The Bookmobile will not be on the road Friday, 3/6/2015, but should be back to the usual schedule on Monday (please check back). Due dates have been extended. Looking for something to read, watch, or download? Explore our download and streaming resources and share with friends.
X

Life of the Library

What’s new?


Karate for Teens at the Library

posted: , by Editor
tags: About the Library | Teens | Art & Culture

By Dave Kiersh, Teen Librarian

I took off my shoes and lined up with a group of ten Portland teens and faced instructors Kimonee and Kianna. “This is a black-belt school,” we chanted in unison. Kianna and Kimonee, two black-belt trained instructors, approached teaching teens self-defense at the library with both a seriousness and a passion for their discipline. The focus was not only on self-defense but also on self-respect. The program attracted a range of library users. Some of the teens were familiar faces to me and others I had never seen before. The first session started out as all boys, but by session four, a third of the participants were female.

jordy

Each class started with a series of exercises that involved pushups, sit-ups and jumping jacks. Once our hearts were thumping, we were ready to learn new techniques. Kianna and Kimonee demonstrated their skills against each other, demonstrating what to do when faced with an assailant. Fighting was a last resort and the focus was on how to thwart a predator and to learn confidence in leaving safely from a dangerous situation. It got even more interesting when they brought in props such as (fake) knives and guns. Some teens laughed and others were more serious in mastering the skills to defend themselves as they practiced amongst each other and played the roles of mugger and victim.

Since starting work as the Teen Librarian for the Portland Public Library, I had wanted to do a program that involved something physical. I had two reasons for this. One is that beyond the power of books, the library has enormous potential as a social community place for teenagers. Many of our teen patrons have a common interest in soccer. They communicate and enjoy the company of their friends while playing FIFA Soccer on the library’s XBOX. I wanted to get them away from the TV for a moment so that they could learn something new. I also wanted to offer an activity that was social, but also civil. Such a program would teach ideas of self-respect and empowerment in a way that was fun and not too didactic.

The second reason is that I believe that the library is a great place for self-education. It is a place for teens to try new things, whether it is reading a work of fiction or being introduced to something that might not be offered to them in school. Just as I do not expect someone who checks out a novel to become an author, I do not have the expectation that someone who attends a library program will become an expert in whatever subject the class or activity is based around. Either way, it is an introduction and a jumping off point to get teens excited. The library’s strength is that it can foster a love for self-education, something that should continue for lifelong learners inside or outside of a classroom.

Karate seemed ideal for our library space. No special equipment was needed and teens did not need to come with any prior knowledge. On the other hand, the idea of karate was not a completely foreign one to them, even if they had never tried it. Most teens are familiar with karate whether it is through watching movies, reading manga or learning about it through books. I was lucky enough to find two great instructors willing to help out. Initially I contacted Kianna, a woman in her early twenties, and she suggested that she co-teach the program with her teenage sister Kimonee. Great! The teens responded well to the youthful energy these two radiated. I believe that some teens left the program learning something new. And for those who didn’t, they still had fun and are more likely to visit the library again. Either way, this program was a success and definitely something I’d be happy to offer again.

 


No Name Calling Week

posted: , by Kim Simmons
tags: Programs & Events | Recommended Reads | Adults | Government

One Today by Richard Blanco

Last year on this date, Maine poet Richard Blanco shared his poem “One Today” at the Presidential Inauguration.  The poem reminds us of all we share :  “One ground. Our ground… ” and reminds us that our differences also shape our uniquely personal path:

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever.

In the end, Blanco reminds us that it is our collective vision, spirit, effort and attitude that will shape our collective future.

It is much this same message that No Name Calling Week proffers — a message to youth and adults and to the institutions within which we learn and work  to embrace kindness and make it active… to Choose Civility in a big way.  To resist a bullying culture is not just to punish those who cross the line but to develop strategies to encourage and enhance empathy in ourselves and our communities.

The GlSEN site offers many resources for engaging young people in conversations about bullying and about kindness — their suggested reading list is here.

Portland Public Library offers many provocative and helpful materials as well — a small sampling is here but a reference librarian can help you find just what you’re looking for!

Join us on Thursday January 24th for an evening of “Kindness Shorts” including winners from Kindness The Movie‘s video contest and an opportunity to watch Blanco read “One Today.”

 


Who was William Willis and What is the Willis Collection?

posted: , by Gabrielle Daniello
tags: Adults | Portland History
Photograph of the glass cases in the Portland Room that hold The Willis Collection.

The Willis Collection

Have you walked into the Portland Room and wondered about the crumbling leather-bound books behind glass that line the reading room?

These books belonged to William Willis, lawyer, editor, businessman, diarist, Portland mayor, historian…

Willis was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1794. The family moved to Portland in 1803. Willis attended Harvard College, graduating in 1813, and then went on to study law under Prentiss Mellen and Boston Judge Peter O. Thacher. After a few years in Boston and a few years of travel, he returned to Portland to practice law as a partner of Mellen and, later, as a partner of William Pitt Fessenden.

Willis was an inveterate journal-keeper, writing in his diary almost daily from 1840 until 1870, the year of his death. They were not tracked down until 1957 when local historian William B. Jordan, Jr. discovered that they were in the possession of a great-grand-daughter of Willis who graciously allowed the library to take possession of them. (Library patrons can read the journals on microfilm.) In this entry from August 4,1864, Willis writes that he attended “a most loyal union discourse emphatically anti-slavery. Rain in the morning…”

Some entries from Willis' diary of August 1864.

Fragment of Willis’ diary from 1864.

The Portland Public Library also holds Willis’ own personal library. Willis was one of the founders of the Portland Public Library and served as its first president (1867-1870).

Image of the bookplate found in William Willis' personal books.

Bookplate

Somehow, despite his law practice, his responsibilities in public office and on the boards of various institutions, his nine children, and the keeping of a daily journal, Willis also managed to write history. His The History of Portland from 1632 to 1864 (published 1865) is still widely consulted by historians today.

Portrait of William Willis

William Willis

 

View Posts by Date:
Filter Posts:
Connect with the Library: