When I was in Berlin a few years ago, I made it a point to visit the Bebelplatz -- site of the infamous Nazi book-burning of May 1933. This understated memorial consists of a glass plate set into cobblestones; peering into the glass, you see empty bookshelves below -- enough to hold the 20,000 or so volumes that were incinerated on that terrible night.Photo of Bebelplatz memorial

Fast forward 10 years and the world was embroiled in the most savage and destructive war in history. The movement that sought to quash freedom of thought in 1933 was now working to impose its will on the rest of the world. But those fighting against the oppressors were fighting not only with the personnel and material of war, but also with books.

Image of Armed Services EditionAmerican citizens suddenly found themselves transformed into military personnel and were stationed thousand of miles from their homes and loved ones. The Council on Books in Wartime was formed to provide America's military personnel with literature to enrich their lives, make them laugh, and to remind them of home -- and so the Armed Services Edition was born. These little books were produced in the millions and were specifically engineered to be light and to fit neatly into the pockets of government issue uniforms. These little books could be found virtually everywhere from ships to foxholes and in both the European and Pacific theaters. Photo of When Books Went to War

In her new book, When Books Went to War, Molly Guptill Manning relates the fascinating history of these little books which did so much not only to support the country's men and women in uniform, but to combat the philosophy they were fighting so hard to defeat as well.


In the 19th century, land west of the the Mississippi was often referred to as “The Wild West”. The less regulated structure and society of the American frontier enticed those with a sense of adventure,  including many with a disregard for the law. The outrageous, illegal and often lethal acts of a colorful cast of outlaws is largely glorified today. Trying to separate fact from myth can be a challenge.

Learn a little about the real identities and actions of a few of these outlaws.

Billy the Kid was a teen outlaw who reportedly - and inaccurately- killed more than 20 people before being fatally shot at twenty-one.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were part of a gang called The Wild Bunch. They organized a legendary train robbery.   

Doc Holliday  formerly a dentist, moved West hoping to cure his tuberculosis. A gunman and gambler, he is also credited for saving Wyatt Earp's life.

Confederate soldier turned outlaw, Jesse James was shot by Robert Ford, a member of his own gang who wanted the $10,000 bounty.  A photo that reportedly shows the two of them has recently emerged, though it has yet to be authenticated.  Even through photography, the truth of history escapes us!

Belle Starr, known as the “Bandit Queen”, outlived several outlaw husbands and partners she collaborated with before being fatally shot herself. Her murder remains unsolved.

Want to learn about an outlaw not featured here? Just ask a librarian!

I have been reminded (by those who wish to remain anonymous) that librarying is Serious Business!

Therefore, I will present only relevant, meticulous information in lieu of my frivolous penchant for having jokes and smiles. This month's offering is from the list of a human being who knows more about movies than the 'Thumb's up guys' (and is more accurate in his reviews and assessements.) These documentaries deal with disturbing subject matter in a freshly original way.

And ta ta! I get the last laugh because remember you can eat popcorn while you get educated. Perhaps if PPS acknowledged this fact, it could do something about its pesky little attendance problem.

Find Out What's Available

Trinity collegeIt's never too early to start looking for scholarships. The best time of year to start looking is in the summer or early fall. This lets you find programs before their deadlines have passed, and gives you enough time to complete a well-planned application. Many scholarship programs require an essay and recommendations from teachers or other adults who know you, and these take time to prepare.  

There are many scholarships, grants, fellowships, internships and work-study jobs available. You'll likely encounter some common eligibility criteria. These include which state you live in, if you've performed military service, whether you have minority status or a particular nationality or ethnic background, a religious affliation, or if any of your family members belong to a national or local organization or civic association. If you fit the eligibility criteria, be sure to consider applying! 


The library is a great place to get started as you research scholarships. Whether you are looking for a scholarship in the humanities, the sciences, the social sciences, or sports, we can help you discover ways to find scholarship awards for higher education. 

Scholarship HandbookThe Scholarship Handbook is organized by common eligibility criteria. It lists scholarships based on which state you live in, whether you have performed military service, if you have minority status or come from a particular nationality or ethnic background, if you have a religious affliation, and whether any of your family members belong to a national or local organization or civic association. Each scholarship program is described by eligibility, basis for selection, application requirements, amount awarded, application deadline, and contact information.


Ultimate Scholarship Book"Billions of dollars in scholarships, grants and prizes." The Ultimate Scholarship Book organizes awards into categories such as humanities, social science, science and general. You don't need a perfect GPA or financial need to win a scholarship. There are plenty of awards that have none of these requirements.



College help for teens: More resources for financial aid, admissions, guides, and Study Abroad.

Saving and paying for college: Additional help with financing college.

National Novel Writing MonthNaNoWriMo 2015 is nearly upon us: the season when hundreds of thousands of writers worldwide dig into their work and draft a novel in just thirty days. Camaraderie, wailing and gnashing of teeth, and a lot of frenzied and productive writing will ensue! We are excited to be hosting several events at several library locations. Meanwhile, the Library Writers Project is on - we are awaiting your finished book! So clearly, the time has come - this November will be the NaNoWriMo when you write the novel. Here are some resources to inspire and assist you (and some to distract you, too).

I am not a hoarder!  So okay, my work desk might have goat’s paths and the 9 x 9 storage unit down the hall from my condo could use a good clear out, but still, I can let go of things!  In the new book Mess: One Man's Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act, I learned that hoarders really can’t give up anything. I, therefore, am merely a clutter bug and only at work.  My living quarters are actually quite neat.  Each room and piece of furniture can be used for its original purpose, and clothing, books, and craft supplies are not stacked up on every surface. 

This was so not true for Barry Yourgrau, the author of Mess.  His girlfriend, Cosima, was horrified when she finally arrived on his apartment doorstep some Mess book jacketyears after he had taken it over from her and gave him an ultimatum:  Clean it up or we’re breaking up!  Now Barry had a sweet gig – he worked in his own apartment, but actually lived at Cosima’s much nicer place where she regularly cooked gourmet meals for him.  Additionally, they traveled all over the world to foodie events for Cosima’s career.  He had plenty of reasons to clean up his act, but would he be motivated enough to actually get it done?

Follow Barry as he does his “researches” that include lots of reading, talking with organizing professionals and a psychiatrist, and visiting one of the most famous hoarders of all time. It’s the most fun book on organization (or lack of it) that I’ve ever read!

Here’s a list of further resources on clutter and hoarding, most of which Yourgrau refers to in Mess.

Cover image for A Simplified Map of the Real World by Stevan AllredWant to spend some (fictional) time in a rural community on the margins of Portland?

A Simplified Map of the Real World, by Stevan Allred, is set in and around the fictional town of Renata, Oregon. Renata is a stand-in for Estacada, an Oregon city 25 miles southeast of Portland. (You can read a 2013 article from the Estacada News about the book.) The city’s website (the website of Estacada, that is) bears the motto “Where we are close to everything... but away from it all!” and Allred’s book does a good job describing this combination of urban conveniences and rural remoteness. The community of Renata has its own history, its own self-sufficiency, but residents still drive into Portland when they want a fancy steak dinner on Saturday night.

The book is a collection of linked short stories which jump from generation to generation and character to character. After reading about the community of Rentata from so many perspectives, you are left with a very strong sense of the place, as well as a more even-handed view of its residents. A character who comes off as a real jack-ass in one story might be the hero of the next. Novels are often touted for exploring the complexities of being human, and it is a neat trick that Allred has pulled off the same feat with a slim collection of short stories.

I particularly enjoyed this book because I grew up in another rural community outside of Portland, not that far from Estacada. Reading the book felt a little bit like going home.

If you’d like some recommendations for more books that capture the sense of a particular place (whether Portland, Oregon, or elsewhere!) get in touch with me or one of the other My Librarians and we’ll put together a reading list just for you.

A Cheerful Volunteer

Volunteer Allan Karsk

by Donna Childs

Allan Karsk is the sort of smiling, good-humored fellow whose presence makes one feel happier. He was born, raised, and went to college in Nebraska before moving to Portland as a young man. He worked as a medical technician in Nebraska and continued that path here, at the Red Cross, where he worked until he retired.

That’s where the library comes in. As a library patron, Allan often thought what a pleasant place his Hollywood Library might be to volunteer. When the current hold system, which shares books and media among all 19 branches, was inaugurated, he realized that volunteers could help process all those holds. He now comes to Hollywood twice a week to do his part to keep the holds working well.

On Tuesdays, Allan searches for books requested by other libraries, enters the information, and labels them for the receiving branch. On Fridays, he processes books received from other branches, shelving them by patron name or number. In addition to feeling useful by helping to keep the hold system functioning smoothly, Allan likes finding out about unfamiliar books as he processes them. And, as a piano player, he has found some interesting music; he has even bought some at the library’s Title Wave Used Bookstore. Most importantly, though, he values the interaction with Hollywood library staff and the many interesting conversations he has had over the years.  

While Hollywood was being renovated, Allan volunteered at two other neighborhood libraries: Belmont and Gregory Heights.  While he found it interesting and useful to see how other branches work, he’s happy to be back in his home library at Hollywood.



A Few Facts About Allan 


Home library: Hollywood Library
Currently reading: The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons
A book that made you laugh: Anything by Carl Hiassen
Favorite section of the library: Fiction
E-reader or paper? Paper
Favorite place to read: In my recliner at home
Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

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!

Stacey Lee photo

Stacey Lee is a fourth-generation Chinese American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys. She believes she still has a bit of cowboy dust in her soul. A native of southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain. She plays classical piano, raises children, and writes young adult fiction. Her debut book is Under a Painted SkyFollow her: @staceyleeauthor

under a painted sky cover

I write young adult historical and contemporary fiction, but read across all genres. As long as it's a good story, I'm in! I didn't find enough stories about people who "looked" like me growing up, so I'd love to share with you some stories that either feature diverse characters, or are written by a diverse author. 

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith. A black girl in 1940s Louisiana joins the Women Airforce Service Pilots "passing" as white. A touching story of sacrifice and friendship.

Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert. A small town boy's radio minister father is accused of murdering a cop. This one will wring your heart dry.

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton. Backstabbing ballerinas. It's juicy. Read it.



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