Blogs

The Spitting Image book cover
What images come to mind when you think about the Vietnam War?  Napalm explosions? Monks setting themselves on fire?  Jungle camouflage and booby traps?  Vietnam Vets waving protest signs and shouting?

Wait, what?  Soldiers protesting  the war? That can’t be right, it was the radical college students and long haired hippies that protested the war, right? Not according to  Jerry Lenkcke in his thought-provoking book, The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory and the Legacy of Vietnam.  

While doing research about the way society viewed the returning Vietnam vets, Lenkcke kept coming across the mention of soldiers getting off the plane on American soil and being spit on by anti-war, anti-draft protesters. Intrigued, he decided to find the source for this image - was it symbolic or did it really happen?  Could he find an example of it?

What he discovered kept me enthralled. I don’t think I will ever look at a picture of a soldier the same way again.                            

The book is well-researched, documented and supplemented by a complete filmography. If you are interested in how the media changes the way that we see the world, read The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory and the Legacy of Vietnam by Jerry Lenkcke.                                                                               

Tracking down a historical stock price can be really easy... except when it’s really hard. It is a common question that we get at the library during tax season.

Here is an example of an easy stock price search.

1. A stock price is needed for a company for a particular date. (Let’s say Nike on February 13, 2009.)
2. You go to a website with historical stock information (like Yahoo! Finance or Wall St. Journal’s MarketWatch), search for the company name or ticker symbol, and voila! You have the closing price for that day. (Keep in mind that the closing price may or may not already be adjusted.)

But this only works if the company is still in business and hasn’t changed names, hasn’t been involved in a merger or acquisition, and is still trading on the stock exchange under the same ticker symbol. If any of those situations are not the case, the historical price that you need might not be available online.

Take, for example, Macy’s, which went public in 1922 under the name R.H. Macy, and which for many years traded under the symbol MZ. You won’t easily find historical stock prices from before 1992 for this company on Yahoo! Finance or in other online databases because in 1992 Macy’s merged with Federated Department Stores. (Thanks to New York Public Library for this example!)

Steps for trickier stock price searches.

So how does someone get a historical stock price from before 1992 for Macy’s, or for any other company whose historical prices aren’t online? There are two steps: first, researching the company history to find out any information about different names, ticker symbols, and listings on stock exchanges; and second, looking in a newspaper or newspaper database for the date that you need. The library can help you with both of these steps.

Step 1: Research the company history.

This step can require a little detective work. It is where you figure out the name and ticker symbol of the company or security at the time of the historical price and the stock exchange which it was trading on. Here are several sources that the library offers for learning about a company’s history (you may need to look at more than one of them in order to get a full sense of a company’s history):

  • Capital Changes Reporter: Lists capital changes (such as mergers and splits) for companies, by date, and includes information about stock exchanges and ticker symbols that the company traded under. Available in print in the Science & Business room at Central Library, or online through the CCH Intelliconnect database.
  • International Directory of Company Histories: Provides detailed corporate histories for many companies, both U.S. and international. There are currently 156 volumes. Available in print in the Science & Business room at Central Library, or online through the Gale Virtual Reference Library database (note: the most recent volumes are only available in print).
  • Mergent Intellect: Available through the library website. A database with lots of information about companies, including company histories.
  • Directory of Obsolete Securities: Lists and gives brief info for companies and banks whose original identities have been lost to events like changes in name, acquisitions, mergers, or bankruptcy. Available in print in the Science & Business room at Central Library.
  • EDGAR: This is not a library resource, but it is freely available online through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and we can help you if you have trouble using it! It contains many documents that public companies are required to submit to the SEC, including company reports.

Step 2: Look up the historical price in a newspaper or other source from that historical date.

Once you have done some research about the company whose stock price you are looking for (and hopefully learned their name, ticker symbol, and the stock exchange they were traded on at the time of the historical price), you are ready to find the stock price in a newspaper or other source from that time. Note that you’ll want to look at a newspaper or publication for the day immediately after the date for which you need the price, since the price would not have been published until the next day’s paper. Here are two sources for this, both of which are available electronically through the library website:

  • New York Times Historical (1851-2009): Contains scans of articles from the New York Times, including stock prices. Choose “Advanced Search,” enter the date that you are looking for in the “Publication Date” section, and choose “Stock quote” from the “Document Type” menu. Leave the other search boxes blank, and do your search. You will retrieve a list of articles containing stock prices - to find the major stock exchanges, choose the articles with the most page numbers, then look in them for the company whose stock price you need.
  • The Historical Oregonian (1861-1987): This database will be most useful for stock prices of companies from the Pacific Northwest. Enter the date you are looking for in the “Date(s)” box, and then do a search in the "All Text" box for a word like NYSE or NASDAQ which would appear on the page with stock prices.

In addition to these electronic databases for the New York Times and the Oregonian, the library also has a number of useful resources available in print and on microfilm at Central Library:

So there you have the basic steps for finding historical stock prices. It can indeed be a little bit of a research project sometimes. But don’t despair! Librarians are happy to talk to you about your particular stock price need, and to help you find the information you are looking for. Just get in touch with us using one of the methods on our Contact a librarian webpage. Happy stock price searching!

The Rose City Rollers league is made up of over 400 smart, tough, accomplished women who skate fast, hit hard, and defy stereotypes about female athletes ...And they read. Check out a list of favorites from Axles of Annihilation, one of the Rose City Rollers’ two All-Stars teams. Want more reading recommendations? Try My Librarian and get a personalized list made just for you.

Avalanche #K2 started playing roller derby in 2010 as a way to make friends here in Portland. When she’s not skating she runs an art gallery and retail store called Land on Mississippi Avenue. She and her 9 year old son love to read!

The Mental Athlete by Kay Porter

Roller derby takes a lot of mental and physical strength. This book has given me a lot of great tips on how to deal with the tough situations. It’s a great guide not just for sports but also for life. We all have different challenges to face and it’s nice to have different ways to combat them head on.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, followed by Inkspell and Inkdeath

A wonderful series of books about books! It’s about a father/book binder named Mortimer. When he reads books aloud, the characters come out of the book and into the real world, but with each character that emerges a new one must return to the book. One night when his daughter Maggie was very young, he accidentally reads his wife into a book called Inkheart. The trilogy follows him and his daughter as they go on a series of adventures trying to find Maggie's mother. One of my favorite parts about this series is that each chapter starts with a quote from a different book, so once I finished the series I had an incredible new list of books to read.

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Anne is a smart, adventurous, young, orphaned redhead. As a young freckle faced redhead growing up in the country, I always felt that Anne and I were meant to be bosom buddies.


Yoga Nabi Sari #808 is a real life Librarian!  She started roller derby around the same time she started graduate school, and grad school was easier.  Nabi graduated with a Masters in Library Science from Emporia State University in August 2012.  During her two years in grad school she worked at the OHSU West Campus Science and Engineering Library and did volunteer work and research for Multnomah County Library.  Nabi currently works as a librarian for a local commercial real estate company.

When Nabi is not skating she enjoys…oh never mind, right now she is skating all the time. When the season is done she will hopefully read more books, see live theater, and do more hot yoga.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Victoria Jamieson aka Winnie the Pow is a fellow skater with Rose City Rollers.  I am lucky enough to be her derby wife and she gave me an advanced copy of her graphic novel.  This beautifully illustrated book captures the heart of this sport.  You don’t have to be involved in roller derby to fall in love with this story!

The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey

Mind Gym: An Athletes Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack

I went on a sports psychology kick this season and read both of these multiple times, and they really helped with my mental game.

Ripley #426 spends her days in two extreme realms, playing roller derby with the Rose City Rollers, and in stark contrast, working professionally as a Child and Family Therapist at a non-profit. Ripley moved from Colorado two years ago to work in the mental health field in Portland and skate with one of the most competitive leagues in the world. She has little time for other activities, although she does enjoy reading, cooking, and international travel, when she can squeeze it in.

The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

A novel of two Afghanistan women in the same family but generations apart, who share similar hardship and struggles in a culture where females have little freedom.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

The true story of a World War Two pilot who survives a crash at sea, only to face continued abuse as a prisoner of war.  

The Chosen by Chaim Potok. 

A book about two Jewish boys who grow up in completely different households. The father of each boy recognizes what his son will need to succeed in life, but it comes at cost to the father-son relationship.

Shaolin Spocker #1701 works as a graphic and web designer, professional photographer, and Benevolent Overlord of her own branding design studio, Upswept Creative. When Spocker started roller derby, she still had a day job, and spent a lot of time playing with swords - she practiced the martial art of Wushu for 7 years before her growing fascination with derby took over.

When Spocker isn't skating, you'll often find her indulging in sci-fi, fantasy, and gaming, geeking out about lighting design, baking some serious-business desserts, obsessing over font libraries and color theory, or maybe even singing karaoke.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

I first read this in middle school, and it's always been an important book for me: as a half-Chinese girl growing up in the United States, a lot of the experiences in the book felt familiar, and helped me understand more about the Chinese side of my background.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The entire 5-book “trilogy” was a lot of fun, but the first book always stands out in my mind. It’s an entertaining and funny flip on the science fiction genre, and a must-read for any sci-fi geek.

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

A lot of people know about the HBO show, but the books came first, and they’re worth the read. It’s not a series for the faint of heart, and you should be careful what characters you get attached to - no one is safe! :-) - but it’s a complex and riveting story that’s really grand in scope.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

I like a lot of Murakami’s work, and this was the first book of his that I found. It’s a story that’s split between two worlds--with odd-numbered chapters about one, and even-numbered chapters about the other! One world that feels a bit cyberpunk-y, and the other more mysterious and otherworldly.

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

This book creates an interesting world, where Thai culture and society is at the center, natural food is scarce, and calories are more valuable and coveted than anything else. The story follows multiple characters’ perspectives, and it was fun to watch the story emerge from their individual threads.

My Librarian and our featured guest readers are made possible by a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to The Library Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to our library's leadership, innovation, and reach through private support.

photo credits: Mercy Shammah - Your Sunday Best Photography www.yoursundaybestphotography.com

Beeny and Penny in Lights Out book jacket
When I was young and a new reader, I liked books that have now become classics in the beginning reader genre.  Books like Put Me in the Zoo, Are You My Mother?, and Robert the Rose Horse.  I read these over and over and probably have a tattered copy or two tucked away in a box somewhere.  These books are still great (and are still being published), but there are some newer titles and series that are equally as wonderful.  Here are a few of my current favorites.

While I didn’t like comics as a kid, as an adult, I’ve become a convert to graphic novels.  The Toon Books are perfect for new readers who love the comic book format.  Benny and Penny, a brother and sister mouse duo, are some of my favorite Toon characters.  Check out their nighttime adventure in Benny and Penny in Lights Out!.

For the more fact-minded child (or one who simply likes great photos of animals), National Geographic has published a series of readers.

Safari book jacket
  Who wouldn’t be enticed by the lion cub on the cover of Safari or fascinated by the ugly fish on Weird Sea Creatures?

Ruby Lu Brave and True book jacket
For the more advanced beginning reader, I love the Ruby Lu chapter books by Lenore Look.  Ruby Lu is an irrepressible “almost-8-year-old” who has lots of fun with her friends and Chinese-American family.  There are three so far in the series. Start with Ruby Lu, Brave and True.

Check out our brand new booklists for children at the various stages in their early reading lives. You may find some new favorites!

Welcome to Reading:  Starting out
Welcome to Reading:  Building skills
Welcome to Reading:  Reading more
Welcome to Reading:  On my own

Whether you are researching Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, or any country in between, these sources have the facts you need!

Photo of a globe

Culturegrams is an encyclopedia in which you can find out about the history of your country, as well the daily lives of its citizens. There are great printable maps and images of the country’s flag and lots of photos. You can even listen to the country’s national anthem or sample recipes! If you aren’t at the Multnomah County Library, you’ll need to log in to the encyclopedia with your library card and PIN. You’ll want to choose the Kids Edition.

At National Geographic's Explore the World, click on a country on the map. You can find information about the geography, people, history, and nature.

At Global Trek, you can learn more about a country and its residents—sometimes from interviews with other students! You can even keep a travel journal.

Another great place to learn about the people who live in other countries is Dollar Street. The creators of this site collected 30,000 photos from families in 50 countries, so you can see how they work, cook, sleep, and play.

Looking for a picture of a county’s flag? Just click on the small image at the CIA World Factbook to get a larger printable version of the flag, as well as information about what all its symbols mean.

If you still need help with your research, contact a librarian for more assistance. Bon voyage! 

Need to know the capital of New Jersey? The senators from Hawaii? Or famous people from Oregon? Dig into the sites below to find the answers to those questions and more!

United States map

 

If you just need the basic facts about a state, visit State Facts for Students. Here you can find state population, capitals, area, and symbols. 

To dig a little deeper, go to U.S. States from National Geographic Kids, which also lists geography, wildlife, history, and other fascinating facts for each state. 

Fact Monster's The Fifty States is similar; it also includes short sections on the economy and tourist attractions of each state. Don't miss the links on the first page of this site, which allow you to compare states in a variety of ways and play games or take quizzes to test your knowledge.

Want to find the official website for each state? Find a list of those at the State Government page of USA.gov. 

To find articles about a state's history, visit Explore the States. Here you can also find stories about local events and customs.

If you are trying to learn the names of all 50 states, try watching Fifty States That Rhyme, which uses them in a song. Or, if you need to learn the state capitals, watch the States and Capitals Song video.

Finally, if you need a map of a state, visit the National Atlas's list of state maps. You can find several different types of maps for each state; you can either view them online or download a map as a PDF.

Didn't find what you need here? Contact a librarian if you need more help with your research. 

 

 

 

Do you need to know the national holidays of Sri Lanka? Find the agricultural products of Ecuador? Or maybe print an image of the Nigerian flag? You’ve come to the right place!

Culturegrams is an encyclopedia in which you can find out about the history and geography of a country, as well the daily lives of its citizens. There are great printable maps and images of the country’s flag and lots of photos. You can even listen to the country’s national anthem or sample recipes! If you aren’t at the Multnomah County Library, you’ll need to log in to the encyclopedias with your library card and PIN. 

Image of world map
The CIA World Factbook has a wealth of information about the geography, people government and economy of countries, most of it in a table format. You can also visit their Flags of the World section to get a printable version of a country’s flag and information about what all its symbols mean.

At Background Notes from the U.S. State Department, you’ll find maps and flags for each country, as well as a history of its relations with the U.S. and links to in-depth country studies from Library of Congress.

The BBC has a page of Country Profiles, which are a good source for current events, as well as fast facts and timelines. And don’t miss National Geographic’s Destinationsa great source for travel articles, maps and colorful photos.

Another great place to learn about the people who live in other countries is Dollar Street. The creators of this site collected 30,000 photos from families in 50 countries, so you can see how they work, cook, sleep, and play.

Not finding what you need here? Contact a librarian for more help.

Five Themes of Geography

When you are learning about country, city or other place, ask yourself questions about the five themes of geography:

Location

  • Where is it? Geographers refer to absolute locations (like a street address or latitude/longitude coordinates) and relative locations, which show the relationships between places (for example, Vancouver, WA is just north of Portland, OR).
  • How far away is it from your home? This Travel Distance Calculator will help you find out.

Place

  • Are there physical features like mountains, rivers or deserts? What is the climate like? The World Book encyclopedia includes an atlas with specialized maps, including terrain, farmland, and climate data. Choose the Student edition, and then click on Maps and Atlas. If you aren’t at the Multnomah County Library, you’ll need to log in to the encyclopedia with your library card number and password.
  • What are the traditions of the people who live there? Culturegrams is a great resource to learn more about the customs and lifestyles of people around the world. You’ll need your library card number and password to use it.

Human-Environment Interactions

  • How do people use the land? National Geographic’s Map Maker Interactive lets you create a map of your own. Choose to include features like land cover (crops) or human impact on the environment.
  • Where do most people live and why? This video will help you understand why certain areas are more commonly settled.

Movement

Photo of train

  • How do people travel to the country? How do they get around when they are there? When researching a country in the World Factbook, find the transportation section, which highlights roads, airports and railways.
  • Does the country export goods to other places? What goods does it import? At the Atlas of Economic Complexity, you can type in questions such as “What did Canada export in 2013?”
  • Why might people come to or leave a place? This list of human migrations throughout history will help you understand why such movements occur.

Regions

  • How is the country similar to its neighbors (language, traditions, etc.)? At NationMaster, you can compare statistics on two countries or even two regions.
  • Are there political divisions (states, provinces, etc.)? Find this information in the World Factbook in the government section.

Not finding what you need here? Contact a librarian for more help.

Citizen scientists at work [Photo courtesy of Dennis Ward, Project BudBurst]
Have you ever wished you could spend a little bit of time working as a scientist?  I have good news: you can do it, without having to quit anything you already do in your daily life, and without having to get an advanced degree. Scientists all over the world are enlisting regular folks to help them with big projects -- this kind of scientist-support volunteering is called citizen science.

There are so many different citizen science projects, there’s sure to be one that suits you!  No matter your age, your occupation or vocation, or your level of education, there is a citizen science project you can help with.  Here are a few of my favorites:

The annual Christmas Bird Count.  Join a group of Portlanders to participate in the local arm of a nationwide bird census.  This year, local bird-counters will be attempting to count every single bird within a 15-mile radius around Portland, on January 2, 2016.

Great Backyard Bird Count.  If you miss this year's Christmas Bird Count, don't worry, citizen ortnithologists are needed for the Great Backyard Bird Count every February.  Spend a little time in your backyard (or anywhere), and count the number and type of birds you see.  This year’s count takes place February 12-15, 2016.

Be a Martian.  NASA is looking for Earthling volunteers to help improve Martian maps, take part in research tasks, and assist Mars science teams studying data about the Red Planet.

Portland Urban Coyote Project.  When you see a coyote, report it to help scientists at the Portland Audubon Society and the Geography Department at Portland State University who are studying how coyotes have adapted to urban environments.

Project Budburst.  Observe and record when plants produce leaves, buds, flowers, and fruit, to help the National Ecological Observatory Network understand more about how plants respond to climate changes.

National Map Corps.  Edit information about buildings and other data features for the United States Geological Survey’s National Map -- all in the form of “challenges” in which editors are asked to map, edit, and peer-review new additions to the map.

Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network.  Measure and map rain, snow and other precipitation, together with volunteers across the U.S. and Canada.

 

Do you want to see even more citizen science projects you might help out with?  Here are some great places to look for projects that need volunteers:

 


Remember, you can talk to a librarian about your science questions (or any questions!) whenever you’re at the library in person -- just ask the librarian on duty.  Or, call or email a librarian to get personalized help with via email, text, phone or chat.


 

Portland City Archives: A2001-004.94 : 219 N Cherry St
Nearly every house history researcher wants to see old photographs or drawings of their house.  Who wouldn't, right?  Unfortunately for Portland-area house history buffs, this can be one of the hardest bits of house history ephemera to track down!  But don't despair; there are surviving photographs of some houses and it is possible (sometimes) to find them. 

The challenge is that there has never been a comprehensive house-portrait project in Portland -- or any other city or town in our area -- so there is no treasure trove of photos of local homes that you can dig through.  You might wonder, if there's no big archive of house pictures, where should you start?  There are a few possibilities:

First, ask your neighbors or the people in your neighborhood association.  People who live on your street may have their own old photographs of family events, parties, or other occasions which include your house in the background.  And a bonus -- when you find that long-time resident and photo-saver, they may share stories about past residents of your house or other interesting neighborhood lore!

Houses sometimes appear in the background of photographs taken to record activity on the street.  The city of Portland has a lot of photographs of infrastructure and maintenance work they've done over the years. 

Many of these images are carefully preserved in the Portland City Archives collection. These images usually show city workers doing something in the neighborhood (such as repairing the sewer like in the photo at left) or were taken in connection with city planning work, like a street scene before the installation of a new traffic light.  You can search for records (including photographs) using the Archives' catalog, Efiles, and some have been published on the archives's Vintage Portland blog -- see below for more about that! But, most photographs in the collection aren't available online.  To look at photographs in person, you'll need to visit the Archives reading room downtown (1800 SW 6th Ave., Suite 550; 503.865.4100).  Be sure to read the Archives' policies and tips for researchers before you visit!

The Oregon Historical Society library is another treasure trove for house history researchers.  Their collection includes more than 2.5 million photographs and negatives of people, communities, commerce, and life in the Pacific Northwest -- the photograph collection doesn't have a section devoted to house portraits, but you may find photographs of your street, or photographs indexed under the name of a former owner of the house.  Some of the library's photographs have been digitized and can be viewed in the library's catalog, but most are available only by visiting in person (1200 SW Park Ave.; 503.222.1741).   Again, be sure to read the library's policies, hours and tips for researchers before you visit!  (And a note: Multnomah County residents can use the Oregon Historical Society library for free if they show picture i.d.; most others must pay an admission fee.)

Another potential source for house portraits and street scenes is the Vintage Portland blog, run by the Portland City Archives.  Every weekday the site features a different historical photograph (or sometimes a map or drawing) of Portland.  The posts are sorted into categories for neighborhoods, street names, time periods, and topics.  For example, if you are curious about the development of your neighborhood as well as the history of your house, you might want to look at the blog's many aerial photographs; or you might try looking at a neighborhood street like Foster Rd., Powell Blvd., or 82nd Ave.

If the house you're researching happens to be in the Albina district, you may find a photograph of it in The History of Albina, by Roy E. Roos.  The book begins with a brief a history of the district (and former city), but it also includes brief architectural history for a selection of houses and other buildings that are representative of different eras in Albina's development.  Many of the brief house histories are illustrated with contemporary photographs or have no pictures, but some have historic photographs or drawings.

Have fun hunting for a historic photo of your house!

 

  Questions? Ask the Librarian.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) states that an average of 710,000 people have become new U.S. citizens each year since 2010. Even with that remarkable figure, there are still 22.1 million immigrants in the U.S. that are not naturalized citizens. These 22.1 million include permanent residents legally in the U.S., unauthorized immigrants, and legal residents with temporary visas. In Oregon, less than 40% of the  more than 390,000 immigrants are naturalized citizens. Why is that? While no single answer applies to everyone, for many the process can be overwhelming and complicated. Multnomah County Library can help with language learning opportunities and citizenship classes. Staff can also direct you to resources that help immigrants become naturalized citizens.   

Local Resources

There are many organizations throughout the Portland metro area that offer resources to aid those seeking citizenship:

Legal Assistance
Dohes Elias Haney's naturalization certificate, 1917

Those seeking citizenship often require legal assistance, especially with the USCIS N-400 form. Most citizenship classes do not focus on paperwork requirements but there are organizations that can provide that type of help. There may be a fee for legal services:

USCIS Citizenship Resources

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service provides many resources online for those seeking to become naturalized American citizens.

If you still have questions about becoming a citizen contact a librarian to get personalized assistance. We're always happy to help!

 

Pyramid photo
Ancient Egypt is fascinating! You can learn about how the pyramids were built (and about the treasures found inside), how mummies were made, and how to write in hieroglyphics. The ancient Egyptians also made numerous advances in science and architecture.

Did you know that the Ancient Egyptian civilization lasted for over 3000 years? Learn more about the pharaohs.

Here are four sites which have information on many topics related to Ancient Egypt:

The British Museum has an extensive website that covers subjects such as geography, gods and goddesses, trades, and Egyptian life.  You can read the stories to find out more or participate in challenge activities.

Image of sarcophagus

Click on a map of ancient Egypt to find out about topics like farming, temples, and warriors at the DK Find Out website.

The History Channel has several videos to watch, as well as a written history of ancient Egypt.

The Children’s University of Manchester Ancient Egypt site is great for younger kids and includes online activities.

Enjoy your exploration of Ancient Egypt, and don’t forget to contact a librarian if you need more help.

Statue of Roman god
Greek and Roman mythology share many of the same gods and goddesses in their stories, but most often the names are different. It can be difficult to keep straight who is who when referring to them with either their Greek or Roman name. Is it Zeus or Jupiter? Is it Hera or Juno? Is Aphrodite or Venus? Encyclopedia Mythica  is a great resource for anything Greek or Roman mythology. Here is a great list of major Greek deities and their Roman counterparts. When we are reading Percy Jackson we are working with the Greek names, but our planets are named for the Roman Gods and Goddesses.

When studying Greek and Roman mythology consider using some of the library’s databases. Using the “Reference Center” in World Book Encyclopedia can expand your study on the subject. Search for “Greek and Roman divinities,’ and you will get another chart matching up Greek and Roman counterparts with links to learn more about the individual deities. Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL) is another online resource that will lead you to a variety of online e-books full of mythological information.

If you are trying to keep track of who is related to who in the Pantheon (all the gods of a people or religion collectively), Greek Mythological Link has great genealogy charts as well as maps. History for Kids also has brief descriptions on the different gods as well as book suggestions for further reading, many that you will find here at the library. Check out some of our reading suggestions too.

Awkward book jacket
Ah, back to school! The crisp fall days, football on Friday nights, challenging classes, and the absolute terror of starting at a new school! I switched from public to private school in 8th grade and, fortunately for me, the students were really friendly and welcoming.  I bonded with a couple of girls right away over soccer and disco, and even though our main teacher was a bit intimidating, I managed to get along with her despite being sent to the library for talking to a pal during a boring film.

Penelope (aka Peppi) has a pretty rough start when she begins classes at a new middle school.  On the first morning of the first day, she manages to trip in the hallway and scatter books and papers everywhere.  When Jaime, a kind, but nerdy boy, attempts to help her and the mean kids laugh at them, she screams at him to leave her alone.  She almost instantly regrets her action, but can't seem to find a way to apologize and avoids him like the proverbial plague.  Peppi finds friends among the Art Club and things are going pretty well, but then - horror of horrors - the science teacher assigns Jaime to be her tutor!  What's a girl to do?  Skip the sessions and flunk science or just face the music?  Maybe art can meet science and have something positive emerge.  You'll have to read Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova to find out.

Are you heading back to class or just wanting to relive those days? If so, check out these graphic novels about the school experience...they've got to be more fun than a calculus textbook!

Artist's drawing of D.B. Cooper.
It was a hot day in Central Library. The air conditioner was busted, the doors were propped wide open, and, thanks to the latest forest fire out on the eastside, the air was about as smoky as the Virginia Cafe circa 1975. I thought about lighting up myself since it couldn’t make things much worse in here, but then I remembered that I quit smoking 20 years ago. Something bad was going to happen, I could feel it.

Mercifully, this is not the actual condition in the library at the moment! Everything is just fine. But if this scene appeals to you for some reason, maybe you should be reading more Portland crime fiction.

Did I leave something important off this list? Let me know!

There are some images that stay in our minds forever and the picture of "the Afghan Girl" is one of them. Those sea-green eyes captivated the world when we saw her portrait for the first time on the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1985.
 
Steve McCurry, a National Geographic photographer, made famous the face of this girl when it appeared on the cover of the magazine, and later on the cover of his book, Portraits. The intention behind the picture was to document the Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan during the Soviet occupation. While walking through the camp, the photographer asked for the teacher's permission to take the photo. He never imagined those amazing eyes would become a global symbol of wartime. McCurry didn't ask her name; seventeen years later he decided to search for her as revealed in the documentary, Search for the Afghan Girl.
 
In 2002 he came back to Pakistan searching for the nameless girl. After many challenges and with the help of a team of experts including the FBI, he found her. Her name is Sharbat Gula and surprisingly her identity was revealed through her eyes, with the use of iris recognition technology. Her sea-green eyes matched the characteristics of that first and only picture. Learn more about McCurry's work by exploring this list.

I’ve wanted to write a little something about Roald Dahl for a long time.  Yes, everyone knows him for his children’s books: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches, and Esio Trot seem to always have a permanent place on the bookshelves of many young readers.  Yet there is more to Dahl than his beloved children’s books.  His short stories for adults are among the best around. They are highly original, deeply engaging and filled with unusual characters who stand out from the ordinary but seem strangely familiar.  

Roald Dah's Collected Stories book jacket
The titles of Dahl’s stories suggest something of the intrigue to come.  Someone Like You and Lamb to the Slaughter, which can be found in his Collected Stories, suggest stories filled with unexpected twists and dark humor and they never fail to deliver both. In Lamb to the Slaughter’s title story, a disgruntled wife kills her husband with a frozen leg of lamb and then feeds the roasted meat to the investigating policeman. In The Landlady, an unsuspecting traveler falls prey to a landlady who prefers stuffed guests. Dahl’s dark and often macabre stories are beautifully written and always contain at least one moment of absolute surprise that pulls the rug out from under the reader’s feet.

Dahl has been around for the long time, rising to eminence long before J.K. Rowling and writing before the days when series fiction was needed to draw young readers in.  Roald Dahl appeals to children because he takes them seriously and endeavors to treat them well.  Dahl created worlds where magic lived just along the edges of ordinary life and where a shove in any direction would turn that life upside down.

Dahl’s personal life was filled with its own share of the unexpected. His autobiographical books including Boy and Going Solo detail his early school days
Going Solo book jacket
through his wartime service as a fighter pilot. After being shot down, Dahl eventually landed a post working in Washington D.C. at the British Embassy where he hobnobbed with Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn and played poker with Harry Truman. He also met C.S. Forester who encouraged him to write. Dahl started with short stories and magazine articles and eventually branched into his well-known children’s books and often overlooked adult works.  Roald Dahl’s stories are the kind that can be read over and over.  Lucky readers will discover new and exciting details with each reading.

Our guest blogger is Memo. Memo works at the Central Library. Besides reading history and literature about Latinos, workers, and immigrants, he enjoys re-reading the great literary works of nineteenth and twentieth-century realist writers.

The Collected Works of Langston Hughes book jacket
I had never read the literary works of Langston Hughes before coming across The Collected Works of Langston Hughes at the North Portland Library.  I knew of him as a great poet and poetry was not my favorite genre.  Nonetheless, I leafed through the seventeen volume set on the shelf and I immediately was hooked on the works of one of the literary lions of the Harlem Renaissance.

Not sure where to begin, I skimmed through the volumes on poetry.  I read quickly a few poems, tried to digest others, but it was his prose that truly beckoned me.  I paused skimming midway through his oeuvre and read the first two short tales in depth.  I knew then, as I do now, that I had found a literary gold mine because weeks later, I’m still digging through the Simple stories in volumes 7 and 8.

Originally published in the Chicago Defender from 1943 to 1965, the Simple stories read more like weekly columns on race relations in the U.S. The tales are narrated in a conversational form to engage readers on multiple levels.  On one level, the stories are comical and reader-friendly, designed to show the human soul of Jesse B. Semple, or Simple as he is known, and draw the reader in.  Readers get to see and feel Simple’s failures and successes as well as his frustrations and dreams.  On another level, the stories portray the complex world that evolved in the Jim Crow era in a non-antagonizing way.  Simple’s conversations with his bar buddy not only lured readers into the national dialogue over race, but they also engaged readers in a constructive conversation over racism—the ideological foundation that defined the racial boundaries of Simple’s life and, by extension, African Americans.

Though it has been sixty-five years since Langston Hughes published the first Simple stories in book form, the ideas in these tales still resonate.  Racial progress has been made, but we still have a long way to go.  Both fictional characters would probably nod their heads.  Yes, over a cold beer.  Still, such ideas, now more than ever, need to be part of a national discourse.

 

As with many pleasures,  like food, music, movies and books, we tend to find what we love and stick with that. When readers ask me for suggestions on what to read next, they usually know what they like and want to read more of it. But as with food, music, movies and other such pleasures, it never hurts to try reading something new. My something new is manga.
 
The most basic definition of manga is comics that are originally produced in Japan. Manga includes works in a wide range of genres. You can find manga translated into a variety of languages 
Manga reading direction example
but they all retain the traditional reading direction of Japanese manga, which is that is you read from right to left. If you are used to reading from left to right, manga will take a little getting used to. But believe me when I say that when you find a series that sparks your interest, reading from right to left will come easily.
 
The following three titles have been my introduction to this popular comic medium, and each one has made me finally fall in love with manga. 
 
Wandering Son book jacket
Wandering Son by Takako Shimura is a series that is hard to miss. Among a sea of similarly sized paperback manga, Wandering Son is the rare hardcover series. The story centers around a fifth grader named Shuichi Nitori who has just transferred to a new school. During their first day of school Shimura meets Yoshino and the two become instantaneous best friends. And both Shimura and Yoshino are transgender. I really love Takako’s minimal and dreamy illustration style, and that this series focuses on the elements of curiosity and discovery that go along with gender identity and puberty.
 
Black Butler book jacket
I admit that I was so excited and impatient to read Black Butler by Yana Toboso that I bought the first book. Set just outside of London during the Victorian era, this series revolves around a young noble, Ciel Phantomhive and his loyal butler Sebastian. Ciel is quite demanding and Sebastian is ever willing to oblige, to the point that it appears that Sebastian can do what no other human can. So, is Sebastian human? I love Toboso's  gothic and lush illustrations and the melding of historical fiction, mystery, and a bit of fantasy. 
 
Blue Exorcist book jacket
In Blue Exorcist by Kazue Katō you meet Rin Okumura and his twin brother Yukio. Rin and Yukio were both raised by Father Fujimoto, an exorcist. Rin has only ever known the world of his adoptive father, a world in which demons are to be fought and killed. But one day Rin finds out that both him and his brother are the sons of Satan, the most powerful demon. Rin being the stronger of the two brothers is the only one who has inherited demon powers. Determined to use his demon side for good Rin enrolls in the True Cross Academy, a school for exorcists in training. I’m a big fan of all things horror so this series immediately grabbed my attention. But I also love the dabs of comedy that are played out in the sibling rivalry between Rin and Yukio.
 
I am crazy in love with these series and excited to find more manga to dive into. If you have never tried manga I hope that I can convince you to give it a try. If you are already a manga fan, I'd love to hear about your favorite titles!
 
 

Ah, the lost art of letter writing. I still find myself checking my mail hoping that there will actually be a personal letter mixed in with the credit card applications. But alas, I can’t recall the last time I received a real letter. When I want to immerse myself in the beauty of letter-writing, I shall open up Shaun Usher’s, Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of A Wider Audience

Letters of Note bookjacket

Shaun Usher loves letters (and lists too. His second book, Lists of Note includes such wonders as Michelangelo's illustrated shopping list and Marilyn Monroe’s New Year’s resolutions written when she was 29-years-old.).

But back to the pleasures of letters. Usher has collected 125 letters from far and wide and long ago to more recent times. Many of the letters are from well-known figures but some are from everyday folks. All of the letters have a short introduction to put them into historical context and a good share of them include a reproduction of the letter itself. The effort and creativity that went into these letters - a 13-year-old boy at a school for the blind wrote in Braille to President Eisenhower. The sadness - Virginia Woolf’s note to her husband before she committed suicide. Witty, funny, artistic ones. Beautiful, heartfelt, poignant letters. They’re all here.

If you’d like to peruse even more letters, take a look at Shaun Usher's website where he has posted a whopping 900 letters; they’re indexed in various ways so one could spend weeks reading all of them. Or take a look at some of these books that are chock full of letters. I, however, think I’ll go write a letter to a friend.

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