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Streaming services come to Carlsbad library

CARLSBAD — Streaming services appear to be the way of the future.

Whether it’s Netflix, Hulu, HBO or the soon-to-be Disney service, consumers are demanding more digital content to view at their leisure.

The city of Carlsbad is in on the action with its unique partnership with Kanopy, a San Francisco-based streaming service. The city launched its free pilot program on Dec. 3 and through the first week, it was a big hit, said Jessica Padilla Bowen, the city’s community relations manager.

With a library card and pin number, residents can sign up and enjoy thousands of hours of free content from traditional movies and documentaries to academia, the arts, business, social sciences and Kanopy Kids, to name just a few.

Kanopy offers selected TV shows from PBS and the BBC.

Library card holders can use their Roku, Amazon and Apple app stores as well as Google Play to access the content. Photo by Steve Puterski

“Kanopy came to the top because it offers a lot of selections, the Criterion Collection is something that is very popular,” Bowen said. “Independent and foreign films are popular because we have our own film series. There are certain studios that don’t work with libraries, so we did have to go through a process to pick some of the better companies to work with.”

Kanopy collects content from more than 4,000 public libraries and universities across the world including Carlsbad with more than 30,000 films such as “Memento,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Ex-Machina.”

And like the more popular streaming services, Kanopy is accessible on any device. Also, users can use their Roku, Amazon and Apple app stores as well as Google Play to access the content.

Started in 2008, Kanopy is slowly and steadily becoming a go-to alternative option for streamers. Free content, of course, doesn’t hurt, but the company’s selection is growing.

Bowen said library patrons called for the library to expand into streaming options, and over the past several months the city researched the best fit, which in the end was Kanopy.

Free, though, is relative as the city pays Kanopy $2 per stream, however, the Friends of the Library donated the money for the pilot program, Bowen said. She said tier service provides library cardholders with access to Kanopy’s entire collection.

“Kanopy told us we will see a lot of new movies come into the collection as well,” Bowen added.

The city also offers free music to stream via Alexander Street, which focuses on classical, jazz and world music, plus its digital offerings of e-books and free digital magazine subscriptions, such as Wired, The New Yorker and Car and Driver, to name a few.

In the first week, the Kanopy and Alexander Street had more than 1,000 streams, Bowen said. The cost for Alexander Street is $10,783.11 per year.

Aside from Carlsbad, Bowen said the city of Coronado is the only other municipality in the county to offer a free service.

“It’s been really strong,” she said of the response. “It’s hard to imagine the demand not continuing to climb. It seems like services are going that direction. It’s important for us to have services for people in their homes.”