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On January 22, 2018, Ursula K. Le Guin left us. To mitigate our sorrow, she left behind poetry, novels, essays and stories, as well as a legacy of speaking out about things that matter: books, reading, and of course, libraries. In this guest post from 2015, she rankled against choosing favorites, and then gave some thoughtful and surprising recommendations. She will be missed.

I have lived in Portland for 56 years now, raising kids, writing books, and reading books. I never would have got through those 56 years without the Multnomah County Library.

“Favorites” -- A favorite book? Impossible! Seven favorite books? Impossible! I have too many favorite books. A lot of them are a lot of other people’s favorites too, so they don’t need to be mentioned. But I’ve just been rereading one that has pretty much slipped outof sight, and I want to remind people of it, because it’s a terrific novel: Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man. It came out in 1964, won the Western Heritage Award, and got a nice movie based on it. But it’s way, way better than the movie. Little Big Man is a highly improbable story told so well that you believe it.

For one thing, you want to believe it. And also you can trust it, because the true parts of it are true. The history (and ethnology) is real. There’s no whitewashing the racism and greed that have always threatened the American dream of freedom. You get the story of what really happened at the battle of the Little Big Horn, not all that Custer hype. You get an entirely new view of Wyatt Earp, Calamity Jane, and several other celebrities, too.

Like Mark Twain, Berger has a pitch-perfect ear for how Americans talk – and think. And like Mark Twain he can ruthlessly indict human stupidity and bigotry while never losing his temper, and being really, really funny. Old Lodge Skins is my hero. I love this book. I wish every high-school kid in America could read it. And then (like me) read it again twenty or forty or sixty years later...

As for nonfiction, I have to mention Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which brings together scientific and medical research (and hypocrisy), the biography of an almost invisibly elusive black woman, the exposure of an act of exploitation, racism and social injustice, and the writer’s own deeply respectful involvement with the people from whom she won this absorbing, troubling, wonderfully told story.

How about a favorite piece of music? Can I have two, please? OK! One is the short opera Galileo Galilei by Philip Glass, performed here in Portland two years ago (a recording of that performance is available now from Orange Mountain). The stage set was all magical circles and spirals and pendulums, lights moving through shadows, illuminating the story that spirals back in time from the dark end of Galileo’s life to a radiant, joyful beginning. Set, words, and music, it was and is completely beautiful.

And for a change of pace. . . how about Hoyt Axton singing “Five Hundred Miles.”  (Find it on the CD Greenback Dollar: Live at the Troubadour). There are several versions of it on YouTube. I like the one where the visual is just a b/w video of a train that comes and goes by and is gone.

Five Hundred Miles ~ Hoyt Axton

For more great recommendations, customized just for you, try My Librarian.

Privacy and cyber security are just two facets of digital literacy. Technology is drastically changing the way we find and apply for jobs, manage our finances, and make sense of the daily news. It’s changing the way we understand and implement things like copyright, diplomacy, and activism. As more industries are disrupted by digital innovations, the opportunities we seek may distort and disappear without warning.

Check out these local resources for more information about efforts in our community to bridge the digital divide and create a future where the promise of better living through technology is offered to everyone:

Free Geek

Municipal Broadband PDX

Digital Equity Action Plan

Protecting Yourself Online

 

Take a look at these other resources designed to help people navigate the information jungle:

Terms of Service Didn’t Read

How Secure is my Password?

Have I Been Pwned?

Snopes.com

Library Freedom Project

Mozilla Learning

 

As always, your library is here for you. Peruse these reads that explore the various elements of web literacy.

 

thinking man
Ask yourself these questions when you're evaluating a website:

  1. What authority is responsible for this site? Who developed the site, and is there a clear link to contact information? What are the author’s credentials, and is the site supported by an organization or commercial body?
  2. What is the purpose of the site? Is the purpose to inform, persuade, convey an opinion, entertain, or parody something/someone? Is the site geared to a specific audience (students, scholars, public at large), and does the content support the site’s purpose?
  3. What is the extent of this site’s coverage? Does the site claim to be selective or comprehensive?  Are the topics explored in depth? Compare the value of the site’s information compared to other similar sites.  Does the site provide information with no relevant external links?
  4. Is the information posted on the site current? Does the site list the date the information was first written, published online, and last revised? Are there any dead links or references to sites that have moved?  Is the information provided so time-specific that its usefulness is limited to a certain time period?
  5. Is the site clearly objective, or is it trying to sway its audience? Is the information presented with a particular bias?  Is site advertising at odds with the content? Is the site trying to explain, inform, or persuade, or is it selling something?
  6. Is the information accurate? Does the site provide references, and does it use correct spelling and grammar?


There are also specific criteria in evaluating government websites, which are especially important when trying to access vital services:

  1. Does the website address end in ".gov."?
  2. Does the site charge a fee for blank government enrollment/application forms? Government forms and instructions are free.

Contact Consumer Action’s hotline at 415.777.9635 or online if you have a question about a suspicious site that claims to be government related.

Finally, here are some more ways to protect yourself online.

Sources:

Re-Hashed: 5 Ways to Determine if a Website is Fake, Fraudulent, or a Scam (Hashed Out)

6 Criteria for Websites (Dalhousie University)

Be aware of government imposters (Consumer Action)

Couple taking selfie
Online privacy and security can seem daunting and confusing. We've broken it down into a few topics we thought would be most helpful. Have more ideas? Let us know in the comments.

How to evaluate a website

Get the privacy you want on social media

How to protect yourself on public wi-fi

7 ways to identify a phishing scam

Email phishing scams and how to avoid them

Beyond privacy: digital inclusion

 

 

mother and son on beach
What is too much information on social media?

Ask yourself whether the information could be used against you. For example, if you share vacation photos while you're away, someone could break into your empty house knowing you're gone. If you share photos when partying hard, those photos may be seen by a future potential employer. If you make a new phone number available, your ex may find it. 

Here are some tips to maintain the privacy that you want on your social media accounts:

  • Use strong passwords.
  • Update your accounts regularly.
  • Don’t accept people you don’t know as friends.
  • Keep personal things personal and limit sharing to the people you want to see them rather than making everything “public.”
  • Be wary of strange messages or links from friends. People can pretend to be a friend, or maybe your friends’ account has been hacked.

Here are some useful links:

Information from The Center for Identity on privacy settings

Facebook privacy settings

Facebook privacy settings video

Messenger privacy settings

YouTube privacy settings

Instagram privacy settings

Twitter privacy settings

SnapChat privacy settings

 

More ways to protect yourself online.

Signs that say Hope and Despair.
When you are seeking help, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. This is a selective list of social service organizations and places that offer housing, shelter, mental health counseling, escape from abusive situations and other basic needs for people who are homeless, jobless or going through personal transitions. If you have any questions or need assistance finding services, contact us and we'll be happy to help!

When in doubt, start here: 211info

211info is a comprehensive support hub for referrals to food, shelter, housing, foreclosure assistance, health care, and much more. Calls are confidential, anonymous and free. Certified Information and Referral Specialists assess the situation and refer callers using a locally managed database of over 4,200 programs in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Telephone interpreters are available for help in more than 150 languages. Dial 211 from any phone; text your zip code to 898211; send an email to help@211info.org; or search resources online.

Other resources:

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare

Cascadia provides mental health counseling for people with psychiatric and substance use challenges. They provide crisis intervention, addictions treatment, and housing services for people who are very low-income. Their website includes addresses and phone numbers for services as well as links to additional behavioral health resources.

Multnomah County Mental Health & Addictions Services

Provides mental health services to adults, children and families. They serve Oregon Health Plan members enrolled in Health Share of Oregon/Multnomah Mental Health as well as people who have no insurance or resources. Their Mental Health Call Center is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week; call 503-988-4888, 800-716-9769 (toll free) or 503-988-5866 (TTY).

Northwest Pilot Project

Provides housing and other supportive services for seniors ages 55 and older who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Help finding housing, transportation help, advocacy and referrals to other resources and services. NW Pilot Project recommends calling 503-227-5605 before coming in.

Outside In

Outside In is a community resource for homeless youth.  They provide health services, counseling and shelter, as well as programs and education.

Call to Safety

Offers 24 hour telephone crisis counseling for victims of domestic and sexual violence; call 503-235-5333 or 888-235-5333. The organization also offers support groups and direct service counseling for victims of domestic violence and childhood sexual abuse.

Rose City Resource

Street Roots publishes this very comprehensive directory of services for people experiencing homelessness and poverty in Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties.  It is updated twice a year.

Transition Projects

This organization can help with a variety of services including shelter, showers, food box vouchers, clothing, laundry services, Trimet tickets, information and referral, and housing search assistance.

Diary of a Bookseller book jacket
Sometimes I get in a reading rut where I realize that the last ten books I've read have been British police procedurals or chapter books featuring third graders, but I am rarely in a reading slump where I drift from book to book starting chapters only to abandon them a few pages in (even though they were books I placed on hold and was desperate to read - before I got them).  This spring, however, I hit a major slump and it was only when I picked up The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell that my reading juices got flowing again.  Bythell is the owner of The Bookshop - the largest used bookstore in Scotland - and for a year he kept a diary noting the dramas small and large in a bookseller's life.  I read it quickly and frequently laughed out loud at stories of staff and customers. I have now put in a request to my Scottish sweetie that we visit Wigtown - the book town where Bythell's shop resides - sometime in the next year or so.  After reading Bythell's book, I moved on to more memoirs, anecdotes, romance and other fiction about bookstores, and my spring reading slump is a thing of the past (although I am now, perhaps, in a bookshop reading rut)!  Check out this list for some entertaining and engrossing books about bookstores.  Happy spring reading!

 

Library staff providing a tour of the library
On a late afternoon in early April, a small group is quietly gathered in a meeting room at Midland Library. Terhas is watching as Corinne stands smiling at the front of the room, pointing to a slideshow projected on the board. Speaking in short sentences, Corinne goes over the various types of education in the United States; she pauses and then waits. Terhas and the other students in the classroom turn attentively to the person next to them, their translator.

The room fills with chatter and animated discussion in Arabic, Rohingya, Kinyarwanda, and Tigrinya. 
 
Terhas is attending a cultural orientation session organized by Catholic Charities for newly settled refugees. During the sessions, refugees learn the basics of navigating transportation, banking, employment, health services, education, and thanks to a partnership with Multnomah County Library — they also learn all about the library.
 
When Corinne finishes, she introduces Elena Gold, a library assistant at Belmont Library and Gesse Stark-Smith, a community outreach librarian, to talk about the library and distribute gifts to each of the refugees — Oxford Picture Dictionaries. 
 
The dictionaries were purchased as part of the staff-led library innovation program, Curiosity Kick! Each year, staff submit ideas for new services or programs that cost under $15,000 and could help the library better serve the community. Library staff vote and select the top ideas to move forward as fully funded projects. Last year, staff selected the dictionaries project as a winner. 
 
“The library is here to help people live their lives as they wish, and library staff are very perceptive at identifying changing community needs. The Curiosity Kick! Program has been an encouraging model to introduce new services while supporting staff innovation and problem solving,” said Vailey Oehlke, director of libraries.
 
Elena and Gesse make their way around the room, handing out the new dictionaries along with forms to sign up for a Multnomah County Library card. 
 
“The dictionaries have been a wonderful gift to the refugees during these sessions. They’re getting so much information in a short period of time so the ability to have something tangible to keep and hold on to and learn from is very meaningful,” said Corinne. 
 
In addition to partnering on the cultural orientation sessions and handing out free dictionaries, the library offers ongoing support and services, including English conversation classes, citizenship classes and one-on-one adult tutoring, which can help adults studying for a degree or professional certification.
 
Until the allocated funding runs out, the library will continue to provide dictionaries to refugees through Catholic Charities and two other local refugee resettlement agencies. The project team is currently looking for ways to continue the program after the Curiosity Kick project ends. 
 
After receiving their new dictionaries, the group follows Elena and Gesse out for a tour of the light-filled Midland Library. Delighted with her new library card, Terhas pulls an item off the shelf and heads straight for the self-checkout machine, eager to check out her first book.

 

Leading the Readers

by Donna Childs

To say high school sophomore Nasra Ali participates in the Follow the Reader program at Gregory Heights Library is a significant understatement. Nasra was introduced to Follow the Reader by a friend and she quickly became not just a participant, but an enthusiastic leader and advocate. She distributes flyers, recruits and tutors budding readers, and recommends ways to expand and improve the program, like including foreign language reading.

Follow the Reader matches younger readers in grades K-5 with older students who have been trained to help with reading. Tutors generally meet one-on-one with three children each Saturday for a half hour each, between 4:00 and 5:30. Invested in her young readers, Nasra takes pains to encourage them, choosing books based on their interests, and missing them when they move on. When asked what she likes most, she promptly replied, “watching a child improve and become excited by reading!”

Nasra is an impressive student herself. A sophomore at Franklin High School, she earns As in Advanced Placement classes, which entails college-level work that is usually reserved for juniors and seniors. “No Bs for me; to me, Bs are like Fs,” she insisted. Not surprisingly, she has been accepted into a summer program at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., which will allow her to live on campus and take more college-level courses. Meanwhile, she participates in a college preparatory program for high school students in Portland on Saturdays. Afterward, she volunteers with her readers at the library. This year, Nasra’s science fair project won first place, not only for Franklin but also for all Portland Public School students. She moves on to the state competition later this month.

“Nasra brings heart and enthusiasm” to Follow the Reader, according to the librarian who oversees the program. Describing herself as “a middle child between two older brothers and two younger brothers” (though happily there is now a baby sister as well), Nasra credits her love of reading to seeking a quiet escape. While she might treasure the occasional sojourn into the world of a good book, escape is not the word many who know her would associate with the energetic and involved Nasra Ali.


A few facts about Nasra

Home library:  Gregory Heights and Hollywood

Currently reading:  Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.

Favorite book from childhood:  I’ve read so many books over time, I cannot choose just one.
 
Most influential book:  Does My Head Look Big in This? It shows the struggle of a young Muslim teen overcoming social obstacles in high school.

Book that made you laugh or cry: The Night She Disappeared by April Henry.

Favorite section of the library: teen section

E-reader or paper?  Paper; it’s just more traditional

Favorite place to read:  In my bedroom
 
Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! Read last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

The comedian Steven Wright said, "everywhere is walking distance if you have the time."  

Walking memoirs abound, with a resurrgence tied to Cheryl Strayed's Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. But don't miss the earlier A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson. The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot details the author's effort to become more intimately acquainted with his country by starting at his home in Cambridge, England and following the old roads and ancient tracks that crisscross his country. For a take on women and walking, try Lauren Elkin’s Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London.

If you're hankering for a long walk but have no time, walk vicariously with this list. Happy reading, and happy trails.

 

Geoff Brunk
Library Outreach Services Coordinator Geoff Brunk has been with Multnomah County Library for 21 years, but his library career started halfway across the world in Taipei, Taiwan.

Geoff, who is fluent in Mandarin, has a degree in Asian Languages and first went to Taiwan to study for what he thought would be one year — it actually turned out to be ten. There, he started working at the National Central Library in international exchange, contacting libraries from around the world and exchanging books with them. His passion for libraries continued as he made his way to Oregon and began working for Multnomah County Library.

Today Geoff continues his work with diverse communities. As part of the library’s Outreach Services team, he helps people across Multnomah County access library materials through several programs: Words on Wheels, a volunteer-supported library program that matches specially-trained volunteers with homebound patrons; a lobby service program that provides library materials to senior living communities each month; and through outreach to 50 organizations that assist people without permanent housing.

Each of these programs is meaningful for Geoff because of the opportunity to connect with patrons who may not make it into a library branch:

"I love hearing from community partners how Multnomah County Library’s shelter program improves their guests’ and clients’ lives. It’s fun visiting the senior communities, seeing residents from different cultures poring over books and movies in their native languages, then catching up with our staff and one another at these library-focused gatherings. And I enjoy playing matchmaker, going along with Words on Wheels volunteers on their first visits to their patrons’ homes. It amazes me how often the pair have things in common."

As part of the library’s effort to connect the houseless community to library services, Geoff manages library donations to local shelters and organizations. Last year, with delivery help from volunteers, the library donated 15,000 materials in English and Spanish, from books for leisure reading to titles on GED test preparation, substance abuse and recovery, parenting, and mental health.

During his outreach, Geoff meets a variety of patrons, young and old, English-speaking and non-native speakers. In recalling a special moment, he remembers a Mandarin-speaking patron, a woman in her 80s, who called asking for United States citizenship information.

"After checking with our resident expert on naturalization, Lisa Regimbal, MCL’s adult literacy coordinator, I sent this patron exactly what she needed. A few months later, when we visited her apartment building, she came over to thank me. She’d just gotten her citizenship and was excited and grateful for the information the library provided. It was wonderful to have helped a person become a proud new US citizen."

 

We know that for most human beings, perception is reality. For most of their existence, libraries have relied on a simple equation: If books = important; and library = books; then libraries = important. But similar to the Toys“R”Us brand, the “books are us” brand is losing its perceived value and relevance. Among other forces, both libraries and Toys“R”Us have been deeply impacted by rapidly evolving and increasingly broadly valued technology. A recent report provides some insight.

The report, From Awareness to Funding: Voter Perceptions and Support of Public Libraries in 2018 (FATF), an update to a report from 2008, was produced by OCLC Research, in partnership with the American Library Association (ALA) and its Public Library Association (PLA) division. The report’s findings are both affirming and cause for concern. They call for urgent action.

Think about our world 10 short years ago. The iPhone and the App Store, Kindle, and Netflix all launched around then–right around the time the original From Awareness to Funding report was released.

About 10 years ago:

  • Google did about 365 billion searches; in 2016 Google did over 2 trillion searches
  • 24% of the US population was using social media; in 2017 81% was using it
  • 11% of Americans were using smartphones; in 2017 81% were using them

According to the recently released 2018 Tech Trends report by Amy Webb and The Future Today Institute, the next decade will bring continuing and unprecedented change, including a “new era of computing and connected devices which we will wear and will command using our voices, gestures and touch….[which] will forever change how we experience the physical world.” (p.8). It’s hard to believe that within the span of 20 years the smartphone as we know it will have come and gone. To state the obvious, the world and the communities in which our libraries exist are dramatically different than they were the year FATF was first released. And these changes are impacting the perception people have of public libraries--their value and relevance.

Given all this, it is no wonder that, according to the updated report, the perception that “the public library has done a good job of keeping up with changing technology” dropped from 60% in 2008 to 48% in 2018. And in spite of, or perhaps because of, this it is imperative that libraries continue to prioritize their role in digital equity. Where else can those among us with the fewest resources and opportunities find free, quality access to and assistance in effectively using the technology increasingly imperative for thriving in our world?

Technology’s relentless evolution isn’t the only trend to which we must constantly adapt. The demographic shifts we see demand investment to ensure that everyone has equal opportunity and access. A widening opportunity gap presents critical challenges for people who are new to this country and others who might be left in the margins. According to Pew, “by 2055, the U.S. will not have a single racial or ethnic majority. Much of this change has been (and will be) driven by immigration.” It is heartening, then, to learn that in the 2018 report there was a 10% increase in the number of participants who acknowledge that the library “provides classes, programs, and materials for immigrants and non-English speakers.”

Of concern, there was a 20 point drop in the number of respondents who are likely to see the library as a resource for children (71% in 2008; 51% in 2018). Support for early literacy and school success have long been a cornerstone of the library’s value. No doubt, technology is a factor in this shift. Not only do most folks now turn to Google and the internet for their basic information needs (including homework), but more and more people, especially youth, seem to prefer digital entertainment (YouTube, Spotify, Snapchat) over reading. According to Flurry Analytics, the average U.S. consumer spends over five hours a day on a smartphone and, from 2016 to 2017, media consumption on mobile devices jumped 43%. According to a 2015 Common Sense Media report, US teens “use an average of nine hours of entertainment media per day” and tweens “use an average of six hours a day, not including time spent using media for school or homework.”

Other findings that were hard to read, but vitally important, include a decline in respondents’ enthusiasm about library staff. There were notable drops from the 2008 findings in “having the right staff to meet the needs of the community” as well as the perceptions that staff are friendly and approachable, true advocates for lifelong learning, knowledgeable about my community, understand the community’s needs and how to address them through the public library, and have excellent computer skills. All of this likely contributed to a decline in the library’s perceived value and relevance to the community. In 2008 73% of respondents agreed that “having an excellent public library is a source of pride.” In 2018 that percentage dropped to 53%. Additionally, in 2008 71% agreed that “if the library were to shut down, something essential would be lost.” In 2018, only 55% of respondents felt this way.

It would be natural for librarians to respond to all of this with defensiveness and/or despondence. And while that’s certainly understandable, neither response is constructive. I would encourage us to assign a sense of urgency to these results. We’ve known for years that the ways in which the world is changing will impact how we do what we do. These sorts of findings provide us direction in charting our future. I think we can all agree that libraries are in an increasingly unique position to improve the lives of those we serve and build stronger, more resilient communities. How we do that may be different than it was decades ago, but it is no less important. In fact, our communities need us now more than ever. Fortunately, the percentage of respondents that agreed their local library is “a place for people in the community to gather and socialize” increased from 35% in 2008 to 44% in 2018 and more people believed that to be an important role for the library–a fact that sets us up nicely for serving as conveners and facilitators of the important conversations and connections our communities need.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “libraries are essential to a functioning democracy.” In his new book, The People vs. Democracy, Yasha Mounk writes that “over two-thirds of older Americans believe that it is extremely important to live in a democracy; among millenials, less than one-third do.” If all of that is true, then we have an obligation to ensure that America’s public libraries are strong, relevant and responsive. And we need to do the work to ensure that our communities believe they are. It’s up to us.

So how about a new equation? If libraries = democracy; and democracy = important; then libraries = important. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work!
 

Attention educators! Are you tired of using the same old books with your students every year? Attend one of our summer educator workshops to learn about the latest and greatest materials to use in the classroom.

 

Gotta Read This: New Books to Connect with Your Curriculum

Come to this workshop to learn about new books you might integrate into your language arts, social studies, math, science and arts curriculum.

For K-5th grade educators:

  • Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2-4:30 pm, Central Library U.S. Bank Room, 801 SW 10th Ave. Register by August 3.

For 6th-12th grade educators: Gotta Read This! online booklists

  • Select the subjects of greatest interest to you. Register by August 3, and we’ll notify you when the online booklists are available.

 

Novel-Ties (for 4th -8th grade educators)

  • Discover hot, new fiction to use in book discussion groups and literature circles. Register by August 3, and we’ll notify you when this online workshop is available.

 

Contact School Corps with any questions!

Getting online at the library, a coffee shop or a hotel is convenient, but what about security and privacy?

Anyone who is up to no good can monitor your activity on public wi-fi. Hackers easily get software that makes this possible. Your personal information, private documents, contacts, photos, even your login credentials can be seen. This information can be used to access your accounts, impersonate you or steal your identity.

Public wi-fi includes open networks (which don’t require a password) and semi-open networks (which do, but anyone can log on).

Take precautions

  • If possible, wait until you can use a network you know is secure to check email or do online banking or shopping. They all involve sending passwords and personal information.
  • When you do use public wi-fi, check that you are connecting to the correct network. A coffee shop’s wi-fi may be named espresso1, but someone could have set up a false wi-fi and named it freecoffee. If you login to freecoffee, all your information will flow through the hacker’s computer.
  • Look for https in the address bar. This means that the site is encrypted. A hacker can still intercept your information, but it will now be harder to read and use. Every page of a website should be encrypted. If you find yourself on an unencrypted page, log out right away.
  • Change your computer’s wi-fi settings to public and turn off file sharing.
  • Limit your time. Stay logged into wi-fi only while you need it.
  • Sign out of accounts. Log out when you are done.
  • Keep your computer and security software up to date. Pay attention to warnings that a site is unsafe.
  • Do not use the same passwords for different websites. If someone gains access to one of your accounts, they won’t have access to your other accounts.
  • Consider changing settings so your mobile device does not automatically connect to wi-fi.
  • Your phone’s cellular data is much more secure than public wi-fi. If in doubt use cellular.

VPN

If you regularly access online accounts through wi-fi hotspots, using a virtual private network (VPN) may be a good idea. VPNs encrypt traffic between your computer and the internet, even on unsecured networks. You can get a personal VPN account from a VPN service provider. Some organizations create VPNs to provide secure, remote access for their employees. VPN options are also available for mobile devices; they can encrypt information you send through mobile apps.

More resources

Tips for Using Public Wi-Fi Networks (Federal Trade Commission) 

VPN Beginner's Guide (The Best VPN) 

More topics

More ways to protect yourself online.
 

According to Clarke's third law, "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". Watching an artist create something out of nothing feels like magic to me.

Maybe I caught this bug as a kid watching a show called The Book Bird. In it, a mustachioed man named John Robbins combined two of my great loves into performance art - he drew a scene from a book as he described the story. I would then rush to my public library to find out how the book ended. Public television has always been a good place for art junkies, most notably when Bob Ross encouraged us all to paint "happy little trees".

 Whether you're looking for inspiration for your own work, or you just like to watch, take a look at this list of artists in motion. And here's some affirmation from Mr. Ross himself.

Bob Ross Remixed | Happy Little Clouds | PBS Digital Studios

From: trustme@yourorgc.om
To:you@yourorg.com
Date: Monday May 5, 2018 3:30 am
Subject: Act now to avoid irreparable consequenses!!!!!!!!

Hello Sparky,

Due to the iregular fiscal quarter, we will need to upload our monthly reports early and to a different server. Click on this link spreadsheet or the attatchment below to upload your financial reports. Keep up the good work!

Sincerely,

Todd Goodatmanagement Esq.
CEO- Your Org


Consider the above email. Anything seem odd? Out of place? Abnormal? Too good to be true? Go with your gut! 

Criminals running phishing scams are crafty chameleons who excel at impersonating agencies and authorities in order to trick you into releasing valuable data. Email is a very common medium for these con artists. Be suspicious of any email out of the ordinary. Look closely at the following items to protect yourself. 


1. From: Is the sender’s email address from a suspicious domain? Is this not someone you usually communicate with?

2. To: Were you cc’d on this email but don’t recognize the other names who received it? Is there an unusually large amount of people in the To field? Do all the names start with the same letter?

3. Date: Did you receive the email during regular business hours? Did you receive it suspiciously late at night?

4. Subject: Does the subject line seem unrelated to the content of the email? Are there misspellings? Is the message a reply to something you never sent or requested?

5. Content: Is the sender asking you to click on a link or attachment to avoid a negative consequence or gain something of value? Is the email asking you to look at a compromising picture of you or someone you know? Are there misspellings and bad grammar? Do you get a gut feeling that something is not right?

6. Hyperlinks: Remember, "hover to discover." Hover your cursor over the link without clicking to display the full web address. Is it what the email claims? Is it slightly different than an address you know? Is the email just a hyperlink?

7. Attachments: Is this attachment unexpected or seems to not relate to the message? Is it an odd file type? The only file type that is always safe to click on is a txt file.


Want some more info? Check out these articles:

The Motherboard Guide to Not Getting Hacked

Protect Yourself from W-2 Phishing Scams

Netflix Phishing Scam Provokes Police Warning

Ecommerce: Is it truly safe?

 

And of course, your library has hundreds of books to arm yourself with.

More ways to protect yourself online.

 

A phishing website or email is a scam to trick you into revealing personal information by appearing to be from a someone or an organization you know. 



Phishing is a game as old as time. Call them hackers, social engineers or bad actors — just new names for the huckster, the hustler, the confidence man. Smooth talkers who manipulate people into parting with their hard earned money, then disappear.

Legitimate agencies rarely ask you to send sensitive information through email or text messages.

It’s probably phishing if:

  • There are spelling and grammar mistakes
  • The language is urgent or threatening
  • The message asks for personal information, such as social security number, bank account number, your mother’s maiden name
  • It’s too good to be true


What if I’m unsure about an email?

  • When in doubt, delete it.
  • Do not reply.
  • Do not open any attachment.
  • Do not click on any links.
  • Hover your cursor over links to see the true address
  • If you know the sender, reach out to them by phone or text to ask if this is a valid email
  • You can report suspicious emails and phishing scams to your email providers, or to phishing-report@us-cert.go

 

Want more info on phishing? Check out these videos:

Phishing in a Minute: Decoded
E-Safe Phishing Cartoon

And of course, your library has hundreds of books to arm yourself with.

More topics to keep you safe online

Everyone knows I love a good tiger-striped coat (for evidence, note our two tabby cats and one brindle dog), and that I have a soft spot for rescued pets. My family’s first kitten sauntered up to our doorstep, climbed up the screen door, and meowed to high heaven during dinner hour. My siblings and I named her, in the straightforward style of children under five, Tiger.

The author of Maverick and Me chose a more unique name for her pet (I think you can guess what it is), the real-life rescue dog this book is based upon. The story begins on a cold and rainy afternoon, when a woman finds a sick and tiny puppy with a tiger-striped coat by the side of a road. She nurses him back to health, and gets him ready to find a home.

When a young girl named Scarlett meets Maverick at an adoption event, his life takes a turn for the better. Together, they come up with a fun way to tell all of her friends about other puppies that need homes. This heartfelt picture book introduces kids to the concept of pet adoption, and will spark conversations about helping pets in need.

April 30th is National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day. If you're thinking of adding a new furry (or feathered!) member to your family, our local shelters have some great pets to choose from. If you aren’t looking for a pet of your own, here are other ways you can help out pets in need:

  • Foster a dog or cat up for adoption at your local animal shelter

 

 

  • Donate supplies. Most shelters are always in need of blankets, toys, and dog/cat food. If you happen to buy some food that your pet doesn't like, why not donate it? The Multnomah County Shelter even has an Amazon wish list to make donations easier.

  • Share the idea of pet adoption with family and friends who are looking for a pet. There's nothing like love from a pet who's found its furrever home!
 

 

Logo for Bike to Books
Celebrate National Bike Month!

Ride your bike to the library during May and get a free bike light!

Multnomah County Library is partnering with the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation and Metro to give free bike lights to patrons who ride their bikes to any Multnomah County library during the month of May. (One bike light per person, while supplies last.)

Other fun ways to celebrate National Bike Month:

#BiketoBooks

 

book cover for Katherine Johnson
Although March is coming to an end, it's not too late to celebrate Women's History Month!  In fact, in just a short period of time, you can read about women from all over the world in some great, new books for youth. 

Just in time for the movie A Wrinkle in Time, there's a new biography of Madeleine L'Engle written by her granddaughters: Becoming Madeleine.  You'll get an up close and personal look at the author through photographs and excerpts from her diaries.  Katherine Johnson finally got some well-deserved and long-overdue recognition through Hidden Figures (the movie and the book) and there have been several recent books published for youth as well.  One I recently enjoyed is in the fun and informative You Should Meet reader seriesKatherine Johnson by Thea Feldman. For anyone who loves art and/or science, The Girl Who Drew Butterflies by Joyce Sidman is the perfect match as it is about a woman who loved, studied and practiced both!  So get reading before the month is over (but feel free to enjoy these books any time of the year)!

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