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Your Public Library as a Streaming Service

New York Public Library
New York Public Library(Via, Public Domain)

There are currently dozens of streaming services, ranging from the big dogs (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video) to niche services like Crunchyroll (animé), Boomerang (classic cartoons), FuboTV (sports), Acorn TV (British titles), FilmStruck (indie, arthouse, and classic movies), CuriosityStream (science and educational documentaries), and Brown Sugar (Blaxploitation movies). And it seems like more services launch every month, especially as networks and studios start their own to compete with Netflix et al.

However, might I suggest that you add one more to the list: your local public library. It sounds odd, I know. But if you haven’t been to your local library in awhile, or think that libraries are just buildings filled with books and little else, then you might be in for a pleasant surprise. As Gizmodos Hudson Hongo writes:

Imagine, if you will, a single service that lets you enjoy thousands of different books, movies, albums, and periodicals. It’s increasingly becoming one of the world’s best-kept secrets, and it’s called your local library.

If your knowledge of public libraries is limited to depictions in film and on television, you might think of them as the boring book places that are occasionally attacked by ghosts. While, by definition, libraries contain books, most libraries in America now offer a wide variety of recorded media available for your consumption, including CDs, DVDs, magazines, ebooks, and audiobooks.

Within the last year or so, our family has rediscovered Lincoln’s libraries, and they’ve become a frequent stop, especially during the long summer months. And though we still primarily use our library for books, I’ve been pretty impressed by its selection of both movies and graphic novels. (For instance, I was pleasantly surprised to find both Shin Godzilla and the Attack on Titan movies at our neighborhood branch, as well as every volume of Descender.)

As an added bonus, we can use both Overdrive and Hoopla with our library account. I’ve become especially enamored with Hoopla. It has a very extensive comics collection, and while its movie selection might not compare with Netflix’s, Hoopla’s catalog contains some surprises, and even gets some titles well in advance of the more popular services.

Unfortunately, the number of Hoopla checkouts that Lincolnites get each month dropped to 4 earlier this year. As it turns out, more people were using Hoopla than had been budgeted for. Which is a good thing, I suppose. It’s nice to know that the service has been so successful. And hopefully, Lincoln will be smart when it comes time to figure out the new budget, and set aside more money for Hoopla and similar services — if only because they increase the usefulness of our public libraries by a considerable amount.