Library unveils new streaming service

Need to escape the holiday stress crush with a Hallmark Christmas movie binge?

Assigned “bread” for the family meal and want some step-by-step directions on making yeast rolls?

Or maybe you’re looking for a comic book series to keep the kids occupied in the backseat on the five-hour drive to grandma’s house?

The Alachua County Library District has you covered. Just in time for the holidays, the library is offering access to the streaming and downloading service hoopla Digital.

Hoopla is geared to public library patrons and offers movies, music and television shows, plus comics and graphic novel downloads. ACLD card holders can check out 10 items a month on the service.

“We’re thrilled to offer 24/7 access to great films, music, and television with no wait times on hoopla–just in time for the holidays,” Library Director Shaney T. Livingston said in a press release.

The digital content can be downloaded and played for free through apps for smartphones and tablets, and through computers and streaming devices such as Roku, AppleTV, Chromecast, Android TV and Fire TV.

Adam Brooks, the library’s administrative services division director, said hoopla’s availability on a large variety of streaming platforms was part of the reason the ACLD selected the service.

“During the pandemic, we’ve seen an accelerated shift in use of digital content across the county’s libraries, so expanding our digital offerings to include our most popular formats makes sense in trying to meet our community’s needs and interests,” Brooks said in an email interview.

At the end of this month, the library is sunsetting access to the Freegal service, which allows users to download five songs from the Sony Music catalog a week. But Brooks said the more expansive music selection on hoopla, which also includes albums from other major labels such as BMG, Universal and Warner, should please the Freegal patrons.

“We think that our dedicated Freegal users will enjoy the new offerings, as Hoopla includes hundreds of thousands of new digital albums not available through Freegal, as well as a borrowing model that expands access by allowing check-out of up to 10 albums a month, as opposed to five songs per week,” Brooks said.

Check-out times for hoopla vary by item type. Movies and television shows can be checked out for three days, which means you can watch Hallmark’s “A Crown for Christmas” six or seven times in a row (no judgment) or rewind the Craftsy episode “Homemade Holiday Breads” as many times as it takes to get your Challah bread braided correctly.

Music albums can be checked out for a week. So if your roommate takes off with your copy of Michael Buble’s “Christmas,” you can stream it from hoopla instead. Or if you are looking to escape holiday music altogether, the service offers a range of music from John Prine’s hard-to-find back catalog to Drake’s 2021 release “Certified Lover Boy.”

Most comics and graphic novels can be checked out for 21 days. That’s long enough to devour N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell’s 305-page comic collection “Far Sector” on the trip to grandma’s house or catch up with the latest sixth-grade adventures of Lincoln Peirce’s “Big Nate.”

There’s also a BingePass that allows users to check out from a selection of more than 300 Great Courses, Brooks said. The television series covers topics such as cooking, photography, writing, history, health and science, and the courses can be checked out for seven days.

For people wanting to use their winter break to veg out rather than brush up, hoopla offers a wide catalog, including indie movies, PBS documentaries, Acorn and BBC series.

“We think that there should be something for everyone’s reading, listening and viewing pleasure,” Brooks said.

The ACLD launch of hoopla on Tuesday is already drawing interest from library patrons.

“We have already seen early adopters borrowing television episodes, movies, comics, and access to Great Courses at even higher rates than digital music,” Brooks said. “Based on these early hoopla numbers and projections from use of the physical surrogates (DVDs and print graphic novels in our collections), we expect hoopla will be a service that many of our community members will enjoy using.”

Library cardholders can set up their digital account at the ACLD’s hoopla page.

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