Blogs

Using Her Experience to Help Others

by Donna Childs

Mekdes Hilete came to Portland from Ethiopia two years ago, at age 14. Despite all the complexities of a new country, with a new language, culture, habits, assumptions, expectations, Mekdes has handled the difficult transition with grace, making it appear deceptively easy.

Almost as soon as she arrived here, Mekdes became involved with Multnomah County Library.  After volunteering in the Summer Reading and summer lunch programs at the Belmont and Midland libraries, she began taking on multiple roles at her home library, North Portland.  She began as a computer lab assistant, helping patrons with such tasks as accessing the internet and setting up email and Facebook accounts. Recently, she also became a branch assistant, and has applied to join the new Teen Council at North Portland.

When Mekdes enrolled at Jefferson High School, as a freshman, she discovered the school’s relationship with Portland Community College allowing juniors and seniors, and even qualified sophomores, to take courses at PCC for dual high school/college credit.  Despite being here only a year, Mekdes applied, was accepted, and began earning genuine college credit as a high school sophomore. She also participated in Jefferson’s Mock Trial team, which made it to the state competition last year. She has joined Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest, where she helps plan events and raise funds to empower girls to be leaders.  Her participation in college classes, and in such challenging extracurricular activities, only months after leaving Ethiopia underscores Mekdes’ courage and her nimble brain, as well as her strong facility with English.

Although she jokes that most of her days revolve within the triangle of the library, Jefferson, and PCC, she ventures out to volunteer as a guide at OHSU, helping patients and visitors find their destinations.  She credits an interest in pursuing a medical career, perhaps in family medicine, as a reason for choosing OHSU. But it also fits with a clear pattern of helping others navigate strange situations, which is evident in Mekdes’ choices.  Rather than being overwhelmed by the newness of everything here, she has jumped in, using her experience of dealing with unknown environments to help others in new situations.

 


A few facts about Mekdes

Home library:  North Portland

Currently reading:  Perfect Is Boring by Tyra and her Mama

Most influential book:  The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Book that made you cry:  Reading Paper Towns made me want to cry. The Diary of Anne Frank made me want to cry. I Am Malala made me cry.

Favorite section of the library:  the window seat at the North Portland Library

E-reader or paper?  paper books

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! Read last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

 

The North Portland Library recently unveiled a special collection devoted to the history and experiences of our region’s Black community. The Black Pacific Northwest Collection features the literature, music, film and other creative expressions of the Black experience in the Pacific Northwest and is part of the Black Resources Collection. The collection includes Raymond Burell’s celebration of the Vancouver Avenue Baptist Church, Lucas N.N. Burke’s history of Portland’s Black Panther movement, the poetry of S. Renee Mitchell and Samiya A. Bashir, and Renée Watson’s award-winning Piecing Me Together.

We knew it was important for the scope to be of local interest but wanted to broaden it beyond the Portland experience, so this collection includes authors and subjects throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and northern California. You’ll find works by the University of Washington’s emeritus Charles Johnson and works about the late Seattle-based playwright August Wilson. Check out this new collection by visiting the North Portland Library or by searching “Black Pacific Northwest Collection” from the home page.

Help grow the Black Pacific Northwest Collection

This special collection currently features about 200 titles, including works of fiction, nonfiction, films, and even zines — but we’d like to add more, and we need your help! You know the creatives here in our community and beyond — the writers, musicians, filmmakers, historians, social scientists — documenting the rich Black experience in our region. Tell us about them. Have them get in touch with us. Or, if you have written a book, made a record, created a film, compiled a bibliography, let us know. To suggest materials to add to the Black Pacific Northwest collection, please visit North Portland Library or email Kirby at kirbym at multcolib.org.

(Photos are by Cheyenne Thorpe.)

 

During the month of October, the following book groups are discussing books by Ursula K. Le Guin to celebrate what would have been her 89th birthday on October 21.

Read the book and join the discussion:

Cover of The Left Hand of Darkness
The Left Hand of Darkness

Gresham Library
Thursday, October 4, 2-3 pm

St. Johns Library
Tuesday, October 9, 1-2:30 pm

Kenton Library
Tuesday, October 16, 6:30-7:30 pm

Woodstock Library
Tuesday, October 16, 6:30-7:45 pm


Cover of The Late of Heaven
The Lathe of Heaven

Central Library
Thursday, October 4, 2:30-4 pm

Hillsdale Library
Tuesday, October 9, 6:30-7:30 pm

Gregory Heights Library
Monday, October 15, 6:30-7:30 pm

Rockwood Library
Friday, October 19, 10-11:30 am

Northwest Library
Tuesday, October 23, 6:30-7:45 pm


Cover of Lavinia
Lavinia

Midland Library
Wednesday, October 17, 1-2:15 pm


Cover of The Dispossessed
The Dispossessed

Hollywood Library
Thursday, October 18, 6:30-7:45 pm


A Wizard of Earthsea
A Wizard of Earthsea

Holgate Library
Saturday, October 20, 10:30 am-12 pm


Cover of No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters
No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters

Hollywood Library
Thursday, October 25, 6:30-7:30 pm


Check at your library to see whether a book group copy of the book is available during the month before each meeting.

Ursula K. Le Guin was a member of the Friends of the Library and Pageturners is supported by a generous grant from the Friends of the Library.

Photo of a camera
You need a photo or an image for a project you’re working on. You need it fast. You don’t want to pay anything to anybody, or get sued for copyright violation. Luckily, there are a lot of sources on the Web for finding royalty-free images! (Royalty-free = you don’t have to pay any money to use it.) Here is a list of some of the best websites for finding these types of photos and images. Is there a website that you like to use? Add a comment and let us all know!

The creators of many of the images on these websites are giving up some of their copyright protection and allowing you to use their photos and artwork. However, they may have usage rules that they require you to follow: for example, they might ask you to attribute the creator of the image if you use it. (Attribution = including information, on your website or wherever you use the image, saying who made the image and where you found it.) Before you copy or use any image, it’s a good idea to look at the webpage for the image and check for usage or licensing rules. I’ve included links to the general usage rules for many of the websites in this list. Quick disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and cannot provide advice regarding your legal rights. However, I can help find material that might assist you in your research, or help you learn how to contact a lawyer. Questions? Please ask!

ImageQuest - https://multcolib.org/resource/imagequest: ImageQuest is a library resource created by the Encyclopædia Britannica with millions of images that you can use for non-commercial purposes. There is a photo for just about any subject you can think of. The collection includes photos and clip art, and even allows you to sort results by shape (horizontal or vertical rectangle, or square). Information is provided for each image about the creator and rights.

Creative Commons logo
Creative Commons Search - http://search.creativecommons.org: Creative Commons is an organization that creates standards for sharing content on the Web (photos, videos, writing, anything!) This webpage has buttons to search many different websites for images and other content that are free to use based on Creative Commons standards - choose a website and then type in your search. Searchable websites from this page include Flickr, Google Images, Wikimedia Commons, and more. Usage information is included on the bottom of the page, below the buttons for the different sites.
19th century painting of an American schooner

U.S. Government Images search - https://search.usa.gov/search/images?affiliate=usagov&query=: The USA.gov search engine lets you look for photos and images from the federal government. You can find photos of just about anything, from satellites to Socks the cat, with little or no usage restrictions. Most of the results take you to images located on the Flickr website: before you use the image for your own project, make sure to look for usage information on the image's Flickr page.

Children reading a wireless newspaper
The Commons - http://www.flickr.com/commons: The Commons is a section of the photo-sharing website Flickr which provides access to images from public photography archives at museums and libraries around the world. It’s a great place to find historic photos, and everyone (including you!) is encouraged to add comments and tags to the images. The photos on this site have “no known copyright.”

Encyclopedia of Life - http://www.eol.org: this website’s mission is to “increase awareness and understanding of living nature,” and it includes information and images on all kinds of living creatures, from moths to amoebas to mollusks to monkeys. It includes many images, most of which are free to use as long as you attribute the source.

Photo of a flower
Morgue File - http://www.morguefile.com: a morgue file is “a place to keep post production materials for use of reference.” In other words, it is a place to store things. In this particular online morgue file, you can find many high resolution stock photos.

Pixabay - https://pixabay.com/en/ offers over 1/5 million royalty free stock photos and videos. 

Unsplash https://unsplash.com/ Over 550,000 free high resolution photos shared by a huge online community of photographers.

Openclipart - http://openclipart.org/: Unlike many websites which offer photos to use, this site has royalty-free clip art (clip art = little images and drawings ready to use in electronic documents). You can even register and submit your own clip-art for other people to use! Here is a usage policy for the site.

Scissors illustration

Are websites not your thing? Do you prefer books? Well, the library still has plenty of those. We have many books of illustrations and prints on all sorts of topics, most of them royalty-free. To find them, just do a subject search in the library catalog for “clip art.” You’ll find books with images of Victorian women’s fashion, birds, children’s book illustrations, fairies, and much more, many of them including CD-ROMs with computer files of all the images in the book. At the end of this blog post is a book list showing examples of the types of clip art books that the library owns.

If you still have trouble finding the images that you want, or if you have more questions about any of this, you know what to do: Ask a Librarian! We’ll be happy to talk more about it.

Images included in this post:

Sexual orientation, sexual identity, and gender identity have been getting more attention in the news lately, with the Supreme Court decision about same-sex marriage and Caitlyn Jenner's public transition.

Confused? Curious? Concerned? All of the above? The library is a great place to learn more. Teen Health and Wellness has informative articles and also offers teens the opportunity to submit your own stories and videos.  

If you're in or close to Portland, the services of the Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center and TransActive Gender Center may be helpful.

No matter where you are, you can call, text, or chat YouthLine.

And the video below, LGBTQ: Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities, is a good brief overview of these topics that includes stories from several youth.

LGBTQ: Understanding Sexual Orientation & Gender Identities (short version)

 

Hat Rock Oregon geology

Oregon has an extensive geologic history, which is viewable from roadside videos. There are also videos of various landforms in the state created by geologic actions. Like other Pacific Northwestern states, Oregon has many volcanoes. Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens are two volcanic peaks close to Portland. The geologic history of the whole Pacific Northwest was influenced by the great Missoula Floods which has left its mark on the geology of the Columbia River gorge.  The geology of Eastern Oregon also features the mammal fossil beds at John Day, which include the Painted Hills. The Pacific Northwest also faces the potential of a massive earthquake, due to the Cascadia subduction zone.

 

All of these online resources will help you understand how the human body works, and they also provide great images, diagrams, videos, and explanations.

Images of human bodies depicting the major body systems like: respiratory, skeletal,musculatory, digestive, and sensory systems

 

If you are in 1st-4th grade and want to know and see how the body works, click on How the Body Works on the Kids Health website to find out about the nervous system, muscles, organs, and the five senses. You can even play games to see how much you know!

You can also use factmonster to find our more information by clicking on Your Body's Systems. (hint: you might have to type it also in the search box next to the fact monster!)

5th-12th grade and beyond! Trying using innerbody for detailed and interactive diagrams and explanations about all the major body systems. Don't forget to scroll down on the web page to see all of the information!

 Try our Teen and Health and Wellness Database and click on the Body Basic page. Just scroll down and click on the topic that you need. (hint: you will need to sign in using  your library card and password)

If you need more information beyond what the major body systems do and how they work try the howstuffworks. You will need to type in your specific topic in the search box or you can try this Discovery Fit and Health page which features the major body systems. (hint: don't forget to scroll down on each webpage to view your information. It may look confusing, but just scroll down!) 

Need more information and/or guidance? Contact a Librarian!

Your body is a pretty amazing place to be.  Every day things try to make you sneeze, make your nose run, make you cough, or even something worse - throwing up!  Lucky for you, your immune system fights them off - most of the time.

Immune System, Nintendo Style...... Biology.

So think of your immune system as the Immune Platoon, a bunch of superheroes battling so you can be as healthy as you can be.  Using some great online resources you can get an overview of the immune system, find out how your body responds to an attack on your immune system by playing an immune system game, and even quiz yourself to see what you know!

And you can always contact a librarian for even more info!

Librarian Eddie Arizaga

Spanish Bilingual Librarian Eddie Arizaga works across the library system, helping get patrons the materials they need: he provides informational services at Central Library; curates Central Library’s collection of Spanish language and other world language materials; conducts outreach at several local organizations; and supports multiple community focused projects. Through all of this, Eddie enjoys surprising people about what the library can offer. 

“I want to break that myth of the ‘shushing librarian’ behind the desk,” said Eddie. “Librarians aren’t magicians. We aren’t trying to hide things. We want to not only give you the information you’re looking for but also show you how to find it.”

Before joining Multnomah County Library in 2016, Eddie began his library career working for public libraries in San Diego, near where he grew up. Though he eventually became a power user of the library as a teen, seeking out stories and information that would help him navigate the world during a formative time, as a child, he was often left disappointed by the lack of materials in his native language. 

“Spanish is my first language, and the library wasn’t always about serving me. Now, we are working towards making the library more reflective of the community and encompassing more of the people who live there. It’s a center of the community.”

Now, Eddie helps build the library’s Spanish and other world languages collections so the community has access to a rich collection of diverse materials. In addition, he’s also focusing his attention outward, visiting locations outside the library and introducing community members to the library’s many services. 

One location Eddie visits, along with other library staff, is the Mexican consulate in Portland. There, he joins other organizations for a monthly health fair that introduces community members to local health and information resources. At another site off Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Eddie speaks with day laborers, sharing information about the library’s free classes on job searching and digital technology help; touting the benefits of a free library card; and inviting the workers to come visit one of the library’s 19 locations. 

“Today’s library is about meeting people where they are,” said Eddie. “The library can be an invaluable resource for so many and sometimes it takes communicating with people directly and inviting them in.”

Eddie is excited by the ever changing nature of his work, particularly the broader effort by the library to ask, “how can we do this better? What else can we be doing for our community?”

“It’s never stagnant,” said Eddie. “We’re barely scratching the surface of what libraries can do.”

“I want to get kids excited to read.”

by Sarah Binns

Good books have long been a part of Earl Dizon’s life: “When I was really young I was reading an Agatha Christie mystery at the library and forgot to go home that evening. Luckily, my stepfather thought to check there to find me.”

Earl’s early love of literature set the tone for a lifelong pursuit of literacy volunteerism. Since moving to Portland in 2008 he has been a search assistant at three MCL locations, a board member for Friends of the Library, and he currently volunteers with Every Child Initiative, an outreach program providing books to low-income families, as well as readers and literary materials for pre-Kindergarten children.

Growing up in the Philippines, Earl first read Agatha Christie novels and the Encyclopedia Brown series, which inspired him to want to become a detective. After reading Christopher Pike’s Remember Me trilogy, though, “I closed the book and said ‘I want to write, I want to make people feel the way I feel when I finish a book like this,” he says. He currently has four picture book manuscripts in the works and blogs about children’s books at The Chronicles of a Children’s Book Writer. He says he wants to write books that reflect his experiences as an immigrant and as a gay man. “We need books that represent ourselves, books where we can see ourselves,” he says.

On Earl’s first day in Portland he came to the Central Library and used its computer lab find an apartment. He later took citizenship classes at the library, so he sees his volunteerism as an act of gratitude for a system that has helped him along the way. “I get so much joy from volunteering,” he says with a smile.  

In addition to his voracious library work, Earl also promotes literacy as a bookseller at Green Bean Books on Alberta, where he’s worked for the past six years. “I love being a bookseller. If I can get kids excited to read at a young age, that’s my purpose.” He enjoys the clientele at the shop, all of whom are book enthusiasts. “I love being a part of this community of writers and readers. The more you read, the kinder you are, and we need more of that in the world.” With the work that Earl does for Every Child and Green Bean Books, it’s easy to see how young readers are made: one children’s book at a time!


A few facts about Earl

Home library: Central. “It was my first Portland library.”

Currently reading: Just finished Agatha Christie’s The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories and I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth The Trip, by John Donovan, one of the earliest LGBTQ YA novels.

Most influential book: Christopher Pike’s Remember Me trilogy. “They made me want to be a writer.”

Favorite book from childhood: Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke. “I get something different every time I read it.”

Guilty pleasure: YouTube. “I always think I could be productive if I wasn’t watching funny ‘Golden Girls’ moments on YouTube.”

Favorite place to read: A shady tree on the deck in front of Green Bean Books.

E-reader or paper? Paper! But second favorite is audiobook: “It gives me incentive to walk. Once a book was so good I kept walking and when it ended I didn’t know where I was.”

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

Sustainability at Work Award

Central Library in downtown Portland and Albina Library in Northeast Portland are among a growing list of businesses and nonprofits in Portland increasing their commitment to sustainable practices. Each library has earned City of Portland Sustainability at Work gold certification.

As a public service organization built on sharing resources for the benefit of the community, the library is committed to sustainability practices. But operating 19 individual library branches across Multnomah County requires a more conscious effort to engage staff in sustainability practices and further environmental benefits.

“We felt strongly that there was a better answer than going along with all the waste we were creating,” said Greta G., administrator at Central Library. “We knew there was a way to incorporate sustainability solutions into day-to-day problem solving.”

Run by the City of Portland, the Sustainability at Work program began in 2007. The program offers three levels of certifications, with gold being the highest level of achievement, that recognize businesses for the number and type of sustainability features and processes that they implement.

Albina and Central libraries incorporated more than 45 individual actions into their operations, which aim to improve sustainability in the workplace. Before the process began, the two libraries were already doing a number of sustainable actions, such as installing LED lights, printing on recycled paper and not purchasing plastic water bottles.

To begin working toward their certification, Central Library staff focused on small, detailed efforts. They created simple, visual signage to help others sort various types of specialty plastics for recycling that weren’t allowed in the county’s mixed recycling container.

Plastics sorting at Central Library

“It can be difficult to divert some plastic packaging materials from landfills because many vendors no longer accept them,” said Library Facilities Specialist Dan S. “Library staff did extensive research to identify new vendors who would accept the materials and then worked to educate others on the proper sorting so we could ensure they’d be recycled.”

In addition to implementing a more robust recycling plan, Central Library staff partnered with Dan and Multnomah County Sustainability Coordinator Sara M. to make more robust facilities improvements, such as installing water-saving, low-flow faucets in staff restrooms (they’re already installed in public restrooms).

Central Library faucets

Across the library system, a dedicated group of staff also organized an Environmental Team to help individual library locations make improvements in their overall footprint. The team also pushes for systemwide changes, such as switching to a Vitamin C based, non-toxic receipt paper and investing in green cleaning products.

“Libraries have an important role in the community to provide information and resources— organizing these sustainability efforts allows us to lead by example and put our best foot forward,” said Lili R., an access services assistant at Albina Library and lead organizer of Albina’s efforts to reach gold certification.

At Albina Library, staff partnered with neighbor Whole Foods to further their environmental efforts.

“Albina Library is a leased space, so we weren’t able to add a weekly compost pickup service, but thanks to an agreement with Whole Foods, staff can take a compost bucket from the lunch room over to the grocer for proper disposal in their larger composting bin,” said Lili.

Another notable area both libraries excel is in transportation, with a significant portion of staff at each location commuting with alternative methods such as walking, biking, carpooling or taking public transportation. To add additional incentive for staff to bike, Albina Library purchased a bike repair kit and spare lock to keep at the branch for anyone that needs to use it.

Biking to work

“I’m really proud of this award, and I’m proud of my coworkers,” said Lili. “None of this stuff matters if nobody does it. I could be doing backflips trying to make everything as green as possible but if your coworkers don’t support it, then it doesn’t really matter.”

While the certification is a notable milestone for the two libraries, staff noted it’s important to stay informed of sustainability challenges and changes in the world and to advocate for action.

“We’re never going to be able to make change in our overall waste stream without working from the ground up,” said Greta.  

Lili says that individuals can help by making small swaps that have a big impact:

“An easy change would be to focus on bringing your own reusable travel mug when going to get coffee. Disposable eating supplies are not recyclable so using the staffroom dishware for meetings and small events can go a long way.”

In addition to incorporating green efforts in buildings, the library offers several free, environment- and sustainability-focused classes and programs:

Central Library Eco-Roof Tour
Weatherization Workshop
Seed Saving for Gardners
Upcycled Art

Two other Multnomah County buildings have received the City of Portland Sustainability at Work certification: the Multnomah Building and Inverness Jail. And, thanks to Multnomah County facilities standards, advocacy from the Library Environmental Team, and support from the Office of Sustainability, many libraries, and other county buildings, already meet several of the requirements to receive Sustainability at Work certification. Dan and Sara are looking forward to helping more buildings earn the certification in the future.

To learn more about the City of Portland Sustainability at Work program and certification process, visit portlandoregon.gov/sustainabilityatwork.

Are you a hiker, tracker, or hunter?  If so, you've probably used United States Geological Survey (USGS) maps in your outdoor activities.

They are nice, big maps showing lots of topographical detail, physical characteristics of the land, and the names of roads and communities and bodies of water. Sometimes they're called "topo maps," "7.5 minute maps" or "7.5 minute quadrangles" (because they show 7.5 minutes of lattitude/longitude). You can visit Central Library's map room (on the third floor) and consult the library's collection of historical USGS maps of Oregon, Washington and California. 

The newest USGS topographical maps (published 2009 or later) are created to be used in a digital environment, though it is also possible to print them out.  If you want your own paper copy of a new map and you don't want to print it yourself, you can usually buy them in outdoor-oriented sporting goods stores.

But did you know that the entire collection of USGS maps, for the whole country, are now available free online? Here's how to get to the USGS topo maps online:

Start at the Map Locator & Downloader.

This tool allows you to find maps with a simple search for a place name. For example, if you are looking for maps of the area near Waldport on the Oregon Coast, just type waldport into the search box and then either hit the "enter" key, or click on the name "Waldport, Oregon" when it pops up.

Now you'll see a map of the Waldport area.  There is a marker in the part of the grid marked "Waldport," with a little popup box next to it.  Click on the "View Products" button to see the maps that are available for that spot. 

You'll see a variety of maps in the popup list -- new maps, older maps, and maps that cover at different scales.  To download a nice, high-definition pdf of the map you want, just click on the "View pdf" button for that map.  

Have fun browsing and downloading maps from the USGS!

 

  Questions? Ask the Librarian.

 

 

Committed to education and Listos
Volunteer Guillermina Garcia

by Donna Childs

In these days of immigration in the news, let me introduce you to Guillermina Garcia.  Guillermina came here in 2005 from Oaxaca, Mexico, determined to get an education. She began with ESL classes. Then, since she had been unable to complete high school in Mexico, she earned a GED, no small feat for a recent arrival new to the language and culture.  When her older son started school, Guillermina began volunteering as a teacher’s aide in his classroom. She did that throughout his elementary school years and is still continuing in her younger son’s classroom, while also helping at the older son’s middle school. In addition, she is now enrolled in a year-long program at Mt. Hood Community College to become a licensed teacher’s aide. And that isn’t all. She has volunteered for five years in the Listos para el kínder program at the Midland Library.

Listos is a program for Spanish-speaking children, ages 3-5, and their parents. Twelve to fifteen families, parents and children, come to the library together for 12 weeks. The program is taught in Spanish, and uses Latino cultural references. Children learn such basics as ABC’s, writing their names, and following directions, while parents see how children learn, how to support their child’s learning at home, and what to expect of their children, thereby becoming more confident in their ability to help them learn. According to an independent evaluation of the program, Listos graduates not only have acquired skills, but they are also more enthusiastic about school and more likely to read outside of school. In 2016-17, 37 Listos families checked out more than 2000 books from the library.

As a Listos volunteer, Guillermina helps organize materials for the sessions, assists the teacher throughout, and is solely responsible for the children in the 15 minutes of each session when parents and children meet separately.  Her dedication at the library, in her sons’ classrooms, and to her own learning has earned Guillermina an award from her son’s school and a scholarship to Mt Hood Community College. Talk about walking the walk: she acts on her belief in education. As she said, she hopes to be a good role model for her sons and to continue learning while helping children.


A few facts about Guillermina

Home library:  Midland

Currently reading:  Mind in the Making, by Ellen Galinsky, about child development

Favorite book from childhood:  my school history book in 5th grade

Most influential book:  children's books

Book that made you cry:  Como agua para chocolate by Laura Esquivel and Sarah, Plain and Tall  by Patricia MacLachlan

Favorite browsing section:  Spanish cooking books

E-reader or paper?  paper books

Favorite place to read:  the library

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

 

Nadia A., lead contact center representative
In January 2017, the library streamlined services and fast and reliable library help with the introduction of a new contact center. Previously, tracking down the right staff person to get a question answered may have involved calling individual library branches, an account services number, or a reference line. Now, a call to the library means you’re likely to reach Nadia, who together with 14 of her colleagues, answers nearly 400-500 patron calls coming into the library each day.

"Having the contact center has really improved service for our patrons. They don’t have to worry about tracking down the right person or branch to get the item they need or to get an issue resolved," says Nadia.

As a lead contact center representative, Nadia answers, and trains other library staff on answering, hundreds of patron inquiries each day that come in via phone, email, and text message— everything from account related questions and brief reference questions, to hold requests and digital technology help. Along with other staff, she refers patrons to other Multnomah County services or to a team of Multnomah County librarians dedicated to answering in-depth research questions.

"The moment between the phone ringing and the person stating what they need is the moment of anticipation where it could be literally anything," she adds.

Before starting at the library, Nadia would wander Central Library with her three young children. Having decided she needed a change from her career as an elementary school teacher, she saw the library staff and knew that helping connect others to information was the job she was seeking. While finishing her Master of Library Science degree online from San Jose State University in 2013, she began working for Multnomah County Library as an on-call library assistant. In that role, she worked at nearly all library branches helping patrons before coming to her current position in the contact center— a job that she says was “tailor made” for her.

"It’s been very gratifying helping people connect with the library even if they aren’t coming into our branch," says Nadia. “Just recently, I helped a woman in her 90s who was determined to read ebooks. I talked her through downloading the app and checking out her first ebook. And she did it! I was so pleased to help her get to that special “aha” moment and connect with the library in a new way."

As the contact center helps more and more patrons access library services, Nadia looks excitedly toward the future:

"As the ways people access information have changed, the library has changed too. The world is becoming increasingly digital, and the library has to bring people along and help address disparities in digital literacy. The contact center has been an exciting next step in serving patrons, while giving us the opportunity to identify better ways we can continue to evolve our service and make it more consistent. The library is a place where people come to learn their whole lives, and I’m thrilled to be a part of helping others on that journey.

Hillsdale Library Teen Space

Just in time for summer, Hillsdale Library opened its newly constructed teen space. The new space features power outlets with USB ports; a dry erase table; comfortable furniture; a collection of teen games, magazines, and graphic novels; and flexible space for future displays of artwork or other teen items.

The project was led by Hillsdale Youth Librarian Barbara H., who saw the potential for a space that could serve teens in the community. The library had inviting work and study spaces for adults, and reading and play spaces for children and families, but no welcoming areas for teens.

"We really wanted teens to know that they are a priority and part of our community,” said Barbara. “Before, all we had was a small corner with bean bag chairs. It was popular with teens after school, but the area was surrounded by children’s nonfiction books and was often in use by young children with their parents."

Library staff gathered input from teens in the community, including from students at nearby Wilson High School and Robert Gray Middle School, about what features they’d like in the space. Then, the staff worked with Hillsdale’s Teen Council — a group of teen volunteers that select programming and organize events, build teen displays and consult on decisions that affect teens using the library — to make detailed selections for furniture and carpet colors.

Staff reconfigured the area, including removing shelving, and built the teens a comfortable and flexible space to gather, read, do homework and collaborate on projects.The space complements the “teen lounge” at Gresham Library that opened in October 2017.

This summer, the new teen space will be put to good use as Hillsdale welcomes more than 40 teen volunteers to assist with the annual Summer Reading program.

Tangerine

Bollywood dancing

Join us all summer for family-friendly live music performances. Here's the lineup:

Music & Movement with Aaron Nigel Smith (North Portland and Holgate libraries)

Experience the World of Ghana with Chata Addy  (various libraries)

Build Your Rhythm with Chata Addy (Rockwood and Gresham libraries)

Choro da Alegria Plays the Beautiful Melodies of Brazil with Choro da Alegria (Gresham Library)

Bollywood Family Dance Party with Bollywood Dreams Entertainment (Gresham Library)

Didgeridoo Down Under with Didgeridoo Down Under (Fairview-Columbia Library)

African Song and Dance with Habiba Addo (Midland Library)

Latin American Music and Myths with Inka Jam (Hollywood Library)

Songs, Dances and Stories from Latin America with Inka Jam (Northwest Library)

Lucky Diaz y su banda / Family Jam Band with Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band (various libraries)

Family Dance Party with Micah And Me (Gresham Library)

The Children's Music Show with Micah And Me (Fairview-Columbia Library)

Geology Rocks! with Mikey Mike the Rad Scientist (various libraries)

Summertime Concert with Peanut at Sweetly Spun Music (various libraries)

Peter and the Wolf with Portland Columbia Symphony (Woodstock and Northwest libraries)

Red Yarn's Old Barn with Red Yarn (various libraries)

Wake Up & Sing with Red Yarn (Capitol Hill Library)

Music in Action! / Música en acción! with Rich Glauber (various libraries)

Building a Better Zombiepocalypse with Rick Huddle (Albina Library)

The Great American Songbook with William Spillette (Gregory Heights and Hillsdale libraries)

 

Check out the other fun activities at the library this summer, too. And while you're here, don't forget to sign up your family for the Summer Reading game so the kids go back to school ready to learn this fall. Summer Reading is made possible by gifts to The Library Foundation.  

 

 

Josh R, selections and acquisitions clerk
For Josh, helping library patrons is all about getting the materials they want into their hands in the shortest amount of time. As a part of the selections and acquisitions team, he’s been a part of several changes that are impacting how the library purchases and distributes materials. 

"Today, libraries are competing with Amazon and other entities. Our patrons want the newest materials and quickly. We have to adapt."

A few years ago, the library’s Collections and Technical Services Team re-designed their workflow to help meet the demand. Materials used to sit in the receiving building for 4-6 weeks after they were purchased. Each part of the process — unboxing, sorting, cataloging — taking too much time. Thanks to a new workflow, patrons now get materials in three days or less.

"We’re constantly changing our work and changing the way we think about our work. It’s an exciting time to be at the library. We are re-examining what it means to build a collection in the age of modern libraries."

Josh has a passion for literacy and working with people. While attending a technical high school in Portland, he lost interest in his automotive major but found his way into the school library, where he became a teaching assistant. Directly after high school, he joined Multnomah County Library as a page (now called Access Services Assistant), checking in books and shelving holds.

He wanted to get to know more about each neighborhood, so he began subbing at different library branches, meeting the community and staff at each location. With a curiosity to know more about the technical work of the library, he transitioned from working at a branch to his behind-the-scenes position on the Technical Services team.

Day-to-day, Josh diligently focuses on being a good steward of the library’s resources and helping manage the collections budget. He orders materials from book and media vendors, ensuring the library is getting the items needed, at a good price, and when possible, having them pre-processed so they can get into the hands of library patrons as quick as possible. He is constantly evaluating any changes in how collections budgets are spent and determining whether there are collections that needs attention. He also provides internal customer service, buying materials for the library’s youth and adult outreach programs, such as Books 2U, Summer Reading, and the Every Child Initiative.

"I enjoy feeling connected to the library, even though I don’t interact with the public as much as I did working in a branch. I’m proud that our library works hard to deliver the materials that patrons ask for. We respond directly to people and let them know if their suggested items were purchased, and if they were, how to place a hold on the item. Every time our library makes a change to improve our system for the better of our patrons, it’s gratifying. I know we’re making a difference."

Net neutrality discussion

Multnomah County Library is joining Oregon elected officials, community organizations, business leaders and students in voicing resounding support for the call to restore net neutrality.

In late 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the law that restricts internet providers’ ability to speed up or slow down access to certain content or products. The rollback is set to go into effect June 11.

“Staying connected in today’s world shouldn’t be reserved for those who can afford access. Too many people are on the wrong side of the digital divide, being shut out of jobs, services, health information and vital connections with family and friends,” said Multnomah County Director of Libraries Vailey Oehlke.

On Friday, May 25, the Multnomah County Library Hillsdale branch in Portland, Ore. hosted a discussion led by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici about the urgent need to recognize net neutrality as a key equity issue that will have lasting impacts for everyone.

“In the 21st Century, an open and fair internet isn’t a privilege – it’s a necessity,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “We must stop the Federal Communications Commission from rolling back important Net Neutrality protections. . .I urge everyone who cares about protecting fair and open access to information to make their voices heard.”

The U.S. Senate voted on May 16 to reinstate net neutrality rules but now the issue moves to the House. Congresswoman Bonamici is joining in the fight to force a vote on the legislation.

High school students are also weighing in. One student noted that net neutrality joins gun control as one of the top issues high schoolers are discussing today. Julia Young, a senior and student body president at Wilson High School in Portland, Ore. added:

“As I go into college, I will be studying Applied Biology in Global Resource Systems, which involves sustainability and environmental innovation. It is absolutely crucial that my classmates and I have access to transparent environmental data, and if internet providers are able to choose what information I can access quickly without extreme costs, then my academic career and later work experience will be compromised.”

Complementing the effort to protect net neutrality, Multnomah County District 1 Commissioner Sharon Meieran highlighted an effort to expand broadband in Multnomah County. “Access to reliable high-speed internet is needed for basic equity and inclusion. Kids and families need internet access to file a job application or complete required school homework. That's why the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners just approved funding to study the feasibility of providing publicly owned high-speed internet services at cost to our community.”

Multnomah County Library, Oregon’s largest provider of free internet sessions, is also a member of the Digital Inclusion Network, a regional group of organizational partners committed to reducing barriers to digital access and getting devices into the hands of those who need them most.

“Libraries have a role at the forefront of the discussion about net neutrality and digital equity,” said Oehlke. “We can give patrons free access to internet in our libraries, but to truly make change, we need to ensure everyone in our community can connect and participate in our digital world from anywhere.

More than 700 adult library patrons are homebound due to age, illness or disability. Because they can’t visit the library, we bring the library to them. Adults who are homebound may have their materials mailed to them or delivered by library staff. Another program called Words on Wheels pairs a patron with a volunteer who takes time to visit when delivering materials. All three services are free.

Many home delivery patrons have no access to a computer. More than a third of these patrons call us to ask about what to read next. We ensure they always have books they haven’t read before.

“It is amazingly helpful to get suggestions and choices that energize my thinking and make the world more alive,” said one books-by-mail patron who responded to a recent survey. “A wonderful program that encourages and stimulates my mind so that I feel alive and young at 93!”

Van delivery patron with staff

A patron on our van delivery route echoed this: “You saved me from a lonely, narrow life. You bring the world to my door with helpful, cheerful people who are always on time and never miss a delivery. “

Reading, said another patron, keeps me alive.

A recent survey of Words on Wheels patrons shows that the program reduces isolation.

“Arthritis has made me homebound for several years. It is profoundly isolating. The social contact with someone who loves to read as much as I do helps! When arthritis made it impossible for me to carry 30 books home on Trimet, Words on Wheels saved my life!” 

Said another: “I look forward to my volunteer’s visits. Not only does that mean a supply of books tailored to my interests, it means I have a visit from this lovely woman who brightens my day. I very seldom leave my home, so visitors are quite welcome. We have lots to discuss — all those books I read.”

Patron and volunteer talking

The numbers of aging and disabled older adults in our community is expected to grow significantly in the next 15 years, according to Multnomah County's Aging, Disability and Veteran Services Division. In fact, the number of aging baby boomers will soon surpass those of all other segments of the population. An estimated 30 percent will become disabled at some point.

The library’s outreach services ensure that patrons who are homebound can still connect.

Two library staff prepare outreach materials

“Your service is a double blessing to all of us who are disabled. It opens up a giant window on the world,” said one patron.

Another patron, homebound due to a debilitating illness, said, “Thanks so much for a service I never anticipated needing. I am homebound. I thought at my age — 69 —  I would not read again, study our past and learn once more. You have given me hope again. I love you all.”

To refer an adult for free home delivery, call Library Outreach Services at 503.988.5404 or email us (lib.adult.outreach@multco.us).

 

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