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.

Author Biography

Ross Betzer

Ross is an information services librarian at Multnomah County Library and co-chair of the Oregon Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee. His work includes staff training, copyright and digitization planning, and providing reference and readers’ advisory services both online and at the Central Library. His favorite beer (at the moment) is the Helles Belles lager from Ninkasi Brewing.

Copyright statement

© 2016 Ross Betzer



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