MCL Blogs

Today, the library started using a new logo. The library used the same logo since becoming part of Multnomah County in 1990. Prior to that, the Library Association of Portland governed library services in Multnomah County,  using the same logo since about 1912. In 2014, after Multnomah County residents voted to create a permanent library district to fund library services and hours, the library turned 150 years old. A special logo was created for the occasion.

It is a time of rapid change and evolution for libraries. Our commitment to free and equal access and advocacy for reading will never change, but today’s libraries are so much more. They are places of learning, creation, technology access, civic participation and more. As the library evolves to meet the changing needs of our community, our visual identity is taking a new form as well. Today, the library begins using a new logo.

 

 

New library logo

 

Multnomah County Library’s updated logo was funded entirely by private dollars from Friends of the Library. The library will continue to use existing materials, like letterhead and so on, until they run out. Modest implementation costs, for things like signage, are covered by existing budgets within the library.

The library’s new logo will help create consistent visual standards for all library services. This simple geometric pattern — an “L,” a book, a portal, a window, a laptop, an arrow — the logo is whatever you want it to be. Anything is possible. Just as it is at your library.

New library banners

We are proud of the library’s 152-year history of service to this community. As the library re-imagines how it can best meet the community’s changing needs, we will always honor the library’s rich heritage.

Thank you for your ongoing support and passion for your public library.

Jeremy Graybill
Marketing + Online Engagement Director
Multnomah County Library 
503.793.0881 

A message from  Director of Libraries Vailey Oehlke

No more kids fines
With Summer Reading just around the corner, Multnomah County Library is removing late fines for all youth library materials and on youth accounts (ages 0-17), effective June 15. Children's and young adult items will no longer be charged late fines. You can read more about the specifics of the new structure here.

The public library is a partner to youth, parents, families and caregivers from birth through high school. Exposing children early to a world rich with words, songs and play helps them become readers and succeed in school and in life. We proudly serve youth of all ages with high-quality books, fun and captivating programs, research resources, homework help, and caring staff who offer personal assistance.

For many, late fines are a real barrier that stops children and families from using and benefiting from the resources the public library offers. With the support of the Multnomah County Library District Board, our library is changing this practice. All existing late fines on youth accounts and materials will be removed as of June 15, 2016.

Patrons of all ages will still be responsible for returning library material for others to use within seven weeks of the due date, or be charged the replacement value of that item. 

I wish you all a summer filled with fun and reading. Won’t you please come visit us at the library?

 

Vailey Oehlke,

Director of Libraries

Photo of John McLoughlin
Are you studying Portland history? Read on to learn more about famous Portland residents, past and present.

Long before white settlers arrived on the Oregon Trail, the Portland area was home to the Multnomah people, a band of the Chinook Tribe. One of their leaders was Chief Kiesno (sometimes spelled Cassino).  Tragically, many of the native inhabitants of our area died from diseases brought by the Europeans.

John McLoughlin is often called the Father of Oregon. He moved to the area in 1824 and established Fort Vancouver just north of Portland. Later, his general store in Oregon City became the last stop on the Oregon Trail.

Photo of Abigail Scott Duniway
By 1845, Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy owned land in the area and flipped a coin to choose an official name. Pettygrove won the two out of three tosses, and since he was from Portland, Maine, he chose to name the new city after his hometown.

Abigail Scott Duniway is famous for fighting for women’s rights, especially the right to vote. After many tries, she finally succeeded in Oregon in 1912.  Intriguingly, Abigail’s brother, Harvey Scott, editor of The Oregonian newspaper, was opposed to letting women vote. This blog post will introduce you to other important women in Portland’s history.

McCants Stewart was the first African American lawyer in Portland and started a newspaper, The Advocate. Dr. DeNorval Unthank is well-known for his role in fighting for civil rights for African Americans and was named Doctor of the Year in 1958. A park in North Portland is named for him. 

Some other famous Portlanders include children’s author Beverly Cleary, Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons), and Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike.

For more information on famous residents of Portland, visit the Oregon History Project’s biography page, or search the Oregon Encyclopedia.

Still have questions? Contact a librarian for help!

Juliet Takes a Breath book cover
You know that moment when you are reading a book that you realize somehow mirrors your own life? For me that book is Gabby Rivera's Juliet Takes A Breath. Like many young folks I was intent on escaping the town that I had called home for most of my life and wanted to discover myself in someplace new. At some point my attention turned to moving west, and about 12 years ago I finally found my new home in Portland.  Juliet Milagros Palante has always called the Bronx her home, but she has her sights set on Portland. Before she leaves home, Juliet must do one thing, come out to her family. While eating dinner with her loved ones, a few hours before she is about to board the plane that will take her from the east coast to the west, she reveals her truth. Although her mother will not speak to her Juliet begins her journey to a strange new land. Juliet has a plan: figure out what it means to be queer and brown while spending the summer in Portland interning with Harlowe Brisbane, the author of one of her favorite books. In this candid coming-of-age story, Juliet discovers herself as a feminist and as a queer Latinx, finds a her community and falls in love.
Cunt: a Declaration of Independence
 
The fictional author, Harlow Brisbane, wrote a book that strikes a chord with Juliet, opening her up to the world of feminism.  Like Juliet, my introduction to feminism, radical politics and the Pacific Northwest came in the form of an eye opening book by Inga Muscio, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence. While this wasn't the first book about feminism that I had read, it was the first one that did not have an academic tone. It was a book that was passed around among my group of friends, sparked frank and often hilarious discussions, and changed the way that I moved in my female body. And like Harolow Brisbane's fictional feminist tome, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence is the kind of title that would make some passersby uncomfortable. Gotta love a book that has that kind of power!

 

In the early years, our city was called The Clearing, but in 1845, landowners Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy flipped a coin to choose an official name. Pettygove came from Portland, Maine, and Lovejoy was from Boston, Massachusetts. Pettygrove won two out of three tosses, and so our city is Portland. This slide show will show you how Portland grew from 1851-1900.

Photo of Pioneer Courthouse Square
Here are some of the historic places that make Portland special:

  • Benson Bubblers: These four-bowl drinking fountains are unique to Portland.
  • Pioneer Courthouse Square has been a school, a hotel, and a parking lot but is now considered the city’s “living room.”  
  • The Portlandia statue is the second-largest copper repoussé sculpture in the U.S. (The largest is the Statue of Liberty.)
  • Skidmore Fountain was designed to be a source of drinking water for people, horses and dogs.
  • The Pittock Mansion was the home of Henry Pittock, who arrived in Oregon penniless on a wagon train in 1853.

Because of the many bridges crossing the Willamette River, one of Portland’s nicknames is Bridgetown. Some of the bridges that connect the east side to downtown are more than 100 years old!

Photo of Lewis and Clark Exposition
What did Portlanders in the past do for fun? The Rose Festival, which still happens every June, started in 1904. The next year, Portland hosted the Lewis and Clark Centennial Expositionwhich attracted more than 1.6 million visitors. Children liked to visit the amusement parks at Oaks Park and Jantzen Beach.

You know it rains a lot in Portland, but did you know that our city has often flooded? In the flood of 1894, downtown Portland was flooded and people got around in boats. In 1948, the Vanport flood destroyed a housing area that was home to many African Americans.

For more information on Portland history, view the past and present photos at Portland Then and Now or check out the city’s Portland Timeline.

Here's a video that shows some of the changes in Portland:

 

Still have questions? Contact a librarian for help!

The Library is Like Falling Into Heaven
Volunteer Carla Lang

by Sarah Binns

Carla Lang is one of those people with whom you can start talking about books and look up from your conversation to find two hours have passed without your knowledge. The phrase “voracious reader” can be overused, but in Carla's case it is true. It’s a lifelong trait: “When I was growing up my dream was to be locked away in the library. As long as there was a store nearby,” she adds, pragmatically.

Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Carla later drove her VW bus all the way to Alaska - and stayed for forty years. When she and her husband moved to Nome in the early '70s, the local library association was little more than a women's social club. “Over a period of a few years we transformed into a working association with an eye toward a true lending library that was funded by the city,” she explains. Through their efforts, library funding was eventually secured, and Nome's Kegoayah Kozga Public Library continues to this day.

Shortly after Carla and her husband moved from Nome to an apartment above the Sellwood Library in 2006, she noticed a sign soliciting volunteers. She started as a paging list volunteer in 2007, pulling items that patrons have put on hold. On her inaugural day, Carla was dismayed to locate only a few of the books on the 100-book list. “It turns out it was the previous day's list!” she laughs. She says the paging list is “the ultimate Easter egg hunt” and intends to go on doing this task.

Carla also volunteers with Words on Wheels, a Library Outreach Services program which delivers books to those unable to go to the library. She's been with some of her patrons for two years now and still enjoys bringing them book suggestions. When it comes to the library and reading, Carla says, “It's like falling into heaven. I never mind waiting in lines because I always have a book with me. As long as I have a book, I'm fine.”


A Few Facts About Carla

Home library: Sellwood Library

Currently reading: The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

Books that made you laugh or cry: Dave Barry's books make her laugh; “I try to avoid books that make me cry,” she says, "but The Art of Racing in the Rain was one that did."

Most influential book: Probably Lord of the Rings; “I always go back to it, I've read it at least 14 times.”

Guilty pleasure: “All books are guilty pleasures! But probably my science fiction.”

Favorite book from childhood: Little Women, Uncle Tom's Cabin, “and a story about a young girl in the Revolutionary War that I can't remember the title of!”

Favorite section to browse: New books, graphic novels, and staff picks

E-reader or paper books: Paper, though e-books are a nice option when on the go.

Favorite place to read: In bed in the morning with a cup of coffee or a chair in her apartment loft with good light.

Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! Read last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

Andy Ricker, the James Beard Award–winning chef behind Pok Pok, lets us know his favorite cookbooks, meals and his thoughts on the Portland food scene.

 

1. Do you have any favorite cookbooks, books or cooking blogs that have inspired you?

Picture of Andy Ricker

"Thai Food" by David Thompson; "The Joy of Cooking"; "The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating" by Fergus Henderson; "White Heat" by Marco Pierre White; "Cous Cous and Other Good Food" by Paula Wolfert.

 

2. What do enjoy most about the Portland food scene?

The dedication the chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, food makers and gatherers have to using local products of the highest quality and being in a community that supports this ethos.

 

3. List your top 2 favorite meals (of all time or even this week).

Last week in Phrae, Northern Thailand, I had an amazing meal of expertly made local food at a restaurant called Jin Sot. The owner is a ninja. A Tai Yai/Shan restaurant near my home here in Chiang Mai reopened after a long hiatus, during which time I was jonesing badly, and much to my relief, the food had not changed at all: delicious egg curry called Khai Oop being my favorite dish.

4. Do you have any library memories to share?
When I was a kid growing up in rural Vermont, we had no TV so reading was our entertainment. We would go to the town library (Jeffersonville) and check out as many books as were allowed per person and devour them over the week.

Inspired to try your hand at Thai cooking? Check out our booklist below for our favorite Thai cookbooks that you can check out from the library. If you are feeling particulary adventerous, try your hand at making the egg curry dish that Andy mentioned, Khai Oop.

 

DEQ map of Air Toxicity in Portland, OR

February 3, 2016, The Mercury recently reported findings of high levels of arsenic and cadmium in the air in SE Portland. Days later, the DEQ released a map that showed many areas throughout Portland to be affected.

If you are wondering, “Should I get tested for arsenic or cadmium poisoning?” this Portland Mercury article cites Dr. Gillian Beauchamp, a Toxicology Fellow at the Oregon Poison Center at OHSU, who offers advice.

A timely resource for updates on current action by Portland residents (meetings, information sharing, etc.) is the Facebook Public Group Inner SE Air Quality. Although the focus is SE Portland, there’s much information about air quality in other areas in the city being shared here too. Inner SE Air Quality is also sharing community-generated/created Google maps of cancers and serious illnessesa map for people that have tested for heavy metal exposure, and a map showing results of soil testing for heavy metals.  Check here for updates on community meetings you can attend. Neighbors for Clean Air Facebook page is another good resource.

If you are interested more broadly about air quality in Portland, check the ToxNet map. Use the Beta version and click on "zoom to a location" then enter an address to see emissions near you. If you click on "more" you can see the levels of toxins a facility reports. This doesn’t report these recent SE Portland findings.

The Oregon Health Authority’s Cancer Registry researches possible clusters in communities. 

Questions? Call, text or email a librarian to get personalized help – or ask the librarian on duty the next time you're at the library.  We will do our best to find the right resource or service for you!

Learning a new language has multiple benefits: you can communicate with people at home and around the world, and at the same time you also exercise your brain.

Although scientific studies vary, there seems to be agreement that learning and speaking multiple languages is good for your gray matter. It may even delay the onset of dementia*. It will certainly improve your je ne sais quoi.

Here are a few of the language learning resources available to you from Multnomah County Library:

  • Mango Connect: This online app is easy to use and full of quick exercises for learning over 50 different languages. You move through lessons at your own pace, and you can spend a lot of time on it or just a little bit each day.
  • Language Exchanges: The library offers in-person language exchange programs in Chinese, French, Spanish, and Vietnamese. These events are intended for both English speakers and English learners. Half of the event is spent practicing in the non-English language, and the other half is spent practicing English. All levels are welcome! These programs are informal, fun, and a great way to meet people in your community.
  • Books: The library has lots of books (and audiobooks) for learning languages! The best way to find these is by asking a librarian - they will guide you to the books and resources that are perfect for you.

For even more language learning ideas, take a look at the library’s Language learning topic page. If someone you know is working on learning or improving their English, be sure to also check out the library’s Learn English webpage.

You’re never too old to learn something new!

*: For more information about the science of languages and the brain, read “Delaying Onset of Dementia: Are Two Languages Enough?” (2014) in the online journal Behavioural Neurology.

Find Out What's Available

Trinity college
It's never too early to start looking for scholarships. The best time of year to start looking is in the summer or early fall. This lets you find programs before their deadlines have passed, and gives you enough time to complete a well-planned application. Many scholarship programs require an essay and recommendations from teachers or other adults who know you, and these take time to prepare.  

There are many scholarships, grants, fellowships, internships and work-study jobs available. You'll likely encounter some common eligibility criteria. These include which state you live in, if you've performed military service, whether you have minority status or a particular nationality or ethnic background, a religious affiliation, or if any of your family members belong to a national or local organization or civic association. If you fit the eligibility criteria, be sure to consider applying! 

Researching

The library is a great place to get started as you research scholarships. Whether you are looking for a scholarship in the humanities, the sciences, the social sciences, or sports, we can help you discover ways to find scholarship awards for higher education. 

The Scholarship Handbook is organized by common eligibility criteria. It lists scholarships based on which state you live in, whether you have performed military service, if you have minority status or come from a particular nationality or ethnic background, if you have a religious affliation, and whether any of your family members belong to a national or local organization or civic association. Each scholarship program is described by eligibility, basis for selection, application requirements, amount awarded, application deadline, and contact information.

 

"Billions of dollars in scholarships, grants and prizes." The Ultimate Scholarship Book organizes awards into categories such as humanities, social science, science and general. You don't need a perfect GPA or financial need to win a scholarship. There are plenty of awards that have none of these requirements.

 

 

College help for teens: More resources for financial aid, admissions, guides, and Study Abroad.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a neurological difference often characterized by difficulties with reading, writing and spelling.  It may run in the families and can not be “cured.” Individuals with this condition must learn coping strategies.

Dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence. With the right instruction, almost all individuals with dyslexia can learn to read.  A multi-sensory, phonics based approach is often the best way to help kids learn to read. The Orton-Gillingham, Barton System and/or Lindamood-Bell programs are well known programs that work.

This great Ted-Ed talk provides an overview of dyslexia.

What should I look for?

Decoding Dyslexia offers these early signs of dyslexia:

  • Late speech (3 years or later)
  • Mixing up sounds in multi-syllable words (e.g. bisghetti, aminal, mazageen)
  • Inability to rhyme by age 4
  • Difficulty with substitutions, omissions and deletions
  • Unusual pencil grip
  • Difficulty remembering rote facts (months of the year, days of the week)
  • Confusion of left vs. right

Several organizations offer online self-assessment tools.  Take a look at the the Uncovering Dyslexia Topic Guide for suggested websites.

Dyslexia and low self-esteem

One of the biggest challenges of dyslexia is counteracting shame caused by teasing and misunderstanding.  Children are often teased because they can’t read as well as others.  Teachers may say things like “she’s a slow reader” in front of the child or parents.  Kids know what “slow” means and they often grow up believing they are “stupid” and/or “lazy.”

Headstrong Nation’s Learn the Facts wants you to know the facts, help your child recognize her/his strengths and weaknesses, learn how to talk about it with trusted friends and family and eventually, be comfortable sharing one’s real self with the world.

How the library can help

There are three valid types of reading: with your eyes (print & video), with your fingers (Braille) and with your ears (audiobooks).  For information about Braille books, contact the Talking Book and Braille Library at the Oregon State Library.  Multnomah County Library will help you find materials for reading with your eyes and ears.  

Audiobooks

Typically easier for someone with dyslexia, the library has thousands of audiobooks on CD and in downloadable formats for people who read with their ears.  Library information staff can help you find and use audiobooks.

DVD/Blu-ray

The library has thousands of DVDs, Blu-ray and downloadable films for people who read with eyes & ears.  Library information staff can help you find and use these media.

Programs

Occasionally, the library offers a Dyslexia 101 program, in cooperation with Decoding Dyslexia Oregon.  Check Events & Classes to find the next class.

Reading list

The topic guide Uncovering Dyslexia is available on the website and My MCL.

Dyslexia Assessment in Multnomah County

Here are a few of the many assessment and intervention providers in the County.

The Blosser Center - Accredited by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, the Blosser Center provides assessment, tutoring and teacher training.

Language Skills Therapy - Provides assessment and tutoring

New Leaves Clinic - Provides assessment and treatment in Hillsboro, Oregon

PDX Reading Specialist, LLC​ - Provides assessment, tutoring, advocacy and professional development

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!

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.

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