Our DVD collection offers independent films, TV shows you might have missed

Sometimes, people forget that libraries aren't just for books. In addition to books -- in regular, large print and electronic formats -- we have downloadable audiobooks you can play on your personal device, audio CDs, portable Playaways (excellent for walking and workouts) and music CDs.

Your Beaufort County Library also does an excellent job filling in the gaps left open when movies don't come to this area with its superb DVD collection. (Beaufortonians: How many times have you said, "I wish that movie would come to Beaufort"?) We have a surprisingly good selection of independent as well as blockbuster films. And the special features found on DVDs can enhance your viewing experience with filmmaker, actor and director interviews, behind-the-scenes featurettes on how a film was made, and how special effects and costumes were made. Some have blooper reels, deleted scenes, alternative endings and, in some cases, additional short films.

Many of our DVDs come to us as soon as they're released to video stores and online purchase venues. In some instances, we may only get one copy for the entire county, but the more popular films may have more copies. Plus, with SCLENDS, our statewide library consortium (currently consisting of 18 counties), we have even more possibilities for you to choose from. One thing to remember is that the purchasing county library system doesn't lend to other library systems for six months, giving their customers first dibs on materials.

I keep a running list of DVDs I want to watch, and this website will let you know when a film is released.

To search the catalog for DVDs, change the first drop-down menu from "Search All Formats" to "Search DVDs." You can either do a combination title/actor or director keyword search (Fargo McDormand Coen) or change "Keyword" to "Title" and type in "Fargo." The search screen defaults to search all of SCLENDS, but if you want just Beaufort County libraries, especially for brand new items that don't circulate from SCLENDS yet, change the drop-down menu to "Beaufort County Library."

If you want to browse DVDs online, you have to put in some kind of search term to get results. Select "Advanced Search" at the top of the screen. If you want to insert the year, you can, or if you're looking for a certain type of film, change the Keyword/Title drop-down to "Subject" and type in the genre -- comedy, drama, thriller, horror, animated, romance, war, etc. For children's movies, add "juvenile films," and for teen-appropriate movies, type "young adult films." Don't forget to select "DVD" under "Video Format."

Many of us are visual learners, meaning we interpret information easier if it is presented visually, rather than with a manual, textbook or audiobook. You can find a variety of nonfiction films on topics like woodworking, fishing, learning to play an instrument, parenting or knitting, as well as entertaining films on stand-up comedy, music concerts and theater performances. Going to Italy? Check out our travel videos. Our exercise videos are wildly popular: Pilates, Zumba, yoga and aerobic dance, for example.

We have lots of cartoon classics, anime and family-friendly feature films for children as well. Doing a report on rainforests or Arctic ecology? Check out our many series from National Geographic, The History Channel, Discovery Channel, PBS Explorer and A&E.

In addition to our excellent selection of classic, new and not-so-new movies, or feature films, we have a host of British TV series from PBS like Midsomer Murders, Upstairs Downstairs and Downton Abbey, older American TV series like Andy Griffith, Lucille Ball, Johnny Carson and The Big Valley. Just recently, I revisited my favorite, Northern Exposure. The writing is so rich, I got just as much out of it the second time around. Reality shows like Top Chef, Storage Wars and Duck Dynasty are also popular.

Did you miss The Big C or Dexter on Showtime? How about Big Love, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire or Six Feet Under on HBO? And what's all the hype about Breaking Bad and Mad Men? Find out at your local Beaufort County Library branch.

Brendagael Beasley-Forrest is a catalog librarian for the Beaufort County Public Library system.

Original story at the Island Packet