by Jane Salisbury, MCL volunteer

Clarissa Littler had volunteered since 2016 for Multnomah County Library, teaching computer skills at neighborhood libraries, and teaching programming and other skills at the Rockwood Library Makerspace, but when the COVID-19 pandemic came to Oregon early in 2020, she embarked on an entirely new venture: using 3D printers to make face shields and other protective equipment to help frontline workers all over Multnomah County. 

Clarissa’s path to this amazing project was long and full: she was a physicist and a computer science researcher who eventually began working in curriculum design, with an emphasis on programs for teens. She worked as the director of curriculum design for Pixel Arts Game Education, a non-profit whose mission is to create safe learning spaces for young people to play and design games together. When the schools closed for the year because of the pandemic, she had time on her hands.

All over the world, the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) was rising, and designers were developing plans that could be used on ordinary 3D printers. A Czech company called Prusa developed a 3D printer design for a face shield that could be used widely. Using the makerspace equipment at Rockwood Library, and working with Ben Sanford, the makerspace coordinator, Clarissa began working 10-hour days making face shields. These are being distributed through OHSU and Portland Public Schools to frontline workers. Clarissa said, “During the COVID-19 outbreak, I was so glad to be able to use the makerspace. I really wanted to do something to help. I learned so much in the actual doing of this project.” 

Beyond her wonderful dedication to the library and her work as a curriculum designer, Clarissa pursues many interests: philosophy, art, and music, including a genre called algorithmic music, a subset of electronic music, which involves using coding to compose and perform music live. She reads widely. For example, at the moment, she is reading The Affect Theory Reader, a scholarly text, and a cozy mystery involving witches, which she describes as “silly fluff.”

Asked which book has influenced her most deeply, Clarissa cited The Phenomenology of Perception, by the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty. She spoke of its deep implications for consciousness and its exploration of how we perceive the world.

The library is deeply important in Clarissa’s life. She’s happy to have a good stack of books that she snagged before library buildings closed to the public. But more seriously, she said, “I see libraries as the last bastion of community space...it’s something I care about. I can get academic texts through interlibrary loan that I couldn’t possibly afford otherwise. I hope to continue working in the library.”  

Before the closure, Clarissa often walked the two miles from her home to Woodstock Library to pick up her books and spend time there. And she often took the bus to different libraries, way up to St. Johns, for example, to read and code and write in the comfort and community of the library space, which she values so highly. Her remarkable dedication and love of the library is a bright light in these complex times. 

by Sarah Binns, MCL volunteer

By the time Title Wave volunteer Diane Hogan and I finish our meeting we’ve talked about everything: From politics to cats, from the #metoo movement to how societal gender roles have changed over the past fifty years. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of the very interesting life of another one of Multnomah County Library’s fantastic volunteers.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Diane and her family moved to Corvallis when she was a pre-teen. She later attended Oregon State University, graduating “with a degree that no longer exists: secretarial studies.” She also got a bachelor’s degree in graphic design at PSU, but long before computer programs were the design method. “I’m not sure I could do it now,” she laughs.

Diane worked for a time as a civil service secretary with organizations like civil defense and the Worker’s Compensation Board. After marrying, she and her husband moved to Portland’s Alberta Street area in the early 1980s. Adventure arrived when her husband got a six month contract to teach in the Czech Republic. Diane laughed remembering their communal living arrangements there, especially being woken late at night by drunken people wandering the halls. She ended up teaching English to students, too: “Their teenagers are a lot more mature than ours!” she recalls.   

Diane started working at Title Wave in 1998, first organizing books in the back room and then becoming a cashier. She says she most appreciates “the great atmosphere and good coworkers. And you know,” she adds, “most volunteers, when they leave for the day, they take a book home.” Besides her time at Title Wave, Diane also volunteers at the cattery at the Oregon Humane Society three days a week and enjoys going out to eat with friends in her Alberta neighborhood. As we parted ways we exchanged cat photos (naturally) and I realized the next time I need a book I might bypass my library—and head to Title Wave to talk to Diane instead!


A few facts about Diane

Home library: Thanks to the wealth of books at Title Wave, “I haven’t been to the library in years!”

Currently reading: Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane. “It’s all about caves!”  

Most influential book: A twenty-volume encyclopedia set called The Book of Knowledge that originally belonged to her grandfather. “It had everything from French lessons to handwriting lessons…”

Favorite book from childhood: Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat by Morrell Gipson. “A few years ago I bought a brand new edition.” 

Favorite place to read: On the couch or on her exercise bike. 

E-reader or paper: “I don’t read e-books!”

 

Voluntaria destacada Gabby Delgado
por Jane Salisbury, voluntaria de MCL

Gaby Delgado ama a los niños. Todo en su vida refleja ese amor, inclusive su servicio durante los últimos tres años como asistente del programa con la Coordinadora de la Biblioteca Delia Palomeque Morales en el programa Listos para el Kínder (“Listos”). Listos es un programa para niños de habla hispana de tres a cinco años y sus padres. Las sesiones se llevan a cabo completamente en español, y los maestros enfatizan las habilidades de aprendizaje temprano, como la alfabetización y matemáticas tempranas, la autorregulación y las habilidades interpersonales. Se anima a los padres a que observen cómo sus hijos aprenden mejor y cómo generar confianza y conexiones con sus hijos a medida que crecen. Las familias de Listos con frecuencia se convierten en usuarios de la biblioteca.

Gaby fue maestra en Perú durante veinticinco años, donde trabajó con padres y niños pequeños, y realizó intervenciones tempranas con bebés. También enseñaba cómo dar masaje a bebés para ayudar a los padres a conectarse más profundamente con sus bebés.

Con su esposo y su hija Ximena, que ahora está en el último año de la escuela secundaria, Gaby fue a la Biblioteca de Gresham una vez a la semana para usar el Internet y hacer conexiones. Cuando vio un volante en la biblioteca sobre el programa Listos, pensó: "Esto es para mí".

Sobre su trabajo, Gaby dice: “Delia es excelente, es un ángel. En el programa Listos, trabajamos directamente con niños de 3 a 5 años, primero juntos y después los niños tienen su propio tiempo. Trabajamos en temas cosas como las letras, formas, colores, números y animamos interacciones positivas entre padres e hijos. Puedo aconsejar a los padres sobre cómo conectarse con sus hijos. Muchas familias son inmigrantes nuevos, quienes sólo hablan español y enfrentan muchos desafíos. Adoro trabajar con ellos”.

Gaby se crió en una familia en donde la lectura es valorada, pero las bibliotecas no eran iguales a como son aquí en Estados Unidos. Explica Gaby, “Las bibliotecas en Perú son muy diferentes; son académicas, silenciosas y solo se puede retirar en préstamo uno o dos libros. Estar en la biblioteca aquí es como estar en casa con la familia de uno”.

Toda la familia de Gaby participa en la biblioteca. Ximena es voluntaria en el program de Lectura de Verano, y el esposo de Gaby ha tomado clases de inglés en la biblioteca y gracias a eso ahora trabaja para Hacienda CDC.

Actualmente Gaby está volviendo a leer libros sobre masaje para bebés, preparándose para hacer algunos talleres sobre masajes y apego. Cuando le pregunté cuál fue su libro favorito de la infancia, Gaby dijo El Principito de Antoine Saint-Exupery. También disfruta de la poesía y los textos de Gabriel García-Márquez. Pero lo más importante para ella es el poema que dijo de memoria mientras estábamos sentadas en la biblioteca, porque refleja su propia experiencia y su profundo amor por los niños. El poema es “Tristitia” del gran poeta peruano de principios del siglo XX, Abraham Valdolemar. Las palabras la acompañaron durante toda su infancia y la ayudaron a cambiar su propia historia.

by Jane Salisbury, MCL volunteer

Volunteer Gaby Delgado

Gaby Delgado loves children. Everything in her life reflects that love, including her service for the past three years as a program assistant with Library Coordinator Delia Palomeque Morales in the Listos para el Kinder (“Listos”) program. Listos is a youth services program for Spanish-speaking children aged three to five and their parents. Sessions are conducted entirely in Spanish, and teachers emphasize early learning skills, such as pre literacy, early math, self-regulation, and interpersonal skills. Parents are encouraged to observe how their children learn best and how to build confidence and connection with their children as they grow. Listos families frequently become library users.

Gaby was a teacher in Peru for twenty-five years, working with parents and young children, and doing early intervention with babies. She has also taught baby massage to help parents connect deeply with their babies. 

When Gaby and her family came to the United States from Peru four years ago, the first thing they did together was go to the library. With her husband and daughter Ximena, who is now a senior in high school, she came every week to the Gresham Library to use the internet and make connections. When she saw a flyer at the library about the Listos program, she thought, “That is for me.”

Of her work, Gaby said,  “Delia is excellent, an angel. In the Listos program, we work directly with children ages 3-5, first together, and then the children have their own time. I set up, we work on things like letters, shapes, colors, numbers, and promote positive interactions between parents and children. I can advise parents on how to connect with their children. Many families are new immigrants who only speak Spanish and have many challenges. I love working with them.” 

Gaby grew up in a family where reading was highly valued, but libraries were not the same as they are in the United States. Gaby explained, “Libraries in Peru are very different— they are academic, silent, and you can only borrow one or two books. Being in the library here is like being at home with your own family.”  

Gaby’s whole family is involved at the library. Ximena is a Summer Reading volunteer, and Gaby’s husband has taken English classes at the library and now works for Hacienda CDC, as a result.  

Gaby is currently re-reading books on baby massage, getting ready to do some workshops on massage and attachment. When I asked her about a favorite book from childhood, Gaby mentioned El Principito, (in English, The Little Prince, by Antoine Saint-Exupery). She is also fond of poetry and the writings of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. But most important for her is the poem she recited by heart as we sat together in the library, because it mirrors her own experience and her deep love of children. The poem is “Tristitia” by the great early 20th century Peruvian poet Abraham Valdolemar. The words stayed with her throughout her childhood and helped her change her own story.

“I want to stay as fit as I can for as long as I can.”

by Sarah Binns, MCL Volunteer

June Fleming practically bounces into our meeting and gives me a batch of delicious carrots grown in her garden. The gesture says a lot about June: she is a woman with a generous heart who passionately loves movement, the outdoors, and the natural world. “I grew up in beautiful places and was always outside,” June says. “This was before kids sat in front of devices, you know,” she says with a laugh. 

At the age of 84, June may be one of Multnomah County Library’s oldest volunteers; but with her enthusiasm for activity and commitment to service, no one could ever call her “old.” For 24 years, June has read to senior citizens through Visiting Voices, an outreach program that no longer recruits volunteers. Since 1998, she reads weekly to residents of Parkview Christian Retirement Community. “I get so much from the people I read to,” June says. “This is a bright spot in my week.” June is the last remaining volunteer in the program, which will end when June stops her visits—not that she’s planning on that any time soon: “I want to stay as fit as I can for as long as I can!” she says, determined.

June’s life began on Monterey Bay, California, where her parents were business partners in an ice creamery/cafe. Avid readers, they often read aloud to June. This gave her a lifelong love of reading that she now shares with Parkview community residents. Other adventures in June’s life include being a field hand on her son’s farm, a six-week snow camping trip almost the length of Oregon, and having books published on wilderness route finding and backpacking foods. She also taught backpacking and snow camping classes for 30 years. 

In her 50s June met her beloved partner, Bob, when he took her snow camping class. Bob shared her passion for reading and encouraged June to get involved with Visiting Voices. “In 20 years together we read 146 books out loud to each other,” she says. Though Bob has passed away, June continues to read—and to hike as much as possible. “I want to die in my hiking boots,” she says, “but at the end of the trail so no one has to haul me out!” This is not a morbid thought for June, but rather an intention: “I’m not sad at all about being 84. I’m lucky to have made it this far!” May we all have as much passion and dedication at every age as June does now!


A few facts about June

Home library: Hollywood 

Currently reading: The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck.

Most influential book: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. “I bought it! I don’t usually buy books.”

Favorite section to browse: “I start with the blue DVDs, so Nova, PBS, and OPB specials.” 

Favorite book from childhood: Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. “One of the first things my husband did when he met me was give me his copy of the same book.”

Book that made you laugh or cry: Dersu Uzala by Vladimir Arsenyev, a Russian hunting and environmental memoir later made into a film. 

Guilty pleasure: “Ice cream!”

E-reader or paper: Paper. “I don’t even have a device.”

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

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