In Portland, even the libraries are hipsters


library app screenshotby Erin McCormick

We love our libraries in Portland. If they were people, we’d totally make out with them. Hard. Even if we were stone sober.

We love our libraries so much that, as taxpayers, we recently voted ourselves a hefty hike to make sure that they are properly funded and able to serve the public good in the fashion to which we’ve become accustomed.

Friends often marvel when I tell them that I don’t have Netflix, and that I instead get almost all of my DVDs from the library. The ones I can’t find there, I rent from Videorama. This might make me a dinosaur in a world where streaming video has become the new norm, but given how much I still spend on music and seeing movies in theaters, I find it prudent to save money where I can. Besides, I still like the act of browsing for videos, like we used to do in the old days.

Just because I don’t have Netflix, it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy modern conveniences. I own an iPhone, and the Multnomah County Library has wisely created its own app for those of us who like to request movies on the go. It’s not the prettiest interface I’ve ever used, but it gets the job done. You can search the catalog for books, movies, music, etc.; place items on hold; check your account; get library locations and hours; and provide suggestions to the library directly through the app.


Michael K. Williams

You can get “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Wire” and, presumably, other fine shows and movies featuring the acting talents of Michael K. Williams at your local branch of the Multnomah County Library.

The app is just one way that the library is attempting to keep pace with a city known for being on the forefront of technology. You might not be aware, but you can download one song per week through the library if you have a library card. The library also offers a selection of E-books, if that’s your preferred format of consumption. Finally, the library is constantly conducting surveys to find out what its users want, how they consume and how the library can best serve their needs.

Librarians get a bum rap. They’re often portrayed as stodgy killjoys. But in my interactions with the Multnomah County Library staff both in person and on Twitter, they’re good people who are doing so many of the right things we advise of our business clients here at AM:PM PR. They’re listening, learning, and responding to the changing needs of their audience.

If you’re still not intrigued by the prospect of taking advantage of your local library, look at it this way. You’re taxes are going up regardless. You might as well make the most of one of our community’s best resources. If not, that just means I have to wait a little less time for season two of “Boardwalk Empire.” Suckers.

1 reply

Comments are closed.