Burbank Users: The Burbank Branch parking lot will be closed on Saturday, April 26 until 3 pm due to the closure of Stevens Ave. for a road race. The branch will be open for normal hours Saturday from 9am - 5 pm.
Life of the Library
The world at your fingertips right in your neighborhood.
Portland Public Library’s mission is to serve the Greater Portland Community by providing a diverse collection of books and other resources, with access to information resources worldwide. The library’s services support the educational, informational, and recreational interests of all community members.
I spent last Friday in Augusta at the Maine Humanities Summit sponsored by the University of Maine Humanities Initiative. I also participated on a panel of academic and public librarians to explain the role of libraries in the “public” humanities. The attending group was made up of the converted, those of us who see in others and experience in ourselves every day the “Power & Pleasure of Ideas” – to borrow a phrase from the Maine Humanities Council. We spoke of public libraries being a provider, presenter, collector, promoter and organizer of the humanities. So it was on fertile ground (and with gratitude) that our individual presentations were received. There was little if any surprise just appreciation.
I am always fascinated by the surprise that folks have upon rediscovery of the public library or coming up against the popular notion that the public library is not long for the world. Paul Krugman’s recent New York Times blog post “In Praise of Public Libraries (Personal and Trivial)” speaks to the simple delight in finding a space in the community that has some infrastructure, a culture of sharing and no expectation of you except civil behavior. Meanwhile, beyond offering a sweet spot in the daily grind, public libraries everywhere are gearing up their summer reading programs and reaching out to kids and families to do what we can to bring the beauty of the arts and the humanities (literature, history, art, music and much more) to the neighborhoods and towns across the country. Quiet magic – day in and day out. No chest pounding, no vapid self-promotion, just quiet and sustained effort to experience the “Power and Pleasure of Ideas”.
Derivative tends not be a compliment as it implies lack of creativity or more recently a bad financial instrument. But let’s be honest, many great ideas in all areas aren’t new (like bookmobiles) and libraries mostly work with the basics of those ideas and spin them to serve some niche. PPL like other libraries lends a variety of unexpected materials including telescopes (brought to us through our partnership with Cornerstones of Science), Kill a Watt energy detectors (given to us by a private donor),and most recently ukuleles modeled on the idea first demonstrated by the Newport (Maine) Cultural Center and neighboring Falmouth (Maine) Memorial Library.
Even Isaac Newton acknowledged the contributions to his work of those before him. It is a pleasure (and an ethical obligation) for us to acknowledge this tradition of public libraries.
Start with your kids and then each other and then with yourself! PPL is grateful to be among the founding partners of the newly formed ConnectEd effort in Portland. We plan to have a major impact in the effort to increase Pre-K reading in Portland. We won’t be in it alone as we will be working with terrific partners like the United Way, Portland Schools and other organizations. But it will take passionate individuals as well who believe deeply that reading is the greatest gift that parents, schools, libraries and society as a whole can bestow on any one individual.
There will be many ways to reach children, families and individuals in the City. Our commitment is to utilize everything in our power – our staff, volunteers, deposit collections, branches and our new bookmobile – to infect this City with a reading bug. The bookmobile funding plan, design and service strategy has been three years in the making. It arrived today after a 4 day cross country drive from Las Vegas looking like an old friend who is ready to lend a hand.