Library Notes: Films on demand: At your command

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 24, 2022

By David Lamanno
Rowan Public Library

Public libraries, as institutions, have three main missions: to inform, to educate and to entertain. In our current age of technological wonder, one way Rowan Public Library seeks to fulfill these missions is by providing around-the-clock access to online digital resources. Available with a Rowan Public Library card and PIN, there are a variety of digital tools at your service. Examples of these tools include the N.C. Digital Library, historical and genealogical databases, online educational courses, and N.C. LIVE. N.C. LIVE is an online collection of 1.4 billion full-text articles, eBooks, streaming videos, digitized newspapers, language learning tools and more. I’d like to look under the hood of N.C. LIVE a bit and examine one of my favorite databases, Films on Demand.

Films on Demand is a web-based digital video delivery service that allows users to view streaming videos. There are more than 20,000 educational titles in many different subject areas intended for diverse audiences. You can use Films on Demand by searching for a keyword (like “social media”, “climate crisis” or “geometry”) or for a specific title. You can also browse by clicking on a subject collection and scrolling through all the videos in a category. Once you’ve found a video you want to watch, click the title, push play and the video will begin streaming. The simple to use search function is especially practical for students. Videos are organized in collections that can be used with almost any homework assignment, presentation, or research project. One outstanding feature, thoughtfully designed, allows a user to browse videos cross-referenced with N.C. Educational standards. This is helpful for a student sure, but it can also be a real lifesaver for the parent who needs a refresher (raises hand) when attempting to assist with a homework topic (oh no, math) from school days of yore.

If you enjoy documentaries, then Films on Demand has you covered; there is even a documentary about documentaries! Through a partnership with the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), there are a number of Ken Burns productions available including “Baseball,” “The Vietnam War,” and “Country Music.” Some other fascinating PBS programs of note are “Finding Your Roots” presented by Henry Louis Gates Jr., the long-running British TV anthology series “Masterpiece,” and the popular science television show “NOVA.” Access to other production companies working in the educational field, like National Geographic and HBO, provide hundreds more documentaries covering topics from the well-know (The Beatles) to the obscure (sleepwalking). If you are an armchair tourist, then check out travel videos from Rick Steves. Steves has been informing holidaymakers about the joys of various locales around the globe for over 40 years. He hasn’t steered anyone wrong yet. Finally, I’d like to highlight the subject category available from Films on Demand I find most mesmerizing, archival films and newsreels. Covering the dates 1898 to 2001, the films give the viewer a front row seat to history as it was being made.

Whether you are looking to be informed about a topic, seeking instruction about a subject, or want to watch an enthralling documentary, then Films on Demand is at your command.

More information about Films on Demand and other online resources can be found by visiting or If you have questions about these resources, call Rowan Public Library’s Information Desk at 704-216-8228.

David Lamanno, a librarian at Rowan Public Library.

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