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Librarian in Residence: Light and sound at the library

By Jessica Green on November 6, 2013


Although I am sure most people are using things like iTunes and Netflix these days to access their entertainment media digitally, the Ottawa Public Library has quite the collection of music CDs and DVDs in a number of languages available to borrow. It’s a great way to brush up your knowledge of  say French New Wave Cinema when you can borrow Les Quatre Cents Coups (the 400 Blows), Jules et Jim or Hiroshima, mon amour.

Missed a few flicks at the Bytowne or Mayfair theatres? Many appear in the collection, like Kings of Pastry or Much Ado About Nothing. And we also carry some of the old classics like Charade (a personal favourite), Lawrence of Arabia or even Back to the Future.

You can even find full seasons of shows like Call the Midwife or The Wire – although there’s a bit of a wait for popular shows like these. And I almost forgot to mention the Express collection that contains the hot new releases! You can’t place those on hold, but hit your local branch to see what’s there as it changes every day.

 OPL also has three options for music: you can go old school and borrow CDs, you download and keep three songs a week from Freegal or you can up your classical or jazz music cred by streaming from the Naxos Music library. For those people like myself that still use CDs from time to time, you can find a wide range of music, like A Tribe Called Red’s Nation II Nation, the latest from, or even a soundtrack from a cancelled TV show like Pan Am. I keep trying different artists and finding gems, so you never know what you can find (Mes Aieux, Basia Bulat, Sergio Mendes, Ben Folds, NIN….)

If you’ve moved beyond CDs, you can download 3 MP3s a week from the Freegal database which features about 3 million songs, including Sony Music’s catalog of legendary artists. According to the website, “In total the collection is comprised of music from over 10,000 labels with music that originates in over 60 countries.” You get to keep the DRM free MP3s, which is pretty cool and all you have to do is sign in with your library card.

You can also stream from the Naxos Music Library  which features a large catalogue of Jazz and Classical music. According to the website, it has almost 1.3 million tracks, so I doubt you’ll run out of songs anytime soon.

Quick picks this time:

Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World’s Most Polluted Places by Andrew Blackwell – a very entertaining look at some of the most polluted places found all over the world. Blackwell visits Chernobyl, Linfen (China), Fort Mac Murray and other spots to be a tourist. Really.

Sacre Bleu: A Comedy D’art by Christopher Moore – It’s a strange tale of the Impressionists told in Moore’s crazy style. I recommend reading the book as the electronic copy I attempted wasn’t printed in blue ink with lovely colour prints of the paintings described in the tale.

Luther: Season One –  A great but very dark show from the BBC which isn’t your typical police procedural, featuring the incomparable Idris Elba. Highly recommended but not for the faint of heart.