Blogs: English

Americans’ fascination with the frontier has its origins in Dime Novels. The frontier was the setting of this literary form of pop fiction. The tales that hooked readers to these books have also lured Americans to see films about the America West and the US-Mexico border. Frontier movies that dramatized violence, drugs, smuggling, and lawlessness, just to name a few, kept moviegoers returning to theaters in the 20th century.

 

 

 

 

You can see traces of frontier tales in silent films, talkies, film noirs, westerns, comedies, Sci-Fi’s, and, lately, War on Drugs and War on terrors flicks. While film genres have evolved, to convey the stories making headlines during a specific time, storylines share similarities. Even in the 1935 New Deal classic, “Bordertown,” featuring a young Bette Davis, the frontier is a place where a person can make lots of money in gambling and booze. Likewise, the only way you can regain order and re-establish civilization at the US-Mexico border is by exterminating “bad hombres” with extreme prejudice as in both Sicario films.  

Motion pictures about the frontier have not only created movie fans, they have also criminalized the people and culture of the US-Mexico border region.

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

The idea of writing a piece about public libraries has not left me, since I read the children’s book, Tomás and the Library Lady

Yet, I don't know where to begin. Maybe I should start by writing about my childhood library experience. 

In a few words, I don’t have much to share about visiting the local library where I grew up in rural South Texas. The library had limited staffing, resources, and hours, and the borrowing policies were onerous. Summers were even worse: My siblings and I were farmworkers, and when we didn’t work, that was on Sundays, the library was closed. 

Perhaps that explains how much I have come to appreciate public libraries as an adult. Yes! As an adult! Public libraries are magical places, where children and grown-ups, can dream and imagine the impossible. They are spaces where entire families can get lost, not just in stories, but in places and times, and where the next story is only a book away.

 Public libraries are one of the last democractic institutions where everyone is welcome. Perhaps that’s what I have meant to write all long since I read this book and since this children’s story takes place in the pre-Civil Rights era. The books young Tomás read and the relationship he built with the librarian inspired him to dream beyond what his parents and grandfather could imagine. Tomás Rivera was one of the first Mexican American migrant workers to earn a Ph.D. and the first Chicano to be named Chancellor of the University of California, Riverside.  

I hope readers will get lost the way I have in the children’s books below. 

Raza from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border wrote these works of fiction. Some of them wrote their narratives in English and others in Spanish, with sprinkles of pachuquismo and pochismo to spice up the reading and elevate conversations. Gente, who never left the barrios, the world where they grew up and that they knew so well as Mexicanos, Tejanos, Hispanos, Chicanos, and Latinx, crafted these literary works. And some, those who left home and reached the highest levels of their profession, have added to our understanding of what it means to be raza outside the barrios.

Together, the novels and short story collections in the reading lists below are not only tales of successes and failures, but also of who we are. 

 

 

Are you an artist in grades 6–12?   

Do you know an artist in grades 6-12?

Enter a design for the 2021 Multnomah County Library Teen Summer Reading Art Contest!

The theme this year is “Reading Colors Your World.” A panel of library staff and artists will select a winner from the entries.

● The winning design will appear on the cover of all teen gameboards. The winning artist will be awarded a $100 gift card to an art supply store.

● More entries will be selected to produce a “Reading Colors Your World” coloring book that will be given to Summer Reading participants.  Kids all over the county will be coloring your designs!

● The library will share the winner and all selected designs on social media. 

● Here are the favorite designs from 2020's contest, by Naima (left) and Willa (right):

black and white design showing a girl reading, and magically coming from the book there is a witch, princess, dragon, and objects like a sword, apple, ring, and cauldron
black and white design showing an open book, with dragons, snakes, and a turtle magically coming out of the pages

 

 

 

 

 


ART SPECIFICATIONS

 

The box on the flyer is proportional to the final maximum measurement, and you may use it to submit your artwork. You don’t have to use the entire box, but your artwork must fit inside of it. Final artwork will be printed at a maximum of 6” x 4” (measurements may change if art is scaled down).

1. Original artwork only

2. Content should be appropriate for youth all ages

3. Black & white image only

4. If hand drawn, use black ink, marker, pen or hard pencil

5. If digitally drawn, submit as black & white EPS or high resolution (300 dpi) PNG, JPG or TIF

SUBMISSION DETAILS

Please include your name, grade, school (if applicable) and a phone number or email address so we can reach you if you win.

Winners will be selected based on the following criteria:

● Follow art specifications above.

● Show innovative interpretation of the theme, “Reading Colors Your World”. Be creative, try new things, find beauty in diversity.

● Show graphic design/artistic merit.

Entries must be received by Friday, March 5.  Submit your artwork electronically to summerreading@multcolib.org, bring it to your local library, or send a paper version to:

Summer Reading | Multnomah County Library | Isom Building | 205 NE Russell Street Portland, OR 97212

Summer Reading is made possible by gifts to The Library Foundation

A believer in education, José de la Luz Sáenz became an elementary school teacher and taught Mexican-American children in segregated shacks, known as “Mexican Schools” in Texas. In the evenings, he taught English literacy to adults. At the outbreak of WWI, José de la Luz was called to serve in the US Army. Upon his return, he concluded that dismantling white supremacy culture demanded more than just teaching. He and other Mexican-American civil rights leaders wrote articles and gave public talks throughout Texas to encourage Mexican-Americans to organize. In 1929, they created the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the oldest Latino civil rights organization in the US. 

 

José de la Luz’s commitment and that of other Mexican-American activists’ to education and social justice lives on in children's books. Elementary school students can now read and learn about his and other Mexican-American activists’ fight for equality.

Likewise, parents who want to learn more about the history of Mexican-American civil rights will discover the courageous activism of Emma Tenayuca and Dolores Huerta, and will be moved by such documentaries as “A Class Apart.”

book cover for maggie the machanic

Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez are the most prolific Chicano graphic novelists in the US. Their work wrestles with topics that are not “Chicano Movement” issues, per se, and it debunks stereotypes such as those of the Latino gangbanger and the omnibenevolent abuelita.

Their work instead captures the immigrant experience as well as the second-generation Mexican-American experience, which are full of contradictions, complexities, and some happy endings. The stories of their fictional characters are not only mundane and exciting and surreal and real, but if we consider when they were first published in the 1980s, they were ahead of their time.

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. 

Pages

Subscribe to