Play the Theremin!

It is the only musical instrument that you play without touching it. Invented in 1920 by Leon Theremin, the Theremin's distinctive "otherworldly" electronic sound infuses such famous movie soundtracks as the original The Day the Earth Stood Still and Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound. (A cousin of the Theremin, the Electro-Theremin creates "that sound" on The Beach Boys' Good Vibrations.) And if you watched the most recent season of the FX show American Horror Story: Coven, one of the witches on the show, Myrtle, played by the formidable and fantastic, Frances Conroy, played the Theramin on the show a few times. Wonder if you can play the instrument yourself? AADL is now offering a Moog Etherwave Theremin for checkout as part of the Music Tools collection, complete with User's Guide and the "Mastering the Theremin" DVD. Music Tools can be checked out for a week, are not renewable and not requestable. You can find them on the shelves next to the Downtown Library Circulation Desk.

Learn more about Leon Theremin's unusual life in the documentary Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey and explore other electronic instruments in the Music Tools collection such as the Stylophone and the Monotron.

Sample the Book Clubs to Go collection

Is your Book Club stuck on what to read next? AADL's Book Clubs to Go collection offers discussion kits containing ten copies of the book, summary information, title reviews, author bios, suggested discussion questions, and more. The collection includes classics such as The Scarlet Letter and Pride and Prejudice; memorable 20th century novels like The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Color Purple, novels made into recent acclaimed films such as The Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, and The Help (some of which contain a DVD of the film as well); current gems like The Buddha in the Attic (2012 PEN/Faullkner Award Winner), A Visit from the Goon Squad (2011 Pulitzer Award Winner for Fiction), and Swamplandia! (2012 Pulitzer Fiction Finalist), plus works by current acclaimed authors Richard Ford, Anne Tyler, Michael Chabon, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and more. There's also a Kids' Book Clubs to Go!

The Book Clubs to Go Page offers discussion tips and more book club resources. And you can add a comment suggesting additions to the collection.

Smart & Thrifty Energy Expo

The Washtenaw County Treasurer and the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development will hold the Washtenaw County Smart & Thrifty Energy Expo on Thursday, January 30th from 4 to 7 pm at the Washtenaw County Learning Resource Center. Topics and presentations will include methods for conserving energy, home weatherization, new energy saving products, and alternative energy options. If you want to monitor the energy efficiency in your home, take a look at our home tools. These uncommon tools to check out from the library include three different kinds of energy meters!

FREE Tax Preparation Assistance in Washtenaw County

The Washtenaw County Asset Coalition is offering both traditional VITA tax preparation services as well as access to tax preparation software for persons wanting to prepare their own taxes with access to a tax coach. The household income limit for free tax preparation is $52,000 this year, though they can offer free e-filing for self preparers with incomes under $58,000. Call (734) 677-7235 for an appointment. Appointments are held at the Washtenaw United Way on the following dates and times:

Wednesday, February 2: 5:30-8:30pm
Saturday, February 15: 10am-4pm
Wednesday, February 19: 5:30-8:30pm
Saturday, February 22: 10am-4pm
Wednesday, February 26: 5:30-8:30pm
Wednesday, March 26: 5:30-8:30pm
Saturday, March 29: 10am-4pm
Wednesday, April 2: 5:30-8:30pm
Saturday, April 5: 10am-4pm
Wednesday, April 9: 5:30-8:30pm

Biakuye Percussion Group in concert: an MLK Day Event

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The acclaimed percussion group Biakuye will be at the Downtown Library's Multi-Purpose Room for a special concert on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday January 20, 2014, from 1-2pm, performing original compositions and arrangements grounded in American innovation and African traditions.

Among the Akan people of Ghana, West Africa, Biakuye means unity. It is the spirit of unity that brings the American and African members of Biakuye together to perform "Melorhythmic world percussion," uniting the cool sound of American jazz vibraphone, drum set, and electric bass with the melorhythmic richness of African xylophone, kalimba, and hand drums.

Or, as their website puts it, ".....wooden keys suspended over gourds and spider webs….rosewood bars connected to electric pick-ups….seed pods spun like a yo-yo… metal bars, flattened tire spokes, a contoured red box… goat-skin drums and electric bass… These are the sources of Biakuye’s captivating sound—a sound that is both deeply grounded and cutting-edge. The resulting music reflects the unique journeys of its four members, which have taken the group’s West African born artists to the United States and taken its American born artists to Ghana, Uganda, Trinidad, and Cuba."

Check out a video of the group here and sample some album tracks.

Assistive Technology at AADL

Adults and children with visual or cognitive disabilities can have easy access to information and entertainment through several types of Assistive Technology at Ann Arbor District Library.

From hand-held magnifiers, to text-to-speech software, to Braille printing, AADL has an assortment of accessible technology available during all regular library hours. Not sure how to use this type of technology? Also available, is walk-in training with an experienced instructor! Walk-in assistive technology training is available, at no charge, Tuesdays, 1-6 pm and Wednesdays, 9:30am-2:30pm, in the Assistive Technology Lab on the 2nd floor of the Downtown Library. Call 734-327-4224 for more information, or email wlbpd@aadl.org.

Interested in new technology? Mark your calendars for: "VISIONS 2014: What’s New in Technology for the Blind & Visually Impaired.” VISIONS will take place on Wednesday, May 14, at Washtenaw Community College, Morris Lawrence Building.

Large Print Materials-Easier on the Eyes

Perhaps you've realized that your eye sight isn't what it used to be. You don't need to give up reading, if that's the case, because AADL has a Large Print collection that can be mailed to eligible patrons as Free Matter for the Blind.

If large print is still difficult to read, you may want to consider submitting an application to the Washtenaw Library for the Blind & Physically Disabled. AADL administers the WLBPD to all eligible Washtenaw County residents. This program provides Digital Books and a Digital Player at no cost.

WLBPD Holiday Books

Washtenaw Library for the Blind & Physically Disabled patrons can browse the Michigan Braille & Talking Book Library (BTBL) or National Library Service online catalogs to find a good selection of Christmas mysteries, romances, cookbooks, or holiday stories for young people. Titles like "The Cat Who Came for Christmas" (DB26048/BR7225) or "It's Kwanzaa Time!" (DB42923) are available, as well as books about Hanukkah.

You can do a Word in Title search for a holiday using the online catalogs or call 734-327-4224, and a reader adviser will be happy to order them for you.

A Virtual Tour Of Ann Arbor Architecture

Did you know that the Judge Robert S. Wilson House has been called the most famous house in Ann Arbor? It was built as early as 1835 and has perfect proportions.

Learn the history of the many fascinating buildings around us with the Ann Arbor Architecture Archive, AADL's online gallery of images and text about Ann Arbor's historic buildings.

Get the Facts About the Affordable Care Act

Join MSU Extension experts for a live, online webinar to learn how you can get the most out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Sessions for individuals and families will be held on Mondays from 9 am to 11 am, 3 pm to 5 pm, and 6 pm to 8 pm. The same information will be provided during each time period. Sessions for farmers, self-employed people and small business owners will be held on Mondays from noon to 2 pm. To participate, log on to connect.msu.edu/healthinsurance. Click "guest" and type any name to attend anonymously.

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