Eastern Shore Public Library

Library Updates

Looking for eBooks or eAudio? You’ve got options!

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Thanks to a donation from the Friends of Eastern Shore Public Library and the support of Library of Virginia, ESPL is able to offer a variety of eBook and eAudio collections for readers and listeners of all ages and interests. Here are some highlights of our two largest collections, RB Digital and Freading, to help you choose where to begin:

RB Digital

  • Features bestselling fiction and nonfiction eBooks (with many new titles added recently!)
  • Thousands of eAudiobooks for adults, children and teens!
  • All items check out for 10 days and can be renewed for another 7 days
  • Checkout up to 10 items at a time, and build wish lists of items for future reading
  • Holds can be placed on the most popular items, and you will be notified when a copy becomes available
  • RB Digital also includes over 70 digital magazine titles available for unlimited checkout with no returns needed
  • The RB Digital app is available for download for Apple and Android products and Kindle Fire
  • For general help with getting started, try https://esplva.rbdigital.com/help. For more specific questions, email or call the library. If library staff are unavailable to help you, RB Digital has an excellent support team at 877-772-8346 or yoursupport@recordedbooks.com


  • Over 130,000 eBooks!
  • Features a wide variety of nonfiction titles, graphic novels, and children’s and teen eBooks
  • The fiction collection is quite extensive, and includes not only new bestsellers, but also a huge selection of “under the radar” titles just waiting to be discovered
  • Everything is available to download at any time with no waiting
  • Freading eBooks are checked out for a 2 week period, can be renewed once, and return automatically
  • Check out up to 3 items each week, or roll your unused checkouts over to the next week (to a maximum of 6)
  • Compatible with computers or laptops running Windows or Mac operating systems, Nooks, iPads and iPhones, Kindle Fire, Android based devices, Kobo eReaders, and Vox tablets
  • To get started, download the Freading app and Adobe Digital Editions. With your library card number and a PIN, you’ll be ready to read
  • Need help? Freading offers an excellent help section for getting started: https://esplva.freading.com/questions/index For more specific questions, email or call the library

Find Freading and RB Digital at espl.org under the eResources tab. There’s no need to try just one, as your library card provides access to all of the library’s collections simultaneously. Questions? Need to set up or reset your PIN? You can reach us at (757)787-3400 or espl@espl.org.

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StoryTrail at Northampton Free Library

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Eastern Shore Public Library recently installed our first StoryTrail at our branch library site in Nassawadox, the Northampton Free Library. Part of our Steps to Well-Being initiative, the StoryTrail provides a healthy family, social-distancing outdoor activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Families are welcome during daylight hours to take a walk along the shady trail on the library’s property while having the pleasure of reading a picture book together.

The StoryTrail begins at the front of the building with the simple instructions to follow the numbered signs, read the story, and enjoy the walk. Our first StoryTrail features the book Bird Count, written by Susan Edwards Richmond and illustrated by Stephanie Fizzer Coleman. It is a great story about a favorite Eastern Shore pastime, bird watching. The illustrations are bright and colorful and the amount of text on each page, as well as the page size, make it a great choice for a StoryTrail book. We plan to create more StoryTrails in the future at other locations and to partner with other local organizations to create a StoryTrail “trail” on the Eastern Shore.  In addition to promoting wellness, the trails help build a Culture of Reading, one of the Eastern Shore Public Library’s Library2020 initiatives. Visit soon and enjoy the walk! We welcome your feedback about your StoryTrail experience.

If your organization would like to install a StoryTrail or if you have questions, call the library at (757) 787-3400 for more information or visit the library’s website, www.espl.org

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Imagine Your Story – 2020 Summer Reading Program and Challenge

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This summer, join the virtual fun at Eastern Shore Public Library as we explore the worlds of fantasy, fairy tales, and folklore, as well as other literary dream worlds, in a virtual way. Take part in our Summer Reading Program, “Imagine Your Story” and participate in an easy-to-access online reading challenge.

Together, all four Eastern Shore of Virginia public libraries are offering online reading challenges to readers of all ages, through Beanstack, our new interactive online platform. You can register with Beanstack as an individual or as a family. Readers record time spent reading, participate in challenges, and share book reviews. As you log your reading and activities, you also earn digital badges redeemable for cool incentives. There is a convenient mobile app to make logging your reading and activities even easier.

New this summer is “Read to Bead,” an incentive program where young readers earn their necklace and add beads and brag-tags all summer long by reading and participating in fun activities. They can also get all of their library fines waived for completing their summer reading challenge. Library staff will collect the rewards in personalized bags for our young readers and notify them when they can drop by and pick them up from their library.

Adult readers can participate by reading books of their choice and optionally writing reviews for some or all of them. Adults who participate will have chances to win various prizes in multiple random drawings throughout the summer.

Our summer program began in early June and ends on August 15, 2020. Registration for using Beanstack and taking the Imagine Your Story Summer Reading Challenge can be done online at espl.beanstack.org. The free mobile app Beanstack Tracker is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Questions and requests for help should be directed to the Youth Services Librarian, Janice Felker, at youthservices@espl.org or by calling the Eastern Shore Public Library at (757) 787-3400.

Support and/or prizes are provided by the generous donations of area groups and families and the Library of Virginia. Financial and volunteer support also comes from the Friends groups of Cape Charles, Nassawadox, and Accomac libraries and the large group of volunteers at the Chincoteague library.

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The Frances Bibbins Latimer Collection Available Online

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The Frances Bibbins Latimer Collection Available Online

Eastern Shore of Virginia history recently became more accessible thanks to the digitization of Frances Bibbins Latimer’s archives. Mrs. Latimer was a local history researcher and collector, with much of her activities focused on African American history. The Eastern Shore Public Library was the recipient of her collections when she passed away. Virginia Humanities, the statewide foundation that supports humanities research and education, awarded a grant to digitize the collections. George Latimer, her husband, continued the funding with a personal donation to ensure the project is completed. It is expected that all items will be digitized by August 2020, however, the public can search online what is available now for free through the library’s website.

Digitization involves the scanning of documents into a computer and then organizing the records These digital images are then made available and searchable on the Internet. Cataloging is the more time-consuming task of the process as each image must be individually identified, subject terms and descriptions entered into the catalog software, and then connected to the scanned image. A team of volunteers have been scanning the images. The grant funding is paying for the trained staff to catalog.

Scanning documents preserves the image, as papers and photographs deteriorate over time. Scanned documents are not very useful, however, unless you can find them, which is what the cataloging accomplishes.

The digitization project is not only about preserving images of valuable historical records. A Latimer Project Committee also meets to plan how the collections can be used to improve access to African American history. Programs and outreach activities are planned to educate the public as to the value of African American history and the resources available. It is hoped that this digitized collection will inspire others to take up where Frances Bibbins Latimer left off. New books need to be written about Eastern Shore of Virginia history. Historical documents need to be preserved. Genealogies need to be researched.

When the new Eastern Shore of Virginia Heritage Center is operational, new equipment will be available to train the public how to digitize their own family collections. The recent National Endowment for the Humanities grant award will support the purchase of this equipment. Other ESPL collections might be digitized as well. To search the Frances Bibbins Latimer digitized collection, go to www.espl.org, click on the “Genealogy” tab. The link is found under “Digital Collections” then “Eastern Shore Public Library Digital Archives.”

For more information about how to sign up for a library card, please call the library at (757) 787-3400 or go to the ShoreCat homepage and sign up online. The Eastern Shore Public Library System has four libraries in Accomac, Cape Charles, Chincoteague and Nassawadox. Your ESPL library card can be used at any of the four libraries. To learn about the regional library building project and ESVA Heritage Center in Parksley, opening in 2020, or to donate, visit www.shorelibrary.com. For more information about your library services, library hours of operation, or your library account, visit www.espl.org, “like” us on Facebook and Twitter, or call the library at (757) 787-3400.

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Ancestry Library Edition available for home use to ESPL patrons until June 30!

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Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ProQuest has extended its offer of home access to Ancestry Library Edition to all Eastern Shore Public Library patrons until June 30!

Simply go to this page on our website: https://espl.org/ancestrylibrary/

The password is the first 5 digits of your library card number. If you have any trouble with access, call us at 757-787-3400, or email espl@espl.org.

Besides some limitation of records, one of the main differences between Ancestry and Ancestry Library Edition is that with Library you cannot create a tree. It functions strictly as a record database.  But there are billions of records to search! Family history is a great way to teach history to kids as you research what life may have been like for your ancestors. It’s personalized history!

Some hints for basic searches on Ancestry can be found here: https://support.ancestry.com/s/artic…/How-to-Search-Ancestry

Just getting started with genealogy? Great tips can be found here: https://www.americanancestors.org/…/le…/read/getting-started

Happy searching!

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Make history come alive with local resources

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Local history exploration is a fun way to spend time with children.  Studies show that children who know stories about the relatives who came before them show higher levels of emotional well-being (Emory University, 2010).  Stories about family and their homeplace provide children with a sense of identity and of their place in the world.

From home, families can learn more about local history with the help of ESPL’s online family history resources.

Make history come alive with photos, maps and stories.

  • Browse the Countryside Transformed online archive. Hundreds of historic photos of Accomack and Northampton county people, places and events from several ESVA museums, all in one place depict life from the coming of the railroad to the Great Depression.  Historic maps show how the Shore looked in the past and buildings and roads that no longer exist.  Search by town, or use the interactive map and discover some place names you may never have heard of!
  • Read the Peninsula Enterprise newspaper. Though ESPL owns microfilm of all Eastern Shore newspapers from 1881 to the present, the Peninsula Enterprise from 1881-1922 is the only one that is digitized and searchable.  Search for your town or family names and see what was happening on the Shore 100 years ago.
  • Research your family on the MilesFiles genealogical database. With over 90,000 names from the Eastern Shore of Virginia (including a few from the rest of the Delmarva Peninsula), most ESVA surnames are represented.
  • Listen to oral histories. ESPL has recordings from the Cape Charles Rosenwald School Initiative and Chincoteague oral histories.

Want to get out of the house, while still practicing social distancing? 

  • Visit a cemetery. If you have family buried nearby, especially ancestors that passed away before your children were born, this is a good way to “introduce” them. Share pictures and stories before going or on the drive there.  Be sure to coach them on cemetery etiquette and safety. Graves should be respected, tombstones are not for climbing and graveside plantings and mementoes should not be disturbed. ESPL has cemetery/tombstone guides available but you can also find them here http://easternshorestuff.com/cemeteryproject/cemintro.htm  and on Find a Grave https://www.findagrave.com/.
  • Take a driving tour. ESPL has collected online driving and walking tours for Eastern Shore locations on our website here: https://espl.org/genealogy/walking-driving-tours/

But perhaps the best thing that you can do is record your stories. 

Tell stories with family artifacts: letters and photos of course, but also things like sports trophies, military medals, artwork or quilts.    As part of the study mentioned above, researchers asked children a list of 20 questions about their parents and grandparents lives.  You can find the original list of 20 questions here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-stories-our-lives/201611/the-do-you-know-20-questions-about-family-stories

So ask those 20 questions, and record the answers on your smart phone or write them down.

To read about the Emory study on the value of family stories, visit https://ncph.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/The-power-of-family-history-in-adolescent-identity.pdf

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Freading eBooks for Children and Teens (and Parents)

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If you are hoping to keep your children stocked up with reading material while they are out of school, the library’s Freading eBook app can help. With thousands of eBooks for children and teens, both fiction and nonfiction, Freading has something for every age and interest. Freading also has tons of eBooks for adults, including some excellent titles on parenting. All eBook titles are available to download at any time, are checked out for a 4-week period, and return automatically. No waiting, and no fines. Perfect. You just need to download the Freading app and Adobe Digital Editions. With your library card number and a PIN, you’ll be ready to read. Find Freading at  espl.org under the eResources tab. Questions? Need to set up or reset your PIN? You can reach us at (757)787-3400 or espl@espl.org. Freading also has an excellent help section for getting started: https://esplva.freading.com/questions/index

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Explore nature with a nature backpack from ESPL!

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Thanks to a partnership between our library, the Library of Virginia, Virginia State Parks, and the Science Museum of Virginia, we are able to offer sixteen nature backpacks for checkout! The backpacks are designed to help children and their families learn about nature — backpacks are available at Accomac, Nassawadox and Cape Charles.

Each backpack comes with:

  • Pocket guides about mammals, animal tracks, bugs and slugs, Virginia birds, and Virginia trees and wildflowers
  • A pop-up bug cage
  • A dip net
  • A magnifying glass
  • A “Leave No Trace” card
  • Sheets of suggested activities
  • A parking pass for all Virginia State Parks

They’ll also come with a short paper survey (in English and Spanish) about the backpacks.  Please encourage patrons to fill out the survey as the feedback will help the Library of Virginia in creating more great programs like this. The completed surveys can be returned to the Main Branch and we will send them to the Library of Virginia. Be sure to place a blank survey form in the pack to be completed by the next patron.

The backpacks are checked out just like any other library item, and can be renewed if there are no holds on the backpack.

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Cool websites for kids

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The first few days of an unexpected “vacation” from school can be lots of fun for everyone, but quickly families find themselves searching for ways to keep everyone busy in productive ways. It is good to remember that there are many different types of activities. Variety is not only the spice of life but also very important in meeting all the developmental needs of children. Below is a list of some great websites that provide kids with some educational fun. Make good use of them, but remember to include other fun activities in the day. Embrace the arts with crafts, scrapbooking, rock painting, decorating glass windows with dry erase markers, or creating crazy creatures from recycled items from around the house. Get some exercise by taking a nature walk, dancing to music on the radio, having a treasure hunt, visiting the park, or riding a bike. Create family time by playing board games, watching a favorite family movie, or cooking together. Try to maintain routines and make sure everyone is getting enough quality sleep. And please don’t forget to continue reading good books together!

We’ll be posting resources on our Youth Services Facebook page, so check us out there too!

Cool Websites for Kids

Best Websites for Kids – Common Sense Media


Storyline Online – Featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books


Children’s Storybooks Online – Illustrated children’s stories for kids of all ages


Reading is Fundamental


Starfall – lots of fun educational online activities for kids in PreK through Grade 3.


PBS Kids


National Geographic Kids


Scholastic Kids Site



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New year, new catalog!

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Readers will soon have an improved search tool for finding books to read at the Eastern Shore Public Libraries (ESPL).  The Shore’s library system is migrating its online catalog to another automation software system that is more user-friendly and with more features.  It will also be more efficient for library staff to catalog new books and make them available for reading sooner.

Some of the features include:

  • A searchable mobile app
  • Search word suggestions as you type
  • Library catalog searchable by series
  • Suggested “Read-alikes,” to find books similar to ones you like
  • The ability to search for eBooks within this main catalog
  • A “Community Tab” for a directory of local community groups
  • The ability for teachers to create required reading lists
  • The ability to suggest titles to library staff for purchase
  • Personalized watch lists for additions of favorite authors, topics, series, and material types to the ESPL catalog
  • Bookbags, savable shopping carts for books and materials found while browsing the catalog

“Eastern Shore Public Library wants the Shore to have a Culture of Reading,” states Cara Burton, Library System Director. “This new catalog system will be a great tool to help us meet that goal.  It will make reading more accessible and finding books more fun.  The awkward system we use now had changed its pricing, making this now within our budget.  With its increased efficiencies in cataloging and report generation, it will likely actually save us money in the long run.”

“Eastern Shore Public Library is on a fast track to modernizing as it moves into the new Regional Library now under construction in Parksley,” Burton continued.  “We have been working hard behind the scenes over the past four years to improve our workflow, procedures, technology, and interfaces.  We expect the library to be even busier in our bright, new facility and this tool will help us be ready.”

All four Eastern Shore Public Libraries will be closed for two days for staff training and the migration:  Wednesday, February 19 and Thursday, February 20, 2020.  Public orientation sessions will take place soon after and will be announced through the library’s e-newsletter, flyers, social media, and local media outlets.

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  • Eastern Shore Public Library
    23610 Front Street
    P.O. Box 360
    Accomac, VA. 23301
    Phone: (757) 787-3400;

    Cape Charles Memorial Library
    201 Mason Avenue
    Cape Charles, VA 23310
    Phone: (757) 331-1300

  • Contact Us

  • Northampton Free Library
    7745 Seaside Rd
    P.O. Box 729 Nassawadox, VA 23413
    Phone: (757) 414-0010

    Chincoteague Island Library
    4077 Main Street
    Chincoteague, VA 23336
    Phone: (757) 336-3460

This site is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. It is managed by the The Library of Virginia Library Development and Networking Division.