It turns out that all the hoopla at the Allen County Public Library is about hoopla, a new digital service that addresses the mobile needs of millennials, tech-savvy Gen Xers, and yet is easy enough for older generations to use and enjoy.
Hoopla digital allows library patrons easy access – wherever they happen to be – to thousands of movies and television shows, streaming content instantly onto smartphones, tablets and computers at no charge.
Beginning this month, library patrons are allowed up to six free downloads a month. Movie and TV content is available for three days or 72 hours after borrowing.
To access the service, patrons first download a free app and can then make selections through the library’s website or hoopla’s website.
The new service is just one of many strategies the library has undertaken in recent years to remain relevant in a constantly evolving and growing digital world.
Unlike physical copies or even e-books, there are no waits for patrons who want to borrow a streaming movie or TV show and there is no limit to the number of downloads that can be lent.
Allen County Public Library is the 75th library system in North America to go live with hoopla and one of the first in Indiana, according to Jeff Jankowski, owner and founder of hoopla digital.
Since September, four smaller libraries in southern Indiana have offered hoopla.
Hoopla has partnered with 100 public libraries, including Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Columbus, Ohio and Toledo, and will soon add Phoenix, San Francisco and Toronto, Jankowski said.
Although hoopla is fairly new – it launched in May – it’s under the umbrella of parent company Midwest Tape LLC, an Ohio business that has been working with Allen County Public Library for years, Jankowski said.
Allen County is excited about this partnership and we are excited, he said.
The company is growing rapidly, and Jankowski predicts that in a year, hoopla will be in 800 to 1,000 libraries across the U.S. and Canada.
The bar is set high, he said.
People are used to what they want when they want it, and we can provide that instant gratification.
The new service has created a buzz among library staff.
There have been a lot of emails, and there’s been a lot of attention given to the service, said Stacey Pearson, manager of the library’s art, music and media department.
We are very excited, she said.
Pearson, who has worked at the library for 25 years, spent Wednesday making sure everything was working correctly by downloading movies and TV shows on mobile devices and computers.
The new service was set to launch last Monday, but due to a major snowstorm and severe cold weather had to be delayed for two days, Pearson said.
The system can download as many movies and programs as requested on a 24/7 basis, Pearson said.
The library is charged only when there is a download, she said. That charge ranges from 99 cents to $2.99, she said. Digital services are available only to Allen County cardholders.
In the long run, depending on the popularity of the hoopla service, Pearson thinks it may bring a cost savings because it should lower the physical inventory of CDs, DVDs and extra copies of those titles.
That happened with our music and audio books after we began to offer digital services online, she said.
But for the time being, the new service will have no effect on the number of physical DVDs available at library branches, Pearson said.
Hoopla also offers music and audio books, but those services are already provided in digital form through other contracted services like Overdrive and Freegal, she said.
The program selections will continue to grow as hoopla grows. The company currently offers thousands of titles from major Hollywood studios, but more offerings are in the works, Jankowski said.
The company offers some programming that Netflix does not, such as educational programming, home-schooling videos, and preparation videos for high school advanced-placement exams, Jankowski said.
Selections also include classic, foreign and independent movies, children’s movies and shows, fitness programs, National Geographic, British shows, PBS documentaries like Ken Burns’ Prohibition, and a selection of movies in Spanish.
The service offers patrons convenience and the power of choice, Jankowski said.