Summer Doldrums–Sorted! August Movies of the Month on hoopla and DVD

The dog days are definitely dragging on. Do you feel like you’ve been there, done that with your summer viewing? If you don’t have the energy to trawl through whatever’s available on TV right now (face it, you know there’s nothing), then hoopla and the Abbot Public Library have some ideas for you! 

Too heat-beat to budge from the couch–or really to move anything except your fingers? hoopla’s got a fabulous little curated collection right at your fingertips. Explore August Movies of the Month for a spectrum of offerings, from an Academy Award winner to a couple of indies to an almost cult-status tween favorite. You can revisit 2016’s Moonlight and recall the historic mixup at the 2017 Oscars. Lad: A Yorkshire Tale certainly didn’t achieve such dizzying heights of acclaim, but as an endearing coming-of-age story in the cool, green landscape of God’s Own Country, it should satisfy.

Or, if you like, travel to the southern end of the Eastern Hemisphere and take in a South African-flavored romance that’s a bit off the beaten track: Forever. With 1,013 viewer reviews averaging 4.5 stars, you probably won’t regret following the path less traveled! And who could say no to Anne Hathaway in her early-career charmer Ella Enchanted? With elements of sci-fi, fairy tale, and fantasy (as well as romance), this is one for the whole family on a balmy summer’s evening.

If you find that you need a good stretch, then hop off the couch and try out APL’s curbside service for the DVD versions of a number of the titles recommended on hoopla: Moonlight, Florence Foster Jenkins, Legally Blonde, and The Last Word are ready for you to place on hold and pick up when they’re ready! And if you don’t see your choice on that list, remember that you can get some of the rest of the titles via interlibrary loan, through APL: A Small Act, Human Capital, Knock Knock, and The Rover! And right now, all DVDs have no checkout fee, too–our treat!

Here’s hoping we’ve helped you beat those summer doldrums!

If you’re new to hoopla, have a look here to get started. If you don’t currently have a library card, you can get started here. It’s easy!


Keep Cool and Carry On: Ice-Cold Movies on hoopla!

No doubt about it–it can be scorching hot out there, even by the seaside, now that July is in full swing! If you’re about ready to dump an ice bucket over your head, hang on. Save that ice for a cooling beverage and pop on over to hoopla, where the Abbot Public Library has curated some Arctic (and Antarctic) titles to seriously cool you off.

Have a look at the collection titled 2020 APL Keep Cool and Carry On for some heat-beating film adventures. If you’re wishing yourself far, far away in the frozen tundra, grab your explorer’s gear and hitch a ride to the South Pole with some spellbinding documentaries. 

Award-winning Antarctica: A Year on Ice gives you a window onto an alien world and those who live there–both animal and human–through the lens of talented nature photographer Anthony Powell. Climate change-conscious Antarctica: Ice and Sky  is an entrancing biopic of Claude Lorius, whose research as a glaciologist was vital to our understanding of the deleterious effects of human industry.

Or head north to the Arctic Circle for more tales of derring-do with Across the Ice. You’ll be keeping company with intrepid explorers Sebastian Copeland and Eric McNair Landry as they chase a Guinness record, kite-skiing the length of Greenland. Get your snowshoes on for an extreme trek across 4000 kilometers of the Canadian Arctic with Adam Shoalts (Alone Across the Arctic.) Some frigid thrills await in feature film Icequake: Panic in the Alps,where a wedding party finds themselves in a nail-biting predicament . Whew! You may just break out in a frozen sweat!

Looking for something a little less white-knuckle and just a shade or two warmer? Lose yourself in a late-life romance between a Czech widow and a charming “ice-swimmer” after a dramatic rescue in Ice Mother. Or watch a comically awful father-son relationship unfold as they try to connect over a shared hobby–ice fishing (Frozen Stupid with Academy Award-winning actor Ernest Borgnine.)

So tune into hoopla and keep your cool–all you need is your library card!

Oh, and by the way, if you’d like access to our expansive DVD collection full of the coolest (and hottest) titles, you’re in luck! Please see the post “What You Need to Know for Curbside Pickup” for all the details. And–good news–during Curbside Service, there is no fee to borrow DVDs!

If you’re new to hoopla, have a look at our FAQs page for pointers. And if you don’t currently have a library card, you can easily get started here.

Saving Jane: “The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner

While Jane Austen is now considered to be one of the greats of English literature, her legacy has not always been so secure. We tend to assume that nearly every famous British writer has his or her blue plaque gracing some historic building in the UK. And doesn’t Jane’s image grace the £10 note? But Chawton Cottage in Hampshire, where Austen enjoyed her most creative period, was not dedicated as a museum until after World War II. Before that, it was subdivided into workers’ cottages and bore little resemblance to what it once was. It is during this somewhat precarious period in the cottage’s history that debut author Natalie Jenner sets her charming novel, The Jane Austen Society.

“Three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work upon,” Austen counseled her aspiring-novelist niece: Jenner takes that suggestion to heart in this carefully-crafted book. The cast is small, and we get to know them well. While they may not be family, they are united by their love of Jane. As in Austen’s novels, plot is secondary to conversation and character development. The chief aim of most of the characters (all of the sympathetic ones, at least) is simple–to purchase and restore Chawton Cottage via a charitable trust. But the chief pleasure to be had here springs from observing the complex emotional journeys of an array of unlikely friends: a country doctor, a housemaid, a lawyer, an American screen siren, the last direct descendent of Jane’s brother Edward Austen-Knight, a farmer, a schoolteacher, and a Sotheby’s auctioneer. The lives of all have been marred by tragedies of various sorts–most of which have taken place off-stage, before the story begins (though Jenner renders a young war widow’s miscarriage and a near-rape in somewhat harrowing detail). Physical objects also play key roles, with Austen’s jewelry, her brother’s grand library, and one of her newly-discovered letters driving the action at points. The author’s delicately deft handling of these threads keeps the reader entranced. So does the suggestion that, amid the struggle to save Austen’s home, these lost souls just might save each other.

Jenner’s novel is not exactly fan fiction, as it neither attempts to mimic Austenian style nor resurrect her characters. However, there are references aplenty to Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion in particular, and the reader will be sure to spot circumstantial resemblances–a long-regretted broken engagement, for instance–as well as believable twentieth-century permutations of favorite heroes and antiheroes. There is much to praise and very little to fault, and as you turn the last page, you very well might find yourself agreeing with Jane’s observation that “if a book is well-written I always find it too short.”

You can access The Jane Austen Society in both ebook and audiobook format on Overdrive/Libby with your Marblehead library card. If you need a card, get started here!

Get Your Vacation Fix with the NPR Road Trip Audio Series!

Ready for a break yet? If you’re feeling restless, consider taking a few statewide drives while listening to some seriously good travel stories. Or if that isn’t an option, you might do the same while lounging in the backyard sunshine. About a decade ago, when the economic downturn wreaked havoc on many vacation budgets, NPR produced a series of story collections in a Road Trips series narrated by beloved All Things Considered host Noah Adams. Within these anthologies, “each story focuses on real locations, real people, and real history in the thought-provoking, imaginative and entertaining way you’ve come to expect from NPR.”* You can find the series on hoopla, now available through the Abbot Public Library for free with your Marblehead card!

Roaming over the vast expanse of the U. S. and beyond, the entries in this series are loosely grouped by theme. Roadside Attractions presents an array of wacky, Guinness-Record-worthy oddities, the sort that provoke gasps of “why would anyone have ever thought of doing that?” Even so, there’s something endearingly niche and nostalgic about a “thirteen-foot Styrofoam scale model of Stonehenge.”* You’ll smell the popcorn as Fairs and Festivals holds up a fun-house mirror to the nation, giving listeners a glimpse of fairground culture in both urban and rural settings–where “people of all stripes and sizes meet to gawk at cows, ponder seed art, get hypnotized, compete in husband-calling contests, and eat virtually anything on a stick.”*

Anyone who has ever taken to the open road with their nearest and dearest can imagine the range of mishap-laden tales offered in Family Vacations. With titles like “Who Needs a Fancy Cruise If You’ve Got Inner Tubes?” by Tom Goldman, you can’t go wrong. National Park Adventures won’t fail to entertain, either, and you can even broaden your horizons–passport-free–by accompanying NPR correspondents around the world in Postcards from Around the Globe.

If you feel like binge-listening over 21 days and want to save on your monthly borrows, you might want to check out the entire NPR Road Trips Collection, which presents all five of the above titles in six hours. Whatever takes your fancy, you can know that your choices are always available–no holds, no waits!

If you’re new to hoopla, have a look at our FAQs page and easily hop on. If you don’t currently have a library card, get started here.

Happy trails to you!

*Quoted material from the publisher via

There’s an App for That!: Read, Watch, and Listen with hoopla

Apps for this, apps for that. Take a look at your phone or mobile device, and you’ll see what we mean. This one’s for reading; that one’s for video streaming; another might be your go-to for the latest playlists and albums. Have you ever wished that you could find an all-in-one app that brings you the quality content you crave? If so, the library might just have what you’re looking for–at no cost!

hoopla is a one-stop borrowing experience that has quite recently joined the Abbot Library’s digital service menu. Just as our brick-and-mortar library offers so much more than just books, hoopla gives you access to–at last count–792,284 ebooks, e-audiobooks, music, films, TV, and even comics. 

As a first-time user, you may want to hop onto it via your browser first to see a potpourri of featured titles, often by categories like “hoopla Movies of the Month” and (currently) “Celebrating Black Music Month.” From here, you can also browse by format and category: perhaps audiobooks in the category “Conversations about Race,” or “Featured” music by release date. You’ll find brand-new albums like Pick Me Up Off the Floor by Norah Jones as well as diverse collections in just about any genre you can think of. While you’re at it, have a peek at some of the library’s specially-curated collections in audiobook, movie/TV, and music formats–they’re distinguishable by titles beginning with “2020 APL” like this one: “2020 APL Comfort Food Cinema.” One of hoopla’s best features? Everything is always available to everyone, 24/7–no holds, no waits!

You can also go straight to the hoopla app via your app store and dive in to find all of the above and more. You’ll immediately see your personal “Borrowed” page with a prompt to search for your next great read, watch, or listen. You’ll also see your previously borrowed titles–a real boon if you’re reading or watching a series! A “Favorites” tab keeps track of titles you’ve “liked” during previous searches but weren’t ready to check out yet. Once again, you can browse or search by format, or just search all formats at once by artist/author, title, or series. Want to try out your research skills? Try an “Advanced Search” to discover even more content that suits your personal taste.

While you won’t be barraged with spam, hoopla will send you the occasional email, reminding you of the number of borrows you have remaining, highlighting new collections, or inviting you to participate in their “book clubs” (see this post for an example). Watch for “hoopla Digital” as the sender. New titles are added monthly, so this platform is definitely dynamic– you won’t want to miss anything!

For detailed instructions on how to sign up for hoopla with your Marblehead library card, take a look at our FAQs page. If you don’t currently have a card, begin here. And if you want to stream hoopla video content on your smart TV, there are detailed instructions on the hoopla help page. As always, if you have any other questions about hoopla, feel free to contact the reference staff at!

Need a Clue? Find “New” Classic Golden Age Mysteries on hoopla!

Why do so-called “Golden Age” mysteries–written by a handful of British authors in the 1920s and 30s–appeal so strongly? Considering that they flourished specifically in the post-World War I era, it could be argued that these highly-crafted, ingenious puzzle-stories gave their first readers a sense of control after the horror and chaos of a senseless conflict. In these tales, good clearly triumphs over evil; evil is usually confined to a single murder (or perhaps a few related ones); and the good detectives (with whom the reader identifies) seldom die. It’s a comfortingly controlled world. One that, despite the dastardly deeds committed therein, still offers us a welcome respite from the messiness of real life.

Unfortunately, as you may have discovered, the oeuvre is somewhat limited. But if you think you’ve devoured every last crumb of classic mystery fare available, from Agatha Christie to Dorothy Sayers to Margery Allingham, don’t despair! Here’s your clue to discovering more delights. Republished under the auspices of the renowned British Library, the eight anthologies of short mystery fiction available on hoopla offer you tales from the era that have been out of print since before World War II. Herein, you’ll find bite-sized pleasures from familiar authors like G. K. Chesterton and new-to-our era writers like J. Jefferson Farjeon. Occasionally, you’ll even chance upon something from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his contemporaries a generation earlier. 

Edited and introduced by scholar Martin Edwards, each title in this set of British Library Crime Classics presents an array of stories sharing some familiar plot elements. Everything from the favorite country house murder to the not-so-bucolic countryside/village crime to the slightly grittier London mystery is well-represented in the series. And if it’s full-length tales you’re after, you can devour a pair of them from the largely-forgotten writer John Bude republished together just this year: Death in White Pajamas & Death Knows No Calendar.

So if you need a half-hour’s calm amid the present storms, dip into one or all of these classics, select a story at will, and settle in for a slice of pitch-perfect whodunit heaven.

You can access these British Library Crime Classics and more for free with your Marblehead library card on hoopla. If you don’t currently have a Marblehead card, get started here.

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

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 with any further questions.

What’s All The hoopla About?

Have you noticed all the hoopla lately? No, we’re not talking about the hourly coronavirus updates. We here at the virtual APL are celebrating the launch of our brand-new online media service called—you guessed it, hoopla! Browse more than 39,000 audiobooks, 11,000 movies, nearly 30,000 music albums, 11,000 comics, more than 108,000 ebooks, and nearly 2000 seasons of popular TV series now! All absolutely for free!

You’re entitled to up to 5 borrows per month. But with all this exciting content to choose from, you may want more—and you can have more. hoopla is currently offering thousands of Bonus Borrows in various adult and children’s categories. These special borrows do not count towards your monthly total, so you can read/listen/watch with abandon! This special promotion will be active through April 30, 2020.

One of hoopla’s fabulous features is the option to use Kids Mode. When browsing or searching in this mode, you and your kids will find fascinating content appropriate to children 12 and under. Parents, this could save your sanity right now!

We’re especially excited about hoopla’s music streaming content. You can access brand-new albums for free, anytime, anywhere. Have a look here for music that just hit the virtual shelves within the last week.

Signing on to hoopla is quick and easy. All you’ll need is your email address, any password you choose, and your Marblehead library card. Go here and click on the big blue button in the center of the page to get started! If you need a library card, learn how to register for a card here.

Register for a Library Card Online!

Did you know that any Marblehead resident who would like to register for a library card may do so, even while the Library is closed? Having a library card will allow you to access the Library’s electronic collections, which you can find on the eBooks, Movies, and More! page, as well as digital resources

If you know you have a library card already but can’t find it or don’t know the number, please email for assistance.

If you need to register for a card, just fill out this online form as completely as possible, click “Submit Registration,” and a library staff member will be in touch with your new library card information! 

Your new temporary card number will be valid for two months (and this time period will be extended, as needed, until the Library re-opens), and it will grant Marblehead residents access to our wide array of digital services to enjoy from home! 

Once the library reopens, patrons with temporary barcodes may present a valid ID, which needs to include a current name and address, to pick up an official library card for full use of all library services.

Please contact the Library’s Circulation Coordinator at with any questions.