Patrons at Carroll County Public Library are now able to access hoopla digital, a service allowing library card holders to stream on-demand content such as audiobooks, movies and music.
Patrons at Carroll County Public Library are now able to access hoopla digital, a service allowing library card holders to stream on-demand content such as audiobooks, movies and music. (Submitted photo)

If you have ever wanted to learn the true back story of top socialite Kim Kardashian, rock out to the latest Maroon 5 album or take a crash course on "Freakonomics," Carroll County Public Library has you covered, and you don't even need to leave your couch.

October is the first month patrons have access to the library system's first streaming and downloading digital library, Hoopla.

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Hoopla, an Ohio-based company, offers more than 200,000 videos, TV series, movies, audiobooks and music albums for library systems to offer free to patrons with a library card. The company is planning to offer e-books later in the year.

The service has already been available in Howard County, Prince George's County and Cecil County public libraries and others across the country.

All Carroll County residents can use their library card and PIN to log in to the service and stream or download up to six pieces of content a month, said Michael Manon, chief brand manager for Hoopla.

Hoopla is the digital arm of the company Midwest Tape, which supplies audio and video products to public libraries across the United States and Canada.

Public libraries have always been on the cusp of innovation, Manon said, and about six years ago libraries began to ask for a streaming and digital download model. Hoopla answered that call.

"We believe libraries are here to stay," said Manon. "We built this to supplement the physical collection the library has."

Patrons can borrow videos for three days, albums for seven days and audiobooks for 21 days through Hoopla. After the lending period the content is returned to the library without a late fee. Patrons can also opt to renew an item, but each renewal counts toward their limit of six.

According to Manon, content is available for streaming on demand with Wi-Fi or an Internet connection instantly. Users can also download content to consume when they are without Internet connection within a matter of minutes, he said.

"It's not a long download time, but it depends on the speed of the Wi-Fi or LTE," Manon said. "The largest file would be 'Fiddler on the Roof' and that's a three-hour movie that can download in four to six minutes."

Patrons can access Hoopla through the library's website, library.carr.org; through the company's website, http://www.hoopladigital.com; or by downloading the Hoopla app on their Apple or Android device. The Hoopla application is also available on the Kindle Fire HDX.

Hoopla also allows users to pause content and pick back up where they left off on that device or any other devices they are using to access the software, Manon said.

Hoopla's library contains lots of art cinema and independent films, documentaries and older classics, which can be hard to find in stores or in a digital format, Manon said.

The service also has some newer content, but its availability depends on the type of media, Manon said.

Music and audiobooks are typically available to stream or download on Hoopla the same day as the street date, he said.

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"You could buy the new Iggy Azalea album, or you can listen to it on Hoopla the same morning it is available," Manon said.

But for big blockbuster films such as "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" patrons could have to wait a few extra days to watch it after it leaves the theaters, as Hoopla falls in the same category as video-on-demand sites.

"There's a lot of films from 2014 — we have well over probably 80 films," Manon said.

The Carroll County Public Library has allowed patrons to stream some audio content through its website for some time, said Lisa Picker, communications manager for the library.

But this is the first time it has offered a streaming and download platform.

According to Picker, the library is fulfilling more than just the role of being a content or collection provider by transforming to fit the needs of its patrons.

"We're not just a bookshelf or a bookshelf online," Picker said. "We are transforming people's lives."

Lots of the offerings through Hoopla are unique to the service, but some are available in the physical collection, said Picker.

Patrons typically come to the library and request specific unconventional or esoteric titles, she said. The library tries to accommodate those requests as long as it meets the its guidelines for content, Picker said.

"Now, if only one person checks it out in the whole year, we aren't adding it to our physical collection," said Picker.

The only downside of Hoopla might be that patrons can only download six items per month, compared with unlimited borrows for digital content from the library's collection.

"[Hoopla] is really just to enhance our existing collection. We encourage our customers to access our content the best way for their needs," Picker said.

But Picker said as patrons use the service, more borrows per month could become available.

The library had a soft opening for Hoopla last week, and nearly 200 people signed up for the service, she said.

"I hope that is goes very well and our customers enjoy watching, reading and listening with us," Picker said.

Reach staff writer Krishana Davis at 410-857-7862 or krishana.davis@carrollcountytimes.com.

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