Beyond the Stacks

Even though the library is now open with limited hours, many of us are still staying at home and practicing social distancing. Meanwhile, the internet and social media continue to provide new ways to keep us entertained and informed without leaving the comfort and safety of our homes. In addition to the library’s digital collections for ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, movies, and more, we’ve gathered additional resources that we hope will entertain you, allow your world to expand beyond your living room, and help you learn a new skill or brush up on an old one.

We will be updating this list on a regular basis so be sure to check back. And don’t miss the STAFF PICKS section at the end to see what we are doing. The Information Desk is available for questions during opening hours.  You can contact us by phone, chat, or email.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Prepare for the day with these delicious baking ideas, relaxing and romantic reads, and craft ideas you can do at home.

Celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science, February 11

Best of 2020

The year isn’t over yet! But, enjoy these “Best of” lists to find a new movie you may have missed or a favorite book to curl up with during these cold winter months.


In addition to the list here, check out Creativebug, one of the library’s databases, where you can find instruction from experts and video tutorials for every type of artistic endeavor, from knitting and sewing, to beading, upholstery, and bookmaking, journaling and writing. It’s also the 11th annual Knit for Others, a program at the library to collect newly hand knit or crocheted hats, mittens, and scarves to donate to area organization. Click here to read more about it and register for a yarn kit if you need supplies.

Books & Reading

Even though the library building is closed, there are still many ways to find your favorite reading material, whether it’s an ebook, audiobook or a digital magazine. The library has its own digital collections that PPL library cardholders can access from home and others are available freely on the internet for everyone. To find new titles or read reviews, check out some of the sites below. If you need help learning how to download to your computer or mobile device, please contact us.

PPL eLibrary Collections

  • For ebooks: Princeton Overdrive/Libby, hoopla
  • For audiobooks: Princeton Overdrive/Libby, hoopla (Note: the collection of audiobooks that were previously on RBDigital are now accessible through Overdrive/Libby)
  • For magazines: Princeton Overdrive/Libby

Book Reviewing and Reader’s Advisory Sources

Many of these are aimed at librarians but are excellent sources for all readers to discover new titles and authors on the horizon and are particularly useful for book groups. Or try Book It and get personalized recommendations from the Princeton Public Library’s Adult Services Department. Also, try our new service, Book It for the Holidays, designed to help you find the perfect book to give as a gift this holiday season.

Plus Library Thing, a free resource to catalog your home library

Virtual Book Clubs

Online Digital Collections for Current and Historical Books

Other Audiobook Collections

  • Free listens from Audible: Included are children’s titles, children’s titles in multiple languages, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone read by Stephen Fry, and many adult classics such as Brave New World, Atlas Shrugged, and Jane Eyre.
  • Check out this article from BookRiot with 11 sources for free, legal audiobooks
  • LibriVox, a collection of freely available public domain audiobooks read by volunteers

Classes, Lectures and Online Courses

The library has a number of resources for online learning available for PPL cardholders. These range from Creativebug and The Great Courses in Kanopy to language learning from Mango and Rosetta Stone as well as the Pimsleur audiobook series in hoopla and Overdrive/Libby, plus LinkedIn Learning for technical and business application tutorials and lessons. Even more classes are available online. Most of the options listed here are free.

Princeton Area:

Online Courses

Cooking & Food

Many popular food bloggers, cookbook authors and food companies are featuring recipes that can be made either in small batches or with pantry staples. Often, their Instagram accounts or blogs feature video tutorials along with the recipes. We’ve chosen a few highlights here.

Health & Wellness

Places to visit to soothe the mind and body.

Movies &  Theater

The library offers streaming movies through Kanopy and Access Video on Demand for library cardholders. Even though we were not able to have our Princeton Environmental Film Festival this spring, many of the films from previous years can be found on Kanopy using this link. Check out these other viewing options, available to all.


While our Museum Pass program is on hold, treat yourself to the online exhibits or virtual tours of these museums, plus ones from around the world.

Museum Pass Program

Selection of Noteworthy Museums

And one more

MCN: Advancing Digital Transformations in Museums: This is an enormous list of links to art and culture museums, history museums, natural science museums, online exhibits plus e-learning, kid’s activities, online collections in the areas of art, culture, science and history and digital archives and libraries.  A treasure trove of resources!


Library cardholders can take advantage of downloadable music offerings through hoopla. Everyone can enjoy these additional musical sites.

Nature & Wildlife

There’s nothing cuter than an animal cam! Enjoy nature from the inside while we wait patiently until we can explore the outdoors again.

News & Newspapers: Past & Present

Read all about it! Access to the New York Times is available to all PPL cardholders with a special code that can be obtained by contacting us. Keeping up with local news can also be a challenge at this time but made easier since many local publications are available online. If you want to explore news from the past we’ve got you covered as well.

Current Local News & Newspapers

Historical Newspapers


When you are tired of Netflix and an audiobook is too much of a time commitment, try a podcast!

  • The Moth, The Art and Craft of Storytelling: Story Library, founded by novelist George Dawes Green, The Moth is a community, a podcast, an award-winning Radio Hour and a series of live events
  • This American Life: Each week is a different theme from summer camps and break-ups to funny stories.
  • Fresh Air: From NPR, episodes involve news, interviews and human interest pieces that range from books and movies to politics and current events.
  • Home Cooking: A brand new podcast from Hrishikesh Hirway and Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat! author Samin Nosrat. A funny and amusing podcast that helps you decide what to cook.
  • Life Kit: From NPR, this podcast answers life’s questions and helps listeners get things done. Topics include how to write a book and how to start a garden, as well as help with COVID-19 tips for disinfecting your groceries and how to stretch your budget.
  • The Librarian is In: Need your library fix while you stay at home? This podcast from New York Public Library discusses books, current culture trends and what to read next.

Projects from Home

Digital Transcriptions Projects

If you have some time and are looking for an ongoing volunteer project, consider participating in a digital transcription project. The library’s Public Humanities Coordinator, Hannah Schmidl wrote about the subject in a recent post on the library’s blog . Here are some opportunities for you to help organizations, including libraries, transcribe historical documents from their collections in order to make them available online to all.

Oral History Projects:

Another way to participate is to consider contributing to an oral history project or creating one of your own by collecting and recording family stories when reaching out to relatives during this time.

Puzzles & Games

Miss the New York Times daily crossword or the library jigsaw puzzle table? Had enough of Solitaire? Check out these games to keep yourself entertained and your mind active.

Enjoy a variety of Escape Rooms from PPL and other libraries


If you are missing our Technology Class series, here are some options to learn a new skill or brush up on a current one. On this list you will find resources for learning to code, selecting your electronic equipment, gaining expertise in a variety of software applications, Zoom tutorials, and more.

General Online Classes

  • LinkedIn Learning: Princeton Public Library cardholders can use this link to access this online education platform offering video courses taught by industry experts in software, creative and business skills. Check out the many courses available to learn Mac essentials, iPhone essentials, along with Microsoft’s Word and Excel, and Google Drive, gmail and more.
  • Harvard Online Courses: Many are free, though some have fees, with topics including the humanities, coding, health, Microsoft, Google and Apple.
  • Princeton Online Courses on Coursera: Includes a number of computer-related offerings.
  • Swift Playgrounds: From Apple, learn coding the fun way through interactive puzzles.
  • Enjoy this list of free, online coding classes.

Product Training & Help

Product Reviews

  • Wirecutter: Reviews and ratings on appliances, technology and gear
  • CNET: Reviews and Best lists for all manner of electronics
  • PCMagazine: Reviews for all types of computer and electronic equipment
  • Consumer Reports: Some reviews are available on their website. Full text articles and complete ratings charts can be found by searching MasterFile Complete, a database available on our website for PPL cardholders to access from home. Don’t have a PPL library card? Access CR in MasterFile Elite from JerseyClicks and login with any NJ library card.


While you are at home and unable to visit the library, take this time to explore new places without getting up from the sofa.

Staff Picks

What are we up to while we work from home and stay at home?

Andre: We have been using Disney+ here to re-watch some Marvel movies and The Mandalorian, AND some of the later seasons of Star Wars “The Clone Wars” before diving into the final season. I also love following @nycurbanism and @nytarchives (the New York Times Archives) on Instagram to get my fix of New York City history and architecture.

Bonnie: I’ve been keeping up with my knitting projects in my spare time, binge watching “Homeland”, catching all episodes of SGN (Some Good News) with John Krasinski (I’m a big Office fan), and helping my son with jigsaw puzzles.

Dana: I follow various independent bookstores on Instagram. Stores like @eastcitybookshop in Washington, D.C. and Princeton’s @labyrinth.books are my current favorites for discovering new titles and read-likes for my favorite authors. I have also been spending a lot of time on the ESPN app to get my “sports fix.” The app is free and you stream games matches from all sports, plus interviews and other videos and shows.

Gayle: I’m following @thebakefeed on Instagram which is a companion to the magazine Bake from Scratch, available on RBDigital magazines. Every day, the editor, Brian Hart Hoffman, has a baking tutorial showcasing recipes such as the recent, Doubletree Hotel Chocolate Chip Cookies. Most of the recipes used are also on their website. And, I often treat myself to a Dalgona coffee in the middle of the afternoon.

Janice: I am trying to figure out how to journal in images. My instagram feed follows #TellurideColorado, #SummerInAmsterdam, #AbstractFloral and #BookNerds, and I have come collections I add to for return visits. I am enjoying using two apps for creativity, Dreamscope for photo art and Story Art for collages, and I love SnapSeed as a photo editor. Any time I open one of these, I feel calmed and more centered in the moment!

Jennifer P.: I enjoy watching my idol, Dr. Jane Goodall, share some of her books from her home in Bournemouth, England during “Storytime with Dr. Jane”. I look forward to her upcoming “Hopecast”, which promises to discuss Jane’s vision for making the world a better place for all. I’m also following Patrick Stewart’s #ASonnetADay. Sir Patrick’s readings are very relaxing and a great stress-reducer.

Kara: I’ve been following Stephanie Harlowe on Youtube and Instagram, @stephanieharlowe. She posts really thorough true crime and educational and historical content.

Kristin: Aside from keeping tabs on the Cuomo brothers, there are a few distractions that occupy some of my time. A blog I have continued to occasionally pop over to for the last decade is A Cup of Jo for a fix of practical blog posts covering food, design, parenting, and more. Inevitably, I will find my way to yet another site as a result, like Dinner: A Love Story, a blog by Jenny Rosenstrach, author of a book by the same name. It ends up being a rabbit hole as I lose sight of where I began. But, good things are found, like Epicurious’ Cook With What You’ve Got Recipe Finder. Sensing a pattern here?

Martha: My family and I have been listening to Tumble: A Science Podcast For Kids. Each episode features a different science topic full of discoveries, mysteries and interviews with scientists. It’s something the whole family can listen to while cooking, folding laundry, cleaning, tinkering, drawing, sorting Legos, whatever! Bonus, it’s also got plenty of corny jokes.

Nathalie: I’m getting spiritual sustenance from the Let My People Sing Soundcloud page, and for comfort and inspiration, I am also reading my favorite cooking blog, The Woks of Life, written collaboratively by a Chinese American family here, in New Jersey.

Nora: I’m re-watching the Great British Baking Show (the Mary years) and Masterclass on Netflix, and finding it very soothing. I’m using Twitter more and am enjoying seeing really incredible artists sharing their work on that platform: try searching #illustration, #blueart (any color will do), and #linocut to get started. And, of course, I’m finding out about lots of exciting books from publishers sharing information across social media.

Sandra: I make a cup of tea, put on my favorite fireplace video from YouTube, and read or listen to a book. I am also enjoying browsing, the “What’s the name of that book?” group on Goodreads, which helps readers crowd-source the titles of books they remember only scant details of, and participating in PPL’s Wandering Book Club on Tuesday nights.

Sundari: With family here and back in India homebound with time on their hands, I am reviving the oral history project I started last year, to preserve the memories of our older family members. PPL’s own Public Humanities Coordinator, Hannah Schmidl, pulled together some great resources for us, including UCLA Library’s Tips for Conducting Oral Histories, tutorials from The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, and Family Tree’s Quick Guide to Recording Apps. I am also preparing to start a Little Free Library. Their website has some really simple and creative designs.

Yun-Yi: I’ve been enjoying Monmouth University’s Tuesday Record Club online. It’s a book club for records!