Blogs

Are the dark days of winter getting to you? The cold and the rain and the wind bringing you down? Need something to cheer you right up? How about a book or two?

Maira Kalman is a unique, eccentric, whimsical illustrator and writer of both kids' and kid-like adult books. Her illustrations even make William Strunk’s The Elements of Style a fascinating read. Beloved Dog bookjacketHer books are filled with illustrations of the things that she likes, and her likes range far and wide and slightly off-kilter. Kalman’s latest book, Beloved Dog, is dedicated to dogs. I hadn’t noticed that pictures of dogs appear quite often in her works and this book is a lovely ode to dogs. Maira Kalman’s books will cheer you right up.

It Ended Badly bookjacketFor me, a real mood lifter is to compare myself to others who have suffered more than me (Jeez, that sounds terrible. Really, I’m not that awful a person.). We’ve all had to deal with relationship breakdowns. If you’d like to read about some of the absolute worst, peruse Jennifer Wright’s It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History. It’s a fun, entertaining, and quite educational romp through some spectacular breakups. In the course of these breakups, people are stabbed. Prison sentences are served. Icky hair clumps are sent through the mail. It should put all of your own breakups in perspective.

Need some more cheering up? Try one of the books on my list here.

Most Dangerous bookjacketEvery year, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association (ALA) honors the best young adult book for literary excellence with the Michael L. Printz Award. Last year’s winner was Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun.  This year’s winner will be announced January 10, 2016 during ALA’s Youth Media Awards.

As a way of creating awareness for the award, as well as honing our book evaluation skills, teens, adults, and librarians got together at the Hollywood Library for our own Mock Printz Award. We read eligible titles and put each up against the Printz Award criteria. We spent the afternoon discussing a selection of titles, and then we voted and picked our winner. We also had three honor books.

Our winner was Steve Sheinkin’s thrilling nonfiction account of the Vietnam War and the disclosure of the Pentagon Papers, Most Dangerous; Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam WarSteve Sheinkin was Multnomah County Library’s Teen Author Lecturer, and Most Dangerous was shortlisted for this year’s National Book Award finalist for Young People’s Literature.

Our honor books were Kevin Brooks gritty, page-turning tale The Bunker DiaryArden Butterfield, Hollywood Teen Book Council member who participated in the workshop writes, “The ending is so surprising, I just stared at the back of the book for about five minutes. This book is amazing, and shocking, and terrifying, and wonderful.”

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt was another honor. A spare novel, about which Arden writes, “This is one of those books that just swells your heart up with love, and then at the last moment throws it on the ground and stabs it with a knife. I would recommend it to everyone.”

We also delighted in the strong characterization of Joan who becomes The Hired Girl in Laura Amy Schlitz’s historical early 20th-century novel.

We will be extending the Mock Printz into a year long excursion. Teens can come and discuss books published in the current year that may be considered examples of literary excellence for readers ages 12–18 and are possible nominees for the ALA’s Printz Award for young adult literature.

Thie Hired Girl bookjacketThe ultimate goal for this group, by year’s end, will be to select the best book written for teens. Group members will choose nominees for a Mock Printz workshop, at which a winner as well as honor books will be voted on and given mock medals. The workshop will be held just before the official Printz Award committee from ALA announces its choice at the YMAs at Midwinter.

Come to the Hollywood Library on February 2 to hear booktalks of upcoming eligible titles, and to learn about award’s criteria through a discussion of American Born Chinese. the 2007 Printz winner. For more information contact Danielle Jones daniellej@multco.us, 503-988-4346.

The Northern Lights book jacketNorthern winters are harsh things, especially when you live in a cabin deep in the woods. When nature calls, you may find yourself sprinting through the snow in the middle of the night, flashlight in hand, dodging moose with giant glowing eyes, just to get to the outhouse. You might have to be pulled on a dogsled attached to a snow machine to get to your baby-sitting job. Your family dog might get eaten by a wolf. You might have to hike ten miles to school in a blizzard, uphill both ways… err wait, that last one isn’t true! But I did experience the rest. Despite all these inconveniences, the north does have its pleasures, and the beauty of the night sky is one of them, especially the chance to see that most elusive atmospheric phenomenon, the northern lights. The ghostly colors that flicker and flare, the cold rays that splinter the darkness into sheets, curtains, coronas… well, it truly is awe-inspiring.

But how do these displays actually work? What forces are behind them? This was what one brilliant scientist in turn-of the-century photo of Kristian BirkelandNorway wondered. Kristian Birkeland was both driven and talented, and his quest to understand the workings of the aurora led him to Norwegian mountaintops and on expeditions to Russia’s far north. He didn’t limit himself to the arctic and also spent time in Africa researching the then-mysterious zodiacal light.  In addition, he was an inventor, and attempted to market creations as diverse as hearing aids, electromagnetic cannons, and methods of producing fertilizer in order to fund the research he truly loved. Even more amazing is the fact he accomplished all this before age 50. Find out more about Kristian Birkeland and the aurora in The Northern Lights by Lucy Jago. This is a great read for those who are interested in the lives of scientists, the history of science, and arctic adventure. And if you want more, look here.

This past year I've become a downloadable audiobook super fan. I still love to read, but I also love to do and audiobooks free up your hands to do so much. For instance:

Knitting: The voice of the grumpy Swede in A Man Called Ove, with his laugh-out-loud rants against "whipper-snappers doing monkey business" proved the perfect companion as I worked (and then re-worked) a poncho called Ella from this book of Danish knits. 

Commuting: O.K. more of a "have to do" than a "love to do" but Hector Tobar's Deep Dark Down: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in A Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free , kept me anxiously looking forward to my work commute for weeks. And so what if I arrived at work a little weepy as the men were finally freed from the mine. I'm a sensitive person.

The only drawback to my audio habit thus far, is that I've developed a bit of a Veruca Salt syndrome. When I want an audiobook I want it now. I want it right now! Which is why I love Hoopla. With no waiting, I check out my book, download it and quickly get back to the business of doing.
 
Need a great listen while you get stuff done this holiday season? Or maybe you just want to relax your eyes and shelter your ears from that annoying battery-operating talking toy the grandparents bought for your kid?
 
Tune in to something off this list of 10 great audiobooks that you could be enjoying right now.

I love Christmas, but most of the things I love about it probably originated in the celebration of the solstice. Sure, I appreciate super-religious and very old carols (“Fall on your knees! O  hear the angel voices!”), but for me, really, it’s mostly about having a real tree in my living room that’s all covered in lights and sparkly things, and the fact that the world will begin, finally, slowly, to get lighter and lighter.

So I’m not a believer, but it was still an interesting time of year to listen to Colm Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary, which focuses intensely on the story of one woman who just happens to be the mother of Jesus Christ. This short novel is narrated by Meryl Streep, who is a magnificent reader, and the experience of listening to it was vivid and intimate. This Mary is a person who has lived through real anguish and is unwilling to put up with any nonsense. The novel is set several years after the crucifixion, and she is being cared for, or perhaps held by, some of the disciples, men who are hard at work making Jesus into a myth. She has no patience for them. For their part, they want her to cooperate or else to just shut up. The human aspects of the story, which are everything to Mary, don't interest them at all.

I listened to this because I was charmed by the author's By the Book column in the New York Times. Tóibín's a voracious reader, and I liked the warmth, humor, and wide embrace of life that came through as he spoke about books he’s loved.

Here’s a list of audiobooks that, like this one, are read by extraordinary readers. I wish you all a season of glorious reading while these long winter nights and rainy days continue, and let me know if I can help with some suggestions.

What’s great about helping people find books is learning about the books they loved. Tweens (grades 5-8) often are passionate about certain titles.

Cover of Michael Vey by Richard Paul Evans

Tween 1: I want to read something exciting. I really liked (names a title like "Michael Vey.")

Me: Hmm, I better go read that!

Tween 2: I like action in books. Like in (names title.) I tried (historical fiction title) at school but I couldn’t get into it.

Me: Hmm, I better read that first book.

Tween 3: Some books are so slow...nothing ever happens. But  (names a title) is the best book I ever read.

Me: Hmm, these books the tweens are recommending definitely have violence, but the heroes have a heart and soul. And there’s no putting them down.


And that’s how I’ve finally arrived at this list for 6-8 graders. I discovered some myself, but my fast and furious meter is now finely tuned, so not to worry.


Hold on tight and enjoy. 

 

Not reading much? This blog’s for you. A short list of short reading. Four of my favorites. Plus digital magazines and comics.

Cover of The Arrival by Shaun Tan

The Arrival  by Shaun Tan: no words, all ages; beauty in small things; immigration

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concrete Park Volume 1

Concrete Park by Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander: sci fi graphic novel; great characters and world creation; #weneeddiversebooks 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Point Your Face at This: Drawings by Demetri MartinPoint Your Face at This: Drawings by Demetri Martin: clever; few words.

 

 

 

 

 


Quotations for All OccasionsQuotations for All Occasions: lots to think about without having to read much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you prefer magazines and comics, you could try our free digital magazines and comics.

Happy reading, my friends!

(Thanks to my colleague Matt M. for modeling the art of brevity.)

 

When you are learning about country, city or other place, ask yourself questions about the five themes of geography:

Location

  • Where is it? Geographers refer to absolute locations (like a street address or latitude/longitude coordinates) and relative locations, which show the relationships between places (for example, Vancouver, WA is just north of Portland, OR).
  • How far away is it from your home? This Travel Distance Calculator will help you find out.

Place

  • Are there physical features like mountains, rivers or deserts? What is the climate like? The Lands and Peoples encyclopedia includes an atlas with specialized maps, including natural vegetation, farmland, and climate data. If you aren’t at the Multnomah County Library, you’ll need to log in to the encyclopedia with your library card number and password.
  • What are the traditions of the people who live there? Culturegrams is a great resource to learn more about the customs and lifestyles of people around the world. You’ll need your library card number and password to use it.

Human-Environment Interactions

  • How do people use the land? National Geographic’s Map Maker Interactive lets you create a map of your own. Choose to include features like land cover (crops) or human impact on the environment.
  • Where do most people live and why? This video will help you understand why certain areas are more commonly settled.

MovementPhoto of train

  • How do people travel to the country? How do they get around when they are there? When researching a country in the World Factbook, find the transportation section, which highlights roads, airports and railways.
  • Does the country export goods to other places? What goods does it import? At the Atlas of Economic Complexity, you can type in questions such as “What did Canada export in 2013?”
  • Why might people come to or leave a place? This list of human migrations throughout history will help you understand why such movements occur.

Regions

  • How is the country similar to its neighbors (language, traditions, etc.)? At NationMaster, you can compare statistics on two countries or even two regions.
  • Are there political divisions (states, provinces, etc.)? Find this information in the World Factbook in the government section.

Not finding what you need here? Contact a librarian for more help.

Citizen scientists at work [Photo courtesy of Dennis Ward, Project BudBurst]Have you ever wished you could spend a little bit of time working as a scientist?  I have good news: you can do it, without having to quit anything you already do in your daily life, and without having to get an advanced degree. Scientists all over the world are enlisting regular folks to help them with big projects -- this kind of scientist-support volunteering is called citizen science.

There are so many different citizen science projects, there’s sure to be one that suits you!  No matter your age, your occupation or vocation, or your level of education, there is a citizen science project you can help with.  Here are a few of my favorites:

The annual Christmas Bird Count.  Join a group of Portlanders to participate in the local arm of a nationwide bird census.  This year, local bird-counters will be attempting to count every single bird within a 15-mile radius around Portland, on January 2, 2016.

Great Backyard Bird Count.  If you miss this year's Christmas Bird Count, don't worry, citizen ortnithologists are needed for the Great Backyard Bird Count every February.  Spend a little time in your backyard (or anywhere), and count the number and type of birds you see.  This year’s count takes place February 12-15, 2016.

Be a Martian.  NASA is looking for Earthling volunteers to help improve Martian maps, take part in research tasks, and assist Mars science teams studying data about the Red Planet.

Portland Urban Coyote Project.  When you see a coyote, report it to help scientists at the Portland Audubon Society and the Geography Department at Portland State University who are studying how coyotes have adapted to urban environments.

Project Budburst.  Observe and record when plants produce leaves, buds, flowers, and fruit, to help the National Ecological Observatory Network understand more about how plants respond to climate changes.

National Map Corps.  Edit information about buildings and other data features for the United States Geological Survey’s National Map -- all in the form of “challenges” in which editors are asked to map, edit, and peer-review new additions to the map.

Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network.  Measure and map rain, snow and other precipitation, together with volunteers across the U.S. and Canada.

 

Do you want to see even more citizen science projects you might help out with?  Here are some great places to look for projects that need volunteers:

 


Remember, you can talk to a librarian about your science questions (or any questions!) whenever you’re at the library in person -- just ask the librarian on duty.  Or, call or email a librarian to get personalized help with via email, text, phone or chat.


 

Portland City Archives: A2001-004.94 : 219 N Cherry StNearly every house history researcher wants to see old photographs or drawings of their house.  Who wouldn't, right?  Unfortunately for Portland-area house history buffs, this can be one of the hardest bits of house history ephemera to track down!  But don't despair; there are surviving photographs of some houses and it is possible (sometimes) to find them. 

The challenge is that there has never been a comprehensive house-portrait project in Portland -- or any other city or town in our area -- so there is no treasure trove of photos of local homes that you can dig through.  You might wonder, if there's no big archive of house pictures, where should you start?  There are a few possibilities:

First, ask your neighbors or the people in your neighborhood association.  People who live on your street may have their own old photographs of family events, parties, or other occassions which include your house in the background.  And a bonus -- when you find that long-time resident and photo-saver, they may share stories about past residents of your house or other interesting neighborhood lore!

Houses sometimes appear in the background of photographs taken to record activity on the street.  The city of Portland has a lot of photographs of infrastructure and maintenance work they've done over the years.  City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A1999-004Many of these images are carefully preserved in the Portland City Archives collection. These images usually show city workers doing something in the neighborhood (such as repairing the sewer like in the photo at left) or were taken in connection with city planning work, like a street scene before the installation of a new traffic light.  You can search for records (including photographs) using the Archives' catalog, Efiles, and some have been published on the archives's Vintage Portland blog -- see below for more about that! But, most photographs in the collection aren't available online.  To look at photographs in person, you'll need to visit the Archives reading room downtown (1800 SW 6th Ave., Suite 550; 503.865.4100).  Be sure to read the Archives' policies and tips for researchers before you visit!

The Oregon Historical Society library is another treasure trove for house history researchers.  Their collection includes more than 2.5 million photographs and negatives of people, communities, commerce, and life in the Pacific Northwest -- the photograph collection doesn't have a section devoted to house portraits, but you may find photographs of your street, or photographs indexed under the name of a former owner of the house.  Some of the library's photographs have been digitized and can be viewed in the library's catalog, but most are available only by visiting in person (1200 SW Park Ave.; 503.222.1741).   Again, be sure to read the library's policies, hours and tips for researchers before you visit!  (And a note: Multnomah County residents can use the Oregon Historical Society library for free if they show picture i.d.; most others must pay an admission fee.)

Another potential source for house portraits and street scenes is the Vintage Portland blog, run by the Portland City Archives.  Every weekday the site features a different historical photograph (or sometimes a map or drawing) of Portland.  The posts are sorted into categories for neighborhoods, street names, time periods, and topics.  For example, if you are curious about the development of your neighborhood as well as the history of your house, you might want to look at the blog's many aerial photographs; or you might try looking at a neighborhood street like Foster Rd., Powell Blvd., or 82nd Ave.

If the house you're researching happens to be in the Albina district, you may find a photograph of it in The History of Albina, by Roy E. Roos.  The book begins with a brief a history of the district (and former city), but it also includes brief architectural history for a selection of houses and other buildings that are representative of different eras in Albina's development.  Many of the brief house histories are illustrated with contemporary photographs or have no pictures, but some have historic photographs or drawings.

Have fun hunting for a historic photo of your house!

 

  Questions? Ask the Librarian.

In June of this year I brought home my first ever canine companion. My daughter named him SodaPop, and at one year old he is a bundle of energy. A bundle of energy who loves to go on long walks around the neighborhood. I’ve always enjoyed listening to audiobooks, but now that hour long walks are a regular part of my daily routine, audiobooks have become a necessity. When you are going for lengthy foggy morning and rainy evening strolls, the perfect companion is a good horror story. 
 
It audiobook coverStephen King’s It is a monstrous audiobook, both in length (clocking in at 45 hours long) and in the amount of chills that it is sure to give you. It is the story of a small town that has been haunted by an evil shapeshifting entity and the seven children who face this nameless horror. The narrator, Steven Weber, does a fantastic job of embodying the voices of each of the many characters in this horror classic; from young Ben Denbrough’s stutter and Trashmouth Tozier’s impersonations to the nightmareish voice of Pennywise. It will give you many hours (days) of entertainment...but when you are out walking in the rain, steer clear of the storm drains.
 
Heart-Shaped Box audiobook coverI can’t really talk about Stephen King without talking about his son, Joe Hill, another one of my favorite masters of horror. Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box centers around Judas Coyne, an aging death metal rock star and collector of the macabre. When Judas buys a suit that is said to be haunted by its recently deceased owner, he gets a lot more than what he paid for. Narrator Stephen Lang’s deep, somber voice is the perfect match for this spine tingling ghost story.
 
Here in the Pacific Northwest we have a few months of long, rainy days and nights ahead of us. May I recommend that you spend some time wandering around our fine city, bundled up and warm while listening to a chilling story. 

Writer's Market 2016Writers work hard to find an appropriate home for their work, a publisher they can trust with the very important job of connecting the written work with the eyes of readers. This can be a process fraught with emotion and frustration!

First off, there are bound to be a lot of rejections - I haven’t been able to nail down an authoritative number, but I keep hearing that the average rejection rate for writers is 90%, or 95%, or 97%. Submission guidelines are strict and picky, and reading periods are these little windows of time when your submission will be admitted for consideration… if you miss the window, you may have to wait another year for that particular submission.

But how does one decide where to submit their work in the first place?

Book publishers

If you have a book that’s ready to meet the world, you might be seeking an agent or a publisher, or researching small presses that accept submissions, either as part of a contest or an open reading period. Books like the Writer’s Market and the Poet’s Market are classic sources for information about publishers, updated in annual editions. These are pretty basic listings, with description of what’s published by different publishers, as well as contact and submission information. There’s also the Literary Market Place (LMP), an in-depth directory of the book publishing industry. A little more practical and personable advice can be found via Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents. Poets & Writers magazine has an excellent database of small presses, which allows you to search using criteria such as form, genre or style, submission fees, payment (if any), and reading period (try the advanced search!).

Wait, what are these small presses you speak of? Generally speaking, they are book publishers that operate on a smaller scale of business than the Big Five Publishers - either they make less than a certain amount of money per year, and/or they publish a smaller number of books per year. There are lots of them, and they may have open reading periods and/or contests. You don't need an agent to get your manuscript into their hands. Many are members of the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), which also maintains a useful searchable directory of its members. For a helpful overview about choosing between small and large publishers, and the self-publishing option (see below for more on self-publishing!), you might enjoy this article from The Huffington Post. It's published by the authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, another handy resource for the process.

Literary magazines or journals

What are literary magazines? In short, they’re print or online magazines publishing a variety of authors all at once. These are especially found in conjunction with poetry and short stories, although essays, reviews, and novel excerpts may be found in them as well. Literary magazines cannot be summarized, such is their variety in terms of readership, distribution, and style. The library maintains subscriptions to some excellent literary magazines.

The Review Review is an online magazine dedicated to literary magazines - news, reviews, and a database of magazines. Lynne Barrett’s essay “What Editors Want,” published in The Review Review, is a must-read if you are considering submitting your work to literary magazines! Poets & Writers magazine has an excellent searchable database of literary magazines, too. Both of these can be searched by many criteria to narrow down the wide world of literary magazines to some of the magazines that publish work like yours.

Entropy Magazine is another excellent online source for info about where to submit work that’s ready right now: it has listings for literary magazine, chapbook and book publishers’ reading periods. It also has a top notch small press database.

Don’t forget that when submitting your work to a literary magazine or book publisher, your chances are best if you have some understanding of the style and type of writing that they publish. That means you have to read the magazine, and read the books published by the press! While the library can’t carry everything published by small presses, can do our best to help you find the publications you seek, whether it’s on our shelves, online, in bookstores, or via Interlibrary Loan. Please ask us!

Self-publishing

Of course, you could self-publish your book - this option is getting easier and more popular all the time. See our blog post about self publishing, and our reading list

You might also enjoy these other blog posts about self care and practical matters for writers:

The Care and Feeding of the Writer

The Business of Writing

 

 

Four Welcome to Reading color coded kit bags and bookmarks

Learning to read is an exciting time. Finding books your child is interested in at the right reading level can be a challenge. Library staff is always ready to help. We've added another way to make that process easier for you and your child: Welcome to Reading Kits!

Multnomah County Library has kits at four levels: Starting Out (yellow), Building Skills (blue), Reading More (red), and On My Own (purple). Each color-coded bag contains 5 fun books and an information sheet on how to determine your child’s reading level, how to order more kits, and other activities you can do to help your child become a stronger reader. Some kits have books on a specific theme, like Comics, Dogs and Cats, or For Real! Facts. Many kits are called Five to Try, and contain a variety of books at the reading level. Explore several kits and help your child discover what he or she loves to read. Ask library staff about Welcome to Reading Kits today!

Young Bilingual VolunteerVolunteer Mia Strickler

by Donna Childs

Mia’s parents adopted her from China and made sure she learned about the culture and language of her birth country. She has visited China, and she went to schools with Chinese Immersion programs. At Woodstock Library, Mia helps Amber Houston, the Chinese bilingual staff member who does storytimes, with behind-the-scenes work, such as props, arts and crafts, and keeps track of participants. She also leads the craft activities. Woodstock was the first library in Multnomah County to offer a Chinese-English storytime. Amber reads stories in Chinese, and then retells them in English. Participants include English speakers who want to learn Chinese and Chinese speakers learning English.

Now a senior at Cleveland High School, Mia is considering pursuing a career in medicine. She attended a medical camp at OHSU to explore career possibilities in the medical field. According to her, despite her love for Woodstock Library, she reads science blogs more than she does books.

Her volunteer involvement extends far beyond the walls of the library. She has volunteered at her church, for the Heifer Project, served meals at a food kitchen and at her church, and created and sold ornaments and cards made from her original photos to earn money for the Oregon Food Bank. She is active in her school’s National Honor Society. All this, and she is only 17!


A Few Facts About Mia

Home library: Woodstock Library
 
Currently reading: A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
 
Favorite book from childhood: The Harry Potter novels
 
Favorite section of the library: The DVD section
 
E-reader or paper books: Paper
 
Favorite place to read: In my room, on my bed

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

Naturalization ceremony at the Grand Canyon, 24 September 2010.The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) states that an average of 710,000 people have become new U.S. citizens each year since 2010. Even with that remarkable figure, there are still 22.1 million immigrants in the U.S. that are not naturalized citizens. These 22.1 million include permanent residents legally in the U.S., unauthorized immigrants, and legal residents with temporary visas. In Oregon, less than 40% of the  more than 390,000 immigrants are naturalized citizens. Why is that? While no single answer applies to everyone, for many the process can be overwhelming and complicated. Multnomah County Library can help with language learning opportunities and citizenship classes. Staff can also direct you to resources that help immigrants become naturalized citizens.   

Local Resources

There are many organizations throughout the Portland metro area that offer resources to aid those seeking citizenship:

Legal AssistanceDohes Elias Haney's naturalization certificate, 1917

Those seeking citizenship often require legal assistance, especially with the USCIS N-400 form. Most citizenship classes do not focus on paperwork requirements but there are organizations that can provide that type of help. There may be a fee for legal services:

USCIS Citizenship Resources

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service provides many resources online for those seeking to become naturalized American citizens.

If you still have questions about becoming a citizen contact a librarian to get personalized assistance. We're always happy to help!

 

Pyramid photoAncient Egypt is fascinating! You can learn about how the pyramids were built (and about the treasures found inside), how mummies were made, and how to write in hieroglyphics. The ancient Egyptians also made numerous advances in science and architecture.

Did you know that the Ancient Egyptian civilization lasted for over 3000 years? Learn more about the pharaohs, or about the daily life of the average Egyptian.

Here are four sites which have information on many topics related to Ancient Egypt:

The British Museum has an extensive website that covers subjects such as geography, gods and goddesses, trades, and Egyptian life.  You can read the stories to find out more or participate in challenge activities.Image of sarcophagus

Click on a map of ancient Egypt to find out about topics like farming, temples, and warriors at the DK Find Out website.

The History Channel has several videos to watch, as well as a written history of ancient Egypt.

The Children’s University of Manchester Ancient Egypt site is great for younger kids and includes online activities.

Enjoy your exploration of Ancient Egypt, and don’t forget to contact a librarian if you need more help.

A college degree is one of the most expensive items you will ever buy. It can leave you in debt for years, so you want to be as smart as you can about your education. When you attend college, you are "buying" a college degree, much as you purchase other big-ticket items. So, you want to make sure you get your money's worth.

Barnard College

Figuring out what college is going to cost

The U.S. Department of Education has a useful website called College Scorecard. You supply information about the type of degree you are looking for and locations or regions that you are interested in, and you'll receive results that show the average annual cost of tuition and fees at each matching institution, the graduation rate, and the annual average salary of their graduates. It's a great website for getting an overview and comparing what different colleges cost.

Another great place to research college pricing and student aid is at The College Board website. There is a wide variety in prices charged by institutions of different types and in different parts of the country, so it can really pay to do your research.

Looking at online colleges? They can sometimes offer you more flexibility and easier access than traditional colleges. Check out Affordable Colleges Online to see, by state or by subject, which colleges offer affordable options. 

Be sure to add in what your room and board costs will be, including your meal plan, books and supplies, and other personal expenses

Your Personal Resources

Before you apply for student aid or scholarships, you'll need to figure out the amount of money that you and perhaps your parents can afford. Some parents choose to contribute and others believe that it is the student's responsibility to pay for college.

If you are saving for college, the State of Oregon offers the Oregon College Savings Plan which provides tax advantages. 

Federal Student Aid

If you plan to apply for aid, check and double-check the application deadlines. State and college aid may have earlier deadlines than federal aid. When you apply, you want to be in the first stack of applicants, not the last. You can check the federal and state application deadlines at www.fafsa.gov.

The first step to apply is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Financial aid experts recommend that all students fill out the FAFSA because it is used by colleges and grant-makers to figure out financial need. 

The fastest way to fill out the FAFSA is online at www.fafsa.ed.gov, but you can also get paper forms at all our public library branches: Just ask at a reference desk. Give yourself plenty of time to fill out the form. You'll need to have information about your financial situation and you or your parents' federal tax forms from the previous year at hand.

Using the information that you supply on the FAFSA, the financial aid office at your college will determine that amount of aid you may receive.

Book Partners, Volunteer Partners

by Sarah BinnsVolunteers Carole and Emily

Library patrons know the volunteers they see face-to-face, such as those who teach computer classes or work with the Summer Reading program, but what they don't see are the volunteers who devote their time to getting library books into the hands of the right patron every day. Two who work behind the scenes are Carole Parkinson and Emily Hollingsworth. Carole began volunteering at Gregory Heights Library in 2010 and Emily in 2011.

Together Carole and Emily work every Monday morning on the paging list, a daily document listing around 200 items placed on hold by patrons throughout the system. After finding these items, some of which are in the wrong place or missing, Carole and Emily send them off to the right branch.  “Carole takes the last page of the paging list and I go process the yellow crates,” says Emily. Towers of yellow crates full of books greet Emily. These are books from other libraries that patrons at Gregory Heights have placed on hold. As soon as Emily checks in an item, a patron receives that delightful email notification that their hold is available and the item is shelved on the pickup shelf. Carole's paging list shift is about two hours; Emily spends as much as four hours.

Carole and Emily are lifelong book-lovers and met in 2009 through Pageturners, an MCL-sponsored book group, before they began their complementary volunteer shifts. “I've always worked with Carole at the library,” says Emily. “She was my go-to when I started on the paging list and didn't know where anything was!”

Both came to library volunteering almost immediately upon retirement several years ago. In their spare time, Carole enjoys knitting and Emily gardens, but both remain passionate about books and recommend checking out the Lucky Day section (where patrons can find popular new selections without waiting for a hold).

While patrons don't always see the work that Carole and Emily do, anyone who places a hold at Gregory Heights has reaped the rewards of their efforts. Says staff member Andres Chavelas, “Their contribution to the work flow on Monday mornings is unparalleled.” After five years on the job, neither woman shows signs of stopping. “I love doing the paging list,” says Carole. “I'd hate to miss it!”


A Few Facts About Carole and Emily

 
Home library: Gregory Heights for Carole; Midland for Emily.
 
Currently reading: Carole is reading The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler and Emily is reading The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck.
 
Favorite book from childhood: Carole’s favorites were horse books such as My Friend, Flicka and Thunderhead.  Emily liked the Cherry Ames nurse books, which she buys when she sees them at estate sales.
 
Favorite section of the library: Cookbooks and knitting books for Carole; Lucky Day books for Emily.
 
Most influential book: For Carole, The Island at the Center of the Earth by Russell Shorto; for Emily, The Wright Brothers, David McCullough's latest biography.
 
E-reader or paper? Both, says Carole, who enjoys the ease of looking up words on her Kindle. Emily prefers paper, although she uses her Kindle when she travels.
 
Favorite place to read: In bed where she can concentrate, says Carole; somewhere comfortable like a bed or a couch, says Emily.

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

LEGOland FloridaLEGOs. You probably played with them when you were little, and maybe, like me, you still have a stash of LEGOs that you pull out when the mood strikes. Or maybe you're a parent who is intimately familiar with the excruciating pain of stepping barefoot on a LEGO, cursing the day that you ever let those tiny instruments of torture into your home. No matter what your opinion is of this classic toy, you have probably clicked a few of those bricks together at some point in your life.
 
Last November I was lucky enough to visit LEGOland in Tampa, Florida. I was completely in awe of the creativity and skill that went into building everything out of LEGOs. Buildings, bridges and boats, animals, Star Wars scenes and full sized characters, a full sized car, all built with LEGOs. What can be build with those bricks is only limited by your imagination (and access to vast supply of LEGOs). 
 

A couple of months ago I wrote about how I had just started reading and appreciating manga. Well, my first touch of manga fever has become an acute case of manga-itis that has taken over my reading life. Biweekly trips to the Kinokuniya Bookstore in Beaverton have served only to further my new obsession. Pursuing their manga shelves provides regular inspiration for my “must read” list. Given my love for horror films and graphic novels it should come as no surprise that the manga that I have been most drawn to falls within the horror and supernatural genre. 

Seraph of the End book jacketSeraph of the End is set in a world that is ruled by vampires. After a mysterious virus kills all humans over the age of 13, vampires come out from the shadows to take over. Intent on avenging the deaths of his friends and family, a young, angry and impulsive Yuichiro joins the Japanese Imperial Army. Yuichiro is anxious to earn his demon weapon and start battling vampires, but first he has to take on a most difficult task, make friends with his fellow vampire slayers.

Tokyo Ghoul book jacketToyko Ghoul is a series that was first released in the U.S. this year. I was first drawn in by how beautifully illustrated this manga is but the story has made me want more.The plot centers around Ken Kaneki a shy, book loving college student who enjoys hanging out with his best friend Hide. After a violent encounter, Ken finds himself in the hospital with a new kidney, a kidney that once belonged to a ghoul. Now half-human and half-ghoul, Ken must learn how to straddle the thin line between the human world and the vicious underground world of the ghouls. 

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service book jacketAdapted and published in English by local darlings Dark Horse Comics, The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is a horror manga that I am in love with but that I recommend with a bit of caution. Some of the stories are quite gruesome. This series follows the adventures of five recent graduates from a Buddhist college who find that their special skills do not translate to employment. So what are a hacker, a dowser, an embalming specialist, a medium and a psychic to do? Carry out the wishes of the dead, of course. 

Kitaro book jacketThe last title that has sparked my manga loving heart is KitaroThe series was first published in the 1960s, but an English translation collection of the Kitaro episodes was published in 2013. The main character, Kitaro, appears to be at first glance a normal young boy, but he is really a 350-year-old yokai (supernatural monster). His hair serves as an antenna directing him towards paranormal activity, he has one eye and his yokai father lives in his other eye socket, he has jet powered sandals and he can seamlessly blend into his surroundings. In each episode Kitaro and his father cleverly battle criminals and malevolent yokai with the purpose of keeping humans safe. Kitaro is a wonderful melding of horror and whimsy where the good guy always wins.

 

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