By MaryGrace McGovern
Hollywood Library supervisor
During your next visit to Hollywood Library, I hope you have the chance to meet library assistant Christopher Cuttone. A photographer and runner who has served Multnomah County Library patrons for 15 years, Christopher feels most gratified when he gets kids hooked on reading. He agreed to let me interview him recently.
MaryGrace McGovern: How long have you worked for Multnomah County Library, and what brought you here?
Christopher Cuttone: I’ve been working at the library for 15 years. I have an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Pennsylvania. Before moving to Portland, I considered jobs as a writer, and one like a television character from the Quincy show, working as a medical investigator. Eventually, I landed a research job at a newspaper. That brought me to Central Library looking for answers. In that moment, I realized the library would be the place where I spent my career.
McGovern: What do you like to read and why?
Cuttone: Everything really. My mom always read aloud to me as a kid, and I believe it made a huge difference in my success at school. I could read when I entered the first grade. My parents encouraged reading, and there were tons of books in our house; I realize now that was a privilege. I challenged myself to get better and better about reading and comprehension. It got to the point where I could read really fast. In the fourth grade, I participated in a read-a-thon fundraiser for multiple sclerosis. My dad was so enthusiastic about all of it and became one of my sponsors. He pledged big, a dollar for everything I read. Well, I read 80 books and won the contest trophy! As I got older, my mom got me interested in reading popular fiction. The first author I remember from that time is Stephen King. He was so prolific, and reading all those titles kept me busy and thinking about the importance of stories. All of these early influences are why I find it so inspiring to encourage kids to read.
McGovern: What is your favorite book to recommend to kids?
Cuttone: Right now it’s Bootsie Barker Bites by Barbara Bottner. It’s humorous on the serious subject of bullying, and there is justice at the end. I want kids to know that, at the library, they are not limited to asking questions only about what books to read. At the library, they can ask any question they want.
McGovern: What’s one thing you love about your job?
Cuttone: After 15 years, I have to talk about the value of building community relationships. Those kids I first helped as toddlers still use the library. They may be taller than me now, and so many have mustaches, but their interest in finding a good book hasn’t changed. Sharing my reading experience is the most gratifying aspect of my job.
McGovern: What are some things people may not know about you?
Cuttone: I’ve won several bar trivia contests. I’m a black-and-white photographer. I like local beer. I’m excited that the library is working on a project to digitize photos of the history of breweries in Portland. And I ran my first Portland half-marathon last year and will do it again this year.