I recently finished a three-month temporary assignment as a delivery driver here at the library. I have to say, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would when first asked. Upon reflection, however, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I’ve always liked to drive; I’ve had a fascination with cars since I was a little kid; and I find the history of the automobile, both from a social and technological perspective, of great interest. Okay, I don’t know how much any of that has to do with driving a box truck full of books around Multnomah County but, hey, it’s an excuse to introduce some of my favorite books about driving.

Trucking Country book jacketMost directly related to my experience is Trucking Country, an academic study of the commercial trucking industry in the U.S. and the rise of free-market capitalism in the 20th century. I thought it was fascinating but recognize it may not be for everyone. Much more accessible is The Big Roads. This is a popular history of the interstate highway system. The author, Earl Swift, focuses on the personalities involved in designing and administering what has been one the largest public works projects in the world. Its success can be measured in how ordinary it all seems today, yet 100 years ago nothing like it existed. I-84 certainly made commuting out to East County easy for me!

What is it about abandoned cars that is so fascinating? Here’s an early 1950s Dodge truck in southern Utah I photographed during a photo of an abandoned truck2013 road trip. The 1949 Buick in the background can also be seen in the book Roadside  Relics. Naturally, I have to include the travelogue, particularly its most American of subsets, the long-distance road trip. There is a whole romance to the open road in American culture. For example, consider how often in movies and especially car commercials the automobile is depicted as a source of freedom and adventure. This sense of romance has been captured in some truly beautiful books such as William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways, John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, and perhaps best known of all, Jack Kerouac’s semi-autobiographical On the Road. One of my favorites, however, is Driving to Detroit byDriving to Detroit book jacket Lesley Hazelton. Hazelton is a journalist best known for her reporting from the Middle East and her books on Islam, but often overlooked is her love of the car. Born in Britain but a naturalized American citizen, this six-month road trip from Seattle to Detroit and back is many things: her love letter to the automobile; an effort to understand the American affection for the highway; and an admission that cars can horribly damage the environment. Yes, it’s a mixed message, but she pulls it off so well. Her meandering drive brings her in contact with a host of colorful characters that truly reflect the many facets of the automobile in American culture.

If you’re interested in the car, or car culture, try one of the books above or something similar. If you have a favorite book to share, leave me a comment below.

Piggy bankLet’s face it, spending money can be fun. You can use your money to buy new video games, books, tickets to a movie, clothes, yummy food at the food carts, and scores of other things. But just as spending money can be fun, saving money can be fun too.

Knowing how to save your money is an important life skill to have, and there are a couple of different ways that you can save your money. The easiest way to save money is to put it in a piggy bank or money jar. You can also save your money by putting it in a savings account at your bank or credit union.

Did you know that you can earn money by saving money? When you put your money in a savings account you are allowing the bank to borrow your money, and the bank pays you interest. So you earn money by letting your money sit in the bank.


Would you like to learn more about managing your money? Ask a librarian, we'll be glad to help!

Grace Lin and giant cupcakeDid you love reading and sharing Anne of Green Gables? Author Grace Lin grew up in New York reading this childhood classic, but wishing there were stories like that with a girl that looked like her in them. She explains it best herself in this interview in Publisher’s Weekly. 

The children in Grace’s books may have Asian faces, but are anything but stereotypical. These characters are recognizable first for their typical childhood struggles and joys and second as living among different layers of Chinese and American culture.  To add to this, she illustrates her books in a bright, folk-art inspired style.

Lin’s book, When the Mountain Meets the Moon, won the Newbery Award in 2010. It was written for the 4-8th grades, but adults will also love this story and it will delight children ages 6-8 as a read aloud. The story is set in old China, with Chinese folktales and a bit of magic deftly woven into the narrative. You can hear Grace read from it on her website.

Grace Lin has also written excellent picture books, easy readers, and realistic fiction. Parents of 4-8 year olds might buy some fortune cookies and enjoy Fortune Cookie Fortunes. Or, after reading Lissy’s Friends, parents of school-age children could discuss how it feels to be left out of a group.

With your beginning reader, you can laugh with Ling and Ting, two twins that look the same, but act differently. (These were inspired by another of Lin’s childhood favorites, the classic triplet series, Flicka, Ricka and Dicka.)

2nd to 4th grade children will relate to Pacy in The Year of the Dog, a young girl who is worried that she has no special talents and can’t imagine what career she’ll have when she grows up. Adults will appreciate the warm family scenes and the interwoven Taiwanese-American culture.

Grace Lin, a new classic author.

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 (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, 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.

A friend recently shared an article "I'm with the Banned" by Lauren Myracle, author of the popular Internet Girls books (L8R G8R, Ttfn, et. al.) about her experience doing an AMA on Reddit (e.g. "ask me anything").  Myracle writes fiction for teens, and her books, "have a history of being banned."  She writes, "Censorship is a hot topic. We Amer'cuns like our freedom."

So, why does she write "objectionable" books?  Because she wants to make a difference: 

"..I write with the hope of handing my readers a mirror in which they can see themselves as well as a window through which they can see the pains and joys of others."

And believe it or not, many teens think about things their parents may not like.  Reading a book is a safe way to explore issues and behaviors.  But if the books aren't available, youth may have to test it out for themselves.  Which would you prefer?

Questions? Don't hesitate to Contact a Librarian.

My brother is a fifth grade teacher and he sometimes asks me for ideas for books he can read to his class. With all the hoopla that attended the release of the first couple of movies, his class was trying to get him to choose The Hunger Games, but he thought that it contained too much violence and romance for 10-year-olds. I agreed and then suggested Lois Lowry's classic dystopian novel, The Giver.

I’m excited about the movie based on The Giver, which is being released on August 15. I really love the book, about Jonah, a boy living in some future world in which individuality, intense emotion and even color are outlawed, and in which all of life’s important decisions are made by the community’s leaders. Everything seems very calm and ordinary in this world-- but then Jonah is assigned a new and mysterious job that allows him to discover the truth about his community.

Parents should know that the book contains no sexual content and not much in the way of overt violence, although there is definitely some darkness. Jonah was twelve in the book, though, and in the movie he's about sixteen, so the filmmakers seem to have taken some liberty with the story. Do have the kids read the book before they see the movie, and read it yourself, too. It’s a very good novel, beautifully written and thought-provoking. And if you have kids who are interested in young adult dystopian fiction, but you think they’re a little young for The Hunger Games and Divergent, check out this list.

Craigslist is a popular online tool for job searching. Because it’s open to anyone, there is a wide variety of jobs available, but be careful to avoid scams!

Here’s how to search, but keep in mind that services like this change all the time, so it might look different when you try these steps.

Start at Craigslist.

In the jobs column, find your field or click jobs to search all jobs.  

The default search is “all portland,” which includes Multnomah County plus six additional counties. Use the drop-down menu to refine the search to a specific county.

Choose a county

Type a keyword or keywords into the search box. Don’t enter a complete sentence, just use a few words that describe the job you want.

  1. Limit the search by using the check boxes for telecommute, contract work, internship, part-time work, or non-profit. Leaving these blank will generate the most results.

  2. Click search.

  3. Organize results the way that’s most useful for you. Map displays your results on a map so that you can see where each job is located.

  4. Click the link to read a description of the job.

Apply for the job:

Be sure to read the entire job description. Follow the application directions in the posting very closely.

Often you can apply for the job using email by clicking the reply button.

  1. Click the reply button

  2. From the drop-down menu, select the text in the copy and paste into your email field.

  1. Right click and select copy.

  2. Paste that email address into the To field in your email.

For more help, try the Craigslist help page.

For more help searching for a job, try Multnomah County Library’s Jobs and careers page, Job Seekers’ labs, and classes for job seekers.


The library has all kinds of wonderful materials that will help you learn your next language — but sometimes it seems like you need to learn library-ese to find them! 
Here are some key phrases that will help you in your search for language learning books, CDs, and more:
"Self instruction"
Search this term, along with the name of your language of interest, to find all sorts of media that will help you in your efforts to teach yourself. If you find you want to narrow down the results after you search, use the Format filter on the left — know that the ‘Book’ drop down arrow also includes a ‘Book Plus CD’ choice, so don’t ignore it if you are looking for audio! Example: Tagalog "Self Instruction"
Sound Recordings for English Speakers
This phrase will help you in finding audio-only courses. Example: Vietnamese "Sound Recordings for English Speakers"
“Bilingual Books”
A search for this phrase will bring up books that have the same content in two different languages. If you simply add your language the first results should be books in that language and English. Example: Chinese "Bilingual Books"
However, if you want a more precise search go to our Advanced Search page, use the drop down menu to select Subject and enter “Bilingual Books,” then chose your language from the drop down Language menu. Example: subject:("bilingual books") language:"spa"
Looking for more tips on searching, or other help with your language learning? Ask us!

Grand Central Baking BookOne of my favorite things to do is bake. The only kind of cooking I really like doing needs to involve some sort of baking (savory tarts, potpies, even meat loaf qualifies). I also enjoy dining at many of Portland's fantastic restaurants. One of the best ways to combine these 2 loves of mine is to find cookbooks that have been written by the fine chefs of those establishments. I give 4-star reviews to those cookbooks that actually have recipes that come out as delicious as when the restaurants whip them up.

One of my absolute favorite baking books is The Grand Central Baking Book. First of all, Grand Central Bakery is one of the best cafes around; their cinnamon rolls, jammers, and all of their breads are amazing. The recipes in this cookbook are easy to follow with lots of tips on how to create the delicious treats exactly as they are served in their cafes. Two floury thumbs up for the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I made!yummy cookies

Mother's Best bookjacketAnother wonderful restaurant/cookbook combo I recommend is Mother's Bistro & Bar/Mother's Best: Comfort Food That Takes You Home Again by Lisa Schroeder. I've enjoyed everything I've made or eaten from Mother's. Again, she gives you little tidbits of information so that your recipes will be even better. Try the chicken and dumplings or the meatloaf. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Try a local restaurant then recreate those recipes at home!

AdCasebook bookjacketults so often think the world belongs to them. They are the do-ers and the deciders. What does that limited perspective look like from a kid's point of view? Two recent books in very different formats ask the question,  'what does it look like when the adults around you - the ones you rely on for stability and guidance - lose it?'

In Casebook, Miles is increasingly alarmed by his mother's erratic behavior after she and his father break up. Rather than just leaving the adults to do what it is adults do, he launches a surveillance campaign. He and his best friend Hector go from eavesdropping, to monitoring email, to setting up an elaborate phone tapping system, all so Miles can determine what his mom is thinking, how the new man in her life, Eli, will affect him and his twin sisters, and where Eli goes when he is not with them. As Miles and Hector begin to grow more suspicious of Eli's motives they pool their money to hire a private investigator - one of the sole adults who treats their concerns seriously.

In the graphic novel This One Summer, Rose and Windy are the best of summer cottage friends. This year, Rose has a crush on the clerk at the town's corner store, so the two girls create a ritual of visiting frequently for gummy bears and horror movies, all the while surreptitiously observing the dramas and relationships of the town's teenagers. All is not well at Rose's cabin either; her mother seems depressed and removed from the excitement of life at the cottage while Rose's dad tries his best to enjoy and encourage Rose's sense of wonder. As Rose and Windy move around the edges of an incomprehensible adult world, they cling to the games and activities that remind them of a world unsullied by adult complications. Dreamy line drawings evoke the joy and enthusiasm of childhood and the mystery of the encroaching adult world.

If you enjoy stories set in that precarious limbo between childhood and adulthood, these might be just what you're looking for.



Subscribe to