The Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI) is currently hosting the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes. We here at the library love Sherlock Holmes! He’s detail-oriented and excellent at making connections - some of our favorite traits - and his amazing tales have brought the love of reading to hundreds of thousands of people all over the planet!
It all began with Arthur Conan Doyle back in 1886 and more than 120 years later, Holmes is still going strong. Not only are tales of his adventures found in novels, but also in comics, movies, television shows and even the Broadway stage.
We’ve created a reading/watching/listening list for all Sherlock fans (or soon to be fans) and we would love to hear about your favorite Sherlock stories in the comments.
Want more recommendations of stories involving famous sleuths (or anything else)? Go ahead and ask a detail-oriented and connection-making librarian!
Now that I have a niece, I have become even more aware of the amazing female role models that can inspire her to learn and succeed in whatever way she chooses. Women have been instrumental in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) since ancient times (Hello, Hypatia!). Children have survived leukemia because of the work of Nobel Prize winner Gertrude B. Elion. Mathmetician Katherine G. Johnson calculated the flight trajectory for the first American to go into space in 1959. You wouldn’t be reading this blog if not for the work of Grace Hopper, who advanced computers beyond binary. Yet we still tend to think of the accomplishments in these fields as belonging almost exclusively to men.
Ada Lovelace Day, happening this year on October 15, 2013, aims to change that. Named after early programmer Ada Lovelace, Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This year’s events include lectures, meet-ups, and a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon to edit and create Wikipedia entries on women who have made significant contributions to the STEM fields.
In honor of my niece and all of the other young girls (and boys) in my life who might design the vaccine or software that changes the world, I am celebrating this week by learning and spreading the word about women in STEM past and present. The Anita Borg Institute has some fascinating profiles of women in technology; Eastern Illinois University rounds up biographies of women in science and Agnes Scott College brings us bios of women mathematicians through history; and I can’t get enough of this amazing set of photographs of women in science from the Smithsonian.
And I definitely got schooled watching this epic rap battle between Rosalind Franklin and Watson and Crick. (Don’t miss the shoutout to Shirley Anne Jackson at 2:27!)
Want to learn more? Check out the incredible reads below or contact a librarian. And let us know about your favorite woman in STEM in the comments!
Comic books are full of charismatic leaders locked in desperate struggles, but a vast majority of these are fictional. It's perspective-changing when comics are used to tell stories of real people. One such book is Louis Riel: A Comic Strip Biography, by Chester Brown.
Riel is a character of mythic proportions in Canadian history. He butted heads with the newly established government of Canada, starting in 1869 when he led the Red River Rebellion. Riel was a leader who believed he was divinely chosen to protect and defend the rights of the Metis - descendants of First Nations people and Europeans who suffered persecution from the wider culture.
Brown tells the story of Riel's fights and flights back and forth across the Canadian border, from Manitoba, to Montana and then to Saskatchewan, where he was eventually arrested for treason and hanged.
The minimalist color scheme and Brown's crisp drawings create a suspenseful story that could otherwise come across as a dry recitation of historical fact. If you never thought you'd read a comic book, but are a history buff, give this a try.
Find out more about the intriguing Louis Riel.
Helping to Create New Americans
by Donna Childs
The purpose of these spotlights is to recognize a few of the many wonderful volunteers at the Multnomah County library, so of course, they feature glowing tributes to deserving people. Even given that, I came away from meeting Bryan and Maya McGowan especially delighted by both of them and impressed with the Multnomah County Library itself. Bryan and Maya are volunteer instructors in the library’s citizenship classes, a program of six-session classes for immigrants who are studying to pass the United States citizenship examination.
I am impressed with the library for offering such classes. While it may come under the rubric of good citizenship and of promoting literacy, it nonetheless seems a step beyond what might be expected. Bryan and Maya belong to a cadre of volunteers who teach citizenship classes throughout the library system. Classes focus on preparing for the history, government, and civics portion of the exam, known as the 100 questions, as well as English proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking. The library also provides all the other resources that participants need. Furthermore, the library offers numerous language-learning resources, as well as bilingual staff, books in many languages, conversation circles for English learners (Talk Time), and “amazing online resources for learning English,” according to Bryan. (In a recent year, 27,246 county residents attended 1,843 such programs.) In 2011, Multnomah County Library received a National Association of Counties Achievement Award for its attention to immigrant communities.
Bryan and Maya bring understanding, commitment and enthusiasm to their task of teaching the citizenship classes. A passionate, dedicated immigration lawyer, Bryan began his involvement with the citizenship classes as a visiting legal expert at one session and now teaches the six-session classes. An immigrant from Russia, Maya not only brings first-hand experience from her own naturalization, but has also taught English as a second language in Russia. She is now pursuing a master’s degree at PSU to continue teaching in this country. Together, they share these talents and experiences as they guide new Americans from uncertainty to confidence as they navigate the process of naturalization.
"I couldn't believe our good fortune when not only Bryan, but his wife Maya volunteered to teach citizenship classes," said Melissa Madenski, interim coordinator for adult literacy programs at the library. "They bring a richness of activities, skills and understanding to the safe environment they create as teachers. Plus, they are just plain fun to be around!" she added. Bravo, Bryan and Maya (and all the other citizenship instructors), and Bravo, Multnomah County Library!
A Few Facts About Bryan and Maya
Home library: North Portland Library
Bryan -- The Complete Short Novels by Anton Chekhov
Maya -- Petersburg by Andrey Bely and Gipsovy Trubach by Yuriy Poliakov (in Russian)
Most influential book:
Bryan -- Another Way of Telling by John Berger and Jean Mohr
Maya -- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Favorite book from childhood:
Maya -- Again it's a Russian book - Dinka by Valentina Oseeva
A book that made you laugh or cry:
Bryan -- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Maya -- City of Thieves by David Benioff - this book made me laugh and cry.
Favorite section of the library:
Bryan -- History
Maya -- Children's, gardening, and foreign language (Russian in particular if the library has it)
E-reader or paper book?
Bryan -- Paper books
Maya -- I am definitely a paper book reader.
Favorite reading guilty pleasure:
Bryan -- with whiskey
Maya -- Reading detectives. However, it's been quite a while since I read one.
Favorite place to read:
Bryan -- At work!
Maya -- On the couch in the living room
Sometimes I think it would be great to be the Queen of England. Having staff at your beck and call to cook and clean for you and drive you wherever you need to go, the trips to exotic locales, the lovely palaces and castles to live in - it just doesn't get any better. But there are definite downsides: the paparazzi, people constantly judging your every decision, and the daily round of obligations to meet (and meet with a smile). It's just so exhausting!
In Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn, Queen Elizabeth is tired. She's well past eighty years old, she's had some pretty significant stresses in the last few decades (children's divorces, Diana's death, Windsor Castle burning, the decommissioning of Britannia, the Royal Yacht) and now the final indignity: no more Royal Train for Her Majesty's use. The expense, she's been told, is just too great. So on one dreary winter day, Queen Elizabeth is thinking of Britannia, one of her favorite things, and takes the opportunity to slip out (mostly) unobserved and take the train to Scotland where the yacht is moored. What ensues is a wonderful story of the palace staff who care about Queen Elizabeth and a portrait of a monarch nearing the end of her long and largely successful reign.
Other people have imagined Queen Elizabeth II's life in books and film. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett examines the person the Queen becomes when she starts reading books from the local bookmobile. The film The Queen takes a look at the royal response to Diana's death.
If you, too, think it would be good to be queen, enjoy this film and these books and see if you change your mind!
This post contains high levels of drugs, crime, and lawyers. What we may be missing is quite enough justice…
How often do we hear the words of the Miranda Warning, You have the right to remain silent; you have the right to an attorney in our favorite cop shows? Usually, that’s where the show ends. And yet the real story is only beginning.
I admit I really don’t spend much time thinking about criminals or lawyers, except to avoid them. So when Attorney General Holder gave a speech to the American Bar Association last month about how we send people to prison, saying that “as a nation, we are coldly efficient” at putting people in prison and that “we must face the reality that, as it stands, our system is in too many respects broken”, I had only a vague idea of what he was talking about. Turns out it is all about numbers: The number of prisoners, the number of years they are in prison, the number of cases that public defenders have, and the money we spend as a nation. The forces at play? Mandatory minimum sentencing and the 6th amendment’s right to an attorney.
The right to an attorney can be found in the Bill of Rights. Our modern idea of it is from the case Gideon vs. Wainright: When Clarence Gideon was tried for stealing $55 dollars and breaking into a pool hall the State of Florida told him they didn’t have to give him an attorney. He was sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit and used that time to change the legal system.
Mandatory minimum sentencing says there are crimes people shouldn’t serve less than a set amount of time for. They aren’t new- the minimum sentence for the killing a meat inspector was set in 1907- life in prison or the death sentence. (That's the year after Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was published.) Then in the mid 80s and 90s sentences were set for a wide range of drug crimes. The effect? The U.S. now has the highest prison population in the world, but not in any equal sort of way, and we spend huge amounts of money ($80 billion in 2010) locking people up.
When people are sent to prison for set amounts of time no matter the situation, things just get weird. And don’t let me forget the Cooperation Paradox: the more involved you are in a criminal enterprise, the more information you have to bargain with- meaning that the criminals who are the guiltiest get the lighter sentences.
So, two very different parts of the legal system. What happens when they collide? Nothing good. There are too many people in the system for the number of public defenders. Many people never actually see their lawyer- or a trial. In a wonderful if curse laden interview by John Oliver with the director of the documentary “Gideon’s Army” Dawn Porter they explain better than I ever could.
So let’s head back to where we started: Holder’s speech for the Smart on Crime Initiative. The gist of the initiative is that by focusing on prosecuting the most serious of criminals and not snaring everyone else in mandatory minimum sentencing crimes, the Department of Justice will be able spend money and effort elsewhere, saving people from the system and the system from the burden of all those people. It’s pragmatic and surprisingly readable. Changing the laws will literally take an Act of Congress, but the U.S. Attorneys can choose how to charge people. Will it work? I can’t tell you that. I’m a librarian not a seer. But we can hope for the best.
So I'm pretty sure when a six-year-old asks if the babies just "explode out of their moms' stomachs" when they're born, the officially sanctioned and appropriately parental answer is not, "Well, yeah. It's kind of a mess." To follow that terrible answer with an intentional subject change like, "Check out this kick! Do I look like a ninja?" is probably enough to get me placed into some sort of mommy lock-down until I can be re-educated by guards named Spock, Leach, and Brazelton.
Luckily it's back-to-school time and I can again place my children's formal education in the capable hands of skilled professionals. Child the Elder's wailing and gnashing of teeth over school starting again was probably heard from space. After the children went to sleep on that dreaded and fateful eve, I joined the rest of the school-age parental demographic in the ritual night-before-school celebratory margarita. This night should probably be a recognized and formal holiday, like Mardi Gras. As Mardi Gras marks the sober beginning of Lent, we have a long school year ahead of us to attempt to make our children lunches they will actually eat or rip our hair out over projects requiring posters, costumes, and sonnets written in perfect iambic pentameter. In the face of all this, one night to party is not too much to ask.
As summer fades in the rear view mirror, it is good to be reminded that we are never too old to learn. One of the best movies I watched in between SpongeBob SquarePants and Brady Bunch marathons was Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary about an amazing 85 year old sushi chef and his tiny three-star Michelin rated restaurant (the first of its kind) in a Tokyo subway station. This quiet movie is simultaneously a feast for the eyes and a meditation on work and family that should not be missed. Jiro's story had both me and my 11 year old riveted from beginning to end (which is saying something for a subtitled documentary with an 85 year old subject containing no chase sequences, explosions, time travel or animated sea sponges.) Jiro's wildly successful restaurant career is countered by his and his sons' musings on what price that success exacted from his parenting.
If you are a parent, you have entertained a fantasy about running away from it all. What happens when you decide to take a break from parenting and family life without properly informing all the parties involved? The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar examines this question through a lens of class and culture in southern California when the mistakes of one family become front-page tabloid news. Inexplicably left alone with Scott and Maureen's two boys, live-in maid Araceli takes them on a journey to Los Angeles which changes all their lives forever.
As all parents learn, the miseries of parenting are relative. We welcome new parents into the club without bothering to haze them, because we know the children will haze all the new members for us. (You know you are on the relative-misery scale when you are happy you only had to get up with a baby two times last night instead of three or four.) As a parent reading Jim Gaffigan's book Dad Is Fat , the first thing I thought was at least I don't have five kids under the age of eight. In a two-bedroom apartment in New York. That guy is up a certain creek without a certain piece of necessary boating equipment.
But of course, he is not. He is another parenting voice in the wilderness, proclaiming how our kids are our frustrating and adorable crucibles, slowly and painfully refining us into better, if more exhausted, people. We know there are good answers out there and maybe we can come up with them if only someone will let us take a nap. Because this is due tomorrow. And I need a costume.
Throughout downtown Portland outdoor public artworks enliven the spaces we walk through. The Regional Arts and Culture Council, a sponsor of Portland’s public art collection, has published a guide to artworks along the Transit Mall, available in the downtown Trimet Ticket Office in Pioneer Square. If you are interested in learning more, Central Library's collections of books, exhibition catalogs, and online sources, such as the Oregonian, offer more in-depth background information and stories about these works and the artists who created them.
For example, “Ring of Time" is a monumental sculpture along the Transit Mall, at the entry to the Standard Plaza building, 1100 SW Sixth Avenue.
The Central Library book Hilda Morris, published by the Portland Art Museum, includes full page color plates of many of her sketches and completed works, with biographical commentary and essays by Bruce Guenther, Susan Fillin-Yeh and David C. Morris.
Quote: “Introduced to the mathematical figure of the continuous one-sided surface of a Möbius strip by her son David, as she was developing the various maquettes for the project, Morris recognized a perfect way to animate the sculpture while creating a work of great visual stability and weight.” p. 24 from the book Hilda Morris - by Bruce Guenther, Portland Art Museum, c. 2006
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.
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.
Viking. Woman. Explorer.
When you think of Vikings, perhaps you envision a grim-faced man in a horned helmet, wielding an axe as he stands at the prow of a longship, long hair streaming in the cold wind, mind set on pillage and plunder. But how accurate is this image? What about Viking women - did any of them go along with the men on these voyages? And what did Vikings do when they weren’t raiding or exploring?
My interest in all things northern recently led me to read The Far Traveler by Nancy Marie Brown, which answers these questions and more. It’s a fascinating look at the life of Gudrid, an Icelandic woman who traveled far indeed, from Iceland to Greenland on a harrowing voyage in which half the crew died, then further to the distant continent of Vinland, and in later life to Rome. The book jumps from describing modern-day excavations in Iceland to bits of the ancient sagas (I loved hearing about the brothers, known for their tight pants, who took over as the local ruffians after Eirik the Red got kicked out of Iceland). By combining archaeology with literary evidence, a compelling case emerges that Vinland was in North America, and that Gudrid was there. As she follows Gudrid’s story, Brown also reveals much about life in Iceland and Greenland around the year 1000. If you ever wanted to know how to build a turf house that will stand up to an Arctic winter, this is the book for you. Some of my favorite parts were details about Viking food, such as bone jelly soup and bog butter. How tasty! I also enjoyed the description of the fuzzy tufted cloaks the Icelanders were fond of for their warmth and rain-shedding abilities, and which they liked to dye… purple?
For more fact and fiction about Iceland and Greenland in the times of the sagas, take a look at the list below.
As I’m sure you all already know, NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) had declared that this week is National Aerospace Week! Which means it’s time to indulge in some of my favorite things: Music, frogs, geodesic domes and home cooked meals. I guess we should add outer space to the list as well. But first, a word from Carl Sagan about our Pale Blue Dot. It’s totally worth the minute and a half. I’ll wait for you.
Ready? It has been an exciting time at NASA leading up to this week. It is time again for the Harvest Moon for those of us on Earth and out in space Voyager 1, which launched in 1977 and is older than me, has officially left the building (and entered interstellar space), the Q&A here brings up some interesting points, like how you can’t get rid of those old computers, because the new ones don’t understand what Voyager is sending back. And the newest member of family, the LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) left Earth for the Moon with some unintended frog assistance:
But in spite of all these events and their ongoing efforts to increase awesomeness around (and above) the globe, not all the news for NASA has been cheery lately. Even while working in partnership with private ventures, the reality is that the Space Shuttles have been retired and the NASA budget, like most government agencies, has shrunk in the last years. (The video is from 2009, but covers the issues quite well.)
But there is plenty to still study and dream about. New types of vehicles are being created, new inventions will be added to the list of thousands that are already are a part of our lives, and work for a mission to Mars is underway. (Including, but not limited to how to cook for long space missions. Hint: pack tortillas.)
And what do the minds at NASA do when they aren’t being officially awesome? The make music videos of course! Not only can you watch the obligatory parody, a group from the Jet Proplsion Labratory helped create this merging of science and rock and roll that we will cap our Aeronautics Week!
Want more? Ask an astronaut... I mean a librarian!
The story of this country is the story of people coming and going, but mostly coming. The very concept of America has captured the imaginations of millions, among them writers, artists and bloggers. I was reminded of the amazing pastiche of people who have come here after looking at artist Maira Kalman's latest on her blog The Pursuit of Happiness. In "I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door", Kalman takes a long view of the history of this country, beginning with Leif Ericson and ending with a trip to a cemetery in the Bronx, where the diminutive immigrant Irving Berlin is buried, the one who gave us the line "heaven, I'm in heaven...".
New York is a fine place to start if you want to hear stories about outsiders and newcomers. A recent trip there inspired me to read, watch and listen to everything I could find about the city. Intrigued by the Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side, I searched for some fiction of that era and discovered Up From Orchard Street by Eleanor Widmer. It's a 'slice of life' story about a family living in a crowded apartment in 1920's Manhattan and trying to make ends meet by running a restaurant out of their front room. A earlier and grittier portrayal of immigrants is the movie Gangs of New York. Though Scorsese took artistic liberties in describing the rivalries between immigrant gangs, he did draw from the book of the same name Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld, by Herbert Asbury, first published in 1928. Be sure to watch the extra footage provided on the DVD if you're interested in the environs of 1800's Lower East Side.
A recent album by Steve Earle, who himself 'immigrated' to Greenwich Village from Tennessee, celebrates his adopted home. Washington Square Serenade includes several love letters to the city. "Down Here Below" tells the story of Pale Male, a red-tailed hawk who took up residence near Central Park and became a media darling. Another song rejoices in the diversity of NYC: "I've no need to go traveling; open the door and the world walks in, living in a city of immigrants."
According to the AARP Foundation, across the United States almost 5.8 million children are living in grandparents’ homes, with more than 2.5 million grandparents assuming responsibility for these children. Grandparents are often isolated in their endeavors; they report a lack of information, resources, and benefits to successfully fulfill their caregiver role. Armed with these statistics and anecdotal evidence from community members, I gathered a team of staff members to figure out a way the library could celebrate these grand families. The team agreed on a simple mission statement to direct our efforts: it is through the infinite wisdom and experience of their elders that children learn the unique cultural and familial values that help them grow into valuable contributors of the community. After meeting with different agencies and groups across the County, we saw a unique need the library could fulfill--a space where grandparents could share their stories. Our goal was a series of programs that would highlight a variety of methods of storytelling. Grandparents, Grand Stories was born.
As a filmmaker, I learned so much by working with the families of the Grandparents, Grand Stories media camp. Sure, there were the usual lights, camera and action. Of course each participant learned about lighting and audio and interview technique. But when I look back on this camp, I recall a summer filled with more than basic filmmaking workshops. I recall a summer filled with laughter, stories, new friends and revelations about the experiences that make us who we are. In meeting these families and hearing the stories each person told, I glimpsed the connections that we all have with each other. Families are the fabric that holds us together, and grandparents are often the weavers of this fabric. I am humbled by the commitment and deep love that I saw each grandparent display to their grandchildren, both in action and in words. I hope that I can carry this lesson to my own family and one day live up to their example. And I am proud to help bring these stories to you.
The other forms of storytelling the team chose to focus on were storytelling through music, dance, spoken word, and written word. Throughout the month of September look for other Grandparents, Grand Stories programs at a location near you.
See more videos from participants
With Syria in the headlines and talk of red lines, air strikes and diplomacy swirling, the issue of chemical weapons seems to be on the mind. And even as news outlets are reporting that the Syrian government might have agreed to give up its chemical weapons I find myself wondering what it is about them that frightens us in a way other weapons don’t.
Chemical weapons is an umbrella term for a set of chemicals ranging from LSD to Ricin to Mustard Gas that do all sorts of different (and terrible things) to people. While I conjure images of World War I when I think of chemical warfare (the first mass use was at the Battle of Ypres) its use has been around much longer stretching back Roman times and to an archeological site in, of all places, Syria. And even after they are banned in 1925 by the Geneva Protocol there is Napalm from the Vietnam War and Anthrax laced letters lurking in our more modern history.
I suppose part of the reason chemical weapons frighten us so is that it is indiscriminate, works far beyond (and long after) the control of those who release them and can be the work of very few people. Perhaps it is because many chemical weapons are substances that have been created or used for more positive uses and have been turned into something terrible. Or maybe we tend to get anxious around too much science. Or that gas masks are scary.
Whichever it is, I’m going to go home, hug my puppies and hope for the best.
Need some specific information we haven’t covered? Contact a librarian and we’ll be glad to help.
You’ve written something, and it’s time to publish! Self-publishing isn’t what it used to be - expensive, and often ignored by booksellers. Now you can bring your writing into physical form relatively cheaply, and it can be as glossy and perfect-bound as you like, or if you prefer, hand-stitched and hand-painted. With print-on-demand (POD) services, you can have one beautiful book printed for a family member or friend, or you can print many to distribute to bookstores. It can also be an e-book - many authors are finding great success with self-published e-books. The avenues to self-publishing are diverse!
Because there are so many options, you’ll want to inform yourself as best you can. Things to consider include:
- Do you want your book to have an ISBN?
- How do you plan to market your book?
- Who is the intended audience for your book?
Check out our booklist featuring books about self-publishing. Many of the books on this list discuss these questions, among others, that you should consider as you plan your self-publishing project.
What follows are just a few of the many resources available for you to choose from as you consider your self-publishing process.
For print-on-demand (POD) publishing, you can choose from a wide range of printers. Some popular POD printers include Lulu, Blurb, CreateSpace (a division of Amazon.com), Lightning Source, Ingram Spark (a division of Ingram, a major book distributor), and Smashwords (which publishes e-books only).
There some local resources that might be relevant to your project, too:
- Portland State University’s Ooligan Press is a teaching press staffed by students pursuing master’s degrees in the Department of English at Portland State University (PSU). PSU is also the home of Odin Ink, a print-on-demand publisher.
- Powell’s Books has print-on-demand self-publishing technology in the form of its Espresso Book Machine.
- Portland’s Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC) is a membership organization with resources and workshops related to printing and book-making. They also have certificate programs in creative nonfiction/fiction, poetry, and comics/graphic novels.
If you’re interested in making contact with a local publisher or association, you might find the following organizations useful:
- This page about Oregon publishers, from the Oregon Authors website (maintained by Oregon Library Association and Oregon Center for the Book) .
- There’s also the Publishers Association of the West, which is a large professional association that provides links to its publisher members and associate members, listed by service - printers, for example.
For advice and news, the Alliance of Independent Authors has an advice blog about self-publishing.
Are you interested in having your e-book available in the library? OverDrive is the service that many libraries, including Multnomah County Library, use to provide access to e-books. Like publishing houses, self-publishers must fill out a Publisher Application found on OverDrive's Content Reserve site. OverDrive has also created a helpful Intro to Digital Distribution pdf for new authors and publishers. OverDrive's public contact info can be found here. If your e-book is added into the OverDrive catalog, you can then suggest that we purchase it.
In your creative work, you may find yourself wondering about copyright law and how it applies to you. We have quite a few books that provide guidance on these subjects - two of these are The Copyright Handbook: What Every Writer Needs to Know by Stephen Fishman and Fair Use, Free Use, and Use by Permission: How to Handle Copyrights in All Media, by Lee Wilson. You’ll find quite a few others under the subject heading Copyright -- United States -- Popular Works.
Have fun, enjoy the process, and feel empowered to get your work into print! As always, please let us know if we can help direct you to books or other resources to help with your project.
Visiting the Portland Zine Symposium is always exciting - a big room full of zinesters from far and wide, chatting, swapping zines, drawing, and displaying their work. Among the zines on display, there are minicomics, personal zines (aka perzines), works of history, fantasy, art, humor… basically, zines as diverse as the zinesters themselves. This year’s symposium was bursting with exciting new work, and we bought many new titles for the library’s zine collection.
Here are a few of our favorites. Also, check out our blog post about all the food-related zines we found at the Zine Symposium!
That’s Not Ok: Boundaries for the Conflict-Avoidant by Breanne Boland
A guide to setting boundaries that’s clear, concise, and also fun, interspersed with humor, comics, and drawings.
Portland Oregon AD 1999 by Jeff W. Hayes
Written in 1913 and beautifully reprinted by Corvus Editions, this speculative story tells of a little old lady who calls upon the narrator to tell him of the vision she’s had of life in Portland in 1999.
Mocha Chocolata Momma: Bessie Coleman by Marya Errin Jones
Mocha Chocolata Momma Zine chronicles the lives of black women, real or imagined. It’s part history lesson, part perzine, full of engrossing stories, photos, and illustrations. This issue’s about Bessie Coleman, the first female African American pilot.
Grow: How to Take Your DIY Project and Passion to the Next Level and Quit Your Job! by Eleanor Whitney, MPA
From a blurb on the back: “Eleanor Whitney breaks down the daunting process of earning a living as a creative person into chewable, bite-size bits.” With easy-to-digest, step-by-step tips and tangible examples from working artists, Eleanor’s expert advice is some of the most sought-after content on diybusinessassociation.com.” - Amy Cuevas Schroeder, Venus Zine and DIY Business Association
Includes the author’s original posting on Craigslist, as well as all the responses she received. Can you guess which guys she actually went on dates with?
Punk by Mimi Thi Nguyen and Golnar Nikpour
A conversation between two lifelong punks about punk and how it’s been defined, studied, and canonized, and the problems and politics therein.
Bad Boy Image #1: Paranormal by Asher Craw, Fiona Avocado, and Moishe
The first comic zine put out by Bad Boy Image, a comics collective consisting of Asher Craw, Fiona Avocado, and Moishe. This issue focuses on stories of the paranormal.
Science You Forgot: An Illustrated Guide to Your Elementary School Science Textbook by Jeannette Langmead
Gorgeous illustrations reminiscent of your childhood science textbooks, including four famous scientists, with facts you may have forgotten. Also includes an experimental cocktail and a pop quiz drinking game because you're a grown up now.
This issue of the long-running zine about radical parenting focuses on parents sharing hard-earned wisdom with one another.
Trusty Companion #1 by Katy Ellis O'Brien and Max Karl Key
A charming comic all in blue about a lady space explorer and her robotic trusty companion.
At this year's Portland Zine Symposium, we found that quite a few zinesters were offering new zines about food - from the practical to the poetic to the bizarre. Read, relish, cook, laugh, enjoy!
(Also, check out our other blog post about new zines from the Zine Symposium!)
Food Stamp Foodie #3 by Virginia Paine
This issue of Food Stamp Foodie includes recipes, self-care tips and DIY projects in comics form. Simple vegan recipes, easy sewing projects and more!
Carnage by Kelly
A zine about cooking and eating meat, from the perspective of an author who was formerly vegetarian.
A zine about eating kosher!
Burgermancer #1 by Jason “JFish” Fischer
A burger fanzine, full of comics, recipes, reviews and articles - all about burgers. It’s delightfully weird, and features an interview with Hamburger Harry, burger connoisseur and curator at the Hamburger Museum.
Flavor by Sofie Sherman-Burton
Rich prose (or prose poems?) recalling the author’s most prominent food memories.
Origins of the burrito, recipes, interviews with burrito experts, log of burritos eaten in Portland. Focuses on vegetarian and vegan burritos.
both by Kione
These two teeny-tiny 8-page zines feature clear instructions and tips for making your own kombucha and ginger ale!
When I was a kid I begged my parents to buy me what was billed as a 'scultping' toy. The ads showed cool kids with berets chipping away at small square blocks of stone and then, voila! - the stone would reveal a figure. Never mind that the sculpture was actually pre-made and your job was just to peel away the outside, no creativity required.
I never did get my longed for toy, but I'm reminded of it now that I'm into the next season of Breaking Bad. Why? Because sometimes art is just about uncovering what's already there. At first blush, Walt seems like a good-natured sort, a sometimes overly moralistic guy affected by bad circumstances, always trying to do the right thing for his family. But as time goes by the real Walt is revealed. I would argue that the pragmatic guy who views the murder of one of his dealers as collateral damage is in fact the real Walt, the one who has always been there and who uses his upright personna as a cloak for his real self.
Is Walt corrupted by his desperate circumstances, or do his circumstances just uncover the true Walt? I think the criminal mastermind was always lurking in the stone. It's an interesting question to ponder, and the fact that Walt inspires that kind of inquiry is a credit to how well-crafted the character is.
I find myself wondering if the character of Piper in Orange is the New Black will follow a similar arc. I'm referring to the series and not the original, non-fiction book - you can hear what Piper Kerman thinks of the liberties the show has taken with her memoir on a recent Fresh Air interview; I wonder if the character will do a 'Walter White' and the softness of her constructed self will be peeled away by prison life. What do you think?