Behind the Stacks

Behind the Stacks

Free Music From the Public Library

By Willow Fitzgibbon
Adult Services Manager

Greetings from behind the stacks of the Fayetteville Public Library, and welcome to our first Free Weekly Column.

A quick icebreaker: when was the last time you visited your library?

A) Yesterday, and I hope On the Road has been found and reshelved by today.

B) It’s been awhile, but I’m sure my beige, paper library card with its metal strip still works.

C) I haven’t visited a library since elementary school, and considering I’ve already read The Little Engine That Could, the entire Babysitters’ Club series (twice) and watched all the Harry Potter movies, why would I?

Regardless of your answer, I hope that through this column, you’ll be introduced to various, unexpected library amenities. Most of you A’s can already attest that the public library as an archaic repository housing outdated encyclopedia sets covered in spider webs and emitting an unnerving and constant “shhhhhh” is now a myth akin to Atlantis, Middle Earth and Dogpatch USA, but hopefully the B’s and C’s out there will also discover enticing opportunities and reconsider their estrangement.

Whether you identify as an A, B or C, I trust you are aware the Fayetteville Public Library has books – lots of them! In fact, more than we can fit on our shelves when you add in the augmented collections of digital eBooks and audio-books to be checked out on Kindles, Nooks, iPads and many other flavors of smart tablet. However, your checkout options are far greater than books, and recently the library expanded its digital collection to include music.

Freegal, the library’s new downloadable music service, is a gift to you from the Friends of the Fayetteville Public Library. And it is a gift in the truest form, because the over 3 million songs in the catalog are DRM-free (digital rights management-free) MP3s that you own once downloaded.

This isn’t your grandson’s torrent, however. A three song per week download limit helps assure that the maximum number of library users will have access to the Freegal downloads that were underwritten by the Friends of the Library. Also, while there are thousands of artists and tens of thousands of albums represented, the music is primarily from the Sony Music catalog.

In all sincerity, you won’t need any ‘tips’ to get started because this is a very easy service to use, but in the spirit of sharing, I wanted to pass down some amusing search strategies. A sucker for the ironic cover song, I found searching for songs rather than artists to be a lot of fun. However, not taking download #1 lightly, I had difficulty choosing between the string quartet, Americana or lullaby version of the Pixies’ “Here Comes Your Man.”

I also had great success using Freegal’s ‘News’ feature, which introduced me to the band Watch the Duck.

Although, I must admit download #2’s fallout left me slightly jolted, dizzy and suspicious that shape shifters are behind the dubstep phenomenon. My last download of the week was found by following a trail of kindred musicians through the catalog’s multitude of compilation albums.  Searching for Josh Ritter happily led me to a new-to-me version of “(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais” performed by a post-Clash Joe Strummer. Quite exciting!

Opportunity for discovery is what I consider the strength of Freegal, and appropriately this pursuit of ideas and information is what the library is all about. But before my soapbox tips over, I’ll sign off by wishing you all happy downloading!

To learn more about Freegal and all the other amazing things happening at your Fayetteville Public Library visit

Categories: Galleries