The Darien Library continues to expand its offerings with the announcement of a partnership with Hoopla Digital -- a service that offers on-demand content for free -- and all you need is a library card.
Through the service, which launched Dec. 16, card holders are able to download movies, TV shows, audiobooks and music.
The timing of the partnership couldn't be more perfect for Pam Ha-Stevenson, who was able to instantly download "A Very Merry Muppet Christmas" for her children during Tuesday's snow day. Ha-Stevenson said using the Hoopla app was "beyond easy."
Jacqui Miller said she loved how intuitive the app was and she and her children put it to use on the snowy day in Darien. Three audio books -- two for her kids and one for herself -- and the soundtrack to the Disney movie "Frozen" were rented.
"It's a great service," Miller said.
Hoopla, which is owned by Midwest Tapes, was an idea born from the need for the company to stay relevant and in tune with customers' needs, Jeff Jankowski, the founder and creator of Hoopla, said.
The Scoville Public Library in Salisbury is the only other library in Connecticut offering the service. The service is live in 75 public libraries across the country, with 100 more signed commitments.
"It's very easy to use," Jen Dayton, the collection development manager at the library, said. "They've made it pretty much fool-proof."
Jankowski estimates that by this time next year, Hoopla will be in at least 1,000 libraries.
"Most libraries want to appeal to new users in the community and the existing cardholders," Jankowski said.
The physical, traditional model of loaning materials has its limitations, Jankowski said, but with Hoopla, there is no waiting for another patron to return materials.
"With Hoopla, it's the same experience for all the patrons," Jankowski said. "If everyone wants (the) Katy Perry (album) the first week it comes you, it's available for everyone."
Hoopla is available for all Darien residents with a library card or Friends of the Library who donate more than $300 per year, Dayton said.
Before integrating Hoopla into the library, e-books and audiobooks were offered through 3M and Overdrive. The latter caters to Kindle readers, which 3M does not.
"We wanted to get this out there because we think it's going to be a tablet Christmas," Dayton said, meaning that many tablets will be given as gifts. There is no start-up cost to the library, and it is only charged for what patrons borrow. The average price of each rental is $1.50, according to Jankwoski.
Everything that is borrowed through Hoopla is automatically deleted from the device and returned back to the service, eliminating the possibility of late fees. Videos expire in three days, music in seven days and audio books in 21 days. What's more, the app tells users how many days remain on their loans.
For now, Darien Library card holders are limited to 10 rentals per month, Jankowski said.
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