On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth became a federal holiday. This monumental day was made possible by the countless efforts of strong community leaders. Among them is Opal Lee -  coined as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth.”

Opal Lee

Ms. Opal worked for years to bring awareness to the United States Congress that Juneteenth is a day that needed to be celebrated nationwide. For decades, it’s been observed throughout the United States as a day to rejoice and commemorate June 19, 1865, and the abolition of slavery. 

This day symbolizes the two and a half years that passed after the Emancipation Proclamation when over 250,000 Black people in Texas were finally free from enslavement. 

With the goal of gathering support to make Juneteenth a national holiday, Ms. Opal started an online petition that gained over 1.5 million signatures. And in 2016, at the age of 89, Ms. Opal set out to hand deliver this petition to the President in Washington, D.C. 

Opal Lee waving to crowd on her walk

In September 2016, she embarked on a 1,400 mile long trek from Fort Worth, Texas, arriving in Washington, D.C. in January 2017. The journey, was divided into 2.5-mile-long walks every day, symbolizing the 2.5 years that it took to abolish slavery in Texas. Every year since, Ms. Opal has been steering a 2.5-mile walk in remembrance of Juneteenth. 

At the age of 94, Ms. Opal was able to reach her goal of making Juneteenth a federal holiday during her lifetime. In her recently published book Juneteenth: A Children’s Story, Ms. Opal advocates for education as a tool to make social change. She discusses the history of slavery and the importance of freedom.

Clara Peoples

In Oregon, Clara Peoples has been an important figure in the observance of Juneteenth, leading the first public celebration at Kaiser Shipyards in 1945. Ms.Clara spoke to her co-workers saying, “Hear ye, hear ye. It’s Juneteenth. We have 15 minutes to celebrate,” and the first celebration was afoot.

Clara Peoples

In 1972, Ms.Clara helped make Juneteenth a recognized holiday for the City of Portland, and started the larger celebrations known as Juneteenth Oregon shortly after. The Juneteenth Oregon celebrations include a parade, live music, vendors, educational booths, community resources, and a Miss Juneteenth pageant. 

The Miss Juneteenth pageant is an event celebrating Juneteenth and offering young Black women a chance to showcase their success, knowledge, and talent. This program also has an educational component to help develop leadership skills, community, and self-empowerment. 

In 2019, Aceia “Ace” Spade, a teen from Eugene, won the state of Oregon Miss Juneteenth competition. As Miss Juneteenth, Ace was the recipient of a scholarship, and additional educational resources. In 2021, Ace participated in the National Miss Juneteenth Pageant, and won the competition! 

The Juneteenth celebrations provide opportunities for people of all ages to learn more about the history of Juneteenth and build a sense of community. 

Juneteenth at the library 

Since 2001, the library has been celebrating Juneteenth in the form of events, book displays and giveaways, especially at the North Portland Library. 

Leading these efforts for 20 years was Ms. Patricia Welch, who wanted to celebrate Juneteenth and build stronger relationships with the North Portland community. In the first celebration, titled Juneteenth: Words Along the Way, there were readings of famous Black authors and activists, performances from local theater company PassinArt, and music from Thara Memory’s community orchestra playing symphonic music from Black composers.

“We have had some excellent Juneteenth celebrations, but this first one was hard to beat,” says Ms. Patricia. “We were reading everything from Frederick Douglass to Malcolm X. We had an ice cream social with red pop, so people could make their own sundae. It was a glorious day for the library to be part of this tradition.”

Although there have not been Juneteenth celebrations in person in the last few years, the library hopes to be able to bring back these events and engage with the community this way in the coming years. 

Current North Portland Library Administrator Perry Gardner says that “Juneteenth is a true celebration of freedom.”

Perry also speaks to the connection between Juneteenth and literacy, saying that “with Juneteenth, people can engage in innovation of their minds… Going from the chains of illiteracy to the freedom of literacy and the opportunity to be educated.”

To find resources on the history of Juneteenth, take a look at these Juneteenth resources from My Librarian Alicia T.

Summer Reading

Students across Multnomah County will receive a Summer Reading gameboard at their school before summer vacation begins. To participate, players keep track of the time they read, are read to, listen to audiobooks, or complete gameboard activities. Players can earn books, coupons, a Summer Reading T-shirt and other prizes. Summer Reading is free, and youth who finish the game will be entered into the grand prize drawing.

Family wearing Summer Reading shirts, holding books, at library

Summer Reading gameboards are available in English and Spanish, with instructions for the game available in Russian, Chinese, and Vietnamese. Youth can also play online using Beanstack or by downloading the mobile Beanstack app.

The Summer Reading program includes an array of fun, free online events for children, teens and families. Enjoy summer time stories, music, crafts, magic and other activities this summer. Plus, it’s possible your student already has access to the library through the Library Connect program! The Library Connect program allows students to have instant access to books, online resources, movies, music, and more. 

Summer Reading is supported by gifts to The Library Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to enhancing our library's leadership, innovation and reach through private support. Learn more about the Summer Reading program in this fun video.


Summer Reading volunteers will be back in person at the library this summer. Volunteers explain the Summer Reading game to youth and their families, help youth select prizes, and more. There are still library locations with volunteer spots available. The volunteer application lists what library locations still have volunteer openings. Apply by June 10.

Are you a teen who loves Summer Reading, but would rather volunteer from home? Become a Summer Reading Promoter. Share your love of Summer Reading while earning volunteer hours. Do chalk art, create Summer Reading posters, share information about Summer Reading through social media, and more! Learn more and apply

Person wearing summer reading shirt at library

Read 4 Life

Adults can play too! Beginning June 16, pick up a Read 4 Life gameboard at your local library, or sign up to play online with Beanstack.

Gameboards are available in Spanish, Chinese and English; however, you are welcome to play the game in any language.

Challenge yourself with activities like starting a daily reading practice, exploring the library's Black Resources Collection or getting a list of recommended reads from the My Librarian team. 

Once you've completed four of the gameboard activities, you can enter to win prizes such as gift coupons to Third Eye Books, Starbucks and more.

Read 4 Life is made possible by the Friends of the Library.

¡El verano ya está aquí y con él un sinnúmero de actividades por realizar! Nada mejor que planear lo que queremos hacer y que hemos dejado pendiente por tiempo. Mis preferencias durante esta estación del año van desde leer un libro en una tarde soleada o escuchar otro libro cuando estoy limpiando mi casa. Tal vez leer en compañia de la familia o leer un libro ilustrado con su niño pueda ser otra alternativa.

Otra actividad para disfrutar y divertirse es participar en la Lectura de Verano para adultos que la biblioteca del Condado de Multnomah ofrece año con año. Cocinar ricos platillos y compartir las recetas de los mismos con mis amigos es algo que me encanta hacer también. Qué tal el trabajo en el jardín, plantando flores o vegetales. Y qué decir de los paseos al aire libre o por la playa. ¡Con los días largos llenos de luz natural no hay tiempo que perder! Cualquiera de estas opciones y otras más hacen del verano un tiempo lleno de memorias especiales. ¿Cuál será su historia este verano? 

"You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive." - James Baldwin

Stories help us understand ourselves and empathize with others. Explore these lists featuring authors and characters who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, Two-spirit and more. From romance to manga, history to science fiction, find your next good read here.

Are you looking for books for kids and teens? Find them here. If you're looking for reading recommendations beyond these lists, try My Librarian.

La comunicación efectiva es esencial para construir asociaciones entre la escuela y la familia y apoyar el rendimiento de los estudiantes. Esta asociación debe estar unida al aprendizaje, abordar las diferencias culturales y tener un sistema de toma de decisiones compartido.

He aquí una serie de recursos para tomar en cuenta cuando se comunique con las escuelas.

Guía de recursos para las familias de habla hispana. Esta guía menciona las expectativas que los padres y tutores pueden tener acerca de las escuelas, sus maestros y su hijo. Además, incluye información acerca de los recursos con los que las escuelas cuentan y las medidas que las familias pueden tomar para ayudar a sus estudiantes a aprender.

Hable con los maestros para aclarar dudas sobre las tareas escolares. Incluye sugerencias de cómo abordar algunos problemas que los estudiantes enfrentan al realizar sus tareas y cómo comunicarse y trabajar junto con los maestros para poder ayudar a su estudiante con el trabajo en la escuela y en casa.

Preguntas que hacen los padres sobre las escuelas y sus servicios. ¿Cómo puedo ayudar a mi estudiante? ¿Qué puedo esperar de los maestros? Como padres, tenemos muchas preguntas acerca del sistema educativo y cómo ayudar a nuestros hijos a que tengan éxito en la escuela. Este folleto presenta una serie de preguntas y sus respuestas.  

Consejos para las reuniones de padres y maestros. Las investigaciones comprueban que la participación de la familia es esencial para el éxito de los estudiantes. Aquí encontrará ideas de cómo prepararse para las reuniones con los maestros y cómo dar seguimiento a los puntos y acuerdos que se mencionen durante la reunión.

Ideas y recursos para desarrollar y mantener las buenas relaciones entre la escuela y la familia. Las reuniones entre padres y maestros deben ser enfocadas en el aprovechamiento académico de los estudiantes. Es importante prepararse con preguntas, comentarios y planes para una futura reunión. Esta hoja informativa contiene información para padres, maestros y directores de escuelas. Usted puede ver lo que se puede esperar de cada uno de estos grupos.

El verano es la estación más cálida del año y una de las mejores épocas para disfrutar al aire libre con la familia. Aquí ofrecemos una serie de actividades y recursos para disfrutar de las vacaciones escolares este verano. 

Lectura de Verano con La Biblioteca. Lee por diversión y gana premios este verano

Visita el Taller Creativo de Rockwood

Minikits de la Biblioteca. Recoge tu minikit en tu biblioteca de tu vecindario

Gresham y sus alrededores
Visita los parques de Gresham

SKIP, Actividades y almuerzo gratis en los parques, Red Sunset, Main City y Nadaka

Un día de baseball, 17 de Junio de 2022

Gresham en bicicleta. Paseo grupal en bicicleta. Inscríbete aquí

Festival Anual de las Artes en Gresham con más de 100 artistas y un rincón para niños

Películas en el parque en la ciudad de Fairview 

Películas en el parque en la ciudad de Troutdale

Visita los parques de Troutdale

Descubre los parques de Portland y actividades a sus alrededores
Explora estos parques renovados 

Mapa de todos los parques 

Fuentes interactivas. Lista de fuentes y otras áreas de chapoteo para refrescarse este verano en el área de Portland y Gresham  

Verano gratis para todos. Portland Parks and Recreation está de regreso con un calendario completo para el 2022: conciertos, películas, arte para todos y además almuerzo y juegos gratis para los menores de edad

Portland Sunday Parkways. Vea aquí las rutas y los dos eventos principales de este año 

Kids Bowl Free. Los niños juegan boliche gratis todo el verano

Almuerzos de verano y otros recursos de alimentos
Almuerzos de verano. Cada verano, Oregón ofrece sitios de comidas de verano para niños de 0 a 18 años de edad. Algunos programas ofrecen actividades de aprendizaje para niños antes y después de las comidas. Hay varias formas de encontrar sitios para comer en su área. Encuentre un sitio cerca de usted enviando un mensaje de texto con la palabra “Comida" al 304304.

Meals 4 Kids. Este tiene información acerca de cómo recibir comida para ayudar a niños y familias que califican dentro de la Ciudad de Portland. Visite su sitio web para completar el formulario.

Banco de Comida de Oregón. Encuentre alimentos cerca de usted con este mapa interactivo

Lista del 2021
Diversión de verano al aire libre. Vea esta lista con más ideas para disfrutar este verano

En los Estados Unidos, es obligatorio que los niños vayan a la escuela y todos los niños tienen derecho a recibir una educación pública gratuita. Además de las escuelas públicas existen otras opciones, usted puede elegir a qué tipo de escuela quiere enviar a sus estudiantes. Infórmese antes de tomar una decisión; revise las boletas de calificación de las escuelas, visítelas y haga preguntas. Recuerde que los servicios de educación especial pueden variar o disminuir en las escuelas privadas.

A continuación, una descripción de los tipos de escuelas públicas y privadas en Oregón.

Escuelas públicas
Las escuelas públicas son escuelas gratuitas para todos los estudiantes, sean ciudadanos o no. Los estudiantes asisten a la escuela de su vecindario y tienen derecho a mostrar sus preferencias culturales y religiosas; también tienen derecho a un intérprete si  lo necesitan. Las familias pueden solicitar transferir a sus estudiantes a un distrito escolar diferente o a otra escuela dentro del mismo distrito escolar.

Escuelas públicas chárter
Las escuelas chárter son escuelas gratuitas y públicas gobernadas por su propia comunidad escolar local que a menudo incluye padres y maestros, en lugar de un distrito escolar. Las escuelas públicas chárter no son privadas ni religiosas. Por ley, las escuelas chárter no cobran colegiatura ni pueden ser selectivas en sus admisiones; cualquiera puede solicitar ingresar, y si el número de solicitudes de admisión llega a rebasar el número de espacios disponibles, se lleva a cabo una lotería para determinar, al azar y sin preferencia, quién será admitido. 

Escuelas privadas
Es necesario pagar para que los estudiantes puedan asistir. Muchas escuelas privadas están administradas por iglesias u organizaciones religiosas. Cada escuela privada tiene diferentes costos. Algunas conceden becas o subvenciones para ayudar a los estudiantes a acceder a esa escuela si su familia no tiene suficiente dinero para pagarla. Las escuelas privadas tienen reglas distintas a las escuelas públicas.

Escuelas en casa o Educación en el hogar
La escolarización en el hogar es otra opción educativa. En esta opción, son los padres o familiares los que educan a sus estudiantes en casa. Las opciones educativas dependen de los padres, pero aún deben conocer y cumplir con las leyes estatales de educación en el hogar. Cada estado tiene diferentes normas con respecto a la escolarización en el hogar. Los estudiantes que reciben escolarización en casa, pueden tener acceso a clases y actividades en las escuelas públicas.
Diferencias específicas entre las escuelas públicas, chárter y privadas. En está página de encontrará información sencilla y concreta sobre las diferencias entre los tipos de escuelas.

Otros recursos de Opciones de Aprendizaje en Oregón. Este recurso puede ayudarle a asegurarse que su estudiante asista a una escuela aprobada por el Departamento de Educación Pública de Oregón. 

Inscripción para el kínder
Si su niño cumple 5 años de edad antes del 1 de septiembre, comuníquese con su distrito escolar; los números de teléfono se encuentran al final de la segunda página del volante.

Si vive en el condado de Multnomah, puede identificar su escuela o distrito escolar enviando el siguiente mensaje de texto: "MYSCHOOL" o "MIESCUELA" al 898211.

Transición Temprana al Kínder (EKT) 
Distrito Escolar de Portland

Consulte con su distrito escolar para las escuelas participantes en el área fuera del Distrito Escolar de las Escuelas Públicas de Portland.  

Preguntas frecuentes sobre el kínder 

Head Start (Preescolar)
Solicitud para el Head Start de las Escuelas Públicas de Portland (Preescolar PPS)

Guía de recursos para padres sobre la etapa preescolar 

Summer is one of the best times to enjoy the outdoors with your family. Here we offer a compilation of activities and resources to enjoy the summer holiday.

Free Library Fun:

Summer Reading!
Read for fun and to win prizes this summer. Our theme this year is about exploring and getting outdoors!

Teens entering 6th through 12th grade are welcome to come hang out, create independent projects with art supplies, get to know the makerspace equipment, use the tablets and laptops, and more! Or pick up a STEAM-based Makerspace activity minikit at any Multnomah County library. All materials are included. 

Events & Programs!
Keep an eye on our Events page for upcoming summer programs for the whole family!


Free activities throughout Multnomah County:

Fairview’s Flicks in the Park
Free family movies at Fairview’s Community Park.

Gresham Arts Festival
Celebrate the arts at the 20th annual Gresham Arts Festival in downtown Gresham. Featuring artists from the Pacific Northwest, a kids corner, local cuisine, treats and beverages.

Gresham’s Summer Kids in the Park (SKIP)
Free activities and lunch in some Gresham parks.

Interactive Fountains and Splash Pads
All of Portland’s Interactive fountains should be on by mid-May. Also check out Gresham’s Children’s Fountain

Kids Bowl Free
Sign-up your kids for 2 free games of bowling each day this summer at one of the participating bowling centers.

Parks & Rec
Visit parks in Fairview, Gresham, Portland, Troutdale and Wood Village. A couple parks we want to highlight are Gabriel Park with its new inclusive playground for all abilities, and Verdell Burdine Rutherford Park with its new renovated playground area. 

Portland’s Summer Free for All 
Portland Parks and Recreation is back with a full schedule for 2022 - concerts, movies, performing arts, plus free lunch and play.

Portland’s Sunday Parkways
Series of free events opening Portland’s streets to walk, bike, roll, and discover.

Troutdale’s Movies in the Park
Family movies shown at Troutdale’s Imagination Station.


Summer lunches and other food resources:

Free Summer Lunches for Kids
Each summer, Oregon offers summer meal sites for children ages 1 to 18. Some programs offer learning activities for children before and after meals. There are several ways to find places to eat in your area. Find a site near you

Meals 4 Kids 
This site helps qualifying children and families within the City of Portland. Please visit their website to complete the form. 

Oregon Food Bank 
Find food near you with this interactive map


Reasonably priced summer fun:

Come Thru Market
Open on 1st and 3rd Mondays May-September, this farmer’s market centers Black and Indigenous Farmers and Makers.  

Farmers' Markets - Multnomah County  
Who knew an ear of corn or fresh tomato could improve your health, your community and the environment, all at the same time? Buying local foods is a simple way to do all three!

Ladybug Walks 
For kids 0-6 and opens on Monday, May 23. Walks are on Monday and Thursday mornings at different locations each week and cost $9 for the first child, $6 for each additional child. Walks feature great age-appropriate environmental science education and kids get to borrow a cute ladybug backpack for the walk.

Portland Indigenous Marketplace 
Features art, jewelry, fashion, food, and wellness and is holding several market weekends throughout the summer.

And take a look at our top 10 from last year for even more ideas!

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

A growing body of research shows that time spent outside is good for you and your family’s mental health and that spending time in nature is a great way to boost everyone’s mood. When you think about it, the human brain is designed for hunting, fishing, climbing trees and collecting food. Humans have, for most of our history, relied on nature and spent most of our time in nature. It’s only “natural” that we would feel at home outdoors! 

Many studies show that people report feelings of peace, contentment, and belonging when in nature. This might be because nature works to reduce the stress of cluttered and attention-demanding indoor environments. With less to focus and concentrate on, most people can relax their brain and truly destress, unlike when they find themselves in an attention-grabbing environment filled with television, phones, and other media. 

And let’s not forget spending time outdoors usually involves exercise, which increases blood flow and oxygen through the body and the brain, resulting in an improved mood and more energy. Exercise also increases “happy” hormones, like serotonin.  

So here are some ideas on how to get outside with your family! 

Grow or pick food: Plant a vegetable garden in your own space or at a shared community garden. And depending on the season, there are many places in and around Multnomah County where you can go and pick-your-own fruits and veggies to enjoy!

Bring nature indoors: Collect natural materials (something kids love to do!) and use them to decorate your space. Or find a place to put chairs where you can look out the window and see the sky and trees (great for rainy days!). You can also grow plants or flowers on your windowsill or even watch a video of nature with your family.

Do outdoor activities: It can be as easy as taking a walk together, maybe with the family dog, or watching the stars after sunset. Maybe eat outdoors (or as Fancy Nancy likes to say, alfresco!). You can also have family exercise outside, by jogging together through a local park, playing tennis at a nearby school or park tennis courts, or doing yoga outside. And if you have a 4th grader in your home, don't forget you can enjoy national parks, lands, and waters for free, for a full year!

Help the environment: Your family can take a monthly walk where you pick up litter or volunteer with groups who help with conservation or building animal habitats. 

Notice nature: Again, something kids are “naturals” at (pun intended). Find things you can touch, smell or hear. Maybe keep a family journal of your experiences. Maybe challenge your family to notice up to three things in nature every day! Or maybe try “Forest Bathing” with a local group

Connect with animals: Watch for wildlife when you are outside. Maybe hang a bird feeder, bat box or mason bee house where the family can watch. Backyard animals are everywhere! Visit a local farm or The Belmont Goats! (Librarian Jen volunteers with The Belmont Goats and they love visitors!) 

More ideas on why, how and where to get started:

Also check out our booklist below for titles about the joy of getting outside.

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

Teacher in front of classroom
Register for Kindergarten by June 1 is an outreach campaign to encourage and support parents to register their child before school offices close for the summer.

Is your child registered for school? Don’t wait—many schools begin registering for kindergarten as early as January for children starting school in the fall. If your child will be 5 years old by September 1, contact your school district, and register for school! 

Centennial School District   (503) 760-7990
Centennial School District - Welcome to Kindergarten Booklet

Corbett School   (503) 695-3636
Corbett School - Kindergarten Enrollment

District David Douglas School District   (503) 252-2900
It's Time to Register for 2022-23 Kindergarten - David Douglas School District

Gresham-Barlow School District   (503) 618-2450
Parent Resources / Kindergarten

Parkrose School District   (503) 408-2100
Parkrose School District - Registration

Portland Public Schools   (503) 916-3205
Portland Public Schools - Register for Kindergarten

Reynolds School District   (503) 661-7200
Reynolds School District - Kindergarten registration

Riverdale School District   (503) 892-0722 
Enrollment Options / Options for Enrollment

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

For many years, School Corps has offered the Geisel Award winner booktalks as a program in schools. The Geisel Award is named after Theodor Seuss Geisel, or Dr. Seuss, and is awarded by the American Library Association to the most distinguished book for beginning readers. Books that win the Geisel Award are engaging for youth who are just learning to read. The Geisel Award booktalks presented by School Corps introduce students to current award winners and encourage students to get into reading.

In recent years, educators, parents, librarians, and researchers have brought attention to racist imagery present in many of Dr. Seuss’ books, as well as his own racist beliefs during his lifetime. A paper published in 2019 titled “The Cat is out of Bag: Orientalism, Anti-Blackness, and White Supremacy in Dr. Seuss’s Children’s Books,” assessed 50 of Seuss’s books and found that people of color only made up 2% of characters in his books, and that depictions of people of color represented orientalist and anti-Black beliefs. This paper also brings light to Seuss’s racist beliefs expressed through political cartoons he created. In March 2021, Dr. Seuss Enterprises decided to discontinue the publication of 6 titles written by Dr. Seuss with overtly racist imagery. 

With this information and with the goal of leading with race, creating a safe and equitable space for students to learn and access books and library resources, the School Corps team has decided to no longer refer to the Geisel award booktalks using his name. We believe names carry power and in promoting his name through this program, we are partially endorsing his messages. The Geisel award booktalks will be replaced with a program called Silly, Fun Books for Beginning Readers. These booktalks will feature books that are diverse, enjoyable for children, and perfect for young readers. 

Please feel free to contact the School Corps team at with questions!

Sources and further reading:

The Cat is out of Bag: Orientalism, Anti-Blackness, and White Supremacy in Dr. Seuss’s Children’s Books

Dr. Seuss Enterprises to Stop Publishing Six Books Due to Racist Imagery 

Dr. Seuss was racist. Why are we still reading his books? 

For several years, Multnomah County Library has been working with local authors to share their self-published books via e-book platforms. Through the Library Writers Project, hundreds of books have been added to the e-book collection.

The library partners with Ooligan Press to publish one Library Writers Project book a year in print. This year, author Kristin Burchell, worked with Ooligan Press on the publication of her book Court of Venom.

Court of Venom author Kristin Burchell holding the book

Court of Venom is a fantasy novel about Badriya and her journey in the beautiful oasis city of Aran which lies at the center of the Lost, a desert haunted by ghosts, demons, and witches who prey on unwary souls. 

Q: What part of Court of Venom was the most fun to write?

KB: I would have to say the most fun was the interactions between Badriya and the other characters throughout the story. The camaraderie with her and Petra, how they develop their friendship through this fraught place. The relationships between Badriya and the Queen - their back and forth, and then separate from that the relationship with the Queen’s younger sister. There was also a character - a skeleton called the bones, I really loved writing their interactions as well. It was fun to hear what the bones would see because they had seen a lot.

Q: What inspired the idea of your book?

KB: Oh gosh, I've been working on this novel for quite a long time! I would start it and then put it away. I would come and go. When I first started writing it I got interested in the idea of poisons. When I was doing research on poisons, I kept finding information and stories around how people could use poisons to enhance their appearance. This was just so interesting to me…So what would be the dynamics that people would use poisonous cosmetics in different circumstances? If there is an assassin, how could they use cosmetics to poison people? People could use cosmetics as poison against each other as well. So what would make this worth the risk?

Q: What characters in your book are most similar to you and why?

KB: There’s probably a little bit of me in each character. So there’s Petra who is the best friend and observer and is probably the most like me I would say. She’s just watching all that’s going on and making sense of it all. In Badriya there is some of me. The thought process of how did I get into this situation and how am I going to get out of it? She’s always looking for a different solution or a different path that hasn't been seen yet. Connections are also important to me the same way they are to Badriya. So I would say for sure those two characters the most. I don't feel the furious revenge the Queen feels. As for the two mothers in the story, Solena’s mother and Badriya’s mother, I do feel the protectiveness that they each feel for their daughters. 

Q: If you could meet one of your characters, what would you say to them?

KB: I would really like to talk with Badriya’s mother and have a whole conversation on just what drives her and what would it take for her to finally feel happy and satisfied and what is her connection to the desert and to the lost. I’m sure Badriya would love to know what would satisfy her so she can finally be content and happy.

Q: If you were to write a spin-off about one of your characters, which would you choose?

KB: My first instinct would be to tell more about the witch's story. Then I’d also want to retrace Badriya’s mother's past. As well as follow up with Najma and her future. 

Q: Is there something you want people to know before going into the book:

KB: It was so exciting when the library picked it up as an ebook! And then to watch the process of Ooligan and for it to be traditionally published as a hard copy. There's a whole other element that Ooligan helped me add to it - like the astrology and star signs as I was going through some of the edits. And it was fun to see the constellations take place and form and to really move the book forward. This all just added more layers to the original book. I just appreciate the library being willing to get local writers recognized and out there.

Read more books from the Library Writers Project on OverDrive and Libby

If you like Court of Venom, read other recommendations

Bond project architecture firms welcome teen involvement

Since Multnomah County voters approved the Library Capital Bond in November 2020, the library has been hard at work with architecture firms to map out the design process for the construction and renovation of the Chapter One libraries. Throughout the process, the library and the firms have been meaningfully including teen voices with the help of two design programs.

The two programs coordinating teen involvement are Youth Opportunity Design Approach (YODA), and Your Street Your Voice. The YODA team has been working with architecture firms LEVER and Noll & Tam on the design of Albina and the North Portland locations. For the design of the Holgate and Midland libraries, Your Street Your Voice has been working with Bora and Colloqate architecture firms.

Both YODA and Your Street Your Voice offer teens a paid opportunity to help shape the design process and share what they want to see in their local libraries. The groups center the voice of teens coming from communities that are historically underrepresented in public processes. Through a multi-week cohort program students reflect on space and equity, and the messages that can be received from a space depending on who is considered throughout a design process. They are introduced into architecture as a career, while at the same time shaping library spaces in a meaningful way.

“As soon as I knew the Capital Bond Project was happening, I was looking for how we could have more youth involvement in these spaces,” says Sara Ryan, teen services librarian.

Library staff at community event

Pictured left to right are Sara Ryan (teen librarian), Isy Ibibo (teen librarian), and Cathy Parham (youth librarian).

The goal of both YODA and Your Street Your Voice is to see what kind of space the teens want to develop. “We work with students who don’t get asked ‘how could you change your environment?’ and this opens and unlocks their imagination. With the intention of the design team using their ideas and informing how the design will be executed, teens feel like we actually do care and want their input,” says Jacquelyn Santa Lucia, co-founder of Your Street Your Voice.

Your Street Your Voice provides opportunities and programs for students to get paid to learn about design as a tool for racial justice. The organization works with 12 local high schools, and has programs in and out of state. Your Street Your Voice works with primarily Black, Indigenous, and LGBTQ+ youth who live in the neighborhoods of the libraries they are providing feedback on. “All students are experts, so we want to see what they desire to thrive,” says Jacquelyn.

There has been a lot of engagement from teens in both of these programs. “A lot of the students had thought about place already and what were places that were meaningful to them and where they felt welcome. So we built on this existing interest, and can see that teens are connecting across different schools and cultural backgrounds when they are doing group work,” says Sara.

To showcase the type of innovative concepts a library could have, the YODA team went on a field trip to the Fort Vancouver Regional Library. “On the way there and back it was a great experience with the kids being happy on their own, making friends and having a good time,” says Isy Ibibo, teen librarian. Teens got to see what a more recently updated library looks like, and gather inspiration for what their library could be. 

“The teens are concerned about comfortable seating in the library and a space that they could be in all day long and feel comfortable. But they also want a space that feels geared towards social justice and minority communities - BLM and LGBTQ+ rights. I’m very impressed that teens are thinking bigger than just wanting a cushioned chair,” says Isy.

There are different design teams and architects working with the teens on the projects. Each library is designed with the unique needs of each community and neighborhoods. “The overall approach is to have these teens be reflected in these specific areas, so there is different cultural and linguistic diversity,” says Suzanne Chou, community engagement coordinator with the Library Capital Bond Projects.

Students are learning project management skills, design principles, community agreements, environmental aspects of developing large buildings, color schemes, space considerations and more.

One teen shared how learning about architecture inspired him to explore other features of design, including the engineering and mechanics of a building. “This made me think about the concept that everything in the building has something to offer, whether that be functional or aesthetic,” says Theo, junior in high school and participant in the YODA program. 

Teens are guided through the visual process of design and what architecture looks like. The architecture team shows what the current plan is for teen spaces, how to read these plans and what a 21st century library could look like. 

“I really liked building with jenga blocks when I was a kid. I would put them to the side and put roofs on, and admire how there was structure, how architecture has to do with it, and how it is supported. From there I started looking more into what an architect was, because I didn't know before. I just liked building and liked the concept of structure and support and design in buildings. Then I learned what an architect meant and that's what I looked into to go forth,” says Marelynn, a junior in high school and participant in the YODA program.

Youth show design plan for a library

Marelynn’s school has a work-study program that has allowed her and other teens to look a bit more in depth into specific careers. She has been passionate about architecture for a long time, and expressed her love for this program. “Problem solving is a big part of architecture. It’s all problem solving to get to the big goal you have in the future of the building or project, and even though the building needs to be strong to support everything, the process of design is flexible,” says Marelynn. 

In the recent Your Street Your Voice cohort, students were able to share their ideas with the design and architecture team as well as key library stakeholders. They described pieces of the library that are important to them, including color preferences, how the five senses can impact wanting to leave or stay at the library, and ideas for how to build community outside of the library— like with a community garden. The teens shared their wish list of rooms for particular interests— a music library, library of games, and even a pets library! No suggestion or idea was too outrageous, as this exercise was an opportunity for teens to think outside the box and discuss what they would like in the library if there were no limits.

“The built environment is a reflection of the value system. It’s very clear where investments have been put in when you see it in schools and libraries…and libraries are a safe space for a lot of people. They provide safety, security, and wrap-around services. I can't tell you how many times students have said, ‘the library has been the place,’” says Jacquelyn.

These programs offer hands-on activities for teens, and give young people the time and space to share in the design of the libraries they are a part of. 

The library is committed to youth informing future library projects, and as projects move forward, opportunities for input will be updated on the Library Capital Bond Projects website. You can also stay up-to-date by signing up for the bond projects newsletter.

How one staff member is taking his lived experience and sharing it with the community

For many years, the library has been a hub for community members seeking a new job or advancing their career. For Enrique Rivera, a library workforce development bilingual outreach specialist, this work is especially impactful as he gets to share his personal story with people who are incarcerated at Multnomah County Inverness Jail. 

Joining his county colleague, Carol, Enrique travels to Inverness every week to connect with individuals at the facility, a program conducted in partnership with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. He co-hosts a set of classes to introduce individuals at the facility to library resources, books and teach literacy skills. 

Enrique Rivera, a library workforce development bilingual outreach specialist

“For many people, coming to a physical library location is a luxury. So going out to different locations and meeting people who have never even been to the library is a way to connect with the community,” says Enrique. 

During his visits to corrections facilities, Enrique shares his personal connection to the people he is helping and why he is passionate about the library. He tells them how he used library resources to find a job after he was incarcerated as a young adult. Prior to this, Enrique had never stepped foot in a library. Though he’d signed up for classes at Portland Community College, he needed help fixing up and printing his resume. 

“I went to Belmont Library and told them I need help with these two things. I printed 30 copies of my resume and started handing it out to any place that would take it,” says Enrique.

After this experience, Enrique started using the library all the time. He didn't have a personal computer, so he would go to Belmont Library to complete his school work. He became a regular at the Belmont branch and started to keep an eye out for open positions.

He started applying and was hired a year later to work at Gresham Library as a page— a position that primarily assisted with shelving and checking in materials. During his 11 years at the library, Enrique has worked at almost every branch. In his current position, he shares his journey and inspires community members to use the resources available at the library to find a new career after incarceration.

“I didn't have big dreams after being incarcerated, but what I wanted was to have a normal job, and for me that was a big thing, to have a sense of normalcy. This is what a lot of folks want. They want a job that is stable and pays a living wage - especially when you’re in this position and have a record, it becomes this past, or something that will prevent you from doing something different. So when they see someone who had a similar experience, they appreciate that and express their appreciation. So now to be able to help people do this, is a way in which I can give back what the library gave to me,” says Enrique.

The library has an abundance of books, digital materials, knowledgeable staff, online classes, and one-on-one support, that can all be tailored to individual career needs. 

“Job search has changed a lot over the years and people need a more holistic approach to help them with a variety of needs,” says Lori Moore, a workforce development librarian on the library’s Workplace Team. 

The library has helped patrons with career resources for a long time, but the dedicated Workplace Team formed as a response to changing community needs during the pandemic. More recently, the team has seen trends change from people who are unemployed to those looking to learn new workforce skills, make a career shift or start a new business. 

“We've seen more people leave the traditional workforce to start their own businesses, especially women and minorities,” says Tara Nash, small business and entrepreneurship librarian. “We see that small business support and job support both have the same goals of allowing people the opportunity to find economic stability and fulfillment.”

For small business owners, the library offers free classes for all stages of the small business journey including workshops on business development, strategy, finance and marketing. It also offers personalized small business advice —  a unique service covering things like developing a business plan, doing market research, and connecting entrepreneurs with community partners. 

In addition to direct career and small business assistance, the library offers GED help, literacy tutoring, technology training, and an abundance of other adult learning classes.

In terms of future plans for people at the correctional facilities, Enrique hopes to see some more opportunities for them to check out books and fully utilize library resources:

“There are plenty more things I could say, for instance one of our Indigenous adults was very happy to hear about the library’s services to the Indigenous community. He thanked us for allowing him to come a second time to this class — since there is usually limited room and we offer it first to those who haven't come before — and that he told his family about me and my story because it gave him hope that he too one day could work in a library.” 

Connect with the Small Business & Entrepreneurship team

Find Job and Career help

Chinese patrons build community

Chinese is one of seven dedicated service language and culture groups at the library. Many library branches have staff that speak Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Vietnamese, Russian, or Spanish. They are working to build collections in these languages. There are also library staff dedicated to serving the culturally specific needs of the Black and Indigenous communities. The language and culture staff members connect with communities around the county to share information about local resources, and provide friendly guidance to navigate opportunities.

May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Month (AANHPI), and some of the library's wonderful Chinese patrons shared their experiences of the library and what they love most about it. 

Sign up for upcoming events at your local library


Ms. Ren standing by bookshelves in library

When Ms. Ren visited the Central Library for the first time, she was impressed with the staff and services available. 

When she learned about the English classes through the Adult Literacy Tutoring program, she signed up and asked how much she needed to pay. She was pleasantly surprised when she found out that all library services are free! 

Ms. Ren shared that learning English has helped her adapt to being in a new community and new country. 

Through the library, she has sought tech help and attended many arts and crafts classes. Her favorites have been those during the Mid-Autumn Festival where patrons learn to make lanterns, origami, dumplings, and calligraphy. Ms. Ren enjoys creating art and has gifted several Chinese knot and string art pieces (pictured) to the library to show her appreciation. 

Coming to the library, she has made new friends and found connections to her culture. 

“The library is just like a family. When you have difficulties and questions, then you can always ask the library…it is not just about books, it is also about helping the human.”


Schuchan Zhao and her family siting on sofa

Ms. Schuchan Zhao and her family enjoy attending Chinese cultural events at Woodstock Library. 

At this branch, they’ve connected with Chinese library staff, and while the library was closed during the pandemic, they attended virtual library storytimes. 

“Due to Covid, kids do not have many opportunities to learn together, especially those at an early age, having the virtual storytime meeting is really helpful for them, so they can develop reading and learning skills while having fun,” shared Ms. Schuchan Zhao. It was “a great opportunity for the young children to interact, listen to Chinese stories, and do crafts together.”

Ms. Schuchan Zhao and her family also love to attend the Chinese culture festivals and other virtual and in-person activities provided at the library. 

“The library provides the opportunity for the Chinese group to celebrate our festivals, share our culture and gather with our community, '' says Ms. Schuchan Zhao.

Her family has also participated in virtual storytimes, and the Summer Reading program. They have been able to enjoy the library as a family and inspire others to as well. 

“I would encourage people to apply for a library card, so they can enjoy getting books to read with their families,” says Ms. Schuchan Zhao.


Mrs. and Mr. Lin standing in front of a waterfall

Mrs. and Mr. Lin are a couple who’ve connected with the Chinese language staff at the Central and Midland libraries. 

“When we moved to Portland we wanted to come here to learn English. We have a volunteer who teaches us one by one. The library helps us with English, the tutors help us, and today we have about five tutors who have taught us. We always appreciate them for helping us learn English more and better,” says Mr. Lin.

The couple has benefited from the computer technology help, books, and classes available at the library. 

“We appreciate the technology help. It helps us learn on the computer if we have problems, they can help us solve this problem. Also on the cellphone, if there is a problem, they can help us resolve it. For the seniors this is really important. As we get older we have a lot of technology so what we learn is from the tech programs and we both appreciate it. After we learn the result, we help other people to resolve the same problem.The first time we used Zoom, we didn't know how to use it. Through the program at the library we learned how to use it and we helped seven or eight people use Zoom,” says Mr. Lin.

“We don’t use the computer often so sometimes I ask about computer problems. Sometimes it might be for my friend. So then I resolve the problem and then tell other people. Thank you for this,” says Mrs. Lin.

They have been library advocates, encouraging friends to use library resources and attend events. 

“At the library we can take out books and take them home for reading. There are a lot of Chinese books, so there may be one someone likes and can bring home for reading. The library also has some activities we always enjoy - the Lunar New Years programs, and the Mid-autumn festivals. We also like calligraphy and writing Chinese words,” says Mrs. Lin.

“We enjoy that our Chinese people go to the library. We told more than ten people to go.
We always ask the library what kind of activities the library will have and then we tell our Chinese apartment residents to join this activity. The library always contacts us and then we can tell someone to join this activity,” says Mr. Lin.


Ms. Terri Hsing writing at a table

Ms. Terri Hsing is a Chinese culture teacher from Taiwan who has taught in public and private schools. Most recently, Ms. Hsing has been teaching free calligraphy and traditional Chinese painting classes for patrons of all ages at the library.

“I’ve taught traditional Chinese culture for over 15 years in the States. Since last year, I’ve been working in partnership with the Multnomah County Library to put together many events. I appreciate that the Multnomah County Library gives me so many opportunities to host cultural events,” says Ms. Hsing. 

Ms. Hsing has hosted Chinese classes in lantern painting, dough figurine art, hand-writing spring couplets and more.

“My favorite events are the Chinese calligraphy courses and Chinese painting lessons. Chinese calligraphy includes the history from 5,000 years of history, Confucius philosophy ... It's a rich heritage. We have poetry - and people use calligraphy to write poetry - it’s a beautiful thing to share the poetry and write the calligraphy written with handmade rice paper,” says Ms. Hsing.

Ms. Hsing has made incredible connections with patrons and staff through her programs. 

“The library is the best place and way to share culture because it is based on community. If I do cultural sharing, I want people to come and enjoy the program and cultural events,” says Ms. Hsing.

The library is a community hub where people can come together to celebrate their individual heritage and learn about other cultures as well. 

Attention, K-12 educators! This summer attend one of our educator workshops to learn about the library's services for teachers and the latest and greatest books to use in the classroom. All workshops will be offered online this year.

Gotta Read This: New Books to Connect with Your Curriculum: This workshop highlights new books you might integrate into your language arts, social studies, math, science and arts curriculum. We have separate resources for educators of grades K-5 and 6-12.

  • Kindergarten to fifth-grade educators: This is a two-part webinar, with part one (covering language arts and social studies) on August 2 from 2-3:15 pm, and part two (covering science, math, health and the arts) on August 4 from 2-3:15 pm. Certificates of attendance will be provided. Register now for part one | Register now for part 2  
  • Middle and high school educators: Sign up now, and we’ll contact you to let you know when the online booklists are available.  

Library Connect Introduction: Chances are every K-12 student in your school district already has a Multnomah County Library card! Learn about this school-library partnership and how to get your students started: August 9, 2-3:30 pm. 

Library Connect Advanced: Are your students all set to use their Library Connect accounts?  Learn more about the Multnomah County Library resources available to support classroom learning and extracurricular interests: August 11, 2-3:30 p.m. 

Talking Equity and Social Justice: Booktalks for Educators and Parents: Are you looking for some new books to share with youth on topics like diversity, equity and social responsibility?  Our librarians will share quick booktalks for educators and parents of grades K-12 on titles that address these topics. Certificates of attendance are available. 

Novel-Ties self-paced online workshop (for educators of grades 4-8) : Hot, new fiction to use in book discussion groups and literature circles. Register now, and we’ll contact you to let you know when the workshop is available.  

Contact School Corps with questions.

"Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know." - Alberto Manguel

Talking with people about books is a shortcut to knowing them -- what they think, value and love. Talking together about books builds understanding and community. Get started with these resources to find, join and sustain book groups.

People reading and talking online
Finding a book group

The library is currently focused on providing online book groups for youth. Find listings for these book clubs, as well as one time events by searching for Book Clubs and Discussion Groups under “type of event” on the library’s events page.

Everybody Reads is the library’s community wide reading project, taking place each year from January to March. Check the Everybody Reads page for details about book discussions and related events.

Mt. Hood Reads - Every year, Mt. Hood Community College invites students and members of the community to join them for discussions around a book or books.

Noname Book Club is an online/irl community dedicated to uplifting POC voices by highlighting two books each month written by authors of color. Here is a list of their past picks available from Multnomah County Library.

Indigenous Book Club is a digital book club for reading Indigenous authored books and books about Indigenous people. All are welcome, with special respect and centering of Indigenous people.

Prose Before Bros is a Portland book community that focuses on literature that centers and prioritizes the  experiences of Black and brown woman. Here is a list of their featured titles.

Science Friday book club - Science Friday runs this online book club for those interested in reading and exploring science. 

BookBrowse Online Book Club offers a curated resource of contemporary fiction and nonfiction, with an emphasis on books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding.

Delve Reader Readers’ Seminars, via Literary Arts - There is a cost to participate in these discussions featuring canonical books.

Sustaining a book group

Finding books that appeal to everyone can be challenging, but we have resources to help. Check out our Pageturner to Go kits that include 10 copies of popular book discussion titles.

Do you need help with ideas for you next read? Ask our My Librarian team - we can provide customized lists based on the tastes of your group, and help you place holds on multiple copies. We can also help with books in Spanish.

If you’re primarily using digital titles, check out this  "Always Available" e-book collection from OverDrive, made up of some 3000 classic titles.

Here are the most popular available e-books - this link updates automatically to available titles. 

Is your question about book groups still unanswered? Contact us for more information.

For information about all library services, call 503-988-5123. 
Looking for help on a variety of topics? Start with our list of Lifelong Learning resources.

Technology Help and Computer Skills
The library offers many computer and technology classes

Job Seekers
Learn more about the library's classes and resources for writing resumes, building work related skills and other support for job seekers. Check out these websites and resources to get started on your own.

Small Business
Learn more about the library's classes and resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Check out these websites to get started on your own.

Adult Literacy
The library offers classes, tutoring and resources for adults who are learning to read, working on their GED, learning English and working toward citizenship. Check out these websites to get started on your own.


“Why do you only have one copy of [super popular e-book or audiobook]?”

One of many things could be happening here.

Is it Before the Book’s Release Date?

This is expected. The library buys a single copy of e-books and downloadable audiobooks in advance of their release dates so that they are in the catalog for you to place holds on them.

The week before the book is released, we buy enough copies for the title to meet demand based on the number of holds on the title at that time. This prevents “over-buying” in the expensive e-book and audiobook formats that often range in price from $55 to $109 per copy. This is how we meet demand while staying within our budget.

Is it After the Book’s Release Date?

There are two possibilities:

  1. The holds have built up since the librarians last reviewed holds and bought additional copies (this happens once a week). We will buy more copies within the next few days.
  2. The title is no longer available for the library to purchase and we are unable to add more copies. Titles can be removed from the purchasing catalog for many reasons. One of the most common is that Amazon purchased the rights to the title after the library bought our first copy. Amazon does not sell the digital versions of the titles it publishes or owns the rights for to libraries.

In the case of titles in the second category, librarians do check to see if new editions of any of these titles have been released. If they have, we add them to the collection and move the holds to the “active” copies. When new editions are not available to buy, it just means a really long wait for the title.

One way to check on audiobook availability is to see if the title has an “Only From Audible” banner on the cover on its Amazon page. If it does, the library cannot buy it.

If you have questions about specific titles, please let us know.