Online Streaming Options

New services offered by Hoopla and Alexander Street

November 1, 2016

Hoopla’s catalog includes more than 500,000 items and is accessible by mobile app.
Hoopla’s catalog includes more than 500,000 items and is accessible by mobile app.

As streaming music and video online becomes more prevalent and as more platforms transition to paid-only subscriptions, several platforms are expanding the ways that libraries can offer their own streaming services.


Hoopla, launched in 2013 by Midwest Tape, provides single-platform access to most major types of digital holdings: audiobooks, ebooks, video, and music. Patrons can access content either by streaming it from the Hoopla website or by using the mobile app, which allows both streaming and temporary downloads for offline access. Items are automatically removed from the patron’s devices once the borrowing period has expired—there are no late returns or fines. Hoopla’s recent 4.0 update includes improved content discovery tools, faster browsing, and a built-in audio player. The website has also been modified to cobrand with the user’s library when he or she is logged in.

Hoopla’s catalog has expanded significantly since its launch. Patrons currently have access to more than 500,000 items that include titles from music partners Universal and Warner, videos from a long list of partners including Disney and MGM, and audiobooks from nearly all of the Big Five publishers. Librarians can create collections using this catalog and share them with patrons to showcase a specific topic or genre, local content, or any other type of recommendation.

It has been only a few years since all major publishers made their ebooks available to libraries, and many are still offered to libraries at above-market rates. Hoopla uses a pay-per-circulation fee structure, with a maximum charge of $3.99 per borrow. To control costs, libraries can also set a budget, limit the maximum number of borrows per patron, and set the maximum price per circulation that patrons can check out. Librarians can set and modify circulation protocols and lending limits through an administrator dashboard on Hoopla’s website, which also includes live-updated circulation statistics.

For more information, visit

Public Library Video Online: Premium

Alexander Street’s Public Library Video Online: Premium
Alexander Street’s Public Library Video Online: Premium

Alexander Street Press, one of the largest providers of streaming video to libraries in North America, has launched a video-streaming database built specifically for public libraries. Public Library Video Online: Premium offers 42,800 videos including documentaries, television programs, feature films, and educational content from partners such as CBS, PBS, NBC, and the BBC. Videos are available in a wide range of subject areas, including news and current events, history, science, fashion, business, economics, and feature films.

Pricing for the service depends on the size of the population served by the library system, with cost per video starting at $0.08. After a year’s subscription, and for each year after, the library can select permanent rights for the titles that are viewed most. Archival copies of these selections are also available.

Public Library Video Online: Premium integrates many of the features that Alexander Street has been known for, including synchronized scrolling video transcripts that are fully searchable. Users will have the ability to engage with the videos by taking notes, making video clips, and sharing playlists. The platform also supports use with JAWS screen-reader software, allowing a more accessible experience.

For libraries looking to provide a selection of local content, Public Library Video Online: Premium also offers the option to upload an unlimited amount of locally produced video to supplement their collections—to be available either locally or to anyone in the world—through Alexander Street’s Media Hosting Service. This content can be linked to the library’s catalog and made searchable as part of the collection.

For more information on Public Library Video Online: Premium, visit

Seattle adopts a MUSICat

Andrew HarbisonUser: Andrew Harbison, assistant director for collections and access, Seattle Public Library

Product: MUSICat,

Details: MUSICat, a project from the software company Rabble, is an open source platform that allows libraries to curate and host collections of local music for streaming and download. It provides libraries with the tools to license albums and share music freely with library cardholders.

How do you use MUSICat? Our application of the MUSICat platform is called PlayBack, and we’ve based a lot of it on the Yahara Music Library at Madison (Wis.) Public Library and Capitol City Records at Edmonton (Alberta) Public Library. We use this platform to help the local music community build unique collections, enable discovery of and access to local music, and support local musicians and music organizations in cultivating a stronger, more collaborative Seattle music scene. PlayBack has been funded by Seattle Public Library Foundation for two years as a pilot project.

Seattle PlayBack on MUSICat
Seattle PlayBack on MUSICat

How does MUSICat serve your library’s needs? We have a strategic goal of engaging local creative communities in new ways by offering relevant, inclusive, and participatory programs and services, as well as by better representing the work of these communities in the library’s collections. We’re reaching new audiences and building new partners to accomplish these goals.

What are the main benefits? The main benefits include an out-of-the-box local streaming-and-download music platform that integrates submission, jurist review, and selection processes; licensing agreements; analytics and reporting; and communications. That functionality has helped us build many new connections with artists, fans, and music organizations like radio stations and venues. In addition, we’ve also had great support from the software company, Rabble, and Madison and Edmonton librarians to work through implementation and some unique characteristics of PlayBack.

What would you have like to see improved or added to their service? There are a number of features on the development list that we’re collaborating on with Rabble. Some of these include the ability to create, play, and share playlists; shuffle play; data export; and more customized reporting, as well as some additional administrative workflow functionality. The Rabble team has been a great partner in helping us envision and realize a new service that supports, engages, and enhances our music community.


Julie B. Todaro

Helping ALA Cruise to Success

Donations from membership make for a marvelous voyage

Librarian's Library: Karen Muller

Information Literacy

Unlocking the Framework