Celebrate Shark Week with Abbot Public Library!

Every summer, Discovery Channel hosts a week full of new films and documentaries about carnivorous Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fishes), a celebration known as Shark Week. Featuring a range of subjects, from Great Whites breaching to catch seals, to the little-known species of the deep, every year there are new surprises to learn about these long-feared creatures.

If you don’t subscribe to Discovery Channel, or if you want even more than what Shark Week can provide, Abbot Public Library can help! Check out the following selections from our collections in physical format through the library catalog, or online through Overdrive and hoopla

You’ll find a curated collection of Shark Week movies on hoopla with a few family-friendly titles such as Sea Level and Shark Lady (also in print format); to selections geared towards mature audiences, like the horror movie Shark Lake or the action/adventure Swamp Shark, two movies about shark attacks which give these peaceful creatures their bad reputation. But if you watch documentaries such as Tiger Shark: Predator Revealed, you’ll find that sharks don’t seek out humans as prey, but prefer their natural appetite of fish, seals, and other sea creatures. The documentary Sharks shows how many shark species are becoming extinct and need our help in order to survive. 

IndieFlix has a few shark videos you can stream as well, including Sharks in My Viewfinder, about an underwater photographer who went around the world to film sharks; and the short, The Shark and The Can, in which a shark tries to find acceptance from the other ocean creatures who are scared of him. Log into IndieFlix via Abbot Public LIbrary’s RB Digital Services to access these and more IndieFlix videos. 

You can check out even more shark movies in DVD format! While Abbot Public Library is offering curbside service, there will be no fee to check out DVDs. Reserve them online for Curbside Pickup and make an appointment to pick them up from the rear entrance of the Abbot Public Library. Read these instructions for the full details. There are kid-friendly titles like Finding Dory and Wild Krats: Shark-tastic! to the adult thrillers Jaws and The Shallows. For something realistic, try the documentaries Oceans, which features other sea creatures as well, or Shark Dive

If you’d rather read about sharks than watch them (some of these shark attack movies can be pretty gruesome and scary), check out Abbot Public Library’s print, Overdrive, and hoopla collections for all ages!

Some feature fiction titles for kids include Swimming with Sharks by Heather Lang, about how Eugenie Clark saw a shark at the aquarium when she was young and grew up to be a scientist who studied them; Shark Baby by Ann Downer, about a lost baby shark trying to find out what kind of shark he is; and Fins by Randy Wayne White, about three kids who help a marine biologist research the local endangered sharks. 

Adults can enjoy titles such as the horror classic Jaws by Peter Benchley, which you can reserve in print format for Curbside Pickup or listen to with no wait as an audiobook on hoopla. You can also reserve the movie based on the book. The Shark Club by Ann Kid Taylor features a woman who is attacked by a shark and grows up to be a marine biologist. 

To learn true facts about sharks, check out some of these nonfiction titles on hoopla! Discover The Truth About Great White Sharks, learn 101 Amazing Facts About Sharks, and find out about Deepwater Sharks and the World’s Weirdest Sharks. You can also learn about individual species such as the hammerhead, Great White, thresher, bull, tiger, goblin, whale, and more!

Between the Abbot Public Library’s online collections and digital resources, you’ll learn everything there is to know about sharks!

Escape to the Country! Find Bucolic Bliss on hoopla, Overdrive, and Acorn TV

Here in our pretty seaside town, we’re surrounded by an abundance of Atlantic natural beauty. But if you’re feeling a bit of wanderlust as summer begins and would like to seek out pastures new–at least in imagination–let the Abbot Library be your guide! You’ll find the suggestions below on hoopla, Overdrive/Libby, and Acorn TV.

If rural New England takes your fancy, you might just like Sy Montgomery’s The Good, Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood, read by Audiofile Earphones Award-winning Xe Sands and set on a New Hampshire farmstead. This gentle, true tale of a runt piglet who became a beloved village icon and even did a stint on NPR is sure to charm you. Sy Montgomery is a noted naturalist who is famous for The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness and, more recently, the soulful, philosophical How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals–neither of which is strictly rural, but both of which will nonetheless envelop the reader in the wonders of the natural world.

If you think the grass might be even greener in England (that famously “green and pleasant land”), then try world-renowned titles by Yorkshire country veterinarian Alf Wight, written under the nom-de-plume “James Herriot.” Many are familiar with the bestselling All Creatures Great and Small, adapted for TV in the late 1970s and 1980s, and starring Robert Hardy (of Harry Potter fame) and Christopher Timothy. If not, or if you’d like to revisit the famed practice in Darrowby, try this Overdrive audio version with the genial-voiced Timothy as narrator. Herriot’s evocation of the lush Yorkshire Dales in funny and poignant true-to-life tales is sure to soothe the soul. Did you know that there are further Herriot books to enjoy? You’ll find many of them here, in both audio and ebook formats. Also, keep an eye out for more audio versions (also voiced by Timothy) coming to our Overdrive collection this July.

Farm life and bucolic landscapes also feature on several high-quality Acorn TV documentaries and series. If you can’t get enough of James Herriot, you’ll love The Yorkshire Vet, which follows the real-life adventures of two vets now working in Alf Wight’s old practice, one of whom trained under Wight. Or tune in to some pleasurably educational reality TV with “The Family Farm,” filmed in the Welsh countryside. You’ll watch three urban families as they challenge themselves to live an agrarian life for three weeks. For an illuminating ramble across the whole of Wales, accompanied by a charming sheepdog and his knowledgeable human, try “Off the Beaten Track,” also on Acorn TV.

Here’s hoping you find your rural bliss!

Rediscovering IndieFlix: Off the Beaten Path…On the Right Track

If you’ve noticed an uptick in your Netflix binging over the past few months (who hasn’t?), then perhaps you’re in the market for some bite-sized–and possibly more challenging–fare. You’ve racked up a good bit of mileage on that popular-entertainment highway–why not stray off the beaten path for a while?

IndieFlix, the very first video streaming option offered by the Abbot Library, has since been joined by Acorn TV and hoopla, but it merits more than a cursory glance. It’s a hidden gem, with thousands of movies, series, documentaries, and film shorts to sample. Be forewarned–much of this stuff really is indie. You’ll probably be finding yourself in pretty unfamiliar territory: Cannes this is not. But the fascination of the selections on offer lies in their quirkiness. Where else would you find an animated short starring “a sofa-bound dog [who] is shocked to learn that a huge world lies outside the door–the maddening, unbreakable door?” Such is the premise of Cooped, which clocks in at less than half an hour and is squarely in the bite-sized category. 

There’s a range of more serious titles on offer as well, from socially-conscious picks like The Millennial Dream to arts-inspired choices like The Artist’s Toolbox, 14 episodes of interviews with the likes of Isabel Allende and John Legend. Typical comedy, horror, foreign, and romance genres are well-represented–and if it’s a bit of nostalgia you’re after, titles like Flash Gordon, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Roy Rogers will beam you back to the black-and-white era.

So, grab your Marblehead library card and check out a 7-day unlimited-viewing pass today–and either binge or graze to your heart’s content. You might just find that you’re right on track!

If you don’t currently have a Marblehead library card, begin here. And if you have any further questions about IndieFlix or any of our digital services, please feel free to contact the reference staff at mar@noblenet.org.

Anxious Anglophile Therapy: Acorn TV + hoopla

We know you’re out there. Those who flicked on the Queen’s calm, collected, compassionate (and historically rare) televised addresses to her nation on the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who followed the unexpected drama of the Prime Minister’s COVID-19 illness and recovery. Maybe there’s an ancient rootedness, an age-old solidity about the United Kingdom that–despite the recent upheaval of Brexit–appeals to us in our comparatively young and volatile New World. Or perhaps the Brits just have a knack for making us laugh, a good enough therapy in itself. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying Americans’ fascination with and rapacious consumption of British programming!

For Anglophiles, there’s just nothing like Acorn TV. Shows that were once available only on DVD or through subscription streaming are now just a couple of clicks away for Marblehead library card holders. Even better, they’re always available and free. No holds, no waits, no fees. Check out a 7-day pass, and you can blissfully binge-watch until it’s time to check out another pass: no monthly limits or checkout caps. Whether your “comfort genre” is comedy, historical drama, mystery, or documentary, you’ll find plenty to your taste. If you’re the sort who finds solace in schedules (especially in this time of disruption), Acorn TV offers you one, so that you can keep track of offerings that are “Recently Added,” “Coming Soon,” and “Leaving Soon”–you’ll never miss a trick! You can of course browse by category, one of which is currently “Soothing Documentary.” The British really are unapologetic about the value of comfort in these anxious times! 

For those who are already passionate fans of Acorn TV and feel as though they’ve exhausted its possibilities for the moment (though that would take some seriously committed bingeing!), the Abbot Public Library’s newest digital service, hoopla, offers yet more tempting BBC fare. Have  a look at this search of hoopla’s TV category and this one of BBC movies, with 150 and 63 results, respectively. Odds are you’ll find a previously unseen treasure, as there are plenty of titles you may well not have encountered on Acorn – series and films that were popular in the UK but not as widely known in the US.

So, brew yourself a cuppa, butter some toast, and settle in for some seriously brilliant British telly. No therapist’s bills here–just let those plummy accents soothe your stressed-out psyche!

If you’re new to Acorn TV and/or hoopla, have a look at our FAQs page to get started right away! If you need to sign up for a Marblehead library card, you can start here. And do feel free to contact Reference staff at mar@noblenet.org with any further questions.

Poets, Poetry, and Film

Poetic expression often thrives in times of upheaval, as a means of mastering hardship and mustering hope. With that in mind, why not have a look at two library-curated collections of films available through hoopla that observe poets and poems doing just that: 2020 APL Poets, Poetry, & Film and 2020 APL Poets, Poetry, & TV? While poetry and film may seem to be unlikely bedfellows, you might well be amazed by how potent their artistic partnership can be!

History, culture, and sociopolitical issues often find expression in the poetic. Documentaries like O Captain, My Captain: Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War remind us that the tragedies of war and the consolations of poetry have always coexisted. Certain poets can come to embody historical eras, as is the case with the 12th-century polymath Hildegard von Bingen (Vision) and, more familiarly, Allen Ginsberg and the Beat movement in Howl. Themes of societal trauma and incarceration surface in Voices Beyond The Wall: Twelve Love Poems from The Murder Capital of The World and A Place to Stand.

Not surprisingly, a number of the films we’ve curated live at the intersections of poetry with biography or romance. Get to know the elusive Emily Dickinson in My Letter to the World or the larger-than-life Byron in a biopic starring Jonny Lee Miller. Explore relationships through a poetic lens with the suicidal lovers of Amour Fou or with former lovers awkwardly reunited in The Song of Lunch. Or just curl up and savor the romantic romp through iambic pentameter that is Shakespeare in Love.

This is just a sampling of the poetry-infused film collection available to explore on hoopla–we hope you’ll celebrate National Poetry Month with us there!

Comfort Food TV

Are you craving a little cinematic culinary comfort? Longing to savour a sumptuous series? The Abbot Public Library has curated a select menu of foodie-approved film and television fare just for our patrons! If you’re in the mood for a side of romance with an at-home dinner date, you may just try Ang Lee’s Eat, Drink, Man, Woman or Chocolat (this one starring Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, and Judi Dench). Or perhaps you’d like to escape our troubled present and time-travel to a Victorian dining room with Christopher Kimball in Fannie’s Last Supper, a recreation of one of Fannie Farmer’s decadent 12-course meals. We invite you to sample all of these films and more from our library-curated film collection on hoopla2020 APL Comfort Food Cinema

For some tasty kitchen-sink drama, you might also try Acorn TV’s series Delicious or Pie in the Sky; to sample menus from great British country houses of the past, take a look at Lords and Ladles. Just open your RBDigital app and search for the titles!

If your tastes run to food-filled adventure, then tune in to another of the library’s special hoopla collections: 2020 APL Comfort Food TV. Here, you can sink your teeth into some food/travel documentaries like Paul & Nick’s Big American Food Trip or No Passport Required. If tea is, well, your cup of tea, travel round the world to learn all about it with Victoria Wood’s Nice Cup of Tea on Acorn TV (again, search the title in your RBDigital app). Or get in the kitchen and get your hands messy with the pros of America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country–further selections to be found in the hoopla 2020 APL Comfort Food TV collection. Your culinary quest awaits!

If you’re eager to tickle your tastebuds with these offerings (and much more) but have not yet signed up for hoopla or Acorn TV, please take a look at our FAQ page to get started. Bon appetit!