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Toronto Public Library could soon offer video streaming

Posted by Chris Bateman / January 27, 2014

toronto library hooplaToronto Public Library is working on a deal to offer a digital streaming service similar to - though quite as comprehensive as - Netflix. An agreement with Hoopla Digital, which is currently still under discussion, would allow card holders to stream movies, TV, and music to home computers, cellphones and tablet devices.

The free service would work via the Hoopla application, which supports pushing audio and video to Apple TV boxes. Titles are automatically returned without incurring late fees and there are no holds or waiting lists for popular rentals, the company says.

Hoopla Digital currently provides streaming services for 40 North American public libraries. In November, the company signed deals with Universal Pictures, MGM, National Geographic and BBC America, adding to existing agreements with PBS, NBC, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Scholastic, and National Geographic. In Canada, the company is already operating in Edmonton and Hamilton.

Users borrow content for a fixed period via the Hoopla iPhone, Android or computer application. Using Edmonton's service as a guide, videos can be viewed for three days and music for seven before the app automatically hands the material back.

TPL already has an audio- and e-book contract with Overdrive, a distributor based in Ohio, and it's not clear at this stage whether that would change.

Don't expect brand new Hollywood titles; a quick browse of the Hoopla library reveals "new and notable" movies such as Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow (2004,) Johnny English (2003,) Angela's Ashes (1999,) and The Mummy (1999.) There's a decent selection of 90's classics, documentaries, and educational shows, however.

Music comes via Universal Music and Warner Music. Drake's Nothing Was the Same is one of the more recent titles that stands out among the offerings.

TPL hasn't announced how it will fund the planned deal. Hoopla's promotional material touts a pay structure that charges libraries only for the content users actually use - "there are no setup fees, subscription fees, annual fees, or long-term contracts," it says, which could be a boon for the cash-strapped Toronto library system.

According to a library spokesperson, an agreement could be signed as early as this week.

What do you think of the planned deal - will it be a win for Toronto's library service? Will you register for a library card to get access to Hoopla?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.



Tari / January 27, 2014 at 02:20 pm
WOW this sounds like a great idea for TPL!
Frank Yim / January 27, 2014 at 04:01 pm
Glad to see the Toronto Public Library expanding its services and adopting newer technology at the same time.
patti / January 27, 2014 at 04:29 pm
I love e-magazine service by the TPL and I really hope they make this video streaming happen!
Marco / January 27, 2014 at 05:15 pm
Well this is a great idea. No more scratched dvds because people have no respect for things that don't belong to them. The problem would be the catalogue of movies. I can't see them getting new releases like they get currently and I'd hope they wouldn't replace their current dvd buying program with this. They get newly released dvds which wouldn't be available on hoopla. Either way, love the TPL for keeping current.
Dean Tudor / January 27, 2014 at 09:37 pm
Forget the DVD movies: TPL can now devote its DVD resources to the performing arts DVDs or documentaries or educational course materials, plus children's stuff. No more 150 copies of some dumb movie that shrivels after a year. Get those non-fiction DVDs!!!!!
Rachel / January 28, 2014 at 01:09 pm

This is so amazing and bringing the TPL into the now with the way people are accessing content. I remember going to the library to watch VHS!
Sue / February 1, 2014 at 02:20 pm
Great idea in theory but I have reservations. Will this service be only available to people who have access to the internet AT HOME??? If it is like the other service, you cannot get access to books/movies/books to listen to if you do not have access at home (with fast enough service to actually download the stuff).

I would like a service where I could download the movie to a thumbdrive to watch at home on my computer that does not have access to the internet.

It could still have a three day or whatever time limit.
Rodger todhunter / April 7, 2014 at 11:30 pm
Great news and forward thinking by the TPL
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