Library brings hoopla to town

FAIRMONT — As public libraries continue to grow and adapt to the digital world via eBooks, audio books, and music and video streaming, it is important to find a balance between affordable and enjoyable content.

The Martin County Library in Fairmont seems to have found that balance, in a new partnership with hoopla digital, a digital media service that partners with local public libraries and allows content to be streamed or downloaded instantly. Library director Jenny Trushenski discussed the origins of the new partnership and what it means to library patrons.

“Basically, I felt that we really needed another digital service for our patrons,” she said. “There’s a lot of interest in being able to access things from home at any time of day or night; it’s a nice service that people enjoy having. We’ve had eBooks through OverDrive for a number of years, but there are limitations with that service.

“I had looked at hoopla and some other libraries that were using that. It’s a service that is made for libraries, so it works really well, and it’s easy for people to set up and use with their library cards. The good thing about it is that there’s no holds or waiting, whatever is available on that service can be gotten at any time regardless of other people that may have the same item checked out.”

“With our other service, there’s only one copy of a book for one person at a time, and with hoopla it’s available right away,” she continued. “If you see something that you’re interested in, you can download it immediately.”

Along with ease of use and better access, the new service is likely to be cost-effective in ways that other services are not.

“It’s a different purchase model than OverDrive,” Trushenski said. “With that, we have to pay a subscription fee, whereas with hoopla we just have to pay based on what is checked out. So if it’s a light month, we don’t have to pay as much, and if we have a lot, then we pay more. For us that actually works better, because we’d rather pay based on use, rather than just a big contract.

“Whether one person reads something or a hundred people read something, you’re paying the same, so it’s a use-based model where we pay for what people are using, which is how we want to operate.”

Trushenski noted there is a limit of 10 checkouts per card per month, which is another way to keep the service cost-effective, by avoiding high numbers of checkouts.

“Most of the other services we’ve ever had have had a baseline fee, and that makes it kind of hard,” she said. “I know we pay $3,000 per year just to belong to OverDrive and that doesn’t include any content. We did pay a $3,000 deposit to start with hoopla, but that just gave us credit to spend there.”

Trushenski noted that items on hoopla cost anywhere from 99 cents to a few dollars, depending on what people check out. For those who enjoy the OverDrive service, it is still available, which can result in more options for patrons.

“The idea is that you can get eBooks from OverDrive, but then if you want something else we have hoopla,” she said. “Plus, hoopla has music, some TV shows and movies, and comic books too, so there’s a wider variety of materials available out there.”

Though the service has only been available for a few weeks, Trushenski says that feedback has been positive.

“So far we’ve had a lot of interest in hoopla, and so far 125 people have signed up,” she said. “You do have to make an account, but all you need is your library card and then just set up a username and password. If you’re used to doing things like that with an iPad or smartphone it’s easy to follow.”

With a variety of content and a generally easy to use cost-effective service, the library urges people to give hoopla a try.