Blogs:

All you want to do is put your feet up and settle in with a good book. But with so many choices, how do you find that one good read that fits your mood? We can help, and we love to talk about books.

Drop in to any of our libraries and ask us for some suggestions, and together we'll find you something exciting to read. Do you want to ask for reading recommendations from the comfort of home? Just fill out this form to let us know what kind of books you most enjoy, and we'll send you a personalized list of books to read next. You can also call us at 503-988-5234, or chat with us online.

Ask us about novels, non-fiction, books for teens and kids, comic books, anything that interests you. We read good stuff, and we love to share, so drop us a line!

Are you a hiker, tracker, or hunter?  If so, you've probably used the United States Geological Survey (USGS) maps in your outdoor activities.

They are nice, big maps showing lots of topographical detail, physical characteristics of the land, and the names of roads and communities and bodies of water. Sometimes they're called "topo maps," "7.5 minute maps" or "7.5 minute quadrangles" (because they show 7.5 minutes of lattitude/longitude). You can visit Central Library's map room (on the third floor) and consult the library's collection of USGS maps for the western states.  If you want your own copy, you can usually buy them in outdoor-oriented sporting goods stores.

But did you know that the entire collection of USGS maps, for the whole country, are now available free online? Here's how to get to the USGS topo maps online:

Start at the Map Locator & Downloader (you can browse to this site from the main USGS website: www.usgs.gov > Map Locator & Downloader).

This tool allows you to find maps with a simple search for a place name. For example, if you are looking for maps of the area near Waldport on the Oregon Coast, just type waldport into the search box and click the "Go" button.

Now you'll see a map of the Waldport area.  The map has a grid superimposed on it, with the names of the different USGS maps in each square of the grid.  And, there is a red marker in the part of the grid marked "Waldport." Click on this marker and a little popup shows the maps that are available for that spot.

(If the red marker isn't in quite the right part of the map, click on the map in the spot you want and you'll get a new marker, which will pop up a list of maps for that area.)

To download a nice, high-definition pdf of the map you want, just click on the link that shows the file size. (In the case of the 2011 Waldport 7.5 minute map, the link says "18.1 MB.")

You'll see other maps in the popup list -- older maps and maps that cover a larger area.  And there is usually a link to related maps that focus on topics like mineral resources, elevation, hazards, etc.

 

  Questions? Ask the Librarian.

Have fun browsing and downloading maps from the USGS, and share your observations in the comments!

 

We added 29 new Pageturners To Go titles on Dec. 2. You’ll find them at the beginning of the Pageturners To Go list, ending with Delta Wedding. We’ll be adding new titles once a year from now on. You can leave a comment or tip for discussion — click on the title and then "add comment."

Pageturners To Go is sponsored by the Friends of the Library. More about Pageturners To Go.

How to search the new Library Catalog for music:
Top | Authors | Authors with Common NamesTitles | Keywords


Multnomah County Library has the largest collection for music of any public library in Oregon, and is one of the largest on the West Coast. This guide shows you how to find music books, scores, CDs and DVDs in the new Library Catalog, including:

  • scores with piano accompaniment on CD
  • DVDs to learn musical instruments or singing
  • complete works and indexes of major composers
  • 33,000+ music scores for beginners to professional musicians

Choose the catalog version you prefer: Bibliocommons(New Catalog) | Classic Catalog

In the Multnomah County Library network of libraries, Central Library has the largest collection of books, music scores, CDs, DVDs and videos. Request delivery to the Neighborhood Library that is most convenient for you.


Ask a Question:
Looking for something specific? Contact us.

As with the old saying "you can't tell a book Music Online Alexander Street Press Online Resource from Multnomah County Libraryby its cover" about books, the contents of the Library's online resources are often not fully apparent from the title. Music Online is just such a resource, consisting of not one online collection but eleven different thematic libraries of recordings, videos, books, and scores. You can use Music Online to look for something specific. But another way is simply to explore its astonishing content through the various collections. Here is a way to start:

Login with your Multnomah County Library card barcode and pin number. The box "Select Collections"  expands when selected to show the various libraries to explore, some consisting of books, others of recordings, videos, or scores. The "Advanced Search" at the top of the webpage is another good way to start, if you would like to search for a specific piece of music, composer or performer.



Example: Smithsonian Global Sound
This is a collection of folk and traditional music, from the Folkways Records and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, with cover art and liner notes.  Try it out: log in to Music Online with your Multnomah County Library barcode and pin number, and select Smithsonian Global Sound or one of the other collections. A good way to explore this collection below is to select one of the links in the BROWSE section.

Smithsonian Global Sound from Alexander Street Press

You can save tracks to playlists, and return to them each time by creating an account and logging in each time you use Music Online. Follow the sign in link at the top of each screen to create an account and log in.

Questions? Please let us know if we can assist you,

Beverly
Central Library Reference Librarian


 

Have you ever wondered why some picture books make children giggle uncontrollably or they are so engrossed that they begin to talk directly to the book itself as a one-on-one conversation? Or maybe why she holds on to her security blankie for dear life but still wants you to keep reading even though she is peeking through their fingers?  Well have you…huh?

Fortunately, I have been lucky enough to experience all of the above both as a youth librarian who does storytime and as a mother of two rambunctious readers, ages 7 and 8. Somehow after the first few pages you just know when a picture book is the most perfect-est, out of this world, fantabulous, read it to me again and again and again mommy, puh-leese!!!, type of picture book. 

Although you may think these great picture books are few and far between they are not as rare as you would think. They can actually happen quite often when you, the reader, commit to reading a good picture book the bestest way (yes, bestest is a technical term) you can.  Here, allow me to explain…

Look at the illustrations - what is the book about and what sort of emotions do the characters evoke? Are they excited, scared, curious or grumpy? Is there a loud race car vroom vrooming or a roller coaster whooshing by? Is there a bird chirping loudly or a child whimpering softly? And can you try to read the words and pictures in a way so that your child will feel the book?  In most good picture books the emotions will tell the story, and if you read the story with the umph of those emotions each turn of a page will surely be a cliff hanger for your young listener.  And chances are if the book is a cliff hanger for your young listener, if they can put themselves in the book because of how you read it to them, then they will probably want you to read it again and again.   And if you read the book to them again and again and again chances are you are fostering a love of books and reading in your young listener that will last a lifetime all because you read with a little umph.

 

A pro at this type of umph reading is the most wonderfulest Australian Author Mem Fox. Check her out reading the beloved Koala Lou and tell me you didn’t have to dry a tear when Koala Lou comes in second! 

I’m pretty sure that each and every one of us has odd culinary preferences that we only indulge when we’re alone. I often make a never-the-same-twice dish that very loosely resembles fried rice, created from various leftovers and my lazy determination to only dirty one pan; I indulge my sweet tooth with impromptu desserts made of various combos of peanut butter, honey, chocolate chips and raw oats. When I cook for myself I am both less thoughtful and more inventive than when I cook for others.

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone (edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler) is an irresistible window into the many different ways we approach cooking for and eating by ourselves. “A is for Dining Alone ...and so am I, if a choice must be made between most people I know and myself,” M.F.K. Fisher admits, as she writes about learning to make and serve herself delicious meals; other writers talk about the ritual of dining out alone. Steve Almond, on the other hand, hones his cooking skills only “in the abject hope that people would spend time with me if I put good things in their mouths;” Rattawut Lapcharoensap laments that recreating the meals of his native Thailand can “reinforce rather than eradicate feelings of dislocation and homesickness” when there’s no one to share them with him.  Some people talk about the joys of eating the same meal day after day without any diminished pleasure:  Ann Patchett admits happily eating Saltine crackers for dinner many nights in a row; Jeremy Jackson finds comfort in black beans and cornbread; Phoebe Nobles proudly eats asparagus every day for two months. And while Erin Ergenbright admits that dining alone feels wrong to her, Holly Hughes, a mother of three, fantasizes about the delicious meals she would eat if she only had to cook for herself. Writers proudly include their recipes for everything from Yellowfin Tuna with Heirloom Tomatoes to White-on-White Lunch For When No One is Looking.

I have read this collection three times now, and each time I am once again comforted and amused by all of the ways we find sustenance when no one is watching. As Laurie Colwin says in the first essay, “People lie when you ask them what they eat when they are alone. A salad, they tell you. But when you persist, they confess to peanut butter and bacon sandwiches deep fried and eaten with hot sauce, or spaghetti with butter and grape jam.”

So what do you eat when you are alone, really?

*From the essay “Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant” by Laurie Colwin.

Did you ever play with one of these as a kid?


(photo by Collin Allen)

Today’s toy phones often look more like this:

But whether it’s a rotary or a flip, did you know that when your child plays with a toy phone he is gaining skills he needs to get ready to read?  Maria Montessori, the Italian educator, famously said that “play is the work of the child.”  By definition play is fun, but for young children it isn’t just fun.  It’s actually the most important way they learn.  

So how does playing with a phone lead to reading?   In the first couple years of life, when your baby or toddler plays with a phone it will most likely look something like a real phone.  As she grows older, though, around two or three years old, you might find her picking up a block and pretending that the block is a phone.  Then around four or five years of age she might even pretend the air between her fingers and thumb is a phone.  

This progression in the development of children’s play is an example of an important concept called symbolic representation.  They start out with something very similar to a phone (the plastic phone) representing a real phone.  They graduate to something that only vaguely resembles a phone (the block) and finally reach a point where they can picture the phone in their imaginations.  Learning to read requires a very mature sense of symbolic representation.  Readers have to understand that the black squiggles on the page represent real objects and ideas.  That’s no easy task!  

Imagine being a baby, just learning about what a cat is.  You hear the family’s cat purring.  You feel its soft fur when it rubs against you.  You see it as it jumps down from the bed.  You love that cat so much that for your first birthday someone gives you a plush cat toy.  It doesn’t purr or jump, but it is soft, and you recognize it by its four legs, tail, whiskers and cat-like face.  Later, in preschool, your teacher reads Kitten’s First Full Moon.   Of course that cat isn’t even soft, but by now you have learned to recognize the image of a cat, even in its two-dimensional form.  In fact you have the image of a cat in your head, and when you play house with your friends you “feed” your pretend cat, even though there is “nothing” there.  Finally, when you are in school, learning how to read, you learn that these squiggles - cat - represent three sounds (kuh-ah-t), and that when we put those sounds together they make a word - cat! - and that word represents the sweet, purring ball of fur you know so well at home!

So enjoy playing with your child, and as you play together know that you are helping her on the long and glorious path called “learning how to read!”

The Brigton, a 1962 house design from the Aladdin Co. [via Flickr user Ethan]You may have heard a rumor that your house was "bought by mail order."  What does that mean, you might wonder?  Or you might have noticed that there are twins of your house dotted around your neighborhood.  Were all those twins built by the same company? 

It might be that your house was built from a mail-order plan -- or it could be that your house was bought fom a mail-order company that supplied the plans and a complete set of building materials cut to size and ready to assemble.   Mail-order houses like these are the ancestors of modern manufactured homes, but they were built on-site by carpenters using traditional techniques, just like architect-designed houses of the same historical period. 

The websites below showcase archives of house plans from mail-order home companies. They show exterior views of each house (some in color), floor plans, and prices.  Since most mail-order house companies also sold a multitude of cabinetry, fancy trim, plumbing and lighting fixtures, and furniture, you can sometimes get an idea for popular interior design of the period as well.

I should also remind you, the library has books with old mail-order floor plans in them too!  Check out the great list below for some examples. 

Questions? Ask the Librarian!  We'd be glad to offer you some personalized help with your research project.

One of the tougher skills for many folks new to computers is using a mouse.  Luckily, there are a lot of online mousing tutorials to help:

  • Palm Beach County Library has a mousing tutorial that is perfect for the new computer user and they include practice exercises and games
  • Love playing solitaire? World of Solitaire let's you have fun while your practice your clicking and drag-and-dropping skills
  • Geek Girl's Plain-English Computing covers how to properly hold a mouse, what's the difference between left and right clicks and what to look for when buying a mouse

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