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My Dad's family is on a first name basis with country music performers. 'I wish Johnny was still here', my Mom says wistfully about Johnny Cash' or 'I'd reconize Mother Maybelle's voice anywhere', my Dad says as if  speaking of his own mother. Throughout the Great Depression in North Dakota, my parent's  family was held together not only by the Carter Family music but similar music from Mississippi, New Orleans and Kentucky.  It gave them the faith to survive in a world gone crazy as black clouds of dust, war and poverty  swept them up out of their home into the bright sunshiney newness of the West Coast. When I was a small girl, I was fascinated by the Carter Family, thinking that they were our distant musical cousins.

Our family was not unique. This is what comes through loud and clear in the new eight- episode documentary by Ken Burns, Country Music. A mixture of cultures and nationalites gave the development of country music variety and spark, but  it was that personal appeal, the way that its stories illuminate the human conditon that made it outrageously  popular.   

Unlike the upper end classical music of Carnegie Hall, the country music stories that came pouring out of the new affordable radios could be enjoyed by the poorest child in Mississippi,  a farming family in the Midwest, or  a migrant worker in New Mexico.  Because all of us know  happieness is fleeting and sadness feels like forever, but life is easier if there is someone who understands.  Country Music artists and their songs do just that. From The Carter's Family's Single Girl, Married Girl, to Hank Williams' I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry to Loretta Lynn's Don't Come Home a-Drinkin' with Lovin' on Your Mind to Charlie Prides' All I Have to Offer You is Me, country music tells us with every song that we are not alone and our feelings are real  enough to put into the words of a song.

HIspanic migrant family on the road

Across the globe, many individuals and organizations are contending with complex questions of how to preserve and protect our natural world.  The Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts is one such organization. 

A land trust is a nonprofit that works with individuals and communities to conserve land. Explore this list, made in collaboration with COLT, that includes nonfiction, poetry, novels and children's books that address questions of conservation and that celebrate Oregon's natural environment.

Banned Books Week (September 22-28, 2019) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. The event spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. You can learn more about books that have been challenged or banned from the American Library Association's Banned and Challenged Books site, hosted by ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom.

This year, Multnomah County Library will celebrate the freedom to read with displays at libraries and with Drag Queen Banned Books Bingo, featuring Poison Waters. In the meantime, explore some of the titles that have been the object of challenges over the years.

For those of us who love classic literature, Multnomah County Library is a great resource. There are ongoing Classics Pageturners book discussion groups at Hillsdale Library and Hollywood Library, plus a Quarterly Classics group at Capitol Hill Library.  Copies of the books will be available two months in advance of the discussions.  Please call the branch to confirm.  Following that are lists of Western and non-Western literature from every era.

Here are the Classics book group schedules:

Hillsdale Library Classics Pageturners,

Second Saturdays, 3-5 pm

 

June 8, 2019, Civilization and Its Discontents, by Sigmund Freud

 

September 14, 2019, Selected Poetry, by John Donne. (This is a different edition than we will be reading.)

 

October 12, 2019The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane

 

November 9, 2019To the Finland Station,by Edmund Wilson

 

December 14,  2019, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard in Anton Chekhov's Selected Plays, by Anton Chekhov

 

January 11, 2020, Sentimental Education, by Gustave Flaubert

 

February 8, 2020, The Death of the Heart, by Elizabeth Bowen

 

March 14, 2020, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Coleridge

 

April 11, 2020, : The Misanthrope, by Jean Molière

 

May 9, 2020, Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen

 

June 13, 2020, The Rubaiyat of Omar Kayyam

Hollywood Library Classics Pageturners,

Third Sundays, 2-4 pm

 

June 16, 2019The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing

 

September 15, 2019Persuasion, by Jane Austen

 

October 20, 2019The Twelve Caesars, by Suetonius. (This is a different translation than we will be reading.)

 

November 17, 2019 Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy

 

December 15, 2019The Log From the Sea of Cortez, by John Steinbeck

 

January 19, 2020The Oresteia, by Aeschylus

 

February 16, 2020The Moon and Sixpence, by W. Somerset Maugham

 

March 15, 2020Cry the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton

 

April 19, 2020Selected Stories of Anton Chekov

 

May 17, 2020, Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius. (This is a different translation than we will be reading.)

 

June 21, 2020Man and Superman, by George Bernard Shaw

 

Capitol Hill Library Quarterly Classics

Second Wednesdays, 1:30 pm, October 2019, January, April & July 2020

 

October 9, 2019, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson, and The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka.

 

January 8, 2020, Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley.

 

April 8, 2020, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.

 

July 8, 2020, Silas Marner, by George Eliot.

 

Katie Grindeland is the author of The Gifts We Keep, a selection from The Library Writers Project, which highlights local self-published authors. In an innovative partnership, Ooligan Press worked with the library to publish this novel about an Oregon family struggling with past tragedy while caring for a Native Alaskan girl with sorrows of her own.

Reading with friends? Start the conversation with this book summary and discussion guide.

Why did you want to tell this particular story?

I have always been a very character-driven writer, so I was excited at the prospect of diving into first-person emotional exploration with a somewhat diverse group of people. It was really important to me to try and give voice to their internal experience since we don’t always have a platform for that in our put-together grown-up lives. Big feelings, authenticity, connection, these were pillars for me. Not just as words on a page, but as an open-handed gesture to the reader’s experience as well. If someone reads this story and feels emotionally seen or included, I would consider that my biggest success.

Who or what inspires you, writing wise? Who inspires you in your life?

I am always inspired by those really good writers who make you stop in your tracks, by virtue of how purely they can weave a phrase or present an idea. The kind where I have to put the book down to stare at nothing and just think for a few minutes. Yann Martel and Marilynne Robinson and Jonathan Safran Foer and Barbara Kingsolver. But I also really love the writer who just wants to borrow your ear for a minute to tell a cool story they know. Lynda Barry and Stephen King and Cheryl Strayed and Diane Ackerman. These and so many more. Outside of writing, hard workers inspire me. Nose-to-the-grindstoners inspire me. Bad-at-something-but-trying-it-anyway inspires me. I find a lot of bravery in authenticity. And kindness. Kind-hearted people are secret super heroes and they don’t even know it. That inspires me.

Can you recommend a book you've recently enjoyed?

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It undid me, in all the best ways. Beautiful, meaningful, incandescent. I read much of this by headlamp on a solo camping trip near The Dalles, listening to trains run by in the dark, simply because I couldn’t put it down. I also love “S”, by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams. It's a novel within a novel, filled with miscellanies that fall out of the book into your lap if you aren’t careful, postcards, notes, photos -- all of which may or may not be clues to unraveling the story. Plus, if you’re anything like me, it will have you spouting about the Ship of Theseus paradox to friends and family, whose reception may be lukewarm in comparison to your enthusiasm for the idea!

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” ~ James Baldwin

With the release of the movie If Beale Street Could Talk, interest in the works of James Baldwin is high. If you'd like to take a deeper dive into Baldwin's work, the time is right. The National Book Foundation has declared 2019 the year of James Baldwin through their Author in Focus program. 

Delve into the library's holdings on and about Baldwin. If you'd like to explore his writing futher, Broadway Books will hosting events as part of the year-long celebration. On April 7, the store will host a discussion of incarceration in America and its impact on marriage as seen through the novels An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and Baldwin's If Beale Street Could Talk. They will also host an open-mic night during which people can read aloud their favorite Baldwin passages. Find more information on Broadway Books' event page.

According to the scholar Therman B. O'Daniel, "Baldwin is a bold and courageous writer who is not afraid to search into the dark corners of our social consciences, and to force out into public view many of the hidden, sordid skeletons of our society." Find out for yourself why Baldwin's work still resonates so strongly long after his death.

This guide is a tool to enhance your group’s conversation about Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Acichie’s insightful story of a young love, migration, exile, and homecoming.

Questions:

1. Adichie is herself somewhat of an outsider in America, as is her character, Ifemelu. Is there an advantage to telling this story from an outsider’s perspective?

2. In an interview with the New York Times, Adichie said she thinks there is “a tendency in American fiction to celebrate work that fundamentally keeps people comfortable.” How does Adichie reject or embrace keeping the reader comfortable in Americanah?

3. At the Frankfurt Book Fair, Adichie commented on likable characters in fiction, saying, "women writers are expected to make their female characters likeable, as though the full humanity of a female person must in the end meet the careful limitations of likability.” Did you find the characters in Americanah likeable? Why or why not? Are there some characters you liked more than others? If we demand likeable characters, what does this need say about us as readers?

4. The first part of Ifemelu’s story is told in flashback as she's having her hair braided at a salon before returning to Nigeria. Ifemelu interacts with the women in the salon, and makes judgments about them. How does her identity and her long stay in America affect her perception of the women around her?

5. In Americanah, hair is often a focal point for discussing race and culture. Re-read Ifemelu’s blog post “A Michelle Obama Shout-Out Plus Hair as Race Metaphor (p. 299.)”  How does the attention and judgment paid to a woman's hair reflect American society’s greater issues with race and feminism?

6. Ifemelu says, “I discovered race in America, and it fascinated me (p. 406).” She wonders, “How many other people had become black in America?” (p. 209) What does she mean by these statements?

7. Obinze’s has a complicated relationship with Ojiugo, his now-wealthy friend who has married an EU citizen. How does Obinze balance the need for support from his friend with the sense that Ojiugo represents someone who has given up his cultural identity?  Are all of the characters who leave Nigeria (such as Emenike, Aunty Uju, Bartholomew, and Ginika) similarly compromised?

8. When Ifemelu is hired to speak on race relations in America, she gets a hostile reaction at first. She changes her presentation to say, “America has made great progress for which we should be very proud”, and gets a better reaction; however in her blog, she writes “racism should never have happened and so you don’t get a cookie for reducing it’.” (p. 378). How do these two approaches reflect how Americans navigate questions of race and bias? Within your own circles, are you able to have frank conversations about race?

9. Kimberly, the white woman who employs Ifemelu as a nanny, seems to exemplify the white liberal guilt many Americans feel in relation to Africa and Africans. How did you respond to this character and her relationship with Ifemelu?

10. Ifemelu’s experience with the tennis coach is a low point in her life. Why does she avoid being in touch with Obinze afterward (157–58)? Why doesn’t she read his letters? How do you interpret her behavior?

11. How would you describe the qualities that Ifemelu and Obinze admire in each other? How does Adichie sustain the suspense about whether Ifemelu and Obinze will be together until the very last page? What, other than narrative suspense, might be the reason for Adichie’s choice in doing so? Would you consider their union the true homecoming, for both of them?

*Some questions suggested by or adapted from the Penguin Random House Reader’s Guide for Americanah

Themes and topics:

Nigeria, Lagos, young women, coming-of-age, feminism, racism, race and class, identity, romantic love, belonging, separation vs. connection, cultural critique, microaggression, power, Black American/African cultures, cross-cultural relationships, bloggers, corruption, immigration, fear of immigrants, the concept of assimilation.

Learn more about Nigeria, from Portland State University's International Cultures site.

In We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the 21st century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often-masked realities of sexual politics, she explores what it means to be a woman. This essay was based on the author's TED talk of the same name. 

Here are some questions to consider when discussing We Should All Be Feminists:

1. Do you call yourself a feminist? Why or why not?

Cover: We Should All Be Feminists

2. What is a feminist? Adichie says,  “My own definition is a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.” Do you agree with this definition?

3.  Adichie says her brother is her favorite feminist. Do you have a favorite feminist?

4.  Does the culture you grew up in have different expectations for boys and girls? At what age do distinctions between the genders start? Do you believe these expectations arise out of biological difference, or socialization?

5.  There are many negative views of feminism. How do you think these evolved? How might co-opting a term work to the advantage of those who want to discredit a movement?

6.  Do you know any boys or men who describe themselves as feminists? If you're male, and don't use the term, what would it feel like to do so?

7.  Adichie describes how disadvantaged women negotiate for power in Nigeria; how might it be easier for women living in privilege to embrace feminism?

8.  Feminism is interpreted differently by different people. Intersectionality is defined as "the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage." (Oxford Dictionary) How does your personal identity shape your values? You might use the University of Michigan's Social Identity Wheel to further this conversation.

9.  Feminists are often described as “angry.” What is the place of anger in advancing or hindering a cause? Can you think of examples, in your own life or in popular culture, where male and female anger is treated differently?

10.  Adichie thinks American women do not want to seem aggressive, that they are more invested in being “liked.” Is it possible to be “liked” and still insist on equal treatment?

11.  Adichie points out that boys also struggle under strict beliefs about what it means to be masculine. Do you believe that boys and men pay a price in a world that devalues feminism or insists on hyper-masculinity? How?

Themes:

Feminism, power, gender, gender expectations, coming-of-age, money, injustice, equality, masculinity, femininity, boys and girls, society, culture, tradition, society, socialization, roles, ambition, shame.

The North Portland Library recently unveiled a special collection devoted to the history and experiences of our region’s Black community. The Black Pacific Northwest Collection features the literature, music, film and other creative expressions of the Black experience in the Pacific Northwest and is part of the Black Resources Collection. The collection includes Raymond Burell’s celebration of the Vancouver Avenue Baptist Church, Lucas N.N. Burke’s history of Portland’s Black Panther movement, the poetry of S. Renee Mitchell and Samiya A. Bashir, and Renée Watson’s award-winning Piecing Me Together.

We knew it was important for the scope to be of local interest but wanted to broaden it beyond the Portland experience, so this collection includes authors and subjects throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and northern California. You’ll find works by the University of Washington’s emeritus Charles Johnson and works about the late Seattle-based playwright August Wilson. Check out this new collection by visiting the North Portland Library or by searching “Black Pacific Northwest Collection” from the home page.

Help grow the Black Pacific Northwest Collection

This special collection currently features about 200 titles, including works of fiction, nonfiction, films, and even zines — but we’d like to add more, and we need your help! You know the creatives here in our community and beyond — the writers, musicians, filmmakers, historians, social scientists — documenting the rich Black experience in our region. Tell us about them. Have them get in touch with us. Or, if you have written a book, made a record, created a film, compiled a bibliography, let us know. To suggest materials to add to the Black Pacific Northwest collection, please visit North Portland Library or email Kirby at kirbym at multcolib.org.

(Photos are by Cheyenne Thorpe.)

 

Photo of a camera
You need a photo or an image for a project you’re working on. You need it fast. You don’t want to pay anything to anybody, or get sued for copyright violation. Luckily, there are a lot of sources on the Web for finding royalty-free images! (Royalty-free = you don’t have to pay any money to use it.) Here is a list of some of the best websites for finding these types of photos and images. Is there a website that you like to use? Add a comment and let us all know!

The creators of many of the images on these websites are giving up some of their copyright protection and allowing you to use their photos and artwork. However, they may have usage rules that they require you to follow: for example, they might ask you to attribute the creator of the image if you use it. (Attribution = including information, on your website or wherever you use the image, saying who made the image and where you found it.) Before you copy or use any image, it’s a good idea to look at the webpage for the image and check for usage or licensing rules. I’ve included links to the general usage rules for many of the websites in this list. Quick disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and cannot provide advice regarding your legal rights. However, I can help find material that might assist you in your research, or help you learn how to contact a lawyer. Questions? Please ask!

ImageQuest - https://multcolib.org/resource/imagequest: ImageQuest is a library resource created by the Encyclopædia Britannica with millions of images that you can use for non-commercial purposes. There is a photo for just about any subject you can think of. The collection includes photos and clip art, and even allows you to sort results by shape (horizontal or vertical rectangle, or square). Information is provided for each image about the creator and rights.

Creative Commons logo
Creative Commons Search - http://search.creativecommons.org: Creative Commons is an organization that creates standards for sharing content on the Web (photos, videos, writing, anything!) This webpage has buttons to search many different websites for images and other content that are free to use based on Creative Commons standards - choose a website and then type in your search. Searchable websites from this page include Flickr, Google Images, Wikimedia Commons, and more. Usage information is included on the bottom of the page, below the buttons for the different sites.
19th century painting of an American schooner

U.S. Government Images search - https://search.usa.gov/search/images?affiliate=usagov&query=: The USA.gov search engine lets you look for photos and images from the federal government. You can find photos of just about anything, from satellites to Socks the cat, with little or no usage restrictions. Most of the results take you to images located on the Flickr website: before you use the image for your own project, make sure to look for usage information on the image's Flickr page.

Children reading a wireless newspaper
The Commons - http://www.flickr.com/commons: The Commons is a section of the photo-sharing website Flickr which provides access to images from public photography archives at museums and libraries around the world. It’s a great place to find historic photos, and everyone (including you!) is encouraged to add comments and tags to the images. The photos on this site have “no known copyright.”

Encyclopedia of Life - http://www.eol.org: this website’s mission is to “increase awareness and understanding of living nature,” and it includes information and images on all kinds of living creatures, from moths to amoebas to mollusks to monkeys. It includes many images, most of which are free to use as long as you attribute the source.

Photo of a flower
Morgue File - http://www.morguefile.com: a morgue file is “a place to keep post production materials for use of reference.” In other words, it is a place to store things. In this particular online morgue file, you can find many high resolution stock photos.

Pixabay - https://pixabay.com/en/ offers over 1/5 million royalty free stock photos and videos. 

Unsplash https://unsplash.com/ Over 550,000 free high resolution photos shared by a huge online community of photographers.

Scissors illustration

Are websites not your thing? Do you prefer books? Well, the library still has plenty of those. We have many books of illustrations and prints on all sorts of topics, most of them royalty-free. To find them, just do a subject search in the library catalog for “clip art.” You’ll find books with images of Victorian women’s fashion, birds, children’s book illustrations, fairies, and much more, many of them including CD-ROMs with computer files of all the images in the book. At the end of this blog post is a book list showing examples of the types of clip art books that the library owns.

If you still have trouble finding the images that you want, or if you have more questions about any of this, you know what to do: Ask a Librarian! We’ll be happy to talk more about it.

Images included in this post:

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