On a muddy World War II battlefield a young soldier happens upon the enemy, shoving a gun in the terrified man’s mouth. In 2010 Los Angeles a newly arrived nursing home resident drops dead at his welcome party. In 1960’s rural France a young boy excitedly shows his classmate the ruins of a burned-out German plane. A pair of young lovers has their picture taken at Coney Island in 1942. A blind woman in the Hamptons in 2005 yearns for someone to love.
What do these people have in common? Nothing at first glance but then again that is the illusion of separateness. In a world that is vast and often alienating it is comforting to think we are somehow all connected – that like the idea of six degrees of separation we don’t have to go too far to find our footing or to appreciate the intricate twists and turns that got us here. More than a series of linked short stories, Simon Van Booy’s delicate novel is a world slowly revealed, where discoveries are made, connections are forged and the reader is part detective, part voyeur and part conspirator.
Beautifully written, with fascinating characters readers will grow increasingly attached to, The Illusion of Separateness depicts a world that will stay in the reader’s mind long after the book is closed.
Kitty cats. We love them. They power the internet (proof). The little dears surely deserve their crystal goblets of Fancy Feast, don’t they? Or is that a more malign glint I see in that crescent-pupiled eye?
The most unhinged, bats-in-the-belfry-surreal cat movie of all time has to be House (Hausu), a must-see for all crazy cat ladies (and men) in training. In this cult film from Japan, high school girl Gorgeous is upset when her father introduces her to his new fiancee - perhaps understandably so, since the fiancee enters in a white dress that conveniently streams in the wind every time the camera settles on her. Outraged at this soft-focus replacement for her dearly departed mother, Gorgeous plans a summer vacation to her aunt’s country house instead of with her father. She takes comfort in the companionship of a white cat named Blanche who has mysteriously appeared in her room at the same time as her aunt agrees to host her. All her friends, who have unlikely names like Fantasy, Prof, Mac, Kung-Fu, Melody, and Sweet, are invited, and they think nothing of it when Blanche appears on the train. But when they arrive at the aunt’s house, she is a little too eager to see them, and they begin to be killed off one by one. The cat starts shooting green lasers from its eyes, pianos eat people, mattresses swallow others, and then things really get weird.
Part of the joy of the film is in its unabashed use of the most cheesy, improbable special effects - it really must be seen to be believed, and even then you still won’t believe it. What’s that, Puff? You need me to bike home from Fred Meyer with a can of tuna and 20 lbs of litter on my back? At your service, my feline overlord, at your service.
Multnomah County Library has an amazing array of titles that might be of interest to our LGBTQ community:
- Looking for something fresh? Check out our New Titles section and specifically new LGBTQ books, movies & TV, and teen titles.
- Perhaps you like things that are more off-the-beaten-path? Check out Librarian Emily-Jane’s LGBTQ Zines Reading List.
- Just want to sit back and watch a movie? I’ve made up a list of some of my favorite LGBTQ films that the library owns.
- Are award-winners your thing? LAMBDA Literary recently announced the winners of their 26th annual Lambda Literary Awards. Here is a list of some of the titles currently available at the library (more titles from this list are being ordered as we speak!)
- History buff? Be sure and browse through Librarian Emily-Jane's LGBTQ History reading list.
- Looking for some tips on parenting, or good reads for LGBTQ familes? Read Andrea's post A Tale of Two Mamas and check out the reading lists on Gay Parenting, Rainbow Family Picture Books and Chapter Books.
- Sci-fi/Fantasy your thing? Take a look at Librarian Natasha's selection of good scifi and fantasy featuring main characters or storylines with LGBTQ themes.
- Planning your big gay wedding? Librarian Emily-Jane has lots of great resources to share.
- Do you prefer mysteries? Librarian Matthew has a great post about his favorite gay detectives, accompanied by this reading list.
Speaking of Librarian Matthew, he is one of our very special My Librarians. He loves making up reading lists and providing readers advisory for LGBTQ literature and non fiction in general. Some examples of his excellent lists are Getting Started with LGBT Fiction and Character Driven Gay Fiction. Not sure what to read next, ask Matthew!
Or you can contact any of us with questions about our collection - or any other question you may have - just visit the Contact page and let us know!
You know how it feels when you are in love with new music or a book, and you feel all exultant that this is yours, yours, yours? That’s how I am loving the new tUnE-yArDs CD, Nikki Nack, like a dragon loves his treasure, like cookie monster loves his cookies. The only reason I’m telling you about it is that I actually bought it, because otherwise I wouldn’t want you to put it on hold and take it away from me.
The tUnE-yArDs is largely the work of one person, Merrill Garbus. She plays most of the instruments and does all the singing, including back-up vocals. You can hear the single here.
The music is amazingly interesting, a wild and free mix of R & B, Haitian rhythms, children’s music (with a dark side), pop, punk, and a lot of sampling and repetitive sounds. It sometimes veers close to Captain Beefheart’s and Ornette Coleman’s disjointedness-- which I actually don’t like-- but it doesn’t quite cross that line. It’s unusual, but catchy, even in its strangeness, and you know what?-- you can dance to it, too. Garbus’s voice is the most powerful instrument she has. It sounds to me like my own voice in my head, sometimes sweet and melodic, sometimes ragged and atonal, and sometimes a roar. She’s playful, brave, and astonishing. There’s even an interlude in the middle, a sweet little story about eating children which comes to a much quicker and more hedonistic rationale for cannibalism than Jonathan Swift’s Modest Proposal.
Have a listen!
It’s a jungle out there. And if you have pets, it might be a jungle in here too… So with so many animals- millions and millions of species- where do you start looking for the ones that you want?
The Encyclopedia of Life probably has what you are looking for. It is easy to search, has a really cool map system and tells you where to find a lot more info. The catch is that it is all pretty high level reading and information. Don’t get me wrong- it’s great stuff and there aren’t that many other places to go looking online for sloth genetic code. Some of these other places might ease you into the Encyclopedia of Life. Try one or try them all, it’s up to you!
If you are looking for smaller bites of animal information Animal Planet can keep you up to date on Wild Animals and Pets in fun and handy top 10 lists. My favorites: Top Animal Thieves and the Top Cats of the internet.
A classic place that people learned about animals is the tv show Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. At their site you can watch new videos and check out some of the old videos all the way back to the 1960s. And from there you can head over to the Colorado State library’s collection of photos that one of the Wild Kingdom’s photographers gave to them. The Garst Photographic Collection has thousands of photos and information about the animals in them. They do warn that there are “only” 600 or so species listed, but they are fun and different species like the Egyptian Goose and the Yellow Mongoose. (Hint: only one of those is a bird.)
You can check out the animals at the Oregon Zoo or at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago online and visit them in person if you like. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department has things covered here in the states and oversees the Endangered Species Act. They also have a huge collection of pictures, videos, sounds and maps that are almost all in the public domain. (Meaning you can use them!) If you want more about people working to help animals, World Animal Net is network of animal protection and conservation groups working all around the globe.
The Natural History Notebooks covers animal species both extant (living) and extinct (died out) from dinosaurs to komodo dragons to squirrels. (And if you scroll to the bottom of the page, they give you the citation for your paper too!) The National Geographic Creature Feature is arranged a lot like the Natural History Notebooks and if you can’t find the animal you want in one it might be in the other.
Still need more animals? Ask a librarian!
In the face of tragedy and violence, it can be hard to know what to say to kids. How do you answer your child’s questions while reassuring them that you will keep them safe? The authors of Taking the Terror out of School Shootings remind us that “[w]hile there are no easy answers about these kinds of events, children will want an explanation from parents and teachers. A complete explanation will not be easy, it may not even be possible, but we must try. We must strive for a balance between helping a child feel safe and acknowledging the existence of violence, evil and danger in the world.”
Here are three other resources that can help parents and caregivers:
Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting. From the American Psychological Association.
How to talk to your kids about Reynolds High School shooting, recent teen deaths (links). Oregonian reporter Amy Wang includes links to helping a grieving teen.
A Survival Guide for Parents of Teenagers: What if the next shooting is at my school? (pdf). A tip sheet for talking to your teen about school violence. From the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development.
Lan Su Chinese Garden is on a city block downtown. Most of us only go there when we have out of town visitors, traipsing through and taking photos. I have a membership and love to go there often. A visit to Lan Su truly complements a reader’s life.* Here’s what you might do in the garden:
1. Sit in a cozy spot and read.
Benches in gazebos or rocks by a pool are so cozy, and everyone else will ignore you. When you get up, rest your eyes on the many shapes and textures, and breathe deeply--fragrant plants are in bloom year round.
2. Get the feel of the inner courtyards, gardens and rocky landscapes featured in books about China.
I just finished Amy Tan’s Valley of Amazement, which sweeps through several settings in old China and sometimes takes place in a scholar’s quarters. The Garden is also known as a scholar’s garden and has many of the objects I read about on display.
3. Enjoy the brush paintings, script and poetry on the walls and even inscribed in the wood.
Maples in the Mist is a great intro to contemplative poetry for kids and adults. There are also occasional live demos of brush painting and poetry readings.
4. Enjoy music, tea, and treats in the teahouse.
Perhaps you’ll be reading The Garden of Evening Mists, a moving story set on a tea plantation, as you sample the many varieties available. Check the calendar for music times.
5. Find wonderful Chinese-themed books for children and adults in the bookstore.
And, as a bonus, if you love to read cookbooks, look for the cooking demos throughout June.
*There are usually a few free days in January.
I recently read The Still Point of the Turning World and was blown away by it. It's a memoir by Emily Rapp whose son was born suffering from Tay-Sachs disease, a horrible, rare genetic disease that causes a progressive deterioration of nerve cells and mental and physical abilities resulting in death before a child turns four. The author has written a powerful, beautiful, devastating book about every parent's worst fear. Actually devastating doesn't even begin to describe how it felt to read this book. In many parts, I had a difficult time deciphering the words through my tears. Even now as I write this, I find myself with tears in my eyes. This book is the story of Emily's son, Ronan, and so much more. It's about philosophy, poetry, literature, and the question of how to live a mortal life.
I was totally immersed in The Still Point of the Turning World and when I finished it in one afternoon, I came up gasping for air and thought about my own son. He's 24-years old and just moved away last December to start his new post-college life in Ann Arbor. I'm happy and sad about it. And I know how lucky I am to be able to still have a son no matter how far away he might be living. . .
[Emily Rapp has also written Poster Child, her story about being born with a congenital defect that required the amputation of her entire leg below the knee; it's at the top of the stack of books by my bed that I'll be reading soon. On a brighter note - Emily gave birth to a baby daughter on March 8th. I hope that she won't need to write a heartbreaking memoir ever again.]
Portland has a new illustration and comics festival called Linework NW - it aims to highlight the dynamic energy of creators of comics, prints, graphic novels, and original art. The first-ever event took place on April 12, and we went in search of self-published minicomics and zines for the library’s zine collection. Portland’s Norse Hall was packed to the gills with art, comics, artists and appreciators. The atmosphere was super friendly and excited; I noticed a trend of folks getting their copies of zines signed with personalized illustrations. Of course, we found many wonderful things to add to the library’s zine collection! Here are a few of them:
I Made This to Impress a Boy by Jeannette Langmead consists of lovely color comics about the author's life spanning several years during which she moves to Japan and back to the U.S., ends a relationship, and does some self-reflection.
Falling Rock National Park by Josh Shalek is a series set in a National Park in the southwest. In volume 1, Ernesto the lizard introduces readers to Ranger Dee and various animal characters, then heads into the Uncanny Valley, where everything gets weird. We picked up #1, 2, and 3 at Linework!
The most recent volume in the humorous series Henry & Glenn Forever and Ever, about boyfriends Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig, includes an epic story about zombie mayhem, family relations, and the dark arts while guest starring Hall and Oates.
Cat People / Dog People by Hannah Blumenreich is a two-in-one zine - one side is Cat People, and you flip it over to read Dog People. It contains some true and not-so-true stories of famous people and their pets.
Each volume in the Comics for Changeseries celebrates a community organizer who is making Oregon a better place for everyone: Alex Brown, Polo Catalani, Walter Cole, Dan Handelman, Cheryl Johnson, Paul Knauls, Ibrahim Mubarak, Genny Nelson, Kathleen Saadat, and Wilbur Slockish. The series is written and illustrated by a collection of talented Portland comic writers and illustrators.
Independence day, is a federal holiday in the United States honoring the signing and adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The declaration declared independence from Great Britain. If you are starting research on the signing of the Declaration of Independence and its subsequent holiday, or are just interestedin finding out more facts about the birth of our nation, don't miss these great resources!
USA.gov is a good place to start. The landing page links to original source documents that can only be found at the National Archives and the Library of Congress. There are also pages referenced that describe the different ways people celebrate this holiday, and how the fireworks tradition started.
The National Archives has a Youtube Channel that is helpful with a variety of behind the scenes videos. You can learn about how the actual document is preserved and even listen to a reading of the Declaration.
The History Channel also has a number of short videos about the HIstory of the 4th of July including a fun, two minute, trivia-filled segment called "Bet You Didn't Know: Independence Day."
If you are looking for more information about the actual signers, Independence Hall Association, a non profit organization based in Philadelphia, PA has an entire site dedicated to the 56 signers that features short biographies. The largest signature is that of John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress. Two future presidents signed the Declaration: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Do you know who the youngest signer was?That was Edward Rutledge at age 26. Benjamin Franklin (age 70) was the oldest.
If you need to dig a little deeper about each signer, don't forget to use the library's Biography Resource Center.
Not enough information covered here? Check out the reads below, or contact a librarian!
Can you recommend a good book?
At the moment a so-so mystery/thriller is filling in for the right title. However, that's not enough. I need an inspired, page turning book. One that makes me cling to every page with the hope that more will magically appear to give more time with the characters. A bit dramatic? Sure, but you get the point.
Luckily, there’s an answer to such dark literary times. Nothing new, borrowed, or blue is gonna fix this. Something old? I think so. It's time for a book so good, so familiar, that only the magic of the emotional bond between reader and a beloved story will do. Perhaps an old favorite will jump start my book rut.
One of my favorite sub-genres is a secret no longer. What was once a small specific mash-up of genre fiction sprinkled among a few authors and anthologies has blossomed into a renaissance of books, comics, and films. The Weird Western has its roots in classic pulp paperbacks and magazines (Robert E. Howard, Lon Williams, and Charles G. Finney) where authors who wrote with familiar tropes and themes of the western tale started to incorporate supernatural, speculative, ancient mythological, and even robotic fibers into their yarns. Unfortunately, in terms of content and what is available today with the e-boom of self-publishing, there are quite a few six-guns that should have remained holstered. This gold rush of stories has also expanded the arm of steampunk fiction, which has usually been contained within the constantly fluctuating threshold of science-fiction-fantasy. I’ve never been a huge fan of steampunk. I’ve read and liked a few original authors, but there is no denying that when it comes to Weird Westerns, that universe and it’s facets, without question, adds flair and substance to many creations on the Ranch.
So, every other month, in order to get you through the shutter doors of the saloon slinging the best whiskey, I’ll help you wade through the muck that has appeared near the hitchin’ post right outside...This month on the Ranch I highlight two collections that share the same title.
Just released is the anthology Dead Man’s Hand, edited by John Joseph Adams. Short stories are the backbone of the genre despite many successful and original novels and this new title has some heavyweights including Joe Lansdale, one of the patriarchs of the Weird Western tale, Alastair Reynolds, Orson Scott Card, Kelley Armstrong, and Jonathan Maberry. The Tad Williams story “Strong Medicine” recalls the enjoyable stop-motion film Valley of the Gwangi. Despite leaning more towards fantasy and alternate history over horror, Adams has nonetheless roped some wonderful tales.
The other Dead Man’s Hand, by Nancy A. Collins, was published in 2004 and contains three novellas, two short stories, and an intro by, who else? Joe Lansdale. Known for her Sonja Blue series and most recent Golgotham books, Collins adds old and new elements to her offerings. I particularly liked “Lynch,” with its contribution to the Frankenstein legacy, and I have a personal attachment to the darker Dia De Los Muertos story “Calaverada.” This title is a softer addition to the canon but a worthy collection and perfect for the entry-level Weird Western reader.
If you like these titles or the booklists below, send me a message and I will provide a more thorough bibliography (or filmography) of other great Weird Westerns. Other booklists and reviews in the next roundup, happy reading!
"Donald Harington is not an unkown author. He is an undiscovered continent."- Fred Chappell
Just as with the early settlers who arrived on saddle bagged mules, only to say with a shrug, ‘Pears lak this here road don't go no further' and start falling trees, the mythical Ozark hamlet of Stay More was not my planned travel destination. I love books that take me places, but the Arkansas Ozarks just wasn’t on my itinerary. All it took however, was one chance encounter with a book titled With to quickly realize that this was a travel destination beyond compare.
The town of Stay More is strongly rooted in the real history and folklore of the Ozarks and just as solidly established in the vast imagination of little-known author, Donald Harington. Harington has written thirteen novels set in this town where animals talk, ghosts provide companionship to the living and the local doctor, who despite his lack of formal medical training, is able to cure patients in their dreams.
I recently traveled back to Stay More with The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks. Using architecture as a marker, the novel lays out the history of Stay More from the founding of the town by the Ingledew brothers in the 1830s, through six generations of Stay Morons up to the 1970s. Along the way, Harington's voice, like Waylon Jennings narrating the Dukes of Hazzard, injects countless lessons in folklore, history and linguistics; some of them true, some appropriated, some entirely made up and all of them fantastically entertaining.
Donald Harington's Stay More might not be everyone's ideal travel destination, but if you enjoy masterful storytelling, bawdy humor and philosophical conversation written in a dialogue that you really must read aloud, (preferably with a swig of Arkansas sour mash whiskey), then you will most certainly find yourself stayin' more.
The library provides access to lots of magazines and journals (over 25,000 of them!) both in print and online. We can help you search for articles in these magazines, whether you’re writing a research paper or just wanting to read more about your favorite pop star. If you already know the name of a specific article or magazine that you want to find, take a look at "How to find magazines and magazine articles (I want my Bieber!)"
As an example, let’s try looking for articles about that perennial papa of pop, Paul Anka.
The best place to start when searching for magazine articles is an index. An article index can be a book or an online resource, and it is used to look up a subject (Paul Anka, perhaps?) and find a list of articles that were written about that subject. To learn more about this former teen idol, we will use three important databases to search for articles. Each of these databases is an index, and they also often contain the full text of many articles.
What did magazines say about Paul back in the early 1960s when he was just starting out? Readers’ Guide Retrospective indexes magazines from a very wide range of years, all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century. Since this database includes so many articles from so many years, it is a good idea to limit the date for your search. Many of the results in Readers’ Guide Retrospective are citations: they don’t include the full text of the article, but they do tell you which magazine it was in. Once you have the information about which magazine and date the article was in (the citation), you can check to see if the library has the magazine you need - to learn how to do that, look at “How to find magazines and magazine articles (I want my Bieber!)” According to a November 3, 1961, article from Time that is available full-text in this database, Paul always goes on stage with the goal “to comfort the people.” Oh, Paul...
So that was the 1960s, but what are magazines writing about Paul now? MasterFILE Premier is a good all-purpose database which indexes articles from lots of current magazines, and it also has most of them in full-text. Jubilation! You can read book reviews about Paul’s recent autobiography, My Way, and find articles like a May 2013 profile in Vanity Fair by his longtime acquaintance Jerry Weintraub. What does Weintraub value most in Paul? “It’s his friendship.” You don’t have to be a lonely boy when you get to know Paul.
If you want to find articles from outside of the mainstream magazines, JSTOR is a great database. It includes citations and full-text articles from many different specialty magazines and academic journals. Since it includes so many articles, it can help to do an Advanced Search in this database and then narrow your search by choosing discipline areas (for example, you could do an advanced search for Paul Anka and limit the search to magazines related to the subject “Music”). You can find some interesting stuff in JSTOR, like a poem from the Summer 1986 Sewanee Review which includes the line: “Paul Anka / Of Sri Lanka”.
There you have it: the times of Paul’s life (or at least some of them). These three databases are just the beginning: you can find more ways to search for articles on the Research Tools page (use the "Type" menu to choose databases which have articles). If you would like some help picking out additional databases and indexes to try, then let us get to know you. Just contact a librarian and tell us more about what you are searching for. We can work with you to find the articles you need for your project or your personal interest. Any time and ogni volta, we’re here to help!
Prey tell, if you read fiction, do you read series, and what is your favorite? I’d like to tell you about mine.
John Sandford has been writing the Prey series since 1989. I stumbled upon the first book, Rules of Prey, right out of college, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Not for the faint of heart, these violent police procedurals feature Lucas Davenport, a cocky and endearingly eccentric detective, and his intense interactions with inventive and well-drawn villains. Filled with suspense and black humor, the novels are fast-paced and plot-driven. I spent some time in the Midwest, and the descriptions of Minneapolis and Minnesota take me back like it was yesterday.
Lucas Davenport gets it done and not always in a conventional way. He is a detective in the first of the books, and in the latest, Field of Prey, he is a high-ranking member of the Minnesota BCA, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He’s handsome, rich, brazen, and sexy, and he knows it. It’s been a wild ride following his journey, and, dare I say, growth, into the character he is today.
These novels are chock full of quirky folks. The characters are always intriguing and I love his real world dialogue. I never fail to cringe and laugh out loud when reading a Prey novel, and often at the same sentence. I rarely want to finish a book in one sitting (too many other things to do!), but the Prey novels do it for me. I am sad when one comes to an end, and so excited when I pick up the next one.
I’ll admit, I read a lot of bestsellers, and some of you may not appreciate them like I do (a topic for next time, perhaps?), but if you’re a fan of police procedurals, I urge you to give the Prey novels a try. Start with Rules of Prey. I’d love to hear what you think of them!
Do you want to find a particular magazine article? Do you want to know if the library has your favorite magazine? We can help you find magazines and magazine articles available through the library, both in print and online. If, however, you don’t care which magazine the articles come from and just want to search for all the articles about a subject, take a look at “Searching for articles on a subject (Paul Anka, please!)”
Let’s pretend you are a total Bieber believer, and at your dentist’s office you saw an article about Justin Bieber in a March issue of Rolling Stone. Unfortunately, you were called in for your root canal (heartbreaker!) before you could have a chance to read the whole article. Now it’s a few months later and you want to see if you can get it from the library. Here’s how to do it.
To check whether the library even has this magazine, go to the Classic Catalog and choose a “Magazines/Newspapers” search, then search for the magazine title Rolling Stone. Success! You get two results: one that has an icon on the right that says “Periodical,” and another with an icon that says “E-Journal” (electronic journal).
2. Choose the electronic journal option
If you want to find an online copy of the article, you can choose the electronic journal option. The catalog entry for the e- journal Rolling Stone has a link which says “Click here for full text” - this link takes you to a page showing which library databases include full-text articles from the magazine. You have several options of databases which have Rolling Stone for the date you need; for this example, let’s pick MasterFILE Premier. Click on the link for it to go to the database.
3. Search in the database for the article
To search for the article you saw at the dentist's office, you can type “Justin Bieber” into the keyword box and “Rolling Stone” into the Publication box (MasterFILE Premier contains lots of magazines, so this will limit your search to only be articles from Rolling Stone). Hit the Search button and, baby, oh, you’ve found it! “Bad Boy” from the March 13, 2014, Rolling Stone. This database has the article in full-text.
Unfortunately, the database does not include photos from this magazine article. :`-( Sometimes databases will include PDF scans of the articles with images, but often the article will just be text. Hmm... maybe the local library down the street from your house will have the actual magazine, and you can look at all the photos there.
4. Find out which libraries have print copies of the magazine
To see which libraries have print copies of the magazine, go back to the Classic Catalog and do the “Magazines/Newspapers” search again for Rolling Stone, but this time choose the result with the icon that says “Periodical.” This will take you to an entry in the library catalog showing which libraries have print copies of the magazine, and which dates they have. It looks like all of the Multnomah County Library branches have the 6 most recent issues of Rolling Stone, and Central Library has them (in print and on microfilm) back to 1967!
What if you follow the steps here and still can’t find the magazine article you want?
Never say never! - the library will do everything we can to get you the article you need. You can always contact a librarian for help or use our interlibrary loan service to request that we get the article from another library. We just want to see U smile!
So, now that it’s legal, you are planning to marry. Congratulations!!
If you are organizing a wedding celebration or party in addition to your legal ceremony, you have some work ahead of you. No matter the size or formality of your event, you’ll probably have to at least invite people and find a place to celebrate in. If you want a huge party with tons of people in lovely outfits, flowers, a big cake, party favors and a unicorn; well, that’s going to require a lot of organization. But never fear, librarians are always here to help!
What does organizing your wedding look like? I’d say the answer depends entirely on you and your intended spouse. One thing working in your favor is that, um, you’re not straight. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer people have long had the joy -- and the burden -- of defining their own relationships and building their own rules for living. So make your wedding yours. Here are a few resources to help you get started:
Books and articles
There are precious few books written specifically to aid same-sex couples in wedding planning, but the library has a few you may want to consult:
- The Complete Guide to Gay and Lesbian Weddings provides advice on an array of same-sex-wedding-specific topics like finding gay-friendly vendors and announcing your engagement to your family -- while still acting as a comprehensive guide to planning a more-or-less traditional wedding.
- David Toussaint and Heather Leo's Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony covers everything from advice on determining the length of your engagement to tips for planning your honeymoon -- with emphasis on the special circumstances of gay and lesbian weddings.
- The Gay Couple's Guide to Wedding Planning : Everything Gay Men Need to Know to Create A Fun, Romantic, and Memorable Ceremony, by David Toussaint, is (clearly!) written specifically for gay men who are planning to wed. This book is designed for intense planners, with each chapter addressing the steps you should follow in a year-long wedding-planning process.
Despite their queer focus, these books are all pretty traditional. Folks who are looking for stories and images of trans people and couples, or weddings that center on specific aspects of gay culture and style may not find them in these -- or in any books. That’s not a surprise, but it is a disappointment. If your wedding planning is taking you in a direction that isn’t well-served by the mainstream media, you might want to do some more, shall we say, basic research.
Depending on your needs, you might start with wedding how-to books that were written for a general (yeah, mostly straight!) audience. The library has tons, including books on wedding decorations, wedding photography, making or designing your wedding cake, wedding traditions, making or styling your wedding dress/es. Or, you might want to take a look at general books about costume history, flower arranging or planning a non-wedding type of party. Will your wedding have a theme? Chances are, the library has books, magazine articles, or other materials that will help you incorporate that theme into your celebration -- contact a librarian to get started.
Another useful source for words on weddings is the local magazine PQ Monthly -- they regularly feature stories, opinion pieces, and miscellanea on marriage equality. A recent standout (in my humble opinion) is local fashion writer Sally Mulligan’s column predicting wedding outfit trends -- and offering easygoing advice for brides, grooms and spouses: “Life’s a Catwalk, and the Aisle is an Exception.”
Queer-friendly wedding businesses
Even in the first blush of marriage equality here in the Beaver State, it can be a bit tricky to find trusted, queer-friendly wedding business and other resources. Portland’s Gay Yellow Pages has a short section of wedding listings that includes venues and services. Or, try Purple Unions, a national directory of gay-friendly wedding vendors -- they list a variety of Oregon wedding venues, photographers, wedding planners, and other wedding services and professionals.
Do you have more questions?
Librarians are ready to help you find answers! Whether you’re looking for help finding the perfect queer-positive tailor or you want some inspiration for writing your vows, we are happy to help. Ask a librarian anytime.
And, be sure to check out the library’s booth at the Pride Festival, June 14 and 15 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park!
So by now it’s getting to be old news: same-sex couples in Oregon have the right to marry on equal footing with opposite-sex couples. Many Oregonians are breathing a sigh of relief, and some are ready to plan their weddings right now! Deciding whether or not to marry can be a very personal and emotional matter. And planning a wedding, goodness knows, has myriad practical, interpersonal and emotional aspects.
But deciding whether to marry and/or planning a wedding may also have legal implications. For same-sex couples, the legal implications can be complex, unfamiliar or just plain unclear. Never fear, though -- librarians are here to help! Let’s pick apart some of the questions same-sex couples might face as they consider marriage:
Deciding if you want to marry
The opening up of Oregon marriage laws is an unequivocal joy for some couples who want to marry. For other individuals and couples, this new ability to marry legally here in our home state raises both questions and concerns.
One great way to navigate this challenge is to learn more about your options. The local PQ Monthly’s April/May 2014 issue is all about weddings, and includes both practical and philosophical articles with a variety of perspectives.
There is lots of information in this post about getting married and about the legal implications of marriage -- what about not getting married? Unmarried Equality is a California-based civil rights organization which advocates for “equality and fairness for unmarried people, including people who are single, choose not to marry, cannot marry, or live together before marriage.” Their website provides information about and support for a variety of ways to be unmarried, as well as some resources for and about people who consciously choose not to marry.
Actually getting married
Have you decided to marry? In Oregon, the first technical step in getting married is to get a license, from the county in which you will wed. The Multnomah County Division of Assessment, Recording & Taxation issues marriage licenses in Multnomah County, and their website lists all the requirements and fees for getting a marriage license -- and explains the steps you’ll follow once you have your license. The ACLU of Oregon also has a helpful FAQ about getting married in Oregon, which includes a directory of the marriage license offices for all 36 Oregon counties.
Once you have your license, you’ll need to find an officiant -- usually this is a religious leader or judge. Your county clerk or registrar’s office may have a list of judges and other officials who can perform a marriage. Here’s a list of Multnomah County judges who are available to marry people (pdf), from the county recorder’s office.
Next, have your ceremony!
Miscellaneous practical matters
Marriage can change your tax status or have an effect on your estate planning, property ownership, child custody arrangements, and a whole host of other business-like issues. Making It Legal: A Guide to Same-sex Marriage, Domestic Partnerships & Civil Unions, by Frederick C. Hertzwit & Emily Doskow (both attorneys!) is chock full of practical information and advice about the many legal and practical issues that arise for same-sex couples who marry or register their relationships. The book is extra new -- just updated in January 2014 -- and should have mostly up-to-date information (though Oregon marriage law changed in May, so remember to look to more current resources for specifics on Oregon same-sex marriage specifically).
If Making it Legal isn’t for you, check out one of these other books about LGBTQ couples and the law.
Dare I say it, you may also want to think about what will happen if your relationship doesn’t last until death do you part. If this is an issue you want to consider, it might be helpful just to hear about other LGBTQ people’s experiences with divorce. Kathryn Martini’s thoughtful column about her own divorce in the July 2013 issue of the local PQ Monthly is one place to start.
Making it Legal also talks about special issues in same-sex divorces -- as do several of the library’s other books on LGBTQ couples and the law. Or, you might want to consult with an attorney to get advice about your own unique situation:
Getting expert legal help
Do you have other specific questions about marriage and its implications for your taxes, child custody, inheritance and the like? If so, you may want to get personal legal advice. Or perhaps you and your spouse have already married or entered into a formal domestic or civil partnership, and you have questions about your status. I’m a librarian and not an attorney, so I can’t give legal advice. But librarians are always happy to help you locate resources!
Here are a couple of great places to start with your specific same-sex marriage legal questions:
The civil rights organization Lambda Legal has a legal help desk (email or call 1-866-542-8336) which “provides information and assistance regarding discrimination related to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and HIV status.” Lambda Legal also maintains a number of resources you can use to see the status of same-sex relationships nationwide, or track the constantly changing legal issues around marriage and family law for LGBTQ individuals, couples and families, including legal issues for same-sex couples who are not able to or who do not marry.
And, the Oregon State Bar has a lawyer referral service that you can use to help get in touch with a local attorney who works in the right area of law for your specific needs.
Do you have other questions?
Please, ask a librarian anytime for more resources to help with your queer legal research (or really, with your anything research!). Or visit your local county law library for a wider range of legal materials.
Although we are always happy to help you locate resources and give you search tips, it is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law; we may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights.
Closing the ‘Skills Gap’
There have been many articles about the relation of unemployment and the so-called ‘skills gap’ recently and there have been lots of discussion about whether that’s real or just hype (check out these articles from the Harvard Business Review, the Economic Policy Institute, and Wharton Digital Press). But regardless of where the real fault lies for jobs going unfilled in a time of high unemployment, that's the reality of hiring in the computer age, with the advent of applicant tracking systems, scanners and parsing software. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to adjust to the realities of computerized hiring and cut through the avalanche of job seekers applying online (and the software employers use to weed them out), to get to the actual people who still do the hiring.
First, you need the skills to actually do the job before you can convince someone you can. We can help you brush up your computer skills with our library computer classes and labs, as well as books and other self-instruction materials. The library also offers online tutorials and practise tests on a wide range of in-demand skills, including preparing for many occupational skills and licenses and even connects you with career experts online. Let us help you navigate these options in person, by phone, email or chat.
The next step involves telling your story to potential employers...
Resumes and cover letters
Everybody talks about how choosing the right words to use in computerized job searches, resumes, cover letters, and interviews is the key to success, but how do you find them? QuintCareers.com shares several articles about using keywords to enhance your resumse’s effectiveness, how to find those keywords and even offers a worksheet to help you get at just the right keywords. This article from Wharton Digital Press is a practical guide for what can you do about parsing software. You can find more advice and examples on websites like Susan Ireland’s Resume Site, Monster.com and the many resume and cover letter books we have at the library. Before submitting your resume to potential employers, it’s always good to have someone else review it - you can do this for free by posting your resume to the library’s Tutor.com service or MSN’s CareerBuilder site.
Because 'It's not what you know...' - well, actually it is, but it's also who you know who knows someone who needs what you know. So you need to make those connections and here are some ways to do that:
LinkedIn: use that “six degrees of separation” thing to your advantage and put your best foot forward in a place where people who can help will see it.
pdxMindShare: techies and creatives, this is your place.
CNRG: networking and more for the local nonprofit world.
Network After Work - Portland: old-fashioned, face time networking events.
Meetups: because you have other interests, and so do the people who can help you get hired; and they have job seekers groups too.
Now that you’ve gotten the interview, it’s important to prepare before you tell your story in person. Glassdoor.com has lots of examples of real questions applicants were asked in real interviews with various companies, as well as other insider tips. They may not ask you exactly the same thing but it will probably be a similar kind of question - according to Forbes, all job interview questions boil down to three basic things: ability, motivation & fit. The library also offers many books to help you prep for your interview.
Keeping all your ducks in a row - organizing your job search
There’s a lot to keep track of in a full scale job search - industries and companies researched; networking contacts made; applications due and applications sent; jobs boards searched, results of different job titles, skills and attributes sought; followup, resume revisions; etc. How do you keep track of it all?
Fortunately, there are a number of places that can help you:
Learning Express - this library database does more than provide a way for you to learn new skills, it also has a Job & Career Accelerator section which can help you with your job search in many ways, including keeping track of it all.
jibberjobber.com - a web-based way to keep track of it all.
this spreadsheet from the makers of Excel is designed to track various aspects of the job search and can, of course, be modified to suit your needs.
Do it yourself, e.g., a very simple Word doc with expandable rows & columns for keeping track of where you’ve looked, what you’ve found, and, most importantly, what new searches that leads to. Any calendaring system can be good for keeping track of deadlines, interviews, callbacks, etc. You just have to pick one and use it consistently.