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Life of the Library » Online Services

What’s new?


New Website Navigation Bar

posted: , by Kathleen Spahn
tags: About the Library | Online Services | Adults | Kids & Families | Seniors

As part of a larger plan to make our website more accessible on tablets and smartphones, the Library is launching some changes to the blue navigation bar at the top of the pages. As part of these changes the patron account information known as “My PPL” has moved to the top right corner of the page. Now there is just one place to go for all your patron information: borrowing/renewing, lists, profile, and settings.

You’ll also notice that drop-down menus no longer appear when you hover over them. Instead, when you click on a tab the menu drops down and stays down until you make a selection.

A few other highlights include:

  • “Using the Library” has been renamed “How do I…” and includes a link to the Classic Catalog.
  • We are putting greater emphasis on our electronic resources elibraryby featuring them under a new tab labeled “eLibrary”. The Library invests in a wide variety of content – streaming video & music, audiobooks, and eBooks, language learning and test-taking practice, and of course research databases – all available from anywhere 24/7. We hope that by increasing their visibility we will increase the number of people who discover and make use of them.
  • The Locations tab now includes more detail about the Main Library to give greater visibility to the Lewis Art Gallery and the Portland History Room.
  • A new “For You” tab lists Adults, Teens, and Children & Families at the top level.
  • Under Programs & Events, we have included a new direct link to Book Groups so these can be found more easily!

All the catalog and patron pages will be completely responsive now, meaning they will resize and be optimized for working well on any size screen — from phone to computer. We plan to make similar changes to some of our other pages over time. Until then we hope this will improve your experience with our website no matter how you reach us.


Portland vs Portland: a tale of two cities

posted: , by Samantha Duckworth
tags: About the Library | Library Collections | Online Services | Programs & Events | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Art & Culture | Business | Government | News | Portland History | Science & Technology

 

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Portland Public Library is the library serving the city of Portland, Maine. The library system serving the city on the West Coast—Portland, Oregon—is called Multnomah County Library. Yet a quick Internet search for “Portland Library” positions our library in Maine at the top of the search results —so naturally, each and every month, we get some calls or texts that baffle staff and patrons alike until geographical distinctions are sorted out. But the puzzlement usually brings a smile. Our library colleagues love swapping stories about all the confusion between PWM (Maine) and PDX (Oregon).

Here’s a collection of our favorite tales of two cities.

A message arrived recently in our Ask-A-Librarian chat box: “What are the retirement communities in Portland like? Can you send me some information about retiring in Portland?” We sent back a variety of information, including links to retirement homes and a Wall Street Journal article about the benefits of fresh sea air. The patron wrote back that they had been looking for information about Oregon, but were now considering retirement in Maine!

The Public Computing area at PPL includes 3D printing services. Patrons email us their files and we correspond with a few questions and notify them when their 3D printed item is ready to be picked up. A patron called, excitedly asking for directions to the Main Branch so he could pick up his 3D print job. The staff person on the phone gave instructions for Congress Street and Elm Street, and the patron kept asking where these streets were in relation to 10th Avenue. There is no 10th Avenue in Portland, Maine, and he sheepishly admitted he was from Oregon. The patron offered to pay shipping for his 3D print job, or asked if we could donate it to someone locally—which we did, when someone serendipitously emailed the same file to be printed later that week!

Administration gets calls so frequently for Oregon-centric directions and parking that they’re able to give directions to the Multnomah County Central Library.

A Reference Librarian was similarly fielding a directions call. The patron on the line asked where the library was in relation to Boise, Idaho, where he was driving to the library from. The librarian earnestly answered: “East!” This earned a chuckle from both ends of the call.

Both Portland Public Library and the Multnomah County Library offer hoopla (a streaming video and music service à la Netflix), but selecting “Portland Public Library” and trying to log in with your Oregon library card is liable to frustrate. One of our staff fielded a call recently from someone struggling to get their library card to work with hoopla. Asking for a library card number clears up many mysteries for us, and it was soon clear the caller was not in Maine. But after learning he’d reached the wrong library in the wrong state, the caller was completely unfazed and asked for help with downloading his title anyway. Our staff member walked him through finding and selecting “Multnomah County Library” on the menu for hoopla access. We love our Oregon patrons, too!

A Reference Librarian spent a considerable amount of time on the phone with a person looking for a title that was available at PPL’s Burbank branch. Since the patron didn’t know where Burbank was, he asked if the book could be sent to Hillsdale instead. “Where are you calling from, sir?” concluded that call.

PPL receives advance copies of books from publishers that they think we might be interested in purchasing eventually. Our selector shelves frequently contain beautiful books about the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver travel, and Oregon history. The ME in PPL’s address must not have been a tip-off when these gracious publishers addressed their packages. We’ve been wondering if Multnomah County Librarians get advance copies of books on lighthouses in New England.

The Chat with a Librarian service at PPL gets so many questions asking for the city on the West Coast, we have a saved response:

textalib

While it is clear to us here in Maine that our Portland should be the first one that comes to mind—Portland, ME was founded in 1786 after all, more than fifty years before Portland, OR—Portland East Coast is still more than eight times smaller than Portland West Coast. That’s a population of 66,194 versus a population of…583,776. (Thus: so many more people with questions needing answers!) Why aren’t callers tipped off by the 207 area code when they’re dialing the number for the “Portland library”? Maine only has one area code, so all calls are local calls in Maine. Oregon, though, has four area codes, so 207 might just get lost in the shuffle.

Besides our names, Portland and Portland have a lot in common. Portland seems to be the coffee capital on the East Coast and on the West Coast; one travel site calls PWM the beer capital of the world, while CNN gives this distinction to PDX. PWM has a growing housing problem: PDX too.  We also care about being sustainable cities—Portland, ME has a sustainability initiative, as does  Portland, OR. Most importantly? Both Portland libraries have a history of awesome Bookmobiles (see below).

We love to think that the work we do in Maine affects people all the way across the country. Since we’re three hours ahead, it’s nice to imagine that while our West Coast colleagues are busy waking up and getting their library open, we’re picking up some of their urgent calls—and likewise, maybe after PPL closes for the evening, the other Portland is helping keep our night owls stocked with eBooks.

In the meanwhile, if anyone needs directions to the library in Portland, England, or Portland, Australia—we’re ready!

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Librarians <3 Neutrality

posted: , by Samantha Duckworth
tags: About the Library | Library Collections | Online Services | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Government | News | Science & Technology

There is one word that makes a librarian especially happy, and yesterday it was said again and again. “Neutrality” was the word of the day, as the Federal Communications Commission agreed to recognize Internet infrastructure as a public utility. This is exciting news. It has been an issue for over 10 years, starting in 2005 when the FCC voted to reclassify DSL broadband service, away from being an “information service” to instead be called a “telecommunications service,” effectively allowing Internet service providers to hide their infrastructure allowing it to be riddled with unfair practices.

But yesterday’s decision ensures that access to the Internet will be based on fair and equitable practices. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says: “the landmark open-Internet protections that we adopted today should reassure consumers, innovators and financial markets about the broadband future of our nation.”

So, next time you access Netflix, Twitter, Google, or one of Portland Public Library’s own digital resources, rest assured you’ll be connecting to each of these sites with the same network speeds available—not faster tiered levels of service (with companies paying for higher speeds) that prioritize network traffic to ensure streaming services are better quality and pages load faster.

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