Oscar Nomination Race: Best Actor

There has been a lot of drama surrounding the Academy Awards this year. Many people feel the award ceremony is outdated, too long, unfunny, out of touch, and a lot of other colorful words that basically mean “bad.” It seemed like this year the Academy has wanted to combat their ever dropping viewer count but has only managed to stir up more controversy.

First, there was the disastrous attempt at a “Best Popular Film” category which was immediately backtracked. Then the not as well known but still notable scandal surrounding Foreign Films. This involved US Territories petitioning to be allowed to submit under Best Foreign Films instead of having to fight Hollywood made movies for the other awards. This was denied, which caused a minor uproar among US Territory filmmakers, and in particular, Puerto Rican filmmakers. And of course, the issues regarding a host – Kevin Hart signing up, dropping out, and then being rumored to sign back up again. It seems that the Oscars will not have a host this year, a move that is puzzling to viewers, as the last time they didn’t have a host was not particularly well received. They’ve also made the decision to have a hard line at three hours, and are bundling many of the technical awards together to be shown at the very end. Whether these changes will help their viewers remains to be seen.

Still, the endless think pieces and guesses for who will win the biggest awards keeps going on. Last year, we at the Audio Visual Department had our own guesses as to who might win Best Picture. This year, we’re looking at the Best Actor category.

Christian Bale in Vice

Theatrical poster for Vice

Despite some setbacks with Vice and it’s release date being pushed back, Bale picked up the Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Award for the Golden Globes this past Sunday. This points to a Best Actor nod at the very least but definitely puts him at the front of the race. This combined with the movie being a bit of everything the Academy loves – an actor who puts his whole being into a performance, a searing look at a historical and political figure, and a sweeping historical piece. It could be that this is the movie that finally gets the actor that coveted Best Actor prize, an award he has been nominated for once but has yet to win.

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody

bohemian rhapsody2
Theatrical poster for Bohemian Rhapsody

One of the biggest surprises this award season has been the number of wins that the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody has picked up. The film did great at the box office but was garnered mediocre reviews from critics, leading many to assume it wouldn’t win many awards. The movie has gone on to surprise many for the amount of nominations and wins it has picked up – though many seemed pleased with Malek’s Best Actor win at the Golden Globes, and he is generally agreed to be the best thing about the movie. The question is – can Rami Malek ride this momentum all the way to the Academy Awards or will the problems critics had with the movie be too much for his performance to surmount?

Viggo Mortensen in The Green Book

green book
Theatrical poster for The Green Book

An initially under-looked movie that quickly turned heads, Viggo Mortensen has been a surprise winner this award season. While the movie itself has relatively mixed reviews – the main criticism being that the movie is too “feel good” for its subject matter – the performances from its stars Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali have been getting rave reviews. With Viggo Mortensen winning the NBR award for Best Actor, he seems a shoo-in for a Best Actor nomination. He did, however, fail to win the Golden Globe win from Christian Bale, but that might not mean he won’t win the Oscar. Both movies and performances have things that the Academy has historically been fond of, with the Green Book being a feel-good historical piece that explores the bonds of friendship and the relationships that develop between people from different walks of life.

John David Washington in Blackkklansman

Theatrical Poster for Blackkklansman

A newcomer on the big screen and son of actor Denzel Washington,  John David Washington has yet to win an award for his role as Detective Ron Stallworth in the award season. Despite that, he has won nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Golden Globes, and the Critic’s Choice. Nominations and winners for those awards are generally the best indicators for who will be nominated for the Oscars. He’s going up against a lot of big names in the industry, and it seems unlikely that he will win, but if the Oscars were looking for a surprise upset win, it would most likely be with John David Washington. As it is, they’re likely to give him a nomination as a nod to his critically acclaimed performance.

Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born

a star is born
Theatrical poster for A Star is Born

While Cooper has definitely been a fan favorite and front runner for Best Actor, he has a number of obstacles he has to climb before being guaranteed that Best Actor award. Firstly, he is not only the lead actor in the movie but also the director. In the history of the Oscars, there have been very few people that have won an acting award for directing themselves in a movie – Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood, and Warren Beatty all won Best Director and picked up a nomination for Best Actor, but none of them won it. Secondly, every version of A Star is Born has been historically shut out of Academy Award wins – including the rather infamous snub of Judy Garland in Best Actress, who was supposed to be a sure thing, but lost. And thirdly, and most importantly – the movie hasn’t been doing as well as expected in the acting category during this award season. Despite huge box office numbers and glowing reviews from critics, Bradley Cooper has not won Best Actor at many of the major award festivals, losing the NBR award to Viggo Mortensen, and the Golden Globe to Rami Malek. The movie only won a single Golden Globe from its five nominations – with a win for Best Original Song. While it’s likely he will get nominated, it seems incredibly unlikely that he’ll win.


So – who do you think will win? Will Bradley Cooper overcome the odds and finally get that Best Actor award after four nominations? Will John David Washington win for his feature film debut? Or will one of our previous season award winners snag the win?



New-To-You Audio Books

Here at the Berwyn Public Library, we have a great collection of audiobooks. On the first floor there are audiobooks for fiction, non-fiction, and biographies. Every month we add new audiobooks to our collection. From new and popular novels like The Outsider by Stephen King to debut novels like White Chrysantemum by Mary Lynn Bracht, we are always expanding our collection.

Audiobooks are perfect if you live a more fast-paced lifestyle. Putting in a CD or downloading the audio onto your iPod or Android is a great way to get some “reading” in without having to put your day on hold. You can listen in the car, while exercising, or while walking. It’s also good to remember that audiobooks can be found at the Berwyn Library and on Hoopla!

In addition to new audiobooks, we also sometimes get audiobooks that are new to our library, though they’ve been out for a few years. These audiobooks don’t get put in the new section, but instead, go straight to the stacks. So if you want to try out a “new to you” audiobook but didn’t find anything in our new section, here are some “new to us” audiobooks for you to enjoy!

Earthly Joys by Phillipa Gregory

Earthly Joys, the first book in the Tradescant series, follows the life of historical figure John Tradescant. Tradescant was a famous gardener and unofficial adviser to British royalty in the 17th century. Phillipa Gregory, the author of the book and regarded by many as the master of historical royalty novels, released the book originally in 2005. It was not until August of this year that the book was released on audio CD. Read by seasoned actor David Rintoul, Earthly Joys finally comes to life in the heard word.


Him Her Him Again the End of Him by Patricia Marx

This humorous novel is the first solo work of Harvard Lampoon and SNL writer Patricia Marx, and is read in audiobook form by Hillary Huber. The story follows a neurotic young woman who becomes obsessed with her narcissistic first love. Despite their breakup, she stays obsessed with him, even as he pays her little mind and moves on with his life.  The novel and audiobook came out in 2006 and 2007 and was recently purchased by our library.

Henry the Gaoler by A. W. Exley

The prequel to A. W. Exley’s Ella, The Slayer, this historical romance is a spin on the story of Rapunzel. The story starts with the return of a young WWI soldier, Henry, coming home at the end of WWI. Hoping to make up for abandoning the girl he loves, Hazel, he finds her paranoid parents have taken severe precautions in locking up their daughter as the Spanish Influenza sweeps through the country. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Henry the Gaoler was released in print in 2016, and the audiobook came out approximately a year and a half later.

The Essential Rumi by Rumi

The Essential Rumi is a revised and remastered release of the first edition of poems by renown Sufi poet Rumi. Translated and read by Coleman Barks, this audiobook features dozens of newly translated poems by Rumi as well as his other well-known poems. If you’ve ever been interested in diving into his poetry, this audiobook is the perfect opportunity.

Musashi by  Yoshikawa Eiji

Originally published as a serial in a Japanese newspaper in 1935, Musashi is a fictionalized account of the life of one of the most renown Japanese swordsman to ever live. The story was written by Eiji Yoshikawa and cemented his fame as a historical fiction writer. Of his many books, four of them have been translated into English. The release of the audiobook Musashi, read by Brian Nishii, marks the first of his books to be released on audio format.

Mary Shelley, The Inventor of Science Fiction

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the author of the classic gothic horror novel Frankenstein, didn’t just write a book – she invented a genre. The world of science fiction didn’t exist before Mary Shelley got her hands on it. There had been minor forays but it was Mary Shelley who took the concept of threading drama, theme, and theoretical science together to make a novel. To narrow down a handful of movies or books that were inspired by her would be nearly impossible; from Mr. Spock to Ellen Ripley to Han Solo and even to Tony Stark, characters involved in science fiction owe their existence to an 18 year old girl who had a nightmare one summer night.

The unfortunate thing is that not many know about this. Frankenstein was considered amoral and irreligious when it came out, so when the original film adaption came out, it didn’t include much of her original story about a Creator abandoning his Creature and the consequences of bringing life into the world. Despite the fact that there have been quite literally dozens of adaptions in the past decade alone, most of these movies take their inspiration from the original film, and not Mary Shelley’s original novel at all.

The initial inspiration for Frankenstein came from a nightmare Mary Shelley had at a cottage. Mary and a group of writers were staying at a villa together for the summer and the group decided to try their hand at telling ghost stories. Mary, who had already developed a fascination with life and death due to the passing of her mother, the miscarriage of several children, and the suicide of her lover’s wife, spent a while attempting to think of something, suffering from some sort of writer’s block. Finally, she had a nightmare – she saw a horrific human-like creature laid out on a table, and a scientist standing over the Creature. In her nightmare, the scientist shocks the Creature to life and then, horrified by the life he has created, he runs off as the Creature opens it’s horrible, yellow eyes.

And thus, Frankenstein  was born.

There are of course more obvious stories that take their inspiration from her. Some of theme even wind up being more faithful to her story and themes than the hundreds of adaptions that bare the name Frankenstein. In this list, you’ll find not just adaptions but also works that more heavily derive themselves from her story.


Avengers: Age of Ultron

There are so many similarities between the creature of Ultron and the creation of the Creature, it’s almost impossible to miss it. Tony Stark, in his bid to create an intelligent suit, winds up creating a robot that is bent on destruction. Two things stand out: firstly, that Tony literally brings Ultron to life with a bolt of lightning – an obvious homage to Mary Shelley. The second is less obvious but still notable: Ultron is an eloquent creature who frequently talks like someone out of the Romantics Era. Much like the Creature, he is an intelligent being with a violent streak.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The popular action sci-fi series that recently got a boot has a surprising amount in common with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Starting with a medical experiment gone astray, Rise of the Planet of the Apes focuses on the relationship between a Creature and it’s father, in this case the ape Cesar and his caretaker Will. Cesar, like the Creature, is capable of kindness and complicated thought, but because of the form he takes, is looked down on by humankind. Granted, Cesar’s life takes on a much happier theme than the Creature’s does, in no small part because Will refuses to abandon Cesar, and Cesar holds onto that feeling – compared to the Creature, who is promptly abandoned by the horrified Victor Frankenstein.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Like her classic novel, the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde combine many of the concepts that were popular with writers during the Romantics Era and threads them with science. Both novels focus on what happens when humans play God, with Shelley focusing a bit more on what makes us human and author Robert Louis Stevenson focusing more on unleashing the id.

The Hulk

The classic Marvel character, the Hulk/Dr. Bruce Banner is essentially a modern day version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which means it already bares many stylistic similarities. What’s more interesting is that both characters deal with issues surrounding childhood – the Creature is abandoned by Dr. Frankenstein and spends much of the novel hating his father for abandoning him. Bruce Banner’s childhood bares a striking resemblance – Bruce’s father frequently abused him to the point that Bruce started acting out at school as a way to cope with his own feelings of neglect.

Penny Dreadful

The sleeper hit show combines the stories of many gothic horror books including Dracula, Van Helsing, An American Werewolf In London, and Frankenstein. This story is much more faithful to the original book written by Shelley. Frankenstein is a young man instead of a mad old scientist, played by the then 28 year old Harry Treadaway. His Creature, Caliban, is terrifying and eloquent, even quoting literary novels and scripture. Their story starts out the same – young Frankenstein, horrified by what he has created and knowing he can’t control it, abandons Caliban when he first makes him, but Caliban seeks his creator out anyways, with disastrous results.

Victor Frankenstein (left) and Caliban, Frankenstein’s Creature in Penny Dreadful.

Van Helsing

Despite being one of the most unpopular Van Helsing movies to ever come out, Sommen’s Van Helsing is in many ways more faithful to its adaption of The Creature than the majority of Frankenstein movies. The Creature in this movie  is not the grunting, slow moving Creature from many adaptions, but an intelligent man who seeks a purpose – and to be left alone. Van Helsing even outright states in the movie that while evil may have brought Frankenstein’s Monster into the world, the Creature himself is not actually evil.




Oscar Nomination Race: Best Picture

Award Season is getting into full swing with the Golden Globes airing tonight. While there are a few frontrunners when it comes to the acting categories, this award season has been more than a little odd when it comes to predicting Best Picture. Usually, one or two films will win at film festivals and then that film will go on to win Best Picture. However, the wins have been all over the place this film season. Not just that, but a number of front runners didn’t get a nomination for Best Ensemble at the Golden Globes, which is statistically a must have for best picture. This makes it fairly difficult to predict a winner.

Despite the oddness of this season, there have been a number of films that stood out, and many more on top of that that were unique and successful in a way that might earn them an Oscars nod, if not an outright award. Here, we have a look at some of the movies that have been thrown around as possible nominations for Best Picture.


Get Out – available at BPL


Considered the closest thing to a front-runner for Best Picture in this award season, Jordan Peele’s first go at directing is already considered to be a modern classic. Despite the fact that Peele has writing and acting credits almost exclusively in comedy, he believed that the genres were similar enough pacing wise that he could do a convincing horror movie – and he was right. The movie by and large refuses to rely on jump-scares, instead forcing the the viewer into the shoes of its main character as an incredibly chilling plot unfolds.

Get Out is not only a box office success, but also hugely popular with critics for it’s satirical base in plot and commentary on racism. This commentary is what seems to be pushing it ahead as a prime candidate for not just a nomination but also a win. Since The Academy added a large amount of younger and more diverse voters to it’s numbers, the movie seems to be resonating more with the voters than it might have in the past.


Dunkirk – available at BPL


Dunkirk, which came out in July of 2016, has managed to carve out a name for itself in film history even before the Oscars. Not only is it considered by and large to be director Christopher Nolan’s best work, but it’s also considered to be one of the best war films ever made. The movie took in $525 million worldwide, which makes it the highest grossing World War II film ever made, and was subsequently nominated for 8 Critics Choice Awards and 3 Golden Globes.

Praise for it’s cinematography, screenplay, and musical score almost guarantees its nomination for Best Picture. What might push it past Get Out for the win will be it’s popularity with techies, as the film is a technical marvel. If it does win Best Picture, it will be the first Oscar Award that Nolan has ever won, a surprising fact considering how well known Nolan is.



The Shape of Water – released in theaters Dec. 1st


Considered Guillermo del Toro’s best film to date, and a labor of love for the monster loving director, The Shape of Water has been winning over critics and winning at film festivals since August. The screenplay, which has been described as touching and “joyously free,” has been an idea in the back of del Toro’s mind since he was a child. The film is thus an ode to Classic Hollywood, while also working as a commentary on bigotry. Chief among the praise is lead actress Sally Hawkins, who seems a likely contender for Best Actress. But this praise is not just for the screenplay or acting, but for the makeup and prosthetic designs in it as well. The Amphibian Man, played by Doug Jones, has been getting a lot of attention from the makeup artist crowd as well. While it’s not exactly a top contender for winning Best Picture, it seems likely the movie will be getting a nomination nod at the very least.


I, Tonya – released in theaters Dec. 8th


The biopic based off the life of figure skater Tonya Harding has been cast as a bit of a dark horse in the Oscars race. Margot Robbie’s performance as Harding has been getting a decent amount of attention, as well as the performance of Allison Janney. The strong acting, combined with the Winter Olympics coming up and bringing the movie into the spotlight a bit more, means that it is possible that the movie could get nominated. It’s chances are hindered by the fact that many are prediction Margot Robbie for a possible upset for Best Actress with the Golden Globes, and more than one upset for a single movie is not likely. However, it still does merit a mention.


Mudbound – released on Netflix Nov. 17th



A heavy period drama that focuses on two World War II veterans, one white and one black, as they face their PTSD as well as racism in the American South, Mudbound earned itself a standing ovation when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The screenplay and direction have been complimented because of the timeless way the struggles of the characters have been captured. The acting has received much critical acclaim as well, snagging a number of Best Ensemble Awards, and actress Mary J. Blige has received a Golden Globe nomination for her role. Its the sort of serious subject matter that the Academy tends to eat up, and yet it doesn’t seem to be a favorite for Best Picture. Why? Because it released not in theaters, but on Netflix. Despite gaining ground for other awards, there has yet to be a single Netflix produced movie or show nominated for an Oscar. Many seem hopeful that Mudbound will be the movie that finally pushes Netflix into the Academy Awards however.

Wonder Woman – available at BPL



It is true Wonder Woman isn’t exactly a likely candidate for a nomination, much less a win. After all, action and superhero movies aren’t exactly popular with the Academy. Despite that, however, the award for Best Picture was opened up to 10 nominations due to the snub of The Dark Knight back in 2009, and Wonder Woman was not only very popular with the younger crowd, but also broke box office records across genres. So, while it’s not a likely candidate, it is still in the running for a nomination nod.


The Big Sick – available at BPL


Of all the movies being thrown out there for a possible nomination for Best Picture, The Big Sick is probably the least likely to be nominated. Based on the real life story of its writers Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick follows the young couples story as they battle with cultural differences and medical emergencies. The film is an indie movie and cost only $5 million to make. The reason it keeps being mentioned however, is because of how fantastic it did at the box office, making $55 million worldwide once it closed in theaters. The screenplay has been praised by critics and the film won a number of awards at various film festivals.

So while an indie movie isn’t exactly likely to get nominated, if anyone was going to, it would almost definitely be The Big Sick.

JRR Tolkien, the Father of Fantasy

In the long run, it would be easier to talk about what fantasy media that JRR Tolkien hasn’t inspired. Considered the “Father of Fantasy,” Tolkien redefined what high fantasy looked like. It has gotten to the point where it’s often hard to tell where inspiration form his work is meant and where it’s subconscious.
Still, in honor of his birthday, it would be fun to look at some of the ways he inspired other artists. Some of them are fairly obvious, but many are surprising.
Harry Potter 
Michael Gambon as Dumbledore is pictured on the left. Ian McKellan as Gandalf the Grey is pictured on the right.
One of the most famous examples of Tolkien’s influence is the Harry Potter series. Some of these influences are more obvious; a wizened old magician helping to guide the protagonist on their journey, an object of power that has dark magic that affects the behavior of those near it, a Dark Lord who seeks power and immortality, and on and on. Some of the similarities seem to be an accident but are still similarities regardless; the protagonist’s best friend being a lower class boy who enjoys food or a secondary villain being a long haired wizard who uses his position of power to do evil. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The similarities are numerous enough that a search for “similarities between lord of the rings and harry potter” gets over 500,000 hits. Whether any of these references are on purpose or not is anybody’s guess – including JKR. While she has stated that he was a bit of an inspiration, she’s a bit fuzzy on whether she purposefully pulled that much inspiration from Tolkien.
Interestingly enough, Ian McKellen was offered the role of Dumbledore after the original actor died. Even more amusing is the fact that Elijah Wood and Daniel Radcliffe have both spoken about how they’re often mixed up by fans.
Led Zeppelin
A number of songs written by the famous rock band include references to Lord of the Rings. The most notable references are in being “The Battle of Evermore” and “Ramble On.” “Ramble On” has the most obvious reference with lyrics like “but Gollum, and the evil one, crept up” and “‘Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor.” The Battle of Evermore does contain some obvious references as well. It discusses a dark lord, queen of light, dragons of darkness, and “ring wraiths ride in black.” The song also draws influence from Celtic music, and Tolkien based some of his cultures off of the Celts.
These aren’t the only songs that feature references although they are some of the most obvious ones. “Misty Mountain Hop” is a reference to the Misty Mountains that Bilbo travels to. Fans speculate that “Over the Hills and Far Away” references Sam and Frodo’s journey to Mordor throughout the books.
It’s no surprise to fans that the band draws influence from Tolkien so often. Robert Plant is a fan of Tolkien, even naming his dog after the character Strider. Jimmy Page, who writes most of the band’s lyrics, is a fan of magic and mythology, so many fans believe he has also read Tolkien.
A Song of Ice and Fire
Another obvious example of Tolkien influence is George RR Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series. GRRM has stated that Tolkien influenced how he built up his world of magic. As GRRM explained, he ascribes to Tolkien’s feelings on how magic should be used sparingly so it stays magical. In Tolkien’s stories, people don’t use magic as if it is nothing. It happens in moments that make the magic seem amazing, such as Frodo’s healing after he is stabbed by a morgul blade or the rescue by the eagles. In a similar vein, ASoIaF turns into a story where magic is slowly coming back. First this appears as a dragon or direwolf cropping up here and there, to smaller acts of magic happening in isolated instances, all finally flowing into epic scale battles between dragons and wights.
Pictured on the left are the eagles from The Hobbit soaring over mountains. Pictured on the right are Daenerys’ dragons in season 6 of the show, soaring over ships.
Of course, who can forget Sean Bean’s heartfelt performances as both Boromir of Gondor and Lord Eddard Stark? Or his very similar ends in both stories?
The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
The fourth installment in the popular video game The Elder Scrolls pulls inspiration and even gives a bit of a shout out to Tolkien fans. The game draws inspiration from Tolkien’s orcs, using much of his original design as inspiration for the Daedra. The other most notable reference is The White-Gold Tower that appears in the game, which bears a striking resemblance to Orthanc, the tower that Saruman sets up in during the series. Additionally, there are a number of Easter Eggs that appear as a nod to fans of both series.
The first and most obvious is a character in the game named Boromir. This is a reference not just to the character, but also to the fact that Sean Bean, who played Boromir in the movies, voices a character in the game. Another reference is a ring the player receives upon completion of a quest which has the the same inscription as the One Ring.
The third and most involved reference is a character mentioned in a manifest the player receives. The character, who was killed by a villain, is mentioned by name. A description of what he had on him when he was killed is given also. The character’s name is Oford Gabings, which is an anagram of Frodo Baggins. The items he was carrying are also a reference to items that Frodo carries throughout the series. They include a travel cloak with a silver and green leaf fastener, an enchanted shortsword with inlaid writing,  a golden ring with an inscription, and a leather bound travel journal. These are references to, in order, the cloak given to Frodo in Llothlorien, Frodo’s sword Sting, the One Ring, and Bilbo’s journal, which Frodo took with him.
The Dark Tower
The epic saga by Stephen King takes its inspiration from many places, including Tolkien. The science fiction western pulls the bulk of its inspiration from a poem by Robert Browning, but there is an important element that Stephen King has said comes from Tolkien: the use of a fictional language. Tolkien had been fascinated by language since he was a teenager and spent much of his past time inventing languages. It was an odd past time to be sure, but one he excelled at.
This invention of language was a skill he demonstrated much of in the writing of The Lord of the Rings and the Silmarrillion. Some of the languages he invented included Khuzdul, The Black Speech, Rohirric, Sindaran, Númenórean, Quenya, and dozens of others. In addition to inventing these languages, he also developed cultural backstories for the languages as well. This element of his writing, while not the first to ever exist, was the most involved and detailed example of it. The fascination with his language skills became so entrenched in fantasy that it’s expected for “artlangs” to be in contemporary fantasy. Stephen King, inspired by this, developed his own form of language for the world of Dark Tower called High Speech. He also took inspiration from Tolkien’s naming conventions, with his world being called Mid-World, in a similar fashion to Middle Earth.
written by: kassie

Great Courses

If you are the sort of person that loves learning but doesn’t love the prices that come with taking expensive college classes, the Berwyn Public Library is here for you!

Here in the Audio Visual Department, we have offered Great Courses for patrons for awhile. These Great Courses are extensive classes in audio and visual format. Each course is designed by professors that are experts in their subjects. The professors chosen to design a course are screened not just for their academic achievement, but also their ability to make a lecture entertaining.

If making the trip to the library isn’t something you can fit in a schedule at the moment, Great Courses are now offered on Hoopla as audio-books. There are hundreds of courses offered through the site on everything from how to write mystery fiction to robotics to the history of Greek and Roman technology. If you prefer to listen to them at home, they can of course be streamed on a desktop but if you would prefer on the go listening, they can be streamed through the Hoopla app as well.

Great Courses audio-books are available for rent for 21 days through Hoopla. This means that from the moment you click the “borrow” button, the book will appear in your “Currently Borrowed” section for the next 21 days. After 21 days, it disappears. If you have not finished it on time, you can always borrow it again. Patrons who have a hoopla account through the Berwyn Public Library are allowed to borrow up to eight titles in a single month.

Simply log onto Hoopla with your account email and password, type “great courses” in the search bar and then get to learning! If there is a specific subject you would like to look into, just type the subject in the bar and look for a Great Courses entry. If this is your first time trying Hoopla and you are a bit confused, try going here first for a step by step on how to sign up with the site.

Grace VanderWaal – Just the Beginning

Vanderwaal_just the beginning

Album Review – By Sandra Neri

I will admit that when the America’s Got Talent contest series first premiered, some 11 years ago, I thought it was a passing trend. I also got tired of watching my favorite contestants lose. In 2016, Grace VanderWaal won that season, she was 12 years old. She won over Howie Mandel and Simon Cowell with her Ukulele playing and her hypnotic voice. That voice, so full of passion and maturity, for such a young girl. I had not heard of VanderWaal until I browsed the list of new album releases on Spotify, as I was looking for something to review.

Immediately following AGT, VanderWaal created the concept for the video for her song ‘Moonlight’. She won ‘Best New Artist’ at the Radio Disney Awards. She was nominated for a Teen Choice Award. In October 2017, Grace performed at the Austin City Limits Fest in Texas. In November, fans lined up around a venue in NYC as she performed her first concert ever. She was also honored at Billboard’s Annual Women in Music dinner and awards ceremony. Did I mention she’s 13 years old?

But what does she sound like you ask. VanderWaal has a folksy, yet angelic harmony in her voice. This is complimented perfectly by her ukulele playing. The song Grace sang on America’s Got Talent, I don’t know my name, is her original song. Shortly after that performance, many regular YouTubers uploaded videos of themselves covering her original. The song I don’t know my name is about a young girl finding her way. Track #5, So Much More Than This, is full of the familiar pre-teen angst of not being accepted…that is until you win something like AGT. Track #11, City Song is probably my favorite so far, this tune is filled with the vigor, optimism, and unwavering hope of someone who is grabbing life by the balls. My second favorite track is #3 Burned, seems to be a warning to a boy who is getting into more than he can handle. But the words she sings, and the way they pour out of her is truly a beautiful thing, and I am an instant fan.

Simon Cowell called VanderWaal “The next Taylor Swift”, but I am someone who has never really connected to Taylor’s music, and yet I am somehow very moved by Grace. I think she has universal appeal, as if she is singing my personal song, with emotions and angst we have all felt at one time or another. The album’s title says it all, ‘Just the Beginning’, yes, indeed it is.


Album Song List:

  1. Moonlight
  2. Sick of Being Told
  3. Burned
  4. Just A Crush
  5. So Much More Than This
  6. Escape My Mind
  7. Talk Good
  8. Florets
  9. Insane Sometimes
  10. A Better Life
  11. City Song
  12. Darkness Keeps Chasing Me



Tom Petty

Singer, Songwriter, Music Producer, Guitarist

October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017

By: Sandie Neri

You know how you can tell you’re a Rock legend? Almost twenty days after your death, well established musicians, and journalists are still writing lengthy articles praising your creative genius. Fans like myself are still getting weepy just thinking about hits like ‘Free Falling’. Petty’s voice, slightly nasal but very distinct, has always had a very calming effect on me personally. Petty collapsed at his home, was rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest and remained on life support. He passed away on October 2, 2017.

On October 7,2017, Petty’s hometown of Gainesville, Florida paid tribute during a Gator’s game against LSU, when 88,000 attendees sang ‘I won’t Back Down’ (link below).


On Friday October 20th, Petty fans clad in goth apparel marched up Ventura Boulevard (a nod to a line in a Petty song –“ All the vampires, walking through the Valley/Move west down Ventura Boulevard” – ‘Free Fallin’). Some journalist believe Petty was making a reference to consumerism or record executives. Hash tags popped up all over Twitter;









The music blog austin360 reports that the Austin City Limits Music Festival paid several tributes to Tom Petty on October 6th. Asleep at the Wheel kicked of the fest with Petty’s “I won’t Back Down”. The Revivalists played “Wildflowers”, and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real played “American Girl”. On Saturday night of the fest, a large screen showed Petty performing “Free Fallin”, while skydivers from the Red Bull Air Force Skydiving Team fell from the sky. The Killers also covered Petty’s “American Girl”. (Link below)


Twitter Reactions

Immediately after the news of Tom Petty’s death, Twitter was full of tributes from his fellow artists, as well as countless fans.

“Down here on E Street, we’re devastated and heartbroken over the death of Tom Petty…A great songwriter and performer, whenever we saw each other it was like running into a long lost brother. Our world will be a sadder place without him.” – Bruce Springsteen

“God bless Tom Petty peace and love to his family I’m sure going to miss you Tom”-Ringo Starr

“Shocked & upset 2 hear about #tompetty ‘we got lucky when we found u…’ …RIP twitter.com/billboard/stat… – Billy Idol

“Tom Petty’s music and songs are timeless. He was a wonderful writer, musician and singer. Irreplaceable and unique. #RIPTomPetty” – Elton John

“Tom was a tender southern gent in life, a poet and a music master on stage. He had a rocking chair wisdom that brought everything back down to earth. We will love and miss him for the rest of our days. Our thoughts are with his family…” – George Harrison

The Early Years

Born in Gainesville, Florida on October 20, 1950, Tom Petty was the first born to Earl and Kitty Petty. While Petty got along well with his mom and younger brother Bruce, his father was often physically and verbally abusive. Petty turned to music, and idolized artists such as Elvis Presley, and the Beatles as he learned guitar. In fact, Elvis was filming near him, and he saw him up-close, he was 10 years old. This left a big impression. He joined his first band by age 14, and left high school by 17 to perform with a band called Mudcrutch. They amassed a devoted local fan base.

In 1974 Petty married his girlfriend Jane Benyo, and they moved to Los Angeles with their daughter (Kimberly) whom they had before their marriage. Then came their second daughter, Adria. Shelter Records recognized Petty’s talent, and offered him a solo contract, he signed as his former band did not really appreciate his musical genius. Petty got back together with his Mudcrutch members, Mike Campbell (guitar) and Benmont Tench (keyboards). The two former band mates had been playing with Ron Blair (bassist) and Stan Lynch (drummer). They formed and became Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and signed as such with Shelter Records. They released a self-titled album in November of 1976. In the 80’s, a self-inflicted wound (fist through the wall in anger) almost ended his guitar playing career. The doctor told him he would never play again, he was playing within the following year. Tom battled heroin addiction in the 90’s, a fact he kept quiet about until recently. During his career, Petty collaborated with other rock icons, including Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Johnny Cash (just to name a few). He also earned three Grammy Awards. In 2002, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their 11th album, and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Friday, October 20th would have been Tom’s 67th Birthday.

Tom Petty is survived by his second wife Dana York, his daughters Adria and Kimberly, and a granddaughter. Thankfully, his music forever lives on ….


YouTube link below is for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performance of ‘Free Fallin’ at the Super Bowl Half-Time Show – 2008


Facts and photos gathered from:





Disc Repair Services

Among the many services offered here at the Berwyn Public Library, the Audio Visual Department offers disc repair services.

If you have a disc that is scratched and won’t play, you can bring it into the library and we will fix it. Bring your scratched DVD, CD, or video game disc to our desk on the first floor. There you will be helped as you fill out a simple slip with your name, phone number, and address and drop off the disc. There is a charge of $2 due at the time you pick up your discs, per each disc. We will call you once the repairs are done.

Unfortunately, due to the way our machine is set up, we cannot clean GameCube discs or any sort of disc with a crack in it. But we can clean deep scratches and any other video game disc, as well as Blu-Rays.

And that’s it! It’s not a lengthy process for you and beats out having to completely replace a disc that only has a simple scratch on it.

written by: kassie

Digital Services at The Berwyn Public Library

Here at the Berwyn Public Library we aspire to move with the times instead of against them. Technology changes every day and it’s important for public services like libraries to change as well.

To help patrons who prefer streaming services over hard copies of DVDs and CDs, we allow access to the streaming sites Hoopla, Freegal, and Overdrive through a Berwyn Public Library Card.

If you need help logging into these services or are confused about what they offer, look no further!



Hoopla lets you watch movies and listen to CDs online instead of having to come into the library. You can “check out” a max of eight rentals. These rentals are checked out for a certain amount of time – it ranges from 72 hours to two weeks – and then returns them automatically so there’s no worry of late fees.

Each library gets its own page and its own number of max rentals, but every library has access to the Hoopla database. These movies can be watched on any desktop, tablet, or mobile phone. The CDs and audio books can be streamed right through the site itself.



Freegal is a music streaming website. You can search its system to find the music you want and then download or stream to your heart’s desire. Each patron is allowed up to three hours of streaming per week and three downloads per week. The search engine is also easy to use so finding music isn’t difficult.

A stat counter at the top right hand corner helps you keep track of how long you have been listening and how many songs you have downloaded. It will reset every week.



Overdrive is our free digital library. Here is where you can get access to any of our e-books and audio-books.   There is a ten book limit to how many books you can have checked out at one time.

Accessing Streaming Sites

The first would be through the library website itself. To do it this way, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Berwyn Public Library website and click the “eLibrary” tab.
  2. Click the second link on the page. It should say “Digital Media Services.”
  3. Scroll down until you see the logo of the site you want and then click the logo.
  4. Follow the directions to log in. All four sites will all ask for your library card number and your home library if this is the first time you have used them, so have that at the ready!
  5. Freegal will ask for your pin. This is the last four numbers on your library card.

If you are browsing through our swan catalog, you can also access the sites through there. Say you are searching the name of an author you like. Once the search results come back there will be a number of categories on the left hand side to help limit search results. Under Downloadable Format and Vendor there will be options such as “Hoopla Audiobook” or “Overdrive.”

Checking the box next to one of these options and then clicking “include” will refresh the search results with these limits. Then on the right side next to each item there will be two dark grey buttons on top of each other. The bottom one should say, “Download.”

If you click this, another box will come up prompting you to pick a format such as .pdf or html. Simply choose the one you prefer, and voila, you have your book.

If the box comes up and says “Redirecting” you simply click “Open Content” and your browser will direct you to that page on Hoopla.

written by: kassie