This morning I linked to the Multnomah County Library website to see the stats on my novel. Yes, I admit it; on a routine basis I see how many people have checked out Spring Thaw. Good news. No Availability today. Usually, I move on with the demands of the day, but an image in the corner of the website caught my eye, and for the first time it dawned on me that I had no idea when the Portland library was built. And so the search began.
The Multnomah County Library dates back to 1864, long before Selena stepped off the train to meet Julia. At first patrons created a subscription library and reading room for the city to enjoy called the "Library Association of Portland". The library's services bloomed and grew over the next half century. After the population growth following the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, city leaders realized Portland needed a larger facility than the one they owned on Stark Street and Seventh Avenue. In 1911, head librarian Mary Frances Isom " <https://multcolib.org/sites/default/files/mcl-his_isom.pdf> traveled back to New York City to see the finishing touches on the grand library on 5th Avenue. The original plan was to use a New York architect to design the new building, but overtime the board decided to hire a local architectural firm headed up by Albert E. Doyle. Isom and her fellow librarians pointed out the flaws of other libraries which focused on beauty and design, but missed the important element of usage. Taking Ms. Isom's advice, Doyle designed the multistoried stacks in the center with the reading rooms around the perimeter, a architectural first. This minimized the corridors leaving more room for books.
Now, over years and numerous renovations later, the library continues to serve over 4,000 patrons a day providing books, ebooks, wifi, periodicals....and even Spring Thaw.