Public Libraries start free music/media streaming

hoopla 250wPublic libraries have moved into the digital/Internet age with reasonable alacrity, digitizing their card catalogs, stocking their buildings with connected computers, and offering e-books alongside paper books. Now, some public libraries offer free streaming as a mode of borrowing.

One prominent adopter of stream-borrowing is the Boston Public Library.

“Boston Public Library now offers a free streaming media service for all cardholders, providing easy access to thousands of movies, television shows, music, and audiobooks for instant streaming or temporary download for smartphones, tablets, or computers.” –Boston Public Library press release

Unlike retail streaming, which is normally unlimited, library streaming extends the “borrowing” model, with limitations. The promoted plan for Boston cardholders offers 10 titles per month. Movie and music titles are automatically removed from the user’s device on the return date. (That’s how e-books operate, too.)

The technology and content provider for Boston’s library streaming is hoopla, which serves dozens of other libraries, too.

For libraries, the advantages of streaming are cost-saving and efficiency. The library does not need to purchase units — a CD for music, or DVD for a movie. Instead, they offer the hoopla catalog, and pay hoopla per download. In this way, libraries pay only for what their borrowers actually use, and the monthly limits keep a lid on overall cost.

Brad Hill