When I was a kid, I didn’t particularly like robots. They seemed cold, impersonal and completely unlovable. I had my first inkling that robots could be more than just metallic tools when R2D2 and C3PO came on the scene. Since that first Star Wars movie came out, there have been lots of books for kids with wonderful and wonderfully personable bots including a novel I just finished entitled The Wild Robot by Peter Brown. After the ship she is on sinks, Roz, the titular robot, pitches up on an island. Only when some playful otters break open the box she is in, is Roz able to start figuring out how she is going to survive. At first, the island animals think she’s a monster and try to avoid her, but they slowly warm up to her after she adopts a baby goose and begins to do things that make the animals lives better. When something threatens Roz, the animals band together to try and save her. For a good survival story with a robot that’s all heart, despite not having one, The Wild Robot is just the ticket. For more children’s books featuring robots, check out this list.
Most of us have heard of the Wright Brothers. In 1903 they were the first to design a machine that could actually fly. But do you know about their sister Katherine? Without this amazing woman, the brothers might never have achieved their first flight or the fame that followed.
Early airplanes were flimsy and crashed easily. Many men thought it a too dangerous and too mentally difficult activity for women. Women were determined to learn to fly anyway.
Harriet Quimby became the first licensed American woman pilot in August 1911. Less than a month later she became the first woman to fly at night. Harriet was the first woman to pilot her own aircraft across the English Chanel. She didn’t get the news headlines she expected as she completed the flight at the same time the Titanic sank. Harriet died during a stunt show when she turned her plane upside down and she and her passenger fell to their deaths.
In 1916 Ruth Law declared, “To become an aviator one has to dismiss all fear.” She needed courage as she attempted to fly from Chicago to New York City on one tank of gas in her little biplane. She added three extra gas tanks so that the plane held 53 gallons and installed a metal guard to protect her legs and feet from the cold. Early in the morning on November 19, she took off on her adventure. While engine trouble forced her to land short of New York City, she still let a new American nonstop record of 215 miles.
Katherine Stinson was the fourth woman to get a pilot’s license, the first woman to do the loop de loop, and fourth pilot to ever do so, and the first woman pilot to carry the US Mail.
In 1921 Bessie Coleman was the first African American, male or female, to earn a pilot’s license. She had to travel to France and learn to speak French in order to earn her pilot’s license. No flight instructors in the United States would teach her because she was black and a woman. Bessie performed in air shows for the next five years. Thousands turned out to watch. She refused to perform at locations that refused admittance to African Americans. Throughout her short career, Bessie encouraged African Americans to learn to fly. She was killed in 1926 while performing.
There are many more female pilots to discover. For more information ask your librarian.
The Picture File is a massive collection of file cabinets that you do not see when you come in to the library to the 3rd floor at the present time. In the past, these cabinets were prominently available in the Art and Music Room for library visitors to look through and make selections to check out. We are still checking out the Picture Files, but now since we have a much larger collection of books to display plus computer stations, there is simply no room for all of these file cabinets in the Art and Music Room, and they have been moved to closed stacks.
The Picture Files consist of folders on many topics, collected from books that could not be repaired, periodicals that were duplicates, and a whole myriad of images from calendars and other sources.
What use are these in our time, when we can find internet sources for images with ease? Since this collection was created in the Art and Music Room, it is particularly strong for these topics; there are hundreds of folders for the arts with thousands of pictures all together. If you are in the library looking for images of artists' works, it can be more practical to take home a manila envelope of images than a series of books. If you are working on ideas for a mural, for example, and want to experiment with combining images of different subjects, these files are useful for composition ideas.
Recently I was preparing a display of materials about the composers Bartok and Beethoven for a local festival and library concert, for which I used the Picture Files. There were some images of these composers that I had seen in books and on the internet, but a few that were a complete delight since new to me. So I suggest that it can be worth taking a look at these if you have a project. Simply ask the staff at the Art and Music Reference desk for picture files on a subject. We have an index of the subjects in this collection, and from these you tell the staff which folders you would like to look at. You can select up to 50 pictures at a time to check out from a range of folders.
These three images are samples from one of the three folders of paintings and drawings by Jean-Antoine Watteau (October 10, 1684 - July 18, 1721) whose drawings of musicians are so evocative of 18th century French baroque music.
Questions? Send our reference staff an email question or call the library: 503.988.5234.
A Volunteer Who Has Found Her Niche
by Donna Childs
It was a genuine pleasure to see Allissa Purkapile in the setting of her St. Johns library, a place she describes as “friendly and comfortable.” She is clearly comfortable with the library staff, and they seem to care as much about her as she does them. Several stopped to say hello to her as we spoke.
Allissa began volunteering with the St. Johns Summer Reading program following 6th grade. Initially, she worked one two-hour shift a week. Fast forward five years: Allissa is not only an indispensable Summer Reading volunteer, who helps coordinate the schedule, but also a dedicated helper with the storytime program and a reliable member of the library’s Teen Council.
She is the go-to Summer Reading volunteer, the one to call at the last minute if another volunteer doesn’t show up. Last summer she devoted more than sixty hours to Summer Reading. Since storytime often takes place when she is in school, her contributions to that program are more behind the scenes, but no less significant. She spends five hours most Saturdays cutting, folding, and gluing to create crafts for the youth librarian to use.
Since her freshman year, Allissa has also been a member of the St. Johns Teen Council, a group of young people who meet monthly to help make the library more teen-friendly. The group, which ranges in size from two to twenty teens, helps come up with program ideas, chooses books to display in the young adult (YA) section, and has even been instrumental in moving the YA from the back to the front of the library.
When asked what she likes best about volunteering at the St. Johns Library, Allissa said “everything, especially being able to answer questions and help people.” A true library aficionado, Allissa may apply for SummerWorks, a summer youth employment program that includes internships with Multnomah County. She also volunteers at her high school library two or three days a week and plays clarinet in her school band. Outside of school, she helps distribute food for a program called Harvest Share.
A Few Facts About Allissa
Most influential book: Harry Potter
Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! Read last month's Volunteer Spotlight.
" A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum"' wrote Mel Brooks. He might have been talking about the public uproar re post-racism. Pour moi, that line is about how Life happens when no one is looking. The New York Times Magazine article on George C. Wolfe's revival of the Broadway musical "Shuffle Along" hit me like that. Back in the day, when we were changing from negro to Negro to black, 'shuffling' was a synonym for Uncle Tom. We were saying it "...Loud, Black and Proud!" Any music before Coltrane was a sellout. So, with a sneer on my face; I opened the rag and prepared to be insulted.
"Shuffle Along" is out of the minstrel, blackface era. The very words make me wince in denial. Then I heard what what Audra McDonald, six-time Tony Award Winner, had to say about the show. In a CBS interview, McDonald says "This was my history, and I knew nothing about it." I realized that this was true for me also. I was discrediting a folk without knowing their story. So, I resolved to learn that story. This will be a tale about that journey. We will be making it together, I hope. Some conversations are hard to have, don't mean we shouldn't have them anyway.
Don't know where we're going, but it starts here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/27/magazine/shuffle-along-and-the-painful-history-of-black-performance-in-america.html?_r=0
I do know it ends well, and I love happy endings.
In the early years, our city was called The Clearing, but in 1845, landowners Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy flipped a coin to choose an official name. Pettygove came from Portland, Maine, and Lovejoy was from Boston, Massachusetts. Pettygrove won two out of three tosses, and so our city is Portland. This slide show will show you how Portland grew from 1851-1900.
Here are some of the historic places that make Portland special:
- Benson Bubblers: These four-bowl drinking fountains are unique to Portland.
- Pioneer Courthouse Square has been a school, a hotel, and a parking lot but is now considered the city’s “living room.”
- The Portlandia statue is the second-largest copper repoussé sculpture in the U.S. (The largest is the Statue of Liberty.)
- Skidmore Fountain was designed to be a source of drinking water for people, horses and dogs.
- The Pittock Mansion was the home of Henry Pittock, who arrived in Oregon penniless on a wagon train in 1853.
- In 1900, Portland’s Chinatown was the second largest in the country.
Because of the many bridges crossing the Willamette River, one of Portland’s nicknames is Bridgetown. Some of the bridges that connect the east side to downtown are more than 100 years old!
What did Portlanders in the past do for fun? The Rose Festival, which still happens every June, started in 1904. The next year, Portland hosted the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, which attracted more than 1.6 million visitors. Children liked to visit the amusement parks at Oaks Park and Jantzen Beach.
You know it rains a lot in Portland, but did you know that our city has often flooded? In the flood of 1894, downtown Portland was flooded and people got around in boats. In 1948, the Vanport flood destroyed a housing area that was home to many African Americans.
Here's a video that shows some of the changes in Portland:
Still have questions? Contact a librarian for help!
May 1st through 7th has been designated by the American Library Association as Choose Privacy Week, and this year it is just as relevant as ever. A recent Pew Internet study shows many American adults who go online do not have a good understanding of cybersecurity. This spring, we also read about a vote to repeal rules requiring ISPs to protect customers’ privacy.
What does privacy mean to you? Is it a place where no one is watching you or listening to what you say? Thanks to our ever-connected gadgets (our phones, computers, televisions, e-readers) such places are becoming more and more scarce. Every digital breath we take is noted, collected, and recorded for future marketing or security purposes.
Should we care? After all, we get many benefits by giving up our privacy: we receive recognition from others, we can easily share and communicate with groups of friends, we get free email. But a world without privacy is also a world where you are not free to ask questions or seek information without being monitored.
Libraries care about privacy. Why? Because, according to the American Library Association, "the freedom to read and receive ideas anonymously is at the heart of individual liberty in a democracy.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Privacy webpage is a good place to keep up to date with current privacy issues, especially in the online world. To learn more online privacy, take a look at Portland Community College’s Privacy Online guide: it includes videos and links about the ways that privacy is compromised online, and tips for how you can protect it.
If, like me, you’re more of a book person, I’ve made a reading list called “Privacy? What’s privacy?” - it includes current books that will help you start to answer that question. If you’d rather get your dystopia in a make-believe format, another reading list, “Surveillance stories and privacy parables,” includes books and DVDs about the privacy-less society that we just might be headed toward.
Are you taking steps to protect your privacy? Or have you already given up on the notion of privacy? Leave your comments below (and please feel free to do so anonymously).
There was a great response to Multnomah County Library's first comics contest for grades 6-12! It was very hard to choose the winners and honorable mentions, and we're grateful to Robin Herrera and Ari Yarwood, editors at Oni Press, for their help judging.
Broken Hearts, Stephanie S
Copy Cats, Delana Wilkins
Delete, Quinn Plucar
D-exorcist, Thomas Trinh
Zombie Pizza, Abraham Gonzalez
A Little Slice of Dumb Life, Naomi Nguyen
Chris and Fishy! Vol. 1, The Wizard's Gift, Daniela Sanchez
Chori and Chester: the Crazy Cats, Humphrey Hamma
Common Ground, Kay Lowe
Growing up in the Garden, Rebecca Celsi
Picture Day Disasters, Hannah Hardman
Would You Rather, Gabrielle Cohn
When I first met the Scottish Lad, practically the first thing out of my mouth was some version of a question that many Brits find terribly intrusive: What do you do for a living? People wonder why the British talk constantly about the weather. Here’s a hint: Every other topic of conversation is considered rude at best or taboo at worst! I didn’t know my question was intrusive because I hadn’t read a bunch of books on British etiquette and culture. Again, I thought I had no need of them. Again, I was wrong. Here are some titles I have since read. You, too, can educate yourself so you don’t make the mistakes I did!
Many Americans apparently want to (and do) marry British people. At least two of them have written revealing books about living in the land of their mates. The Anglo Files by Sarah Lyall and Erin Moore’s That’s Not English cover some similar territory, but the latter book explores English and American cultural differences with a focus on language. Moore titles each chapter with a word and then delves into what it means for each country. You’ll get the scoop, for example, on why the English seem to dislike “gingers” while Americans generally find redheads attractive (although an American friend of mine who has beautiful red hair was teased mercilessly in school because of the color of her locks). Other chapters include Knackered, Whinge, Bloody and Dude.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Scots and Welsh are the same as the English! To get an understanding of Scottish life and culture, as well as practical tips on living in or visiting Scotland, read Culture Shock! Scotland. For a glimpse into Welsh life, try A Writer's House in Wales by Jan Morris.
For even more books to help you navigate the British cultural waters, try these.
I feel like author Catherine Newman has been right there in the trenches of parenting with me for the past twelve years or so. I started reading a parenting column she wrote when she and I were both pregnant with our second children. Later, I enjoyed her book, Waiting for Birdy. She writes funny, thoughtful essays that show up all over the place, and she has her own blog. Her two kids are right about the same ages as mine, and she's got exactly the irreverent but warm sense of humor I most enjoy. She’s a passionate home cook, too, the kind of person who, like me, not only makes her own granola but glories in making it (even though neither of us would ever consider ourselves “granola”).
And now there's a new book. Catastrophic Happiness is more of a series of appreciations about kids and family life than a story about anything actually happening, although she does have some pointed things to say about how our culture foists its stupid ideas about gender on our children. If you have kids in your house, this book will make you laugh--a lot. It also might make you feel more present, make you stop spacing out long enough to love the life you have with your family.
Head choppings, breaking into prison, more power to the people – the French Revolution was just so exciting! In this blog post, you’ll learn about all the key events, people and places during this time of upheaval in France.
For a good introduction and general overview of the revolution, check out these websites: Infoplease’s site includes sections on the origins of the revolution, the Revolution of 1789 and the Revolution of 1792, and the Reign of Terror among other topics. The History Channel’s take on the French Revolution includes a brief introduction, short videos and a picture gallery. This site from George Mason University includes a timeline, glossary, maps, music, primary sources and historical essays. More primary source materials can be found here.
For specific topics about the French Revolution and its aftermath, check out these links:
Storming the Bastille
July 14th marks the beginning of the French Revolution.
The Radical Revolution
Who were the Girondists, the Jacobins and the Sans-culottes? Find out here.
Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution
All about Marie Antoinette including a timeline, info on royal life, biographies of important people in her life and more!
The Execution of Louis XVI, 1793
This website explains what led to the execution of Louis XVI.
Napoleon I: Emperor of France
A biography of Napoleon from Encyclopaedia Britannica.
For short videos about Napoleon, click here.
With all these resources at hand, you can now start your own revolutionary homework project!
My father is in the last years of his life. Once a strapping man well over six feet tall he becomes smaller and more frail with each passing day. His physical world has shrunk as well and his days are passed in the small, walkable space between “his” chair, the kitchen table and his bathroom and bedroom. The things that are important to him now are few: watching a good ball game (any seasonal sport will do), his next meal (the man has an appetite!) and a good book to read. Despite his deteriorating condition he has always placed a big importance on reading and having books around. He has always been surrounded by books: some he inherited, many he was given as gifts and several I have absolutely no idea where they came from (a Japanese phrase book, Milton Berle’s favorite joke book, Tiling 101 to name a few. )
One of my jobs as his caretaker is to make sure he has something good to read. He loves mysteries (I once caught him starting a new one from the last page!) He loves Stuart Woods and Alex Berenson. He loves stories about World War II, tales of espionage and anything to do with the U.S. Navy. There is always a book next to his chair and more than one on his nightstand.
I know reading will always be a part of his day. And I look forward to keeping him well-stocked with good stories. They are always his best medicine.
Here are a couple of my dad’s go-to authors:
Robert B. Parker, the Jesse Stone Series
Parker’s original series of nine novels tells the story of Jesse Stone, a troubled detective desperate to rebuild his career when he takes the job of Police Chief in Paradise, Massachusetts. Along the way Stone battles the mob, white supremacists, a corrupt town council and the occasional homicide while struggling to come to terms with himself. All nine novels have been made into films for television starring Tom Selleck as the new Chief. The first in the series is Night Passage which the library owns as a downloadable ebook.
Daniel Silva, the Gabriel Allon series:
Part spy and part artist, Gabriel Allon works for “the office,” the name employees have given to the Israeli Intelligence Service. While attending art school Gabriel was offered a post with the elite special forces unit, tasked with tracking down the perpetrators of the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics. At the conclusion of the job Gabriel decides to stay on, maintaining an official cover as an art restorer. The Kill Artist is the first in the series.
Vanity film projects are a terrible idea. Funding is shaky, poorly constructed scripts are battered about, and rumors of an impending Hindenburg of a movie are spread. Fueled by egos and inexperience, these problems offer easy fodder to the media waiting to rip apart the darling superstar who’s in over their head.
Purple Rain should have failed. However, it did not.
Upon its release, the film propelled Prince, and to a lesser degree the Revolution, to superstar status. Alan Light’s Let’s Go Crazy sheds light on Purple Rain's improbable success driven by an unlikely group of collaborators.
So, forget your shrink in Beverly Hills. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the tale of the quest to make a musically charged film which can only be described as magically cringe-worthy experience.
Like a rebellious cigarette you had smoked when you were twenty, or a night under the stars with a girl or a boy who had only wanted to be your friend.
These are just some of the ways that the character James Bennett, an art critic with synesthesia, describes paintings and people in Molly Prentiss's debut novel, but he could just as easily be describing the book. One that has left me in such a daze that I'm at a loss for my own words to describe how much I loved it.
Set in a pre-gentrified SoHo, Tuesday Nights in 1980 follows Argentine artist Raul Engales, bright-eyed New York newcomer Lucy Olliason and the wonderfully odd art critic James Bennett; whose lives are all irreversibly altered on a series of Tuesday nights at the start of the new decade.
Whether you're an art lover or just up for visiting a unique time and place through vivid characters, check out this vibrant whirlwind of a book.
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!
There are a couple of flavors I like in Highlander romance -- I enjoy the ones that are straight up historical; but mmm, a Highlander story especially if it involves time travel? Yes! Maybe you have seen the new Outlander television series? Guess what? It's based on a book!
The story starts with Mrs. Claire Randall on her second honeymoon in the Highlands of Scotland. It’s 1945 and she's a former combat nurse who has taken up the hobby of botany to fill her free time. She is gathering plants at the stone circle Craigh na Dun when she is transported through time to 1743, and finds herself in the midst the fighting prior to the Jacobite uprising of 1745.
This first novel of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is a passionate romance with depictions of wartime violence, and steamy sex scenes. If you're squeamish about these things this isn't for you. Presented in the context of the times, these details give the story historical resonance. I found comic relief in Claire’s swearing. She doesn’t swear like a sailor but she swears like a healthy woman dealing with brawny men, exciting, brutal times, and frustration. I don’t know about you, but if I was a fish out of water I might swear a lot too. If romance, brawny men in kilts and time travel are among your favorite flavors too, there's more to explore in my list, Scottish highland romances.
If you’ve selected a person for your next biographical report but there are no books about them don’t spend hours looking through Google search results; instead check out Multnomah County Library’s biographies database list. In these databases you can find quick facts, articles, encyclopedia entries, and even a search engine devoted to famous people.
Still need more information? If you are headed online be sure to evaluate the website before trusting the information. Here are some good questions to ask when doing online research:
1. Who is the owner of the site? Is it clear who the author of the information on the page is? Is there a way to contact the author or owner?
2. Is the website trying to sell or persuade you to buy something?
3. Check the website’s URL to check the authority and validity of the website. When researching, “.edu” and “.gov” are good indicator that it is an official site.
4. Is the site kept up-to-date, with current links, new material and a creation date listed?
5. Based on the information you already have, does the website appear to have accurate information? Are there spelling or grammar mistakes?
If you need more help, ask a librarian.
Emerging from an ultra conservative Jamaican childhood, Grace Jones created her own path and a life well lived. In her memoir, I'll Never Write my Memoirs she opens her life, inviting readers into a world of adventures and experiences that only her words can convey.
I’m not even going to try. Just take Grace Jones’ words for it.
Already said hello? Try this list for similar books.
When people object to a book and ask their library to remove or move it, the library shares the complaint with the American Library Association (ALA). The ALA then compiles all the complaints and every year announces a list of the top ten most frequently challenged books. This is the list for 2015.