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While reviews on online shopping and crowd-sourced review sites are often helpful, the average person doesn’t purchase and compare five vacuum cleaners at once. The reviewer that does do that is Consumer Reports, which accepts no advertising and is known for editorial integrity. The library subscribes to the paper issues at all 19 locations, which you can browse whenever you visit the library.

Image of Consumer Reports and Annual Buying Guide

But did you know that there is also a way to access Consumer Reports  from home?


The Consumer Reports website has limited coverage if you aren’t a subscriber; you can see that a particular product was reviewed, but not the review itself. However, you can read the full text of the reviews, and see the illustrations of the ratings in chart form, with your library card through MasterFILE Premier. Go to MasterFILE Premier, click "Publications" at the top of the screen,  and type "Consumer Reports"  in the Browsing:  MasterFILE Premier -- Publications box. Once you click on Consumer Reports, you can either browse by issue date, or search within the publication for your topic.

If you use “search within this publication,” add your search term to the JN "Consumer Reports” that the database has already filled in, for example, JN "Consumer Reports" and mattress. The results default to “Relevance,” so change that drop-down box to “date newest” to see the most recent reviews.

You can also search in the Consumer Reports Buying Guide by starting in the library catalog; select the “Click here to access title” link on the right of the page to access the content of the guide.

Consumer Reports isn't the only source out there, though!  Here are some other well-regarded product review sites:

Wirecutter:  Reviews of technology, appliances, home goods, etc. from the staff of the New York Times. If you hit a paywall, some Wirecutter content is in the New York Times (1980-present) database (log in with your library card number and PIN/password).

Good Housekeeping:  GH has been testing consumer products and awarding the Good Housekeeping Seal of approval since 1900. Focuses on domestic products like kitchen appliances, toys, cleaning products and personal care items like cosmetics and bras.

CNET: Primarily reviews of technology (phones, streaming services, laptops), but also some non-tech items like mattresses and meal kits.

The Strategist:  From New York magazine, focusing on online shopping. Also has lists of recommendations on a theme (books by genre/reader) as well as traditional reviews by topic (pillows, picture frames, etc).

Specialty Reviews

If there’s a magazine or website for a particular hobby or interest, chances are they review products for that hobby. For example:

Image of Cooks Illustrated, Runner's World and Car and Driver magazines
Cooks Illustrated can recommend an air fryer or bakeware.

Runner’s World tests running shoes, athletic clothes and earbuds that won’t fall out while you do laps.

Car and Driver is another source besides Consumer Reports to look for automobile recommendations.

How to evaluate a review or shopping site

Not sure if that mattress review site is independent, or a fake that only posts positive reviews of the products sold by the website? Here’s some things to look for:

  • A review site should have an “about us” page that tells you who owns it or funds it, and should describe its editorial policies. 
  • You won’t necessarily get wrong information from a site that sells products to consumers, but a site that wants to sell you office supplies or mattresses will probably not be willing to evaluate a product it carries as “unacceptable” (like Consumer Reports occasionally will).
  • Any site that allows customers to review products or services without verifying purchases (for example, Amazon, Yelp, Tripadvisor) can be manipulated, and it’s worth reading these reviews with a degree of caution or skepticism.

 

For more tips and strategies, please see How to evaluate a website. And happy shopping!

 

What is speculative fiction? Well, that depends who you ask. 

Some see speculative fiction as an umbrella term for any fiction with supernatural, futuristic, or fantasy elements. Others see it as books that ponder questions like, "what if this happened?' and "what if the world were this way" -- in other words, speculate. And still others see it as a  mish and mash elements from multiple genres that break the mold. I like this last definition, myself. In the past year I've seen so many books published lately that fit into sci-fi, fantasy, or horror, but bend the genres and include pieces that make them hard to categorize. The librarian in me wants to categorize them -- here's your fantasy, here's your horror -- but the reader in me delights in the unexpected mix of elements, often in a book I first took for just one thing. Though is any good book just one thing? 

Take Akwaeke Emezi's Pet as an example of what I mean: a novella set in a near-world society much like our own, except that it has rid itself of monsters (utopia). Teenage Jam meets a terrifying creature from another world named Pet, who emerges from a painting when a drop of Jam's blood is spilled on it (fantasy). Pet's come to hunt a monster... and the monster is in Jam's house (horror). So there you have utopia, fantasy and horror mixed together in a novella and which genre, my dears, do we set that inside? (the library places it simply on the fiction shelf, which makes things a lot simpler.)

This list includes just a few of my favorites in speculative fiction. Curious to learn more? This Book Riot article is a great introduction to the history and more recent definitions -- Margaret Atwood and Ursula K. Leguin had a famous debate about it -- of speculative fiction. 

My love  for combining recipes into new dishes is a reflection of my upbringing in the US-Mexico border.

On summer evenings when my dad would take us to the ballpark to watch little league baseball games, an older brother who was a hotdog fan would drag me to the concession stand to satisfy his craving. Though not a hotdog fan myself, I would also purchase one. I would take a bite, then two, until I would finish it. On Sundays at noon on the Mexican side of the border -- yes, the same hotdog-loving brother -- would drag me after mass to a vendor in the mercado to get perritos calientes. While not a fan of Mexican hotdogs either, I would do the honorable thing and buy one. What I remember most and still enjoy on special occasions are the ingredients. The pico de gallo and fresh cilantro made a big difference to the ketchup and chopped white onions. 

 

 

 

Years later, when I found myself in Eastern Europe, I had a similar experience looking for home cooked meals. No! I wasn’t looking for hotdogs or hamburgers. I wanted something closer to

home. I was therefore surprised when I came across a Tex-Mex restaurant in Pécs, Hungary. Yes! Tex-Mex! I had to go in, and I had to have a guisado with flour tortillas. What could be more Texas Mexican than a beef guisado with nopalitos and flour tortillas? No! I did not have either. I did enjoy the soup and the piece of bread the server brought me. 

The lists of cookbooks below offer some of the recipes I have combined into original dishes. 

Buen Provecho


The COVID-19 pandemic presents many unique legal challenges. Here are some ways to get the information and support you need during this difficult time. (Check out Law help: legal research assistance and legal aid for more resources.)

Note: 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.
 
If you have questions or need research suggestions, contact us anytime!

Renters

Oregon’s statewide eviction moratorium expired on June 30, 2021 and is no longer active. But help is available -- even if you receive an eviction notice. Two new laws, Senate Bill 282 and Senate Bill 278, provide important protections to help tenants. Renters are protected from nonpayment evictions if they apply for rent assistance and provide documentation of their application to their landlords. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s temporary protection from eviction may also offer protection to renters. You have the right to all of these protections regardless of your citizenship status.
 
Apply for rental assistance online from the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (Allita) if you need help paying your rent (or back rent that you’ve accrued between April 2020 and June 2021). If you need assistance with your application, you can call 211info at 2.1.1 or 866.698.6155, or the administrators of Multnomah County Emergency Rental Assistance at 503.988.0466.
 
If you or your household receive an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent, contact 211info immediately to learn about rapid-payment rent assistance that may help you avoid eviction. Call 2.1.1 or 866.698.6155, text your zip code to 898211, or email help@211info.org. You might also be able to get free legal help from the following:
 
If you are unsure of your legal rights, you can also contact the Community Alliance of Tenants Renters Rights Hotline at 503.288.0130. They are available Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays 1-5 pm, and Tuesdays 6-8 pm.
 
The most up-to-date information for renters can be found on 211info’s Multnomah County Rent Relief page.
 

Homeowners and landlords

 
Applications for the last round of the Landlord Compensation Fund were due June 23. Landlords are encouraged to work with tenants to keep them in place so they can apply for help with back rent. Here is more information for landlords and property managers about the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
 

Workers and business owners

Statewide mask requirements are in place again due to the Delta variant, though some older regulations on distancing have been relaxed. Oregon OSHA continues to handle complaints on those requirements that remain (such as for public transportation and correctional facilities). If you need to report hazards at a worksite, or believe you have been discriminated against on the basis of safety and health issues, you can file a complaint online or call 503.229.5910.
 
The Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries has information on the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers regarding sick leave, quarantine, vaccinations and more. For more information, call 971-673-0761, email help@boli.state.or.us, or file a complaint online.
 
If you lost income during the pandemic, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. Contact the Oregon Employment Department for assistance by calling 833-410-1004 or filling out their contact form online.  
 
If you are an agricultural worker recovering from COVID-19, seeking healthcare, and/or practicing quarantine and isolation, the Quarantine Fund can help. Call 1-888-274-7292 to apply.
 
If you are a restaurant worker whose life has been affected by the pandemic, check out this list of resources for restaurant workers compiled by the Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation.
 
If you own a business  that has struggled during the pandemic, Lewis & Clark Law School's Small Business Legal Clinic has a list of pandemic-related legal resources for small businesses. Greater Portland also has a list of resources for everything from finding grants for small business loans to  using space in the public right-of-way.
 

Immigrants and Refugees

The Oregon Attorney General has compiled a list of COVID-19 resources for immigrants and refugees. Protecting Immigrant Families has an overview of some of the federal public programs available to support immigrants and their families during the COVID-19 crisis. Call the Oregon Public Benefits Hotline at 800.520.5292 for legal advice and representation in regard to problems with government benefits.

If you have lost your job but are ineligible for Unemployment Insurance and federal stimulus relief due to your immigration status, the Oregon Worker Relief Fund may be able to help. Call 888.274.7292 to apply for a one-time temporary disaster relief.
 
Here is a list of low cost legal resources for immigrants in the Portland Metro area.
 

Consumers

Beware of scams related to COVID-19! Both the Oregon Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have lists of common scams and frauds and how to avoid them. If you have a complaint about an Oregon-based business or charity, file a complaint online or call the Oregon Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1.877.877.9392. If you want to report fraud or scam from a business or charity based outside of Oregon (or if you aren’t sure of the location), notify the Federal Trade Commission.
 
This guide originally researched and authored by Joanna Milner. Links checked and updated by Lara P. on 9/29/2021

Gun rights and gun control are topics that come up often these days. It can be hard to find good resources that present multiple viewpoints on issues like this, and provide quotable sources.

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

 For the legal history of gun control, check out Infoplease’s Milestones in Federal Gun Control Legislation  which covers laws up until 2013.

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

This Guardian article compares gun crime in individual states and FindLaw shares Oregon Gun Control Laws. FactCheck looks at statistics in the media after the Newtown shootings, and reports on Gun Rhetoric vs. Gun Facts.  Looking towards changes in the law, gun control is supported by more women than men, and that may have an effect on future legislation.  But right now,  despite repeated pleas for change after every mass shooting, nothing seems to change. 

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

Image of wordless books
“Wordless book” sounds like a contradiction. But wordless books use illustrations to tell a story, with very few or even no words included with the pictures. Believe it or not, they can actually be a great way to help anyone trying to grow their reading skills, no matter their age or what languages they speak at home.

One important part of reading is decoding the shapes of letters and seeing them as words, but there are other skills that are just as important. Learning to read in any language involves:

  • knowing what words mean (vocabulary),
  • figuring out how they make sense together in a sentence (context), and 
  • understanding what sentences mean all together (comprehension).

Wordless books can be great tools for growing and strengthening all three of those skills for new and more experienced readers, including for a wide variety of reader ages. You can see some examples of this in these videos in English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, and Vietnamese, showing ways to read the book Draw! by Raúl Colón.

When there aren’t written words to rely on for a story, readers can become active characters in the story and talk more about what’s happening in the illustrations. Adults and teens use a lot of unusual words that don’t come up in regular, daily conversations to describe the setting and characters and to ask questions about what is going on. Children flex their creativity and observation muscles as they look at and think about the illustrations. They practice asking questions and coming up with answers as they figure out what is happening and what might happen next. Together you can decide what characters are saying and thinking or even make up your own stories based on what the readers see and interpret. All of that literacy development happens with no written words at all.

Whether you regularly use wordless books in your family reading or are just getting started, here are some ideas:

  • Remember there are no right or wrong ways to read a wordless book! It’s all about the conversations between kids and caregivers, and those will be different from reading to reading and kid to kid.
  • Think about first taking a “story walk” through the book. Look through the pages to get children used to the book and the illustrations. We all know kids love reading books over and over again!
  • Try taking a look at the book from cover to cover. Sometimes artists hide fun details on the front/back cover, the title page, and even under the removable paper cover that comes with some books (usually called a dust jacket or dust cover).
  • Maybe ask questions like “what do you see?” and “what is going on in this picture?” and “what do you see that makes you say that?” (borrowed from Visual Thinking Strategies)
  • Encourage children to tell the story in their own words and help them learn new words  when they ask for more information about  an emotion or concept. Example: “yes, that duck looks angry and sad. Do you know what that feeling is called? Some people call it frustration, like when you’re sad you don’t get to do something and you’re mad about it, too.”
  • Have fun with it!

For some great, inclusive wordless book suggestions, take a look at the booklist Wordless (or mostly wordless) books for all ages, including some for teens and even adults. 

Pri is an Indian-American teen living a pretty ordinary life: she loves drawing comics, eating Indian food, and watching Bollywood films with her family. One thing isn’t ordinary in Pri’s life, and that’s how her mom absolutely refuses to talk about India or Pri’s father -- whom she left there before Pri was born.

One afternoon, an old trunk tumbles out of Pri's closet, and in it she finds a beautiful sari that she wraps around her shoulders. And in that second, her world turns from a dull black and white to gorgeous technicolor. This sari transports her to the India of her dreams, filled with delicious dosas and breathtaking scenery. But a dark shadow begins to follow her there, and not everything is what it seems. Pri will have to be braver and bolder than she’s ever been before to track down the sari’s secret, and her family’s history. This heartwarming graphic novel about the power of our choices is a great read for strong young girls, and for those in need a bit of strength. 

Image of resume, computer and coffee on a desk
If you're looking for work and aren't sure where to start, consider these top sites that will help you begin your job search, network with others find out when jobs in your area of interest open up.

OregonLive: Best Local Jobs Take a look at the Oregonian’s online employment classified section.

Craigslist - Portland, OR Craigslist isn't just for getting a couple of bucks for selling that old futon in your basement - you'll also find lists of local jobs in a wide-variety of categories. Here's a great article on getting the most out of Craigslist for your job search.

Mac's List Craig isn't the only one with a list - this is a newsletter and website that posts jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities from hundreds of Portland Metro and greater Oregon non-profits, public agencies, and private employers. It also offers a resource page with recommended books, career coaches and more.

LinkedIn is a profession-focused network that allows you to link to people you know and network with those who know them. Its job board allows you to post your resume and it also includes a browser toolbar widget that can help connect you with your targeted employer. Still not sure what LinkedIn is or how it can with your job search? Take a look at LinkedIn's job searching tips and here are some tips from Forbes that LinkedIn won't tell you.

Indeed allows you to set up searches and have the results emailed to you daily and/or pushed to you via RSS. Easy to limit to a particular location. As with LinkedIn, this site also lets you post your resume.

Impact Oregon connects job seekers with careers in the field of developmental disabilities services in Oregon.

Local government job sites
City of Portland Jobs | Multnomah County Jobs | Metro JobsClackamas County Jobs | Washington County Jobs | Clark County Jobs
Search for government employment in the Portland Metro area.

State of Oregon's Employment Department Job Search
Search for jobs throughout the state - use the advanced search to limit to a wage per hour, occupational group and more.

WorkStep WorkStep is a job search platform helping hourly workers in Oregon and Washington find jobs in industries such as warehouse, production, skilled trades and trucking.

Take a bite of an apple. Chew, swallow, and then presto, it comes out the other end! But how does it happen? How do our bodies turn an apple into fuel that helps us play sports, breathe, walk, and talk? The digestive system is the body system responsible for this process. The basic process is well understood by scientists but new research is coming out all the time changing the way we understand the inner workings of our guts.

Image of the organs of the digestive system
There are many resources on the Internet and through the library that can help you learn about the digestive system. Visit KidsHealth or TeensHealth to find information in English and Spanish for kids and teens including videos, articles, and puzzles to help you learn all about the digestive system and other health topics. Ask a Biologist lets you ask a real biologist science related questions. Ask a Biologist also has lots of great information about microbes and the role they play in our digestive systems.

The Multnomah County Library has science databases where you can search for topics, view videos and print pictures to help with school reports. Today's Science is a database that can help you answer questions like, "What is the latest research on the roll of bacteria in our guts?" or to ask more general questions such as, "how does the digestive system work?" For help using Today's Science, the library provides this useful handout.  If you need to look up basic facts about the digestive system, but can't use Wikipedia, try using World Book, an online encyclopedia. Here you will find information for elementary, middle and high schoolers, great for writing school reports.

When you use the library databases outside of the library, you will need to log in with a library card. Try using key words like: "Digestive System," and "Body Systems." Topics that might include the Digestive System are "Human Anatomy & Physiology," "Nutrition," and "Health."

Check out this video from KidsHealth about the Digestive System from KidsHealth:

How the Digestive System Works



If you want to explore this topic more, or if you have more questions about any of this, Ask a Librarian! We’ll be happy to talk more about it.
 

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