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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:

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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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Philosophy Forum – monthly at the Library!

posted: , by Abraham
tags: Programs & Events | Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | Art & Culture | Portland History

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Plato famously observed that “philosophy begins with wonder.” Etienne Gilson, in the 20th century, wrote, “Philosophy in its exact sense does not mean a body of doctrine, but a love of wisdom.” These are among many enduring phrases of encouragement in appreciation of reflection and thought. In the spirit of Socrates’ saying that “the unobserved life is not worth living,” many philosophical community discussion groups have formed around this country and throughout the world. Philosophy groups are no longer confined to university campuses.

Philo Blumenau
Here at the Library, we launched Philosophy Forum last August, which is held on the 2nd Wednesdays of the month, in the Portland Room (2nd floor of the downtown library, Monument Square), from 6:30pm-8pm.
All ages are welcome, and there are no reading assignments required- nor any prior experience necessary in a philosophy group.

PhiloNow Art
Very much in the spirit of a “Socrates Cafe,” or an informal campus group (I was part of the philosophy Symposium at UMass-Boston, as a graduate student), our gatherings are essentially collaborative discussions, sharing our ideas based upon a central topic open-ended enough to invite the insights of all present! Rather than being a debating society that seeks consensus, our purpose is to inspire Socratic exploration through the discussion of the evening’s question. Thus far, our topics have included such questions as:
* How do you discover and define meaning in your life?
* Do each of us have a responsibility to contribute to society?
* What are the best ways to measure or evaluate a society’s well-being?
* What determines our convictions?
* How much of the action in our lives’ paths do we really choose?
* What causes our cultural self-centeredness?
* How can we explain society’s general fascination with “the dark side?”
* What is the significance of discomfort, and what we deem to be “unproductive?”
* Why philosophize? Why ask “why?”
* What is perseverance, and why do we persevere?
* How does life exist without desire? What is significance?
* How essential are shared values to a society?
* What are our responsibilities as private citizens?

These community conversations have been very enjoyable for the entire group. As moderator I’ve been reminded of how much groups like these added to my education, and how grateful I am to host this at my place of work!

We hope you’ll join us for these monthly gatherings. See you soon!


Philo DaleyPlaza
Socrates Cafe
 

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Remembering Historian Bill Jordan

posted: , by Abraham
tags: Adults | Art & Culture | Portland History
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On July 11th, we lost a dear friend and contributor to the Portland Public Library, William Barnes Jordan Jr., who passed away at the age of 88. Bill was passionately curious about the history of Maine and Portland, and taught courses on that topic at two separate colleges for almost two decades.

Researchers in the Portland Room- among numerous other Maine history resource libraries, make regular use of Bill’s historic writing, including his History of Cape Elizabeth (seen below)

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Bill also created an index of articles from several Portland newspaper runs, spanning the years of 1785 to 1835, known in the library by its nickname, the “Jordan Index”. A published copy of the index can also be found in the Portland Room, along with the handwritten reference cards he made and used during the creation of the Index. This is a tremendous source, resulting from his assiduous labors.

Bill Jordan 2 Bill Jordan 4 Bill Jordan 3 Bill Jordan 1994 PH 10_21 13

Below you’ll find a link to the Portland Press Herald article about William’s life and many good works. http://www.pressherald.com/2015/07/12/historian-jordan-remembered-for-research-teaching.

(Contributed by Marc LeBourdais, PPL Technical Services, and Abraham A. Schechter, PPL Archivist.)

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