Multnomah County Library's Lucky Day service includes books for kids, teens and adults.  Lucky Day copies are available for spontaneous use and are not subject to hold queues.  Nobody can place holds on these items; it's first come, first served.  That means you might not have to wait at all for the most popular new titles!  You never know what you might find at your neighborhood library - it just might be your Lucky Day!

Finding and securing affordable rental housing for yourself and your family in the Portland metro area has become more and more of a challenge. There are a number of reasons for this, from a low vacancy rate of only 3% to the steady gentrification of Portland neighborhoods since 2000.   While the exact rate of increase is variable depending on neighborhood and data collected, an October 2015 State of Housing in Portland (pdf) report found that “average rents across the city have increased between 8-9%, or roughly $100 per month, since this time last year.” On October 7, 2015 the Portland City Council declared a housing emergency with Mayor Hales agreeing that renters need protection. The hope is that the declaration and subsequent actions taken will help with both increasing affordable housing (defined as no more than 30% of one’s income) and also begin to address the rising number of people experiencing homelessness in our community. Immediate Portland City Council measures require landlords to give more notice to tenants before rent increases and no-cause evictions.

Colorful icon of a house

What do you do if you find yourself looking for rental housing in this tight environment? What happens if you find a no-cause eviction notice taped to your door? What can you do to keep your relationship with your landlord amenable and ensure you are retaining your tenant rights?

The rental housing market in the Portland metro area is the tightest it has been in many years and is currently one of the hardest in which to find affordable housing in the country.  It is tough out there!  You are not alone, however.  There are many resources and organizations that can help and your library can help connect you to these resources.

Where do I look for housing?

There are many places online that you can do a general search for housing. They include but are not limited to:

Be aware of possible scams and do not send payment in advance to secure housing.  Be skeptical of any listing that looks too good to be true.

You can also search for housing and housing assistance specifically for people and families on limited incomes using these resources:

The lists are long and the process is overwhelming.  Where can I get more help?

  • 211info is a great place to start for a directory of community renter resources including deposit/fee assistance, eviction prevention, housing search assistance, neighbor and landlord mediation, renters rights, and renting classes.

  • Oregon CAT - Community Alliance of Tenants is a tenant membership organization that declared a Renter State of Emergency in September 2015 to address rent increases and no-cause evictions. In addition to a Renters’ Rights Hotline (503) 288-0130, they have many valuable resources including information on how to find and keep affordable housing, how to research a prospective landlord, as well as a Landlord-Tenant Law Booklet.

For help staying in your current home look to:

Contact your library for assistance getting connected to the right housing resource.  We are happy to help!

Whether you love algebra or not, I've had more students ask me, "What's the point? How will I ever use this in real life?" I even asked my own 8th grade math teacher this. I didn't get any satisfying answer back then, but luckily, you have some great algebra resources online to explain real world applications for the math you are learning. 

 Maybe you thought real life uses of algebra would be boring, but Get the Math shows you how a hip-hop team uses it in music  production. More interested in video games? Algebra is used all the time in video game production. Or do you want to learn how  you can create the perfect basketball free throw shot using algebra? Visit Get the Math for these and other videos about fashion and special effects. Or watch a video about the impossible soccer free kick that explains mathematically why Brazil's Robert Carlos' now famous 35 meter free kick in 1997 made the goal. 

So now that I've answered the 'why' question, where can you begin learning about algebra and pre-algebra? I'm a fan of learning through play, so check out Math Playground, pre-algebra math games online to learn math while having fun. In addition to games, Kids Math TV also offers math lessons and worksheets by both grade level and math topic, so go explore! 

Readers, writers and book lovers!  Mark your calendars for two of Portland's biggest book events:  Wordstock book festival and Portland Arts & Lectures author series which made its debut with author Jane Smiley, and welcomes Anthony Doerr in November.

But let's face it –- Portland's literary landscape is a field of dreams. Search the events calendar for the library’s author talks, book discussions and conversations featuring local writers. If you're a self-published writer yourself and would like library patrons to be able to read your work, check out the Library Writers Project. And check out the Mercury's book page for author events.

City of Readers: The Book Lover's Guide to Portland by Gabriel H. Boehmer, a third-generation Oregonian, is a bible for Stumptown bibliophiles, bringing together bookstores, libraries, landmarks, authors, events and titles in one volume. Published quarterly, the free Portland Book Review newspaper is available at bookstores, libraries, and retail locations around metro Portland.

If you’re an aspiring author and want to meet fellow writers, Willamette Writers meetings showcase Oregon authors from mix of professions. The Attic Institute offers readings, workshops and a Poets Studio. Write Around Portland runs free writing workshops for adults and youth; participants share their writing with the public at free community readings. DIY folks should check out the extraordinary IPRC -– Independent Publishing Resource Center -– where you can create and publish your own artwork and writing.

Ah, the slight autumnal chill in the air. The smell of apple pie wafting from the kitchen.The clouds and the greyness and the rain on the horizon. Yes, indeed, here in Portland, it's time to hunker down and watch some good shows.

The Affair coverWhat to watch, you ask?

Are you in the mood for deceit and mystery and sex and how distorted our memories can be? Try The Affair

Fortitude cover


Want to visit a bleak, desolate land of ice and snow? If you can suspend your sense of disbelief just a bit and want an intriguing story set in Iceland that’s filled with a completely bizarro mystery, pop Fortitude into your dvd player (the first half is the best part of it),




And then for a little lighter fare, an entertaining, series that stars the most splendid character, Miss Phryne Fisher wearing fabulous 1920s dresses, watch Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries cover




Need a few more shows to while away the winter with? Check out my list here. If you'd like even more suggestions, please ask me


Associates "Sulk"


"Your limitations are our every care"

The Associates (primarily singer Billy Mackenzie and multi-instrumentalist Alan Rankine) were a Scottish act, now identified as quintessentially "post-punk."   But there's no way any taxonomic indicator could ever contain or expand enough to encompass the sounds embedded in "Sulk." Leading with the shrill blast of "Arrogance Gave Him Up"'s racing drums and fluorescent synth stabs, the record defies expectation at every turn.  Predictably, Bowie genetic traces run rampant - but "Sulk" sidles into the outer territories of what "pop" might be/come, like an acid spill corroding the enervated gestures of everything else happening in 1982 (Bowie soul-boys, New Romantics, chart entryists, end-days disco).  The record is overflowing with ideas and impulses - gorgeous, but like a still life of a swamp, harboring all kinds of unknown and carbonized creatures, sensations, and pitfalls.

No album is ever fully outside its historical moment.  "Sulk" has "1980s" written all over its face - Thatcher-induced paranoia, the seemingly endless money-spouts pumping out of the pores of the culture industry, and a leashed but furious gnashing of the teeth at sex and desire's constraints.  And drugs of course.  Legend has it that Rankine and Mackenzie spent half of their 60,000 pound advance (massive for '82) on cocaine, clothing, cocaine, room service, cocaine, and inspired concepts like chocolate life-sized guitars for a Top of the Pops appearance.  Mackenzie's lyrics are ultimately impenetrable but necessarily so. These songs are howls from the edges of a self-enclosed world that Mackenzie knew would never be able to carve out new space quickly enough for escape.  

I'll end with Mackenzie's voice.  It moves everywhere at once, sometimes following the often unpredictable musical pathways but just as often birthing new songs within songs, burning like brush fires that we know will eventually (though we don't want them to) self-exhaust.  

arctic tern

I always thought that bird watching would be boring until I actually did it!  I can't recall exactly how many birds I saw on my first official try, but I do remember being impressed by the beauty and variety of shorebirds on view in winter down around Tillamook Bay.  I was so completely charmed by the sweet little buffleheads as they bobbed around that I almost forgot the freezing temperatures!  Then there was the visit in and around the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in spring where I was blown away by the beautiful American White Pelicans and got a close-up look at a rough-legged hawk making a meal of a duck.  On another visit to the same area, I got a rare and long look at some juvenile golden eagles as they were snacking on something. 

My latest avian adventure happened last spring in Britain when I went to the Farne Islands and was dive-bombed by an Arctic tern!  Fortunately, I had a hat on and had been warned that this might happen. I wish I had started my bird-watching ventures when I was a lot younger. if I actually kept a life list, it certainly would have been more complete had I started observing birds when I was five.  Fortunately for today's youth, there are lots of fun, fact-filled books to help get them excited about birds.  Check out this list for some ideas!

I've kept a list of the authors and titles I've written about over the last five years in order to avoid duplication, but I've finally found an author that really deserves another mention. I first wrote about N. K. Jemisin in 2010: A New Voice in Science Fiction.  Over the last five years she has been nominated for several awards for her early novels. She writes fairly short series and each series has an overarching theme. In an interview I read with her, she said the theme of the first series was racism, the second was religion, and the third is about the collapse of civilizations.The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms book jacket

Her first trilogy begins with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms where Yeine Darr, one of the many descendants of the emperor, is summoned to the court and told she is one of three potential heirs.  Being the "other", the jumped up barbarian half-breed from the uncivilized hinterlands, her welcome is about as warm as you'd expect.  The "civilized" heirs promptly try to assassinate her and it all goes on fromThe Killing Moon book jacket there.

The second series, a duology, begins with The Killing Moon.  Ehiru is a gatherer who is sent by his church to collect "dreamblood" from the dying and those too corrupt to let live.  He's too much of an innocent to realize that he's being used by the less ethical members of his church and that he isn't simply granting a merciful end to the dying and criminals.  Once he becomes aware of the corruption, his faith is tested.

The Fifth Season, the first book in her most recent series, has just come out. The world she created is prone to regular extinction level The Fifth Season book jacketevents that are called a “fifth season”.  Volcanoes so massive there might be 5 or 10 years of winter from the ash blanketing the sky.  Massive earthquakes flattening not just cities but entire regions. Tsunamis wiping out coasts (not towns, entire coasts) every few years. Despite this, humanity survives.  "Stonelore" tells what to do and how to make the hard choices so that some of the community might survive until better days come back. Then the ground shakes and the ash starts falling. This time it doesn't stop.

I wouldn’t  be surprised to see The Fifth Season make the final ballot for the Hugo award this coming year.  She's one of the best new authors in the genre, and I fully expect she'll win a well-deserved award one of these years.  Pick the theme that speaks to you and give one of her series a try!

Retail outlets selling newly legal marijuana are enjoying brisk business.  Anyone over 21 can buy and use marijuana for recreational purposes, a loosening of the previous Oregon law that allowed marijuana as a treatment for certain medical conditions.  Of course, federally marijuana remains a schedule 1 controlled substance, the same class as heroin, meth, and cocaine, with potentially the same penalties for growing, possessing, and selling.  So consuming your sticky icky could still be tricky.  But as more states pass laws legalizing pot (currently four with legal retail marijuana and nineteen with medical marijuana) the federal laws may change.Kitschy image of man with a marijuana joint captioned "Marijuana!  At least it's not crack!" by  Juha Ristolainen on flickr

So if adults can, does that mean they should? The next challenge is examining the health effects of marijuana and communicating that to the public in a convincing way.  In September, 2015, on the eve of full retail sales, the Multnomah County Health Department released a report on public health and marijuana.  The ten-page report offers data on how many and what age people use marijuana right now, confirmed and potential effects of marijuana on adults and youth, and recommendations for further research and policy directions.   The extensive reference section will also offer you plenty of sources to consult for your debate or persuasive argument paper.

Also take a look at Librarian Cathy’s October 2014 blog post on the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana and Librarian Joanna’s June, 2015 post on deciphering the nitty gritty of Measure 91.

Renee watson headshotRenée Watson grew up in Portland, Oregon, and currently lives in New York City. She returns to her hometown on Nov. 7 for Wordstock. She is the author of This Side of Home, which was nominated for the Best Fiction for Young Adults by the American Library Association. Her picture book,  Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills received several honors, including an NAACP Image Award nomination in children’s literature. Her novel, What Momma Left Me, debuted as the New Voice for 2010 in middle grade fiction. 
One of Renée’s passions is using the arts to help youth cope with trauma and discuss social issues. Her picture book, A Place Where Hurricanes Happen, is based on poetry workshops she facilitated with children in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Renée has worked as a writer in residence for several years teaching creative writing and theater in public schools and community centers throughout the nation. She is a team member of We Need Diverse Books.
As a young reader, I loved the Ramona series by Beverly Clearly, in part because I also grew up in Northeast Portland. I knew those streets and it was fascinating to me to read about my hometown. In middle school I read To Kill a Mockingbird countless times and, in high school, I not only read the play Raisin in the Sun but I acted in it as well. These books, like the books on my list, explore issues of race, class and activism. They dig deep into neighborhoods and communities that are sometimes overlooked or misunderstood. They show us complicated, layered relationships between family members and friends. Each story has caring adults and mentors that come alongside young people to help them make sense of this world. Each book has made me laugh out loud or brush away tears. These are books I have used in the classroom when I teach creative writing. These are words I return to when I need inspiration and courage to tell my own stories. I call this list "Books on Home, History and Hope."
Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz. A is for Angela Davis. Z is for Zora Neale Hurston. A book of female leaders, artists, and activists that everyone should learn about.
Speak to Me & I Will Listen Between the Lines by Karen English. Six third-grade children. One day. One classroom. One teacher who loves them all and truly sees them for who they really are.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Two teen males — one black, one white — grapple with the aftermath of a police officer who has brutally beaten the black teen. This is a raw, honest, and necessary book.
These books and more that I find inspiring can be found in my list below!


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