Portland has a rich history of serving the community through reading rooms and eventually, a network of libraries. The two libraries in North Portland exist solely to serve the community. As part of the larger Multnomah County Library system, you have access to just about anything you could want from a library. If you haven’t already, you should definitely check out the wide variety of media, services, and programming available to you.
The Multnomah County Library System
The Multnomah County Library system has 22 libraries in its network. This interconnected system is ideal for patrons, because you can return books to any library that is convenient for you (24/7, if you use the drop boxes). You can also borrow books from any library. You can place a hold on an item and have it delivered to the library of your choice, if you don’t want to have to travel to pick it up.
If it’s sometimes too hard to make it to the library at all, you can also opt for the Multnomah County Library System’s books by mail service. For just $3 an item, books and other items can be sent straight to your door. Talk about convenience! When you’re done, you can them drop them off at any library or even return them through the mail.
Each library in the Multnomah system has computers, as well as iPads with games for young children. Computers can be used up to two hours a day with a valid card. And those older than 13 can even check out Chromebooks if that two hours a day just isn’t enough. The library also has scanners, printers, copiers, and headphones available for your use.
The Kenton Library
Despite a rich history of library services in the North Portland area, the Kenton Library is just six years old (it opened its doors on March 8, 2010). In 2006, voters specified that money would be spent on a new library for North Portland, and the Kenton Library was the public’s choice.
The Kenton Library has some fun programming for young children. Story time is a great way to show children how much fun the library and books can be. There are four different story times for children, depending on age (from birth to six years old). Some Spanish programming is also available.
The Kenton Library also has fun programs available for older kids. These include events to showcase your awesome Lego skills or classes for learning the art skills to create your own comics.
And for the adults, there are monthly book nights that are a great chance to have a lively discussion and to get to know your neighbors. The library also has computer and job classes, some available in Spanish. Free English classes are available every Monday night.
St. Johns Library
Unlike the Kenton Library, the St. Johns Library has a long history. In fact, it opened over one hundred years ago, way back in 1913, as a sub-branch. These small libraries dotted the area, and the Portland community really loved them. Residents were reluctant to open a larger branch library, even into the 1970s.
The St. Johns Library immediately saw heavy usage. The war years, when military personnel and war workers came to the community in droves, brought great demand for books. But expenses, including the price of books, were skyrocketing. Circulation also increased dramatically during the period of unemployment and depression following World War I.
The St. Johns Library was refurbished multiple times, including in 1985 and in 2000. The 2000 renovation included much-needed electrical and plumbing upgrades. The library is now over 6,000 feet and has a capacity of 25,000 books. It’s come a long way!
The St. Johns Library includes much of the same infant and toddler programming as the Kenton Library. The St. Johns Library also has a few more specialized offerings. They’ll be holding a Dance the World workshop in April (where kids will learn folk dances and a few tidbits of language and culture). April will also have a fairy house workshop (creating a miniature fairy house sounds like fun, right?).
Teenagers can attend things like a 3D printing class and a slam poetry workshop (led by a local hip-hop artist, of course). In March, the library hosted a filmmaking camp for Latino teens, an opportunity to learn a new skill and to benefit the community.
And adults are not forgotten here. Earlier this month, the library had cooking classes where participants learned how to make tortillas, sopes, and gorditas. Portland Brew Stories is a popular monthly feature. April’s segment will include a happy hour focused on herbal infusions (tastes included, of course). April will also have a class on making chalk paint vases, so there’s something for everyone.
See the library’s March and April events here.
Libraries in North Portland
If you haven’t been to one of these two libraries in North Portland, what are you waiting for? Whether you’re wanting to learn more about beer, have a lively book discussion, or help your children learn to love reading, check them out! And remember, if all you want is a good book to curl up with, these libraries in North Portland have that covered, too.