Get Ready to “Read for the Win” This Summer

Murphy_iREAD2016-1_color.pngJMRL is kicking off summertime with the annual Summer Reading Challenge for all ages. This year’s theme is “Read for the Win” in honor of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Simply pick up a challenge sheet at any branch or download from Once you’ve completed five library-related challenges, turn in your sheet at any branch for a prize each month (June-August). Earn extra entries into the big raffle at the end of the summer by going above and beyond and completing 10, 15, 20, or all 25 challenges on each sheet (you get one extra entry per 5 challenges completed).

Prizes for children from birth to grade 5 include a JMRL beach ball (June), and free books (July & August). Teens will win earbuds with an earbud case (June) as well as free books (July & August). Adults will receive a free book each month. Grand prizes will be drawn from entries for all participants after August 31; the prizes are a Barnes & Noble gift card for children, an Amazon gift card for teens, and a Kindle for adults.

Kick off the Summer Reading Challenge with your favorite JMRL branch by attending one (or more!) of the parties listed below:

Saturday, June 4 at 10am-12pm
Celebrate the sweet start of summer at Central Library’s annual street party. Swing to the sounds of a Dixieland band, snack on popcorn and donuts, enjoy face painting, and pick up a JMRL summer challenge sheet. Special appearance by Pete the Cat. Check out the Friends’ mini-­book sale, too.

Thursday, June 9 at 1-3pm
Ready, set, read! Race into the library to get your first dash of summer reading, and then step outside to enjoy some sweet summer treats and sun-filled fun. Pick up your first JMRL Summer Reading Challenge sheet, and let the summer begin. Special appearance by Pete the Cat.

Monday, June 6 at 6:30-8pm
I scream, you scream… let’s share some ice cream. It’s time for Gordon Avenue Library’s traditional kick-off for summer fun. Get started in the Summer Reading Program, eat ice cream, listen to music provided by the Jim Howe Jazz Trio, and get decorated by Expressions! Face Painting.

Monday, June 6 at 6-8pm
Join the Greene County Library for all kinds of fun including a moon bounce, ice cream, face painting, live music, juggling and a petting zoo. Take a balloon animal home with you. Visit with Pete the Cat who always says, “It’s all good.”

Tuesday, June 7 at 11:45am
Come join the Louisa County Library for our summer program kickoff. The Library Olympics will be held including games such as discus & javelin throw, ring toss, and more. Athlete registration begins at 11:45am and the torch lighting relay race will be at noon, followed by games and snacks. A medal ceremony for all athletes who participate will be a great photo op for parents.

Monday, June 6 at 4-6pm
“Read for the Win” is the theme for the Summer Reading Challenge. Face painting, art projects, lots of activities, snacks and information abound as this program begins.

Tuesday, June 7 at 6pm
Join us for a family dance party featuring some of your favorite tunes, an appearance by Pete the Cat, and face painting donated by Metamorphosis.

Monday, June 6 at 4pm (for grades K-5 only)
This summer the Olympic Games are being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The summer reading challenge theme at JMRL is “Read for the Win.” Fun is the object of our spin on the ancient games. Compete in indoor “races” with feathers, balloons and spoons.

Winning Words: Poetry Contest Winners

poetry on the steps 2016

Poem in Your Pocket Day is highly anticipated day at JMRL, and this year the Library was excited to add a new program to the annual events: the JMRL/WriterHouse Adult Poetry Contest. With over 90 entries in the first year of the contest, it’s easy to see that there are a lot of poets in our area.

While there were many delightful entries, judge Ron Smith, Poet Laureate of Virginia, selected Kara West as this year’s winner for her poem “July 29, 1970, Anchorage,” and Amelia Williams as runner-up for “In the Field of the Ruined Piano.”

Both contestants, among many other incredible poets, shared their poems at JMRL’s annual Poetry on the Steps, an open mic night held on the steps of the Central Library where a crowd of verse-lovers gathered to listen to and read poetry aloud.

For the moment you’ve all been waiting for, here are this year’s winning entries for the Adult Poetry Contest:

July 29, 1970
by Kara West
My mother says minutes
after I was born, while the doctor was stitching
between her legs, he and my father talked
of salmon fishing. How in Alaska,
there’s nothing better. How, if you find a sweet spot,
you can stand and hook them all day. You can
cook one while catching another
and eat it when you need a break.
And how plump and pink and tender.
At four in the morning, my mother was too tired to raise
a fuss, much less her voice. She lay and dozed
to the soft, slightly sticky sound of white nurses’ shoes,
which she mistook in her dreams for the sucking
of her new babe already at its source,
plump and pink and tender.
When I did come to her, I was not pink,
but yellow. Jaundiced and not plump,
but stringy, long, with two mottled, blinking black spots.
“She’s a bananafish,” my mother cried, bursting into tears.
My father whispered promises of beautiful
salmon fishing trips he would never take me on
into my new ears.
In the Field of the Ruined Piano
by Amelia Williams
“It’s me or that piano.” Their covered wagon groans to a halt
in a lush Appalachian meadow beside the buffalo trace
that widens up to the Cumberland Gap. Callous & loud,
no tenderness for what she loves: her rosewood Chickering Grand–
all that’s left since typhoid took her family; she wed in fear
of spinsterhood & hunger, wears regret like a muslin duster.
His gray wolfhound cowers whenever he speaks. “Unload it,”
she says, voice shaky, but brow determined, my foremother
Henrietta Schwab Funk, adding in imperious German,
“Now you may leave. I am staying to await the next wagon.”
Her ochre-tinged cameo, in my red lacquer jewelry box
came with the gift of her story: she played for no one, only
meadow rue & crown vetch, a mournful Nocturne, whose opening
notes fluttered like a mourning dove. All day long, German dances;
that night she sheltered under the piano in her boiled wool cloak.
Sought a stream at dawn’s light, found berries, chewed red clover, played
until her fingers cramped & she grew afraid. Day five, listless, she lay
in the Chickering’s shadow, aching with hunger, almost resigned.
Near dusk, the squeak of wheels. Tomas Guillaume, Acadian
fur trader, in an un-sprung cart, heading for La Louisiane.
Language no use to them, but his voice was kind, his tone amused.
No room for a piano. His gestures said he’d buy her one
some day. They shared bread & jerky, were wed with smiles & glances;
en route to the delta they traded words like pearls: faucon, falke.
A great love she bore him, the story goes, celebrated
especially in the field of the ruined piano; they’d return
in spring after selling the pelts. Soundboard cracked, keys warped,
music stranger each year, an off-kilter cascade echoing
Tom’s bayou fiddle & stomp, Henrietta’s labor cries,
the squeezebox of a girl whose great niece gave me the cameo.

15 Ways to Enjoy Your Library


It’s National Library Week! We all know the library is great for borrowing books, but what else is there to do at the library nowadays? This list will hopefully give you some new ideas on how you can enjoy using your local library:

  1. Get a library card. This one’s a no-brainer; if you haven’t already, stop by your local library to sign up for a card today. It’s your golden ticket to tons of free books, events, and other resources.
  2. Download an eBook or audiobook. You already know the library has plenty of paperback and hardcover books, but did you know that your library card also grants you access to eBooks and digital audiobooks as well? To learn more, visit or check the library’s event calendar to see if a tutorial workshop is happening soon near you.
  3. Learn a new language. With your library card you have access to Transparent Language, where you can learn to speak a variety of languages with flash cards, activities, and more. Brush up on your Spanish or start learning something completely new by visiting
  4. See a 3D printer in action, or even print your own creation. Libraries all over the country are creating their own “makerspaces” complete with the newest technology. The new Northside Library has a 3D printer that you can use along with Tinkercad to design and print your own three-dimensional object.
  5. Read an entire magazine on your tablet. Thanks to Zinio, anyone with a JMRL library card can download cover-to-cover digital editions of just about any magazine you can find on the newsstand. Visit to get started.
  6. Learn how to make something. Have you ever made your own hypertufa planter, drawn a zentangle, or tried metal stamping? The library often offers craft programs where you can learn how to create something new. You can see what’s going on at your local branch by checking the event calendar or Beyond the Books.
  7. Visit the Friends of the Library book sale. Twice a year, in the spring and fall, the JMRL Friends host a book sale of donated books to support the library’s classes and events. You never know what you’ll find!
  8. Find out how to resolve your own car troubles. Chilton Library is a free database available online with your library card. You can look up your car by make and model and search for solutions to various issues such as replacing a broken part, troubleshooting, etc. You can find Chilton Library through
  9. View an exhibit by a local artist or group. Many libraries will have a different art exhibit up at any given time, but the Central Library also participates in First Fridays, and stays open later with a special reception.
  10. Join the Summer Reading Challenge. Make reading a little more exciting with the chance to win free prizes throughout the summer (June-August). Pick up or print out a JMRL challenge sheet and complete the required amount of reading challenges for an entry into a drawing. For more information, visit or check out the upcoming summer edition of Beyond the Books.
  11. Check out a book club kit to use at your next book club meeting. A JMRL book club kit contains 10 copies of a particular book along with discussion questions, a recommended recipe related to the book, and other materials to make the most of your book discussion.
  12. Discover more about your family’s history. The library computers have free access to, and from home library card holders have access to HeritageQuest. Not sure how to get started? Check the library’s event calendar to find a genealogy workshop coming up at a branch near you or visit
  13. Get help finding a new job. From creating a resume to searching online job listings, many libraries can offer technical help for those seeking employment. The Central Library in particular is home to the City of Charlottesville Downtown Job Center, where you can make an appointment to meet with a professionally-trained job coordinator. Call your local branch to find out what services the library can offer to you if you’re in the market for a new place to work.
  14. Let a librarian help you find your next book. While you are certainly welcome to stop by the desk and ask a librarian for book suggestions face-to-face, you can also fill out the “What Do I Read Next?” form online or use web chat to speak with a librarian directly from (when the library is open).
  15. Borrow a free pass to the Virginia Discovery Museum. Do you happen to know a child that would love to romp around, take part in hands-on activities, and learn new things? You can check out a pass to the Virginia Discovery Museum that will give up to four people free entry for one week. Passes are available from any JMRL branch.

And of course, if none of those suit you, you can always just unwind in a quiet space with a comfy chair and a good book!