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.

A Committed Reader and TeacherVolunteer Ivy Wong

by Sarah Binns

Multnomah County Library volunteer Ivy Wong loves to talk about books, which means our interview for this article derailed several times as we discussed Harry Potter (the books of which she gradually collected as she grew up), The Hunger Games, and Sherlock Holmes mysteries (some of her favorites). Interestingly for someone as committed to reading as Ivy, her library volunteer work focuses on its people, not on its books. As an English as a second language (ESL) teaching assistant, Ivy provides an invaluable resource to many of Portland's immigrants and others who want to improve their communication skills.

Ivy grew up in Portland with Midland as her home library, though she recalls being awed on occasional visits to Central. While currently working on her bachelor's degree in business through a dual PCC/PSU program, she also volunteers two nights a week at Midland, organizing her college classes around the ESL classes. When I marvel at her commitment, she smiles. “Summer is easier” to balance, she says, “class ends an hour or two before I teach,” so she can go home and eat dinner; during the school year, however, she often eats in the car to make it to her students on time.

In the classroom, Ivy helps patrons with speaking and writing on a theme to get them familiar with English. She enjoys “being able to interact with those who come in for the classes and hear their different experiences.” She says she's met people from all over the world and through her students has picked up some Spanish and Ukrainian words, in addition to brushing up on her Chinese, which she also speaks.

In her spare time -- not that she has much of it -- Ivy reads, of course, with a preference for autobiographies and mysteries. She remembers checking out as many as 25 books at a time when younger. Now, however, she focuses more on her textbooks, but still tries to find time to read in the evenings. It's a lovely testament to her commitment that she says she'll keep teaching at Midland as long as the classes are offered and the students keep coming back.

A Few Facts About Ivy

Home Library: Midland Library

Currently reading: Textbooks for school, mostly business and writing books

Favorite book from childhood: The Boxcar Children series. “I always checked out one of the books when I went to the library.”

A book that made you laugh or cry: In high school, she read the last book in the Princess Diaries series and it struck a chord. “I was having some issues in school and the book made me look at [the situation] differently than I did before.”

Favorite section of the library: Fiction, for the variety

E-reader or paper?  Both. “Whatever way I can get access to a book, that's the way I'll read it.”

Favorite place to read: The library or a bookstore

Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

Christina Hammett and Troutdale: A Perfect Match

by Donna Childsvolunteer Christina Hammett

In the best relationships, each believes they got the better deal. That is clearly the case with Christina Hammett and Troutdale Library. Christina thinks the staff and patrons at Troutdale are terrific, and library staff has the highest praise for her artistic know-how, her shining attitude, and her unflagging readiness to help. 

Thanks to fond memories of participating in Summer Reading as a child, Christina began at Troutdale as a Summer Reading volunteer; now she is also a Branch Assistant and a Youth Program Assistant. She has really shone with youth programming, designing whimsically creative, interactive storyboards—often a couple a month--for the youth librarian to use in her storytime presentations. Because she is such a talented artist, the library has also asked her to make displays for other activities: Summer Reading, Lucky Day books, and the Lego group, for example. 

Christina studied journalism at Mount Hood Community College, where she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper; she has also been a sports reporter and photographer at the Gresham Outlook. However, with the decline in print journalism, plus the tight job market for new grads, Christina is now taking stock and trying to figure out what to do, whether to go back to school and what to study. Meanwhile she has a retail job and the Troutdale Library where she feels useful and connected to her community. She loves the people at the library, working with books, and interacting with people who read and talk about books. 

Every Wednesday, Christina goes through her 10-15 page list of holds requests. Like many volunteers, she finds this task a terrific way to discover new books she might not otherwise have known about. 

Christina may be unsure of her future path at the moment, but her intelligence, poise, creativity, and cheerful enthusiasm will make her an asset anywhere. Meanwhile, Troutdale benefits from her many talents.

A Few Facts About Christina

Home library: Troutdale Library

Currently reading: The works of Agatha Christie and A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare

Most influential book: The Diary of Anne Frank

Favorite book from childhood: The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, and Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

A book that made you laugh or cry: The Green Mile by Stephen King

Favorite section of the library: Fiction and mystery

E-reader or paper? Paper

Favorite reading guilty pleasure: A Song of Ice and Fire (series) by George Martin and anything by Agatha Christie

Favorite place to read: My bed

Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

From Summer Reading Assistant to Film Star

by Donna ChildsVolunteer Ryder Dopp

Summer Reading Leader, Teen Council member, Branch Assistant, Storytime Assistant, TechnoHost and video star, Ryder Dopp does it all. He is at the Holgate Library at least 2-3 hours a week, more when the Teen Council meets and even more when Summer Reading begins.

Ryder, who would otherwise be moving from middle to high school this fall, is homeschooled, which gives him freedom to learn in different ways. For example, he and his family lived in a 40-foot school bus for several years, traveling to Mexico and parts of the US. More recently, they have taken some 2-month long “big trips,” to Nicaragua, where they helped build a house, and to Thailand.

Here in Portland, Ryder’s responsibilities at Holgate give him opportunities to interact with other young people and to serve his community. As a Summer Reading Leader, Ryder’s tasks include supervising Summer Reading volunteers, entering data on readers, making sure prizes are available, and finding substitutes for Summer Reading volunteers.

As a Teen Council member, he meets twice monthly with other teens and library staff to discuss youth and library issues, undertakes projects (such as making ugly dolls or 1000 paper cranes), plans activities and creates games for kids.

His Storytime Assistant role, like Summer Reading, involves data entry (sign-ups, keeping track of attendees) and helping with details like name tags, for example. As a Branch Assistant, he pulls holds, reads shelves, and, sometimes acts as a TechnoHost, helping with computers, printers, and iPads.  

A Few Facts About Ryder

Home library: Holgate Library
Currently reading: Hunger (in the Gone series)
Favorite book from childhood: Falcon Quinn
A book that made you laugh or cry: Time Riders
Favorite section of the library: Young Adult books
E-reader or paper? Paper
Favorite place to read: My bed

Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

Giving Help and HopeVolunteer Ronald Fabricante

by Sarah Binns

At Multnomah County Library, one easily meets people with diverse experiences and passions. Ronald Fabricante, Central Library's longtime computer lab assistant, is the embodiment of this. When I set up a meeting with Ronald he says he'll be easy to spot because he wears steampunk glasses with blue lenses, a great introduction to a man who is an experience connoisseur.

A lifelong learner, Ronald grew up reading, especially encyclopedias, in Manila in the Philippines, and moved to Oregon after graduating high school. Approximately 80 members of Ronald's extended family have moved here from the Philippines. His childhood in Manila inspired him to give back to the community in Portland. “I came from a poor family and a poor society,” he says. “I know what it's like to have nothing, so I want to help.”
Ronald started volunteering in the periodicals department, but moved to Central Library's computer lab over five years ago. Though working full time and studying for a computer science degree, he still helps patrons with technical questions and resume writing. “I love working there,” he says. “I've seen a lot of people who are discouraged, frustrated, for whom it's difficult to find work. I identify every resource I can for them. I'm happy to give them help and a glimmer of hope.”

Ronald Fabricante Quote: "I'm happy to give them help and a glimmer of hope."By now, Ronald's lab visitors know more about him beyond his work as a volunteer. Many of his regulars have become friends with whom he discusses art, books, and poetry. He prides himself in diverse activities that include film dates, watercolor painting, and weekly trips to write poetry at the Chinese Gardens, “a nexus of tranquility” as he says. He also speaks six languages, including Russian and Spanish. 

With all of his interests in technology and art, Ronald describes himself as both traditionalist and modernist. His interest in steampunk, a sci-fi/fantasy genre which combines 19th century technology with futurism, represents him: “I am connected to the past to learn and appreciate its continual relevance, but also look forward to a bright future.” When I ask if his steampunk glasses work, he replies with a laugh that they are functional. It's a fitting response for this technical engineer with the eye of an artist.


A Few Facts About Ronald

Home library: Central Library for browsing when volunteering, but most books come from Washington County Library system, nearer where he lives.
Currently reading: Wildwood. “I lamented when I finished Harry Potter and I've been looking for something to enjoy as much as I did that series.” 
Most influential book: The Da Vinci Code. “It's thought-provoking and has so many elements of fiction, history, religion, and travel.”
Favorite book from childhood: Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, novels by Filipino hero José Rizal, which expose the abuses of the Spanish colonizers in the late 19th century Philippines.
E-reader or paper? Both. Ronald uses an e-reader for textbooks but still loves the way a book feels!
Favorite place to read: Portland Art Museum and the Grotto. 
Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.