If the photo of the second floor reading and Science and Business room at the Multnomah County Central Library (left) doesn’t set your heart aflutter, I might need to question your humanity. Those are pink walls people, and I’ll go ahead and assert that they are simply impossible not to love!
Before entering the library, though, I found myself engaged in the time-honored tradition of standing outside the library (a historic building dating from 1913) waiting for it to open. As I stood, I was approached by a woman who asked me the library’s hours. On the surface, this woman seemed to be nothing like me: she was older and her face appeared worn by what was at the very least a hard life. And yet here we were, both waiting for the library to open and discussing our shared predicament. This brief experience reminded me of what I love about public libraries and of why I wanted to become a librarian in the first place. There is something truly beautiful (to me, at least) about a place that welcomes all kinds of different people and gives them the opportunity to interact. The Central Library in downtown Portland, OR is truly one such place.
In addition to the lively mix of patrons, the library houses an impressive collection that includes zines, independent comics, over 12,000 rare books (visit the John Wilson Special Collections if you have the chance, I did and it was well worth it) and a ton of other resources. The children’s section on the first floor is home not only to a great selection of books but also to a story theater and a truly lovely tree sculpture (sorry no picture) that I would deem a must-see.
The library also has ample seating, outlets, and wireless internet access, which makes it a great stop if you’re traveling through the area. Be advised, though, that unlike other, (often) smaller libraries, comfortable seating is not a priority here: I saw no cushioned chairs or couches, so you might want to bring your own pillow if you have lumbar issues.
Finally, the weather and my own inability to ‘get my shit together’ prevented me from touring the library’s green roof. They do have one though, and if you’re visiting the library, I hope you check it out (and then let me know all about it!)
For more information about the Multnomah County Library’s Central Library, visit their website at https://multcolib.org/library-location/central