UPDATE JUNE 19: PPL To Go is up and running! Place a hold. Wait for your pickup notice. Then make an appointment to pick it up. We look forward to seeing you! Our COVID-19 information page continues to have links to current health information in multiple languages. Reference will be answering questions Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm, 871-1700 x725. If you would like to open a temporary eResource library card, please email us at lending@portlib.org

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RIP John Singleton

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


John Singleton died on Monday, April 29th, at the age of 51, following a stroke. He was the first African American and the youngest director nominated for a Best Director Oscar for his debut film “Boyz n the Hood” in 1991. Singleton was 24 at the time. In 2002, “Boyz n the Hood” was added to the National Film Registry to be preserved by the Library of Congress.

He went on to write and direct several more critically acclaimed films, including “Rosewood,” “Poetic Justice,” and “Baby Boy.” He also directed some television episodes of “Empire” and “American Crime Story,” and he worked as a production assistant on “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.” Among the films he produced are “Hustle & Flow” and “Black Snake Moan.”

For a list of the Library’s holdings, click here.

PPL Business: A Windfall for Small Businesses

posted: , by Williams Bandoma
tags: Programs & Events | Recommended Reads | Adults | College & Career | Seniors | Business | Government | News


When envisioning a public library, what one is likely to imagine are old books on shelves and old librarians with glasses. Libraries do have books; however, every book is not old, and every librarian does not wear glasses. Just like the weather in Maine, we are dynamic, and we continually evolve with new technology and new materials in order to support our growing communities.

In 2018 a total of 145,536 small businesses in Maine (99.3% of Maine businesses) employed a total of 284,658 employees (56.9% of Maine employees). The importance of small business’s contribution to the socio-economic development of Maine cannot be overemphasized.

As we celebrate Small Business Week during the month of May [5th – 11th ], it is helpful to know what PPL Business offers to assist small businesses in the Greater Portland Area. PPL Business focuses on three subject areas: books, databases, and events.

With a concise collection management policy, PPL Business offers a comprehensive collection of physical books covering all subject areas in business and business research. If you are thinking of starting, managing, restructuring, planning, or searching for ways to fund your business, look no further than PPL. We have access to the information and materials you need.

Starting a business can be complicated and PPL’s host of databases can help. Your library card number is your key to accessing all of our resources for your business information needs, from creating to running a business. Databases include but are not limited to: sample business plans, community demographic information, industry trends, competitive intelligence, detailed mailing lists of potential clients, and in-depth market research. You can also download and print legal forms, read full-text trade journals, and access popular magazines in the areas of business and industry.

PPL Business also offers an array of in-person events and programs to support small business owners. In partnership with the Small Business Administration Programs and Services, PPL will host Small Business Administration SBA 101 on May 8th, 2019 at 10 am – 12 pm. Entrepreneurs can also check out our monthly Business Data Workshops where businesses are introduced to the basic techniques on how to use and get the most out of our collection of online databases.

While at PPL, you will have unlimited access to affordable meeting spaces for group gatherings,  quiet (in some cases — virtually silent) and comfortable areas to read, space to do work or conduct research, free access to good quality high-speed wireless internet, Internet-enabled computers, faxes, and photocopiers. We can also refer you to useful community resources.

Portland Public Library’s Business offerings are a gold mine of information for small business-people – you just need to learn how to access our riches!

Happy Small Business Week and thank you to all the small businesses for their contribution to job creation and socio-economic development in the region.

And Then Our Singing: Poetry Staff Picks

posted: , by Elizabeth
tags: Recommended Reads | Adults | Seniors | Readers Writers

Happy National Poetry Month!  Our library staff members reflect on poetry as we pause, take new stock, and read through April.



Carrie’s Picks 

As April springs into action, we celebrate National Poetry Month in the Children’s Library with book displays and at story time. I love poetry: it’s engaging and enjoyable for groups of toddler and preschoolers alike. Many of our picture books are written in rhyme (which counts as poetry in my book!) and are used regularly at story time.  

This month I wanted to share how I incorporate poetry into a story time, so here’s a snapshot of what Preschool Story Time looked like this week. I hope this gives you a few ideas for using poetry and song in your own story times.

  • Our Word of the Week was Imagine, so we began by singing “Come Under My Umbrella” while using the parachute to imagine that we were under an enormous umbrella.  
  • Bunny Day by Rick Walton is a telling time book with rhyming couplets, and we read the whole story.  
  • A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk: A Forest of Poems by Deborah Ruddell is full of funny animal poems. We read “The Great Snail Race” and “Spring Welcome.” 
  • Ring of Earth by Jane Yolen has lovely seasonal poems including “Song of the Spring Peeper.” This longer poem has a refrain after every stanza, “Pe-ep. Pe-ep. Pe-ep. Pe-ep.”  The children and I practiced before we began the poem so they were able to “Pe-ep” along with me.  
  • Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies has detailed illustrations by Mark Herald, in paper-cut and collage, that fill the page and bring the poems to life. We read “Listen to the Pond” with the croaking sound of “Rrrrruurrrrp” repeated and the life cycle of the frog illustrated as well as “Nesting,” a poem that explains how birds build nests. The poems were written in free verse, so these were used to explain that not all poems rhyme.   
  • In addition to books, poems, and parachute songs we also used the flannel board with our “Five Little Bluebirds” to show how we can act out poems and rhymes. The rhyme begins: “One little bluebird up she flew, along comes another and that makes two. Two little bluebirds sitting in a tree, along comes another and that makes three.” 

Enjoy poetry with friends young and old this month and visit us at story time anytime! 



Elizabeth’s Picks 

Some of my favorite questions to help with at the library are searches for poetry. For example: someone is trying to thank someone they love dearly for existing. “Do you have love poems?” someone will ask (or, even better: “Do you have a love poem section?”) and I am filled with a geeky library-earnestness: “Oh yes! Yes we have love poems!” We have all kinds.  

The truth is we so often turn to poetry. At weddings. At funerals. When we feel raw, or distant. Elizabeth Alexander writes: “Poetry…/ is the human voice, / and are we not of interest to each other?” What does poetry say about this life—about how we lose and find ourselves, and lose and find each other? 

I search for poetry, too. This year I’ve been reading Poetry Rx, a sort of poetry advice column. People write in with their joys and sorrows. Three thoughtful poets (Sarah Kay, Kaveh Akbar, and Claire Schwartz) take turns responding with a “poetry prescription.” No one pretends any poem is a heal-all balm or remedy. It’s just that—as the people who continue to write in can attest—we’re all reaching for something. Sometimes a poem or even a line from a poem will bear us with it, to another place. 

I’ll often read through Poetry RX while checking the library’s catalog for the poets and poems I read about. Some favorites this year: Fatimah Asghar’s “If They Should Come For Us,” full of fiery life. Osip Mandelstam’s beautiful poem And I was Alive” from Stolen Air: “Myself I stood in the storm of the bird-cherry tree.” June Jordan’s love poem, spelling it out: “I SAID I LOVED YOU AND I WANTED / GENOCIDE TO STOP.” LiYoung Lee‘s “Folding a Five-Cornered Star So the Corners Meet,” with the haunting lines: “For so many years, I answered to a name, / and I can’t say who answered.” Rita Dove’s electric, magical “Happenstance.”  

 And you can find Hieu Minh Nguyen. And Eileen Myles. And Solmaz Sharif. All poets prescribed by poets. And: hundreds more 


Will you be electric sheep, electric ladies, will you sleep 

…My robot, my poet, ancient and erstwhile and now  

and f-ever,  

the best mischief: to be stranded in this electricity with you. 


Marie’s Pick 

 Please consider reading Oculus, a new collection of poems by Sally Wen Mao. They center around the idea of voyeurism in the age of social media, also touching on mental illness, family, love, and pop culture. She retells the history of anti-Asian racism in Hollywood while making allusions to Instagram, Pokémon, and a handful of legendary sci-fi writers. On the same page, often within the same verse, she moves effortlessly between these themes (and more); I finished the book in one sitting and am eager to read it again. Mao’s words shine: Oculus is brilliant, accessible, eclectic, provocative, and beautiful.  



Eileen’s Picks 

An English teacher once said that poetry was meant to be heard, not merely read with the eyes for express delivery to the brain.  I would like to add, if you can hum it, all the better. 

It’s not that I think a poem requires music to prop it up.  At least not always.  In the case of “Fly Me to the Moon” (1954) written by Bart Howard, perhaps its moon-June-spoon rhymery needs a melody.  In 1965, Frank Sinatra gave it a rascally, rat pack infused smugness that makes me purse my lips and resent enjoying it.  The same lightweight words coming from Joshua Radin on His Way, Our Way (2009) come across as a tentative, artlessly sweet reverie.  A different song. 

“Both Sides Now” written by Joni Mitchell changes direction between its first appearance on her 1969 album Clouds and 2000’s Both Sides Now.  Both versions are drenched with heart, but Mitchell’s voice and delivery are altered with and by time, her clear, young voice seemingly aged in oak in the 30 year interval.  Timbre and tempo morph.  The satisfaction of hearing her interpretations deepens.  A different song. 

“Downtown Train,” penned by Tom Waits and rubbed through the coarse sieve of his voice on Rain Dogs (1985) has been sung by countless others, but it is hard to top the writer’s own take on it.  Mary Chapin Carpenter’s track on 1987’s Hometown Girl was my first exposure to it, and I love it.  Rod Stewart made a couple of bucks with his recording, too.  They are just the tip of the cover version iceberg, every rendition different. 

While I’m on about trains, consider Jennifer Kimball and Tom Kimmel’s “The Blue Train,” soulfully sung by Irish singer Maura O’Connell on Blue Is the Colour of Hope (1992). There is a Transatlantic Sessions video with O’Connell, Nanci Griffith, James Grant, Jerry Douglass & co which left me weeping when I bumped into it while preparing to write this.  Wow. 

The wonder of it:  Words. Voices.  A pause, a breath taken.  Connection. 

Pure poetry. 


Nora’s Pick 

In her 2015 book My Shoes Are Killing Me, poet Robyn Sarah calls forth images that flirt with the familiar (autumn leaves) but are predominately more original (pennies taken out of circulation that now have currency only as a child’s discovery in a weedy backyard). The undercurrent of this collection is that our lives are happening and as much worthy of our notice right now as they were in the wonder years of childhood—before the “beginning of dwindle”—and as much as they are in the dreams we concoct for ourselves about the future. Sarah’s verse offers snippets and sentiments that serve as “wisps of well-being,” the grubby pennies we can dig up and let shine when we need to remember to be relish the present moment. As she best says herself, we can glory in the endless summers of the past but, “The truth of it: summers were never any longer / than they are now. 


As ever, thanks for reading! If you’re interested in poetry readings and discussion at the library, our April line-up of events can be found here.

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