Blogs

I’m not fond of heights, but I’m always happy to be on a ladder harvesting fruit with the Portland Fruit Tree Project.  My experience volunteering with this group inspired me to make a list called “In the Orchard.” You’ll find romances, memoirs, and other books featuring orchards and fruit trees. 

One of my favorites is the memoir The Orchard by Adele Crockett Robertson. I so enjoyed getting to know this determined woman. She quit a job during the Depression and lived alone with her Great Dane for almost two years  while trying to save the family farm and orchards. She worked hard with a single minded devotion to care for apple and peach trees, treating her few workers fairly, and trying to make enough money to pay the mortgage. A great read!

National Bike Month has just concluded, and Pedalpalooza is now upon us. Do you need inspiration for your art bike, your cycling costume, or your bike party invitation? Look no further than the Central Library Picture File collection, which contains among its thousands of files one with the heading Bicycles & Tricycles. In it you’ll find images clipped from a variety of sources, from a variety of eras, for your bicycle art needs. If visual art collage and the serendipity of browsing appeal to you, this might be your resource.

Other Picture Files that begin with the letter B include Babies, Bahamas, Bali, Balloons & Dirigibles, Bandstands, Bangladesh, Banks (Buildings), Barbados, Barns, Bathhouses, Belgium, Bells, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bible, Biography (there are many Biography files, with subheadings such as Authors, Cartoonists, Designers, Popes, Scientists…), Biology, Birds, Boathouses, Boats, Bolivia, Bookbinding, Bookplates, Books, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botany, Boy Scouts, Brazil, Brickwork, Bridges, Bronzes, Bulgaria, Burma, Business, and Buttons.

Picture File clippings - bikes

For more about the Central Library Picture File collection, see:

The Picture File Collection at Central Library

Picture File Sampler: Vintage Fashion

Picture File Sampler: Artist’s Works

Please feel free to get in touch with us to inquire about this unique resource!

 

And for a selection of books about biking in Portland, see Matt's excellent reading list.

 

A message from  Director of Libraries Vailey Oehlke

No more kids finesWith 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

Princeless book jacketKids these days.  They get the best books!  Sometimes we get the best recommendations from patrons.  Even when they're only 7 or 8 years old!  I'm pretty sure I would have adored these graphic novels as a little girl because, I've got to admit, I really liked them as an adult. Princeless tells the story of a young princess whose father locks her up in a dragon guarded tower to await rescue by a prince.  She's having none of this. She promptly rescues herself and steals a dragon so she can have adventures instead of meekly awaiting a future spouse.  After listening to a young fan sing the praises of this series, I put book one on hold to read for myself and I'm glad I did! It's a charming adventure with some clever jokes for older readers hidden in it.

The Courageous Princess is a gentle story with a fairytale feel to it. Mabelrose is kidnapped from her loving parents, the king and queenThe Courageous Princess book jacket of a tiny humble kingdom. She manages to keep her head in the face of danger and escapes from her captor while, unknowing of this, her father sets out to try to save her.  Mabelrose has traditional fairytale virtues of modesty, loyalty and so on. She saves herself from each new problem she faces while trying to get home by doing the right thing for the right reasons.

Princess Ugg is meant for a somewhat older audience than the first two titles. Princess Ülga is a barbarian warrior princess who, on the wish of her dead mother, goes to a school for princesses in the "civilized" lands  so she can learn about her clan's neighbors. Her mother hoped that perhaps what she learned would halt the endless fighting in her homeland through diplomacy. The noble born girls from gentler lands do not understand Ülga and mock her appearance and behavior endlessly.

These titles are a great deal of fun and a quick distraction (and from an adult's perspective pretty sweet and charming) with young heroines who don't need someone to rescue them.

Amazons book jacketA figure emerges from the dusky grasslands of the steppe. She rides an antlered beast, perhaps an elk or deer. A bow and quiver is slung across her back, and an axe hangs at her side. She is clothed in a long tunic with ornate belt, a leopard skin, and wildly patterned  trousers. A peaked felt cap covers her head. As the rider moves closer her mount’s antlers glint red and gold, and you can see that they are part of an elaborate mask, and that the elk is a tawny mare, one of those with the thick scruffy coats suited to cold climates. A hunting dog bounds through the grass at her side, and a trained eagle flies above.

While this may sound like something out of a fantasy novel, it’s a scene that could have happened 2,500 years ago in the steppes of ancient Scythia. In The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World,  Adrienne Mayor compares the myths to the archaeological evidence, and reveals a horse-centric, egalitarian culture in which women riders with bows fought and hunted, both at the sides of men, and on their own. These independent women were perplexing and even scary to the Greeks, who were both repelled and aroused by the idea of women fighters… and their pants! The world's oldest trousers were invented by the nomads of the steppes and look like something you might see today on Hawthorne street, but the Greeks considered them women's wear and thus, well, TERRIFYING! There are many more fascinating tidbits like this in Mayor's book and the books on this list.

From what I hear from my kids about sex education at their schools, kids in the Portland area are getting abbreviated, inadequate information about sex in these classes. Studies show that kids are probably also getting plenty of information from Internet porn. Neither of these options are very good.

I want them to know things that are never talked about in sex ed class-- that sex is supposed to feel good for girls, too. That pornography almost always presents an insanely stylized, but also unimaginative version of sex, and that real sex won’t and shouldn’t look like that. And then, of course, there’s a whole host of conversations to have about our culture’s weird over-sexualization of girls.

Clearly, we need to talk to our kids about sex, even though it is perhaps not their favorite subject for a chat with parents. For those questions they would never ask you, there’s a great sex-positive website called scarleteen you can point them to. And, of course, library books can help, too, so I created this list of really good books for kids of all ages.

Rereading is a great pleasure for me. There's way too much new stuff for me to keep on top of it all, and sometimes you just want something you know. (Dunno how many times I've gone through the Harry Potter books.) What I'm mainly curious about are: what do YOU reread? What books bring you back every once in a while? Some people have a thing they read annually. Do you? Please comment with your favorites!

Lord of the Rings book jacketRight now I'm rereading The Lord of the Rings, and I realize that I hadn't read this since the Peter Jackson movies came out, or since I began spending a fair piece of my free time playing Lord of the Rings Online. For whatever reason, this time I'm devouring Professor Tolkien's work like a modern page-turner. Maybe it has something to do with visual cues from the movies, or the fact that I've visited Rivendell, Hobbiton and Helm's Deep in-game? In any case I am enjoying a very welcome return to a beloved place. Nothing beats it for deep sense of place.
 
Every year I read a Dickens book, and some years it's my favorite (Great Expectations). Why return to the adventures of Mr. Pip and Mr. Pocket, Estella, Miss Havisham & co.? I love the characters, the setting, the contrasts between the classes, and of course the language. 
 
My tastes run to fantasy, sci-fi, military historical fiction & classics, so I also like to revisit things that are some of each. A Princess of Mars was a recent re-read. Edgar Rice Burroughs Civil War soldier John Carter ascends to Mars and finds it inhabited by big green people, medium-sized red ones, ten-legged lizard-dogs called calots and a huge variety of other fauna. Typical, wonderful early sci-fi (but little for the title character to do other than be rescued, sadly). 
 
And of course, there is a ton of good kid-to-teen fiction out there that has stood the test of time more or less well. Regardless of the old science involved (seeThe Book of Three book jacket previous paragraph), I still love Rusty's Space Ship  by Oregon writer Evelyn Sibley Lampman. I stared at the drawings of all the creatures blowing around on Venus for what seemed like hours, and plotted out how and where to build my own spacecraft. And don't forget the wonderful Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander starting with The Book of Three where Taran, orphan and Assistant Pig-Keeper, wants to be a warrior. Based on the legends of Wales, this one has magic, swords, some chaste romance, and a giant cat!
 
But back to you: what do YOU read over and over? Let us know!

 

It is the 41st millenium. For more than a hundred centuries the Emperor has sat immobile on the Golden Throne of Earth. He is the master of mankind by the will of the gods, and master of a million worlds by the might of his inexhaustible armies ... Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the dark, grim future there is only war.

Ross and RodThus begins every Warhammer 40,000 novel. In an infinitely vast universe in which anything imaginable--as well as anything not imaginable--exists, the deathless emperor of humanity watches over his domain. There are over 350 books set in the Warhammer 40K universe so it only seems appropriate that it be included in that most remarkable of all books, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Not wanting to actually endure the violence inherent in the Warhammer universe, intrepid Hitchhiker’s Guide contributor Ford Prefect has come to Multnomah County Library to find out what it’s all about and why you need plenty of dark towels when you visit. He interviewed Rod and Ross, reference staff at Multnomah County Library who have been exploring the Warhammer 40K universe--through books, of course. There are a couple reasons why they chose books: 1) neither has access to a starship and 2) both are quiet, gentle souls who would last approximately 8.6 seconds in your typical Warhammer 40K setting before suffering some grisly end.

Ford: What is Warhammer 40,0000?
Rod: Well, it’s a universe 40,000 (40K) years in the future where humanity has spread throughout the galaxy. The peak of human technological developmentNightbringer book jacket occurred centuries before, so most aspects of life are treated like a religion because there is no longer any real understanding of how things work.
Ross: This futuristic version of our universe was first depicted in a tabletop wargame created by the British company Games Workshop, but novels and short stories by various authors have been steadily produced over the last 30 years, such that there is now an enormous body of literature all taking place in this same grim, dark future.

Ford: How did you discover this future reality?
Ross: I first discovered Warhammer 40K as a kid through the board game Space Hulk. The game was okay, but mostly I was just fascinated by the enormous scale and dystopia of the setting and the cool looking Space Marines in their power armor. When I got older and discovered all the books set in this world, I was a little intimidated and unsure where to start reading.
Rod: Yes, “intimidated” would describe my own thoughts when faced with the overwhelming number of Warhammer 40K books. After talking with Ross and doing a little research, he and I decided to dive in and create our own list of places to start reading in Warhammer 40K.

Ford: As any traveller of the galaxy knows, a towel is the one necessity that cannot be done without. Its uses are mind-boggling in variety. As you can see, I have this lovely towel from Marks & Spencer, but you two seem to have A LOT of towels in dark, rather drab colors. Why?
Ross: Like the intro to each Warhammer book says, “there is only war” in the year 40,000. If there’s one thing that Warhammer 40K books have in common, it’s carnage. Lots of battles, lots of cool weapons (power armor! chainswords! storm bolters!), and lots of blood. Hence, dark towels.
Rod: When starting your journey into the Warhammer 40K universe, you really need to know what you are getting into. Be prepared for gaping combat wounds, ritual sacrifices, demonic transformations--all manner of violence. Not only will you need a towel for your own injuries, but chances are you’ll be staunching wounds for everyone around you, too,

Ford: Personally, I’d much rather visit Ursa Minor Beta (you remember the ad campaign, “when you are tired of Ursa Minor Beta, you are tired of life”). This Warhammer universe sounds utterly dreadful. What could you possibly find appealing about such a dark, violent place?
Ross: Hmm... there’s something cathartic and freeing about visiting a world (through books, that is) which is so bleak and brutal. And there’s more to these novels than just unceasing violence: I get a strong sense of absurd, very black humor when I read them. They are violent, funny, and so completely over-the-top that you never know what will happen next. 
Rod: I didn’t sense much humor in the books I read, but you definitely can’t take them too seriously. These are novels built around action. While individual books don’t always bother much with such niceties as plot and character, the overall universe is remarkably deep. One of the nice things about such a large catalog of books is that there are many different series within the larger universe and many different authors, so if you aren’t a big fan of one, then another might be just the thing for you.

Ford: Well, thank you gentlemen for your insights into the Warhammer 40K universe. I think I already have my entry written. What do you think of “Mostly harmful”?

 

Pacific book jacketWhat do Gidget, transistor radios and the Sydney Opera House have in common? They are all featured in Simon Winchester’s new book Pacific. The Pacific Ocean is finally coming into its own. Long overshadowed by the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean is increasingly the stage where the important events are happening. The Pacific is so much more than tropical islands. Pacific looks at ten themes that define and explain the changing role of the Pacific Ocean since January 1, 1950.

Why January 1, 1950 you ask? Well, that is the reference date used for radiocarbon dating.  Amounts of carbon 14 in the environment were very stable until all of the atomic bomb tests that mostly took place in the Pacific Ocean after WWII. Then they jumped way up. It also makes a great starting point for Pacific since the atomic bomb tests are the first theme. Sony, surfing, North Korea, Hong Kong and the end of European colonialism, super cyclones, Australia, the ring of fire, global warming, and the growing influence of China are the others.

Living in Portland, the Pacific is our ocean. Our economy, weather and recreation are all affected by it and dependent on it. This very enjoyable book will add to your understanding and knowledge of the Pacific Ocean.

--By the Hollywood Teen Book Council

We all have those childhood favorites that will forever hold a place in our hearts. Sometimes we come across something that takes us back. If you want to revisit a blast from the past, try one of these suggestions from Hollywood Teen Book Council member Elsa Hoover.

If you once liked: Yertle the Turtle, now try The Big Short

Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss

The rock that Yertle uses as a throne isn’t high enough so King Yertle stacks himself on top of other turtles to see farther and make his kingdom bigger.  He does not, however, think of how this situation is affecting the turtles beneath him.

The Big Short by Michael Lewis

In Michael Lewis’s book, four high-finance outsiders are the first to understand that the mid-2000-era housing market was the equivalent of a throne of stacked turtles.

Eloise by Kay Thompson

Unforgettable Eloise lives at the Plaza Hotel and knows everything about it.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna has her senior year planned out.  Then plans change and she ends up in a boarding school in Paris.  She’s pining for Georgia, so Paris isn’t very magical.  But there’s this guy…

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

Claudia and her brother Jamie run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Hiding in the museum is part of the fun, but they also set out to figure out if an angel statue was sculpted by Michelangelo.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Jude and her twin brother Noah were once close and now they aren’t.  Find out what happened when they were 13 and what’s happening now when they are sixteen.

The Paper Bag Princess  Robert N. Munsch

Princess Elizabeth is ready to marry Prince Roland, until a dragon intervenes.

Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore

Princess Bitterblue’s rule of Monsea is complicated by the fact that she can’t leave the castle, and also because the former king was a violent psychopath.  She’s ready to move her kingdom past that stage.  But how?

 

If you like Charlotte's WebCharlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Wilbur, the runt of the litter is saved twice, first by Fern Arable and then by Charlotte, a barn spider.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The pigs have grown up!  And this time they are taking over the farm in George Orwell’s allegorical novella.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

The story of a bunny in a great green room saying goodnight to everything.

Room by Emma Donoghue

Jack says goodnight to things, too, though he does it in Room, the tiny shed which is the only home he’s ever known.  Unknown to him, Room isn’t the world, it’s where he and his Ma are held captive by Old Nick.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Annemarie and Ellen’s friendship persists despite the pressures of World War II and the relocation of Jews in Denmark.

Night by Elie Wiesel

A son’s experience with his father in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald
 

 

 

 

Photo of John McLoughlinAre 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 DuniwayBy 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 coverYou 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 April, award-winning comics creator and National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Gene Luen Yang visited Portland, delighting more than 1,300 students and young people at two appearances. Mr. Yang is a critically acclaimed and best-selling graphic novelist and former computer science teacher who creates powerful stories through juxtaposing words and pictures.
 
Speaking to a packed house at the Alberta Rose Theatre about Asian Americans in comics, he said, "All you need to start making comics is paper, a pen, and a healthy ignorance of your limitations as an artist."
Gene Luen Yang at Alberta Rose Theater, photo by Bitna ChungGene Luen Yang audience at Alberta Rose Theater, photo by Bitna Chung
 
He also issued the audience the reading challenge that he's promoting as National Ambassador:

- Read about someone who doesn't look or live like you

- Read about a topic you find intimidating

- Read in a format you don't usually read in -- if you only read prose, try comics or poems

And he answered many questions from the enthusiastic audience, including "Which Harry Potter house are you in?" Gene Luen Yang is a Hufflepuff.

Also as part of this program, Mr. Yang spoke to students representing 13 middle and high schools from several school districts in an assembly hosted by Cleveland High School. Multnomah County Library provided 1,000 copies of Mr. Yang’s highly regarded graphic novel American Born Chinese to the students so they could read and study it before his talk. Also in advance of Mr. Yang’s visit, the library held a comics-making contest for grades 6-12 and produced an anthology of winners and honorable mentions.
Gene Luen Yang audience at Cleveland High School, photo by Bitna Chung
 
Mr. Yang's visit was made possible by gifts to The Library Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to our library's leadership, innovation and reach through private support.

Simon Tam is the founder of the dance-rock band The Slants, and is social activist, dedicated to raising awareness of racial disparities, social justice and issues that affect the Asian American community. See more picks from The Slants here.

My childhood was defined by the three places where I spent most of my waking time: school, the restaurant that my family owned and the county library.

At the age of eight, I was already bussing tables and doing kitchen prep work at our family’s restaurant. But when business was slow, I would walk two blocks over to the Lemon Grove Public Library and pick up a stack of books so large that I could barely see over the top of them. In fact, I spent so much time there that I got to know the staff and volunteers on a first-name basis.

The aisles and shelves of the library whet my appetite for knowledge. It didn’t matter which section I was in, I’d always find something interesting, whether it was filled with dinosaurs or theology, art or business. I know, it probably doesn’t sound like your average grade-school child. But it was the library that instilled an unshakeable belief in lifelong learning, curiosity and exploration. This same belief gave me the drive to set a record on the most number of TEDx talks given, and helped me lead a landmark case going before the United States Supreme Court; this sense of curiosity also helped me start numerous businesses, publish several books, and prepared me for touring the world with my band, The Slants.

As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I’m reminded of the sacrifices that my parents made (you can hear that story here) — not only to provide a home for our family, but for encouraging me to use the library as a way to grow as well. Today, the library does more than lend books: now you can check out films, use the computer, take classes, and more!

Here are some of my favorite works that I’d recommend you check out:

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell: This was one of the first leadership books I read as a teenager. I was instantly hooked. Not only do you learn about leadership principles that can help you lead an organization, but there are plenty of great lessons for being a better student, friend and volunteer as well.

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: Diaz is one of my favorite authors. He gets being a geeky person of color and his characters are incredibly relatable, frustrating and real. It provides a fresh perspective on teenage life, rejection and redemption.

King Dork by Frank Portman: I grew up in the early 90s pop punk scene so I was obsessed with a band called the Mr. T Experience. Later on, the lead singer became an author and published this coming-of-age novel with the same wit, comedic awkwardness and rock n’ roll references as the songs I loved.

Octavia’s Brood, edited by Walidah Imarisha: Local author and activist Walidah Imarisha teams up with Adrienne Maree Brown to create this incredible combination of science fiction and social justice stories. It’s a must read.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami: Murakami paints these swirling, surrealistic worlds that blend alternate realities with our own. In part, this novel pays homage to George Orwell’s 1984, but I believe it surpasses it in nearly every aspect.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop by Jeff Chang: Chang provides a breathtaking biography for the history of the hip-hop movement, from the Bronx to Jamaica. It is based on over a decade of interviews and research and is considered one of the best musical, as well as political, writings available.

If you like these, you might enjoy some of my books like Music Business Hacks (for aspiring artists) or my music.

Donna with her Kuchulu spindle.MCL Makers is a DIY series that highlights Multnomah County Library staff who make things in their spare time. Our first MCL Maker in the series was Anne Tran who taught us about all things soapmaking. Our second MCL Maker is Library Assistant Donna Cain. Donna is active in the fiber arts community and shared with us about her craft. 

How long have you been handspinning fiber into yarn? 

I've been spinning for about 25 years.

How did you learn how to spin?

In the beginning, I bought a used Ashford spinning wheel and took an eight week class at the Multnomah Center for the Arts. I've been happily turning fiber into yarn ever since. I'm a member of the Aurora Colony Handspinners' Guild, and am always learning new things about the craft. Handspinning is one of those crafts that you can learn in a day but take years to truly master. Luckily, every step along the way is a joy. 

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

I've checked out hundreds of craft books, including books on spinning, from the library over the years and we have a good selection. Even better, the library has great DVDs on various aspects of hand spinning. How cool to check out a DVD and learn a new technique from a nationally known expert. You'd have to travel and pay a substantial fee to learn from someone like that in person!

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

A Kuchulu spindle with multicolored yarn.

I love bringing new spinners into the craft and have taught lots of people, mostly one on one. Currently, Librarian Judy Anderson and I are teaching spindle spinning (Drop Spindle Basics) as a library program.

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

I would encourage anyone interested in handspinning to start by taking a class. We continue to offer Drop Spindle Basics through the library. I am also available to teach drop spindle or wheel spinning at the Belmont Knit Fix program. In addition, classes are available at some yarn shops and through the Aurora Colony Handspinners' Guild. Another great beginning (activity) is to attend a fiber festival. They are listed on the Guild's website. It's a great way to see lots of spinners in action and experience the wonders of the fiber world. 

For more information on all things handspinning, be sure to check out this curated list. Happy crafting!

 

 

Photo: Tom Cherry, Suspense Radio Theater ad, FlickrThere are some psychological suspense books that are even better to listen to. 

She's cute, she's clever, but she sure is trouble! 

Cesar Millan, you're great and all, but I can't quite master 'no touch, no talk, no eye contact' with Meri. Come on, look at that face! 

So she likes to steal things from the coffee table and runs out the dog door with them...What kind of things you ask? A pair of eyeglasses, a pair of sunglasses (this dog is costing me a fortune), letters, pencils, earrings, a friend's wallet (mostly recovered apart from the chewed bank card--sorry!)...and basically anything else she can put in her mouth. 

Also, I taught her to speak and now she really likes the sound of her own voice. 

And I taught her to give me a hug when I get home and now she thinks it's okay to jump up on visitors. 

Teoti Anderson's The Dog Behavior Problem Solver  to the rescue!
 


 

The Wild Robot book jacketWhen I was a kid, I didn’t particularly like robots. They seemed cold, impersonal and completely unlovable. I had my first inkling that robots could be more than just metallic tools when R2D2 and C3PO came on the scene. Since that first Star Wars movie came out, there have been lots of books for kids with wonderful and wonderfully personable bots including a novel I just finished entitled The Wild Robot by Peter Brown.  After the ship she is on sinks, Roz, the titular robot, pitches up on an island. Only when some playful otters break open the box she is in, is Roz able to start figuring out how she is going to survive. At first, the island animals think she’s a monster and try to avoid her, but they slowly warm up to her after she adopts a baby goose and begins to do things that make the animals lives better. When something threatens Roz, the animals band together to try and save her.  For a good survival story with a robot that’s all heart, despite not having one, The Wild Robot is just the ticket.  For more children’s books featuring robots, check out this list.

The Picture File is a massive collection of file cabinets that you do not see when you come in to the library to the 3rd floor at the present time. In the past, these cabinets were prominently available in the Art and Music Room for library visitors to look through and make selections to check out. We are still checking out the Picture Files, but  now since we have a much larger collection of books to display plus computer stations, there is simply no room for all of these file cabinets in the Art and Music Room, and they have been moved to closed stacks.

The Picture Files consist of folders on many topics, collected from books that could not be repaired, periodicals that were duplicates, and a whole myriad of images from calendars and other sources.

What use are these in our time, when we can find internet sources for images with ease? Since this collection was created in the Art and Music Room, it is particularly strong for these topics; there are hundreds of folders for the arts with thousands of pictures all together. If you are in the library looking for images of artists' works, it can be more practical to take home a manila envelope of images than a series of books. If you are working on ideas for a mural, for example, and want to experiment with combining images of different subjects, these files are useful for composition ideas.

Recently I was preparing a display of materials about the composers Bartok and Beethoven for a local festival and library concert, for which I used the Picture Files. There were some images of these composers that I had seen in books and on the internet, but a few that were a complete delight since new to me. So I suggest that it can be worth taking a look at these if you have a project. Simply ask the staff at the Art and Music Reference desk for picture files on a subject. We have an index of the subjects in this collection, and from these you tell the staff which folders you would like to look at. You can select up to 50 pictures at a time to check out from a range of folders.

These three images are samples from one of the three folders of paintings and drawings by Jean-Antoine Watteau (October 10, 1684 - July 18, 1721) whose drawings of musicians are so evocative of 18th century French baroque music.

Questions? Send our reference staff an email question or call the library: 503.988.5234. 
 

 

 

 

 


 

 

A Volunteer Who Has Found Her NichePicture of volunteer Allissa Purkapile

by Donna Childs

It was a genuine pleasure to see Allissa Purkapile in the setting of her St. Johns library, a place she describes as “friendly and comfortable.” She is clearly comfortable with the library staff, and they seem to care as much about her as she does them. Several stopped to say hello to her as we spoke.

Allissa began volunteering with the St. Johns Summer Reading program following 6th grade. Initially, she worked one two-hour shift a week. Fast forward five years: Allissa is not only an indispensable Summer Reading volunteer, who helps coordinate the schedule, but also a dedicated helper with the storytime program and a reliable member of the library’s Teen Council.  

She is the go-to Summer Reading volunteer, the one to call at the last minute if another volunteer doesn’t show up. Last summer she devoted more than sixty hours to Summer Reading. Since storytime often takes place when she is in school, her contributions to that program are more behind the scenes, but no less significant. She spends five hours most Saturdays cutting, folding, and gluing to create crafts for the youth librarian to use.

Since her freshman year, Allissa has also been a member of the St. Johns Teen Council, a group of young people who meet monthly to help make the library more teen-friendly. The group, which ranges in size from two to twenty teens, helps come up with program ideas, chooses books to display in the young adult (YA) section, and has even been instrumental in moving the YA from the back to the front of the library.

When asked what she likes best about volunteering at the St. Johns Library, Allissa said “everything, especially being able to answer questions and help people.” A true library aficionado, Allissa may apply for SummerWorksa summer youth employment program that includes internships with Multnomah County. She also volunteers at her high school library two or three days a week and plays clarinet in her school band. Outside of school, she helps distribute food for a program called Harvest Share.

 


A Few Facts About Allissa

Home librarySt. Johns Library
 
Currently reading: The Three Musketeers
 
Books that made you laugh or cry: The Fault in Our Stars

Most influential book: Harry Potter

Guilty pleasure: Classic novels (Little Women, Moby Dick)
 
Favorite book from childhood: Rainbow Fish
 
Favorite section of the library: Every inch of it
 
E-reader or paper books: Paper book
 
Favorite place to read: At the library or in a small corner

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

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