Explore the Ann Arbor District Library’s Digital Offerings from Home

. June 23, 2020.
Almost Lost by Pauline Loewenhardt. Image courtesy of paulineloewenhardt.com.

While in quarantine, many people have more time to explore new books, movies, and other content. The Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) has found a way to help by making much of its content available for free download online with the help of OverDrive. If you have a library card, you’re welcome to rent digital content from the AADL database! Much like the library itself, patrons simply sign up for the service using their library card number, then are free to rent digital content from the AADL! Just remember to return digital copies before your due date.

Compiled below is a list of some of the most downloaded content from the AADL’s digital collection. 

Mochimochi Land’s Jumbo Gnome Pattern by Anna Hrachovec. Image courtesy of Mochimochi Land.

A wide variety of things to read

If you can’t go to the library and check out a physical copy of a book, the next best thing is being able to read one online. AADL patrons have certainly taken advantage of the library’s many offerings. These five books are flying off the shelves, metaphorically of course!

Almost Lost, Pauline Loewenhardt’s 2019 memoir, follows Detroit native Loewenhardt’s journey to discover more about her family’s history after connecting with long-lost relatives from the Netherlands. The book seamlessly weaves together examinations of the Holocaust, Jewish heritage, and the meaning of family.

Chad Agamemnon: A New Home in Ann Arbor is a graphic novel from Carolyn C. Nowak about a teenage wizard who finds himself cast out of his magical realm and transplanted to Ann Arbor. Chad must now grapple with his “normal” existence while finding his way in a new place. Ann Arbor folks will have fun noticing the different local shout-outs in this fun and mysterious book.

If you’re using this quarantine time to pick up new skills, Mochimochi Land’s Jumbo Gnome Pattern just might be for you. An inventive and exciting knitting pattern by Anna Hrachovec, this jumbo gnome is a challenge to occupy your mind and hands as you work on it, and the final product is a perfect children’s toy or decorative item when you’re done!

Need a bedtime story before you shut out the lights? Why not try some new ones by budding local storytellers? Don’t Stay Up So Late: A Treasury of Bedtime Stories is “concocted by the brilliant minds at Erickson Elementary in Ypsilanti.” Filled with captivating and original tales from young ones themselves, this is a great cuddle-under-the-covers compilation for kids and adults alike!

Over in Motown, a beautiful picture book by Debbie Ann Taylor with illustrations by Keisha Morris, brings Detroit history to life with a focus on the city’s legendary music industry. Combining poetry, musical language and gorgeous illustrations, this book shines an energetic and vibrant spotlight on Motown that will entertain and educate the whole family.

Dive by Tycho. Image courtesy of AADL.

Music to your ears   

Of course, the AADL has more than things to read. These five audio experiences are sure to provide a range of intriguing and thought-provoking options for any listener.

Audio versions of plays may be a major way to experience theatre going forward, and Leigh Fondakowski’s Spill, part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series of science-themed plays, shows us the possibilities of audio theatre. The play creatively brings us some clarity on the events of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, thoughtfully examining some of the lives affected by the events.

If you want to listen to some music that can be relaxing or energizing depending on your mood, look no further than Tycho’s 2011 album Dive. Even if electronic music isn’t your thing, you may be pleasantly swept away in the layered instrumental soundscape. If you’re a fan, you’ll find new colors in the inventive and varied tracks.

iO Megaji unfolds an album-long narrative on io. Her straightforward, expressive lyrics match her low, jazzy voice perfectly, accompanied by spare instruments and electronic sounds. Each song feels both deeply personal and universally understandable as she sings about finding herself, finding love, and more.

Hydropark’s 2019 EP Hydropark (Ep2) blends pulsing electronic beats with piercing melodies. As each song unfolds, it feels like a mini live concert of its own, taking the songs to new levels and unexplored territories as they go. In just four tracks, Hydropark gives us a full experience of their unique and mellow sound.

On April 22, 2013, local Ann Arbor indie pop group Saturday Looks Good To Me played a free live show at the AADL, which was recorded on cassette. The band’s poetically vague lyrics and soundscape-y vibe are complimented by electric guitar, keys, and more.

Walk For Me by Elegance Bratton. Image courtesy of Stamped Film Festival.

So much to see

The movie offerings at the AADL are diverse and inspirational, as the five most popular downloaded movies will undoubtedly demonstrate. Each offers a unique perspective on a very specific subject, but provides broader understanding to the viewer.

Me, The “Other” is a moving documentary about the lives of Washtenaw County students, and how they cope with feeling “otherness.” The film examines prejudice, vulnerability, and the “isms” that can divide us, while also spreading a message of hope and love.

Michigan breweries, and the people who are their heart and soul, are given a spotlight in The Michigan Beer Film. In this 2014 documentary, we travel across the state to discover what makes Michigan beer special, and the result is sure to be engrossing for beer enthusiasts and non-drinkers alike.

Brasslands tells the story of the world’s largest trumpet competition, held in the tiny Serbian village of Guča. Brass bands from all around the world come to show their stuff, and national pride, generation gaps, musical differences, and competitive tension are on full display. The film shows that music can unite, even in a competition.

If you’re in the mood for learning about animals, look no further than the BBC Worldwide’s Incredible Predators. This documentary examines the animal kingdom’s fiercest warriors and hunters up close, and shows us the lengths they must go to in order to maintain their status as some of the most powerful beings on earth.

Walk For Me won the \aut\ Award for Best LGBTQ Film at the 55th Ann Arbor Film Festival in 2017. A mother must confront her bias and fear when she discovers who her son truly is. The film explores the struggles of mother and son as they come to an understanding about their new dynamic, and how identity and sexuality can be tools to help us be free.

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