The Multnomah Library Foundation

Building a Brighter Future

Proud to Support Reading Initiatives That Transform the Lives of Underserved Children


Every child deserves the chance to live a full, rich life, and to know that success is within reach. Early exposure to books and reading helps us fulfill our true potential. Without it, children face a daunting road.


Our libraries are vibrant centers of learning and achievement, and librarians are the quiet heroes who transform lives. They act as trusted guides for young readers and their parents, offering encouragement, inspiration, and a way forward in difficult times. They are mindful of the link between literacy and success in life.


The Olseth Foundation is proud to support the literacy work of Multnomah County Library. We take a stand, with our support, for knowledge, equity and opportunity. Foundation funds support the library’s vision of a community that is welcoming, compassionate, and educated — a community nurtured and connected by a vibrant public library system.


The Olseth Foundation contributes to the following children’s literacy programs in Portland, Oregon:


  • The Every Child A Reader early literacy program reaches 32,000 young children and parents through Head Starts, teen parent programs, immigrant and refugee programs, and hundreds of health professionals. Teaching simple strategies for shared reading to the parents of children at risk for low literacy, the program sends a weekly rotation of children’s books, in 20 languages, into the homes of our most vulnerable children. Librarians provide training and activities that encourage parents, educators and caregivers to read with children, they suggest easy actions that can greatly impact early brain development.


  • A Book is a Bridge transforms the lives of children of incarcerated parents. Visiting a jail is very stressful for a child. In two Multnomah County jails, librarians are changing this experience through an innovative program that provides children with books and literacy-rich activities when they visit a parent or family member. Colorful, welcoming reading nooks in jail waiting rooms work hand-in-hand with a series of educational workshops for incarcerated parents which focus on early brain development, children’s literacy, and library services. This program provides a much-needed bridge that brings parent and child together, breaking down barriers and creating the sense of safety, security, and trust a child needs to develop a healthy brain.


  • Diverse children’s books in 20 languages reflect the diversity of families across our community, helping children engage with books that closely fit their culture and life experience. Librarians search worldwide for high quality, culturally appropriate titles at reading levels that are cognitively appropriate for a child and parent to read together. These books are used by librarians, in the library and out in the community, to create stronger connections with diverse families and encourage children and parents to use the library.



To learn more about Portland’s terrific library system visit: