Blogs

The Dying Grass: A Novel of the Nez Perce War

by William T. Vollman

Vollmann, a National Book Award Winner, brings us a stirring account of the 1877 Nez Perce War as seen through the eyes of the Civil War general leading the US Army.

One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon

by Tim Weiner

Weiner, a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner, presents a portrait of one of the most controversial and disastrous presidents in US history. Based on declassified documents, he shows Nixon as a brilliant but tortured man who distrusted not only his own staff and Congress but the American population at large.

A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design

by Frank Wilczek

Wilczek, a quantum physics scientist, explores the universe through historical scientific discoveries starting with Plato and Pythagoras through the present. He looks for the deep logic in the forms the universe takes and describes their harmonic and balanced symmetry.

On Writing

by Charles Bukowski

From the late great poet and novelist, gathered here is a collection of his correspondence with publishers, editors, friends, and fellow writers.

How We'll Live on Mars

by Stephen Petranek

Petranek claims that humans will live on Mars by 2027, and he makes the case that living on Mars is not just plausilble but inevitable due to the environmental and human conditions on Earth.

 

Many years ago I had the opportunity to see the great violinist Isaac Stern in recital at what was then called the Civic Auditorium -- now the Keller Auditorium. It was of course an evening of great music making, but I only remember one piece that was played. After the intermission, I returned to my seat as Mr. Stern and his accompanist launched in to Béla Bartók’s second sonata for violin and piano. I had never heard music like this before and was mesmerized -- I think my jaw may actually have dropped! This was the beginning of my love of Bartók and my introduction to the music of the twentieth century.

Bartók was born in 1881 in the village of Nagyszentmiklós in the Hungarian Empire -- today, the town is part of Romania. He spent time in his early career traveling the countryside recording folk tunes of Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria -- music that would inspire much of his later work.

So what continues to fascinate me about this music after 40 years? Certainly its folk-inspired nature. But more than that, I think it’s simply the raw energy in pieces like his first two piano concertos, his fourth string quartet, and Contrasts -- a piece for violin, clarinet and piano, which was commissioned by Benny Goodman.

Bartók toured the United States in 1927-28 and as part of his west coast travels he made an appearance in Portland. Here is an image of the program from that evening. This image and other images of early concerts in Portland can be viewed in Multnomah County Library's The Gallery.

For a lot of people, the pleasure of reading is enhanced when they can discuss books with friends or family. But children, teens and adults can't always read the same books. If you'd like to amp up the conversation at your dinner table, explore some of these titles grouped by themes and subject.

To begin, if your family enjoys stories about real people, here's one that is available in formats for beginning readers to adults. William Kamkwaba is a Malawian innovator. As a teen living in poverty, he devised a windmill that provided first electricity and then drinking water to his community.

Talking about animal welfare can be a challenge, for both kids and adults. Here are three stories for varying age levels that examine our treatment of animals.

If you're off on a camping trip this summer, what better time to discuss wilderness, courage and the will to survive?

Are you waiting with bated breath for Go Set a Watchman? Read, (or re-read) To Kill a Mockingbird, while younger readers get engrossed in The Lions of Little Rock, and then talk about civil rights and the power of friendship to bring people together.

In the early 1900's, Edward Curtis traveled North America taking photos of Native people, an obsession that almost destroyed his life but left us with an amazing historical record. Here's his story told for both adults and kids.

Looking for some creative inspiration? Syllabus is essentially a college course on connecting to your inner artist; My Pen encourages artists of all ages to draw. Just add blank paper.

Happy reading and discussing!

Japan's World Heritage Sites book jacketFrom Miyazaki to manga, ramen to robot restaurants…Japan is a varied country indeed. I just returned from a trip there, and my head is still spinning with visions of cherry blossoms, moss-covered gardens, golden temples, doll-like lolita fashions, a mountain full of fox spirits, Tokyo's neon cacophony… the list goes on.  And then there are the things I wish I could have experienced: misty cryptomeria forests, hot springs, cat islands, rabbit islands, fox villages… hmm, I think I may be going back!Bye Bye Kitty book jacket

So how best to prepare for such a trip? Check out loads of stuff from the library, that’s how, and not just travel guides - why not immerse yourself in everything from classics to cult films? As the date of our departure drew closer, my traveling companion (who’d been there before) and I did just that. I read The Kangaroo Notebook by Kobo Abe, about a man who discovers radish sprouts growing from his legs, and my friend said with a straight face, “You might see that in Japan.” On the plane we saw Parasyte, a manga-based movie about an alien who takes up residence in a student's hand, and he said "You've got to watch out for those in Japan." Of course he was joking, and I saw neither of these (if only!).

As for things you might actually see in Japan, Bye Bye Kitty!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art introduced me to the windswept grotesques of photographer Miwa Yanagi, the detailed microcosms of illustrator Manabu Ikeda, and sculptor Motohiko Odani's macabre Noh masks. And there is nothing more magnificent than Japan's World Heritage Sites, a lavish book full of large-scale photos of temples, gardens, castles, and more that I pored over for hours. And of course there's more... just see this list.

Temperatures are getting high early this year!  Do you need a safe place to cool down?  

Photograph of the sun, with power lines in the foreground.When the weather is forecast to be extremely hot, local governments extend service hours at community centers, senior centers, and other facilities to give people a free place to cool down.  211info has a handy list of these cooling centers in Multnomah, Clark, Clackamas, Columbia, Washington, Marion, Yamhill and Polk counties.

All Multnomah County Libraries are air-conditioned (even when there's not a heat wave!) and they're great places to visit when you need a respite from the heat.  All Multnomah County Libraries are open seven days a week -- and there's a handy map you can use to find the library nearest to you.

Would you like tips on staying safe and healthy during a heat wave?  Multnomah County has tips on staying cool and staying healthy in the heat.  Or, take a look at the Red Cross's info on heat wave safety (click on the "Prepare" and "Respond During" tabs to see more details) or the Frequently Asked Questions About Extreme Heat from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

If you have a pet, you may want to look at the Oregon Human Society's information about hot weather safety for pets, DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital's advice about avoiding heatstroke and keeping your pet safe in hot weather, or the Humane Society of the United States's tips for keeping pets safe in the heat

Link to whatslegaloregon.comIn November 2014 Oregon voters approved Measure 91, allowing the possession and sale of cannabis by adults 21 and older for recreational use. (Here is the full text of Measure 91.) Deciphering the details of the law can be tricky, especially if you are considering starting a marijuana-related business.

The most reliable source of information about the laws surrounding recreational marijuana is the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). Their What’s Legal? Educate Before You Recreate site lays out what you can and cannot do starting July 1, 2015.

The OLCC Rules Advisory Committee & Subcommittees on Recreational Marijuana are having a series of public meetings this summer in their main office at 9079 SE McLoughlin Blvd. in Portland. For questions about accessibility or accommodations for persons with disabilities, please call 503-872-6366 or email marijuana@oregon.gov. You can look up agendas and listen to audio of past meetings online.

If you are considering starting a marijuana-related business, start with the OLCC’s frequently asked questions on marijuana licensing. The OLCC will not be accepting applications for recreational marijuana licenses until January 4, 2016, and the rules are still being written; to stay up-to-date, subscribe to receive email alerts from the OLCC.

Measure 91 has no impact on Oregon’s Medical Marijuana Act. You can apply for a Medical Marijuana card through the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP), or apply to be a medical marijuana dispensary through the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program.

To stay informed, you can find the OLCC's updates on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to receive OLCC updates by email.

Link to Legalization of Marijuana booklistIf you’re curious about how Oregon’s recreational marijuana plan compares to those in Colorado and Washington, here’s a side-by-side comparison (pdf). If you’re interested in looking at the broader issues surrounding the legalization of marijuana, check out this blog post on legalizing marijuana that my colleague Cathy wrote before the election.  And here are some books that go more in depth into the pros and cons of marijuana legalization and medical use.

Always use caution when searching for information and make sure your sources of information are credible; the Southern Illinois University Law Library has a great guide to Evaluating Websites and Other Information Resources. And remember, you can always ask a librarian for help; we love questions!

As I write this, my coworkers and I are all a little excited. Our boss, who we really like, will any minute now become a father for the first time. The parents who work here are especially delighted because we’ll be reminded of our own experiences of becoming parents, and maybe we'll get to share some hard-won wisdom with the new dad.

One thing I’ll definitely share, when the time comes, is Ellyn Satter’s Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense.

Feeding babies and children can be really fun. I remember the summer that my first child was able to eat real food; the parade of summer fruits she got to experience for the first time--strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches. We got marionberries that were as big as her fists, and she ate them with concentration and joy, purple juice dripping down her chin.

But feeding small children can also be hugely frustrating. One day they love scrambled eggs. The next, they are affronted that you would even suggest they eat such a thing. Many parents react by feeding their children only the tried and true favorites, which can lead to a pretty limited diet, and there’s frequently a lot of stress and discord around feeding issues. Child of Mine can really help. The main thing I got from this book was a firm grasp on what should be my responsibility and what should be my children’s. My job is to provide a variety of healthy foods at regular intervals -- so I decide “what” and “when”. My kids decide if they’re going to eat and how much. I haven’t followed this perfectly, but it kind of set us on our course, and my kids definitely eat their fruits and veggies. So if you have a small child and feeding is an issue -- which it is for just about everyone at one time or another -- check out Child of Mine.

Once upon a time...

Last month we at the Hollywood Teen Book Council explored our forever love of fairy tales, folklore and myth. From the time we were young, and building our reading skills on Daisy Meadows’ Rainbow Fairies, to today with Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, fairies, witches and dark forests still capture our imagination.

Alisa Folen, student at Grant High School and Hollywood Teen Book Council Chair, shares her review for National Book Award Finalist The Witch; and Other Tales Re-Told by Jean Thompson.

The Witch by Jean Thompson“This book is a collection of short stories featuring an array of characters. They are all re-tellings of some of the best known fairy tales. The author adds a modern twist and interesting creepy details to add depth to the classic tales you thought you knew. This book is well written because the author takes stories you heard as a kid and makes them more relatable for teenagers today. However, some of the chapters don’t really follow a fairy tale close enough for it to be recognizable which can be confusing. I would recommend this book to other teens, especially those who enjoy creepier books.”

For more of our favorites, check out this list.

The Unforgiving Coast book jacketSummer is here and as usual we are inundated with reading lists of the best summer beach reads. They are everywhere. Locally, The Oregonian has a list of 19 Must Read Beach Books and the Portland Mercury tells you How to Pick the Perfect Summer Book.  Nationally, Good Housekeeping has their Best Summer Beach Reads, Entertainment Weekly recommends 10 Big Fat Beach Reads, the New York Times offers Cool Books for Hot Summer Days and the Huffington Post offers a list of “titles to get you started whether you are at the beach or just wish you were.”Jaws book jacket

Well, I for one feel it is time to revolt against the tyranny of summer beach reading. Maybe you don’t like the beach or don’t live near the ocean. What’s wrong with staying inside and enjoying the comfort of your own home? Also, lots of bad things can happen at the beach.  Bad things like tsunamis, sharks, venomous jellyfish, shipwrecks, pollution, and crowds to just name a few. So I say let’s celebrate staying away from the beach with our reading this summer!  Try something from this list of books and enjoy reading in the comfort of your own safe and cozy home.

Mayor Charlie Hales at National Night Out - City of Portland photo

Are you thinking of planning a block party this summer? In early August for the last 30 years, communities and neighborhoods have been getting together to meet, celebrate, and have fun as part of the National Night Out celebrations. These events were started to promote safe neighborhoods and crime prevention initiatives by solidifying partnerships between law enforcement and communities. These events are generally free and family-friendly. A continuing feature of local celebrations is that groups can request to have police officers and firefighters show up at their party. And who knows, your neighborhood could throw a party and maybe even the Mayor will show up!

I know my neighborhood party will have grills and hot dogs and some games for the kids, but each party is a little bit different. Some are small affairs with a handful of neighbors potlucking, while others occupy the better part of a city park. Thinking of planning your own party? The Office of Neighborhood Involvement in Portland has a variety of National Night Out party planning resources to help you get started that should assist planning for everything from a small potluck picnic with chalk out for the kids to a big bash with a live band that shuts down the street. There is a brief National Night Out page for Gresham and a National Night Out page for Fairview, each with a contact person for more information. The message from the experts is to start early--it's not too early to plan for next year! 

The official date of National Night Out is the first Tuesday in August, but there are so many parties happening in Multnomah County, they can't all take place on the same day. The City of Portland compiles a list of parties submitted to them for publicizing. Check out the Find a party link (coming soon!) to find events in Portland. In Gresham, call 503-618-2567 to find out where there's a party near you and in Troutdale call 503-665-6129. Learn more about Fairview's party on their National Night Out web page

We've compiled a list of books to get you planning your party, meeting your neighbors and thinking about community. See our picks for National Night Out celebrations. 

You might see your Library at a National Night Out party. We can't hit all the parties (we'd be so tired!), but where you see us, you can guarantee that we'll be talking about all the great books, services, and resources the Library can provide to you.  When we learn which parties we're attending, we'll list them here.

 

Summer is here and that means one thing.

What? You don't know? Why it's time to put on Out of Africa of course and indulge in Robert Redford, excuse me, I mean the glory days of the British Empire. Surely I cannot be the only one who opens all the doors and windows on the first properly hot day, puts in the dvd, and sits back with a G&T, fan circling overhead.

Or possibly I am.  

No matter. I'm in the mood for a little British East Africa kind of love. Anyone care to join me?



 

Zine creators, the Portland Zine Symposium is coming up in less than a month! If your world is ruled by an academic calendar, perhaps this may be a moment when you have just a bit more time to work on creative projects, like putting together the zine (or zines!) that you’ve been thinking up in recent months.

Or perhaps you are new to zines and have never made one. Zines are usually handmade paper booklets that anyone can create. Want to give it a try? Here are some directions for turning one piece of paper into a basic zine: a version to view online or a version to print. See below for more resources about making zines and books.

Whether zines are a new idea or an old friend for you, the library abounds with inspiration and resources for your creative project! Consider these:

Crap Hound 8 - Superstitions

The Central Library Picture File is an astounding resource: thousands upon thousands of magazine and book clippings, organized by subject. These can be checked out and photocopied or scanned (you can’t cut them up and paste them in your zine, though!). Do you need the perfect picture of a bluebird, or an ancient computer, or children’s clothes from the 1960s? Look no further! Ask about the Picture Files at the Art & Music reference desk on Central Library’s third floor.

Of course clip art can be found online, but clip art books are a real pleasure to browse and use. Many of these come with a CD containing image files that you can download to your computer for resizing, editing, etc. A real gem of a clip art resource is found in the series of books called Crap Hound - each volume is created around a theme or cluster of themes (Superstition; Church & State; Hands, Hearts, & Eyes are a few), and the images are laid out in the most appealing, artful way.

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Part One by Annie MurphyThe library’s Zine Collection is a wonderful resource, full of examples of zines and minicomics made by zinesters and artists from near and far. Zines can be browsed online (use the subject heading Zines or search by author or title, or try our book lists), placed  on hold, and checked out just like other library materials. I recently read local zinester and artist Annie Murphy’s new zine I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Part One: My Own Private Portland - about River Phoenix, Gus Van Sant and his film My Own Private Idaho, Portland in the eighties and nineties, and the experience of growing up during this time. It is beautiful and moving, illustrated in moody black & white ink wash, and handwritten in tidy cursive. I think you should give it a try.

How to Make Books by Esther K. SmithFor more technical information about making zines and books, you might enjoy browsing some of our books about bookbinding - I recently stumbled upon How to Make Books by Esther K. Smith, which has instructions and lovely illustrations for a range of homemade books, from instant zines and accordion books to more elaborate stitched books and Coptic binding.

Also: July has been designated International Zine Month, and July 21 in particular Zine Library Day. So come to the library and check out some zines! Make a zine!

Every week, new books  are added to my ever growing "to be read" pile.  While it’s a pleasant hazard of the library profession, the looming tower of unread tomes has grown a bit too tall for comfort. However, after a recent search through the new titles joining the collection, I think there's some room left. Here are three I'm excited about.

Big freedia cover

 

 

The queen diva of bounce music has a story tell. It's time to listen.

 

 

f=ck feelings book cover

 

 

Advice for those short on time.

 

 

felicia day mempoir cover

 

 

Anything is possible, especially with the internet at your fingertips.

 

 

 

 

Hold Still book jacketWhen Sally Mann’s new memoir opens, she is sitting in the attic sorting though boxes of photographs. Deciding what to keep and what to throw out is difficult. After a lifetime spent documenting the lives of her children, the landscapes surrounding her Virginia farm and her own and her husband’s aging bodies, Mann recognizes the challenge inherent in relying on photographs to keep and preserve the truth.  For Mann, photographs should never be mistaken for reality. It is this philosophy that infuses Hold Still, a way of thinking that allows readers to get to know her beyond the controversy that has followed her professional career.

It’s hard to think about Sally Mann and not think about that controversy.  In the mid 1980’s, Mann began photographing her children. In many of the photographs the children are nude or partially nude. In the early 1990’s, a show of Mann’s work at a New York gallery resulted in a scathing critique of her work and officially placed her in the category of the controversial.   

Hold Still proves that Mann is also a wonderful storyteller.  Her writing is exquisite – the perfect balance of forward motion prose and past reflection.  The book is also a satisfying visual journey.  Mann has included well-known photographs as well as letters, drawings and other memorabilia. Chapters denote the major relationships in her life. She tells the story of her own youth and early years and her marriage to Larry Mann which endures today despite her mother-in-law’s attempts to sabotage it.  She talks about the brutal murder of her in-laws, a Capote-like story if ever there was one. And she talks about her farm, which she credits with providing her a place from which her work and her life could thrive.  

Mann’s works today sell for thousands of dollars and her photographs are collected by major museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian. But the days of criticism have dogged her career and, if nothing else, this memoir makes a valiant attempt to set things right –to show Mann the person and the philosophy behind her work.  For Sally Mann, photographs do not preserve the past. Instead they “supplant and corrupt the past, all the while creating their own memories.” With honesty and a clear eye, Hold Still introduces readers to a Sally Mann who is more than the controversy.

Subversive Cross Stitch book coverAhhh...summer is finally here. For some (lucky) folks that means time to relax, enjoy the sun, read, binge watch Netflix, and maybe take up a new craft. But what new craft should I get into, you ask? This is where Subversive Cross Stitch comes to the rescue. Of course cross stitching isn’t a “new” craft, and maybe you have already dabbled in stitchery, but hear me out on this. When I saw this book sitting on our new book shelf, opened it up and saw beautiful cross stitch patterns with sayings like “Cheer Up, Loser”, “Too Bad So Sad” and “Kiss My Grits” (and these are just some of the more rated-PG patterns), I knew that I had found my new summer craft. That night I found myself in the craft store loading up a basket with embroidery thread, wooden embroidery hoops, needles, canvas and cute little scissors. Over a weekend, while binge watching the newest season of Orange is the New Black, I proudly finished my first cross stitch. I would post a picture for you, but that might get me fired, so instead you can feast your eyes on the censored piece that I started a few days ago. Half done cross stitch
 
The patterns in this book are fantastically snarky, fun and easy to follow. Plus the author starts the book out with basic cross stitch instructions and techniques. Perfect for the novice cross stitcher, like myself, and the experienced needleworker who wants to explore their “sassy side”.
 

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

sun shining through trees on forest pathWhen I was a girl of maybe 14, back when e.e. cummings was my favorite poet, I would sometimes think, “Right now, I’m just sitting here on a humdrum day, but somewhere in the world, it’s nighttime and a person is ill and possibly dying with family sitting near; somewhere a baby is being born; somewhere people are dancing at a wedding.  I’m just sitting here, but somewhere this moment is important and big or certainly very different from what I’m experiencing.”

Do you ever think about other somewheres?

With a nod to my young self, I’m sharing with you some books and music that explore many kinds of somewhere, starting with e.e. cummings’ poem “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond.”

Do you get lonely for friends? I do. Some of my closest friends live hundreds of miles away. Sometimes I start to need the balm of sharing and feeling safe. I like knowing they will laugh with me or have the tissues ready. And I do the same for them. When I start to long to hang out with some friends, that’s where books or movies come in. I have been reading novels with female friendships as the main topic for a while.

Get cozy and have the tissues ready, these ladies will be there for you.

This library was very excited to have a table at the Portland Pride Festival and Parade again this year.

We had lots of great titles on display that folks could check out, including Lambda Literary Award winners, lots of great teen and New Adult novels, and children’s picture books! And let's not forget all the great films we can offer you, whether they be DVD, Blu-Ray or streaming!

We’ll also highlighted some of our awesome digital resources, both for your research needs and just for fun!

Folks walked away knowing something new about the library that will help make their lives better, found a great new book to read, and picked up some fun library swag.

Didn't make it to our table at Pride, but still want to find that next great read? Get in touch with My Librarian Matthew, whose personal favorites include LGBT fiction and non fiction.

Or is it a tricky question you need help answering? Ask a librarian anytime via email, chat, text, phone or book an appointment.

Like most of the global south, Jamaica's history is framed and compelled by imperialist violence and expropriation.  For much of the 17th-18th centuries, the island was accessed for sugar crops and a base for the African slave trade.  First under Spanish - and then British rule - Jamaica eventually acheived national independence in 1962.  Often advertised as a tropical paradise in mainstream US culture industry representations and via an aggressive tourist industry, the truth has been and continues to be anything but luxurious (at least once one departs the protected areas of Kingston and Montego Bay).  Jamaica has struggled post-independence and much of the pain, frustration and hope generated is channeled via Jamaica's home-grown musical export - reggae and its multiple variants and offshoots.

Reggae emerged as an identifiable form in the late 1960s though its roots lie in earlier Afro-caribbean genres like calypso and mento, cross-pollinated by US (especially southern) rhythm & blues - and later incorporating US black pop like Motown and soul. Like so much pop, reggae is both mode of resistance, documenting the axes of loss/rage, and  means for making money - and for many young Jamaican men, a means of escaping the crime-ridden ghettos of Jamaica's cities.  Of course, imperialism continues to frame the realities of Jamaican music and musicians.  By the mid-late 70s, with Bob Marley's meteoric rise to global popstar (really only peaking after his death in 1981 and bankrolled and scripted in many ways by Island Records' mogul Chris Blackwell), reggae and its various offshoots was identified as a potential market/cashcow for an industry still under the dizzying spell of what at the time appeared to be endless expansion/profit.  Reggae never became the global phenomenon many record execs dreamed of  - though later incarnations like dancehall and ragga have definitely claimed space in markets and dance clubs across the hemisphere.

But it is reggae's essential mode as resistance - both socially and musically - that I want this post to hang on.  There's not enough space to go into the role Rastafarianism plays in reggae and it seems critical that the music (and the material realities of its production) be situated in the very violent and turbulent history of Jamaica in the 1970s (see Marlon James' A Brief History of Seven Killings for a superb fictional account of this era) and much of the best roots reggae can't really make sense without a knowledge of Marcus Garvey and the  Black Nationalism/Pan-Africanism movements.  But what seems most compelling to these white US ears is the beautiful confluence of spirituality, sadness, dread, and rage embedded in so much of the best reggae and dub. With that being said, here's a video playlist of some of my favorite reggae/dub tunes:

1) Burning Spear - Marcus Garvey



2) Gregory Isaacs - Mr. Cop


3) Althea & Donna - Uptown Top Ranking


4) Winston Hussey - Where Fat Lies Ant Follow


5) The Mighty Diamonds - Right Time


6) The Congos - Fisherman


7) King Tubby - Dub From The Roots (full album)


8) Bob Marley & The Wailers - Slave Driver


9) Sly & Robbie - Unmetered Taxi


10) Gregory Isaacs - No Speech No Language


11) Big Youth - House Of Dreadlocks

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