County library offers digital content service

Washington County Public Library patrons now have a new way to stream movies, television shows, audio books and music, with free digital content available through a new free service at the library.

The library launched hoopla digital service on Feb. 24 and about 90 people have used it to date.

Andrea Adkins, information services manager for the library, said content is both downloadable and streamable for library patrons (all that’s needed is a library card) and it’s pretty popular.

“Since its inception on the 24th, we’ve had 260 items circulated,” she said.

Jeff Jankowski, owner and founder of hoopla, said currently the service is only available for public libraries. Hoopla is part of Midwest Tape.

“That’s our company that has been serving libraries on the physical side for 25 years,” Jankowski said. “We have a very intimate knowledge of the (libraries’) needs.”

Hoopla has been out of Beta testing since August, and has around 120,000 titles in movies, TV shows, audiobooks and music.

Adkins said hoopla is only one of several digital services offered by the library, like Zinio, which features 130 magazine titles; IndieFlix, where award-winning Indie films can be streamed; OneClickDigital, where audiobooks can be downloaded; the Ohio Digital Library (Overdrive), where eBooks and audiobooks can be borrowed; and Freading, where eBooks can be borrowed on an eReader. She added that each one is a little different content wise and has its own benefits.

Adkins said access hoopla is available to anyone with a library card. There is a hoopla app which can be downloaded, or access can be found by going to hoopla’s website. Those hoping to use hoopla must sign up and plug in the library card number. Cards are free for Ohio residents; those out of state can also get a card for $10 per year.

Jankowski said while many digital library services have loans that operate like a physical library, including the wait times, hoopla is not one of them.

“I call that the dissatisfaction model,” he said. “You never get what you want.”

He said items on hoopla are available 24/7 and there is no waiting or reserving a title.

“If everyone wants it and it’s available, you don’t have to wait for it to be checked in,” Jankowski said. “We’re big about changing the model of industry and meeting the cardholder’s expectations.”

While there is no cost to subscribers, there is a cost for the library, but it is a fraction of the cost of a physical book or movie.

“Everything is 99 cents to $2.99 per transaction,” Jankowski said. “The average price is $1.80. I think it’s a very good value. It cuts a lot of waste out of the experience and it’s been very well received.”

Adkins said there are many benefits to hoopla.

“There’s titles on hoopla that are not available in the library,” she said.

The material is downloadable so that if someone doesn’t have high speed Internet or even has dial-up, content can be downloaded and watched from home.

“There’s portability and more options for material we don’t keep (in the library),” Adkins said. “That’s what people want; they want things they can take with them.”