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: tbirckhead [at] 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!

Using Bullet/Dot Journaling at Home

Analog organizing: Bullet/ Dot Journaling

The Bullet, or Dot, Journal is a favorite organizational method of several JMRL staff.  Those of us who use it have found that though each day is uncertain as we find new ways to work remotely and offer virtual services, this simple, no-tech, method is something we can rely on. Bullet or Dot Journaling is an analog organizational method that has the potential to be a planner, to-do list, doodle book, and journal all in one, helping you keep track of everything from a daily routine to a complicated professional project all in one place. Gone are the days of desperately keeping track of lists and notes on separate scraps of paper that you’re sure to lose. All you really need to start is a notebook and a writing utensil.  From there, you can make it as minimalist or artistic as you’d like. One of the beauties of this journal format is the flexibility – it enables you to create a planner/journal that works for you and your lifestyle, and as your schedule or lifestyle changes, you can change it to fit your new needs. This is great in the current environment when many things are in flux!

The Bullet Journal was originally developed by Ryder Carroll, who according to his website biography, was “diagnosed with learning disabilities early in life, he was forced to figure out alternate ways to be focused and productive.” Carroll later published a book, Bullet Journal Method : Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future. It is meant to be a quick and effective way to organize yourself, so despite what you might see on Instagram, it doesn’t need to be fancy or take a lot of time to set up or prepare.

Sound useful?  Here are some resources to get you started:

The Basics:


  • Beyond Bullets by Megan Rutell Overdrive eBook
  • Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll Overdrive eBook
  • Dot Journaling- A Practical Guide by Rachel Miller Wilkerson Freading eBook
  • The Journal Writer’s Companion by Alyss Thomas Freading eBook
  • Study with Me: Effective Bullet Journaling Techniques, Habits, and Hacks to Be Successful, Productive, and Organized by Jasmine Shao and Alyssa Jagan
    EBSCOHost eBook

On the Web:

Adding Artistic Elements:


On the web:

A peak inside our Bullet Journals:

Maybe you’d like to see a real-life journal in action? Here are some of the basic pages from Camille’s journal:

The Key:

The Key

The Index:

The Index

The Month:

The Month

The Collection:

The Collection 1

The Collection 2

Here are a few spreads from Megan’s journal, which is sometimes a chill artistic outlet, sometimes a hastily scribbled collection of lists, and often somewhere in between. Megan really loves the flexibility of Bullet Journaling and frequently changes up what kinds of habit tracking, weekly calendar, and other spreads get used. They often keep lists and other things to refer to frequently in the back of their journal, like Bakes to Try, Video Games to Play, a Universal Packing List, Book Brainstorming Notes, and so on:

Bujo #1Bujo #2Bujo #3

And here are a few peeks at Hayley’s journal, which is a simple spiral-bound lined journal (no dot grid here – and as you can see, not a requirement). About her journal she says:

“I am a list maker, so my journal is very heavy on collections (lists of things that I want to remember or take notes on).  I find it relaxing to add pops of color or doodles sometimes, but have embraced minimalist entries for everyday use. I have never done a monthly spread, am not much of a habit tracker, and tried an index but didn’t find it to be useful for me, so keep in mind how you like to organize yourself and add in the elements that work best for you. I also don’t let myself use a ruler so I that I don’t stress over things looking perfect.

I started out trying a weekly spread, and before COVID-19 changed how I work, I kept a planner at work for work-things, and my bullet journal was my personal-planner-journal-space. Now my spheres have combined and I have found that a simply daily spread has been much better to help me organize myself, especially as I work from home. Again, the beauty of this journal is the flexibility that it offers to allow you to change your journal to fit your current lifestyle.”

IMG-5782 dec

An older weekly spread with lists pertinent to my week, and an inspirational quote and a little creative flourish.


A more minimalist version of my weekly spread, again with some useful lists.


I found that switching to a simple daily spread worked better for my own organization, and find that a gratitude list really improves my days. On the opposite page I had fun tinkering with some lettering practice.

IMG-5783.jpg konmari

A collection page that you might find useful if you are stuck at home working through some decluttering, based off of Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. You can find a lot of printables of lists like this online, but when you put your own in your journal, you can tailor it based on what you actually have at home.

Spring Seed Swap & Workshop: March 8

Central Library will be hosting a Spring Seed Swap & Workshop on Sunday, March 8 at 1:30pm!

Attendees can bring seed to swap and/or learn about starting plants from seed with experienced Piedmont Master Gardener, Fern Campbell! Fern will give a seed starting demonstration and be on hand to answer questions.

This event is open to new and experienced gardeners.

Central Library is located at 201 East Market Street, Charlottesville, Va 22902.

For more information, check out the Facebook event.

Facebook Central Spring Seed Swap