Multnomah County Library - Tours & Attractions - Portland, Oregon

City: Portland, OR
Category: Tours & Attractions
Telephone: (503) 988-5123
Address: 801 Southwest 10th Ave.

Description: Each day of the week, thousands of citizens stream through the handsome doors of the Central Branch of the Multnomah County Library. While the library’s holdings are extensive, it is no mere warehouse for books: It’s a major component in the cultural life of the city. The Central Branch is an exemplary balance of intimate and public space, of cool marble and warm wood, of airy reading rooms and snug alcoves, of formal exhibits and cafe conversation. Its popularity attests to the success of this balance.The library has dozens of programs, workshops, groups, and events that draw in visitors from all over the area. These range from lectures and roundtable discussions with regional writers to Saturday afternoon concerts to brownbag forums on stress relief to printmaking workshops. Its flourishing programs prompted Portland writer Sallie Tisdale to wonder whether the Central Branch wasn’t getting too noisy. Fortunately, the Sterling Room for Writers, available by application only, can provide writers with some peace and quiet. The Multnomah County Library is the oldest public library building west of the Mississippi. Some, but only some, of the highlights include the Beverly Cleary Children’s Library (see the Kidstuff chapter), with both cozy reading nooks and high-tech media capabilities. This enchanting room recruits thousands of small new book lovers each year, sustaining their devotion as they get older with good research facilities for school reports and with splendid books, videos, and CDs to entertain them. The Henry Failing Art and Music Library contains one of the most significant sheet music collections in the nation, along with robust collections in the history of painting, photography, and handicrafts. The Meyer Memorial Trust libraries for science and business and for government documents are among the most-used collections in the library. The Grants Information Center provides the necessary data for those who would like to find financial resources for their worthy projects. The John Wilson Room houses rare books and paper-type artifacts, such as the Nuremburg Chronicle (dating from 1493). John Wilson was an Irishman who arrived in Oregon in 1849, and his library was the foundation for this collection devoted to, among other things, Pacific Northwest history, Native American books, children’s literature, and the history of the book.The library is open every day: Mon through Sat, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., except on Tues and Wed, when it’s open until 8 p.m.; Sun, the library is open from noon until 5 p.m. Portland citizens don’t like to be far from coffee, so Starbucks operates a small store, and the coffee scenting the air on the main floor adds a piquant Portland touch.