Kanopy Meets Budget and Connectivity Needs for Rural Libraries

March 22, 2024

A view from behind two people on a couch, watching a film on TV

At a time when streaming media platforms are constantly raising their prices and consumers are cutting the cord on traditional cable, public libraries are bridging the gap. With streaming video service Kanopy, libraries can provide a world of entertaining and educational content at no cost to their patrons.

This trend of libraries offering streaming video is not new:

In the 2022 Library Journal Materials Survey, responses showed that while 97% of libraries still buy DVDs, the proportion of libraries’ materials budgets spent on them has fallen three percentage points since 2019. At the same time, the proportion spent on streaming electronic resources has risen three percentage points, indicating a shift in budget allocation toward streaming services.

When it comes to adding a streaming service, rural libraries, especially, face concerns that go beyond budgetary ones. These libraries may hesitate to add Kanopy because of connectivity limitations within their community.

That was Michael Perry’s assumption. Perry is director of Siskiyou (Calif.) County Library (SCL), where circulation of DVDs has yet to reach prepandemic levels. But Perry had concerns that a streaming video platform would be inaccessible for many users of this rural California county. It wasn’t until he began receiving multiple requests from branches within the county library system that he realized his presumptions about Kanopy’s place within his community were wrong. Those requests weren’t coming from transplants who had previously accessed Kanopy through a larger library system; they were coming directly from the rural community SCL serves, including the smaller, more rural branches.

Perry notes that as streaming services gain in popularity, people no longer turn to their library for physical media, instead gravitating toward streaming movies online.

By offering a streaming service like Kanopy—available only through libraries—SCL and other libraries can continue to meet the entertainment needs of users.

Rural communities often face geographical isolation, and access to entertainment and cultural events may be limited. Public libraries can foster community connection by using their streaming video services. Thanks to Public Performance Rights available on many Kanopy films, libraries can organize movie screenings, discussion groups, or themed events centered around streaming content. These initiatives bring rural community members together, sparking conversations, fostering friendships, and creating shared experiences. The library solidifies itself as a social hub where individuals can unite over their love for film and strengthen local ties.

As paid streaming services continue to increase subscription prices year over year—and add advertising—more of your users will turn to the library for streaming media, making now the perfect time to add Kanopy to your library. Contact us to see how we can help bring streaming video to your community.


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