Summertime is here, and if you’re a reader, it’s time to get to those books that have been sitting on your nightstand or bookshelf for months. Some people pledge to get through the classics, while others look to NPR or Entertainment Weekly for advice on what to read. Others may wander aimlessly through the library or bookstore, looking for a cover that appeals to them. A handful of us may have obsessively maintained lists of what to read (guilty as charged), but most folks could use some guidance when figuring out what title to pick up next. If you’re a resident of Multnomah County, you’re in luck: Portland’s library system has become even more wonderful with a new feature called My Librarian.
The My Librarian feature was quietly rolled out earlier this year, backed with funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the Library Foundation. It can be accessed from the library’s website and the Multnomah County Library app (which you should download immediately, if only to check when your books are due). The feature goes beyond the Ask the Librarian option that has been available for years by giving the user the ability to pick the librarian with whom they’d like to communicate. The whole process feels a bit like browsing through online dating profiles, if you were on a website featuring bibliophiles looking for love. The librarians each have a delightfully staged photograph paired with a brief blurb on the books or genres that they love. The user has the option of reading more about a librarian, or asking that librarian what they should read next. Conversation can be had through a variety of means: email, phone, chat, video chat, and in-person are all ways to get in touch with your librarian of choice.
For those who don’t want to go to all the effort of communicating with another human being, each librarian has also put together reading lists with titles like “9 books that deserve their own trivia night” and “Need a good swoon?” Librarian Darcee M. has put together a list of books for devotees of Orange is the New Black, so I know what I’ll be reading this summer.
The My Librarian feature pairs well with the summer reading programs that the Multnomah County Library system rolls out each year. The Summer Reading program for children is open to kids of all ages, from newborns to high schoolers, and prizes (including a free ticket to a Portland Thorns match or a Trail Blazers game) are awarded to participants as they complete levels on their gameboards. The adult summer reading program, Read 4 Life, is not as widely publicized, but any adult who reads four books before August 31 (and completes and turns in the game card, which is available at any library branch) is eligible to win an ereader or Title Wave Used Bookstore gift certificate.
So go chat with Karen, an urban chicken farmer fond of Scandinavian mysteries, or Nick, a movie buff who loves foreign literature. Then pick up your personalized recommendation and enjoy what is sure to be an excellent read.