Blogs: Learn & Create

Readers, writers and book lovers! Mark your calendars for several of Portland's biggest book events:

Literary Arts' Wordstock: Portland's Book Festival Presented by Bank of America happens on November 11, when a literary who's who of authors will descend on us. Browse books by the authors, and visit Multnomah County Library's booth, where we can give you one-on-one advice about spending your $5.00 book coupon (included in the price of admission) on a title you'll love.

Portland Arts & Lectures author series features such luminaries as George Saunders, Jesmyn Ward and Viet Thanh Nguyen. You can also look forward to Everybody Reads in the new year, when we'll be discussing Mohsin Hamid's Exit West in preparation for the author's visit on April 5th, made possible by Literary Arts. Copies of the book will be made available in February, thanks to the support of The Library Foundation.

But let's face it - Portland's literary landscape is a field of dreams. Search the events calendar for the library’s author talks, book discussions and conversations featuring local writers. If you're a self-published writer yourself and would like library patrons to be able to read your work, check out the Library Writers Project

Happy reading!

 

Literary Arts author list image

 

Zahir Janmohmaed, Soleil Ho and Alan Montecillo are the brains behind the podcast The Racist Sandwich. Together, they examine the politics of food and the ways we consume, create and interpret it. From discussions about racism in food photography to interviews with chefs of color, they hash out a diverse range of topics with humor, grace and very little pretension.
 
Zahir's picks:
 
1. Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart
This is one of the sharpest memoirs I have ever read. Shteyngart writes about immigrating to the U.S. as a Russian Jew and his struggle to adjust to life in America. 
The book is so incredibly funny that it is easy to forget that underneath the humor is a profound exploration about identity, immigration, anti-Semitism and the former Soviet Union. I can't recommend it enough. 
 
2.  The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro 
There are very few books that have made me sob. This is one of them. Ishiguro's masterpiece, published in 1989, won the Booker prize that year and deservedly so. The novel centers around a butler, Mr. Stevens, and his conflicted feelings towards his former colleague, Miss Kenton. Skip the movie, which turns this incredibly complex novel into a love story alone. It is that too, but it is also an examination of complacency, bigotry and blind allegiance to tradition. 
 
3. Orientalism by Edward Said
Admittedly this might not be the best book to take to the beach but no other book has had a greater influence on me than Said's. This book was published in 1978 and remains a seminal text in understanding post-colonialism. Said's essential argument is that Orientalism is the exaggeration of difference, the presumption of Western superiority, and the application of clichéd analytical models for perceiving the "Oriental" world. When we started our podcast, Soleil Ho and I spoke at length about this book and how our podcast was an attempt to take Said's theory of Orientalism and apply it to the world of food. 
 
Soleil's Picks:
Nguyen blasts open the banh mi paradigm with this book, and every recipe in it is stellar.
 
I love Bryant Terry’s mission to place the plant-based diet within the context of African diasporic cooking, and I especially love his suggested musical tracks to bob your head to while you’re working though his recipes.
 
3. Koreatown: A Cookbook by Deuki Hong
Oh, the banchan! The language in this book is so light and familiar, and it’s lovely to read various notables' fond memories of Korean food. 
 
Alan's Picks:
1. Red Sorghum by Mo Yan
I think Americans should read more Chinese literature. Here’s one place to start. This is a sprawling, visceral, multi-generational tale of a sorghum winemaking family in China. It takes you through pivotal moments in modern Chinese history, from the Japanese invasion in the 1930s all the way through the Cultural Revolution. Mo Yan’s writing has been compared to the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I don’t know enough about Marquez to judge whether that’s accurate, but I will tell you that I first read this six years ago and its images and descriptions have stuck with me.
 
Dr. Gawande shows us how the medical system is ill-equipped to deal with the reality of modern aging. But more fundamentally, this book will change the way you see old age, medicine and dying itself. 
 
Even if geopolitics isn’t really your thing, I recommend this book. And if you’re a generally curious, politically-minded person who wants to read something that will challenge your view of the world, you should absolutely read this book. The South China Sea is an abstract news headline to many Americans, but for millions of Asian-Americans and the hundreds of millions of people who live in Southeast Asia, it’s one of the most important issues of our time. Kaplan’s hard-nosed realism can be tough to swallow — and I don’t know if I necessarily agree with all of his conclusions — but it’s a sober and sharp reminder of how complex the world is.

 

 

 

If you're a zinester, you make zines! If you are new to zines and have never made one: zines are usually handmade paper booklets that anyone can create. Want to give it a try? Here are some directions for turning one piece of paper into a basic zine: a version to view online or a version to print. See below for more resources about making zines and books.

Whether zines are a new idea or an old friend for you, the library abounds with inspiration and resources for your creative project! Consider these:

Crap Hound 8 - Superstitions

The Central Library Picture File is an astounding resource: thousands upon thousands of magazine and book clippings, organized by subject. These can be checked out and photocopied or scanned (you can’t cut them up and paste them in your zine, though!). Do you need the perfect picture of a bluebird, or an ancient computer, or children’s clothes from the 1960s? Look no further! Ask about the Picture Files at the Art & Music reference desk on Central Library’s third floor.

Of course clip art can be found online, but clip art books are a pleasure to browse and use. Many of these come with a CD containing image files that you can download to your computer for resizing, editing, etc. A real gem of a clip art resource is found in the series of books called Crap Hound - each volume is created around a theme or cluster of themes (Superstition; Church & State; Hands, Hearts, & Eyes are a few), and the images are laid out in the most appealing, artful way.

Women of Color zine #12The library’s zine collection is full of examples of zines and minicomics made by zinesters and artists from near and far. Zines can be browsed online in the library catalog (use the subject heading Zines or search by author or title, or try our book lists), placed  on hold, and checked out just like other library materials. I recently read the most recent issue of Women of Color: How to Live in the City of Roses and Avoid the Pricks , a collective zine made by a group in Portland - the theme of this issue, #12, is zines! It contains comics, diagrams, and short prose pieces, perspectives on making zines and community. It's really great.

How to Make Books by Esther K. SmithFor more technical information about making zines and books, you might enjoy browsing some of our books about bookbinding - I recently stumbled upon How to Make Books by Esther K. Smith, which has instructions and lovely illustrations for a range of homemade books, from instant zines and accordion books to more elaborate stitched books and Coptic binding.

Portland has an amazing zine community. Here are two local resources you must know about:

The Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC) has a gigantic and wonderful zine library, classes, and tons of equipment that members can use to make zines: typewriters, art and printmaking supplies, computers, scanners, and of course, copy machines. 

The Portland Zine Symposium is a local event, held annually in July, where zinesters gather to show, sell, and trade their publications. There are workshops, panels, and discussions about zines, independent publishing and DIY culture - it's free, and really fun and inspiring. 

Divorce, estate planning, landlord/tenant issues, immigration, arrests and citations... Life is full of legal questions. How do you search for answers without being taken for a ride? We can suggest some excellent resources that can help you out.
 
A good place to start is Oregon Legal Research, maintained by law librarians. Learn how to research the law and represent yourself in court; find the answers to frequently asked questions (When can I leave my kids home alone? Where can I get a free power of attorney form?); and more. They also maintain a comprehensive Oregon Legal Assistance Resources guide (pdf) that can help you find local organizations that specialize in legal areas including disability rights, bankruptcy, political activism, bicycle law and crime victims' rights.
 
Link to Legal Aid Services of OregonOregon Law Help provides free and verified legal information for Oregonians. There are articles in many languages to get you up-to-speed on your rights and resources when it comes to your home, your job, government benefits and more. The site also helps you find a Legal Aid office near you.
    
The Multnomah Law Library in downtown Portland provides legal reference assistance and more six days a week. You can access various legal forms and complete NOLO legal reference books on common legal topics online, 24/7, through their website. The State of Oregon Law Library's online resources include free access to Fastcase, a legal research tool that lets you search sources of law from Oregon, the U.S. Government and many other western states. 
 
The Oregon State Bar public information page has user-friendly legal information, assistance in finding and hiring a lawyer, links to low cost legal help and more.

The Oregon Judicial Department can help you file a case, find a legal form and represent yourself in court. Check out their page devoted to family law for assistance with child custody and support, divorce, domestic violence, and parenting plans. The Multnomah County Circuit Court website can help answer your questions about Family Court.

If you have questions about your rights as a renter, you might want to contact the Community Alliance of Tenants. This statewide, grassroots, tenants-rights organization provides renters' rights information online; if you can't find the information you need, call the Renters’ Rights Hotline at 503-288-0130.

Link to Oregon Council of County Law Libraries.You can always contact us at the library and we can help you locate resources that might be helpful, or visit your local county law library for a wider range of materials.
 
Though we are always happy to help you locate resources and give you search tips, it is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law; we may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights.

 

hands

Hands are hard to draw. So are feet, and faces! If you enjoy the challenge of drawing the human form, you might find some great images to work from in the Central Library picture file collection. Many files contain clippings focused on people, and classified by subject (according to library tradition). You’ll find specific folders for each of the following categories (among many others):

men's faces

For work focused on the human form and those tricky parts to draw, you might like to look at the picture files for Hands, Feet, Facial studies, Nude studies, and Portrait studies.

babyIf you’re trying to draw a person at a particular stage of life, you might find helpful images in the folders for Babies, Children, Adolescents, Couples, College life, Families,​ and Aged [people].

To draw a particular sort of character, you might seek inspiration in the files for Angels, Madonnas, Magicians, Gypsies, Pirates, Mermaids, and Jesters.

crowd of men

Is your subject a group? There are picture files for Crowds, Dancing, Demonstrations, Happenings...

Other potentially useful folders for finding images of people include: Biography (this section is huge, with many sub-categories of specific people, occupations, etc.), Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts, Caricatures, Duels, Labor, Occupations, Pageants, Peace Corps, Poverty, Sports, Theater, U.S. - Manners & customs, Utopias, and the Women’s movement.

As with the other images in the picture file collection, these were clipped from magazines, books, and other print materials between approximately 1920 and 2008. In addition to being a resource for images of the human form, they are also a view into how people were represented in American publications and visual media during this span of time. Browsing through them can be a candid trip through history.

Other posts in this Picture File Sampler blog series can be found here: Vintage FashionArtist's WorksBicycles & Tricycles.

collageMCL Makers is a DIY series that highlights Multnomah County Library Staff who make things in their spare time. In the past we have featured soapmaking with Anne and handspinning with Donna. Our next featured MCL Maker is Library Assistant Laura Simon.  When she's not using her talents at her branch to create lovely bulletin boards, flyers, and displays, Laura likes to make mixed media collages and handmade books, among other crafty things. Here she shares with us about mixed media collage.

How long have you been making mixed media collages?

I feel like I've been making collages my whole life! My mom taught me to see the creative potential of every tiny scrap, shiny bit and broken shard. She saved these things in a giant cupboard in our garage. That Craft Cupboard was my boredom buster. My sister and I could spend hours slathering glue onto old buttons, tissue paper, sequins and sticks.

How did you learn to collage?

As an adult, art wasn't really a part of my life. I realized how much I missed the process after I celebrated my 40th birthday by taking a mixed media class at Collage on Alberta. I went straight home and started my own Craft Cupboard, now an entire Craft Room, filled with all sorts of inspiring junk.

Have you used any resources from the library to further develop your craft? 

The strongest connection between the library and my artistic endeavors has always been the creative people I work with. There are so many makers in the library community! Of course there are also some amazing books that have passed through my hands over my  years working in libraries. A few of my favorites are 1,000 Artist Journal Pages: Personal Pages and Inspirations by Dawn DeVries Sokol; Pretty Little Things: Collage Jewelry, Trinkets, Keepsakes by Sally Jean Alexander; and Collage Discovery Workshop by Claudine Hellmuth.

Have you taught others how to collage or shared your skill in any way?

I have regular get togethers with a couple of my crafty librarian friends. For me, the process of creating while spending time with close friends is very therapeutic. I am often surprised by the artistic result. 

What advice do you have for the new crafter just starting out?

Don't overthink it! Jump in, get messy, embrace the chaos. 

For more information on mixed media collage and other creative exploration, check out this curated list

 

Feeling creative?  Needing inspiration?  Check out the OMSI Mini Maker Faire this weekend!  

Who are these makers, anyway? As the OMSI website says. "Makers range from tech enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers.  They are of all ages and backgrounds.  The aim of the Maker Faire is to entertain, inform, connect and grow this community."  

At the library we are big fans of makers!  We have programs, books and other resources to support our maker community.  We even have a Makerspace at our Rockwood Library for teens.  Because we love makers so much, we'll have a booth at the Maker Faire from 10am-5pm on Saturday (9/10) and Sunday (9/11).  And we're bringing a lot of cool stuff with us!  Stop by to sign up for a library card or to make a rubberband helicopter!

Hope to see you there!  If you can't come, make sure to check out the booklists below for some creative inspiration.

 

Kids aren't born knowing how to use a keyboard.  But in today’s keyboard-centric world, kids need to learn to type. Luckily, there are some good free online typing programs aimed at students.

The article  Ed Tech Ideas: Keyboarding Sites for Kids lists many links to other free typing games.

Need more help? Contact a librarian

Whenever I have to write something, whether it’s a research paper or an article, the first thing I do is keep track of my sources. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a really good fact, but not being able to remember where you found it!

There’s two good online resources, called citation makers, that I use to help me. The great thing is, you can use them to keep track of your resources while you do your research, but they also help you format the citations, and generate your list of sources, or bibliography.

Many students in Oregon use the OSLIS citation maker to generate citations. It allows you to chose between MLA and APA style guides. Be sure to read through all the instructions before you get started. You can’t save a list of citations here, so you’ll have to create your list all in one shot. 

Easybib is a free service that offers you a lot more, and is good for high school and college students. You can save multiple bibliographies here, use their note taking system, generate a bibliography in Word, and generate citations for up to 59 formats of material, in MLA, APA or Chicago/Terabian style manuals. Watch the training video to learn more, and please contact a librarian if you need more help.

Multnomah County Library loves zines!  And that's why we will be at the Portland Zine Symposium on Saturday (July, 9th).  Come see us at this annual extravaganza celebrating small presses, DIY culture and the wonderful zinsters of Portland and beyond!  Oh, and did we mention it's free?

Stop by to sign-up for a library card, check out a zine or snap a photo with our giant library card.  Can't make it?  You can check out some fabulous zines from the library anytime that we're open.  Take a look at some of the lists below to get started.

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