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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.


Help is On the Way: Charitable Giving

posted: , by Sonya Durney
tags: Adults | Seniors | Art & Culture | Business | Government | News

You know you want to save the world.   You have a heart the size of our great State o’ Maine and finite finances. Where, oh, where to begin?

The good news is that there are some terrific resources out there to help you make good decisions that suit your priorities. Before your good intentions grind to a confused halt, take a look at some of these websites.

Where to start? A really terrific site to check out is Philanthropedia, Guide to Better Giving.  It is a great tool to help you focus and to understand various strategies for giving. It answers questions you may not know you have!

Sometimes you have a good idea of who you’d like to give to, but you’d like some reliable nuts-and-bolts rating information* about how they use your hard-earned donated dollars.

* Keep in mind that different sites will use different grading scales when rating nonprofits, as outlined in this TEDTalk. This one is well worth a few minutes viewing time. It presents an interesting view of nonprofits’ spending strategies.

That said, here are two sites that sort some of it out for you: Charity Navigator  and Guidestar.

These sites can also provide some focus when you know you want your donation to go toward a particular area of need, but need to find an organization that is a good fit.

It isn’t easy to know who to trust when unsolicited pleas for donations come your way. It might be a phone call, an email, something in your mailbox, or someone at your door. The Federal Trade Commission has a few things to say on the subject.

And let’s not forget that when we indulge our urge to be generous, we do so with the blessing of the US Tax Code. Here are some tips from the IRS.  Charitable giving can really pay off !

There are so many ways to make a difference. Finding what works for you can feel overwhelming. When opening your wallet seems like the best option, these resources may serve as guides. And, let’s just say it: there is nothing like the good feeling you get when you use your head to put your money where your heart is.

Happy Giving! Eileen of the Business and Government Team.


The Worth of Conversation

posted: , by Kim Simmons
tags: Programs & Events | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Art & Culture | Government | News

What is the worth of informal, but focused, conversation? What do we gain from talking to each other across our differences, about something we hold in common?

Research indicates that loneliness is a very common social problem and puts individuals at risk for health problems.  Loneliness & Mortality Risks (read this review article in the New Republic)

In contrast, the following video from the Greater Good Science Center suggests that developing “cross-group relationships” is great for our health and well-being!

 

One of the best ways to develop more relationships and relationships with people different from us is by participating in public conversations… and we have some great invitations for you! All programs are free and open to the public.

1) On November 6th we continue a series offered in collaboration with the  Maine Humanities Council on “Creating the Communities We Wish For.”  These small group, neighborhood conversations feature a great facilitator (Dr. Anna Bartel), a great poem, and fabulous conversation.   REGISTER HERE

·         November 6th at the YMCA in Portland, 11:30am – 1:00pm
·         November 20th here at the Main Branch, 11:30am – 1:00pm
·         December 18th at Riverton, 6:00pm – 7:30pm

2) On November 6th we also begin our film series, in collaboration with Maine Humanities Council, entitled “Muslim Journeys.”   This series is part of a national project and will include discussion facilitated by Reza Jalali.  The series includes films on November 13th and 20th – all begin at 6:30pm.

3)  On November 25th we offer the second of our Portland Public Conversations, in collaboration with Lift360 (formerly the Institute for Civic Leadership) – this one will focus on “Participating in Portland” and will include a resource fair – if you have a project that engages volunteers or civic participation and you’d like to share information about it, please be in touch with me simmons@portland.lib.me.us .  All are encouraged to come reflect on the value of engagement and the challenges associated with participating in our communities – November 25th 7:30am coffee/ 8:00am program start.   Our final date in the series is December 9th and will focus on “Picturing Portland” – a visioning session for 2015 and beyond!

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