If traveling to the library has become a hassle, a new service through Stow-Munroe Falls Library will send free music, books and video content directly to your home computer, cellphone (Apple or Android) or tablet.
It’s called hoopla — the company doesn’t capitalize the “h” — and just came out of nationwide beta testing that included the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
“We are the first library in Northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania to offer this library service,” said Douglas H. Dotterer, director. “This is patterned after Netflix, and it is a whole new paradigm shift when it comes to offering content.”
Other area libraries offer some books and music online, but not through content streaming.
Library patrons — the service is open to all Ohio residents — will be asked to sign up using their library cards and install an application on their computer, phone or tablet (the Nook is excluded). The app is available online or by using a service like iTunes.
Movies and television shows can be kept for three days, music for seven days and audio books for 21 days. Users have the option of storing the entire document in their device or “stream” it using the Internet as they watch or listen.
The content disappears from the device after the term is up. Multiple patrons can use the same content simultaneously.
The service is available at any hour. No trip to the library is required.
“We are trying to reach out to the community and say, ‘Hey, we’ll be able to provide you content right at home,’ ” Dotterer said.
Movies will not be the summer blockbusters — yet.
“They’re not going to be the ones that are currently on pay-per-view and in theaters,” Dotterer said.
Instead, many of the films are a year or two old, and hoopla seems to emphasize older classics.
Amy Garrett, the library’s project manager for hoopla, said 250 patrons had signed up by Friday. Music was most popular, she said.
She expects the library to pay an average of $1.69 per item and is closely watching demand. Hoopla required a $6,000 deposit, and the library will draw down on that first. By Friday, $407 had been spent.
“The best thing about this is people can’t lose these [materials],” Garrett said.
Other online services through libraries limit the number of times an individual item can be borrowed. Hoopla is different.
“If 5,000 people want to listen to Moby Dick at the same time, they can,” Garrett said.
The library can set a limit on use if it finds costs exceeding expectations.
“It’s going to be hard to tell until the first six months or so,” Dotterer said.
Consumers don’t need to live in Stow or Munroe Falls to use it. All they need is a library card.
“Every library in the state has that setup,” he said. “In Ohio, if you are a taxpayer, you are entitled to use any public library.”
Increasingly, a trip to the library building is not required.
“Content is starting to migrate to streaming, and that’s the future,” Dotterer said.
For more information, go to www.smfpl.org.
Dave Scott can be reached at 330-996-3577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Scott on Twitter at Davescottofakro.