Built in 1913, this was one of the first public libraries in the west. It was started with a donation from John Wilson of 7000 rare books and gold coins to hire a librarian, Mary Francis Isom. Mary Francis Isom worked closely with an architect to create a place that would be a cultural center for the people of Portland. It's now expanded to 19 branches in the Portland area.
PRESERVING A MEMORY STATUE
The library existed before the Art Museum, so it doubled as an art gallery for some time. There are many unique pieces throughout the library, including a statue of a tree in the children’s library. The statue is called “preserving a memory,” and the artist intentionally put different images at different levels so the statue can grow with the children. At the base there are different animals, a dog, a tennis ball with the artist’s name, and as the children grow in height the images grow in complexity, with an anatomically correct heart at higher levels. You can see which pieces are most loved, by how the tarnish has been worn off. A metal relief of Beverly Cleary, a beloved Portland children’s author, shows this as well. Librarians polish her ring as they pass by, and it gleams gold
There’s also lots of hidden images in the stairway and elsewhere, similar to art pieces that are hidden throughout the city. You never know what you’re going to find.
POWELL'S CITY OF BOOKS