Ah, the lost art of letter writing. I still find myself checking my mail hoping that there will actually be a personal letter mixed in with the credit card applications. But alas, I can’t recall the last time I received a real letter. When I want to immerse myself in the beauty of letter-writing, I shall open up Shaun Usher’s, Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of A Wider Audience

Letters of Note bookjacket

Shaun Usher loves letters (and lists too. His second book, Lists of Note includes such wonders as Michelangelo's illustrated shopping list and Marilyn Monroe’s New Year’s resolutions written when she was 29-years-old.).

But back to the pleasures of letters. Usher has collected 125 letters from far and wide and long ago to more recent times. Many of the letters are from well-known figures but some are from everyday folks. All of the letters have a short introduction to put them into historical context and a good share of them include a reproduction of the letter itself. The effort and creativity that went into these letters - a 13-year-old boy at a school for the blind wrote in Braille to President Eisenhower. The sadness - Virginia Woolf’s note to her husband before she committed suicide. Witty, funny, artistic ones. Beautiful, heartfelt, poignant letters. They’re all here.

If you’d like to peruse even more letters, take a look at Shaun Usher's website where he has posted a whopping 900 letters; they’re indexed in various ways so one could spend weeks reading all of them. Or take a look at some of these books that are chock full of letters. I, however, think I’ll go write a letter to a friend.

RoganGoshMcCarthyArtDark Horse Comics' The Best of Milligan & McCarthy is a gorgeous and (almost) exhaustive compendium, collecting the duo's legendary runs like "Paradax!," "Rogan Gosh," and the previously unavailable "Skin."  Both Milligan and McCarthy went on to forge distinctive careers, but the work collected in this collection is explosive, bewildering, and immediate - completely ignoring the careerist ambitions and institutional strictures both artists eventually had to confront and contend with . 

The comics are all over the place (sometimes head-wreckingly so) but they're always readily situated in the catastrophic top-spin of Thatcher-Reagan economic/social tachycardia.  McCarthy's artwork is typically hyper-active and color-saturated, pushing the physical boundaries of panel and page (the exception being the provisionally censored "Skin" - which is wrought in unique pastel colors by the always incredible Carol Swain). Milligan's writing winds a loose balance between non-linear and scabrous - taking very little seriously - but capable of surprising moments of tenderness and expansive vision.

Their work can definitely jolt - and possibly offend (especially "Skin" - which tells the sad angry, and brief tale of a thalidomide-deformed skinhead in the 1980s UK).  But it's heavily recommended for fans of politically-charged comics that explore the horizons and possibilities of graphic narrative and page art (see Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Sandman-era Neil Gaiman).


World War Two posterSecond World War- Spitfire - cut out viewAt the end of the Great War (as World War One was called at the time), people thought that such a large-scale conflict could never happen again.  Treaties were signed, the League of Nations was formed, new countries were created and Germany was heavily punished for its part in the war.  These measures did nothing to prevent a war from erupting twenty years later and, in fact, caused resentment in Germany that led to new German aggression.  In 1939, another conflict began in Europe that became World War Two.

For summary information and timelines, check out these two websites:
The History Place provides a timeline of World War II events. Many of the events have links to more detailed information and photographs. In its WWII section, BBC Education online explores secret service, presents radio reports the days before Britain declared war and sound clip memories of evacuees, and various photos from the war. The BBC also features a site for primary school students about children’s experiences during the war.  For a visually interesting site, see The Imperial War Museum’s page on WWII. It includes short essays, photos and film clips on everything from “How Alan Turing Cracked the Enigma Code” and “How Radar Changed The Second World War” to “11 Amazing Home Front Posters from the Second World War”.

For primary sources, take a look at Yale University’s World War II documents. This site provides the text of major documents including armistice agreements, Nuremberg War Crimes Trial sources, German and Japanese surrender documents, and more. The University of Washington also has links to primary sources from WWII and the era including photos of ration cards and posters, diaries, films and a WWII image bank with photos from the Netherlands, and much more.

photo of raising the flag on Iwo JimaFor resources about the involvement of the United States in the war, check out some of these sites:
A People at War highlights the contributions of thousands of Americans, both military and civilian, who served their country during WWII. The Pictures of World War II site from the National Archives includes about 200 photographs divided into a wide variety of categories; everything from "Japan Attacks" to "Rest & Relaxation". The National Archives website also includes links to World War II records including sections on America on the Homefront, Japanese American Internment and Relocation Records, and photographs of African Americans during World War II.  The National WWII Museum has a great collection of images and oral history interviews.  The U.S. Navy has a website devoted to WWII including information on Pacific battles, Pearl Harbor and the invasion of Normandy. PBS and Ken Burns created a televsion series entitled The War that is "the story of the Second World War through personal accounts of a handful of men and women from four American towns." You'll find lots of information from the series and links to other media and sources on this website

Hello, library blog reader! I’m typing this post to you from the air-conditioned confines of my carpeted library cube, quiet save for the [•hum•] of the computer and the sounds of other librarians at their other computers: [clickity-click], [clickity-click], and the occasional sniffle or private exclamation. 

Photo of Ross holding a copy of Horrorstor\\ Why am I typing this? \\ Sending this digital blog bottle out into the big Internet ocean? (That is an excellent question.) There is a type of book that I want you to know about. It doesn’t have an official name™, at least none that I know of, but I’ll call it the book as thing, or BAT*.

Most of the world’s books take their book-ness for granted. They line up their letters and words in comfortably normal columns on perfectly(1) numbered(2) pages(3), and you read them and say to yourself “Oh what a fine story.” But the BATs don’t conform to such literature societies' niceties. They chop up their sentences and paragraphs and strew them about, they dye their letters in garish colors, they go up-side down. They’re the punks and iconophiles of the book world, and they shout in your face:


Photo of Ross holding a copy of Ship of Theseus.And you, my dear computer-screen confidante, are forced to acknowledge:

I am this book’s reader.

Suddenly the act of reading has become a little more intimate, a little more personal. The walls between fictional world and your world have gotten a little more not-there. Creepy books become creepier. Weird books become weirder. Real books become real-er.

Where can you find a BAT in the wild? It's not easy. They might be hiding under the subject heading "experimental fiction" or "marginalia -- specimens." Helpful, I hope, will be a list that I have made for you called "Multcolib My Librarian Ross: The book, the thing," which will provide you with some specimens for your consideration.

Photo of portion of Ross's foot and The Familiar.When you’ve finished a BAT, you can close it up and put it back on your bookshelf, or back through the steel door of the library book drop. [•clank•] But unlike other books where the story is more tidily stored between the covers, it won’t be easily forgotten. Because this book isn't just a container for the story, it’s the story itself. It’s got your fingerprints all over it.


{*: Inspiration for this appellation - book as thing - should probably be credited to the wonderful, the amusing, The Thing The Book.}


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!

It can be frustrating, if you are a kid or teen, to find answers to questions you have about your own health. Sometimes you feel shy about asking someone else questions. And when you look on the Internet, there are so many articles, it’s hard to tell what to read and believe.

Try using KidsHealth and TeenHealth, to look up stuff about yourself, and for homework assignments about health, disease and the human body.

The library database Teen Health and Wellness has good articles about health and disease, (also great for homework), as well as links to teen help hotlines (including info on getting free mobile apps for hotlines). Articles here can be instantly translated into dozens of common languages other than English too. You will need your library card barcode number and PIN number to use this.

This list from MedlinePlus connects to lots of different articles about teen health you might also find useful.

Need more information? Contact a librarian to be sure you get what you need.



Human bodies need vitamins and minerals to function well. What’s the difference between the two? Vitamins come from organic sources (plants and animals), while minerals are inorganic and come from the soil and water. This chart tells you what each nutrient does, and how much a teen needs each day.  The best way to get vitamins and minerals is naturally, through eating foods that contain them. Vegetables and fruits are loaded with nutrients. It can help to have a chart that tells you what each food contains.

If you take vitamin or mineral supplements, what is the recommended daily allowance (or RDA)? This article explains why, as with any medicine, you should be careful of what you take, and also be sure to take the right dose for your age.

Need more information? Contact a librarian to be sure you get what you need.

Searching for information on Native American tribes and Native nations? These big web sites may be able to help you.

You can search tribes alphabetically to learn about them, and learn about native languages as well as native culture. Try putting the name of the tribe you are looking for in the search box to see what other information they list, or scroll down to find the names of tribes listed alphabetically.

If you would rather search by location using a map, you can find state-by-state information, covering historic and contemporary information, languages, culture and history.

If you still need more help, contact a librarian to be sure you get what you need.


Photo of Bob's dad in 1944In November of 1943, my Dad joined the US Navy at the age of 18. After basic training in San Diego and electrician training at Kansas University in Lawrence, he was assigned to service aboard an attack transport ship. He has often made light of this assignment, likening the captain and crew to that of the 1960s comedy McHale’s Navy. Sure, there were ships that experienced combat more directly. But just being in the South Pacific during those years left one under continuous threat of enemy attack. For instance, his ship once had to take evasive action to avoid hitting a mine; they fought off a kamikaze attack; and on April 1, 1945, his ship was one of the first ships in to debark troops for the final major battle of the war -- Okinawa. I’ve always been very proud of my Dad and his service to our country.Photo of Bob and his dad in 2015

So August marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Although it was thought that the war would only end with an all-out invasion of Japan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa ended up being the final fights with men against men; this was, of course, because of the atomic bombs being dropped on the cities of Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9.

Interested in reading about the closing days of the war? Here is a list of books on the two final battles and the catastrophic events that brought the war to a sudden end.

What was that book we read for the Capitol Hill Library Pageturners book group two years ago?  I want to recommend it to someone but can't remember the title. 

Capitol Hill Library Pageturners, 2013 - 2014


September: The Great Divergence: America's growing inequality crisis and what we can do about it, by Timothy Noah


October: The Secrets of Mary Bowser, by Lois Leveen


November: The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt


December: The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt


January: Radioactive : Marie & Pierre Curie, a tale of love & fallout, by Lauren Redniss


February: My Beloved World, by Sonia Sotomayor


March: Last Night I Sang to the Monster, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz


April: The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, by Timothy Egan


May: When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice, by Terry Tempest Williams


June: The Crying Tree, by Naseem Rakha


July: The Rook, by Daniel O'Malley


August: The Tiger's Wife, by Téa Obreht

Capitol Hill Library Pageturners, 2012 - 2013


September: Waxwings, by Jonatan Raban


October: We're with Nobody Two Insiders Reveal the Dark Side of American Politics, by Alan Huffman


November: State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett


December: The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery


January: Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and A Vast Ocean of A Million Stories, by Simon Winchester


February: Ten Little Indians: Stories, by Sherman Alexie


March: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson


April: If on A Winter's Night A Traveler, by Italo Calvino


May: Food, Inc., How Industrial Food Is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-- and What You Can Do About It


June: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, by Paul Torday


July: Salt: A World History, by Mark Kurlansky


August: Spiderweb, by Penelope Lively

Capitol Hill Library Quarterly Classics, 2013 - 2014


October: Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes


January: American Pastoral, by Philip Roth


April: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald


July: Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe

Capitol Hill Library Quarterly Classics, 2012 - 2013


October: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, translated by Simon Armitage


January: The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde


April: Medea, by Euripedes


July: Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf

Capitol Hill Library Pageturners, 2011 - 2012


September: Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, by Daniel Okrent


October: Mink River, by Brian Doyle


November: March, by Geraldine Brooks


December: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot


January: The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman


February: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, by Heidi W. Durrow


March: Palace Walk, by Najīb Maḥfūẓ


April: Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, by Mary Roach


May: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain


June: Death With Interruptions, by José Saramago


July: Bretz's Flood: The Remarkable Story of A Rebel Geologist and the World's Greatest Flood, by  John Robert Soennichsen


August: Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, by Tony Kushner

Capitol Hill Library Pageturners, 2010 - 2012


September: Lean on Pete, by Willy Vlautin


October: The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey


November: The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century, by  Edward Dolnick


December: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer


January: River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey, by Candice Millard


February: The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, by Wes Moore


March: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson


April: Moby Dick, Or, The Whale, by Herman Melville


May: The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction, by Tim O'Brien


June: The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-time Indian, by Sherman Alexie


July: Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City, by Greg Grandin


August: Arthur & George, by Julian Barnes



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