Blogs:

With the availability of the Oregonian in searchable pdf format from 1861-1987, Multnomah County Library cardholders can piece together the unpublished history of music events and musicians in our city.  Search for reviews of concerts, names of musicians, bands, composers, or whatever is of interest to you, and save articles by sending them to your email address, print articles, or download.

As an entirely random example, here is what Portlanders thought of Aaron Copland's performance of his 1926 Piano Concerto (referred to as the Jazz Concerto) in the Sunday Oregonian review in August, 1930:  "There was applause enough to cover up the hissing which came from the stands."

Articles from the Oregonian cover the entire span of years from 1860 through articles published yesterday, available from home, school, or office with your Multnomah County Library card and pin number:

1860-1987 Oregon Historical Archive
1987-present Oregonian

Please call us if you would like any assistance in using the Oregonian:

Central Library Information Services
503.988.5234

The library has a large collection of books about sewing.  Jen Winn, sewing enthusiast and on-call staff person most often at Hollywood, has enhanced the book collection with this list of some of her best sewing picks from the Web. 

Colette Patterns is the work of local sewing and design mastermind Sarai Mitnick.  The Coletterie is the blog arm of Colette Patterns and it's a wonderful resource for garment construction and fabric choice. The patterns are vintage-inspired while still feeling wearable, modern and fresh.  The blog features wonderful photography and so many tips for giving new clothes that vintage touch.  (Subscribe for free to Snippets, their email tip of the week.  Good ideas galore!)  In addition, there's a vibrant forum where a person can find the answer to (or commiseration about) almost any sewing or fitting concern.  PLUS, she's written a fantastic book that we have in the our collection.
 
Oh, Fransson! is the blog of Elizabeth Hartman, local stitcher and quilt wizard.  She's a modern-style quilter, teacher, and author who writes simple, easy to follow instructions.  Her site has basic quilting tutorials and she also does a lot of quilt-alongs on her blog.  She's written two popular quilting books, both of which are available at the library.
 
Portland Modern Quilt Guild has a lot of good information and opportunities to meet other quilters of all skill levels on their blog, even if you're not a member.   What is a modern quilt anyway?  Check out this site to see!

If you're looking for information or inspiration from vintage pattern envelopes, Vintage Pattern Wiki is the place to go.  If you've ever bought a grab bag of patterns at an estate slae or thrift store, you know what I'm talking about.  It's not always easy to find details on old patterns, but the Vintage Pattern Wiki is a great place to start.

True Up:  All Fabric All the Time is a blog by Kim Kight, who keeps readers updated with new fabric lines as they come out, notifies about online fabric sales and is a bit of a printed fabric historian as well.  She too is an author and we have her book, A Field Guide to Fabric Design, which has beautiful pictures and salient information if you've ever thought about designing and printing your own fabric.
 
Wise Craft is the blog of Blair Stocker from Seattle.   She's just completed a series on granny squares, but there's always something new around the bend.  Lots of ideas for re-use (she has designed holiday craft projects for Value Village, among other things), but she also talks about home decorating, quilting, knitting, painting, collage and so on.  She recently announced that she's working on a book, but it's not out yet. I can't wait to read it!
 
Crochet Empire is a fairly new local site by Erich Treeby. Crochet designs cover everything from amigurumi to fancy doily rugs and beyond. He's got tutorials, yarn reviews, pattern reviews, and is good at answering questions. 
 
A Dress a Day is a whole lot of fun!   Erin McKean sews mostly vintage or vintage style and is very upfront with the triumphs and trials of matching plaids or getting your zipper in straight. She's also the founder of wordnik and the author of The Secret Lives of Dresses, (fiction with a little romance, some sadness, familial love, a victory and a lot of vintage dresses).

Contributed by Jen Winn from Hollywood Branch Library.

"In our era, more than some others, writers must buck up and take care of themselves" says Susan Bell in The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself. If you are writing the Great American Novel or just want to improve your style, study this book. Full of examples, graceful writing and thoughts from published authors, The Artful Edit is entertaining. 

Bell illustrates her points by studying the well-known masterpiece, The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald, and illustrating Fitzgerald's collaboration with the marvelous editor, Max Perkins.  More about Max in a moment.

She says, "Fitzgerald, too, was a master of the squared-off paragraph. He began and ended many with a startling mix of style, philosophy, and itch -- the itch that can only be scratched by moving to the next paragraph..." 

That "itch" has just the right touch, as does 'free-fiddle" in the following observation of the author Luc Sante,  "At the end of a work, he allows himself free-fiddle with words but not structure."  I like Bell's way with words: "If you've written a bird's nest, then, untangle your ideas. Separate them into a few sentences. One small sentence, written well, can tell more than an expansive one that's gangly."

And again: "When you edit, determine what is mystery and what is muddle; the first to be respected and left alone, the second to be respected and cleaned up." 

There are many ways to edit and the book is filled with examples of how different authors approach the process. For example, Michael Ondaatje says, "Having a concept of what the book is exactly about before you begin it is a tremendous limitation, because no idea is going to be as intricate and complicated as what you will discover in that process of writing it." Continuing he says, "I always write the beginning at the end. It's the last thing I write because then I know what the book is about."  

I was so taken with the collaboration between Max Perkins and F. Scott Fitzgerald that I was inspired to read more about the famous editor. I found a lovely book of family letters collected by Max's five daughters and published as The Family Letters of Maxwell Perkins complete with his clever illustrations; also a biography, Max Perkins: Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg.

Berg says of Perkins, "Beginning with Fitzgerald and continuing with each new writer he took on, he slowly altered the traditional notion of the editor's role. He sought out authors who were not just "safe," conventional in style and bland in content, but who spoke in a new voice about the new values of the postwar world. In this way, as an editor he did more than reflect the standards of his age; he consciously influenced and changed them by the new talents he published."

Max not only edited Fitzgerald, but also Ernest Hemingway and Tom Wolfe among others. He even conjured up new plots or offered ideas for his authors to develop.Max's greatest gift was summed up by his longtime friend, Elizabeth Lemmon, in a letter to Max's wife after his death, "I have known people who were considered pillars of strength and loved to be leaned on, but Max poured strength into people and made them stand on their own feet."

After reading the story of Max and Tom Wolfe, I must now read Wolfe's autobiographical novels. Isn't it great when one book leads to another? So many books, so little time.

 

When I decided I wanted to dust off my childhood knitting skills and learn to knit socks, my mother gave me one of the greatest presents a knitter can get -- a copy of the all-around practical guide, Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book.  This 1930s-era gem has instructions for all manner of knitting basics (different ways to form knit and purl stitches, pattern-drafting how-to, basic patterns for gloves and mittens and socks, different ways to wind yarn into a ball, and so on) as well as a lively history of knitting down the ages and some sections on sophisticated topics like beaded knitting and Shetland shawls.  If you must limit yourself to just one knitting book, this is the one you should have.

But who can limit themselves to just one book?  Mary Thomas teaches knitters how to design their own projects, and any knitter doing design work needs a guide to stitch patterns.  The most complete, most beautifully presented, most clearly explained series of knitting stitch patterns is definitely Barbara Walker’s four collections of stitch patterns gathered through extensive research and correspondence with knitters.  Just about every stitch you might ever want is contained in these four volumes: from ribbing to edging, from cables to mosaic patterns, from simple knit/purl patterns to elegant lace.  And every one has clear, cogent instructions and a helpful photograph of the finished result.

Should you find that designing your own projects really suits your style, you must run, not walk, to the last of my Three Queens of Knitting, Elizabeth Zimmermann.  Begin your exploration of Zimmermann’s brilliance with the pocket-sized Knitter’s Almanac, a collection of twelve projects for each of the twelve months of the year.  You’ll find detailed instructions for each, but Zimmerman also lays out her pattern design logic and explains the math of sizing patterns up and down to fit different figures or suit alternate yarn.  Even if you merely read the Knitter’s Almanac, but never make any of the projects, you will close the book a better, smarter knitter!  

What’s next after you’ve gotten to know the Three Queens of Knitting?  It’s up to you!  But rest assured, you can always find more books, dvds, and magazines for knitters at the library.

Questions?  Ask the Librarian!  We'd be glad to help you find the right knitting book, or help answer your other craft questions!

Who likes the post-apocalypse? How about when it happens right here in Multnomah County? Etiquette for an Apocalypse by Anne Mendel is the funniest book you’ll ever hear described as “a mystery-thriller set in northwest Portland after environmental disasters cause the collapse of of civilization as we know it.”

No, there aren’t any zombies for Sophie (the heroine) to battle, and who needs ‘em? Shady characters may be aiming to take over what’s left of the world, while an even shadier character may be engaged in serial killings. (Or is it the other way around?)

This is a perfect summer read if you want to 1) laugh, 2) turn pages one after the other not able to put the book down, and 3) get inspired to stockpile toilet paper, duct tape and big black garbage bags.

Dystopia has never been so much fun.

You may have heard of Polk's city directories, but there are other companies that published city AND rural directories. These are commercial products, so were developed to help businesses.

The earliest Portland City Directory was published by S.J. McCormick in 1863. It included information on new buildings and newcomers, on fires, city improvements, locations of fire stations and alarms. It also included the names of the men who lived in the city -- and the names of some women. (Primarily those who owned a business, had an occupation, or were unmarried, living outside of the parental home.)

Businesses paid to be listed in the Directory; some purchased highly detailed advertisements, while other smaller businesses like neighborhood general stores simply listed their name and location.

Another important value to business beyond advertising, was the list of residents in the city. If someone wanted to rent or buy services from a business, the Directory could be checked to find out if the person lived locally, and where; in later years a check of earlier directories under the name, would let the business know how long they lived in the City, what their occupation was, and whether they moved often. All information that helped a business decide whether to extend credit to a customer, to hire someone to do a job, to lease or sell to a person.

The best way to find these kind of directories in the library catalog is to search using the name of the city or the county and the word "Directories" as a subject keyword search; eg, Wasco Directories. Eugene Directories, Baker Directories.

It's summer - regress a little! Have a Popsicle (root beer and white licorice were the best flavors). Swing on the monkey bars. Revisit some of the books you loved as a child. The best ones will be just as good as you remembered, and offer fresh pleasures to an adult perspective.

George Bernard Shaw famously said that youth is wasted on the young; maybe some great kids' books are wasted on young readers. Two classics, The Yearling and National Velvet, were originally written for adults - but since their main characters are children, they were marketed, unimaginatively, as books for children. How many kids tossed them aside after a chapter or two? Years or even decades later, though, they're worth a second look.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Enid Bagnold both loved their home landscapes, the scrub woods of central Florida and the chalk cliffs of the English coast, which they evoke with such detailed vitality that the land itself becomes a vivid character in their books. Both stories are superficially about animals: The Yearling's title refers to an orphaned fawn adopted as a pet by a poor farming family, and National Velvet follows a horse-crazy village girl as she trains up a runaway piebald to be a steeplechaser.

While the animals and gorgeous settings are appealing, what's so moving and worthwhile in both books is their true common theme, which is how the deep, wordless bonds of community and family guide, ground, and sometimes confound us. These poignant books will reward and satisfy parents of sensitive misfit children, adults who were themselves those children, and everyone who's felt the ties which bind us so fiercely to people who don't always understand us very well.

Which children's books do you still like to read? Tell us in the comments!

It's nearing election season again and it's time to think about voting, if you're eligible. I remember being so excited about my right to vote that I registered on my 18th birthday. And then I moved two months later and had to update my registration! 

If you're registering for the first time, you can register online through the Secretary of State's office Elections Division at oregonvotes.org; print the form (PDF) and mail it; or register in person at the Multnomah County Elections office or any DMV office. If you've moved, changed your name or just want to change your party affiliation, you can use those same links to update your voter registration. 

Can I register to vote if I have a criminal record but am recently out of prison? Can I register to vote if I'm homeless? In Oregon, the answer is usually yes, and these questions and more are highlighted in the Frequently Asked Questions page on the Secretary of State's website. Multnomah County also has an FAQ for voter registration

Remember, the deadline to register for any Oregon election is 21 days before election day. November 6th is the date for this year's big election, so the deadline to register this year is October 16, 2012.

Three bookworms and a dog person took a shared place at the Oregon coast for a long weekend. Unsurprisingly it was a little damp, leaving plenty of time for books. And a vacation, however short and close to home, isn't the place for deep reading but for enjoying oneself!  So, without further ado, here are the titles that were the best of the weekend.

One person was reading Redshirts by John Scalzi. Based on their reaction this is absolutely hilarious if you've watched the first Star Trek series.  If, like me, you haven't but are familiar with the genre, it's still an amusing story riffing on the foibles of bad science fiction television - I'm pretty sure I missed many of the jokes but I liked it quite a bit anyway.

I read Casket of Souls by Lynn Flewelling. This is the sixth book about a pair of spies and thieves in a nicely detailed fantasy setting--think roughly halfway between medieval barbarism and the Renaissance and you should have a fairly good idea of the setting. The author has an earlier series set in a more standard medieval fantasy world called the Tamir Triad. Flewelling writes beautifully detailed settings and sympathetic, likable characters; these are the lightweight beach novels of the epic fantasy genre.

The last thing I read was Shadow Ops. Control Point by Myke Cole.  I'd noticed this debut novel had a very solidly positive set of reviews so I decided I'd give it a try. I had the oddest love/hate reaction to this book. I didn't like the plot. I didn't like many of the characters. I didn't like the setting. It was well written though, and so I'd have to say it just wasn't to my tastes, despite being quite good. A quick summary: magic has popped back into the world and America has reacted by cracking down HARD on the unfortunates who have magic. Our hero is a good soldier and a decent man who has the bad luck to turn up with a prohibited  magic power right after having a really hard time morally with the last target he was sent to take down. It's a page turner. I finished it in a single sitting and it was entertaining and deserved the good reviews. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes military science fiction/fantasy. I really liked this one in spite of myself. 

Congratulations! Your car is in a thousand parts on a blue tarp in your driveway. Now how are you going to put it all back together again? Luckily for you, we've got the resources you need to repair your vehicle and get your wheels back on the road.

Are you looking for a manual to figure out what part goes where? Auto Repair Reference Center is a comprehensive collection of repair and maintenance information on most major manufacturers of domestic and imported vehicles. 

You'll also find wiring diagrams and other useful information in Alldata, a source used by vehicle technicians around the country. This resource is available at the Central, Gresham and Midland libraries.

Can't find what you're looking for in these online resources? The library has a wide variety of automobile repair menus. Try searching with the keywords "automobile", "repair" and adding the make of your vehicle. And of course, you are always welcome to contact a librarian with your research question and we'll be happy to help you out.

If you've done a fine repair job and are now ready to sell your car, take a look at our blog post: Buying or Selling a Car? Get the information you need with these librarian-approved resources. 

Maybe you've given up on your car and are now ready to donate it to a worth cause? Take a look at Give.org. This site, built by the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, reports on charitable organizations that are the subject of donor inquiries. The Alliance offers guidance to donors on making informed giving decisions through charity evaluations, various "tips" and giving information, and the quarterly Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide.

 

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