Blogs

The North Portland Library recently unveiled a special collection devoted to the history and experiences of our region’s Black community. The Black Pacific Northwest Collection features the literature, music, film and other creative expressions of the Black experience in the Pacific Northwest and is part of the Black Resources Collection. The collection includes Raymond Burell’s celebration of the Vancouver Avenue Baptist Church, Lucas N.N. Burke’s history of Portland’s Black Panther movement, the poetry of S. Renee Mitchell and Samiya A. Bashir, and Renée Watson’s award-winning Piecing Me Together.

We knew it was important for the scope to be of local interest but wanted to broaden it beyond the Portland experience, so this collection includes authors and subjects throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and northern California. You’ll find works by the University of Washington’s emeritus Charles Johnson and works about the late Seattle-based playwright August Wilson. Check out this new collection by visiting the North Portland Library or by searching “Black Pacific Northwest Collection” from the home page.

Help grow the Black Pacific Northwest Collection

This special collection currently features about 200 titles, including works of fiction, nonfiction, films, and even zines — but we’d like to add more, and we need your help! You know the creatives here in our community and beyond — the writers, musicians, filmmakers, historians, social scientists — documenting the rich Black experience in our region. Tell us about them. Have them get in touch with us. Or, if you have written a book, made a record, created a film, compiled a bibliography, let us know. To suggest materials to add to the Black Pacific Northwest collection, please visit North Portland Library or email Kirby at kirbym at multcolib.org.

(Photos are by Cheyenne Thorpe.)

 

Your body is a pretty amazing place to be.  Every day things try to make you sneeze, make your nose run, make you cough, or even something worse - throwing up!  Lucky for you, your immune system fights them off - most of the time.

Immune System, Nintendo Style...... Biology.

Using some great online resources you can get an overview of the immune system, find out how your body responds to an attack on your immune system by playing an immune system game, and even quiz yourself to see what you know!

And you can always contact a librarian for even more info!

Josh R, selections and acquisitions clerk
For Josh, helping library patrons is all about getting the materials they want into their hands in the shortest amount of time. As a part of the selections and acquisitions team, he’s been a part of several changes that are impacting how the library purchases and distributes materials. 

"Today, libraries are competing with Amazon and other entities. Our patrons want the newest materials and quickly. We have to adapt."

A few years ago, the library’s Collections and Technical Services Team re-designed their workflow to help meet the demand. Materials used to sit in the receiving building for 4-6 weeks after they were purchased. Each part of the process — unboxing, sorting, cataloging — taking too much time. Thanks to a new workflow, patrons now get materials in three days or less.

"We’re constantly changing our work and changing the way we think about our work. It’s an exciting time to be at the library. We are re-examining what it means to build a collection in the age of modern libraries."

Josh has a passion for literacy and working with people. While attending a technical high school in Portland, he lost interest in his automotive major but found his way into the school library, where he became a teaching assistant. Directly after high school, he joined Multnomah County Library as a page (now called Access Services Assistant), checking in books and shelving holds.

He wanted to get to know more about each neighborhood, so he began subbing at different library branches, meeting the community and staff at each location. With a curiosity to know more about the technical work of the library, he transitioned from working at a branch to his behind-the-scenes position on the Technical Services team.

Day-to-day, Josh diligently focuses on being a good steward of the library’s resources and helping manage the collections budget. He orders materials from book and media vendors, ensuring the library is getting the items needed, at a good price, and when possible, having them pre-processed so they can get into the hands of library patrons as quick as possible. He is constantly evaluating any changes in how collections budgets are spent and determining whether there are collections that needs attention. He also provides internal customer service, buying materials for the library’s youth and adult outreach programs, such as Books 2U, Summer Reading, and the Every Child Initiative.

"I enjoy feeling connected to the library, even though I don’t interact with the public as much as I did working in a branch. I’m proud that our library works hard to deliver the materials that patrons ask for. We respond directly to people and let them know if their suggested items were purchased, and if they were, how to place a hold on the item. Every time our library makes a change to improve our system for the better of our patrons, it’s gratifying. I know we’re making a difference."

Net neutrality discussion

Multnomah County Library is joining Oregon elected officials, community organizations, business leaders and students in voicing resounding support for the call to restore net neutrality.

In late 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the law that restricts internet providers’ ability to speed up or slow down access to certain content or products. The rollback is set to go into effect June 11.

“Staying connected in today’s world shouldn’t be reserved for those who can afford access. Too many people are on the wrong side of the digital divide, being shut out of jobs, services, health information and vital connections with family and friends,” said Multnomah County Director of Libraries Vailey Oehlke.

On Friday, May 25, the Multnomah County Library Hillsdale branch in Portland, Ore. hosted a discussion led by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici about the urgent need to recognize net neutrality as a key equity issue that will have lasting impacts for everyone.

“In the 21st Century, an open and fair internet isn’t a privilege – it’s a necessity,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “We must stop the Federal Communications Commission from rolling back important Net Neutrality protections. . .I urge everyone who cares about protecting fair and open access to information to make their voices heard.”

The U.S. Senate voted on May 16 to reinstate net neutrality rules but now the issue moves to the House. Congresswoman Bonamici is joining in the fight to force a vote on the legislation.

High school students are also weighing in. One student noted that net neutrality joins gun control as one of the top issues high schoolers are discussing today. Julia Young, a senior and student body president at Wilson High School in Portland, Ore. added:

“As I go into college, I will be studying Applied Biology in Global Resource Systems, which involves sustainability and environmental innovation. It is absolutely crucial that my classmates and I have access to transparent environmental data, and if internet providers are able to choose what information I can access quickly without extreme costs, then my academic career and later work experience will be compromised.”

Complementing the effort to protect net neutrality, Multnomah County District 1 Commissioner Sharon Meieran highlighted an effort to expand broadband in Multnomah County. “Access to reliable high-speed internet is needed for basic equity and inclusion. Kids and families need internet access to file a job application or complete required school homework. That's why the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners just approved funding to study the feasibility of providing publicly owned high-speed internet services at cost to our community.”

Multnomah County Library, Oregon’s largest provider of free internet sessions, is also a member of the Digital Inclusion Network, a regional group of organizational partners committed to reducing barriers to digital access and getting devices into the hands of those who need them most.

“Libraries have a role at the forefront of the discussion about net neutrality and digital equity,” said Oehlke. “We can give patrons free access to internet in our libraries, but to truly make change, we need to ensure everyone in our community can connect and participate in our digital world from anywhere.

WPC 56
BBC shows set in different eras can be so spot-on. They've produced some brilliant series that completely capture the milieu of a particular time period and do it whilst telling a really interesting story. I enjoy watching Downton Abbey for the beautiful frocks but the story of how the world of the upper class was changing after the turn of the century is the more important tale to observe. And yes, I love the fashions of the 40s and 50s so I’ll watch a lot of shows just for the look of those times, but give me a series that explores the changing roles of women and men, and I’ll binge-watch the entire thing in a couple of days.

WPC 56 is one of those shows. It’s set in the 1950s, in the West Midlands police force. Gina Dawson is the first female police officer to serve in her home town police station. At her first meeting with the chief inspector, he sternly says to her, “Never forget that your sole responsibility is to support the men so that they can get on with the job of real policing.” Unbelievable. But then again, so believable. In just a few episodes, we see how such tough issues as rape, mental illness, and race relations played out in a small town in 1950s England. Even though I wish I had a few of their party dresses, I’m glad I’m living in 2018. 

Here's a list of some of my other favorite British series that bring to life other times and places. 

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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!
 

Ursual Le Guin photo
When I learned of Ursula Le Guin’s passing, my world stopped spinning for a time. I reflected on her influence with a mixture of gratitude, admiration and awe. Ursula’s contributions to libraries, reading, literacy and to our community are immeasurable. She was tenacious, principled and gracious beyond words.

I first read The Left Hand of Darkness as a graduate student in library school, enthusiastically exploring my early feminist righteousness. Ursula Le Guin was a beacon to me then. I would have never imagined that, decades later, I would pass a lovely Portland winter’s afternoon in her home sipping tea, chatting about her life, career, ebooks, politics and her love of Multnomah County Library.

And, oh how Ursula put her library love into action! She was a deep and genuine friend to Multnomah County Library. She offered a list of her favorite works. She was a singular voice in support of issues that matter. She served on the Multnomah County Library Advisory Board in the 1990s, and she shaped how our library addressed issues that are important today. She leaves an impressive body of work, and she remains one of our library’s most popular authors.

For decades, Ursula Le Guin offered Multnomah County Library her unwavering support. She spoke, wrote and acted in support of library funding at every turn. She celebrated our milestones (even writing a poem celebrating Central Library’s reopening in 1997). She took on pivotal issues and daunting opponents: advocating for the rights of authors and artists; affordable library access to ebooks; and the importance of a person’s fundamental and constitutionally protected right to read, think, and pursue knowledge without scrutiny or constraint.

In her 1997 remarks about Central Library, she said, “A library is a focal point, a sacred place to a community; and its sacredness is its accessibility, its publicness. It’s everybody’s place.”

Of the many wonderful memories I have as director of Multnomah County Library, that gray afternoon with Ursula Le Guin is one of my most treasured. I will be forever grateful to have encountered her. May we honor her legacy by embodying who she was and what she stood for, in our own lives and communities.

- Vailey

19th century marriage certificate

Can’t remember when your divorce was final? Need a copy of your birth certificate? Trying to remember when your parents got married? Looking for your grandmother’s death certificate? These are all examples of vital records: documents related to a person’s birth, marriage, divorce and death.  If you’re looking for any of these, the library is here to help!

There are a few things to keep in mind when searching for vital records at Multnomah County Library:

  • Public libraries don’t keep archives of public records. You can request copies of birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates from the Oregon Center for Health Statistics.
  • The library does have indexes you can use to verify vital records information in Oregon. However, these indexes don't cover all time periods -- and the most recent year is 2008.
  • The library has a wealth of genealogical resources including useful blogs on topics such as finding obituaries and researching house history.
  • Many historical vital records are available from the Oregon State Archives.
  • Library staff are always happy to assist you in your vital records search.  Please call us at 503.988.5123 or email a librarian anytime.

Getting copies of vital records

Most vital records in Oregon are available through the Oregon Center for Health Statistics. Because there are restrictions on who has access to these records, you will need to provide a significant amount of information about yourself and/or the subject of the vital record. Also keep in mind that the Center for Health Statistics charges fees for vital records. The more research they have to do, the higher the fees.

In order to ensure you receive the correct record, expedite your order, and potentially save yourself some money, you can consult the Oregon Vital Records Indexes available at the library. These indexes provide the name(s) of the individual(s), the county in which the event occurred, the date, and the record number. You can use these indexes yourself at the Central Library or contact the library and have a staff person search for you. Should you need vital records for states other than Oregon, check the Centers for Disease Control's list Where to Write for Vital Records for every U.S. state and territory.

Birth records

The state of Oregon began recording births in 1903 but there is no statewide index to birth records. If you need your own or an immediate family member’s birth certificate contact the Oregon Center for Health Statistics.

For genealogists, birth certificates more than 100 years old can be accessed by anyone.  If you need local birth records, you can use the Ledger Index to City of Portland Births which is focused on the years 1881-1917 within the city of Portland. Keep in mind, however, that the city was much smaller then than it is now.

Marriage records

If you need to verify marriage information, Multnomah County Library has the Oregon Marriage Index (1906-1924, 1946-2008). This index is organized by the name of either the groom or bride and is also available through Ancestry Library Edition (accessible only in the library).  To get a copy of your own or an immediate family member’s marriage certificate, contact the Oregon Center for Health Statistics.

For marriages that occured in Multnomah County from 1990 to the present, there is an online lookup tool that will show the date of the marriage and allow you to order a certified copy for $4.00, a less costly alternative to ordering through the Oregon Center for Health Statistics.  Images of marriage licenses are not available through this site.

For genealogists, anyone can request a marriage certificate more than 50 years old. In Oregon, counties issue marriage licenses, so to find records that are not included in the Oregon Marriage Index you can check the Oregon Historical County Records Guide.

Divorce records

If you need to verify divorce information, Multnomah County Library has access to the Oregon Divorce Index for 1925-2008. Online, Ancestry Library Edition (accessible only in the library) also has Oregon Divorce Records, 1961-1985. If you need a copy of your own or an immediate family member’s divorce certificate, contact the Oregon Center for Health Statistics. If you need the full court record and divorce decree, you will need to contact the issuing court, usually the county circuit court. To help, Multnomah County Archives & Records Management has prepared a handy guide to obtaining divorce records and decrees.

For genealogists, anyone can request a divorce certificate more than 50 years old. If you’re looking for the court records, some counties have all of their circuit court records but others turned over their older documents to the Oregon State Archives.

Death records
Graveyard in Gjemnes, Norway

If you need to verify death information, Multnomah County Library has the Oregon Death Index (1903-2008). This index is also available through Ancestry Library Edition (accessible only in the library). If you need a copy of an immediate family member’s death certificate, contact the Oregon Center for Health Statistics.

For genealogists, anyone can request a death certificate more than 50 years old. You can also search for local deaths before 1903 using the Ledger Index to City of Portland Deaths (1881-1917).

If you still have questions about vital records or other genealogical research questions call or email a librarian to get personalized help. If you’d rather have face-to-face assistance, ask the librarian on duty the next time you visit the library. We're always happy to help!

 

 

Last month the library introduced a set of updated rules for public feedback. We heard and read hundreds of your comments, questions and suggestions. This was valuable input, and we revised the library rules that take effect November 1 as a result.

While most of these rules have been in place for years, people took this chance to reflect on how they think of and use their library. Our community’s feedback centered on access: for children and families exploring a new world of reading and learning and for those with the fewest resources and the most challenging circumstances.

Based on this feedback, we removed the proposed limit on beverage sizes, changed policies around restroom use, clarified wording regarding service animals and improved language to better support the library’s commitment to inclusion.

Each day, 19 Multnomah County libraries are open to serve everyone with a focus on exceptional customer service. We work hard to create a welcoming environment. The library’s rules serve as a foundation for maintaining this environment. We will continue our work, listening and learning how we can improve library service.

On behalf of the more than 600 people who work for the library, I thank you for your engagement, for your support and for your patronage of Multnomah County Library.

Vailey
 

In 1990, former President George H.W. Bush signed the proclamation declaring the month of November as Native American Heritage Month. The proclamation celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments of the peoples who were the original inhabitants, explorers and settlers of the United States of America.

Looking for somewhere to start finding information about a specific tribe? The library has book recommendations and databases that provide historical information about Native Americans including daily life (language, food, shelter, clothing, culture etc.), for readers and researchers of all ages.

Perhaps you want to search an online map with state by state information, or browse a list of tribes to learn about native languages and culture?

Interested in researching your own Native American ancestry? The American Indian Records in the National Archives provides information on how to get started with your research. We also invite you to visit your local library branch to use the genealogy database, or contact the library for individualized booklists or to make a one on one appointment with one of our friendly staff members.

The library will also be hosting programs for all ages throughout the month to celebrate the rich history of the original inhabitants and settlers of the Pacific Northwest.

  • Exploring Ancient Native American Techonology - Try out your own engineering skills while discovering technologies designed by Oregon's first engineers.
  • Native American Indian Storytelling and Drumming - Listen to traditional stories and songs of the Kalapuya people of the Willamette Valley.
  • Dream Catcher Weaving - Participate in a workshop to learn about the history and mystery behind the dreamcatcher while weaving your own.
  • Meet DASH'KA'YAH and COYOTE - Shoshone-Bannock poet and storyteller Ed Edmo will be be sharing stories of DASH'KA'YAH and COYOTE that will delight all ages.
  • Personal Totems - Listen to traditional Native American stories and poems while you create a totem pole that represents aspects of your personality.
  • Native American Jewelry Making - Use traditional items such as bone beads and leather to create one-of-a-kind jewelry.
  • Columbia River Native Basketry - Join Pat Courtney Gould as they discuss and present the timeless artform of twined baskets.
  • Stinging Nettle for Cordage - Learn about sustainable nettle harvesting methods to make cordage or yarn.
  • A Lens on Contemporary Indigenous Art & Culture - Meet contemporary Klamath Modoc artist Ka'ila Farrell-Smith as they share their art practice and philosopy. They will also give a overview of intersectional Indigenous, people of color (POC) artists and collectives.  
  • Ethnobotany of Kalapuya - Learn about the traditional plants and cultural heritage of the local Kalapuya and Chinook tribes.
  • Columbia River Native Women - Learn more about the lives of Columbia River Native Women and their roles in both traditional and modern Native American Indian society.
  • Edible Native American Food Plants - Learn about which berries are edible when you are out hiking, and how Native Americans used food plants like huckleberry, cedar, sweetgrass and other plants for basketry and medicine.

Beginning November 1, 2017, Multnomah County Library is updating its library rules.

You can read them here.

The library is proud to be an open and inclusive institution for our community. With 19 locations across the county, we are always striving to balance a wide range of uses, needs and individual circumstances. Library rules are important to ensuring that our staff can continue to provide exceptional service and that our library remains a welcoming place for everyone.

It’s been nearly 20 years since we’ve made significant changes to our library rules, and in that time, we’ve offered countless new services and programs, grown our collection and even opened new library branches. After an extensive and thoughtful review process, we’ve included changes to library policies on food and beverages, threatening behavior, amount of personal belongings, and weapons. All of our rules ensure the protection of individual rights and necessary accommodations.

Thank you for helping make the library a wonderful and vibrant place. I hope you will visit us soon.

Vailey Oehlke

Director of Libraries

Vailey Oehlke, Director of Libraries

A 1975 chart of Yaquina Head to Columbia River
What is a nautical chart?

To someone who has not been at the helm of a vessel, a nautical chart might look like nothing more than an oddly detailed water map.  To a boater, a nautical chart is much more than a “road map” of the water.  Instead of roads it details water areas, ports, and coast lines; it also includes information about depth of the sea floor, obstructions, restricted areas, recommended routes, and aids to navigation such as lights and buoys. The main purpose of a nautical chart is to give boaters up-to-date information to avoid grounding or traveling in restricted waters, and to navigate safely for themselves and the vessels around them. 

Where can I find current navigational charts?

The United States Office of Coast Survey (USCS) has been producing nautical charts for more than 200 years, ever since President Thomas Jefferson asked for a survey of the coast in 1807. The USCS has made and maintains over 1,000 charts at varying levels of detail that cover all of the U.S. and U.S. territory coastal waters and the Great Lakes. These charts are conveniently available online for viewing and downloading. They are free of charge and regularly updated.

To find a particular nautical chart, start at the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Charts for U.S. Waters Online Chart Viewer. From the Online Chart Viewer you can select a region to view or navigate using the Graphical Catalog. Also available are BookletCharts for printing to help recreational boaters locate themselves on the water.

The Graphical Catalog shows the outlines of charts that are available on a basic geographical map. As you click on a chart, information to the right of the map show you the coordinates for the selected point as well as the Chart number, panel number, and scale of the chart selected. When you zoom in on an area, more detailed charts with larger scales become available to select. The name of each nautical chart is listed below the map as a Panel Title, as well as the date of the most current edition. Each nautical chart is available to be viewed online, downloaded as an RNC (Raster Navigational Chart), or ordered as a paper chart. In addition to finding nautical charts by browsing the map, you can also find nautical charts by entering the coordinates of the location you are seeking.

In addition to these current nautical charts you can also find nautical charts to view at the library by searching for cruising atlas in the online catalog.

Chapman Nautical Chart No. 1 by the U.S. Coast Guard
Did you know that nautical charts may have more than one compass rose printed on them?

A compass rose shows both the true North in the outer circle and the magnetic North in the inner circle, and the difference between the two is called the magnetic variation.  It is important to always use the compass rose nearest the area for which you are plotting directions. For detailed guidance on how to read a nautical chart, check out How to Read a Nautical Chart by Nigel Calder or Chapman Nautical Chart No. 1 from the U.S. Coast Guard.

What did nautical charts and maritime maps look like in the past?

In addition to modern nautical charts, the USCS also has beautiful and detailed historical maps and charts available on their website. Other recommended historical resources are The Charting of the Oceans by Peter Whitfield (an overview of Europe’s charting history) and Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor by Hali Felt (in the 1950s, Marie Tharp turned her husband’s records of sonar pings measuring the ocean’s depth into illuminating maps of the ocean floor that proved for the first time the theory of continental drift).   

Finding these charts can be complicated! If you have any questions, do not hesitate to Ask a Librarian.

The NOAA website includes this note: Use the official, full scale NOAA nautical chart for real navigation whenever possible. These are available from authorized NOAA nautical chart sales agents. Screen captures of the on-line viewable charts available here [on NOAA's online chart viewer] do NOT fulfill chart carriage requirements for regulated commercial vessels under Titles 33 and 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations. 

At Multnomah County Library, our mission is “empowering our community to learn and create.” This can take many forms. For teenagers like Maria, Blanca, Mariah and Alex, it means taking ideas from imagination to reality, while gaining knowledge and confidence at the Rockwood Library makerspace. This video shows that happening.

Rockwood Library Makerspace

 

A year ago, the library opened its first makerspace at Rockwood Library, which was made possible by funds from the Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission and The Library Foundation. The makerspace is a special place, designed just for teenagers. Young people there can learn to create video games, build robots, design jewelry or make a movie. More importantly, they learn to take risks and adapt when things don’t go as planned. They build confidence.

To me, this represents the essence of a public library. A place to seek new ideas and skills with support and resources provided by people who care. We’re all learners with infinite paths for growth. Find yours today at the library.

Vailey Oehlke
Director of libraries

Close-up image of microfilm in a microfilm reader.
Microfilm & microfilm readers

Microfilm is photographic film used to record miniaturized images on sheets or reels. Often these are images of pages from newspapers and magazines. The reels of film use less space than the original items (for example, 50 years of Sports Illustrated on film takes up the same space as 1 year of the paper magazine, and the boxes of microfilm can fit in one small drawer). To read the microscopic images on film, you use a microfilm reader which enlarges them for you.

Two digital microfilm readers are located at Central Library. These readers offer many new options for editing and saving images from microfilm, including the ability to crop, enhance images and add notes.

Digital microfilm machines at Central Library.
So, what kinds of magazines and newspapers does the library have on microfilm?

All sorts! Here is a selection of historic gems that are available at Central Library for your micro-perusing:

  • The Black Panther, 1968 to 1980
  • Harper’s, 1963-2013
  • Macworld, 1984 to 2005
  • Reader’s Digest, 1922 to 2013
  • TV Guide, 1953 to 1994
  • and many, many more!

In addition to national publications like the ones listed above, Central Library also has a large collection of local newspapers on microfilm, including the Oregon Journal, The Oregonian, The Portland Telegram and the Willamette Week. For more information about searching in local newspapers, take a look at the blog post “Research with historical Portland newspapers, beyond the Oregonian.”

Microfilm readers are also located at the Gresham and Sellwood libraries. These locations have smaller collections of microfilm materials which are specific to their communities like The Gresham Outlook and The Sellwood Bee.

Newspaper article about the Grateful Dead
A couple of notes before you begin your micro-searching:

  1. When you use microfilm, it is like browsing through a big stack of newspapers or magazines arranged by date. If you don’t know the exact date for the article that you are seeking, you might need to use an index (usually this index is a book or an online resource) to look it up.
  2. Some magazines and newspapers are only available on microfilm at the library, but many are also available through the library’s online databases. These databases can sometimes be a better choice for your searching.

Remember, you can always Ask a Librarian and we will be happy to help you find the information or articles that you need!

Thư viện công cộng phản ảnh được điều tốt nhất trong mẫu mực của quốc gia Mỹ: một nơi tất cả mọi người đều được chào đón và an toàn để học hỏi, sáng tạo, thể hiện và tìm hiểu những phương cách làm cho cuộc sống của họ tươi đẹp hơn.

Hiện tại, một số lượng khá đông người dân và các cộng đồng đang gặp phải những bất ổn, bị phân biệt đối xử và không được xem trọng . Cùng một quốc gia, chúng ta cần phải giải quyết các câu hỏi, các thử thách lớn lao chúng ta đang gặp phải, trong việc xây dựng một liên hợp hoàn hảo hơn.

Thay mặt cho mỗi một nhân viên làm việc tại Thư viện Hạt Multnomah, tôi xin gửi những lời chân thành tâm đắc tới quý vị, những người chúng tôi phục vụ:

Thư viện Hạt Multnomah là một nơi an toàn. Quý vị được chào đón. Quý vị được trân trọng. Dù quý vị vẻ ngoài như thế nào, quý vị đang tin tưởng ở điều gì, quý vị sinh ra nơi nào, quý vị sử dụng ngôn ngữ gì; Dù cho quý vị yêu thương ai, khả năng như thế nào, tình trạng nhà ở ra sao hay bất cứ định dạng nào khác mà quý vị nhận, thư viện chúng tôi ở đây là để phục vụ quý vị.

Thư viện đã luôn luôn và sẽ mãi mãi là nơi mà mọi người được sống tự do, được là chính mình, được suy nghĩ và nói lên lên ý kiến của riêng mình. Hãy cùng chúng tôi đón nhận điều này với lòng nhân ái, sự hòa hợp, sự tôn trọng và lòng dũng cảm, ngay cả khi đối diện với các khác biệt giữa chúng ta.

Vailey Oehlke

Tổng Giám Đốc Thư viện

Ngày 18 tháng 11 năm 2016

Vailey Oehlke

 

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