling invited in, as a young person, where you felt rejected by adults who are holding the keys to kind of this brain based future of academic or good writing, where you are just not welcome. I remembered this sensation of  ‘Oh, I'm welcomed in,’” says Esperanza.

    Esperanza also shared her experiences as a student, a musician and as a professor at Harvard University — specifically speaking to how music is a connecting thread between all of us, and she and others have rediscovered a love for learning through music. 

    The music program and partnership between the library and Donald E. Long School has inspired many young musicians to open up to learning and a new path in life. Jody sees a wide range of opportunities for youth to participate in similar programs, outside of detention settings in libraries.

    “You never know what talent you might find at Multnomah County Library…or somebody might not know what talent they have or what they are into…so if we can get recording spaces into libraries, I give my personal guarantee that they will be in constant use,” says Jody. 

    “I choose to do this work because I was justice-involved as a youth and young adult, and I know that everyone is a work in progress and everyone has the capacity to make different decisions and take different actions for better or worse. We, as humans, are never the same person as we were the day before.”

    Watch the board briefing.

    The Library Connect program

    Chances are if your child is a K-12 student in Multnomah County, they already have a library card! The Library Connect program allows students to have instant access to books, online resources, movies, music and more. 

    Students in Centennial, David Douglas, Gresham-Barlow, Parkrose, Portland and Reynolds School District can come to Multnomah County Library any time and use their school ID card to check out items. Their school ID is already connected with our library system. 

    More than 100,000 students have full access to Multnomah County Library thanks to this program. Of these students, two out of three did not have a library card previously.

    Five students giving thumbs up

    One family that moved to the Portland area went into the library with intentions of getting library cards. When North Portland Teen Librarian Isy Ibibo asked if the children had started school yet, and they said they had, she told them this most likely meant they already had cards because of the Library Connect program. 

    “The whole family was excited to hear it. I asked for their names and birthdays and looked them up. The mom was stunned at how quickly we had gotten them set up with Library Connect accounts since they hadn’t been in the school system for very long,” says Isy. “Everyone agreed that it was such a cool service that we offered!”

    Librarians are connecting with students within the library, but there are also staff members who have been going to schools and sharing information about Library Connect with teachers and students. Of these staff members, there is a dedicated full-time librarian focusing on developing this transformational relationship between the public library and school districts.

    Youth Librarian Brianne Williams spent some time at Whitman Elementary last spring, sharing information about the library, Library Connect, and giving books to students. “It was such a thrill for me to be inside a school again, talking with kids! The teachers were so grateful for the books, and so were the kids,” says Brianne. 

    The K-5 students Brianne connected with had great feedback to share about the books. One student shared “I love Zoey and Sassafras! I’ve read a bunch of the others, but not this one.” Another student said with delight  “this jumbie book looks really scary. I only have three chapter books at home. I really need another one. Thank you!” These giveaway books and more are made possible by gifts to The Library Foundation. These incentives have provided opportunities to engage students about Library Connect resources and build relationships with students and educators. 

    With the Library Connect program there is something for every age in the K-12 range. For elementary and middle school students there are ebooks, audiobooks, comics, TV from Hoopla and documentaries from Kanopy. For grades 9-12 there is even more! With a collection for teens at OverDrive Teens, there are curated books and even digital copies of some of their favorite magazines from the Libby App. For teens thinking about the PSAT or SAT, they can find sample tests, live homework help, and other resources too.

    The Library Connect program can help all year. During the summer when students are out of school and looking for something to do, “you can come in and immediately start borrowing books, ebooks, music. Or if you want to watch a movie, log on to Kanopy,” says Youth Services Project Librarian Kate Carter. 

    “If your kid automatically has an account, how about getting a library account for yourself too as a form of modeling reading and library use?” says Kate.

    Library Connect reduces barriers to access of library resources for kids and families. There is no longer a barrier of having to come in and sign up for a card, or even having to do the online form. You and your students can access all that the library has to offer.

    For more information on Library Connect, go to

    Mara Bazua, librarian at Holgate Library

    When Mara Bazua came to the United States from Guadalajara, Mexico, she did not have a computer. It was the early 2000s, so cell phones were newer, social media was in its infancy, and job applications had just switched from paper forms to online.

    Mara would visit the library and use the public computers to check her social media as a way to stay connected to family and friends. 

    “For a long time I didn't ask for a library card because I didn't know it was free. I just used a library pass for computers,” says Mara. 

    “I would sit in between shelves and look at the books and put the books in their place. I knew exactly where each book went.”

    During one visit, a librarian told Mara that she could take the books home. Mara was shocked that the library here was free.

    “In Mexico there is that concept but you can only take certain books depending on your membership. I was counting all my pennies. I thought it was like paying rent. You're renting a book but you have to pay for it. It was incredible that I could borrow books and didn't have to pay,” says Mara. 

    She knew the ins and outs of the shelves - and would sometimes even help patrons at the library while being one herself. 

    The librarians noticed Mara’s love for the library, and one day asked, “Why don't you work at the library?”

    Mara began working in libraries in 2009, and in 2011 visited Holgate Library as a patron for the first time. She started working for Multnomah County Library at North Portland Library, beginning of 2017. After seven months, Mara began a full-time role at Gresham Library.

    “I always loved reading and knew a lot about books, so it was like I was a fish in water — working in a job that I like, that I am welcome and where my education is being valued,” says Mara. 

    Then, in 2020, Mara became the Youth Services Outreach and Operations Supervisor. 

    “It’s all moved really fast but it’s magic, it's incredible and I think everything started just by coming to the library, just like people in our community, come to the library looking for photocopies, where to print, or use a computer — I didn't really know the services that the library offered. I would give them my ID for a computer pass, and then staff would start talking to me. Little by little the staff made me feel welcome. I thought why are they so nice to me … but then I learned that libraries are like that with all people. They want people to feel welcome and safe,” says Mara.

    More recently in 2021, Mara became the Holgate Library Administrator, where she supervises the daily operations of the library branch and its staff. 

    “Every day is a new adventure and a learning experience. I learn so much about this diverse community and different cultures,” says Mara. 

    Mara did not come to the United States having friends or a large family, but the library has been a place for her to connect with other readers, Spanish speakers and build a community. 

    “As an immigrant these connections help you not feel so homesick. It makes you happy to speak your language, make connections and give others resources to help them.”

    Learn more about the history of Holgate Library, and stay up to date on the Library Capitol Bond project updates. You can now also view the new interior of what Holgate Library will look like after renovations.

    Multnomah County Library’s Summer Reading program encourages kids, teens, and families to read throughout the summer. With hundreds of kids signed up each year to participate, Summer Reading relies on youth volunteers to keep everything running smoothly. Volunteers hand out the gameboards at library branches, explain how the game works, and give out prizes. Most of a Summer Reading player’s interactions are with the youth volunteers!

    Talia is a new volunteer. She was encouraged by her oldest sister to spend her summer at the library. Talia's sister began volunteering at Rockwood Library as an 8th grader— she is now graduating high school! 

    Four siblings, some seated and others standing, behind Summer Reading table inside Rockwood Library.

    “It’s fun. I really enjoy volunteering because I get to hang out with kids, some of my siblings and friends,” says Talia.

    Talia is also participating in the Summer Reading program as a reader and has been checking out more books since she began volunteering.

    “I’ve gotten like 16 books so far and I’ve read like 5 or 6 of them already,” says Talia.

    Twelve-year old twins, Micah and Xavier, spent this past summer volunteering at Kenton Library. Though it was their first time volunteering for Summer Reading, they have participated in the game for as long as they can remember, Micah notes. 

    Twins Micah and Xavier sitting behind the Summer Reading table at Kenton Library

    Micah and Xavier are avid readers and Oregon Battle of the Books competitors. They often read for “at least two hours each day,” says Micah. When asked if they had any book recommendations, Xavier said “Yes; too many!” They both love fantasy books, and at the top of their list are The Wingfeather Tales by Andrew Peterson and the Warriors series by Erin Hunter.


    Siblings Haben, Amen, and Eden are volunteering together at Fairview-Columbia Library. Haben is the oldest of the three, and he was just eight when he started volunteering with Summer Reading. Haben is now a freshman in high school, and is volunteering with his two siblings. But he isn’t the only one with Summer Reading knowledge; all three siblings have participated as readers in the past.

    Three sibling, Haben, Amen, and Eden, all with big smiles, sitting behind the Summer Reading table at Fairview-Columbia Library.

    “I actually wanted to volunteer since I’ve been doing the reading logs,” says Eden, the second oldest of the trio. “I also enjoy talking to the kids… it’s nice to meet new people.”

    Amen, the youngest, agrees: “I like to help kids find books and give them coupons!”

    In between helping summer readers, Amen likes to color and spend time with her siblings. Haben’s top recommendations for books are barbecue cookbooks – in particular those with recipes for brisket or ribs.

    “I like graphic novels”, says Eden. “One graphic novel I would recommend for ages 10 and up is called Amulet.” 

    In addition to having fun, youth volunteers have the opportunity to develop new skills, gain confidence and build their leadership skills. 

    Volunteers who return year after year, increase their skill through serving in leadership roles and organizing, scheduling, and training new volunteers at their locations,” says Becky Blumer, volunteer services manager. “We frequently hear from young readers that they look up to volunteers and hope to volunteer one day. Thank you, Summer Reading volunteers, for your service and for inspiring our next generation of readers!”

    Summer Reading is supported by gifts to The Library Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to our library’s leadership, innovation and reach through private support.

    The Mid-Autumn Festival is a time to celebrate together with family and friends. The date of the celebration is based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar which combines the lunar and solar calendars. 

    The Chinese lunisolar calendar is guided by the moon phases and the position of the sun in the sky. It is through the Chinese lunisolar calendar that many holidays are celebrated — including the Mid-Autumn Festival and Lunar New Year. 

    The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most celebrated holidays in China, Vietnam and other Asian countries. It falls on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese lunisolar calendar, which is sometime in mid-September, when the moon is at its fullest.

    At the library, staff who celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival have shared their traditions with our library community. Through a series of in-person and virtual events throughout the years, patrons have made lanterns, eaten mooncakes, and read books about the various mythical stories surrounding the moon. 

    “What I did in the past for Vietnamese storytime was buy the mooncakes and invite families to the large meeting room at Midland Library, we would decorate with lanterns and lights. After eating we made a lantern craft, and turned on the song for Mid-Autumn that we sing to light the way for the man on the moon,” says Trang Oliver, Vietnamese bilingual library assistant. 

    The famous legend of Cuội, the man on the moon, is well known throughout Vietnam. As Trang shares it, there is a man who found a miracle tree where a tiger cub had been killed. “When the tiger mom came to that tree, she chewed a leaf and fed it to the tiger cub, and the tiger woke up and lived. The man pulled that tree and brought it home to plant it in his yard. On the way home an old wise man told him this is a magical tree … so he needs to take care of it and only use clean water, never dirty water. The man loved this tree more than anything — even his wife and family. So the wife thought maybe without the tree you will pay more attention to me, and the wife poured dirty water on the tree. When she did this, the tree's roots shaked out of the ground and the man grabbed the tree and he flew up in the sky. That’s how he ended up on the moon.”

    So every Mid-Autumn Festival, when the moon is full, the children light the path with lanterns, for the man on the moon, so that he can come back to the earth. 

    “My parents would tell me this story every year. We would light the lanterns and usually do it at night. It’s such a wonderful holiday,” says Trang.

    In both China and Vietnam, this holiday focuses on time together as a family. However, the legends and myths surrounding the moon tend to change by country and region. 
    In China, Chang’e (嫦娥) is known as the Chinese goddess of the moon, and the story of how she got there is very different from that of the man on the moon.

    Chang’e (嫦娥) was the wife of a brave man. Every day the man would go out and see 10 suns in the sky, and would shoot down nine of the suns, so there was only one. The gods in the heavens were so happy with him that they gave him a potion so that he could live forever. 

    “But there was a bad guy that knew about this potion, and tried to get it,” shares Sally Li, Chinese bilingual library assistant. “The wife says no no no, and so she swallows the potion so the bad guy won’t get it. Then she flies all the way to the moon … So every year the husband looks at the moon for his wife.”

    Families share these traditional stories while celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival.

    “This was a major holiday when we were in our own country. Here it is just another day so I think it is very nice that the library plans gatherings, so people can come and share …The library recognizes that this is a significant event for us and the library is trying. Although the library is not able to create the whole festival… But in the library space we can still celebrate the best way possible,” says Sally. 

    This year there are both in-person and online programs for the community to enjoy the Mid-Autumn Festival. 

    “People want this kind of event, they want to celebrate, it doesn't matter what we do but we celebrate and enjoy time together,” says Kenny Chen, Chinese bilingual library assistant.

    Kenny is one of many library staff who plan events every year for the library community. 

    “Multnomah County is a huge county and the Chinese community is large. Some people live close to Gregory Heights Library, others by Holgate Library … so it might be hard for them to come to a specific location. There are also many organizations hosting the Mid-Autumn Festival every year with potlucks or other things all about friends and family getting together,” says Kenny.

    This Mid-Autumn Festival celebrate with loved ones by attending an in-person or online event at the library. And take a look at the Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival booklist to share in the storytelling aspect of the holiday.

    To listen to Mid-Autumn stories and tales, watch the Lan Su Chinese Garden’s Mid-Autumn Storytime video, with Multnomah County Library staff member Sally Li. 

    Wherever you work, you have rights under the law. Sometimes it is difficult to understand these rights. Below are some resources that can help you learn about your rights as a worker and get help if you believe your rights are being violated.

    Bureau of Labor and Industries Oregon
    This page from BOLI provides specific information about your rights, wage and pay laws, discrimination, and filing complaints.

    Occupational Safety and Health Administration
    OSHA provides information about your safety and health rights at work and ways to file complaints.
    en Español:

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
    This organization oversees federal laws and has information on their website about types of discrimination and fact sheets for each one.
    En Español:

    Northwest Workers Justice Project
    Provides legal advice and education to Oregon's low-wage workers as they advocate on their own behalf.
    En Español:

    Voz Workers Rights Education Project
    Empowers “workers to create social change for better opportunities and working conditions”.

    United Farm Workers
    UFW is the nation’s largest farm workers union using organizing and action to create change.

    Pineros Y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste
    PCUN “empowers farmworkers and working Latinx families in Oregon by building community, increasing Latinx representation in elections, and policy advocacy”.

    The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
    AFL-CIO is a federation of unions that works collectively to “help make safe, equitable workplaces and give working people a collective voice to address workplace injustices”.

    Fair Labor Standards Act
    The FLSA “establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.”

    This library blog post about legal aid may also be useful. 

    The Library can help you do research about workers rights and help you with your job and career search. Contact us to ask questions or book a One-on-One appointment.


    Through the Affordable Connectivity Program, you can receive a monthly credit off of your internet bill. This program is funded by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). You may also be able to receive a one time $100 credit towards a device such as a computer, laptop or tablet. The device cannot be more than $150 and will require a minimum of a $10 payment by consumer. Please reach out to library staff for more information. This credit can be received for existing or new internet customers.

    Find out if you qualify

    To qualify you have to make 200% of the federal poverty limit or less. Please refer to the income table below.

    Qualifying income levels:

    Number of people in household Income
    1 $27,180
    2 $36,620
    3 $46,060
    4 $55,500
    5 $64,940
    6 $74,380
    7 $83,820
    8 $93,260

    Visit the Affordable Connectivity Program website to learn more about qualifying. 

    You may also qualify if you or a member of your family:

    • Gets free or reduced-price school breakfast/lunch.
    • Receives SNAP benefits.
    • Received a federal Pell grant for 2021.
    • Meets other criteria.


    Apply online, pick up a paper application at any Multnomah County library, or visit or call a participating provider:

    • AT&T: 800-331-0500
    • Comcast Xfinity: 800-934-6489
    • Comcast Internet Essentials: 855-846-8376
    • Human-I-T: 888-391-7249  
    • T-Mobile: 800-866-2453
    • Verizon: 800-922-0204 
    • Ziply Fiber: 866-699-4759 

    Get help

    If you need help, visit your library or call:

    • Multnomah County Library: 503-988-5123
    • Emergency Broadband Support Center: 833-511-0311
    • Community Information Center: call 211 
    • Portland Customer Service Program: call 311

    The Mobile Library is a custom RV that is the size of a band’s tour bus! It will bring library services to neighborhoods around Multnomah County. Along with space for storytimes and programs, the Mobile Library features bookshelves to browse, computer stations, wifi access, printers with scanning and faxing abilities, AC and heat. 

    New multi-colored new mobile library

    Communities that might not have close or easy access to a library location will be among the first to be visited. With the new Mobile Library, the library is hoping to reach people who have not previously been to a library; those with mobility issues; people without access to transportation, or even those who work during regular hours of operation and need a more flexible opening schedule. Beginning next year, the Mobile Library will also help support delivery of library services in communities impacted by library closures due to renovations and expansion. 

    “This is a unique opportunity for the library to expand our reach into the community. Expanding our library services with the Mobile Library to communities that have barriers coming in is just another way we will be able to do this,” says David Lee, mobile and partner libraries manager.

    The Mobile Library will park at community centers, churches and other locations. When it visits an elementary school, kid-friendly books, games and activities will be on board. For technology classes, it will be set up with additional computers and seating.

    Several library staff members are training to drive the Mobile Library and offer classes for the community. 

    “We will be exploring ways for providing vital library services and programs out in the community. This will be in partnership with library and county staff members and community partners,” says Steph Miller, mobile librarian.

    Although the library has never had a Mobile Library with computer, printers, and wifi access in the past, the library has had a variety of bookmobiles for over 90 years. The first one in 1924 was referred to as the Rural Service Truck. This specialty Dodge truck circulated over 78,000 books every year, carrying up to 800 books and a desk at one time.

    Young patrons crowd outside a library bus several decades ago

    Iterations of the Rural Service Truck and bookmobile were continually in service until the early 2000s. 

    With the new Mobile Library, the library will be able to “bring technology and services that haven’t been possible in the past, and do so in a mobile fashion,” says David. 

    The design for the outside is based on the theme of connection. The community connecting with the library. People connecting to the internet. Readers connecting with great books. The Mobile Library will be where it all comes together — on wheels.

    “Seeing a big colorful bus hopefully brings calm to those hesitant to engage with a public institution, as well as a smile. The colorful lines converging at the door and at the logo represent the library as a connecting place. Our libraries are vibrant spaces for connection, so I wanted the Mobile Library to visually express that,” says Multnomah County Library’s Art Director, Don Bradley. 

    More information about the Mobile Library will be available on the library’s website soon. 

    When Frances Spann would come into the library for technology help, she was determined to finish writing, editing and publishing her life story. 

    With the help of Lynnea Amend, staff technology trainer, and Andrew Nilsen, bilingual Spanish tech help coordinator, Frances Spann learned new technology skills and made two new friends. 

    As a library patron, Frances shines a light onto the beauty of how library services can make an impact in someone’s life. 

    Patron Frances Spain standing by sign for Gresham Library

    Frances’s first visit to a Multnomah County Library was in 1992, at the age of 46, when The Oregonian did an interview with her about her life.

    “Before then, there was no need for me to go to the library, because I couldn't read or write,” says Frances. 

    Born in 1946 in Belzoni, Mississippi, Frances was a sharecropper's daughter. As a child she worked picking cotton with her family and was not allowed to go to school. 

    “I was deprived of getting an education because we lived on a plantation and Black people weren't allowed to send their kids to school back in the ’40s,” says Frances. 

    The plantation had several Black families working and living there. She lived there for part of her childhood until she moved to nearby Greenwood with her mother and siblings. 

    Frances tried to attend school. Her visit was cut short when as an 11 year old, she was put in a pre-kindergarten class. The school children and teachers made fun of her and she did not return. She had street smarts, and that helped her keep going. 

    It wasn't until after she married, had nine children, and made her way to Oregon, that Frances finally had an opportunity to go to school. She began with Adult Basic Education at Portland Community College.

    “I started in the classroom and tested below a third grade education. It took me eight years just to get my GED,” says Frances. 

    At this time, Frances was taking care of her children and going to school. She would stay up late doing homework and take classes while her children were in school. She credits her graduation and future success to the teachers who helped her along the way and encouraged her to keep going.

    “I got my GED and then I went to work as a caregiver, and the people that I was working for, they are the ones that inspired me to write my autobiography,” says Frances. 

    In 1996, Frances didn’t know how to use a computer, so she began to handwrite her story with a pen and paper. 

    “I didn't write every day, but I wrote whenever the urge hit me to write,” says Frances. “So as an author, to tell you the truth, it took me about 12 years, maybe 13 years in the making to finish it up.”

    It was her daughter who encouraged Frances to get a flash drive for the safekeeping of her story, and to reach out to the library.

    Many years later, in 2019, Frances stepped into the Gresham Library seeking help to use a computer so she could finish her autobiography. 

    “I wanted for my kids and grandkids to know who they’ve been dealing with all these years because they know me as a mother, grandmother, auntie and a friend, but I want to let them know that there were some obstacles for me to get to where I am. And I couldn't share it with them like I could put it in a book when I write it down. To let them know my whole life history,” says Frances.

    “They set me up with Andrew, to help me with my computer skills, but I think we had like two sessions, and then Covid hit,” says Frances. “I got disconnected from Andrew and I didn't think I would ever hear from him again.”

    Once in-person tech help resumed, Andrew called Frances to ask if she was still interested in connecting in person at the library.  

    “He said ‘are you still working on the autobiography?’ and I said ‘Yes I am,’ and then he said ‘well I have this nice lady – which is Lynnea, that would be happy to help you,” says Frances.

    Andrew set up the tech help appointment for Lynnea and Frances at Gresham Library and Frances shared her story.

    “I immediately felt so comfortable and relaxed (with Frances). Like we had just known each other and been friends for a long time. She’s just an easy person to talk to, and such a kind person,” says Lynnea.

    In a span of three months, Frances and Lynnea worked together to find an editor for the 100-page autobiography.

    “This is mainly more for my grandkids than my kids, because I couldn't tell my kids my life story. For one reason, I didn't want to poison their environment against people of another color, and I wanted them to look at people for who they were. Now, their mothers and their fathers can teach them and explain to them — the way this book is going to explain to my kids, that everyone is not the same, because a lot has happened since my generation,” says Frances. 

    Being able to put her story down on paper and having it published has been part of Frances’s life mission. Frances is working on delivering the 25 copies of her autobiography to members of her family.

    We realize it’s only July, but we’re already thinking about going back to school in the fall and how to help you do it on the cheap! Here are some tips we’ve learned over the years:

    Reuse and Recycle! 
    Before heading to the store, look around your home first to see what office and art supplies you could use for the upcoming school year. And you might not need a new backpack or lunch box, maybe last year’s just needs a good wash!

    Borrow or trade school supplies
    Ask extended family and friends if they have spare supplies you could borrow or have. Or maybe they are interested in trading extra supplies? Maybe you have a bunch of pencils and your friend has extra notebooks–a swap would be a win-win situation for both of you! This can also work for clothes, if you know folks whose kids are older and outgrown their clothes, or check your community’s Facebook/NextDoor page or neighborhood newsletter for upcoming clothing swaps!

    Buy second-hand!
    From backpacks to clothing, you can find real bargains at garage sales and thrift stores. Or check out Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace (or better yet, the Facebook Buy Nothing page) online.

    Start now!
    If you can, spread out your purchases over the summer. You don’t need to make extra trips to the store, just hit up the school supply aisle when you’re already out grocery shopping or running other errands. And be sure to check the front page of the store's circular or sales flier for items that are currently on sale! 

    And the flip side of the coin… wait!
    There are plenty of great sales to take advantage of during the back-to-school rush, but seasonal items such as fall clothing become cheaper after school starts (and they have to make way for the winter stuff). And fingers crossed, your kids won’t need that winter sweater for a little while!

    Follow your list
    School supply lists are available now for some schools in Multnomah County. Print the list and bring it with you every time you go shopping. And follow it - no need to get anything fancy that’s not on the list. Here is what we found as of the publishing of this post:

    • Centennial: We were unable to find updated supply lists on their website. Trying finding your school and looking on their individual website, usually under the “Families” or “For Parents and Students” dropdown menus.  
    • David Douglas: “Families do not need to purchase supplies over the summer. They will be provided at school.” More info here.
    • Gresham Barlow: “Gresham-Barlow School District will be supplying elementary and middle school students with any necessary school supplies. Families will still need to provide their students with backpacks. Each school will be in contact with families regarding other school-specific details before the start of the school year.” More info here.
    • Parkrose: You will need to go into each school’s page to find their supply list. Once at your school’s page, look under the Student’s drop down menu for the supply list (if it has been made available). 
    • Portland Public Schools: Some schools provide supplies for free; unfortunately, each school is different. For the most part, find your school and look under the 'Our School' menu. Sometimes supply lists are linked directly from there. You can also try using the search feature (top right of page) and type in your school’s name and the word “supply”. 
    • Reynolds: Reynolds is on top of things and has one page with all the supplies needed!
    • Riverdale: Select your school and check the website.

    And definitely contact your school directly if you need help with getting supplies; they will help.

    Do you have ideas we didn’t share here? Please let us know in the comments below! 

    This article was written for our Family Newsletter, available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at with any questions.

    There are many horrific stories in the news about mass shootings, war, racism, environmental disasters and other tragedies. Even if kids aren’t specifically watching or listening to the news, they hear about these stories and can rightfully feel scared and anxious. And it’s important, as adults, that we be open to having discussions with kids about these tragic events. Thankfully, lots of very smart people have been giving tips on how to have these difficult conversations and we’ve listed some of them here to help. We are also including a reading list that may help. 

    How to Talk With Kids About Tragedies & Other Traumatic News Events from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
    In this article, the AAP encourages families to filter information about the event and present it in a way that their child can understand and handle in a healthy way. Tips are broken down by age, while taking into consideration development delays and neurodiversity.

    Disaster: Helping Children Cope from The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) 
    For families who have been through a disaster, this article speaks to behavioral changes you may note in your children and links to further resources.

    How to Talk to Children About School Shootings from the Stanford Children’s Health
    Written after the Uvalde school shooting, this short article speaks directly to children’s fears around this topic, and includes signs that a child may need additional help, as well as how adults can help manage their own anxiety and stress.

    How to Talk to Your Kids About School Shootings from Scholastic Parents
    We like this article not only because it gives age-appropriate and helpful strategies for having conversations on this very difficult topic with your kids, but also because it brings up the power of “allowing children to be active and involved as a way of alleviating some of their fears.”

    How to Help Children Manage Fears from the Child Mind Institute
    One of our favorite resources, this Child Mind Institute article is more generally about children’s fears, no matter what they may be, and how to help them learn to manage them.

    15 Tips for Talking with Children about Violence from ¡Colorín Colorado! 
    This bilingual site offers practical steps for talking with young children to teens. It includes admitting that adults don’t have all the answers and also feel sad, but that we are here. While the main site is in English and Spanish, a tip sheet is available in several more languages.

    This article was written for our Family Newsletter, available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at with any questions.

    Mom and child reading at a library

    For families looking for a welcoming space for children on the autism spectrum or those that would like a more adaptive storytime experience, Sensory Storytime is an inclusive and interactive program. 

    Sensory Storytime is a weekly online event supporting neurodiverse families. Children get a chance to have fun with the library while staying at home in a safe and predictable place. 

    “My kids are on the autism spectrum, and the pandemic meant they were completely out of their regular therapies for a long time. The Sensory Storytime was a lifeline during those times, and continues to be. They practice turn-taking, and the activities are super fun and engaging!” says Carmem, a Storytime parent. 

    Children with sensory processing differences may have a tough time coming to the library due to sounds, lighting or other stimuli. The way that each child reacts to new spaces and interactions can be completely different, and there is not a one size fits all approach. 

    “We have really valued all of the virtual options for learning that allow my child to be in her own space, but also be exposed to other children… activities as simple as finger drawing in salt in a tray help me (as a parent) think of simple, creative, engaging activities to keep us all busy,” says Taylor, another Storytime parent. 

    Prior to the pandemic, Sensory Storytime was offered in person, and attendance was relatively low. In 2020, all events and programs switched to online. More families began to join in this storytime. 

    “When Covid pushed storytimes online, we had the pleasant surprise that our reach to this community grew. Rather than the handful of families coming to in-person storytime, our Zoom storytimes often have as many as 50 families that register in a given session, and some families have been with us since the pandemic started,” says Kri Schlafer, bilingual library assistant. 

    During each session of Sensory Storytime the instructors, Kri and Karen, show the children a visual schedule. They refer to the schedule throughout the storytime to help participants track what's happening in storytime, and what they will be doing next. As part of the schedule, they take time to say hello, sing, stretch and move, and read a couple of stories together. The storytime ends with a sensory activity, a rhyme, and saying goodbye. 

    The library provides all program supplies not commonly found at home. Families can pick activity kits up at their local library branch or request that kits be mailed directly to their homes.

    “Every week is full of songs, stories and an activity based on that week’s theme. It is all age group appropriate, but also manages to be inclusive for children with different needs and abilities. Finding activities that my son (with expressive language disorder) can participate in has been daunting, but this has been the perfect fit for us,” says Grace, a Storytime parent.

    Sensory Storytime is one of several resources assisting with accessibility needs. Every library is equipped with a Sensory Accommodation Kit. These kits provide tools to help with background noises and other distractions. Kits can include a wiggle cushion, fidgets, and other items. In addition, patrons can request a free set of headphones at any library location.

    For a sensory learning experience, families can find interactive learning and play structures in the children’s section of several libraries. 

    With the upcoming Library Capital Bond project, there will be more changes to spaces to better accommodate neurodiverse people— like the sensory room that will be added to the updated Midland library. 

    Through the bond work, library spaces will be updated to better reflect the needs of the community. Long gone is the idea that the library has to be a quiet space, but rather it is meant to be a community space for all to feel welcome.

    Registration is now open for the Sensory Storytime summer session (July 12-August 23). And, if you want to enjoy storytime, but can’t make it live, take a look at the library’s Sensory Storytime videos. Welcome to the library!

    The Summer Reading program is about more than reading. It is about building a love for learning with fun things to do for all ages.

    A young child pointing out words in a picture book. An older kid cooking and baking. A teen studying for their driver license. These are just a few of the ways to join in Summer Reading.

    Child holding books and library card

    Early childhood: ages 0-4

    Summer Reading before you can read? Yes! Reading to babies and toddlers to help them develop a reading habit. They can also count letters, scribble, sing, and play games. Babies born during the summer months can start playing Summer Reading right away! Explore fun stories and songs by joining a storytime online or outdoors this summer

    Five kids running on grass

    Kindergarten - grade 5

    Children can participate by listening to an audiobook, playing games and even creating games! Going outside, gardening, looking at bugs and exploring the world around them can make kids curious to learn more. Playing sports or team games helps to build skills for cooperating and planning with others. 

    "It's important to think outside the books so that Summer Reading is relevant and accessible to people of all cultures, abilities, interests, and learning styles," says Keli Yeats, youth librarian.

    Cooking and baking is also an opportunity for children of all ages, teens and adults to participate in Summer Reading. When cooking and baking, kids can read recipes and practice math and science. Check out an e-cookbook! Make recipes based on a book or story: Arab Fairy Tale Feasts, The Manga Cookbook, The Pokémon Cookbook. You can listen to local music through the Library Music Project while you work together to make a delicious meal. 

    “Other things that you can do to participate that promote learning outside of reading include: writing your own story, writing a poem, or creating your own game, making art or exploring a new language . . .  All of those are different activities that we encourage youth to do throughout the summer months to participate in this game and promote learning,” says Bryan Fearn, community learning manager.

    Two teens in front of 3-D printer at Rockwood Makerspace

    Middle school and high school

    Teens may think reading is the only option for participating in Summer Reading. Not so! If toddlers can participate through play, why shouldn’t teens and adults?

    Try tabletop or video role playing games. Teens can learn history and practice storytelling. There can be a lot of reading and math in character development and game rules. Teamwork in these games builds the same skills as physical sports.

    Other ways teens can stay involved in Summer Reading is by learning to be good digital citizens online and through social media. Everyday rules in our day to day lives don't always translate to those in the digital space, so learning how to seek good online spaces, research information for accuracy, and checking community guidelines can make a big difference. 

    “This gets to the point of Summer Reading. It’s not just about reading books. It’s about preparing youth and teens to go out and navigate the world as adults,” says Keli Yeats, youth librarian.

    At the Rockwood Makerspace, teens can learn how to use new technology or create independent art projects. It’s a great way to build digital skills and confidence.

    Summer Reading is supported by gifts to The Library Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to enhancing our library's leadership, innovation and reach through private support.


    Adults can play a Summer Reading game too with the Read 4 Life game. Through Hoopla, adults can browse a collection of digital comics, play music, or even check out movies. See the library’s events page for classes for job seekers, computer help, and more. 

    Read 4 Life is sponsored by The Friends of the Library.

    What is Dyslexia?

    Dyslexia is a neurological difference often characterized by difficulties with reading, writing and spelling. It may run in the families and cannot be “cured.” Individuals with this condition must learn coping strategies.

    Dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence. With the right instruction, almost all individuals with dyslexia can learn to read.  A multi-sensory, phonics based approach is often the best way to help kids learn to read. The Orton-Gillingham, Barton System and/or Lindamood-Bell programs are well known programs that work.

    This great Ted-Ed talk provides an overview of dyslexia.

    What should I look for?

    Decoding Dyslexia offers these early signs of dyslexia:

    • Late speech (3 years or later)
    • Mixing up sounds in multi-syllable words (e.g. bisghetti, aminal, mazageen)
    • Inability to rhyme by age 4
    • Difficulty with substitutions, omissions and deletions
    • Unusual pencil grip
    • Difficulty remembering rote facts (months of the year, days of the week)
    • Confusion of left vs. right  

    One of the biggest challenges of dyslexia is counteracting shame caused by teasing and misunderstanding. Children are often teased because they can’t read as well as others. Teachers may say things like “she’s a slow reader” in front of the child or parents. Kids know what “slow” means and they often grow up believing they are “stupid” and/or “lazy.”

    Headstrong Nation’s Learn the Facts wants you to know the facts, help your child recognize her/his strengths and weaknesses, learn how to talk about it with trusted friends and family and eventually, be comfortable sharing one’s real self with the world.

    Dyslexia Assessment in Multnomah County

    Oregon Senate Bills 612 and 1003 require school districts to universally screen for risk factors of dyslexia in kindergarten. The Oregon Department of Education provides guidance and training for districts and educators. If you or your child aren't in school or you feel the school is missing something, here are a few of the many assessment and intervention providers in the County.

    The Blosser Center - Accredited by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, the Blosser Center provides assessment, tutoring and teacher training.

    Language Skills Therapy - Provides assessment and tutoring

    New Leaves Clinic - Provides assessment and treatment in Hillsboro, Oregon

    PDX Reading Specialist, LLC​ - Provides assessment, tutoring, advocacy and professional development

    How the library can help

    There are three valid types of reading: with your eyes (print & video), with your ears (audiobooks), and with your fingers (Braille).  


    Typically easier for someone with dyslexia, the library has thousands of audiobooks on CD and in downloadable formats for people who read with their ears. Library information staff can help you find and use audiobooks.

    DVD/Blu-ray and streaming

    The library has thousands of DVDs, Blu-ray and downloadable films for people who read with eyes and ears. Library information staff can help you find and use these media.


    E-books are available to borrow through OverDrive to read on your desktop or with the Libby app. Accessibility options include using screen readers, changing text size, turning on dyslexic font, reading in sepia or night mode, and more. When searching for a subject, you can also look for the format "OverDrive Read-along" which provides narration that plays along while you read. The OverDrive help page explains how to find these read-along books and library staff can help as well.

    Additional resources

    Bookshare e-books have functions for people with print disabilities, including low vision, dyslexia and the inability to hold a physical book. Adults with a library card can get free access through the library. Students can get access through their school.

    The Oregon Talking Book and Braille Library is free for any Oregonian with a print-disability including dyslexia or dysphasia.