The Big Library Downtown

Dear Liza,

Yesterday Auntie Bridgett and I took the number 20 downtown. We had a good time shopping, and then decided to look inside the beautiful building that is the main branch of the Multnomah County Library, at SE 10th and Yamhill.

The main branch!

The outside looks like a church, or an ancient Roman temple….tall and bright with large arched windows. We went up the wide steps and through the heavy glass doors into the cool space, a nice change from the muggy heat outside. We were in the first foyer, where a rack held all the bus line schedules I’d been looking all over town for. There was also a coat room and bag check.

Going through another set of glass doors, we were in the main lobby. It was bigger than your house! There were long desks on both sides of people helping folks check out books, doing research, and taking care of books.

But what made my heart leap was on the right: The door that lead to The Beverly Cleary Children’s Library. I’ve told you about Beverly Cleary; she is the lady who grew up here in Portland and wrote so many wonderful books for children. She donated some of her money to the library and they made this huge room into a magical place for books and kids.


Once you walk by the lovely wood carving of Alice in Wonderland, you see the circulation desk standing by a giant bronze tree. The tree, which is 12 feet tall and reaches clear up to the ceiling, is covered with shapes and creatures from stories…bears, turtles, plants, and magic lamps.

Close up of the TREE!

I spent a long time looking at it with some little girls who were there. I stood in happy, silly joy for a long time, just enjoying the fact that this huge place is here for the children of this city, to encourage them to read and love books.

We walked across the lobby and found the Popular library, fiction stories for grown-ups, then up the stairs to the periodical room, where you can check out magazines from now or even years back. There is also a science and business library.

Science and Business Library

The other day, when I walked to the Belmont Branch of the library, (a much, much smaller library closest to my house), I got a library card..which means I can check out anything from this magical place, too!

I feel like I am part of a special club, a club that allows me secret knowledge…about anything I want to look for. I am so excited!


Grandma Judy


Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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