Blogs

Logo for Bike to Books

Enter for a chance to have your bike art placed on a Portland street! 

Pick up an entry form at your library or download the form and create your design. 

Bring your completed entry to a Multnomah County Library by May 31.

Contest is open to children and teens in grades PreK-12.

Contest dates: May 1-31, 2019

Need inspiration? See the 2018 Bike to Books winners.

Other fun ways to celebrate National Bike Month during May:

#BikeToBooks | biketobooks.com.

2018 Bike to Books winner with his drawing in a bike lane

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” ~ James Baldwin

With the release of the movie If Beale Street Could Talk, interest in the works of James Baldwin is high. If you'd like to take a deeper dive into Baldwin's work, the time is right. The National Book Foundation has declared 2019 the year of James Baldwin through their Author in Focus program. 

Delve into the library's holdings on and about Baldwin. If you'd like to explore his writing futher, Broadway Books will hosting events as part of the year-long celebration. On April 7, the store will host a discussion of incarceration in America and its impact on marriage as seen through the novels An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and Baldwin's If Beale Street Could Talk. They will also host an open-mic night during which people can read aloud their favorite Baldwin passages. Find more information on Broadway Books' event page.

According to the scholar Therman B. O'Daniel, "Baldwin is a bold and courageous writer who is not afraid to search into the dark corners of our social consciences, and to force out into public view many of the hidden, sordid skeletons of our society." Find out for yourself why Baldwin's work still resonates so strongly long after his death.

Denise Auld
For Denise Auld, pursuing a career as a librarian has always been about more than finding books and information, it’s about forging connections and being there for people in the community.

As a teen, Denise spent her days after school at the St. Johns Library. She would see other teens from around the neighborhood, and they all became library regulars— huddling over new laptops on "teen lounge" nights and sharing stories with Janie, the youth librarian.

"Often nobody was at home, and the library became a calm and safe place for me to just be a teenager," said Denise. Visiting the library as a teen was more than a second home, it reinforced her desire to make working in libraries a career.

Today, Denise is currently serving dual roles for the library. For the past six years, she’s been an access services assistant at Holgate Library, assisting patrons with their accounts, helping coordinate the vast amount of library materials that are checked in and out each day, and training new library staff. The position also provided an opportunity for her to work with teens at the library, managing teen programming, running an active Teen Council group of 20 members, and mentoring more than 50 teen volunteers during the library’s annual Summer Reading program.

"I want to be the person that Janie was for me when I was a teen," she says.

Possessing both the experience of helping patrons in the library and a desire to help others, Denise was selected to help create a comprehensive training program for more than 400 staff and 200 volunteers on a new library software system that staff will begin using in May.

"I enjoy teaching and finding different ways to help people learn. Whether it’s working with the teen council or organizing classroom training for library staff, I want people to feel confident in what they do."

Currently in college working toward her Bachelor’s degree in psychology, Denise plans to pursue a master’s program so she can become a teen librarian.

Runner, Reader, and Reliable Volunteer 
photo of volunteer Darcy Pound

by Donna Childs, MCL volunteer

Darcy Pound began volunteering at Troutdale Library for the Summer Reading program after her freshman year of high school. She soon added membership in the teen council, which helps librarians plan events that interest teens; she was part of a group who put together a summit on bullying and effecting positive change. Now she is a full-fledged “search assistant,” coming every Saturday morning to search shelves for books requested by other branches. She is most enthused about this role because of all the interesting books that pass through her hands. There’s that love of learning again! According to Troutdale Library staff, Darcy is “friendly, efficient, reliable, and a good role model.”

A high school senior, Darcy is planning to go to college in the fall, possibly to Oregon State University, where she has been accepted into the Honors College. A potential biology major, her eyes light up when she talks about intriguing new biological discoveries. Thanks to her, I now know that dogs have developed a left gaze bias, looking at the side of our faces that shows more emotion. She’s a solid “A” student, who is at the top of her class, even while taking challenging Advanced Placement courses.

Darcy is also a runner. She is on her high school’s cross-country and track teams, and she was able to combine her love of running and volunteer work for her high school Key Club by helping at the annual Shamrock Run. When asked about summer activities, she mentioned an exciting job working at the 30 summer concerts at McMenamins Edgefield Hotel—some attracting more than 5,000 people—and then she added with a smile, “and of course, running. I love to run.” She also talked about family trips with her parents and younger brother to places such as Mount Rushmore and Dinosaur Park in South Dakota with its 30-foot-high dinosaur replica.

Darcy is a top student who is eager to learn, a talented and enthusiastic runner, and an active and committed volunteer—whether at church, school, or at Troutdale Library. She is also mature, intellectually curious, and original (see her “favorite place to read” comment below).


A few facts about Darcy

Home library: Troutdale

Currently reading: Radium Girls by Kate Moore and 1984 by George Orwell

Favorite book from childhood: A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

Favorite section of the library: Nonfiction and graphic novels

E-reader or paper: Paper!

Favorite reading guilty pleasure: I love to read nonfiction that’s written so well it seems like fiction."

Favorite place to read: The stairs. It’s oddly relaxing to sit on a set of stairs and read a good book.




 

Congratulations to Kaiyee, the middle school division winner! Kaiyee is a patron of Holgate Library.

Illustration by Kaiyee, the middle school division winner

And to Trina, the high school division winner, who frequents North Portland Library.

Illustration by Trina, the high school division winner

Each winner receives $100 from collage: curated art and craft supplies and have their art featured on thousands of gameboards this summer. Here are the 22 finalists in the contest, each showing their interpretation of this year’s theme, Space: A Universe of Stories.

Winners were selected by library staff who work with youth and the Summer Reading program. They considered creative interpretation of the theme, popular appeal, and how well the art would print. Trina’s work was felt to show the human connection reading creates; Kaiyee’s, the universe available in books. The results of the voting were very close this year. We were blown away by the quality and creativity shown by the entrants. 

Summer Reading is made possible by gifts to The Library Foundation.

Logo for Summer Reading 2019
Whose art will be on the cover of the middle and high school gameboards for Summer Reading 2019? Here are the 22 finalists in the contest, each showing their interpretation of this year’s theme, Space: A Universe of Stories.  

Winners will be announced on or around March 15. 

We had almost 100 amazing entries--a record number of talented teens, vying for $100 gift cards at collage: curated art and craft supplies.
 
Summer Reading is made possible by gifts to The Library Foundation.

Mother and child reading together
It can be hard to find the right book for a beginning reader. But the library makes it easy. We divide all beginning reader books into four categories, and they are color-coded.

Starting Out (Yellow Reader)

Building Skills (Blue Reader)

Reading More (Red Reader)

On My Own (Green Reader)

To make it even easier, we put together Welcome to Reading bags. Each bag has five books in one of these categories. Getting books that are at the right reading level will help your child love reading and want to read more! Check out a bag from your local library.

Made possible by gifts to The Library Foundation.

Ana Ruiz Morillo

For Spanish Outreach Coordinator Ana Ruiz Morillo, growing up in the Dominican Republic amidst pronounced wealth disparity led her to pursue a career in education and community outreach — she wanted to help others find opportunity and paths to success. 

Growing up between her parents’ two different Dominican neighborhoods, Ana experienced both the lessons of responsibility and hard work, and the privilege of having opportunity and established social circles. 

"These contrasting experiences made me think about equity before I even knew how to describe it. All communities deserve access to quality healthcare, a good education, and opportunities to succeed. I knew I wanted to do something about it," said Ana.

Ana started in her own community in Santo Domingo, meeting with leaders, organizing events and coaching youth on important leadership skills like public speaking.

Eventually, Ana earned her degree and became a teacher in the Dominican Republic before moving to the United States in 1995. In Oregon, she found a job with the Multnomah County Health Department — a place where she felt fulfilled using her bilingual skills while working with community members at neighborhood health clinics. She had planned to work while earning her Master’s Degree in Education so she could return to teaching. But then a job opened up with the library that seemed a perfect match. 

"When I came to work at the library, my supervisor told me, ‘you will always make a difference to students in the classroom, but through the library, you will broaden your impact. It’s a door to the whole community.'" 

"That was 12 years ago, and I haven’t looked back," says Ana. 

Now, Ana coordinates Spanish outreach services for the library. Working with bilingual library staff from across the county, volunteers and interns, Ana helps foster connections and build programs, services and networks between the library and Multnomah County’s Latinx communities. 

One of the most successful library programs Ana leads is El Día de los Niños y El Día de los Libros (Day of the children and Day of the books). The annual celebration of childhood and bilingual literacy is one of the library’s largest programs. Every April, several library locations offer fun and free literacy programming for kids, along with information for parents about how to support their children’s educational development. In 2018, Día events and programs drew nearly 10,000 attendees. 

Ana now utilizes her networking and leadership skills to mentor other library staff, volunteers and interns on conducting bilingual outreach in the community. 

"I continue to fall in love with my job. The library isn’t just flyers and books; the library is meeting people where they are. We are facilitating connections, broadening cultural understanding, and helping other people find their purpose and make an investment in their communities."

Beginning May 12 at 5 pm, the library is upgrading the software that helps run the library. This update will make using the library even better for you and more reliable for us. The library is making this update to continue to provide the best possible service to our patrons.

We look forward to bringing you updates like modernized software that enhances library services and improved self-checkout stations.

During this transition, there will be an impact on some library services. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Classic Catalog

We are replacing the system that currently provides the Classic Catalog. If you use the Classic Catalog, you will need to sign up for My MCL by May 13. This will let you continue to access your account and the library catalog. Here’s how:

  • Create a My MCL account. Here’s a helpful guide.
  • If you were using Classic Catalog, your borrowing history will also be visible in My MCL once you create an account.
  • You can also import your reading lists from Classic Catalog.
  • Patrons who have been using My MCL should not be affected.

Other limited impacts

  • Beginning March 1, patrons will not be able to suggest new purchases for the library. This service will return after the work is complete.
  • Phone renewal will not be available May 13 -15.
  • Temporary reduction in some library programming and availability of meeting rooms.
  • Online renewals will not be available May 13-15. Fines will not accrue during that time.

Need help? Contact us.

Ben Nguyen, library volunteer
“It was a place I could call home.” 

by Sarah Binns, MCL volunteer

When Ben Nguyen and his family emigrated from Vietnam to Portland, one of the first places they visited was their local library. “We always came to the library because it was where my parents had access to computers. I probably rolled around in the corner and picked up picture books,” he laughs. After moving into one house with two other families, the library became “a place of refuge from the noise and crowdedness,” he says.

Since then, Ben has volunteered with the Gregory Heights Library in many different positions. For nearly five years, he has been a search assistant, gathering books on hold and sending them to other library branches. He’s always been a reader and doesn’t volunteer to gain credit: “I do it because it’s fun every week, and I love getting to see the staff.”

As a senior at Reynolds High School, Ben doesn’t have much free time, but he plays tennis on the Reynolds High School team during the year and enjoys hiking in the Columbia River Gorge. He’s also passionate about social justice and has volunteered with the Multnomah Youth Commission for the past three years. “I work with officials on the city side and figure out equity issues, like working to make public transit affordable and accessible”, he says. Through the efforts of Ben and his fellow youth commissioners, TriMet access to East County schools has increased, including a program providing free or partially-funded bus passes to students who receive free or reduced lunch at Parkrose and David Douglas high schools.

“I don’t think of social justice as a career,” he says, “but it is a passion I want to pursue later in life.” Ben also wants to support immigrant and refugee communities, since “I know how hard it is to access resources.” Even more impressively, Ben has been accepted to Stanford University and likely will start there in the fall. “I actually wrote about the library for one of my college essays,” he explains. “I talked about it as a place where my sister and I felt protected. It’s where I was able to learn English and read my first chapter book. It was a place I could call home.”


A few facts about Ben

Home library: Gregory Heights

Currently reading: Multnomah County Library’s selection for Everybody Reads for 2019, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Most influential book: 1984 by George Orwell. “It made me start engaging in current events and politics.”

Favorite section of the library: Nonfiction, especially narrative nonfiction, where he found books like Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

Favorite book from childhood: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Book that made you laugh or cry: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Favorite place to read: “Definitely in bed!”

E-reader or paper: “Paper because of the feeling of getting to flip the pages and remembering how much effort the authors put into their work.”

 

We know that snow day closures can throw things off-kilter. Don't worry, we've got you covered. For snow day closures:

  • Don't worry about returning your books when the library is closed for snow days.
  • Late fines won't be charged for the days the library is closed.
  • No holds will expire while the library is closed.

If you can't get into a library once we're open, contact us. We can extend due dates and holds, and fix any problems with late fines. Thanks again for your support of the library.

St Johns Library in the snow

mom and son watching movies
The library is here for you — from entertainment to growth opportunities to family activities. Here are a few things you can do with your library card that might make things easier.

Man standing and reading from a book
February is Black History Month. Join us to celebrate.

 

A Place Called Home: From Vanport to Albina
February 3
St. Johns Library
February 4
Albina Library

Black history traveling museums
At Albina, Belmont, Midland, North Portland and Troutdale libraries throughout February.

Celebrate Black History with Gospel Music Timeline
February 6
Midland Library

Black History Month Film Fest
Saturdays in February 
St. Johns Library

African American Read-In
February 10
North Portland Library

Sista in the Brotherhood film screening 
February 11
Kenton Library

Portland’s Rhymes and Hip-Hop Life 
February 11
Rockwood Library

A Midsummer Night at the Savoy
February 17
North Portland Library

Where the Heart Is film screening 
February 24
North Portland Library

Black Feminism in the Hashtag Era
February 26
North Portland Library


 

Dedicated Booktalker and Treasure for Third-Graders

by Donna Childs, MCL volunteer

As a Books 2 U volunteer, Ethelyn Pankratz talks to third-graders at two Portland schools about books. And she is a natural at it: even during our interview, she went through the seven books she had brought, pointing out especially good illustrations or photographs, showing what she liked about each, and how they might appeal to children—demonstrating a “booktalk” without my realizing it.

The Books 2 U program trains volunteers and provides books for students in third, fourth, and fifth grades; volunteers then choose titles from the many possibilities in the Books 2 U office. On this day, Ethelyn’s choices ranged from wordless books to those with mostly words, beautifully illustrated works, easy readers, adventure tales, and science. Since each classroom session is limited to 20 minutes, she goes through them rapidly, but without seeming to hurry.

The booktalker training includes learning to catch students’ attention, and in her 18 years of volunteering, Ethelyn has become adept at “reading” the students and choosing books that will interest them. She admitted that working with third graders may make her task easier because they are intrigued by everything and eager to learn. To do this well, she said, a volunteer must love reading, be aware of the kids’ varied reading levels, and have a good sense of what elements of a book to emphasize.

An ideal Books 2 U volunteer, Ethelyn spent most of her career in education: as a preschool teacher, an art instructor for Portland Public Schools, as executive director of what was then called the Association for Retarded Citizens, administering a program for people with developmental disabilities, and even working with an organization that brought young people from Myanmar to be educated in the U.S., hoping that they would return home and teach others.

When she retired, Ethelyn wanted to do something useful that she would enjoy. When I asked what she likes best about volunteering with Books 2 U, she replied, “watching their eyes light up—seeing them become engaged with a book. Since some schools no longer have libraries, we are a way to reach kids who might not be introduced to the world through reading.”


A few facts about Ethelyn

Home library: Capitol Hill

Currently reading: a science-fiction trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

Favorite book from childhood: Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter

A book that made you laugh or cry: The Little Colonel by Annie Fellows Johnston

Favorite section of the library: young adult books

E-reader or paper book? Both. I like the ability to adjust fonts on e-readers, but I prefer the feel of paper books, especially if I want to keep a book.

Favorite reading guilty pleasure: reading in the daytime

Favorite place to read: on the couch or in bed

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

 

Logo for Summer Reading 2019
HEY TEENS: Want to win $100 to spend at collage: curated art and craft supplies? Want thousands of people to see your artwork? 

Are you an artist in grades 6–12? Would you like a chance to win one of two $100 gift certificates to collage: curated art and craft supplies? Enter cover art for the 2019 Multnomah County Library Summer Reading teen gameboards! The theme is “Space: A Universe of Stories.” We will select a middle school and high school winner from the entries. If your artwork is selected, people across Multnomah County will see your artwork all summer long. The library will also share winners and honorable mentions on the library’s social media channels.

PRINTABLE FLIER with entry size and all these details (or you can pick one up at your library).

ART SPECIFICATIONS 1) Black & white image only. 2) If hand drawn, use black ink, marker, pen or hard pencil. 3) If computer drawn, submit as black & white EPS or high resolution (300 dpi) PNG, JPG or TIF. NOTE: Final artwork will be printed at a maximum of 7” x 4.75” [measurements may change if art is scaled down].

SUBMISSION DETAILS Please include your name, grade, school (if applicable) and a phone number or email address so we can reach you if you win. Submit your artwork electronically to summerreading@multco.us, bring it to your local library, or send a paper version to:

Summer Reading | Multnomah County Library Isom Building, 205 NE Russell Street, Portland, OR 97212

Entries must be received by FRIDAY, MARCH 1.

Summer Reading is made possible by gifts to The Library Foundation.

Welcome to Computers

Twenty-two adults in East Portland and Gresham learned new technology skills and earned themselves a free laptop thanks to a library partnership with technology non-profit FreeGeek and the Rockwood community organization, Rosewood Initiative

The five-week “Welcome to Computers” program took place in November and December at the Rosewood Initiative in East Portland. The program was taught in Spanish by the library’s Bilingual Technology Coordinator Carlos Galeana. He offered lessons on sending email, navigating the internet, downloading apps, and using the library. After completing the full program of weekly, two-hour classes, participants received a free laptop from Free Geek and one year of technical support. 

“I love teaching the important technology skills that will help them both in the library and in everyday life,” said Carlos, who has taught the program twice. 

For some of the students, the classes are the next step in helping them earn their GED; for others, a boost in navigating complex online job applications.  

“The computer is a nice extra,” adds Carlos. 

The library and Free Geek teach the Welcome to Computers program with various community partners throughout the year. A new session will begin in February 2019 with Central City Concern.

Liza Dyer

For those interested in volunteering their time and expertise at the library, Volunteer Coordinator Liza Dyer works diligently as a “matchmaker,” pairing people with the volunteer position and library location that best aligns with their interests and skills. 

“Volunteer services is all about the people,” says Liza. “We recruit, onboard and orient people to what we do at the library, a human resources department for library volunteers.”

In her role, Liza supports the library’s 2000 annual volunteers, along with more than 100 library staff across Multnomah County who work directly with volunteers.  

With her colleagues, Liza interviews incoming volunteers to learn about what they like to do, their work styles, and their goals for volunteering. She works hard to ensure that each volunteer is matched with a role that will be meaningful for them. 
“We want to make sure the experience is amazing for both our staff and volunteers. When we have everyone working together towards our shared goals it makes us a stronger library system.”

Library volunteers help with everything from shelving books and fulfilling holds to teaching computer literacy classes and delivering books to homebound patrons. As library services evolve, so does volunteer services. 

“We all are in this together. Whether it’s a staff person who is in every day and getting paid or a volunteer coming in two hours once per week, we’re extending the impact for the greater community,” Liza adds. 

Staying true to her passion for volunteering, Liza also gives of her time to local and national organizations, including the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration, the Northwest Oregon Volunteer Administrators Association, and the Nonprofit Technology Network. 

Learn more about volunteering with Multnomah County Library.

Two women holding stacks of library books
Patrons have checked out these items the most in 2018.

 

Adult nonfiction book: Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff: 1,294

Adult fiction book: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: 1,371

Adult DVD: The Shape of Water: 2,779

Adult music CD: Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording by Lin-Manuel Miranda: 318

Children’s book: Drama by Raina Telgemeier: 1,226

Teen book: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: 852

OverDrive e-book: Exit West by Mosin Hamid: 2,749

OverDrive audiobook: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson: 3,994

Hoopla movie: Hamilton: 366

Hoopla music: Hamilton: 1,066

RB Digital magazine: The New Yorker: 6,524

Kanopy movie: Hearts Beat Loud: 393 (note: the library just began offering Kanopy in October)

Embracing a Spanish language identity
Volunteer Fernando Rojas-Galvan

by Sarah Binns, MCL volunteer

The passions of Fernando Rojas-Galvan center around something many of us in the library community appreciate: language. What sets Fernando apart is his embrace of two languages—English and Spanish—in almost every aspect of his life. As the facilitator for Kenton Library's Intercambio program, Ferrnando leads the weekly bilingual discussion group with patrons. He also helms Kenton Library’s Spanish-language book club, which meets four times a year.

“I’ve been a patron of Kenton since they opened,” Fernando says. He took over the book club a year ago and then started leading Intercambio. “I find it enjoyable and rewarding,” Fernando says. “It’s my opportunity to contribute to my local community; I think giving back is a key aspect of living in that community.”

Fernando also uses his Spanish as an instructor at Clatsop Community College (CCC) in Astoria. At CCC he develops his own curriculum: “I am the Spanish department at the college,” he says. He teaches everything from English as a second language to developmental English to a Latin American short story course. “To have the freedom to set up my curriculum and choose the books; it makes my job that much easier,” he says.

Along with teaching, reading inspires hope in Fernando: “Gosh, I read every day,” he says with a bit of wonder. “I find it as important as breathing, eating.” He became a reader in third grade, when he realized “I could do things my parents couldn’t do [because of the English language].”

Fernando was born in western Mexico and moved with his parents to Oregon as a toddler. Growing up, Fernando realized “Spanish language was part of my identity” and maintained his use of Spanish even while learning English. “I mention it because within three generations of immigrants you can lose the native language.” As a result, Fernando and his wife raise their two daughters and a son bilingually. “We do the best we can,” he says, “but we’re against society. The current political turmoil doesn’t foster [speaking Spanish]. It’s almost an act of resistance to speak another language in this country.” In the academic and library communities all languages should be encouraged and flourish; it’s heartening and hopeful to see how Fernando’s passion for Spanish can extend to the next generation and beyond.  


A few facts about Fernando

Home library: Kenton Library

Currently reading: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I am also reading Patria by Paco Ignacio Taibo. I have a habit of reading up to six books at any given time. Once in a while I encounter a book that I read in a day or two.

Most influential book: El Túnel by Ernesto Sábato

Favorite section to browse: Nonfiction or magazine section

Favorite book from childhood: Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Book that made you laugh or cry: Where The Red Fern Grows

Guilty pleasure: As a student of the Mexican-American Border for the last 25 years, I am watching the Netflix series Narcos.

Favorite place to read: You name it… I'll read anywhere.

E-reader or paper: I prefer paper, but as long as I can access reading material, my phone will serve the purpose in a pinch.

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

Stephanie White

As the "person in charge" (PIC) coordinator at Central Library, Stephanie White works to achieve a delicate balance. "Every day, our goal is to ensure access," she says. "But ‘welcome’ looks different to every population, so I work closely with our patrons to see how the library can be welcoming for everyone." 

To help achieve this goal, Stephanie aligns the work of 17 Central Library PIC staff members with the individual needs and circumstances of the nearly 13,000 people who visit the historic downtown building every week. All libraries have a person in charge on duty during every open hour. Those staff members interpret and apply library rules, address building maintenance needs, respond to medical emergencies and make numerous other decisions to keep the library safe and welcoming. Stephanie also serves as a scheduler, an advisor, a problem solver and one of the primary trainers for the library’s safety and security program. 

Stephanie joined the library in 2016 after an 18-year career at Powell’s City of Books. As a manager there, she had similar duties, but she points to a fundamental difference regarding the library’s end goal: access.

Like all library staff, PICs look for every way to help deliver patrons what they need— a "think yes" model to customer service. "While my role requires addressing security concerns and applying the library rules, I focus on ways to help people use the library successfully. Interactions shouldn’t be punitive. They should feel like a collaboration between patrons and staff to help the library be welcoming and safe. It requires being part of the fabric of daily library life and doing many other things beyond applying rules— it means relationship building," she says.

In the past two years, the library has expanded safety and security efforts, including adding a new category of library safety officers; creating new training curricula for staff; adopting a new model of PIC staffing, and revising library rules significantly for the first time in decades. To Stephanie, those rules are much more than a list of "don’ts." 

"It’s not just about the content of the rules to ensure a welcoming environment; the rules were reworked to make them easier to apply equitably. That's our goal — apply library rules as consistently as possible to ensure fairness and equity. We all need to be on the same page to get there."

For some library patrons, the library is a place of safety and refuge from the pressures and danger of living outside. Stephanie says she came to understand the needs of people experiencing homelessness differently than before she worked in the library. She talks about learning of the idea of “prosocial” behavior (as opposed to its antonym, antisocial, which is more common and familiar). In Stephanie’s role, she sees opportunity to help people whose situations compromise their ability to be prosocial. 

"While I considered myself compassionate and empathetic, I just didn’t have the tools to understand the minute-to-minute struggles people experiencing homelessness encounter every day,” Stephanie says. “If I had to think constantly about where I was going to use a bathroom, charge my phone, get something to eat, or avoid people stealing my things or assaulting me, I don’t know how long my own prosocial skills would last."

It doesn’t take long to discover Stephanie’s ability to make positive and lasting connections with people. Colleagues are quick to praise her abilities and approach. She reciprocates those sentiments. "The well of thoughtfulness here is infinite," she says. "The library system is so large, yet people at every level are so thoughtful about how we meet the needs of various communities, though our perspectives are all different. We all have very job-focused goals in addition to creating a welcoming environment. The intersection of all that is the most fascinating and challenging part of this job for me."

When she’s not at work, Stephanie enjoys the solitude of being outdoors and the company of her rottweiler/shepherd/pitbull mix, Jackson (he's a good boy). She also loves to spend time in a warm kitchen, refining her techniques for the perfect pie crust or souffle. Like her work, those efforts are an intricate exercise in achieving just the right balance.

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