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 jmrl.org/on-download.htm.

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 reference@jmrl.org 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 https://jmrl.org/librarycard.
  • 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 jmrl.org/covid19.html 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, please visit this page.

“Why feel bad about what you couldn’t change? Why not embrace it?”

On Thursday, April 1, JMRL’s Books on Tap discussed on Zoom Stephen King’s 2018 novel Elevation. Just 146 pages, this was a surprising change from the “typical” King book. 

Set in small town Maine, the main character, Scott, is mysteriously losing weight at a rapid rate, but yet looks the same and his clothes still fit.  He also is experiencing more energy and athletic ability as the pull of gravity lessens day by day.  He shares his physical changes with his retired doctor friend, but is resolved to let the situation run its course.  A subplot of the story is the town’s treatment of a married lesbian couple (Scott’s neighbors) who run a local restaurant. Initially Scott and the neighbor couple have a contentious relationship, but Scott resolves to win their friendship and help the town overcome its bigotry.  Suspense builds over the span of a few months, as Scott realizes that his weight will drop to zero; at which point he’ll “run out of weight.” With his small circle of friends, he plans his exit strategy. 

Two attendees recommended listening to the book, read by King, and the audio version includes a bonus short story “Laurie” that is not in the physical edition of the book.  For a few members, this was the first Stephen King book they had ever read.  We were fortunate to have two avid Stephen King fans who could provide more context on his huge catalog of works and make recommendations for those wanting to try some more of his titles.

Some attendees felt King over-simplified stereotypes, that the novella was plot driven, and that the characters were not fully developed. Yet other readers thought the characters evolved significantly in a short period of time.

Themes include: love your neighbor as yourself; it’s never too late to change; what matters most?; and, what do you fight for when you realize your mortality/time is limited?

Other books/films mentioned:

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Stand By Me (DVD) Stephen King film adaptation

Thinner by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

Up! (DVD) Disney/Pixar

Under the Dome: A Novel by Stephen King 

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham

Books on Tap will meet again on Thursday, May 6 at 7 pm on Zoom to discuss News of the World by Paulette Jiles. For the link to participate, please contact Krista Farrell (kfarrell@jmrl.org). 

Our upcoming titles: 

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez – June 3      

The Library Book by Susan Orlean – July 1    

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry – August 5    

“Man, you know how it goes. One day chicken. Next day bone.”

This month, two Central library book groups met virtually to discuss Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson, our JMRL Same Page author of 2021. Books on Tap met March 4, and Brown Baggers met March 11. This post examines some of the similarities and differences of those conversations, as well as information and revelations from the author. JMRL was fortunate enough to host Jacqueline Woodson for a Same Page discussion event on March 16. 

Red at the Bone immerses readers into the minds and bodies of a large cast of characters that span three generations. Woodson brings memory, history, and generational trauma and inheritance to life through her rich, poetic language. Readers can expect a nonlinear, layered narrative told through a collage of senses, presented in a taut, spare work. Plot-wise, Woodson writes with honesty, heartbreak, and immediacy about her characters (teenage Melody, her mom Iris and dad Aubrey, her grandparents Sabe, Po Boy, and CathyMarie) as they face sex, pregnancy, parenthood, education, poverty, wealth, and racial trauma and healing. Both our book groups noted that, though the work is fiction, they learned a lot from the book, especially about the Tulsa Massacre of 1921. Both groups were struck by the similarities between the Tulsa Massacre, which destroyed 35 square blocks of businesses known at the time as “Black Wall Street” and the razing of Charlottesville’s Vinegar Hill neighborhood. 

Books on Tap spent time discussing the title, identifying moments in the book when it was mentioned explicitly or alluded to. To be “red at the bone” may mean the person or situation is not quite complete — still in progress — like the bits of chicken close to the bone, that don’t quite get cooked. The words “red” and “bone” in close proximity made others think of emotional rawness and vulnerability, a person’s core truth and essence. One reader pointed out that the book deals with race and class, and how people are different, but also similar; when we get beneath our own skin, we’re all “red at the bone.” 

Brown Baggers focused on characters, especially Iris. Many identified her as the “main character” as she was the natural link between the generations (Sabe’s daughter, Melody’s mother). Some felt they’d had enough of Iris, but others wanted more of her, as she was one of the more complex characters of the story. Readers found the issue of Iris’ maternal nature (or lack thereof) worthy of discussion. Like other threads, Iris going to college was a gray matter — was she abandoning her daughter, or advancing herself? Woodson says, wholeheartedly, that Iris was not abandoning her daughter; she has the resources to make other decisions. 

In her discussion of Iris, Jacqueline said this: “You may not like her but you will never forget her. I couldn’t come to any of my characters with judgement, including Iris.” In fact, there is some Iris in all of us, namely, the hunger we see in her. We all have that hunger, and we either bottle it up, which may come back to haunt us as we inadvertently pass it on to our children, or we go out and, essentially, satiate that hunger. Woodson continued by saying: it’s time to look at our own dreams, what societal norms are at play, and how we’re responding. In reflecting, it seems that “hunger” may be an underlying feeling woven throughout the work (connect back to the title discussions, for example, which came largely from a discussion of food and appetite). Two chapters before the close of the book, we read Melody’s account of the day she was born: “And I remember when they finally placed me at her breast, how I latched on so tight and hard, there was fear in her eyes. How absolutely hungry I was once. For her. For her. For her.” (p.186). 

Moving out from Iris, readers considered Iris’ parents, Melody’s grandparents. Books on Tap questioned if it was right of Iris’ parents to support her, and even fight for her ability to be so separate from her daughter? We realized Iris’ parents didn’t push her to be maternal, they gave her an “out” — whether that be good, bad, or negligible. The Brown Baggers considered how Iris created expectations for Melody in her absence. As Melody was raised by her father and grandparents, we wondered if the expectation to be different — to not get pregnant — would result in Melody feeling pressure to not repeat history, or in resentment toward Iris. Once again, Woodson was having the same discussion. When an audience question came in asking if Melody was a “surrogate” for Iris (i.e. a do-over, as the Brown Baggers questioned/theorized), Woodson said no, Melody was her own person, not a stand-in for Iris, or anyone else. That being said, Melody is participating in the narrative, which is heavily saturated with ideas of legacy and inheritance, interconnectedness of family members, and tradition. Melody’s story — both her uniqueness and the way in which she carries the stories of others — continues the family line. Jacqueline also noted that in this novel, she was interested in shifting the idea of what family actually “is.” Jacqueline questioned: what is a broken home? and then noted, I’ve never seen a broken home; Woodson is challenging the assumption that single parent households and non-nuclear family structures are “broken.” 

Clearly, Red at the Bone offered plenty of fodder for discussion, from its energy, to its structure and format, to the characters, and the sweeping, consequential time period covered. 

Books on Tap will meet again virtually on Thursday, April 1 at 7 pm to discuss Elevation by Stephen King. The Brown Baggers will meet again virtually on Thursday, April 15 at noon to discuss Go Down the Mountain by Meredith Battle. Please email kfarrell@jmrl.org for details on how to participate from your computer or phone.

Books Mentioned:

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Urban Renewal and the End of Black Culture in Charlottesville, Virginia: An Oral History of Vinegar Hill by James Robert Saunders and Renae Nadine Shackelford

Movies Mentioned: 

That World is Gone: Race and Displacement in a Southern Virginia Town (2010)

Links:

1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Digital Exhibit

Oklahoma News 4 – Search for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre expected to continue this summer

Zinn Project – May 31, 1921: Tulsa Massacre

The Great Library Bake Off 2021

Welcome to the Great Library Bake Off!

Calling all bakers, both novice and experienced, amateur and professional! From Monday, March 22nd through Monday, May 3rd, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in three cake baking adventures: a heart-pounding signature challenge, a chocolatey technical, and a deliciously book-ish showstopper. There are great prizes up for grabs at the end for everyone who bakes, whether yours are Great British Baking successes or Nailed It-style flops.

How It Works

All bakes must be submitted by the final deadline: May 2nd at 11:59PM.

The Details

You can participate in as many or few of the challenges as you like!

Once you complete a challenge, submit your name, the title of your bake, and your photos to: mengland [at] jmrl.org. Please submit two photos: one view of the whole item, and one of a slice, to show the inside texture. Photos must be submitted before the next challenge is issued to qualify for star baker.

If you miss the original 2 week window for a challenge, you can still submit your bake before the final deadline for an entry into the prize drawing. You won’t be on the voting sheet for star baker for that challenge, though.

Virtual post-bake discussions will be held at 6:30pm on April 5, April 19, May 3. Instructions for joining the discussion via Zoom or phone will be emailed to all registered participants, so make sure you sign up!

The Prizes

Every challenge you participate in gets you an entry into the final drawing for one of two $25 gift cards to The Happy Cook in Charlottesville. Two bakers who participate in all three challenges will be crowned the champions and receive a beautiful wooden spoon and spatula set engraved with “JMRL Bake Off 2021” on the handle at the end. That’s four possible prizes! All are welcome to participate, whether you live in our service area or not, but prizes must be picked up in person at one of our member libraries.

We can’t wait to see your creations. Happy baking!