Blogs

Has your child asked you “Where do babies come from?” yet?  Are you prepared to answer that question?  I was a bit unprepared when my 4 year old son asked me recently.  He saw a woman nursing her baby at the swimming pool and ever since then he has been fascinated by the human body.  I felt that I was only able to give him a cursory answer, which spurred me to check out the library for books.  I found some to read to him and others to help me answer his questions the best I could.  If you have found yourself in this situation with your child or are just preparing for it ahead of time, please check out the attached list for some books I found to help me.  Good luck addressing what can be a touchy topic for parents.

Did you know that librarians are experts at making book recommendations? Our library staff have compiled lists of great books for everyone in the family - on many subjects.

If you want more information, or a personal recommendation, ask a librarian online or at your local library.

I spent most of last year reading non-fiction books for teens as a member of a booklist committee.  It was interesting and, for the most part, enjoyable. I learned a whole lot about the Titanic, Steve Jobs, the Civil Rights movement and rufa Red Knots, among many other topics.  When I finished up my work in late January, I started casting about for books written for adults, and found some new titles on the Lucky Day shelf.  
 
In Me Before You  by Jojo Moyes, Louisa loses her waitressing job when the 'Buttered Bun' closes and has a heck of a time finding a new one that doesn't involve dead chickens or tricking old people into buying something they don't need.  So when a job opening appears for a daytime companion to a thirty-something quadriplegic man, she decides to apply. It's a six month appointment, so if things don't go well, at least she knows it's only for a short time.  Will is not particularly easy to get along with, but as the weeks go by, they develop a quirky kind of relationship and suddenly six months seems like much too little time.  A publisher's representative told me that this was the best book she'd read in a while and although I'm not sure it will be the best book that I will read in 2013, it was a pretty good start.
 
I feel like I'm pretty aware of what's forthcoming in the publishing world, so I was a bit surprised to find two books on the Lucky Day shelves that I hadn't heard of, especially because they were by authors I usually enjoy.  Maeve Binchy died in July 2012, so presumably A Week in Winter is her last book, unless, like V.C. Andrews, she'll be writing from the grave.  It's classic Binchy with a wide cast of characters coming together for a week at a newly opened seaside hotel.  Each chapter tells the story of one of the guests, and all the stories dovetail at Stone House Hotel.  
 
Anne Lamott's latest foray into faith and spirituality is Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers.  It's slight in pages, but large in spiritual concepts, although I felt like I'd heard pretty much the same thing in Lamott's previous books.  Still, I can never hear too often how people struggle with big challenges and still manage with a little help from their friends, including the "big entity upstairs", especially when it's dished out with Anne Lamott's signature humor and humanity.
 
If you're hankering after something new, check out the Lucky Day shelves.  You might be surprised at what you'll find!

In addition to the usual places to search for your next gig, government employers feature new opportunities on these sites:

  • The Multnomah County government notes all open positions, including jobs with the library. 
  • The City of Portland's Employment Center is a great resource for learning more about employment with the city, including internships and workstudy opportunities.
  • Portland Development Commission has a page for job and internship seekers.
  • Metro Jobs is the place to browse current job openings at Metro, the Oregon Zoo and the Metropolitan Recreation Exhibition Commission.
  • The State of Oregon has a useful page which includes links to city, county, state and federal government job pages.
  • USAJOBS is the Federal Government's official one-stop source for Federal jobs and employment information.
  • Government Jobs is a handy government sector job board showing openings in many different agencies. 
  • Port of Portland is the place to go for jobs at the airport, marine facilities, industrial parks and more.

Also, don't forget that Multnomah County Library locations offer computer labs and other resources for job seekers

Before working for a new company or starting on a new career path, a little research goes a long way to helping you find the right match. Here are some resources to get you started:

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is an anxiety disorder that occurs after a terrifying ordeal. Learn about the symptoms of PTSD and find out about medications and types of psychotherapy used to treat PTSD and other anxiety disorders.

Also, see how an older veteran with PTSD is overcoming this disorder.

 

The information on Anxiety Disorders was provided by NIHSeniorHealth and developed by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

As we celebrate the life of former Oregon Symphony director James DePreist, let’s note that in addition to all his incredible work with orchestras around the world, and a 2005 National Medal of Arts, he also wrote two books of poetry!

William Stafford contributed the afterword to DePreist’s first book, This Precipice Garden (1986). He describes DePreist’s confident presence as conductor, and compares this with the voice of the poems: “When he turns to the different rhythm of his poems, it is as if James DePreist puts that hovering attention to a parallel task; again the inner light finds which way to go amid infinite, shifting possibilities. Here, however, there is a record in language of the course taken. The reader can follow in slow motion and see how the self proceeds along a tangled path.”

Maya Angelou writes of DePreist, in her foreword to his book The Distant Siren (1989), “There is obviously poetry in the orchestral conducting of James DePreist and audible musicality in the poetry of James DePreist. His second collection of poetry has the tautness of a perfectly pitched viola and much of its resonance.”

These succinct, meticulously paced poems sometimes root us to an image or an idea, and sometimes launch us into surprising, soaring openness.

Beyond me
    came the meanings.

Meanings beyond words,
    long held from view
now lovingly decanted
    into prisms.

Meanings beyond words,
    multiplied beyond me
in transit
    to their source.

(from This Precipice Garden, page 7)

Hearing and using lots of words helps children get ready to read.  The more words they know, the easier it will be for them to learn how to read.  So how do we help kids develop a BIG vocabulary?  By talking with them!  

Of course every day we might use words like breakfast and shoes and bedtime.  But when we expose children to the world, and then have conversations about what they experience, we introduce them to lots of new words!  

There are so many fun places to take young children in Multnomah county.  Some of them are free (like your neighborhood playground) or inexpensive (like Portland Parks & Rec’s indoor parks), but some of them can make a pretty big dent in your wallet!  

Fortunately many of our local attractions offer discount days on a regular basis.  Admission to OMSI only costs $2 the first Sunday of the month.  The Oregon Zoo charges only $4 on the second Tuesday of every month.  The Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is free every Tuesday and Wednesday, free from the day after Labor Day through the end of February, and free year-round for children under 12.  The Chinese & Japanese Gardens and the Art Museum also have free days periodically each year.  

Pairing your adventures with books on related topics provides a great opportunity to continue and extend your conversations.  If your toddler loved watching the monkeys at the zoo, try reading Busy Monkeys together.  After building a tower at OMSI, your child might enjoy Dreaming Up.  Try pairing a trip to the Art Museum with Katie and the Water Lily Pond or a visit to any of the gardens with Flower Garden.  These are just a few suggestions to get you started.  We can help you find just the right book for you and your child.  And you can help your child get ready to read by having fun conversations every day.

Many new amateur house historians find determining their home's historic period and style to be a challenging task. You can usually find the date your house was built by looking it up in PortlandMaps or contacting your local County Assessor's office, but figuring out what it might have looked like when it was new can be difficult!

Once you've looked through a few guides to historic periods in architecture, try looking at some of these resources to get a more detailed idea of how houses were designed and decorated in the past:

  • Mail order house plans and design catalogs [blog post].  List of websites featuring scans of late 19th and early-mid 20th century house plan catalogs.  People used these catalogs to shop for a new house -- they either bought the plans and had a builder construct them, or bought a house kit, which came with plans and all the materials (neat, right?). 
  • Floor plan books [reading list]. Reprints of house plan catalogs, simliar to the ones featured in the blog post above, which you can check out from the library!
  • Using old magazines to identify house styles [blog post].  Guide to researching house-style and architectural history information in the library's collection of old (and new!) magazines.
  • Color scheme & design books [reading list]. Books focusing on the history of paint colors and color design of the late 19th and early-mid 20th century.

  Questions? Ask the Librarian.

Gun rights and gun control are on everyone’s mind, after the unfortunate shootings that took place last year. It’s often hard to find good resources that present multiple viewpoints on issues like this, and provide quotable sources.

An excellent electronic resource is Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center in Context. It provides links to articles, videos and audio files from multiple viewpoints (you will need a library card # and PIN in order to access this electronic resource from outside of the library).

The Washington Post created this quick timeline of gun control history in the United States, and LawBrain covers the legal history of gun control back to the U.S. Constitution. Another good listing is Infoplease’s Milestones in Federal Gun Control Legislation  which covers laws up until 2013.

L.A.R.G.O. Lawful and Responsible Gun Owners and the N.R.A. National Rifle Association both support gun ownership in America. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and The Violence Policy Center both work to reduce gun violence. The Violence Policy Center is also a good resource if you’re looking for statistics related to gun violence (including drive by shootings and suicide).

This Guardian article compares gun crime in individual states and About.com lists Oregon Gun Rights. FactCheck looks at statistics in the media after the Newton shootings, and reports on Gun Rhetoric vs. Gun Facts.  Looking towards changes in the law, gun control is supported by more women than men, and that may have an effect on future legislation.

Need some specific gun facts or laws we haven’t covered? Contact a librarian and we’ll be glad to help

"Remarkable events often have ordinary beginnings. Never was this more true than with my talks with Dean Spanley."

The movie Dean Spanley is a tale of forgiveness, transcendence and reconciliation. Every Thursday, Henslowe Fisk makes his way through the streets of London to visit his ancient, curmudgeonly and nihilistic father. The elder Fiske grumbles that his son's visits are a burden, and that the only thing special about a Thursday is to keep "Wednesday and Friday from colliding."

Fisk begins to wonder whether the time couldn't be spent in more enjoyable pursuits. At his next visit he insists that he and his father attend a lecture on reincarnation, held by a guru on his vast estate. The senior Fisk is skeptical: "Do you think if we had souls, they wouldn't get in touch? Of course they would!"

While at the lecture they meet a local vicar, Dean Spanley. He's an odd character who makes some intriguing comments about the possibility of an afterlife. Henslowe's curiosity prompts him to invite Spanley to dinner to discuss the topic further. He discovers that, plied with the right amount of wine, the Dean is given to telling fantastic stories of another, half-remembered life. After recounting one such tale, Spanley pauses to reflect, "One moment you are running along, the next you are no more." As time goes by, Henslowe realizes that these stories sound vaguely familiar, and may hold the key to a more enlightened relationship between Henslowe and his father.

The role of the elder Fisk is given Scrooge-like depth by Peter O'Toole, a valid reason on its own to watch this gem. Sam Neill's portrayal of the Dean is by turns hilarious and moving. Add wonderful dialog and the gorgeous Edwardian setting, and you'll find a movie that bears repeated watching. You'll have plenty of time to do so, if, as the guru insists, "You are, my dear sir, in the anteroom of eternity."

The book Dr. Seuss: The Cat Behind the Hat brings together the memorable characters book cover: Dr. Seuss: The Cat Behind the Hatfrom Ted Geisel's books for children in large format art reproductions, interspersed with imaginative variations beyond the story lines of his books. Many of these paintings are abstract in style, with a much broader range of color than in his books for children. Whimsical Seuss characters remain in the composition, but the effect is more on the abstract landscape, portrait, or other focus of the painting.

When he and his wife moved to a slower-paced life in La Jolla, his work took on a new freedom and direction. What he wanted to do, he said, was simply to "stay in La Jolla and write children's books." He also painted the social scene that he observed in La Jolla, stylistically as elaboratations of the characters in his books. He found more time for painting, deliberately free of the constraints from the commercial side of his work, or the more formal world of galleries and reviews. The "Secret Paintings," as he called them, provided an escape into an imaginative realm where he could further explore the surrealistic themes that filled his everyday work as a writer of books for children. During his lifetime he sold only one of these paintings, an auction donation to the La Jolla Art Museum.

For this book a series of exhibitions, Geisel's Midnight Paintings and artwork from his childrens' book were reproduced in new authorized print editions. The Midnight Paintings, brought out of dark storage in La Jolla for over 50 years, still were as vibrant and bright as when he had painted them.

Place a hold to have this book delivered to your nearest branch of Multnomah County Library:
Dr. Seuss, the Cat Behind the Hat / written by Caroline M. Smith ; images compiled and edited by William W. Dreyer, Michael Reagan, Robert Chase Jr. Chicago : Chase Art, 2012.
Locations: multiple neighborhood libraries of the Multnomah County Library system.

A teacher from a childcare center recently contacted me for some library resources. She was looking for few board books, a picture book or two, a music CD, and a few rhymes with interesting content for infants and toddlers, all related to the same theme. My immediate thought was Multnomah County Library’s collection of Storytime It’s in the Bags. We have 20 themed bags for toddlers (ages 18 mths—3 yrs) and another 21 bags for preschool-aged children (3—6 years). Each bag centers on a theme and contains five books, a small toy, game, puzzle or music CD related to the theme, and an activity sheet. The sheet has a couple of rhymes or games to play with children to extend the theme, as well as some tips for sharing books with children to effectively help them gain the skills they need to become successful readers. These bags are perfect for busy childcare teachers, family childcare providers and parents who want to share thematic materials with the little ones in their care. The Storytime bags are a popular resource and they are available on the shelves in some MCL locations. The easiest way to get your hands on these bags is to look through the toddler and preschool bag lists and place holds on the ones you would like to share with the kids in your life.

MCL also has bags for infants and their caregivers (0-6 months, 6-12 months and 12-18 months). Another new set of resources are the Bolsitas de Cuentos, which are themed bags with books in Spanish and bilingual English/Spanish. The Cuentos bags contain books appropriate for children 0-5 years old, and are fun for Spanish-speaking families and families who are working at being bilingual.

Karsh: Beyond the Camera is a book cover for Karsh: Beyond the Camerabeautifully designed book by Godine about the life and work of Yousuf Karsh, with stories to accompany the duotone photographs.
"In my case, I must confess, I am trained and I can tell whether there is something beyond that face or not. And that's where I attempt to light that feature in such a way that I can elicit the true character of that person." (p.12)

From the Preface:
Hearing his accented diction, cadences, and inflections, one's imagination is guided from the subject rendered in the famous image to the person who created it. A voice can do that. His voice invites us to try to fathom the photographer's psyche and conjecture how he thinks and how he feels, just as we might try to determine the character of any storyteller or poet.

YouTube : There are several interviews of Yousuf Karsh, here is one of these: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYxgxoKIL3g

Place a hold to have this book delivered to your closest MCL Library branch:
Karsh : beyond the camera / selected, with an introduction & commentary by David Travis. Boston : David R. Godine, 2012.  Central Library  770.92 K1887k 2012        

 

I went to see The Hobbit ...twice... on the opening weekend. If you've read my other Embarrassment of Riches entries you may have guessed that I am the target audience for that movie. Having read The Hobbit for the first time as a little girl I was reminded of other adventure stories I first read long ago.  

Robin Mckinley's The Blue Sword and its prequel The Hero and the Crown were Newbery honor and Newbery medal books. Though they were written for children, they have appeal for adults looking for a light read. Much like The Hobbit they remind me of fairy tales. They could really begin "...Once upon a time" and both are set in a land where dragons and magic were once widespread but now have faded. In both of Mckinley's books the female lead saves the kingdom and just happens to find true love along the way. Both feature strong female characters and horses, ensuring a warm place in my heart for them as a child and a permanent spot on the shelves of my personal collection. 

Peter Beagle wrote two other favorites: The Last Unicorn and Two Hearts (which can be found in The Line Between). In these books all the characters are searching for something. The unicorn wants to join the rest of her kind, the prince wants to find love and so on. Two Hearts won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novelette. Don't read it without a tissue or three close to hand if you are prone to sniffling over a book.  (Since my husband doesn't read this blog I'll say that it brought a tear even to his eye....)

 

 

 

Central and Neighborhood libraries offer library users an exciting collection of music books, CDs, DVDs, and scores, for listening to music, for study, and for performance at all levels.  As the largest library, Central Library serves as a resource for the entire system.

Online access

Login with your Multnomah County Library card to use the Library's online music resources from your home, office, or school:

  • Oxford Music Online: The complete New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
  • Music Online from Alexander Street Press:  An exciting collection of audio, video, reference books and scores.
  • Freegal: Download 1 song a week with your library card. Please note: the Freegal service from Multnomah County Library will be discontinued on Jan. 31, 2014.
  • JSTOR: Full text of music periodicals.
  • The Music Index: Search for articles in this comprehensive index for music journals.

Central Library Music books and Scores

Music Scores: With over 33,000 scores to check out, the music score collection is one of the largest among public libraries on the West Coast. It is intended to support Portland's musicians, with all types of music for amateurs through professional performers, students, and teachers. The Library welcomes purchase requests from Multnomah County cardholders.

Music Books: The old and new in music publishing can be found at Central Library, where there are many out of print books as well as current year imprints available for reading about music.

How to use the new Library Catalog

My MCL: Catalog Search Guide for Music:  Get acquainted with the new Library Catalog.

Ask a Question

Looking for something specific? Contact us.

Read it Again!

Does that sound familiar? How many times have you read Goodnight Moon or Where the Wild Things Are with your little ones?  I know many parents who can recite The Cat in the Hat from memory. Young children love to hear their favorite books again and again. There’s a good reason for this: the developing brain needs repetition. Repetition strengthens brain cell connections. For example, when a child encounters a new word in a  book and begins to understand the meaning of that word, each time the book is read the child’s brain secretes a chemical called “myelin,” a substance that strengthens that connection. The child’s understanding deepens each time. This is true for new words, new concepts and new experiences; learning occurs with repetition.

That’s not all. Young children notice different things each time a book is read. They just can’t take it all in on one reading. Repeated readings also help a child understand how stories work, an important skill for beginning readers. Your child will develop confidence when you stop reading at a dramatic point in a familiar story and encourage her to tell what she thinks will happen next. Children feel secure with books they know, and they learn best and absorb new information when they feel confident and secure.  So when you hear “again, again,” know that your willingness to indulge that request one more time will reap lovely rewards.

I finished reading my first novel of 2013 and I'm pretty proud of myself. (I won't bother confessing how much of the reading took place in 2012. Just be happy for me.) It's quite of feat for someone who lately gets to read a maximum two pages before being called to referee a fight over the last of the Nutella, or to star in the latest episode of Mom Cleans Up Cat Barf--Again!, or to read to someone before they go to bed. Child the Younger is learning to read, so bedtime stories have lately strayed from a variety of fun picture books to Green Eggs and Ham for the twenty-ninth time. I heartily endorse reading this loudly and with a British accent (think overwrought Shakespearean monologue) if you don't mind a small child pummeling you with his Ninja Fists of Annoyance as you do this. I promise, you too, will marvel at the wonder of green eggs and ham. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. And you can eat them here or there.

The novel I managed to finish is State of Wonder  by Ann Patchett.  It was that gift that every fiction reader hopes for - characters made real in an unforgettable story with luminous writing.  Marina Singh is a pharmaceutical researcher sent from Minnesota to Brazil and into the depths of the Amazon rain forest. Her mission is to uncover the fate of her research partner, Anders Eckman, and a team of drug-developing scientists led by Marina's former mentor, Annick Swenson, who has been largely uncommunicative with the drug company for two years. It is a story filled with poison arrows, devouring snakes, lost luggage and scientific miracles. Marina's journey into the jungle is one of finding herself and facing our collective human dilemma: how to co-exist with both unimaginable beauty and unfathomable loss. The plot is a seductive and wildly entertaining fever dream and the ending may haunt you for days. I have just checked out the audio CD to listen to while I do dishes at night because I cannot bear to leave the story behind just yet.
 
In that same amazing realm of biology, I would recommend the NOVA program Kings of Camouflage. This exploration of cuttlefish was absolutely fascinating, especially if you are already appreciative of cephalopods with the intelligence and dexterity to, say, unscrew the lid of that almost empty jar of Nutella you recently confiscated from your children and plan to scrape clean with your own tentacles while watching the premier of Downton Abbey after said children are asleep. Cuttlefish have enormous brains the shape of a donut, green blood, and the highest intelligence of any invertebrate. They flawlessly mimic their surroundings with the color and texture of their skin in seconds. Watch them hypnotize their prey, think their way through laboratory mazes, and attempt to match the artificial background of a checkerboard. 
 
Wonderful.

Do you read Nursery Rhymes to your child?  Do you sing to your baby?  These are wonderful ways to bond with your child.  Rhymes, such as, Itsy Bitsy Spider or songs like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star are rhymes that many of us have known since our childhood, but I bet you didn’t know that nursery rhymes or childhood rhymes helped us learn to read and can help your child as well.  

Whenever you talk, read or sing to your child you are building connections in her brain that will last a lifetime.  Babies will show interest by widening their eyes, moving their arms and legs and smiling when they recognize a rhyme.  When you sing songs and do fingerplays with your child, you will find that they will soon imitate you.  These fingerplays and movement rhymes can help children associate words with their meanings.  Singing songs is a fun way to bond with your child and it also helps kids learn Phonological awareness or that words are broken into smaller sounds.  When children achieve phonological awareness, they are able to think about how words sound, apart from their meaning.  Research shows that children who play with sounds of words in preschool years are better prepared to read in school.  So, you can help your child from birth start getting ready to read and it doesn’t involve flashcards or videos.  It only requires you to have fun singing, rhyming, talking and reading to your child.  

Attached is booklist of rhyme collections that you can check out from the library.  Within these collections, you should be able to find rhymes and songs you may know from your childhood, as well as, new ones to use with your baby, toddler or preschooler.  Happy Rhyming!

The end of the year brings a blizzard of “best books” lists – it’s almost too much of a good thing!

Hilary Mantel Bring Up the Bodies 2012Book lovers familiar with established publishers such as The New York Times, The Atlantic and Publishers Weekly will find some overlap.   Bring Up the Bodies, the second book in Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell trilogy, appeared on all three of their fiction lists.  On the flip side, Daily Candy and Slate offer up lists of overlooked and underappreciated books. 

Oprah's Best Books of 2012 include selections from O's editors and favorite writers.  NPR goes beyond the usual fiction, mysteries and Nancy Pearl favorites with categories like "10 Eye-Catching Reads", "Recipe Rebellion: A Year of Contrarian Cookbooks" and "Graphic Novels that Flew Under the Radar in 2012."

For readers looking for something  different -- think edgy, unusual, underground favorites --  check out the “best        books” rankings from the Daily Beast and Book Riot.    The underground -- undersea fiber-optic cables --  gets special mention in Andrew Blum's Tubes, an exploration of the infrastructure of the Internet.

Ready to be surprised and delighted?  Peruse Brain Pickings, a "human-powered discovery engine for interestingness."  Curious mind at large Maria Popova creates best-of-reading lists by subject -- art, science, history, music, graphic novels and more.

For “best books” beyond general fiction, take a look at Tor.com (scifi),  Geeks are Sexy (technology), Photo Eye (photography) and The Dirt (landscape architecture). 

No “best books” list would be complete without the Oregonian’s Top 10 Northwest books of 2012, a tribute to the many talented writers in the Pacific Northwest.  Portlander Cheryl Strayed won raves for Wild,  her inspiring memoir about hiking the Pacific Coast Trail. 

Just for fun, search Youtube for “best books of 2012” and marvel at the range of videos.  Here’s where book enthusiasts have a level playing field with big-budget titans. 

Enjoy a gold mine of lists thanks to blogger Largehearted Boy.  For the fifth straight year he's aggregated every online best-of-the-year book list.  How's that for a best for last?!

 

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