Stuck Home? Need Something to Read? Evanston Public Library’s Got Your Back

March 17, 2020

Well folks, it happened. The library up and closed on you and here you are without anything to read. A great big library full of books, but you can’t get access to them. Does that sound fair?

Not to worry. Consider this a golden opportunity. After all, it has never been a better time to discover the wide and wonderful world of e-books. Do electronic books and audiobooks sound scary or weird? They’re not! These are just a new way to read all your favorites without leaving the comfort of your own home. And luckily for you, EPL has a whole range of options to choose from. Not just books either but also movies are sitting there just ripe for the watching. Here’s a quick How To guide on your options:

Overdrive / Libby

Okay, let’s start with the place that will have the LARGEST selection of ebooks just waiting for you. To make sure you get access to as many books as possible, Evanston Public Library belongs to an ebook consortium called the Digital Library of Illinois. Basically, a whole slew of local libraries came together to pool our ebooks. That means that even if we don’t have the specific title available that you’re looking for, at least there’s plenty of other things to browse. To access these books and audiobooks, all you need is your library card. Then you can either go to this website or download the Overdrive app which is named Libby. From there you’ll be asked to sign in with your library card. After that, all you need to do is find what you’re interested in and download it. Sometimes you’ll find that someone else has “checked out” the item you want. Don’t worry. You can just put it on hold and find something else to read or listen to in the interim.


hoopla logo

Don’t feel like waiting around for someone to return an e-item? Then check out Hoopla, where there’s never a wait. Like Overdrive you can download the app or go to the aforementioned website to check out the selection. See something you like? You can check it out immediately! Just bear in mind that we have a daily limit and if too many people download items in a single day you might have to wait until the next day to get what you want. Best of all, there’s music, movies, and TV shows to choose from. All for the taking.


introducing Kanopy

Of course, Hoopla’s movies and TV shows are a bit . . . limited sometimes. What if you wanted to see a classic film or something from the Criterion collection? What if you wanted to pluck something from a huge selection of indie films or documentaries? What if you wanted something from the Great Courses series? All of that, and much more, is available through Kanopy. And like Hoopla, everything you’ll find there is instantly available. Be careful, though. You’re only allowed three titles per month, so if you accidentally download something there’s nothing to be done!


So here’s a question for you. What if you’ve an interest in reading the books written by your fellow Evanstonians? Is there a place where you can find ebooks by local writers? There is! Introducing Biblioboard. Like Knopy and Hoopla it’s based on simultaneous use. Browse works by locals or, if you’re feeling brave, check out the other self-published titles available. Are you interested in maybe getting your own book on the site as well. You can! With our program, you can format and submit your own title.


Enjoy the range of selections from your favorite local library. And don’t worry. Soon enough we’ll be up and running again, but now you’ll have the knowledge you need to keep checking out ebooks in the future. Cheers!

Kanopy Offers Free Streaming Movies with Your Library Card

introducing KanopyKanopy is here!

The Evanston Public Library is now offering free access to Kanopy, an all-movie streaming service. Kanopy brings more than 30,000 of the world’s best films to stream on computers, tablets, and other mobile devices. EPL  cardholders can sign up to start streaming films instantly onto any computer, television, mobile device or platform at the Kanopy website:

The Kanopy collections includes recent indie hits like Ladybird, Moonlight, and The Florida Project; classics like Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush, The Great Dictator, and Modern Times as well as Rashomon and The Little Shop of Horrors; and award-winning documentaries like the 2017 Oscar-nominated I Am Not Your Negro and Sundance Film Festival winner Mother of George. Kanopy’s motto is “thoughtful entertainment,” and the films often have social and cultural value or are difficult or impossible to view anywhere else.

Films can be streamed onto any computer, television, mobile device or platform by downloading the Kanopy app for AppleTV, iPhone, and iPad; Android TV and Android; and Fire TV and Fire Tablet. Library users can stream three films per library card per month. Each movie is available for 72 hours (3 days). Many of the titles are unavailable on DVD. The foreign language collection is especially impressive, as are the number of documentaries and Criterion Collection films.

“A Garden of Cinematic Delights” says the The New York Times.

Available films include award-winning documentaries, rare and hard-to-find titles, film festival favorites, indie and classic films, and international films from France, Germany, Japan, Scandinavia, and Italy. The films come from such sources at PBS, the Film Board of Canada, New Day Films, and A24, as well as The Great Courses, Samuel Goldwyn, Music Box Films, and thousands of independent filmmakers.

Kanopy was founded in 2008 by CEO Olivia Humphrey as an educational tool for colleges and universities. Before, only Northwestern students in Evanston were able to use Kanopy as it is available through their academic library system. Now everyone in town with an Evanston Public Library card can benefit.

EPL's Favorite Superhero Movies — The Votes Are In!

August 12, 2016

Our superhero super fans have spoken!  Below are the top picks in our survey of EPL’s Favorite Superhero Movies:

Most Anticipated Upcoming Superhero Movie…

Doctor-Strange-PosterDoctor Strange (November 2016)

“Two words… Benedict. Cumberbatch.”

— Seth

Favorite Recent Superhero Movie…

age of ultronAvengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

“I think the Avengers movies have done a good job of not destroying the franchise.  Captain America: Civil War was a close second.”

— Danielle

Favorite Superhero Movie of All Time…

dark knightThe Dark Knight (2008)

“The people on the boats, Batman’s faith in the citizens of Gotham… It flips the script.”

— Elizabeth

And the Best Batman is… Continue reading “EPL's Favorite Superhero Movies — The Votes Are In!”

EPL's Favorite Superhero Movies

August 5, 2016


At long last Suicide Squad is hitting theaters nationwide, and now we’ve got a fever.  A superhero fever, that is, and the only cure is to talk superhero movies right here on Off the Shelf.  Whether you’re a DC purist or loyal to Marvel, do us a super solid and visit EPL’s Favorite Superhero Movies to cast your votes for the best past, present, and future blockbusters in the genre along with your all-time favorite Batman.  Remember, with great voting power comes great responsibility so don’t delay, and make sure to check back with Off the Shelf next week for all the voting results.  Now, EPL Assemble!

EPL Goes to the Oscars!

February 21, 2016


Calling all Evanston movie lovers and likers!  The 88th Academy Awards are less than one week away, and here on Off the Shelf, we need your help.  You see, we want to know who you think should win the big six Oscars of 2016 and why.  We’re not asking who you think WILL win but who you think SHOULD win, and please don’t worry if you haven’t seen all or even most of the nominated films.  Even if you only saw one movie, don’t be shy and please let us know what you thought by filling out our EPL Oscar Picks 2016 Survey.  After that, make sure to check back with Off the Shelf throughout this week for all the results.  Stay tuned.

They Had Faces Then

December 17, 2013

o'tooleHollywood lost two legendary stars over the weekend: Peter O’Toole died Saturday in London at the age of 81; Joan Fontaine was 96 when she died at her Carmel, California home on Sunday. Peter O’Toole is probably best know for his Oscar nominated performance in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. His striking good looks prompted playwright Noel Coward to quip “if  O’Toole had been any prettier, they would have had to call the movie “Florence of Arabia.” Nominated for a total of eight Academy Awards, including Becket, The Lion in Winter, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, The Ruling Class, and Man of La Mancha, Mr. O’Toole won an  honorary Oscar in 2003. This NYT article is a fascinating look at this charismatic star.

fontaine-refer-articleInlineJoan Fontaine was 24 years old when she won the best actress Oscar for the 1942 film Suspicion. Her film career thrived in the 1940s and 1950s with title roles in Jane Eyre (opposite Orson Welles); Letter From an Unknown Woman; and Island in the Sun. She and her sister actress Olivia de Havilland were “estranged for most of their adult lives, a situation Ms. Fontaine once attributed to her having married and won an Oscar before Ms. de Havilland did.” You can read more about this actress here.


To Boycott, Or Not To Boycott?

November 8, 2013

ImageEnder’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, is considered one of the classics of science fiction.  It has appeared near the top of any comprehensive list of the best of sci-fi and fantasy since it was originally published, in 1985.  It is the winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, the highest honors in the genre.  And yet, the long-delayed release of the film version of Ender’s Game has been accompanied by controversy and threats of boycott.

Continue reading “To Boycott, Or Not To Boycott?”

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

July 14, 2012

Waiting for the King

Writer Dave Eggers talks about his new novel A Hologram for the King with the NY Times.  Along with discussing his differing approaches to fiction and nonfiction, the Zeitoun author explores how Waiting for Godot, Willy Loman, and a visit to Saudi Arabia subtly influenced the book.

Superheroes for the Silver Screen

The Onion presents 21 comic book super teams perfect for the movies. Inspired by The Avengers’ blockbuster and this weekend’s Comic-Con, they lobby for bringing Alpha Flight, Doom Patrol, the Champions, the Thunderbolts, Seven Soldiers, and the Zoo Crew to Hollywood.

The Importance of Being Orwell

George Orwell’s diaries are dissected by the late Christopher Hitchens in this fascinating Vanity Fair feature.  Due out next month, the 1984 author’s personal writings shed light on how his years in Morocco and Spain in the 1930’s and ’40’s greatly influenced his political convictions.

Thank You for Being a Friend

Learn the art of bromance with this look at 11 great literary friendships.  Through inspiring highs and jealous lows, peek inside the complex relationships between Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien, and Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus.

Hot Off the Interweb

March 24, 2012

The Private Lives of Great Writers

The extent to which an author’s personal life sheds light on their work is debated by Salon.  Weighing in on Jonathan Franzen’s controversial New Yorker essay, the article explores just how relevant Edith Wharton’s looks and Saul Bellow’s marital problems are to appreciating their novels.

Beyond The Art of Fielding

The American novelist’s interest in sports is thoroughly examined in Slate.  Focusing on Chad Harbach’s bestseller as well as books by Philip Roth, John Updike, Don DeLillo, and David Foster Wallace, the insightful essay looks at how sports are used to explore courage, resilience, and loyalty.

The Composites

Police sketch software is used to create portraits of famous characters in literature on this seductively strange website.  Using descriptions straight from the novels, artist and writer Brian Joseph Davis’ depictions include Rochester from Jane Eyre, Emma Bovary, and Ignatius J. Reilly (pictured).

Ladies’ Night on Movie Night

Celebrate Women’s History Month with one of these 40 films featuring some seriously cool ladies both real and fictitious.  Pop some corn and take your pick from titles including Persepolis, La Vie en Rose, The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter, Amelie, and The Color Purple.

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