The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Goblins by Clint McElroy

Joplin Public Library started its 2018 Summer Reading Program on May 29th, which ran until July 28th. It is always a fun event, and we put on programs for children, teens, and adults, themed around the music-related slogan “Libraries Rock”. Summer Reading is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful, as the library saw a dramatic increase in traffic during this time. When Summer Reading ended, I had a couple of weeks to learn how to breathe again before I took on the challenge of going to school to get my degree. Between these two challenges, sitting down to read a book hasn’t been something I can commit to. Thankfully, podcasts and audiobooks exist.

When doing a search for essential podcasts to listen to, one that came up frequently was called “The Adventure Zone”. Three brothers, Justin, Travis, and Griffin, along with their father, Clint McElroy, play Dungeons and Dragons together. Equal parts enthralling, funny, and vulgar, the storytelling in “The Adventure Zone” will cause listeners to become deeply invested in the characters and magnificent world-building.

In July, a comic book was released based on their first campaign of The Balance Arc: “Here There Be Gerblins”. Our heroes include human warrior Magnus Burnsides, elf wizard Taako, and Merle Highchurch, a dwarf cleric. The story follows them on an epic quest to rescue Merle’s cousin Bogard and his bodyguard Billy Blue Jeans after they were attacked and abducted.

Along the way, our heroes come across many obstacles including gerblins, a Bugbear, and the mysterious Black Spider. The artwork done by Carey Pietsch (artist for Lumberjanes and Adventure Time) brings the characters to life and sets the tone for the story. There’s even a fan art gallery at the end of the book.

The only thing I found off-putting were the interruptions by the Dungeon Master (Griffin McElroy) who provides commentary and interacts with the comic book characters throughout their adventure. If you’re listening to the podcast, that’s essential to hear, as it adds depth to the story. But in book form, I feel that sticking with the story and letting it play out that way would have been a better approach for those who have never listened to the podcast series. Because of this, it almost seems like the book was made for people already familiar with the podcast and wasn’t attempting to gain any new fans by releasing a comic book.

The Joplin Public Library has a great selection of audiobooks, and there are many different formats that can accommodate your needs. First, as our collection increases, so do the number of MP3 format. These are great because rather than keep track of a huge number of discs, everything you need is on a single disc or two. If you have a Joplin Public Library card, you can check out four adult and four children’s audiobooks at a time. I highly recommend The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy read by Stephen Fry, and the Harry Potter Series read by Jim Dale.

Another way to access audiobooks is with Overdrive. Overdrive is an app that you lets you read ebooks and listen to audiobooks from your smartphone, tablet, or computers. Any patron with a Joplin Public Library card can use the service for free. While you can only have seven items checked out at at time, there is no limit to how many items you can check out in a month. The one disadvantage to Overdrive is that, while they have a good selection, you often have to place items on hold and wait for a while to get it.

Starting on September 4th, Joplin Public Library added a new digital service to its repertoire, called Hoopla. Hoopla is a little different from Overdrive. One, there are no holds on items, you simply browse for an item you’d like to check out, click “borrow”, and the item is instantly available to you. Another difference is that there is a limit to how many items you can check out per month, which is 6. Hoopla isn’t limited to just books and audiobooks; their catalogue includes a wide range of movies, TV shows, comics, and music.

Each service has its own advantages and limitations, but in the end, between the library’s physical collection, Overdrive, and Hoopla, you should be able to satisfy any and all of your audiobook needs.

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