Beer and Libraries? Challenging the Community’s View of the Public Library
When you think about beer, you might not think about your local library. You almost certainly are not going to think about the Aspen Institute’s 2014 report, Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries. Nevertheless, these three things—beer, libraries, Rising to the Challenge—all came together in a digital collection created by Multnomah County Library called Portland Brew Stories.
The Portland Brew Stories project was a community-focused effort to gather and share images and other primary documents that celebrate beer culture in Portland and Multnomah County. Planning began in 2014, the bulk of the project work took place in 2015, and the collection went live to the public in February 2016. This article provides a broad description of how the Portland Brew Stories collection was conceived and created, based on conversations with library staff who were involved and my own experiences with the project. Successes are identified and advice is presented for libraries who want to embark on a similar digital project within their community. Finally, the article reflects briefly on how this project embodies the ideas and strategies in Rising to the Challenge.