Accessed: Through Los Angeles Public Library
Provided by: Hoopla Digital, owned by Midwest Tape
Brief Description: Hoopla is a streaming video, audiobook, and music rental service that is free to patrons if a library subscribes to the service.
Services: If a library has a Hoopla account, library patrons can sign up for a personal Hoopla account and borrow movies, music, audiobooks, and television shows for free. Everything is streamed, and rentals for movies and TV are for 3 days, music for 7 days, and audiobooks for 21 days. The items are automatically “returned” at the end of each rental period, or they can be returned earlier. At the Los Angeles Public Library, you can rent up to 10 titles per month, and it doesn’t matter what other patrons are borrowing – there are no simultaneous rental guidelines. County of Los Angeles Public Library cardholders seem to be able to borrow 8 titles per month. Items can be used on the computer or through a free app on a mobile device.
Evaluation: Despite a smaller selection of titles than many of the streaming services – particularly in television, although there seem to be a number of British TV shows – Hoopla provides a great and easy service. I was able to create my account, select titles, download the app to my iPhone, and begin listening to music and an audiobook within about 15 minutes. The website has a few interface issues, but perhaps those will be fixed soon. For example, the white text beneath a picture does not actually link to the item – only the picture does that. When you click on the white description, you actually are brought to the next page of items. In addition, the movies/music/audiobook/TV menu bar is not always on the top of the page, so you have to hit “browse” to get to it. However, the fact that this is entirely free for library patrons, and you do not have to worry about returning the items since they are automatically returned, is a great thing. The music section, in particular, seems to have a great deal of selection options.
Company Information: From www.midwesttapes.com: “Midwest Tape is a full-service media distributor, working exclusively with public libraries since 1989. We offer the greatest selection of DVDs, Blu-rays, CDs, Audiobooks, and Playaways, while providing our customers with an array of media solutions.”
Why This Service: Music, movies, and TV are, and will continue to be, huge, no matter how we access them. Having a free streaming service available to teens will get them to at least get their library cards.