Alpena County Library offering timely titles

Racial equality and social justice ebooks, audiobooks available for free now

ALPENA — In an effort to inform the public about racial equality and social justice issues relating to the Black Lives Matter movement, the Alpena County Library is offering ebooks and audiobooks to patrons.

And currently, signing up online for a library card is free.

The Black Lives Matter: Community Read program offers titles for a limited time.

OverDrive, the Alpena County Library’s ebook and audiobook vendor, is providing antiracism and social justice titles intended to help patrons read, listen, learn, and grow as they expand their knowledge of race relations. Donated by OverDrive, titles will be made available to libraries in the U.S. and Canada at no cost and patrons will be able to check the books out without waitlist or holds.

Alpena County Library Assistant Director Jessica Luther explained that the titles were selected by OverDrive.

“This is an initiative that they put together, and then they promoted it to all of the libraries within their network,” Luther said.

Luther said it’s an especially timely program because it allows readers access while the library is still closed. The library decided not to reopen this summer despite the slowdown in the coronavirus so remodeling work can happen.

Despite the closure, “with your library card, you can go through our website to OverDrive or Libby, and you can click and it will point you in the right direction,” Luther said. “Given everything that is happening, OverDrive wanted to provide these antiracism and social justice titles to libraries for free for our patrons. If people don’t have a library card, they can sign up for one online and have instant access.”

She said providing community service to the public is very important in our current environment.

“The role of libraries is to inform people,” Luther said. “And we are not a neutral space. We advocate for banned books. We want to make sure we’re including everyone in our communities. And also providing diverse materials to people who wouldn’t ordinarily even look to read books about people who aren’t like themselves.”

The library is increasing its collections to include more diverse titles, she said.

“We’ve been working really hard to make sure we are including more titles of people of color, LGBTQ authors, because we do live somewhere where it’s a very white, conservative area, and a lot of people might not have exposure to these other ideas or other people’s life experience,” Luther explained.

Luther added that “The Hate U Give” is a great book for teens and up, and is also an excellent movie. She added that people should check out the movie “Just Mercy,” which is available online to watch for free right now, as are many other movies pertaining to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I’m excited that there is so much out there, and that people are making this super accessible,” Luther said.

To sign up for a free library card, visit the library’s website at alpenalibrary.org, where you can find the link to download any of the following ebooks or audiobooks to your computer, tablet or smartphone:


Available now through July 15:

“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” by Michelle Alexander, audiobook

Named one of the Most Influential Books of the Last 20 Years by the Chronicle of Higher Education and winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction, Alexander’s critically acclaimed book examines racial disparities through the lens of mass incarceration.

Available now through July 12:

“The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas, ebook and audiobook

This bestselling young adult novel follows Starr, a black teenager caught between the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these two worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer.

Available now through July 19:

“Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor,” by Layla F Saad, ebook

This New York Times bestseller published in January 2020 is based on the viral #meandwhitesupremacy Instagram challenge and provides a framework for readers to dismantle the privilege within themselves.


“So You Want to Talk About Race,” by Ijemoa Oluo, audiobook

Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to “model minorities” in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they exist in almost every aspect of American life.

Darby Hinkley is Lifestyles editor. She can be reached at 989-358-5691 or dhinkley@thealpenanews.com.


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