Blog: Adults

¡El verano ya está aquí y con él un sinnúmero de actividades por realizar! Nada mejor que planear lo que queremos hacer y que hemos dejado pendiente por tiempo. Mis preferencias durante esta estación del año van desde leer un libro en una tarde soleada o escuchar otro libro cuando estoy limpiando mi casa. Tal vez leer en compañia de la familia o leer un libro ilustrado con su niño pueda ser otra alternativa.

Otra actividad para disfrutar y divertirse es participar en la Lectura de Verano para adultos que la biblioteca del Condado de Multnomah ofrece año con año. Cocinar ricos platillos y compartir las recetas de los mismos con mis amigos es algo que me encanta hacer también. Qué tal el trabajo en el jardín, plantando flores o vegetales. Y qué decir de los paseos al aire libre o por la playa. ¡Con los días largos llenos de luz natural no hay tiempo que perder! Cualquiera de estas opciones y otras más hacen del verano un tiempo lleno de memorias especiales. ¿Cuál será su historia este verano? 

"You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive." - James Baldwin

Stories help us understand ourselves and empathize with others. Explore these lists featuring authors and characters who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, Two-spirit and more. From romance to manga, history to science fiction, find your next good read here.

Are you looking for books for kids and teens? Find them here. If you're looking for reading recommendations beyond these lists, try My Librarian.

"Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know." - Alberto Manguel

Talking with people about books is a shortcut to knowing them -- what they think, value and love. Talking together about books builds understanding and community. Get started with these resources to find, join and sustain book groups.

People reading and talking online
Finding a book group

The library is currently focused on providing online book groups for youth. Find listings for these book clubs, as well as one time events by searching for Book Clubs and Discussion Groups under “type of event” on the library’s events page.

Everybody Reads is the library’s community wide reading project, taking place each year from January to March. Check the Everybody Reads page for details about book discussions and related events.

Mt. Hood Reads - Every year, Mt. Hood Community College invites students and members of the community to join them for discussions around a book or books.

Noname Book Club is an online/irl community dedicated to uplifting POC voices by highlighting two books each month written by authors of color. Here is a list of their past picks available from Multnomah County Library.

Indigenous Book Club is a digital book club for reading Indigenous authored books and books about Indigenous people. All are welcome, with special respect and centering of Indigenous people.

Prose Before Bros is a Portland book community that focuses on literature that centers and prioritizes the  experiences of Black and brown woman. Here is a list of their featured titles.

Science Friday book club - Science Friday runs this online book club for those interested in reading and exploring science. 

BookBrowse Online Book Club offers a curated resource of contemporary fiction and nonfiction, with an emphasis on books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding.

Delve Reader Readers’ Seminars, via Literary Arts - There is a cost to participate in these discussions featuring canonical books.

Sustaining a book group

Finding books that appeal to everyone can be challenging, but we have resources to help. Check out our Pageturner to Go kits that include 10 copies of popular book discussion titles.

Do you need help with ideas for you next read? Ask our My Librarian team - we can provide customized lists based on the tastes of your group, and help you place holds on multiple copies. We can also help with books in Spanish.

If you’re primarily using digital titles, check out this  "Always Available" e-book collection from OverDrive, made up of some 3000 classic titles.

Here are the most popular available e-books - this link updates automatically to available titles. 

Is your question about book groups still unanswered? Contact us for more information.

For information about all library services, call 503-988-5123. 
Looking for help on a variety of topics? Start with our list of Lifelong Learning resources.

Technology Help and Computer Skills
The library offers many computer and technology classes

Job Seekers
Learn more about the library's classes and resources for writing resumes, building work related skills and other support for job seekers. Check out these websites and resources to get started on your own.

Small Business
Learn more about the library's classes and resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Check out these websites to get started on your own.

Adult Literacy
The library offers classes, tutoring and resources for adults who are learning to read, working on their GED, learning English and working toward citizenship. Check out these websites to get started on your own.

 

“Why do you only have one copy of [super popular e-book or audiobook]?”

One of many things could be happening here.

Is it Before the Book’s Release Date?

This is expected. The library buys a single copy of e-books and downloadable audiobooks in advance of their release dates so that they are in the catalog for you to place holds on them.

The week before the book is released, we buy enough copies for the title to meet demand based on the number of holds on the title at that time. This prevents “over-buying” in the expensive e-book and audiobook formats that often range in price from $55 to $109 per copy. This is how we meet demand while staying within our budget.

Is it After the Book’s Release Date?

There are two possibilities:

  1. The holds have built up since the librarians last reviewed holds and bought additional copies (this happens once a week). We will buy more copies within the next few days.
  2. The title is no longer available for the library to purchase and we are unable to add more copies. Titles can be removed from the purchasing catalog for many reasons. One of the most common is that Amazon purchased the rights to the title after the library bought our first copy. Amazon does not sell the digital versions of the titles it publishes or owns the rights for to libraries.

In the case of titles in the second category, librarians do check to see if new editions of any of these titles have been released. If they have, we add them to the collection and move the holds to the “active” copies. When new editions are not available to buy, it just means a really long wait for the title.

One way to check on audiobook availability is to see if the title has an “Only From Audible” banner on the cover on its Amazon page. If it does, the library cannot buy it.

If you have questions about specific titles, please let us know: https://multcolib.org/contact

“I need help finding grants for my small business”

“Are any grants available for low income people and/or veterans for home repair?”

“I want to find grants to buy a home or for real estate investment”

We get questions like this in the library every week, and we are happy to help!  But the first thing to know about many financial assistance programs is that most of them are not grants in the traditional sense, and that searching grants databases will not get you the information you want.

This post sorts through some of the myths about grants, and to point to sources of funding that might help for the types of questions we typically get at the library. And yes, we’ll cover actual grants, too!

Who gets grants?

Most grants are awarded to:

  • nonprofits like charities, schools, and arts and community organizations,
  • state & local government agencies,
  • federally-recognized tribes,
  • and public safety agencies like hospitals, police and fire departments

Most grants are for specific projects that will benefit many people, such as to produce a museum exhibit, to fund science or technology advances, or infrastructure projects (like installing broadband in a rural community). Grants are not generally given to individuals.  Grants are almost never available to businesses to hire staff, for ongoing expenses, or to expand. 

Applying for grants is a very involved process: you need to explain how you will spend the money, how it will benefit the targeted audience, and how you will document all of this. There’s a reason that “grant writer” is a full-time job held by people at places like non-profits and museums! 

Yep, that sounds like me and/or my organization! So how do I get a grant?

Grants.gov 
 “Despite what the late-night infomercials want you to believe, the federal government does not provide grants for business expansion and growth. There is no ‘free’ money for you to start or grow a business.”  Grants.gov is the source to find and apply for federal grants. It is a central storehouse for information on over 1,000 grant programs and provides access to approximately $500 billion in annual awards. Grants.gov does not provide personal financial assistance; it’s more like a directory. In order to find grants, go to the grants.gov web site and click on “Search Grants”  On the left hand side you can narrow eligibility to categories like 501(c)(3) nonprofits, state governments, independent school districts, etc. You can also narrow by category, or at least un-check the areas you don’t qualify in. They also have a mobile app.

SAM.gov Assistance listings  (formerly known as Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, or CFDA)
Sort of a companion to Grants.gov, and you may see some overlap. Covers assistance to both individuals and groups, especially state agencies, city governments, school districts, and Indigenous tribal governments and agencies. Some assistance listed here is administered by a state or county agency, which may have application requirements beyond those listed here.

Foundation Directory Online Professional
Library resource. Find potential grant-makers for your nonprofit by geographic area, type of organization, or population to be served. You can also see what kinds of projects a particular grantmaker has funded. Applicants must be a registered 501(c)(3) organization or an international NGO. This database must be used at a library location (no remote access).

Foundation Grants to Individuals Online
Library resource.  Similar to Foundation Directory Online Professional, this is easy to search. You can narrow by people served and geographic location served. It must be used at a library location (no remote access) 

Getting Your Share of the Pie : The Complete Guide to Finding Grants
E-book you can read online with a library card. One important thing it points out in the section on grants to individuals is that “Grant opportunities for individuals are very few in number” and “The vast majority of grants available in this category come in the form of scholarships or fellowships.” 

Candid's knowledge base
The company behind the Foundation Directory has answers to lots of common questions for grant seekers of all stripes, including artists and information on topics like fiscal sponsorship, crowdfunding, and corporate sponsorship. They also publish Philanthropy News Digest, which includes news and RFPs.

Okay, so it sounds like I’m not actually looking for a grant. What other kind of financial help is out there?

Here are some typical areas where individuals can get financial help for a specific purpose. Note that most of these have lots of restrictions, and not everyone will qualify.

Buying a home

Help is available in the form of down payment assistance or government-backed loans. Here are a few in the Portland area. To qualify for any of these programs, you’ll need to meet specific criteria:

Portland Housing Center down payment assistance
Down payment assistance is restricted to Portland Housing Center registered homebuyers.

Proud Ground
For first time homebuyers who meet income requirements

NeighborhoodLIFT and other bank programs
Banks sometimes have programs where a loan is forgiven after you live in the home for 5-10 years, such as NeighborhoodLIFT : “The NeighborhoodLIFT down payment assistance program provides a forgivable, zero-interest down payment loan with no required payments. Eligible homebuyers use the money from this loan for the down payment and closing costs of a home mortgage loan.”

Home Purchase Assistance Program 
Assistance with own payment and closing costs for first and non-first-time homebuyers looking to purchase a home within Portland city limits. (Currently unavailable, November 2021)

African American Alliance for Home Ownership
Programs include HAPP (The Homeownership Asset Preservation Program), a service for qualifying homeowners to protect homeownership and transfer wealth between generations,  pre-purchase counseling, and foreclosure prevention help.

Camino A Casa (thru Hacienda CDC)
Provides coaching for the homebuying process and help with down payments and closing costs through programs like a 3:1 match savings plan (the Individual Development Account) to larger down payment assistance loans.

NAYA
Provides culturally-specific homeownership coaching and assistance for Indigenous people, as well as repair grants

Home repair

Weatherization and Repair from Community Energy Project
Free weatherization and safety repairs for hundreds of low-income households, seniors, and people with disabilities in Portland.

Water leak repair program  
Free water leak repair services for income-qualified homeowners in Portland. Through this program, they can arrange to repair leaking toilets, faucets, or underground water pipes. Sewer repairs are not eligible.

Oregon Energy Trust
Multiple programs, including Savings Within Reach, for help with home energy upgrades for income-qualified households and utility bill payment assistance and help with weatherization improvements for low-income households

Rent and utility assistance for people impacted by COVID-19 (or other emergencies):

Multnomah County Emergency Rent Assistance
Local rent relief for tenant households with incomes at or below 80% area median income who have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19. 

Afloat: Utility Debt Relief
A limited-time program to give bill credits for overdue sewer/stormwater/water bills to low-income households with debt related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The deadline to apply for a bill credit  is April 11, 2022.

211
211 is a good place to look for other social service or crisis/ emergency needs.

Aunt Bertha/Findhelp.org
Type in your ZIP code, then click “money” icon and “Help pay for housing”

Small Business help

Small Business Association (federal government) 
Multiple programs for small businesses, including grants and loans

Business Oregon (State government) : Access to Capital- Loans, Loan Guarantees, and Bond Programs
Provides direct loans, and other programs to fund your business.

Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs Credit Corporation (OAMECC)
Helps minority small businesses to overcome the specific problems that limit their success and growth through technical assistance and loans.

Mercy Corps Northwest
Provides financing, mentorship and education to small business owners. This includes loans ranging from $500-$50,000 to startups and existing small businesses and matching contributions to  an Individual Development Account (IDA). They also run Oregon Women's Business Center (open to everyone, despite the name), a training and coaching service for small business owners.

Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO)
Provides loans up to $250,000 to small businesses and matching contributions to an Individual Development Account (IDA), a matched savings account that helps people with modest means to save towards the purchase of assets.

SCORE
Not a funding source, but a great resource for entrepreneurial questions. "SCORE is a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses. The Portland Chapter is run by about 70 volunteers who have in depth, practical experience running and managing businesses." SCORE also runs a mentorship program. 

Livelihood NW (formerly known as the PSU Business Outreach Program) 
Non-profit organization that provides free and low cost professional business support to underserved entrepreneurs and small business owners in Portland, OR and throughout the Pacific NW.

Grants and Scholarships for College

Please begin by reading this Planning and Paying for College resource list from MCL’s home learning team.

Oregon Goes to College
Need-based grants, such as Pell Grants, the Oregon Opportunity Grant (OOG) and Oregon Promise Grants

Foundation Grants to Individuals Online 
Library resource.  Similar to Foundation Directory Online Professional, this is easy to search. It must be used at a library location (no remote access)  Grants and scholarships for higher education, generally restricted to a particular course of study/degree program and/or to people meeting specific criteria. Some examples of scholarships listed in this database:

  • Need-based Scholarships for dependents of those killed or permanently disabled as a result of the September 11, 2001 attacks 
  • Scholarships to graduating high school seniors of Walla Walla County, WA 
  • Scholarships for WA and OR residents of Danish descent who have shown exceptional involvement in the Danish community
     

Scholarship America
Free website listing scholarship opportunities with links to sponsoring organizations. These also tend to be for specific courses of study, for people with residency or demographic matches, or students who have demonstrated leadership or ability in certain areas.

And of course, contact the financial aid and scholarship office at your college or university for more ideas!

Everything Else

SAM.gov Assistance listings (formerly known as Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, or CFDA)
Sort of a companion to Grants.gov, and you may see some overlap. Covers assistance to both individuals and groups, especially state agencies, city governments, school districts, and Indigenous tribal governments and agencies. Some assistance listed here is administered by a state or county agency, which may have application requirements beyond those listed here.

Some examples of assistance for individuals listed here are  grants intended to help very low-income owner-occupants in rural areas repair their properties, scholarships for American Indians and Alaska Natives studying health professions who commit to serving in the Indian Health Service for two years ,and financial assistance to organic producers and handlers for certification programs.

Benefits.gov
A list, searchable by state and subcategory (Living assistance, Insurance, etc) of state and federal government-funded programs, from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to Crop Insurance to State Crime Victims Compensation. Includes links to apply for assistance or get more information about eligibility.

Black Resilience Fund
An emergency fund dedicated to healing and resilience by providing immediate resources to Black Portlanders.

Oregon IDA
Individual Development Accounts, or IDAs, are matched savings accounts that build the financial management skills of qualifying Oregonians with lower incomes while they save towards a defined goal. Oregonians who qualify can save for goals including homeownership or home repair, small business start-up or expansion, post-secondary education or job training, employment-related adaptive equipment, vehicle purchase, and more.

 

Have more questions? Contact us if you have other questions about grants or financial assistance, or if there's a resource we should add.

 

 



 

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Every year during tax filing season, the library is ready to help— whether that be books, workshops, referrals to tax help, or printing out the forms you need, we're here for you!

Look for Upcoming Events, Programs and Blog Posts on our site for the most up-to-date information.

The deadline to file federal and state tax returns is  Monday, April 18, 2022. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to get help in person, you can still get tax preparation assistance and support in the following ways.

Paper copies of tax forms or instructions

Tax return preparation assistance

Other tax assistance

File your taxes online for free

Still have questions?

Call the library at 503.988.5123, send us an email or chat with us. Library staff cannot prepare returns, advise on tax matters, or interpret tax law.

the cover of vol. 1 FullMetal Alchemist
Curious about the library’s collection of manga (Japanese-style comics and graphic novels)?  Wondering which manga series are right for you?  Looking for a new series to try?  Whether you are new to manga or already deep into it, we’re here to help.   Elle from Central Library has compiled a few booklists full of their favorite manga series.  For beginners, they created First Stop: Manga, which is full of recommendations for those who are new to manga.  For fans of Jujutsu Kaisen by Gege Akutami, Elle shares the best of the shounen genre in this booklist.  

Looking for more?  We asked library staff who read a lot of manga to share their favorites!  We hope you find plenty to read and explore.  Here’s what they have to recommend:  

Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi

“The classic manga about teen girls who discover they're reincarnated Sailor Guardians who protect the universe continues to be a fun read about friendship, hope, courage, and talking cats. Sprinkled with some references to astronomy, mythology, and mineralogy mixed with humor and romance, read this under the moonlight.” -Kimberly, Central Library

Laid-back Camp by Afro

“A group of girls revive the school camping club, dust off the old supplies, and head out to the forests and lakes in the foothills of Mount Fuji.  Along the way, the girls form lasting friendships.  Reading about their trips made me fall in love with camping all over again and now I always plan for an instant ramen lunch or dinner when I spend a weekend outdoors. File under cute, cozy, and low key.”  -Karen M., Gregory Heights Library

FullMetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

“How would you react if you were handed a series of unexpected outcomes? What if your actions only made the situation worse?  FullMetal Alchemist deals with these very injustices. Two brothers work through their trials as well as develop to understand that other members of their community are also dealing with difficulties too.”  -Juan, St. Johns Library

Delicious in Dungeon by Ryoko Kui

“If you find yourself dreaming of food while watching anime or playing D&D then Delicious in Dungeon will satisfy your appetite. Monsters, dragons, and dumplings, oh my!”  -Erica, Technical Services

Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama

“It's gorgeous, and I got caught up in the growing mystery of what's really going on with learning magic in and outside of magic school!”  -Natasha, Hollywood Library

a shelf full of manga series books
Uzumaki by Junji Itō

“If you like horror at all, you owe it to yourself to check out the works of Junji Itō. All his books and short stories are chilling, but Uzumaki is the perfect place to start.  A twisted tale in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft, about a quiet coastal town that slowly spirals into madness.  It's guaranteed to shock, terrify, and leave you hungry for more.”  -Ophelia, Belmont Library

Golden Kamuy by Satoru Noda

"I'm not usually a fan of westerns, but my favorite ongoing series has all the hallmarks of a Sergio Leone cowboy movie, with a unique eastern perspective.  Set in the early 1900s, the series follows an unlikely alliance between a grizzled Japanese war veteran and a young indigenous Ainu huntress as they journey across snowy Hokkaido, fighting vicious killers and dangerous creatures in pursuit of a hidden gold fortune. The series has all the bloody action and colorful characters you want from a Shonen manga, with a surprising amount of comedy and cooking tips. But my favorite part is its rich depiction of the Meiji Restoration, when Japan's push towards modernity began to engulf the ancient traditions of its native people. A real page-turner; my only complaint is that there isn't more yet."  -Ophelia, Belmont Library

This article was written for our Family Newsletter, available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at learning@multcolib.org with any questions.

While reviews on online shopping and crowd-sourced review sites are often helpful, the average person doesn’t purchase and compare five vacuum cleaners at once. The reviewer that does do that is Consumer Reports, which accepts no advertising and is known for editorial integrity. The library subscribes to the paper issues at all 19 locations, which you can browse whenever you visit the library.

Image of Consumer Reports and Annual Buying Guide

But did you know that there is also a way to access Consumer Reports  from home?


The Consumer Reports website has limited coverage if you aren’t a subscriber; you can see that a particular product was reviewed, but not the review itself. However, you can read the full text of the reviews, and see the illustrations of the ratings in chart form, with your library card through MasterFILE Premier. Go to MasterFILE Premier, click "Publications" at the top of the screen,  and type "Consumer Reports"  in the Browsing:  MasterFILE Premier -- Publications box. Once you click on Consumer Reports, you can either browse by issue date, or search within the publication for your topic.

If you use “search within this publication,” add your search term to the JN "Consumer Reports” that the database has already filled in, for example, JN "Consumer Reports" and mattress. The results default to “Relevance,” so change that drop-down box to “date newest” to see the most recent reviews.

You can also search in the Consumer Reports Buying Guide by starting in the library catalog; select the “Click here to access title” link on the right of the page to access the content of the guide.

Consumer Reports isn't the only source out there, though!  Here are some other well-regarded product review sites:

Wirecutter:  Reviews of technology, appliances, home goods, etc. from the staff of the New York Times. If you hit a paywall, some Wirecutter content is in the New York Times (1980-present) database (log in with your library card number and PIN/password).

Good Housekeeping:  GH has been testing consumer products and awarding the Good Housekeeping Seal of approval since 1900. Focuses on domestic products like kitchen appliances, toys, cleaning products and personal care items like cosmetics and bras.

CNET: Primarily reviews of technology (phones, streaming services, laptops), but also some non-tech items like mattresses and meal kits.

The Strategist:  From New York magazine, focusing on online shopping. Also has lists of recommendations on a theme (books by genre/reader) as well as traditional reviews by topic (pillows, picture frames, etc).

Specialty Reviews

If there’s a magazine or website for a particular hobby or interest, chances are they review products for that hobby. For example:

Image of Cooks Illustrated, Runner's World and Car and Driver magazines
Cooks Illustrated can recommend an air fryer or bakeware.

Runner’s World tests running shoes, athletic clothes and earbuds that won’t fall out while you do laps.

Car and Driver is another source besides Consumer Reports to look for automobile recommendations.

How to evaluate a review or shopping site

Not sure if that mattress review site is independent, or a fake that only posts positive reviews of the products sold by the website? Here’s some things to look for:

  • A review site should have an “about us” page that tells you who owns it or funds it, and should describe its editorial policies. 
  • You won’t necessarily get wrong information from a site that sells products to consumers, but a site that wants to sell you office supplies or mattresses will probably not be willing to evaluate a product it carries as “unacceptable” (like Consumer Reports occasionally will).
  • Any site that allows customers to review products or services without verifying purchases (for example, Amazon, Yelp, Tripadvisor) can be manipulated, and it’s worth reading these reviews with a degree of caution or skepticism.

Happy shopping!

 

What is speculative fiction? Well, that depends who you ask. 

Some see speculative fiction as an umbrella term for any fiction with supernatural, futuristic, or fantasy elements. Others see it as books that ponder questions like, "what if this happened?' and "what if the world were this way" -- in other words, speculate. And still others see it as a  mish and mash elements from multiple genres that break the mold. I like this last definition, myself. In the past year I've seen so many books published lately that fit into sci-fi, fantasy, or horror, but bend the genres and include pieces that make them hard to categorize. The librarian in me wants to categorize them -- here's your fantasy, here's your horror -- but the reader in me delights in the unexpected mix of elements, often in a book I first took for just one thing. Though is any good book just one thing? 

Take Akwaeke Emezi's Pet as an example of what I mean: a novella set in a near-world society much like our own, except that it has rid itself of monsters (utopia). Teenage Jam meets a terrifying creature from another world named Pet, who emerges from a painting when a drop of Jam's blood is spilled on it (fantasy). Pet's come to hunt a monster... and the monster is in Jam's house (horror). So there you have utopia, fantasy and horror mixed together in a novella and which genre, my dears, do we set that inside? (the library places it simply on the fiction shelf, which makes things a lot simpler.)

This list includes just a few of my favorites in speculative fiction. Curious to learn more? This Book Riot article is a great introduction to the history and more recent definitions -- Margaret Atwood and Ursula K. Leguin had a famous debate about it -- of speculative fiction. 

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