Food, fun and giant lions celebrate Midland Library’s 10th birthday

Celebrate a library’s birthday? Look at this article and see GIANT lions invade the main reading room. And, you’ll discover why this mid-county library touches so many lives ‚Äì and how things might change of the library’s bond measure fails ‚Ķ

Midland Library’s 10th anniversary celebration got underway with the help of two fanciful lions from the Northwest Lion Dance Association.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The reading room is normally very quiet. But today, a ceremonial drum pounds out a desk-shaking rhythm, waking dozing library patrons from their dreamy reveries on September 16 at Midland Library.

Children gasp and adults smile as two giant, fanciful lions dance their way from the entrance of the library, through the stacks and around the computer tables toward a stage by the ceiling-high windows facing Midland Park.

This joyous chaos, courtesy of the Northwest Lion Dance Association, marks the opening of the library’s 10th anniversary celebration.

Molly Raphael, director of the Multnomah County Library System, came to welcome patrons to this branch’s birthday celebration.

Library director welcomes all
The Director of the Multnomah County library system, Molly Raphael, takes the stage, and tells the throng that it was on this date that the newly rebuilt Midland Library branch was reopened 10 years ago. “The building more than tripled the space of this branch,” she says. The original branch ‚Äì and its entire parking lot ‚Äì would easily fit within the new building, she adds.

The director tells the group that Midland Library is, at 24,000 sq. ft., the largest and the second-busiest branch in the system.

“This branch is a valuable community resource,” Raphael tells us after her brief remarks. “It is located at the crossroads of east Multnomah County. It brings in people from all over the area. And, it brings people together, of diverse backgrounds, to participate in programs and attend community meetings.”

In addition, Raphael adds, it is also a partner to the schools. “Many students come in after school. We have many programs that reach out to young people. And, we offer many great family programs as well. We also serve our older citizens by helping them learn computer skills and other activities.”

Cake and crafts

Before crafting their own crowns in the activity room, Gateway-area residents (and library patrons) Naomi, Amanda, and Hannah Whitlock are enjoying Midland Library birthday cake and punch.

Overseeing the birthday cake cutting ceremony, Branch Manager Carolyn Schell is bubbling with enthusiasm as she tells us, “We’re having a wonderful time commemorating this building’s reopening. Here, we celebrate the diversity of our neighborhoods. This event shows that everybody is welcome to the library.”

Throughout the afternoon, visitors enjoy multi-cultural performances which include a Vietnamese Dance Team, Ballet Popotle performing Mexican folk dancing, and the band Americanistan presenting music from the Middle East. Along with the entertainment, kids enjoy craft time: making crown-like hats to wear and take home.

Sara Cunningham helps Tyler build a birdhouse at one of the Jane’s Park Group tables, in Midland Park behind the library.

Jane’s Park Group celebrates park
A group of neighbors, “Jane’s Park Committee”, helps take care of Midland Park, located behind the library and parking lot. Volunteers, including Boy Scouts from Troop 828, help kids build their own birdhouses.

In addition, committee members display information about the park, and community groups are on hand to drum up support for their efforts.

Girls can hammer too! Gregory Zolp looks on as his daughter, Ashley, builds her very own birdhouse.

Funding concerns
We buttonhole Raphael about what might happen if bond Measure 26-81, a five-year “serial levy”, doesn’t gain voters’ approval.

“Over half the county’s library system funding comes from the current levy, which is about to expire.”

We learn this measure isn’t a new tax, but a vote for continuation of an existing property tax that supports library operations and maintains services.

“Let me put it this context,” the director continues, “think about what would happen if you woke up and found you had just 45% of your income in your house. With less than half of our household income, you’d have to change the way your family lives. This would be a pretty dramatic change. We’ll work with the community, but I can imagine libraries closing, or, or at least, having hours drastically reduced.”

We ask Raphael might happen, specifically, to the Midland branch. “It remains to be seen,” she replies.

If passed, Measure 26-81 will levy $0.89 per $1,000 of assessed value. This means a home assed at $150,000 pays $133.50 per year.

The Midland Library is located at 805 SE 122nd Ave., a block south of SE Stark Street. Be sure to visit Midland Park, located behind the library’s parking lot. For more information, call the library at (503) 988-5392 or visit the library’s website at

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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