Having Fun Isn’t Hard When You’ve Got a Library Card

While we’re all tucked away for the next several weeks, seeking variety in our entertainment and getting around to that “To Learn More” list is vital. There are many options to watch your favorite artists, comedians, dance teachers, etc. livestream their talents and community offerings. Your Austin Public Library card has access to limitless ebooks, audiobooks, TV shows, movies, documentaries, albums, and more! So, in the spirit of keeping you and your household occupied, and being the music nerds we are, here’s a list of content available with your library card and some music-related options for each. Don’t have an Austin Public Library card? Check out this link to get set up with an ecard to start accessing their virtual library pronto!

– Taylor Wallace, KUTX 


From Ebooks to audiobooks and movies/TV shows to full albums, the all-digital platform Hoopla has it all. Normally library cardholders can check out 3-4 items per month, but they have temporarily upped this to 5 per month! Everything you check out it yours for 21 days then it automatically “checks it back in” for you. Hoopla’s inventory is dense, so here are some recommendations to get you started!

Music Documentaries

A Tuba to Cuba: “The leader of New Orleans’ famed Preservation Hall Jazz Band seeks to fulfill his late father’s dream of the indigenous music that gave birth to New Orleans jazz.”

Freak Jazz, Movie Madness, and Another Mothers: Frank Zappa 1969-1973: The first film to take on the second wave of the Mothers, this film features rare footage, interviews, and more from the people who worked closely with Zappa during this particular leg of his career.

20,000 Days on Earth: A dramatized day-in-the-life of Nick Cave, told only in a way Cave himself can.

Disco: Spinning the Story: Hosted by Gloria Gaynor, this doc takes a comprehensive look at the evolution of the 1970s culture and music through the lens of disco music.

Jazz: A Film By Ken Burns: The classic!


Meet Me in the Bathroom (Lizzy Goodman): An incredible retrospective of the rebirth of the NYC rock scene from the Strokes to Vampire Weekend, as told through interviews by the people who were there…and it’s all the players you’re hoping for. **Author’s note: I just finished reading this book a couple of months ago, and it was one of the best books I’ve read in my entire life! Even a casual fan of The Strokes or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs will find themselves gobbling this up eagerly.

Little Girl Blue: The Story of Karen Carpenter (Randy L. Schmidt): Based on exclusive interiews with nearly 100 of her friends and associates, this biography (and the first ever written about Carpenter) provides an intimate profile of is unique artist.

I’m With the Band (Pamela Des Barres): Known as the “original groupie,” a founding member of Frank Zappa’s GTO’s, and the inspiration behind the character Penny Lane in the Almost Famous, Pamela Des Barres’s first memoir is an incredible, wild, and at times jarring confession of the freewheeling 1960’s and 70’s as told from the heart of it all.

Far and Away (Neil Peart): The late Rush drummer recounts nearly four years of band tours, road trips, and grand moments of introspection in this 2011 travelogue.

Violence Girl: A Chicana Punk Story (Alice Bag): Lead singer of early punk visionaries The Bags, this is Alicia Armendariz’s story of growing up in the East L.A. barrio to answering the call of Hollywood’s punk scene, and ripping your own place in it.

The History of Gangster Rap (Soren Baker): This 2018 retrospective taken a deep, focused dive into one of hip-hop’s most popular subgenres, Baker (author of Dark Girls) details the chronology, evolution, and impact of gangster rap.


Just Kids (Patti Smith): Smith’s first memoir chiefly focuses on her relationship with photographer and artist Robert Mapplethorpe through the late 60s and 70s. BONUS: the book is narrated by Smith herself. **Author’s Note: This is another personal favorite. There’s a reason it won the National Book Award.

I Am Ozzy (Ozzy Osbourne): Ozzy reading about Ozzy on Ozzy. Good times for all.

Who I Am (Pete Townshend): Guitarist, songwriter, and co-founder of The Who, Townshend recounts his early life and extraordinary career…and all of the times his rock star lifestyle nearly led to a rock star style death.


In addition to dozens and dozens of music-related books, audiobooks, and docs, Hoopla has hundreds of full albums you can listen to as many times as you like in the 3-week borrow period. So many we didn’t even know where to begin. Our only recommendation is to take yourself on a self-guided tour of their deep collection.


Kanopy is an all-video-based platform, chock-full of the latest indie film releases, the Criterion collection, and a seemingly endless bounty of documentaries on any subject you can imagine, including music (seriously, my scrolling seemed endless). Here are a few recommendations to give you an idea of their vast collection.

Echo in the Canyon: Exclusive interviews with everyone from Tom Petty and Roger McGuinn to Cat Power and Beck. This doc takes a brilliant look at the explosion of music that came out of L.A.’s Laurel Canyon in the mid-60s.

Fresh Dressed: A deeply fascinating chronicle of the influence of hip-hop and urban fashion on mainstream pop culture and fashion.

Shut Up and Play the Hits: Taking place all on April 2, 2011, the date of the (then) legendary final LCD Soundsystem concert at Madison Square Garden, this nearly-two-hour film is a blend of the once-in-a-lifetime performance and the man behind one of this generation’s most important and influential acts, James Murphy.

Nas: Time Is Illmatic: Released twenty years after the debut of the 1994 groundbreaking album Illmatic, this doc, “takes a look at the early life of one of the most talented rappers of all time. Featuring interviews with Pharrell Williams, Alicia Keyes, Q-Tip, and Busta Rhymes.”

Strange Fruit: The Biography of A Song: Unique in its own right as a documentary exploring the history of a single song, “it examines the history of lynching, and the interplay of race, labor and the left, and popular culture as forces that would give rise to the Civil Right Movement.”

Scott Walker: 30 Century Man: Examines the life and many waves of Walker’s illustrious career, from gigging bass player on the Sunset Strip to lead singer of the The Walker Brothers to his many evolutions in sound and influence throughout the following decades. Featuring interviews with David Bowie, Brian Eno, members of Radiohead, Damon Albarn, Johnny Marr, and more.

The Girls in the Band: “The award-winning documentary film tells the poignant, untold stories of female jazz and big band instrumentalists from the late 30s to the present,” told mainly through first-hand accounts.


More ebooks and audiobooks, delivered directly through the APL catalogues. There are thousands of these titles to wade through, and even the subjects of music books alone range from biographies to rock history to individual classical pieces to hip-hop history to the influences of almost any culture you can think of. I even found one on French Organ Music! That being said, here are a few music-related ones we think will tickle your cerebral fancy.

How Music Works (David Byrne): Byrne “explores how profoundly music is shaped by its time and place, and he explains how the advent of recording technology in the 20th century forever changed out relationship to playing, performing, and listening to music,”…to scratch the surface.

So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead (David Browne): Rolling Stone’s David Browne takes an updated look at the chronology of one of the most legendary jam bands of all-time. Featuring interviews with the Dead’s surviving members and those in their inner circle, Browne’s writing talents lend an almost novel-like feel to this new classic.

Discographies: Dance Music, Culture, and the Politics of Sound (Jeremy Gilbert): The book, “plots a course through the transatlantic dance scene of the last twenty-five years….Discussing such issues as technology, club space, drugs…body, gender, sexuality, and pleasure.” The book juxtaposes these issues with politicians, public broadcasting, and the music press, and their hostility towards this cultural phenomenon.

Refried Elvis: The Rise of the Mexican Counterculture (Eric Zolov): “From the arrival of Elvis in Mexico during the 1950s to the emergence of a full-blown counterculture movement by the late 1960s, Eric Zolov uses rock and roll to illuminate Mexican history through these charged decades and into the 1970s.

Armadillo World Headquarters (Eddie Wilson): A deep history of the legendary venue that put Austin on the map to become the Live Music Capital of the World.

God Save the Queens: The Essential History of Women in Hip-Hop (Kathy Iandoli): Published just last year, Iandoli’s chronology focuses solely on the demographic notably missing from nearly every hip-hop book before it: Women.

KUTX supports Austin music; your support makes KUTX possible. Donate today.

Support KUTX’s ability to bring you closer to the music.

Donate Today