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Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. Her debut novel is Fruit of the Drunken Tree. Rojas Contreras' essays and short stories have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Electric Literature, Guernica and Huffington Post, and she has received numerous fellowships and awards. She is also the book columnist for KQED Arts, the Bay Area's NPR affiliate. She'll be at the Portland Book Festival on November 10. We asked her a few questions in anticipation of the festival.

Your book Fruit of the Drunken Tree is about the experiences of two sisters growing up in a gated community in Bogotá, contrasted with the experiences of their live-in maid, a child who grew up in the slums. Why tell the story from the perspective of children?

Children have a naked way of understanding the world. When thinking of the universe of devastating things Colombians have to contend with—war, abuse, betrayal—I was interested in knowing what a naked understanding of those things could be. Is it possible for some Colombians to be mostly unaffected by the civil conflict because they are protected by their class, while others will experience the full brunt of violence also because of their class? That was the reality of Colombia in the 90s, and I wanted to write about what this reality was like for girls. 

One of the perks of being a librarian is recommending books, but sometimes we'd like to be on the receiving end. What's the one book you'd like to suggest for us and why?

How about three? Rita Bullwinkel's Belly Up because it gave me so much joy, Samantha Hunt's The Dark Dark because it reminded me that at any moment we may meet the delicious surreality riding beneath the surface of our lives, and If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim because it's an immigrant saga that packs a lot of heart.

What books are on your nightstand?   

I am reading Freeman's Power issue, and Elaine Castillo's America is Not the HeartBoth are indelible companions to me right now. 

What’s the most exciting part of the work you do?   

The most exciting part is an empty room, an endless supply of matcha, my blue bathrobe, my fingers on the keyboard, the blank page. 

What are you most looking forward to at the Portland Book Festival?

I am really looking forward to This is America: Race and Family. It has a knockout line up with Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Nicole Chung and Luis Alberto Urrea. I am very excited to hear them speak. Also Lidia Yuknavitch (!) who is speaking with Aminder Dhaliwal, Ling Ma and Leni Zumas on the subject of women at the end of the world.

The popular on-demand film streaming service Kanopy is now available for free to Multnomah County library cardholders. MCL cardholders can access Kanopy and sign up to start streaming films on demand instantly by visiting multcolib.kanopy.com

Kanopy showcases more than 30,000 of the world’s best films, including award-winning documentaries, rare and hard-to-find titles, film festival favorites, indie and classic films, and world cinema with collections from the Criterion Collection, Music Box Films, Samuel Goldwyn, The Orchard, PBS and thousands of independent filmmakers.

The Kanopy collection includes indie hits like Hunt For the Wilderpeople and 2 Days in Paris, classic masterpieces like Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Seven Samurai, and award-winning documentaries like the 2017 Oscar®-nominated I Am Not Your Negro and Sundance Film Festival winner Mother of George.

Films can be streamed through a variety of devices and platforms including iOS, Android, AppleTV, Chromecast, and Roku. All Kanopy films feature closed captions and transcripts for the hearing-impaired.

MCL cardholders can access up to 6 Kanopy films per month, with the count resetting on the 1st of the month.

 

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.

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 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!

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