The oil painting of Dorothy Hirsch is by Henk Pander, donated to the Central Library through her estate. (Thanks Peggy!) Ms. Hirsch served on the boards of the Multnomah County Library for many years, the board of trustees of the Oregon Institute of Literary Arts and the Friends of History of Portland State.

It’s found a new place to hang, the second floor of the Multnomah County Central Library.

The reasons I love the Central Library are too many to ever count. But it’s getting a bit tight for easy use, serving too many functions in too small of a space. Albert Doyle made an elegant structure in 1913, which was considerably improved upon by a major renovation in eleven years ago.

But I recently visited Rem Koolhaus’ library in downtown Seattle, which should be the foremost destination for visitors. The building is a tremendous gong-bang for city planners, for bookworms, and for library planners. It serves a hundred functions at once.

Notably, the smell and grime of wet, sick humans was absent. It was a fine, clear spring day in Seattle, but easily half of the city’s chronic homeless were inside, burrowing into books or taking naps. But at over 360,000 square feet, everyone had sufficient space to stretch out and feel comfortable.

The Multnomah County collection is of better quality (not larger, Seattle is 2.4 million compared to about 2 million). Our patrons are nicer, circulation is higher, and our library is probably the county’s most laudable act. Nobody’s going to give Ted Wheeler and company more money to put people in jail, but a bond measure to build a world class downtown library would win easily.

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