Blogs: Current events

If you're anything like me, you just looked at the calendar and realized Halloween is less than two weeks away. Eek! What is my kiddo going to be for Halloween?! If you have older kids, perhaps they already have strong opinions of their own, which may be both a blessing and a curse, depending on the idea! But for those of us with toddlers, the task of coming up with a cute costume on the cheap can feel a bit daunting, especially if you want to make it yourself. Or maybe you don't have kids but need to come up with a cool costume for the Halloween party you just got invited to. Never fear, the library is here to help! 

 In November 2014 Oregon will vote on whether or not to legalize marijuana. Other states also have many laws regarding weed, although there are a lot of pros and cons about legalizing pot. Although marijuana for medical use already exists in many states, it has its pros and cons too.

In 2012, Colorado and Washington both legalized marijuana usage. Legalization hasn’t solved the problems; it’s just raised new ones. The state of Washington has detailed rules about how marijuana will be raised, sold, and regulated. The state is looking at the business of pot and the many faces of legal marijuana as they move forward. How do you guard the ganja? How does banking hinder the legal weed industry?  Who are the new entrepreneurs?

Need some specific information we haven’t covered? Contact a librarian and we’ll be glad to help.

Earth Science Week logoDo you like maps, plans and diagrams?  Are you fascinated by rocks, soils or earthy disasters like earthquakes and landslides?  Then rejoice!  This Friday, October 17th is a holiday designed for you: Geologic Map Day, part of the American Geosciences Institute’s annual Earth Science Week.

A geologic map shows shows rock, soil, and other geologic features as a part of the landscape.  The theme for this year’s Earth Science Week -- and also for Geologic Map Day -- celebrates Earth’s Connected Systems.  Especially fitting, I think, because maps are wonderful tools for illustrating complex, interconnected systems and structures.

The Connected Systems of the Columbia River on the Oregon - Washington Border, from Oregon DOGAMIThe library has a wide variety of geologic maps (and books about geologic maps) that you might want to check out -- my colleague Ross has assembled some favorites in the list below.

You can also find some really wonderful geologic maps online.  For example, the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) has released a lovely new poster for Geologic Map Day, showcasing the connected systems of the Columbia River on the Oregon - Washington border.  

DOGAMI has a lot of other great geologic map resources on their website.  I’m a fan of their geologic history of Oregon and the wide range of interactive maps they produce on subjects from tsunami evacuation zones to lidar data.

 


Do these great geologic map resources whet your appetite for more and more maps?  Let us know!  Knowledgeable and friendly librarians are always standing by to help you with your map and research needs!  Ask us your map-related questions (or really, any questions) by email or phone, or talk to the librarian on duty the next time you’re at the library in person.     


 

Before I lived in Oregon, Columbus Day was that nice three-day weekend that took the edge off the long working weeks between Labor Day and Thanksgiving (unless you work for an employer who believes Veterans Day is a holiday*). As a newly minted Oregonian, I had a job talking up workplace giving (most commonly associated with the United Way, although I was working for EarthShare) and I started out my pitch on October 8, 1990 mentioning that as an Italian-American, I was really missing the Columbus Day holiday. I cannot express how completely I lost my audience.  Welcome to Oregon, where the arrival of the Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, to the Caribbean in 1492 is viewed a little more skeptically than it is on the Eastern Seaboard. (They have a parade in New York!)

Columbus Day is not a holiday in these parts.  Other cities or states have replaced it with recognition for the people who were residing on this continent when Columbus arrived, most recently our Seattle neighbors.  Most of Latin America celebrates the day as Día de la Raza (Day of the Latino [mixed Spanish and indigenous] People), commemorating the initial meeting of the two.  According to the article from the President of Mexico’s website linked in the previous sentence, the relationship between the indigenous people and their Spanish conquerors was different than that between the native North Americans and the northern Europeans who settled in what is now the United States, and is still worth celebrating.

The new United States held a small celebration in 1792 and a larger one 100 years later, according to the Library of Congress. This latter celebration ultimately led to the establishment of the national holiday by Franklin Roosevelt in 1934. But as the 500th anniversary approached in 1992, the eagerness to celebrate the “discovery” of the Americas had waned. Perhaps it’s time for the day to be consigned to history, or at least “downgraded” to a holiday a la St. Patrick’s Day (there’s another New York parade on that day, but it’s not a national holiday).

Take a moment this weekend to remember a great storm, Thanksgiving in Canada, other things Italian, or even Leif Ericson. Better yet, take a look at these books to see what life was like in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus.

In spite of everything, I'd still like that three-day weekend back.

*My employer, Multnomah County, believes this to be the case, but at the library we’re open on Veterans Day; we take an “official” holiday on the day before Christmas.
 

See something say somethingPortland’s mass transit agency, TriMet, reminds us if we see something, say something; the message is plastered all over its MAX cars and buses, but I saw something on the MAX the other day and said nothing.

Along with about a dozen other people seated in the front area of a MAX car (the part that you climb the stairs to get to) at about 8:15 on a weeknight, I witnessed an incident of racial profiling and didn’t call out the perpetrator. As is often the case in situations where you want to say the right thing perfectly, it was only after the fact that I could figure out what to say and how to say it.

Here’s what happened: A few stops after I got on the MAX headed east, three young African Americans boarded the train. Everyone else in our section of the car was white (and possibly older, but I can’t precisely recall). They were conversing in what I’d call a “teenaged” way – laughing, a little loud, seemingly unaware of others in the car. Someone in the area had music going loud enough so that it leaked out of the earbuds. (Let me parenthetically state that hearing this “half-music” possibly annoys me more than loud phone conversations on public transit, and I don’t recall being bothered by the sound.) While stopped at the Rose Quarter station, a uniformed woman (TriMet, but not law enforcement) boarded our car, walked up the stairs and spoke directly to the Black youths that there had been a complaint about their music.

When they stated that they hadn’t been playing any music, this person glanced around to the rest of us and sort of generally asked whoever was playing their music too loudly to turn it down. She stepped out of the car, walked around its front to (I assume) speak with the driver because she returned to the car and said – again to the Black youths – yes, it was a complaint about your music and it’s time to turn it down.

Here is, of course, the point that I should have spoken up about what I just saw. I know I don’t want to escalate the situation, so I need to craft my words carefully. And that is so hard to do in the moment.

I have the (awkwardly formal) conversation clear in my head now:

Me: Excuse me, but I would like to point out that I have just witnessed an incident of racial profiling in this MAX car. If you’ve received a complaint about loud music, you must ask each of us if we have been playing music and that we must turn it down.

She: Oh, yes, you’re absolutely right, I shouldn’t have assumed it was the African Americans on this train who were listening to loud music. First, let me apologize to these young people right now and explain to the rest of you here in this section that you cannot play your music so loudly that the driver is able to hear it.

Me: Thank you.

I did send an equally careful comment via the TriMet website but it’s really too late. Cynically, I assume they will send that employee to some diversity training, she’ll be resentful and won’t hear what the trainers have to share, and it will happen all over again.

I hope it doesn’t happen all over again for me. Next time, I hope I’ll have the courage to speak up.

Can you share a situation where you witnessed something wrong and did or didn’t speak up?

(And because I’m a librarian, I found some books on the subject.)

N 45° 31.138 W 122° 40.971

These are the coordinates for the geocache that can be found at Central Library, known as Urban cache, plagiarized. The cache, which was created in 2002, has had enough visitors that its “author” had to create a second volume.  Central’s geocache is unique, in that it has a call number and an entry in the library catalog, but there are reportedly other geocaches to be found at Capitol Hill, Fairview-Columbia, Gresham, Hollywood, North Portland and Woodstock libraries.

The third Saturday in August is Geocaching Day, created by geocaching.com (The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site), so it’s time to talk a little bit about geocaching. An anonymous geocacher from Iowa visited Central’s cache the other day and he described it as using extremely high-tech equipment to find Tupperware in the woods. According to the history page on geocaching.com, the game began in May 2000, when the data from GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites was unscrambled by the U.S. government and made available to anyone with a GPS receiver.  The first cache was planted a few miles from Portland in Beavercreek by Dave Ulmer who wanted to check the accuracy of GPS by posting information about its coordinates to an online user group. He called it a “stash,” which was quickly changed to cache (for just the reason you are thinking) and the games began. Ulmer’s cache is no longer there, but a plaque now sits at the coordinates and there is still a place to record your visit.

The only rules of this game are: Enter your name (and any deep thoughts if you have them) in the cache’s logbook and, if you remove something from the cache, please leave something of equal value.  I like that the large majority of goodies left in Central’s cache are those library-sized (2 ¾ x 5 in.) pieces of paper with the call number written on them (O-910.92 B668g). One of our veteran librarians tells me the reason why our geocache is in the 910s instead of the 620s (where our books on geocaching are), is because the owner of the cache selected the number based on his observation that the books on geography and exploration had that 910 number. After the fact (when we realized that we’d need a call number for geocaching), librarians decided the how-to books belonged in the military and nautical navigation section.

(How librarians decide what goes where in the Dewey Decimal System is a topic for another day!)

For more on geocaching, check out one of these books.

Ebola virions through an electron microscope.The word is enough to freeze your possibly hemorrhaging blood, isn’t it? Or make you glad you (or someone you know) aren’t in West Africa. My first thought when learning of the two U.S. citizens recently transported here for medical care was ‘I’m glad I’m not on that plane.’ But unlike SARS or the flu, the Ebola virus can’t be transmitted through the air; the only way to catch it is “through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected symptomatic person or through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions” (Q&A on Ebola from the Centers for Disease Control, which has much more information about the current outbreak on its website).

[Edited to add 11/28/14:] Multnomah County's Health Department has a page with resources and links providing information a little closer to home).

Comforting for those of us in the first world, but not much use to those on the front lines, who won’t even seek medical attention because the hospital is where people go to die.

If you’re in the mood for some not-so-light reading, here are some suggestions.

On July 19, 1984, about 65 years after women were granted the right to vote, Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman to be nominated by a major party to run for Vice President of the United States.  It was just my second opportunity to vote for president, and what I remember most about her speech was the faces of the women listening to her. This was historic, we (women) had arrived and we were not looking back! She lost, of course, in a landslide. It took another 24 years for it to happen again: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin ran for Vice President, and – while she garnered over 20-million more votes than Ferraro – she lost too.  In 2008, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton won more presidential primaries than any woman before her, but ended up on the losing side as well. Many political observers and pundits believe she will run for president again in 2016. Or maybe there’s someone else. Fourth time’s the charm?

Ferraro, Palin and Clinton are not the only women who have sought the office of president or vice president. Oregon’s own suffragist, Abigail Scott Duniway, was nominated by the Equal Rights Party in 1884, but she declined to run. In an earlier version of the Equal Rights Party, suffragist, journalist, and “free love” advocate Victoria Woodhull was the first woman ever to run for president in 1872. There was also the 1940 candidacy of the comedienne Gracie Allen, who ran for the Surprise Party. She earned about 42,000 votes; of the 32 women who ran for the office in the next 72 years, her vote total comes in sixth.

Let’s remember a few other women, whose candidacies we can take a little more seriously. There’s Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress, who ran in 1972; Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman to serve in both the House and Senate, who ran in 1964; Winona LaDuke, a Native American activist, who was Ralph Nader’s Green Party running mate in 1996 and 2000 (in the latter election, she earned nearly 3,000,000 votes); and Cindy Sheehan, who protested the Iraq War following the death of her son, and ran as Roseanne Barr’s vice president for the Peace and Freedom Party in 2012. Then there’s the most recent woman to seek the nomination from a major party, Representative Michele Bachmann, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2012.

Dig deep into the lives of women who have sought the presidency in these books.

Portland Zine Symposium 2014Ahh, summertime in Portland. Sunshine and strawberries and going to the river. Cookouts and bike rides and reading in the hammock. Summertime in Portland also means that it’s time for the Portland Zine Symposium! If you’ve never been, the Portland Zine Symposium is an annual zine fair and tabling extravaganza that brings folks in from all over the world. This conference highlights do it yourself culture, small presses, and self-published comics and publications of all kinds, with ongoing workshops and events over the course of two days.  It’s been happening every summer since 2001. And did I mention that it’s all free?!

Here’s where the library comes in. Not only will we have a table at the Zine Symposium, but did you know the library also has over 1,000 circulating zines in our collection, many of them from local authors and artists? And that we have tons of great resources to assist in whatever phase of the creative process you may be in, whether you are a veteran, do-it-with-your-eyes-closed zinester or you have never made a zine in your life (but have always wanted to)? One of my favorite books on all things zine-making is Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine? I personally loved it so much, I had it checked out for almost a year--the beauty of renewing!

If this sounds like it’s right up your alley, be sure to check out our table the weekend of July 12th and 13th. We’ll be there making library cards and highlighting self-publishing resources from our collection, as well as zines that you can check out. Don’t have a card? No problem! We can make you one of those too. We’ll also be roaming around and scoping out other tables, looking for zines to purchase to add to our ever-growing zine collection. This is the most exciting part! So if you find yourself at the Zine Symposium, don’t be shy--be sure to come by and say hello!

Multnomah County Library has an amazing array of titles that might be of interest to our LGBTQ community:

Speaking of Librarian Matthew, he is one of our very special My Librarians. He loves making up reading lists and providing readers advisory for LGBTQ literature and non fiction in general. Some examples of his excellent lists are Getting Started with LGBT Fiction and Character Driven Gay Fiction. Not sure what to read next, ask Matthew!

Or you can contact any of us with questions about our collection - or any other question you may have - just visit the Contact page and let us know!

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