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The City of Portland has called a Special Runoff election to fill the vacancy of Comissioner, Position 2.  See details in the Multnomah County Voters Pamphlet.

Drop off your ballot by 8 pm on Tuesday, August 11. All library locations within the city of Portland (that is, all library locations except for Gresham, Fairview-Columbia and Troutdale) are accepting ballots via their book drops or 24-hour ballot boxes. There are other ballot drop site locations, too.

Need help due to a disability? Know someone who needs information in Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Somali, or Vietnamese? Get help from Multnomah County Elections online or call 503-988-VOTE. 

 

 

 

July 28, 2020

On July 7, Multnomah County Library notified its staff that it has made the difficult decision to reduce its workforce. Layoffs will be effective September 30. This is a sad turn of events for everyone at Multnomah County Library. Like other large public library systems, along with businesses, schools and other organizations, our library’s decisions are being driven by COVID-19 and its significant impact on library services and operations for the foreseeable future. 

This is a sad and frustrating decision to make, and I know it is harder for those whose jobs are impacted. We have looked at many ways this library serves the community, but given the very real impact of physical limitations on our services, the library cannot accommodate work for all of the staff it employs.

I want to share with you how we made this decision and what we will do next. In March, when library buildings closed to the public, we had little information about the virus and we hoped for the library closure to be brief. We asked staff who could do their jobs remotely to do so, and we continued to pay the salary and benefits of workers whose jobs cannot be done remotely. As COVID-19 continues to spread within communities everywhere, and state and public health guidelines place limitations on in-person interactions, it became clear we needed to plan around this scenario for a much longer period of time.

Many of the library’s 19 public locations are very small (the smallest at about 3,600 square feet). Considering building layout, exits, restrooms, shelving and furniture and maximum occupancy guidelines, any return to in-building library service must take place with stark limitations. It is reasonable to assume that those requirements will be in place for the foreseeable future. About half of library staff have jobs that require in-person work, such as physically moving library materials. There isn’t enough room inside library buildings to accommodate everyone in the current era. 

The library must honor its obligation to the public that funds the library by acting as a thoughtful and transparent steward of public resources. It’s not business-as-usual. In consultation with the Multnomah County Chair’s Office, Library District Board, and the library’s leadership team, I reached the difficult conclusion that the library cannot pay a significant portion of its workforce indefinitely for work they are not able to do during the pandemic. In this situation, there is simply no good choice at hand. 

The decision to reduce our workforce is not a reflection of the quality of work from staff across the library system, and it doesn't mean that all staff who can't work remotely will be let go. Library staff members have worked in innovative and creative ways during this pandemic. We are currently offering holds pickup by appointment, summer lunches at some locations and a wide range of services online, by phone, email and chat. Our library and its staff members have greatly expanded available resources and made some programs virtual offerings

Looking forward, the library is actively working to shift existing services and stand up new services in a virtual environment, with input from library staff, and in alignment with Multnomah County Library’s priorities. We are planning for library services that look different than they are now, like outdoor computer access and loaning of wi-fi hotspots and Chromebooks. We will look first to recall library staff members for this work wherever possible. Even when we are able to resume some in-building services, it will not be the same as before.

I am deeply grateful to the talented and dedicated workers who make libraries a treasured community asset. We are working with the library’s labor union, AFSCME Local 88, to finalize details of the reduction according to the labor agreement and will notify impacted staff members directly. Our plans involve a series of measures intended to mitigate the impact of workforce reduction on affected staff members, including health care and other benefits for the three months after separation. While such measures don’t fundamentally change the loss of a livelihood, it’s something we can do to make a bad situation a small amount better.

Multnomah County Library is focused on helping our community recover from the pandemic. The library will center race in its work and emphasize efforts that serve those who are the most deeply impacted, with health and safety at the fore. I look forward to the time when these profoundly challenging constraints no longer exist. I am confident that the library will emerge from this crisis with a sharpened focus on our mission of service, even in the most trying of times.

Vailey Oehlke, Director of Libraries
Multnomah County Library
 

Rene Denfeld is an internationally bestselling author, journalist, and death penalty investigator. Of her latest novel, Geek Love author Katherine Dunn says, "The Enchanted is unlike anything I’ve ever read...it’s a jubilant celebration that explores human darkness with a profound lyrical tenderness…" Check out Rene's selected favorites. For more reading recommendations with your tastes in mind, try the My Librarian service. 

Local libraries were my sanctuaries growing up, and in each one I left a child version of myself, roaming the aisles, pulling out titles or checking out the books where librarians had left little tags that said read this. The best ones were those little-known gems, the books that may not have hit the bestseller list but still ended up lodged in my heart.

When I was a young child, the North Portland library was my refuge. I will forever associate that beautifully carved wooden ceiling with my favorite books of childhood: Trask by Don Berry, which I must have read a hundred times, or Crazy Weather by Charles McNichols. It was from the wide selection of African-American folktales I discovered my own joy of fable in books like The Cow-Tail Switch by Harold Courlander, with its jubilant stories and unforgettable phrasing: “A man is not truly dead until he is forgotten.”

When I was in middle school my family moved to Sellwood, then a blue-collar neighborhood where fishermen still hung the catch outside the local tavern. I spent endless drowsy afternoons in the local library, and remember the books that tore the sides of the paper grocery bags I carried home: from the astonishing Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter to the gentle yet wise memoir, West With The Night by Beryl Markham.

By fifteen, I was on my own, and like a lot of hardscrabble kids, the downtown library was my safe place. I celebrated my birthday on the second floor of that library while rain howled outside. Just the sight of that brick and stone façade brings back memories of all the books I discovered there, including Yellowfish by John Keeble and The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet—I’m the one who dog-eared all those pages—and who could forget the warmly humorous science fiction by our late and lamented local author Robert Sheckley?

Libraries saved my life. They gave me comfort, solace, and a vision of life as limitless as the shelves. They made me the writer I am today. So when I recommend my secret treasures, what I am really recommending is my own memories, and want to caution: the best way to find your own is to wander the stacks. Feel your hand on the books—reach for them the way we reach for each other, with longing and an open heart. Then you will never be dissatisfied.

photo of children at Wizard Camp library program
For the past several years, the Hollywood Teen Council has hosted a Hogwarts Camp for 1st-3rd graders during the winter break from school. As many camps and summer programs aren’t happening this summer, they want to share some ideas so that you can create your own wizard camp at home.
 
Usually the teen council would make the gathering of supplies a big part of the first day of camp, and you can pick and choose which supplies you will want to make. During camp, they would try to expose burgeoning witches and wizards to a variety of wizard school subjects such as Potions, Care of Magical Creatures, Charms and more. At home, with more time, there are many possibilities. You can also find ideas for games and activities as well as some magical treats to make. Imagination is the key ingredient for all of these. Here is a list of supplies and activities for your DIY Wizard's Camp.

It’s lunch time at Multnomah County Library! We welcome youth to enjoy our annual summer lunch program at Gresham, Midland, and Rockwood libraries. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Lunches are served “grab-and-go” style as cold sack lunches.
  • Lunches are served outside of physical library spaces.
  • Lunches are for children ages 18 and younger, one per child.
  • Children do not need to be present for parents/guardians to pick up lunches.

Gresham Library

Midland Library

  • 12-1 pm Monday-Friday
  • Through August 28
  • Located at the front entrance to the library, next to the holds pick-up table
  • Sponsored by Wattles Boys and Girls Club

Rockwood Library

  • 12:30-1:30 pm Monday-Thursday
  • Families can pick up two sack lunches on Thursday to have one for Friday
  • Through August 13
  • Located on paved area near the south entrance to library, facing Southeast Stark Street
  • Sponsored by Reynolds School District

In addition to library site sponsors, the Summer Lunch Program is made possible thanks to partnerships with the Multnomah County Department of County Human Services and Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon.

As Carla Davis knows well, library storytime is a playful and magical experience— a time full of singing, dancing, playing, and yes— also reading stories. Storytime programs enable Carla to introduce babies and toddlers to the library, while also connecting with parents about ways to continue to support their child’s literacy and learning. 

“The library is about exploration, and I love that I get to bring that to children,” said Carla. 

Carla Davis Youth Librarian

Carla, or even “Ms. Carla” as some of her young storytime attendees often like to call her, is a Youth Librarian at Midland Library, and she organizes several storytimes each week, in addition to serving as a storytime mentor teaching other library staff how to build age appropriate storytime curriculum and connect with young patrons. Carla is also part of Multnomah County Library’s Black Cultural Library Advocates (BCLA) team which focuses on bringing culturally relevant materials, programs and services to the Black community.

Since the closure of Multnomah County libraries in mid-March due to COVID-19, librarians like Carla have continued to support the community through this crisis. Carla has been working with a team of other Youth Librarians and BCLA staff to bring their storytimes online (find Carla’s virtual Black storytimes on the MCL Youtube It’s Black Storytime playlist). In addition, she is working with the Black Cultural Library Advocates Team to provide valuable resource information online for the Black community— everything from food and health to educational resources. Carla also volunteered to support Multnomah County’s emergency shelters, working shifts at the Oregon Convention Center shelters.

“It was a valuable  opportunity for my teammates and I to serve in the shelters. It’s always rewarding to not only help, but to meet and get to know great people who reside there,” said Carla

Carla started her career with Multnomah County Library as a Clerk. She later went on to earn her Masters in Library Science from Pratt University in New York. She’s worked with various libraries such as  Atlanta Fulton Public, and Shearman and Sterling Law Library as an intern. Like many library professionals, she was drawn to a career in the library from a love of books.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Carla was working with a team of library staff from across the county on a community engagement project with the Coalition of Communities of Color aimed at helping prepare Black children ages 0-6, and their families, for kindergarten. 

The project is supported by the Equitable Education Grant from Meyer Memorial Trust and The Library Foundation. Recently, she initiated a survey at the largest national Martin Luther King (MLK) program in Portland. It included parents of Black children ages 0-6, and their awareness of library storytimes and services.  

“It is my hope that as our Education Equity team learns more about the needs of parents and educators, that Multnomah County Library will be a major conduit through which educational gaps will be filled in even more creative ways as a result of these and other kinds of assessments.” 

Carla’s dedication and service to children and families was recently nationally recognized by the American Library Association, and awarded the 2020 Random House Penguin Young Readers Group Award and stipend for her comprehensive programming efforts at Midland Library. Beyond organizing and delivering numerous weekly storytimes, Carla hosted a teen-led Teen Talent Showcase and organized a Black History Gospel Timeline that shows how gospel music developed from the 18th century to the present day. 

“Being in a library is the best kind of ‘work,” she said. “I love to be in an environment where I can  “theoretically” read— even though in reality I’m usually busy preparing for programs, working with community organizations, and helping youth and families navigate the library.”

After more than 20 years in library service, Carla sees the library evolving as a hub for the community, especially as people look to the library for services beyond books and traditional programs. 

“As we shift in the way we serve due to the crisis, thankfully the library has always been a viable source of online information and resources, and we will continue to expand the ways we deliver to our users.”

Download Me and White Supremacy today.

Layla F. Saad's book Me and White Supremacy: A 28-Day Challenge to Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor  leads readers through a journey of understanding their

Me and White Supremacy cover
white privilege and participation in white supremacy, so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on Black people, Indigenous people and people of color. Wherever you are in the challenge, here are some supporting resources to help.

Getting started:

Find copies of Me and White Supremacy in the catalog. If you are able, consider supporting the author by purchasing a copy. White Supremacy and Me is designed as a 28-day workbook, so you may need to renew or place another hold if you are using the hardcopy.

Learn more:

Website: The National Museum of African American History & Culture breaks out history, bias, whiteness, antiracism and more. Includes videos and questions for self-reflection and discussion.

For parents talking to children about racism 

Podcast: Talking Race with Young Children, from NPR and Sesame Street

This 20 minute podcast shares ideas for talking about race with children, starting when they are very young.  Additional resources are included at the end.

Website: EmbraceRace

​A great place to start for webinars and more, EmbraceRace was founded by two parents (one Black, one multiracial) seeking to nurture resilience in children of color; nurture inclusive, empathetic children of all stripes; and raise kids who think critically about racial inequity.

Start with the short action guide and then dive into their many book lists, highlighting diverse titles for a wide variety of ages.

Book: Not My Idea, by Anastasia Higginbotham (for elementary school-aged children)

Not My Idea follows a young white girl who is unsatisfied when her family won’t answer her questions about the shooting of an unarmed Black person by a police officer. Higginbotham has a track record of tackling challenging topics (from divorce to death) in a way that respects young readers and gives them the honesty they deserve. Includes activities on how to stand up against injustice and highlights how white people can disrupt white supremacy.

More on talking to kids and teens about race and racism.

Next steps: If you want to engage more deeply in the work of antiracism

Website: Take a look at the offerings from Layla F. Saad's Good Ancestor Academy. A series of classes are offered, including "Allyship in the Workplace" and "Parenting and White Supremacy."

Video: How to be a Good Ally--Identity, Privilege, Resistance, by Ahsante the Artist

Guide: Let's Talk: Discussing Race, Racism and Other Difficult Topics with Students, from Teaching Tolerance

Thinking about starting a discussion group around Me and White Supremacy? Here are some tips on facilitating conversations that challenge participants or cause discomfort.

Video: "What if white people led the charge to end racism?", Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler, TedXMileHigh, Jan. 30, 2020.

What if white people led the charge to end racism? | Nita Mosby Tyler | TEDxMileHigh

The words We Must Act in white on a black square background
Over the past days and weeks, we have witnessed horrific and senseless anti-Black violence that has taken place at the hands of police and others. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor are among the lives lost most recently, but this violence has been embedded into the fabric of our society since 1619. Outrage, pain and deep sadness are at the forefront for many of our staff, patrons and community members. 

Multnomah County Library stands in solidarity and in support of our Black community, not just in this moment of crisis but as we look forward to working collectively to end inequity and systemic racism in our community and across the country. To combat the systemic racism that has perpetuated violence and inequities in our communities of color, we must act, not just feel. Multnomah County Library is taking action and we will expand those actions.

As Director, I will:

  • Affirm and validate the harm that hundreds of years of racism and oppression causes and has caused Black, Indigenous, People of Color and other marginalized communities
  • Lead the library’s efforts with race at the fore
  • Center Black, Indigenous, People of Color and other marginalized communities in our service
  • Rethink the library’s exclusionary history and redefine the library’s legacy through action
  • Check my own biases and assumptions alongside those of the institution I lead

Finally and importantly, I want to honor library staff—and one member, in particular, Elle Budd, a Library Assistant on the Black Cultural Library Advocates team—who started something incredible in the past few days. Elle took the brave step of emailing hundreds of their colleagues to share perspective and resources around the history of violent protest in America in an effort  “. . . to cultivate a very different culture here at the library where we talk about anti blackness, whiteness, white supremacy, racism, and how we as an institution are working to uphold it.” It was the perfect step in that moment.

Others engaged, expressing support, gratitude, solidarity, acknowledgement, willingness to hear and learn and offered even more resources. I will list some of those below but—to me—this was especially resonant, Sam Cooke's incredible and inspiring A Change is Gonna Come

Here’s a portion of what library staff have shared with their peers:

And here are some additional resources from the library’s website:

This library will be part of the change that’s gonna come.

Vailey
 

Difficult conversations are happening in our country, states, cities and homes about race, racism, and anti-racism. These are not topics only for adults though. Talking with teens, tweens and younger children is important. Research has shown that children as young as six months notice race [Children Are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Race by Erin N. Winkler, Ph.D. University of Wisconsi-Milwaukee, PACE Vol. 3-No. 3,  2009 HighReach Learning Inc]. 

If you are unsure how to start and continue talking with your children as they grow, there are books to share and websites with resources to help. Several of these also discuss how you can be a model since actions often talk louder than words.

Teaching Young Children About Race is a guide for parents and teachers from Teaching for Change

EmbraceRace.org has articles, webinars and action guides about how kids learn about race, seeing and talking about differences, using picture books to have meaningful conversations, and more.

Talking about Race from the National Museum of African American History & Culture shares reflection questions, videos, and links to other resources.

Teaching Tolerance was created for educators, but parents may also find it useful to discuss race and ethnicity, and rights and activiism among other topics. The home page currently features articles about Black Lives Matter and Teaching about Race, Racism and Police Violence.

Talking to Children about Racial Bias from the American Academy of Pediatrics includes how parents can confront their own racial bias and a doctor's story of his encounter with racism as a 7-year-old.

Explaining the News to Our Kids from Common Sense Media offers tips by age.

 

Exterior of Title Wave Used Book Store, new location for Albina Library
Multnomah County Library has made the difficult decision to relocate Albina Library. On July 1, 2020, it will be moved to its former home at 216 NE Knott St., a larger, historic Carnegie library building. We anticipate the new Albina Library location will offer holds pickup service sometime later this summer. 

This decision will feel like an unexpected and difficult loss for many Albina Library patrons who have shaped their lives around neighborhood amenities like the library. Relocating any neighborhood’s library is not a decision we take lightly. A variety of factors contributed to our decision, including this pandemic, which has caused us to make hard choices and think in new ways about how the library can serve the community.

The current location is the smallest branch in the Multnomah County Library system at just 3,500 square feet. It is so small that it doesn't have a public meeting room. Because of the operational constraints around physical distancing for the foreseeable future, it is unlikely that the building would be feasible for much more than sidewalk service. The Knott St. building is about 2,000 square feet larger.

The library’s lease of Albina Library expires on June 1, 2020, with an option for a three-year renewal at a cost of more than $260,000. As a steward of public resources, the library is unable to justify that expenditure, when a suitable and larger option exists nearby. The building where Albina Library is moving to currently serves as The Title Wave Used Bookstore, but it was the home of Albina Library from 1912 to 1960

The distance between the two locations is 1.1 miles, a 23-minute walk, a seven-minute bike ride, a five-minute drive or about 15 minutes by bus. The Knott St. location complements the nearby Matt Dishman Community Center, Urban League of Portland and other community-facing services and affordable housing. We are working hard to get the new location ready. We will notify Albina Library patrons about holds pickup and when sidewalk service will begin. 

The sale of retired library materials to the public will continue, with specific details also to be determined.

For information about our phased reopening plan, an FAQ and instructions for using the holds pickup service at other locations, please visit multcolib.org/covid19.

We look forward to serving you soon at the new Albina Library location.
 

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