Staff ePicks

picks of the week: January 14, 2021

Staff Picks: Running and Jogging

After a year in which a lot of us spent more time on our couches than at the gym, many are using 2021 to jump start new fitness goals. If running or jogging are on your list, the library can help you stay on track. In this week's Staff ePicks, we gathered a variety of digital resources for both novice and experienced runners in search of motivation and expert advice. Whether you’re looking for heart-pumping music, insightful reading or the latest running news, these tools are all just a click away.

Running eBooks



Runner’s World magazine is known for delivering the latest running news, training advice and gear tips, and with your library card you have access to the latest digital edition on RB Digital — plus all issues dating back to 2013. They’re free to browse whenever you like, for as long as you like.

Consumer Reports


Treadmills can help you reach your cardio goals without leaving the house, but they often come with a pretty big price tag attached. Before taking the plunge, check the unbiased reviews on Consumer Reports to make sure equipment fits your budget and has the features you want. Log in to Consumer Reports using your library card number and PIN (your six-digit birthdate in a MMDDYY format) and you can browse complete ratings for 28 popular treadmills, plus buying guides and videos.

Streaming music

Aside from a good pair of shoes, music is one of those things many runners consider an essential. Freegal is here to help with a variety of workout playlists and albums for when you need a motivational push or pace-setting rhythm. (And if that isn’t your thing, use your running time to listen to an audiobook instead.)

picks of the week: January 7, 2021

Staff Picks: New Year

New Year’s resolutions are looking a little different in 2021. So if the whole “new year, new you” approach feels like a bit much, simply view this instead as a fresh start and a chance to try new things. With LCPL’s digital resources, it’s easy to have new experiences right from home. Commit to listening to new music or reading a debut author. Learn some phrases in a foreign language or finally get around to those guitar lessons. Whatever it is, we hope you find something inspiring.

Classics eBooks

Read more

  • Catching up on classic literature is a popular New Year’s resolution, and our always-available classic eBook collection makes it easier than ever to turn that goal into reality. Head to OverDrive or download the Libby app and you have over 300 titles instantly at your fingertips — from Shakespeare to War and Peace and much more.
  • New year, new authors? Seems like a perfect pairing! Browse our Dazzling Debuts eBook collection and get the best new books by first-time authors right on your mobile device through OverDrive or the Libby app.
  • Resolving to read more doesn’t have to be just about books. Why not try a new magazine? The library has over 100 popular eMagazines available on RB Digital that are free to browse whenever you like, for as long as you like.

Learn more

  • If you’re looking to get ahead at work or at school, interested in learning something new or brushing up on your existing skills, it’s time to give Universal Class a try. This online learning platform allows you to take courses at your own pace in over 30 subject areas, many of which offer continuing education credits.
  • Learning a foreign language is another popular resolution, and with the library’s free apps it’s an easily attainable goal. Choose from Mango Languages or Rocket Languages (or try them both), which feature instruction in dozens of languages with easy-to-use, self-paced systems.

Streaming movies

Watch more

Exercise more

Listen more

picks of the week: December 17, 2020

Staff Picks: Winter Fun for Children

With the season’s first snow on the ground, Loudoun County is officially looking like a winter wonderland. Luckily, you don’t have to put down your cocoa to enjoy free books, movies and music from the library’s digital collection — which is great news, especially for those with kids at home. We’ve gathered some of our top wintertime resources for children to explore the excitement of snow, arctic animals, fun holidays and winter sports. From educational databases and nonfiction eBooks to streaming videos and games, there’s plenty here to delight and inform even your youngest snow fans.

Winter Fun: eBooks

eBooks and audiobook

Streaming music

Dora the Explorer is here to get everyone in your family in the mood for the holidays with Dora’s Christmas soundtrack. Sixteen traditional tunes get a fun and fresh makeover with Latin grooves and fan-friendly lyrics in English and Spanish. Listen to it instantly on Freegal.

Winter Fun: Videos

Streaming videos

Enjoy winter-themed animated storybooks and TV shows on Kanopy Kids.

  • Snow Day: What exactly is snow and why does it snow? This episode of Earth to Luna encourages the gang to examine snowflakes up close to try and get some answers.
  • Bear Has a Story to Tell: In this animated picture book, animals are helped by Bear to get ready for winter. But will they be awake long enough for him to tell his story?


  • Explore articles and multimedia about all kinds of winter topics with the Gale in Context: Elementary database. Children can navigate age-appropriate resources on subjects such as winter, a sledding story and ice skating.
  • Use the Scholastic Go! database to discover all kinds of facts about the season. Start by searching for “winter holidays” or “snowboarding.”

picks of the week: December 10, 2020

Staff Picks: Relaxation and Mindfulness

With everything going on these days, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. During the pandemic, many people are turning to online mindfulness exercises and relaxation recordings to feel more centered. Whether you’re looking for help falling asleep or you want to start a long-term meditation practice, the library has you covered with a variety of digital resources. We’re particularly fond of streaming guided meditationsrelaxation music and self-hypnosis recordings that are available instantly on your phone, tablet or computer.

Guided meditations

Guided meditations

Close your eyes and listen to a guided meditation or deep-sleep hypnosis on Hoopla’s eAudiobook selection. This is a great place to start for beginners.

You’ll find more guided meditations and calming music, plus hypnosis audio for a variety of things (such as staying off junk food, fostering artistic creativity and even improving your golf game) on Hoopla’s music section.

Online learning

Follow along with professional instructors in self-paced courses on Universal Class.

* NEW USERS: Register here if you’re using Universal Class for the first time.

Streaming music

Listen to hours of calming, ambient music on Freegal. It's just the thing to help you relax and unwind, whether you’re meditating, trying to fall asleep or just need some soothing background noise.

Relaxation and meditation: Movies

Streaming movies  and videos


Our mindfulness and relaxation collection on OverDrive or the Libby app includes bedtime-yoga guides, stress-reduction workbooks for kids and teens, and advice about living in the moment.


Use the RB Digital app (Apple | Android) to download current and past issues of Yoga Journal. They’re yours to keep forever!

picks of the week: December 3, 2020

Staff Picks: Holiday Movies and Music

There’s nothing like a familiar song or festive movie to put you in the holiday spirit. So, when you need a little Christmas (right this very minute), turn to the library! There’s a whole host of on-demand streaming music and films at your fingertips through Freegal (music), Hoopla (music and movies) and Kanopy (movies). On these free platforms, you’ll find your favorite soundtracks, new and classic albums, and a number of movies that veer from traditional fare.

Holiday music

Streaming music

Holiday movies

Streaming movies on Kanopy

Kick back and settle in for a festive film on Kanopy.
The Holly and the Ivy
The Man Who Invented Christmas
The Fitzgerald Family Christmas

The History of Christmas & Santa Claus
Jingle Bell Rocks!
Road Trip for Ralphie

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Black Christmas

For kids
Max’s Christmas
Christmas Cracker
Too Many Tamales

Streaming movies on Hoopla

picks of the week: November 12, 2020

Staff Picks: Fall Fun for Kids

With the change in seasons comes the chance to explore new sights, sounds and experiences with your children. There’s so much to love about fall — from sweater weather and apple-picking to outdoor adventures and seasonal crafting. For this week’s Staff ePicks, we’ve gathered some of our favorite library resources for celebrating autumn and all that it brings, including eBooks, audiobooks, research tools, streaming videos and librarian-led activities.

eBooks: Fall Fun

eBooks and audiobooks

  • Load up your tablet with chapter books for early readers and picture books the whole family can enjoy from the Fall Titles collection on OverDrive or the Libby app.
  • Thanksgiving may look a little different this year, but one thing you can count on are on-demand eBooks and audiobooks about Turkey Day from Hoopla Digital.
  • BookFlix is a site that pairs animated storybooks with related nonfiction eBooks and learning activities to build a love of reading and real-world knowledge. Explore book pairings about autumn, rainy days and Thanksgiving.

Streaming videos

Enjoy fall-themed animated storybooks and TV shows on Kanopy Kids.

Library programs: Fall Fun

Fall activities

Join your LCPL librarians on YouTube for seasonal stories and crafts.


  • When you need reliable information and primary-source documents, turn to Gale in Context: Elementary. Children can explore age-appropriate resources on topics such as autumn, Pilgrims and turkeys or read a biography about Squanto.
  • Use the Scholastic Go! database to discover all kinds of facts about the seasons. Start by searching for “Thanksgiving Day” or “apples.”


picks of the week: November 5, 2020

Staff Picks: Immigration

This month, readers across Loudoun County will be diving into LCPL’s 1book 1community pick, Front Desk — a novel that has the modern immigration experience at the center of its plot. With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look at some other eBooks and library resources dedicated to immigration in America. Here you’ll find fiction and nonfiction for all ages as well as streaming movies and documentaries that represent multiple points of view. We also have self-paced online classes to prepare for the U.S. citizenship test or to better communicate with people from different cultures.

eBooks: Immigration


Explore a variety of eBooks for children, teens and adults about emigration and the immigrant experience on OverDrive (or the Libby app) and Hoopla. You’ll find first-hand accounts, picture books and plenty of nonfiction.

Online learning

  • U.S. Citizenship Test Preparation: This self-paced course on Universal Class* prepares applicants to take each section of the U.S. Citizenship Test and addresses topics such as Civics, the U.S. Government, History, Geography, Reading and Writing. You'll also get tips on how to study and prepare for the test.
  • Cross-Cultural Communication: Build awareness and mindfulness in intercultural interactions with this course on Universal Class*. Learn about culture-based values, barriers to successful intercultural communication, nonverbal communication, and conflict dispute and resolution.

* NEW USERS: Register here if you’re using Universal Class for the first time.

Movies: Immigration

Streaming movies

These films on Kanopy explore what it's like to be an immigrant in America:

  • Reunification: This award-winning documentary gives an insider view on the contemporary Asian American immigrant experience, family psychology and personal filmmaking.
  • The Price: Seyi, a Nigerian-American working on Wall Street, must navigate complicated family expectations and a system of cultural complexities caused by class and race.
  • Maid in America: Three years in the making, this documentary takes an intimate and emotional look into the lives of three Latinas who work as nannies and housekeepers in Los Angeles.
  • Miles From the Border: Filmed in the late 1980s, siblings from Mexico share their stories of dislocation and their determination to succeed while living in California.

Virtual library event

Let’s Talk About Immigration: Monday, Nov. 9, 3 p.m. Join representatives from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for a live presentation focused on immigration, including permanent residency, visa applications and avoiding fraud. Use this link to access the program.

picks of the week: October 29, 2020

Staff Picks: Thanksgiving

Prepping for Thanksgiving dinner can be daunting — perhaps especially so in a year like no other. One way to get ahead of that stress is to start your meal-planning early so you can make the most of the holiday. With that in mind, we're serving up some of our favorite holiday eCookbooks to help pull your menu together: from foolproof sides and pies, to vegan mains and everything in between. It's also the time of year that cooking magazines put out their holiday issues. Library card-holders can download the digital editions for free — and keep them forever!



Cooking eMagazines


Save on clutter by downloading the holiday issues of your favorite magazines on RB Digital.

Online learning

Take your Thanksgiving desserts to the next level with Pie Baking 101*, a free self-paced class on Universal Course where you’ll learn how to master crust, fruit pies, holiday pies, nut pies, ice-cream pies and custard pies.

* NEW USERS: Register here if you’re using Universal Class for the first time.

picks of the week: October 22, 2020

Staff Picks: Woodworking

With winter right around the corner, it’s time to crank up the heat in your workshop and get started on some woodworking projects to improve your indoor spaces. Whether you’re a regular Bob Vila or a complete novice, there’s something for every skill level among the library’s eResources. When you need advice or project ideas, woodworking eBooks and eMagazines are just a click away. And when it comes to those inevitable purchases, ease your mind by consulting full ratings and reviews on Consumer Reports.

Woodworking eBooks


  • Get instant access to eBooks on Hoopla featuring woodworking plans and information on specific topics like furniture making, wood burning, whittling, cabinetry, flooring and tools.
  • Search for “woodworking” on the EBSCO database to access full-text PDFs of project-based books, including several geared toward kids.
  • You’ll find eBooks by Nick Offerman and Clint Harp among the woodworking selection on OverDrive or the Libby app.

Woodworking eMagazines


Download current and past issues of these magazines on RB Digital — they’re yours to keep forever!

Consumer Reports

Before purchasing a big-ticket item, check Consumer Reports. The library provides full access to unbiased reviews and buying guides for drills, wood stains and chainsaws, plus videos like How to Stain a Wood Deck.

picks of the week: October 15, 2020

Staff Picks: Discussing Democracy with Kids

Talking with children about the election may seem daunting, but a good book is the perfect way to open a conversation or explain the political system. With Loudoun County voters heading to the polls over the next few weeks, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite library resources for discussing voting, the Constitution, the Electoral College and more. For additional information, download our kids reading list or check out advice from Common Sense Media about guiding children through election season.

Democracy eBooks


  • Our Democracy for Kids eBook collection on OverDrive or the Libby app features a variety of nonfiction for elementary and middle school students. You’ll find eBooks filled with facts and colorful illustrations covering voting, historical figures and civics.
  • BookFlix is a site that pairs animated storybooks with related nonfiction eBooks to build a love of reading and real-world knowledge. You’ll find these books about the Founding Fathers under the “People and Places” category.
    • So You Want to Be President? +
      George Washington
    • John, Paul, George & Ben + Benjamin Franklin


  • When you just want the facts, turn to the Gale in Context: Elementary database. From the home page, click “Social Studies” and then “Government and Civics” or “U.S. Presidents” for articles, facts and candidate biographies, designed for Grades K-5.
  • Use the Scholastic Go! database to discover all kinds of information about elections. Search for topics like “democracy,” “voting” or “U.S. President.”

Democracy audiobooks


These accessible audiobooks are great starting points for learning about government. Listen to them instantly on Hoopla Digital.

Streaming videos

  • I Can Be President: A Kid’s-Eye View: This animated documentary features a diverse group of children who share candid, even profound thoughts on subjects such as ethics, civics, diversity, war, leadership and becoming an adult. Watch it on Kanopy Kids.
  • Grace for President: When Grace’s teacher reveals that the United States has never had a female president, Grace decides to be the first. And she immediately starts off her political career as a candidate in the school's mock election. Watch it on Kanopy Kids.

picks of the week: October 8, 2020

Staff Picks: Language Learning

There are many benefits to learning a foreign language, and you have a variety of free tools at your fingertips through the library. Language learners looking for a Rosetta Stone type of experience can save tons of money by instead using Mango Languages or Rocket Languages. These are our top-recommended apps, featuring instruction in dozens of languages with easy-to-use, self-paced systems. Complement your learning by listening to an audiobook in the car or downloading a more traditional instructional eBook.

Language learning apps

Online learning

The library has two free language-learning platforms:

  • Mango Languages offers access to lessons and exercises for over 70 languages — including hard-to-find dialects like Urdu, Tamil and Javanese — at two levels. “Mango Basic” is designed to teach simple, practical and polite conversational skills for beginners. “Mango Complete” courses offer 100 lessons on each language for a more in-depth learning experience, as well as ESL classes. Visit the website or download the app: Android | Apple
  • Rocket Languages comes with podcast-type discussions or dialogues where hosts talk about a certain topic (e.g. preparing for a party). Rather than memorizing a list of expressions, you’re listening to interactions along with the text you’ll need to keep up with the conversations. Instruction is provided in 14 languages, including American Sign Language. Visit the website or download the app: Android | Apple

For English learners

Basic English Speaking Skills* is a self-paced online course through Universal Class that covers essential vocabulary and sentence development.

* NEW USERS: Register here if you’re using Universal Class for the first time.

Language learning eBooks

eBooks and audiobooks

You’ll find a variety of resources for language learners on our eBook and audiobook platforms. These are great for pairing with instruction on Mango Languages or Rocket Languages to reinforce your lessons.

Streaming documentaries

Sit back and enjoy these films on Kanopy.

  • Speaking In Tongues: The History of Language: This five-part series traces the history and evolution of language while evaluating the scope of linguistic diversity, the dissemination of language, the expansion of language into written form, and the life cycle of language.
  • Tongues of Heaven: Saving Native Languages: Set in Taiwan and Hawaii, territories where languages of the Austronesian family are spoken, this experimental documentary focuses on the questions, desires and challenges of young indigenous peoples to learn the languages of their forebears.

picks of the week: October 1, 2020

Staff Picks: Etiquette

Knowing how to properly handle yourself in a variety of situations can pay great dividends. Sure, there's Zoom etiquette and COVID etiquette, but we're tipping our hat this week to the basics of polite conversation and good manners in our Staff ePicks. Whether you’re looking for a crash-course in business decorum, helpful eBooks for kids or adults, or a primer on Downton Abbey-esque traditions, there’s something for everyone among the library’s online resources.

Etiquette courses on Lynda

Online learning

  • Here’s your chance to master the unwritten rules of communication in the business world. In these two courses, you’ll learn to navigate common workplace situations with professionalism, including setting the right tone in emails and texts, handling conflict with grace and working with different personality types.
  • Etiquette 101* is a self-paced course on Universal Class that covers the rules of good behavior for everyday situations, including the common courtesies of life that many of us have forgotten or may not have learned. Get tips for being a polite guest, giving and receiving gifts, offering condolences, making small talk and more.

* NEW USERS: Register here if you’re using Universal Class for the first time.

Etiquette eBooks


When questions about etiquette and proper behavior arise, turn to an eBook for a quick and reliable reference. In our collections, you’ll find advice about letter writing, proper speech, business conduct, manners guides for kids and much more.

Streaming videos

Polished protocol awaits with these shows on Kanopy.

  • The Manners of Downton Abbey: Enter the world of 1900s English etiquette with the historical advisor to the hit drama series.
  • Social Media Manners: This primer on online behavior contains valuable advice for all social media users about mastering the basics of courtesy.
  • Etiquette Hotline: Table Manners: Presented from a teen point of view, this program emphasizes avoiding embarrassing mistakes in social settings.

picks of the week: September 24, 2020

Staff Picks: Yoga

September is National Yoga Month and while there’s just one week left, there’s plenty of time to squeeze in a good workout or two. For this week’s Staff ePicks, we rounded up some of our favorite digital resources for practicing yoga at home. Our collection of streaming videos and online courses are perfect for on-demand instruction covering a wide range of needs and experience levels. And if you aren’t ready to hit the mat just yet, there are many ways to read about yoga with eBooks, audiobooks and digital editions of Yoga Journal.

Yoga videos

Streaming videos

eBooks and audiobooks

Yoga music

Streaming music

You know that groovy, ambient music they play in yoga classes? You can stream hours and hours of it using Freegal Music through the library. It's just the thing to help you relax and focus (even if you aren’t doing yoga!). You can even find music pre-tailored to 30- or 60-minute workouts.

Online learning

Bring the yoga studio home with these self-paced courses on Universal Class.

* NEW USERS: Register here if you’re using Universal Class for the first time.


Download current and past issues of Yoga Journal on RB Digital. They’re yours to keep forever!

picks of the week: September 17, 2020

Staff Picks: Dogs for Kids

A few weeks back, we featured some of our favorite cat-centric eResources for kids. So, it’s only fair that dogs should have their day! For new or reluctant readers, eBooks and audiobooks about dogs are a friendly and enticing way to develop a love of reading. We especially recommend read-alongs, like these PAW Patrol titles as well as interactive stories on BookFlix. Our kid-friendly databases Scholastic Go! and Gale In Context are also great for learning all about pets or service animals.

Dog eBooks


Dog Storytimes

Virtual storytimes

Join your LCPL librarians online for stories and songs all about dogs.

Streaming videos

  • Guide Dogs: This episode of Curiosity Quest takes viewers on an amazing journey to learn what it is like to depend on a guide dog. Watch it on Kanopy Kids.
  • Boy, A Dog, and A Frog: In this short adaptation of a classic book, a young boy and his dog spend an afternoon trying to capture a playful frog at a nearby pond. Watch it on Kanopy Kids.


  • Dog-curious kids will love exploring the Gale in Context: Elementary database (formerly Kids InfoBits). From the home page, click “Animals” and then “Pets and Farm Animals” for articles, facts and images of dogs, designed for Grades K-5.
  • Use the Scholastic Go! database to discover all kinds of information about our furry friends. Start by searching for “dogs” or “service dogs.”

picks of the week: September 10, 2020

Staff Picks: Cooking

Sure, the internet is full of recipes and cooking videos. But when you want something trustworthy, just pick up your library card. We have tons of resources for the home cook that are only a click away. One of our favorites: Free online courses from Universal Class. These self-paced lessons can help you master skills like bread baking, cake decorating and basic cooking techniques, all from your kitchen. And don’t forget about eCookbooks! They’re your chance to test-drive some of the most popular cookbooks on the market or to track down a coveted recipe.




Save on subscriptions and clutter by downloading current and past digital issues of these popular food and cooking magazines on RB Digital.

Online Cooking Classes

Online learning

Master a new kitchen skill with these free, self-paced courses on Universal Class:

* NEW USERS: Register here if you’re using Universal Class for the first time.

Streaming videos

Kick back and enjoy on-demand access to documentaries and PBS shows on Kanopy.

  • Alice Waters and Her Delicious Revolution: This episode of PBS’s American Masters series follows the famed chef through a year of seasonal shopping and cooking, revealing both the recipes and vision of an artist and an advocate.
  • Cooking Fundamentals: Success in the Kitchen: Chef Dave Christopherson demonstrates a variety of basic techniques, including baking, blanching, grilling, roasting, simmering, stir-frying and more as he prepares three simple meals.

picks of the week: September 3, 2020

Staff Picks: Canning and Preserving

With summer winding down, it’s time to start squirreling away the bounty from your garden or local farmers market. If you’re new to canning and preserving, the library has a host of eBooks to help get you started. Seasoned veterans seeking new recipe-inspiration will find plenty to enjoy here, too, as well as in eMagazines like Mother Earth News. For hands-on learners, the library also has a comprehensive online course through Universal Class that covers all kinds of preservation methods, including freezing, canning, drying, smoking and even preserving beverages.

Canning and Preserving eBooks


Canning and Preserving eMagazines


Browse and download current and back issues of Mother Earth News for great food preservation tips. Look for more inspiration in Cook’s Illustrated, VegNews and other food and cooking eMagazines on RB Digital.

Online learning

Go beyond pickles with How to Can, Freeze, Dry and Preserve Food*, a self-paced online course on Universal Class. You’ll discover how to make the most of your harvest through freezing, canning, drying, smoking and even preserving beverages!

* NEW USERS: Register here if you’re using Universal Class for the first time.

picks of the week: August 27, 2020

Staff Picks: Sewing and Needlework

September is National Sewing Month and we couldn’t let this designation pass without sharing some of the library’s online resources for sewers. If you’re a newbie, we recommend starting with an online course on Universal Class, where you can cover all of the basics at your own pace. There’s also plenty of inspiration to be found among the pages of Beadwork and Piecework eMagazines – you can even download these publications and keep them forever! And lastly, we have dozens (and dozens) of eBooks for project ideas or learning new skills.

Sewing and Needlework eBooks


Crochet, mending, applique, quilt blocks, upholstery fixes – there’s an eBook for just about every interest on OverDrive or the Libby app. Browse these categories:

Dive into one of these eBook categories on Hoopla Digital and start planning your next project:

Sewing and Needlework eMagazines


Catch up on current and back issues of popular magazines on RBDigital.

Online learning

These free, self-paced courses on Universal Class will walk you through everything you need to know, from supplies and first stitches to step-by-step tutorials.

* NEW USERS: Register here if you’re using Universal Class for the first time.

picks of the week: August 20, 2020

Staff Picks: Cats for Kids

There’s just something about cats that children are drawn to. Whether they have one at home or see one in the pet store, kids are intrigued by the playful, bouncing nature of cats. For this week's Staff ePicks, we've put together a list of eBooks, databases and videos to delight and inform the feline-loving children in your life. From informational sites to beloved fictional characters, these kid-friendly digital library resources are just a click away.

Cats for Kids eBooks

eBooks and audiobooks

Streaming shows

Catch up on PBS’s Nature Cat series or Earth To Luna’s sweet “A Cat’s Whiskers” episode on Kanopy Kids.

Cats for Kids: Storytime

Virtual storytime

Join Ms. Jennifer from Brambleton Library online for interactive songs and stories all about cats, including the classic “Three Little Kittens.” Watch now on YouTube. (See more storytimes with LCPL librarians!)


  • Cat-curious kids will love exploring the Gale in Context: Elementary database (formerly Kids InfoBits). From the home page, click “Animals” and then “Pets and Farm Animals” for articles, facts and images of cats, designed for Grades K-5.
  • Use the Scholastic Go! database to discover all kinds of information about our furry friends. Start by searching for “longhaired cats” or “shorthaired cats."

picks of the week: August 13, 2020

Staff Picks: Exploring the Natural World

It’s that time of year when we normally spend more time outdoors. But, for many, 2020 has been the year of staying at home. So when getting outside isn’t an option, how can you still enjoy a healthy dose of nature? Books, of course! And documentaries, too. In fact, research has shown that simply watching nature shows – for any amount of time – can boost positive emotions and lower stress. With that in mind, we’ve compiled some of our favorite ways to explore nature on page and screen … all without leaving your couch.

Nature Books

eBooks and audiobooks


Catch up on current and back issues of popular magazines through RBDigital.

Nature films

Streaming films and shows

Kick back and enjoy on-demand access to documentaries and PBS shows on Kanopy.

Online learning

Increase your understanding of the world around us and our relationship with it through free self-paced courses on Universal Class.*

* NEW USERS: Register here if you’re using Universal Class for the first time.

picks of the week: August 6, 2020

Staff Picks: Digging Up Your Roots

The study of genealogy and family history is a great way to connect to the past. And your family history is at your fingertips through a variety of high-quality online genealogical resources. For this week’s Staff ePicks, we’ve pulled together some of the library’s best tools for exploring your family's roots right from your home computer. If you’re looking research local history, don’t forget to check Thomas Balch Library’s rich array of Loudoun County materials.

Genealogy Research


  • Library Edition delivers billions of records in census data, vital records, directories, photos and more from countries all over the world. Recently added are over 750 million obituaries dating to the 1800s. Looking to jumpstart your research? Visit the Learning Center first.
  • You’ll also want to take a look at HeritageQuest Online, which includes hard-to-find resources such as the U.S. Indian Census Rolls and the Freedman’s Bank Record.
  • The ProQuest Civil War Era database allows you to search multiple historical newspapers for relatives who were involved in the war.

Genealogy eBooks


On Hoopla Digital, you’ll discover a variety of helpful eBooks in the genealogy and heraldry category: From the general (The Family Tree Toolkit) to the specific (The Scottish Pioneers of Upper Canada) and everything in between. Click to explore them all.

Online learning

picks of the week: July 30, 2020

Staff Picks: Drawing and Painting

Art is known to strengthen our brains and improve our moods – and the great news is you don’t have be Michelangelo to reap these rewards. Anyone (yes, even you!) can make and benefit from art. For this week’s Staff ePicks, we’ve compiled some of our top digital resources for learning the basics of drawing and painting. With your library card, you’re just a click away from free online classes in drawing and painting as well as eBooks to help tap into your inner artist.

Drawing and Painting online courses

Online learning

You don’t need to spend big bucks on in-person art classes or subscription services to learn the finer points of drawing and painting. With your library card, you can get the art-school experience right in your home, on your own time, with free online courses. There are a few different platforms to choose from, but they all offer expert instruction on technique and theory, plus hands-on tutorials. Explore these options and see which one works for you.

* NEW USERS: Register here if you’re using Universal Class for the first time.

Drawing and Painting eBooks


  • The best way to learn about art is to do it. So, dive into one of these eBook categories on Hoopla Digital and get started creating.

Acrylic Painting | Calligraphy
Cartooning | Color
Drawing | Life Drawing
Oil Painting | Painting
Pastel Drawing | Pen & Ink Drawing
Pencil Drawing | Watercolor Painting

picks of the week: July 23, 2020

Staff Picks: Tech for Kids

We’ve hit the midpoint of summer and many parents are looking for ways to keep children entertained during these long, hot weeks. Tackling a technology topic can help your child beat boredom and teach them valuable skills. If your kid loves hands-on projects or if they just like to make a mess, there are a number of free tools and eBooks available online through the library that can help.

Technology eBooks for Kids


Technology for Kids


  • Great for K-5 school projects and curious kids in general, the Gale in Context: Elementary database (formerly Kids InfoBits) has tons of resources for research and learning. From the home page, click “Technology” and start exploring categories like Computers, Transportation, and Engineering and Invention. Each category is packed with articles, videos, images and primary source documents.
  • Use the Scholastic Go! database to research all kinds of topics – from computers and robots to spacecrafts and artificial intelligence.

Streaming videos

picks of the week: July 16, 2020

Staff Picks: Photography

Whether you’re just starting as a photographer or you’ve been following your creative passion for years, there’s never an excuse to stop learning. If you’re looking to harness the power of your DSLR camera or take your cellphone photos to the next level, the library has you covered with online photography courses, eBooks and streaming documentaries to inspire and inform.

Photography eBooks


Photography movies

Streaming movies

Sit back and take in a documentary about these famed photographers on Kanopy. (Find even more films in the "Photography" category under "Browse" => "The Arts.")

Online learning

Free self-paced, college-level courses are a click away with Universal Class.

* NEW USERS: Register here if you’re using Universal Class for the first time.


Download current and back issues of photography magazines on RB Digital.

picks of the week: July 9, 2020

Staff Picks: Baseball

Major League Baseball is set to resume later this month, but the abbreviated season is already shaping up to be a strange one. While fans might not get the games of their dreams, there’s still plenty to look forward to. To help pass the time until Opening Day, we’ve devoted this week’s Staff ePicks to some of our favorite eBooks and other digital resources about baseball, whether you’re looking for a history lesson, documentaries or books for kids. Don’t forget to sign up for the Summer Reading Program and start reading your way toward a free Washington Nationals ticket!

Baseball eBooks

eBooks and audiobooks

The Play Ball! collection on OverDrive and the Libby app features new biographies about Willie Mays and Yogi Berra as well as plenty of fiction, nonfiction and titles for sports-loving kids exploring the history, artistry and nuance of baseball.


Immerse yourself in America’s pastime with historical cartoons as well as illustrated adventures for kids on the Hoopla Digital platform.

Baseball movies

Streaming movies

These documentaries on Kanopy give a voice to little-known stories from baseball’s past.

Play Better Baseball features 70 minutes of instruction by former University of Arizona head coach Jerry Stitt.


ESPN The Magazine ceased publication in 2019, but you can catch up on every issue dating back to 2013 through the RB Digital platform.

picks of the week: July 2, 2020

Staff Picks: Minecraft Madness

If you have a Minecraft fan in your household, you know it’s more than a hobby: Minecraft is a passion. Luckily, there are tons of ways for Minecrafters to disappear into the imaginative world they love through the pages of a book, not just through a screen. We’ve pulled together some of our most popular game guides, coding eBooks and other digital resources that you can access from home with your library card. (Parents: If you don't know your creepers from your ghasts, you might want to check out some of these titles, too!)

Minecraft eBooks


Streaming movies

Take a deep dive into the creation and evolution of Minecraft with the documentary Minecraft: Through the Nether Portal on Kanopy.

Streaming music

Your gaming soundtrack is here! Listen to the Minecraft theme and other classic video-game tunes on Freegal.

Minecraft STEM eBooks

STEM eBooks

Turn your home into a coding classroom with these school-level textbooks.

picks of the week: June 25, 2020

Staff Picks: Space and the Stars

The universe through the eyes of an astronomer is a fascinating place, and a good book can give you a glimpse of that world without requiring years of study. Our librarians have rounded up some of their favorite eBooks and other digital resources about astronomy and space that you can access anywhere on the planet. BONUS: Tune in Thursday, June 25, at 3 p.m. for a live stream with Loudoun County Public Library’s own NASA ambassador!

Space and astronomy eBooks

eBooks and audiobooks

Virtual library event

Space News and Views: Join Loudoun County Public Library NASA Ambassador Amit Sircar live as he explains the latest happenings in the solar system and shares astronomical wonders that you can view from your own backyard. Thursday, June 25, 3 p.m.

Streaming music

Your stargazing soundtrack is a click away! Head to Freegal to hear music about and inspired by planets and the night sky.


picks of the week: June 18, 2020

It’s easy for workout routines to veer off-course when unexpected changes occur – as was the case this spring, when we found ourselves spending more time at home. If you’re looking to get back on track or you just need some new motivation, the library’s digital collection has you covered. Use your library card to access streaming workouts, sports magazines, cardio music playlists and, of course, tons of eBooks about health, fitness and local recreation.

Exercise eBooks

Streaming films and videos

Take a deeper dive into your favorite sports and activities with these films on Kanopy.

Follow along with popular workout series from Gaiam, Jillian Michaels and others on Hoopla.

Online courses

These Universal Class courses are like being at the gym – minus the fees and sweaty strangers.

* NEW USERS: Register here if you’re using Universal Class for the first time.

Exercise eBooks



Catch up on current and back issues of popular magazines on RBDigital.

Streaming music

Get your heart rate up by moving along with these playlists on Freegal.

picks of the week: June 11, 2020

Staff Picks: Video Games

Got gaming on the brain? You’re far from alone. New research from Nielsen found that 82% of global consumers played more video games amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, our staff is highlighting some of our favorite digital resources on playing, celebrating and even creating video games. From documentaries to online courses, you’ll find all of these tools right at your fingertips.

Video game documentaries

Streaming movies and shows

Playing video games

Stories about video games


Gaming tech books

Creating video games


Streaming music

picks of the week: June 4, 2020

Staff Picks: Racism in America

Through every challenge, your library remains an important resource for education and information. Reading provides a window to the past in order to understand the present, and to amplify and listen to the voices of those affected by racism. Our staff has brought together a wide range of antiracism resources that we hope you'll find helpful. Whether you're discussing current events with children or teens, or you're learning for yourself, these eBooks, articles, films and courses are here for you.

Guides to Racism


Streaming movies

Online learning

These courses from are designed to help foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace: 



eBooks for children

BookFlix: This site pairs animated storybooks with related nonfiction eBooks and learning activities to build a love of reading and real-world knowledge.


picks of the week: May 28, 2020

Coping for Children and Teens

Like adults, kids are struggling right now. Schools are closed, routines have changed and uncertainly seems to be part of everyday life. Now more than ever, it’s important to check in and make sure kids have all the resources they need to manage their physical and emotional well-being. 

Our children’s specialists have rounded up some of their top resources for helping kids and teens cope with the stress of life, from calming yoga sequences to teen-friendly mindfulness workbooks.

picks of the week: May 21, 2020

Staff Picks: Birding

Birding is gaining flocks of new followers amid the coronavirus pandemic, as more people take note of the fascinating world outside our windows. After all, when you can’t be with the ones you love, a feathered friend just may suffice.

If you’re looking to explore the delightfully passive hobby of birding, all you need are eyes, ears and curiosity – plus a few handpicked library resources that you can access anywhere.

Birding eBooks


Calling All Birders: Explore our top birding eBooks on OverDrive or the Libby app.


Is Your Backyard for the Birds? (Consumer Reports)
Includes links to a free bird identification poster and information on birdfeeders.


Let the birds handle pest-control in your garden!


picks of the week: May 14, 2020

As the weather warms up, many of us are looking to take our DIY projects outdoors. One yard task that’s gaining traction lately is gardening, with lots of homeowners looking to grow more of their own food.

If you’re thinking about brushing up on your gardening skills, then take a look at our roundup of library resources that you can access online to help transform your outdoor space into a thriving source of veggies. If you need to turn your black thumb into a green one or just find some inspiration, the library has you covered.

picks of the week: May 11, 2020

These days, we're spending way more time inside, and if you're tired of your surroundings by now, there are plenty of small tweaks and projects that can reinvigorate your space, and hopefully, your spirit.

Here are a few library resources you can access from home to help guide you through spring cleaning, organization, redecorating and other spruce-ups.