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Life of the Library

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PPL Is Bolder Than Ever!

posted: , by Heather Wasklewicz
tags: Adults | Teens | Teen Reads | Teen Events | Teen Health | College & Career | Homework Help | Parents & Teachers | Kids & Families | Kids Programs | Early Literacy | Kids Reading Lists | Fun & Games | Discover Portland | Seniors | Art & Culture | Business | Careers & Jobs | Genealogy | Government | Health | Health@PPL | Welcome | Health Resources | Health Outreach Specialist | Medlineplus | Latest Health News | Language Learning | World Languages | English Language Literacy | News | Portland History | Science & Technology | Readers Writers

Portland Public Library unveiled a new look on Wednesday, May 15, 2019.

It’s a big week at PPL! We are making some noise! Noise, you say, in a library? Yes!

Did you know that Portland Public Library is the most visited cultural institution in all of Maine? Over 600,000 people visit PPL each year at our four locations (not counting all who use our online services for language-learning, practice tests, small business info, Consumer Reports, and more!).

Did you know that PPL offers over 1,000 workshops, discussions, exhibits, and events throughout the year?

You already know we have great wifi, but did you know we lend wifi hotspots to take home? How about hosting free tax filing support? Ballot issue discussions? Coding workshops? And Legos!

PPL is constantly evolving to mirror the dynamic community we serve, growing and changing as we facilitate the vibrant conversations of our city. We provide the rich experiences and access to resources you’d expect from a big city library tailored to the unique flow and interests of life in 21st century Portland.

When you have a library card, you’re a Library insider. And even library insiders don’t know all this about PPL, so chances are our friends and neighbors throughout Greater Portland don’t know about it either. Help us spread the word. We are excited to change our logo, colors, and messaging to boldly speak out about the Library’s evolution as an epicenter for lifelong experiential learning, civic and cultural gatherings, and partnership in community-wide innovation. Today’s PPL is vital to our great city, that is on-the-move in so many ways!

There is literally something for everyone at today’s PPL, whatever your stage of life. And it is FREE. Enjoy our expert staff, services, collections, and programming. Our storytimes, performances, business seminars, computer help, music-making, telescopes, 3-D printer. Our amazing partnerships with creative leaders and thought trailblazers. It’s all to share, discover, and build more…together.

Welcome to PPL!


October is American Archives Month – Researching your house

posted: , by Abraham
tags: About the Library | Library Collections | Adults | Art & Culture | Genealogy | Portland History

Is your house turning 100 years old? Are you curious what it looked like in years past? Who lived there? Who the neighbors were? The Portland Room and Archives have several resources that can help you answer these questions.

The Portland City Directories in the Portland Room date back to 1823, but most useful are the ones that date from 1882, as they include an alphabetical listing of streets along with the heads of household at each address. The directories also have an alphabetical listing of heads of households that include their home address, and often their work address and occupation. Once you have the head of household name, you can go to the census records [available through Ancestry.com (in-library) or HeritageQuest.com] and see who else resided with them, as well as obtain biographical information on those residents.

The Portland Room has two digitized maps, the 1882 Goodwin Atlas and the 1914 Richards Atlas, that show streets, addresses, footprints of buildings and what the buildings are made of, as well as a print copy of 1957 Sanborn fire insurance map.

If you home is in a historic district, it may appear in the “Portland Historic Resources Inventory” compiled by Earle Shettleworth and John E. Pancoast (1975). If your house is part of this inventory, the address and name of the house is given, as well as date built, architectural style, and what it was built of. Occasionally pictures can be found, as well as the architect’s name.

24 Monroe St., in 1957 from the Portland Room photo Archives

24 Monroe St., in 1957
from the Portland Room photo Archives


A great source of photos are the 1924 Portland Tax Records available online through Maine Memory Network. Newspaper articles may also be a source of pictures or articles written about your house. Articles appearing in the Portland newspapers from 1945-1992 are indexed.

The Portland Room also had several books on how to trace the history of your home. So come on in and we will help you find the resources that will help you tell your house’s story.


October is American Archives Month

posted: , by Abraham
tags: About the Library | Library Collections | Adults | Genealogy | Portland History

October is American Archives Month. Portland Public Library’s Portland Room and Archives is a rich resource for researching family genealogies, house histories, historical research of businesses and industries in Maine as well as other historical topics. Each week in October the Portland Room will feature some of the resources that can be used in researching these areas.

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Genealogy Research: Interested in where you are in your family tree, or in those that came before you? In addition to the genealogical databases PPL subscribes to, such as Ancestry.com and Heritage Quest, we have vital records (records of birth, marriages, and deaths) on microfilm from pre-1892 – 1955. There are also some print versions of vital records for some individual Maine towns. Ancestry.com and Heritage Quest also have census records, which are invaluable for tracing family members back in time. Resources for passenger lists are also available through Ancestry.com, but the Portland Room also has some passenger lists in print format.

The Portland City Directories are also great resources for tracing your family. In addition to listing residents, the directories are searchable by street. Sometimes the date of death appears, and often the residents’ occupations and the location of where they worked is present.

There are also town and county histories as well as some published family histories in the Portland Room. We also have indices for the burial records at the Eastern and Western cemeteries.

A final favorite is searching obituary and death notices through the microfilmed copies of the Portland newspapers.

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