Library branches out to offer Hoopla, Ancestry to patrons
Social media manager: 'It's a world of media'
There will be plenty of 'Hoopla' at the Barry-Lawrence County Library branches come March 5, when the library system plans to make the digital entertainment platform offering over 700,000 titles available to its patrons.
"We are now the Netflix," said Greg Brown, social media and marketing manager for the library system, who said the modern library is evolving to provide not just knowledge, but entertainment to patrons, referring to it as a busy hub for the community to connect, be entertained, transformed and inspired.
"We are rolling out Hoopla, a content delivery service that allows you to stream e-movies, e-TV shows, e-audio e-books, e-comic, e-music and YouTube videos, which can be downloaded on your mobile device," Brown said. "We basically function like an entertainment store for our patrons, where they can not only see movies, but also connect with books, music and things you wouldn't find in a lot of places."
The mega-entertainment platform will give patrons a 'Netflix' experience while at the library — or home, and offers even more than Netflix, Brown said.
"It is a Cadillac of a service," he said. "You sign up, have your library card, and have access to everything you want to see. It's a world of media. You don't have to be at the library to use it. You're [only] limited to the number of titles per-month you can take out at the library, or at home. It's like having Netflix, Amazon and iTunes all-in-one."
Each patron with a library card in the household will be able to enjoy six titles per month.
"Hopefully, we can add to that [number] if our tax levy increases," said Gina Milburn, system director. "We looked at several companies, and picked Hoopla because it offer so much more. Hoopla has remote access so you can also use it from home. It's pretty exciting that we're able to offer it; I think our customers are going to love it."
The system also considered Freegal, RB Digital and Flipster platforms.
Cost to the system is approximately 3,000 per month, but is based on usage.
"We budgeted $36,000 for the year," Milburn said. "Because this is a pay-per-use service, I am not sure of what the exact cost will be. Once we [as a collective group] reach the $3,000 limit for the month, [if that happens], patrons will receive a message that they will have to wait until next month [to check out items]. Since we are not purchasing individual copies, the service allows unlimited simultaneous users, meaning multiple people can check out the same movie at the same time, much like Netflix or Amazon. They don't have to wait for a title to be returned."
The library has also brought back Ancestry.com, a popular digital platform that operates a network of historical record and genetic genealogy websites, to help patrons discover their family history.
After a failed tax levy in 2016, the system had to cut the program due to budget restraints.
"People loved ancestry.com, and we thought we could [now] afford to put that back," Milburn said. "And as how popular as Missouri libraries to-go are, we [decided we] needed to invest in more digital media."
The program is utilized at public libraries, genealogical and historical societies, government agencies, for-profit corporations, and non-profit organizations. The annual cost to the system is $3,220.
Patrons can access the program while at the library, and access is now unlimited.
"We have simultaneous user access, which means there can be multiple users at one time," Milburn said. "When we had the program before, we were only allowed four to six users."
Making innovative digital platforms available are an example of the library's ongoing plans to bring the latest in media to patrons to keep them connected to the world, Brown said.
"The days of piles of dusty books on the shelf and librarians hushing you to be quiet are not part of the modern library," Brown said. "We are a place where people come together and come to be entertained, and a community hub based on knowledge and media, learning and entertainment. That's the future of the library. We are that place."
For more information about Hoopla and ancestry.com, people may call or visit a local library branch.