Connecting a Community: The Black Pacific Northwest Collection at Multnomah County’s North Portland Neighborhood Library

  • Lee Catalano Multnomah County Library
  • Israel Fin Multnomah County Library
  • Kirby McCurtis Multnomah County Library
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June 19, 1865, referred to as “Juneteenth,” celebrates the date when the official word of President Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas, the most remote state of the former Confederacy.

On June 19, 1987, the North Portland Neighborhood Library was buzzing with excitement at the official opening of Multnomah County Library’s Black Resource Center. There were speeches, music, activities for kids and families. The culmination of a community-led process nearly 20 years in the making, the Black Resource Center was a dedicated space holding a collection of materials of interest to the County’s African American community.

On June 19, 2018, North Portland Administrator Kirby McCurtis and Regional Librarian Lee Catalano spent the morning unpacking the new and recently recataloged items that will initially comprise the Black Pacific Northwest Collection (BPNW Collection). A prominent display space is carved out and the Collection is unveiled as the Library’s regular patrons enter at opening time.

An official notice that the BPNW Collection was available to library patrons was shared on Multnomah County Library’s social media channels and in a press release. The creation and opening of the Collection was an important milestone in North Portland’s 30+ year history of thoughtful and intentional service to its African American patrons.


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Author Biographies

Lee Catalano, Multnomah County Library

Lee Catalano is a Regional Librarian at Multnomah County Library. It is her seventh Librarian position at MCL but she doesn’t get bored easily, really.

Israel Fin, Multnomah County Library

Israel Gabriel Fin is a recent member of the Multnomah County Library team serving the community as a Black Cultural Library Advocate and Library Assistant who is marrying their love for Black community organizing with Library services.

Kirby McCurtis, Multnomah County Library

Kirby McCurtis is a Library Manager for Multnomah County Library and the current President for the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC).

How to Cite
Catalano, L., Fin, I., & McCurtis, K. (2020). Connecting a Community: The Black Pacific Northwest Collection at Multnomah County’s North Portland Neighborhood Library. OLA Quarterly, 26(1), 26-32.