COVID-19 Response & Available Online Resources

JMRL is now in Tier 3 of the COVID-19 Response.

For the current services and hours, visit the ‘Tier 3 and updated hours’ blog post.

If you need assistance, chat, email, text, or call JMRL using Ask a Librarian. You can still request personalized reading recommendations through What Do I Read Next?

During this time, patrons are encouraged to use the variety of eResources available on

This includes digital access to resources, such as books, magazines and movies, through the use of providers like Overdrive/Libby, RBdigital, Freading, Kanopy, and more.

Look for New Downloadable EBooks and New Downloadable Audiobooks.

Is your card expired? Contact with your name and birthdate and we can renew it the same day.

Don’t have a JMRL library card? Sign up online for a temporary elibrary card!

  • To sign up for this card, please visit
  • If a patron already has a JMRL library card, they do not need to sign up for a temporary elibrary card.

For more information and to keep updated with future changes, visit and follow JMRL on social media.

If you are in the Charlottesville area and seeking aid or a place to offer aid, visit Support Cville.

For the list of digital resources previously listed in the post, please visit this page.

Saty Safe curbside services

“But why would anyone—officer, seaman, or scientist—volunteer for such a risky and difficult mission in the Arctic?”

Books on Tap’s first  virtual meeting of 2021 featured In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides. A non-fiction examination of the 1879-1881 voyage of the USS Jeannette to discover the northwest passage was a suitable match for our own mostly home-bound winter of 2021. The New York Herald editor, James Gordon Bennett, was looking to finance another sensational expedition after his paper sponsored the “rescue” of Dr. Livingstone (and selling many papers in the process). He tapped experienced polar captain George Washington DeLong to lead a team of 32 men in search of a warm current that would lead them to a green island at the top of the world. Pretty quickly the men were trapped in ice for two years, at which point the hull breached and the ship quickly sank. The men then faced a thousand mile trek to Siberia with few supplies and fewer hopes of rescue. 

Sides packs lots of his research into this adventure tale, and much like the men of the Jeannette, we readers all bogged down at various points. It’s hard to make a marooned ship interesting, but then again we all made it though to the end compelled to find out what happened to our favorite characters, like Captain DeLong, engineer George Melville (yes, a relative of that other whale obsessed Melville) and James Ambler the ship’s doctor. 

DeLong comes through as the hero of the story, preparing the ship and choosing men whom he could rely on and who in turn trusted him. An optimistic man by nature, he met each setback with determination and grit. He was matched in his optimism by his wife Emma, whose letters Sides used as a primary source. Much like Elizabeth Hamilton, wife of Alexander, Emma kept her husband’s legacy alive. 

We discussed the bravery of the men, especially the rescuers who kept up their mission despite great risk to themselves. We also compared polar exploration to space exploration, both cold, inhospitable unknowns of vast differences. 

Sides was smart to pick an obscure voyage since none of our readers knew how it would end. Despite long stretches where the men go nowhere, we kept reading to see who survived and how their logs and diaries were preserved. We talked about the luck and chance that both benefited the crew at points and doomed some of them at others. In all, we agreed it was a journey best experienced at home with a warm drink. 

Books on Tap will meet again on February 4 via Zoom. For the link, please contact Krista Farrell (kfarrell at jmrl dot org).  We’ll be reading  Switched On by John Elder Robison, which the library owns in multiple formats. 

More Information:
About the author
Other titles by Sides  
Interview with the author
Find images of the crew and the voyage at the Politics & Prose  recorded discussion
Map of the route
Logbooks in the National Archives 

Other Titles Recommended :
Disappearing Earth by Juila Phillips
The Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whale Ship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard
The Terror by Dan Simmons
Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier
Woolly : The True Story Of The Quest To Revive One Of History’s Most Iconic Extinct Creatures by Ben Mezrich
Other icy read alikes at JMRL Upcoming Meetings:
February 4: Switched On by John Elder Robison
March : Red at the Bone by Jacquline Woodson
April :  Elevation by Stephen King

How to Learn a Second Language

Welcome to 2021! You may be juggling half a dozen New Year’s Resolutions already, but may I add one more to your list? Start learning a new language. Here’s why. 

Why Learn a Language

There are so many reasons to pursue language learning. If you’re looking to sharpen intellectual skills, learning a language will help you improve your memory, as well as problem solving and critical thinking skills. If you’re seeking a new career or promotion, learning a second language is a highly desired skill. It will also get you ready for video conferencing calls with clients and colleagues who speak other languages. Learning another language now will prepare you for future travels, whether they be for business or for pleasure. Closer to home, it may surprise you, but the more you practice another language, the more words you will learn in your native tongue. 

Learning a new language will also take you beyond book smarts; studies show that learning a new language boosts your ability to empathize with others. This is because being exposed to other languages can enhance your ability to parse out another person’s intentions, take another person’s perspective, and patiently work through ambiguity. In addition, every language has abstract concepts and notions that are very difficult to translate into another language. This is because those hard-to-translate words or phrases hold deep cultural meaning. Learning those words and phrases gives us a peek into another culture — those peeks add up and help contribute to greater empathy.

How to Get Started

JMRL offers two language learning programs: Rocket Languages and Transparent Language. Each platform operates in a different style and has its own strengths. Check out this short video to help you choose which program to try first.

Learn More

In doing my deep-dive I learned a LOT about these two databases, and there are some nifty tips, tricks, and important caveats I wasn’t able to go over in this brief overview video. For example, what about each database’s ability to review the work you’ve completed? Which database has a better mobile experience? Which database is right for me if I want to learn English? What about KidSpeak, offered by Transparent Language? What about setting goals, earning points, leaderboards, forums, and the like? If you’d like any of those questions answered, or would like to learn more about a different aspect of either these databases, sign up for our upcoming zoom program. During the program, I’ll answer any questions you have, and offer more information that is tailored to your needs.

As always, we’d also love to answer your questions over email, text, or chat. If you’d like to connect that way, email the reference staff at, text us at 434-236-8611, or chat us using this link: 

Brown Baggers 2020 Holiday Potluck

The Brown Baggers met virtually on December 17 for their annual holiday potluck, and to pitch and discuss titles for the upcoming June 2021-June 2022 season. Votes will be collected digitally through January 10, 2021. All previous title selections, as well as our next batch of books, once picked, can be seen here. Festivities were slightly hampered by the inability to share food and chat in person, but there was plenty of excitement in looking ahead. Enthusiasm is high for December 2021 (which will hopefully be held in person). 

The Brown Baggers will meet again virtually on January 21 to discuss The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger, and will be joined by the author himself, a Charlottesville local. Email for details on how to participate via computer or phone.

Titles Suggested:

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

The Dutch House by Anne Patchett

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe by Brian Greene

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Afterlife by Julia Alvarez

The Cotton Kingdom: A Traveller’s Observations on Cotton and Slavery in the American Slave States by Frederick Law Olmstead

The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen

The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home by Denise Kiernan

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre

Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson

Spartina by John Casey

Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education by Michael Pollan

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

A Perfect Spy by John le Carre

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Ask Again Yes by Mary Beth Keane

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez

The Yellow House by Sarah Broom

Blindness by Jose Saramago

A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Get in Trouble: Stories by Kelly Link

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey