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PPL at 150: Celebrate with us!

posted: , by Kathleen Spahn
tags: About the Library | PPL150 | Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | News | Portland History
Beth Bordowitz

PPL Board President
Beth Bordowitz

Throughout 2017, some of our partners will share their perspective on PPL in honor of our  150th anniversary celebration.

Today’s guest author is Beth Bordowitz, who serves as the President of the Library’s Board of Trustees. Beth is currently reading What It Takes, The Trespasser, and any Portugal travel book she can get her hands on.

“What an atmosphere of philosophy, knowledge and fancy, – with all of their kindred relations – will pervade this edifying place.”

Portland Public Library (PPL), founded 150 years ago, was opened to the public with great fanfare with those prophetic words from Mayor Chapman. Originally housed in City Hall, the Library has made its home in many places throughout the Portland community, including the iconic Baxter Building just blocks from the current Main Library.

PPL now comprises four branches, a Bookmobile, and an Annex for more collection holdings. We offer ebooks, movies, and music, and we host programs, discussions, and events. While we have evolved, one thing remains constant: We continue to serve as the “vast repository of learning for the continual reference and use of all enquirers” foreseen by Mayor Chapman at our opening.

And the Library is so much more than a repository. We are a dynamic, accessible resource for all in the community. We are a place to use a computer, learn a skill, receive help filing your taxes, join with other members of the Portland community to engage in civic discourse, visit a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio.

As we embark on our 150th year, we will be doing what we do best: sharing stories. When you visit your favorite branch, we may ask if you would like to share a story of what the Library means to you. The story of the Library is the story of our community, and I invite you to add your voice to those of your neighbors, of your fellow patrons, and of our many partners in the community.

As the President of the Board of Trustees in this historic 150th year, I invite everyone in the community to visit the Library, to borrow a book or a movie – at your favorite branch or electronically from wherever you might be – to take in the changing art exhibits in the Lewis Gallery or a performance in one of our spaces, to lend your perspective to a discussion or a public meeting. Join us in celebrating all PPL has to offer. Learn why we are saying: 150 years of education, entertainment and discovery for all. PPL: It’s a long story.

Martin Luther King Day

posted: , by Patti DeLois
tags: Library Collections | Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | Art & Culture

mug shot mlkAccording to his autobiography, Martin Luther King was a student at Morehouse College when he first read Henry David Thoreau’s “On Civil Disobedience.”

“I became convinced,” wrote King, “that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.”

We remember Dr. King for his legacy of peace and nonviolence; let us also honor his courage, and his passion for racial equality and economic justice.

For a list of films about Martin Luther King, click here.

Also, join us on Thursday nights in January for our Civil Rights Film Series.

A (New) Year of Reading! Books for A Calendar Year

posted: , by Elizabeth Hartsig
tags: Library Collections | Recommended Reads | Adults | Seniors | Art & Culture


“My energy and curiosity may be renewed but the larder isn’t. There is probably less food in the house than there has ever been. I trudge out to buy a few chicken pieces and a bag of winter greens to make a soup with the spices and noodles I have in the cupboard. What ends up as dinner is clear, bright and life-enhancing. It has vitality (that’s the greens), warmth (ginger, cinnamon) and it is economical and sustaining too. I suddenly feel ready for anything the New Year might throw at me.” –Nigel Slater, Notes from the Larder: A Kitchen Diary with Recipes

The calendar year is a simple trick up nearly any kind of author’s sleeve: our lives are ordered by years, by seasons passing, and a writer can easily order a book in this way. I thought of this recently as I took down Nigel Slater’s Notes from the Larder, which begins tidily with his cooking in January as he runs smack into the New Year and considers his options, and continues with a gently torrential output of words about seasonal ingredients and recipes straight on through to December. Have I ever read this tome cover to cover? I haven’t, but I suspect the time to start is now.


There’s a real reader’s pleasure in matching a January to another January in a book, or if you’re impatient for summer, you can (hooray!) just skip ahead. If you’re interested in this sort of reading–either the record of a year in nature, in cooking, or authors exploring interesting ideas and setting specific goals over the course of a year–here’s a list of a few to consider, from Shonda Rhime’s Year of Yes to Margaret Hathaway’s The Year of the Goat.  If you have a literary bent, pick up A Reader’s Book of Days: True Tales from the Lives and Works of Writers For Every Day of the Year. Or you can get really wild with The Year of Living Danishly.

Nature writing lends itself particularly well to this sort of ordering (Winter! Spring! Summer! Fall!)–as it does in one of my own very favorite books, Sue Hubbell’s A Country Year: Living the Questions. Or you can peer up at the night sky with A Year of the Stars: A Month-by-Month Journey of Skywatching, and dig in the soil with A Homesteader’s Year on Deer Isle. Find these titles and more in our PPL catalog booklist Begin Where You Are: Books for a Calendar Year.

With warm wishes for a new year of reading.

-Elizabeth, PPL Reference Staff

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