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Gazette Premium Content Hoopla digital adds high-tech options for Pikes Peak Library District

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By Lance Benzel Updated: December 25, 2013 at 6:57 pm

You've heard of Netflix. You know Hulu.

Now lovers of film and television in the Pikes Peak region have a free alternative for their online streaming habit. It's called hoopla digital - and anyone with a library card and high-speed Internet may want to get acquainted.

The service went live on the Pikes Peak Library District's website in early November and boasts 3,000 movie titles and 8,000 television programs - including educational programming, art house fare and flashy Hollywood hits such as "The Fast and the Furious."

There's also plenty of tunes - about 300,000 albums' worth.

The service, provided through a national library vendor, is part of the library district's effort to adapt to new usage patterns in an era when smartphones, tablets and computers are legion and electronic media, including DVDs and CDs, are flying off library shelves.

"We want to see these things get used - that's what we're here for," said Carolyn Coulter, an information technology specialist with the library district.

Unlike the DVDs at the district's 14 branch locations, titles available through hoopla are always available. The service allows for simultaneous check-outs, meaning there are no waiting lists or angry calls for missing return dates.

In another perk, the media can either be streamed through the Internet or downloaded to a compatible mobile device for later use.

There are no late fees. Once a user has held an item for the lending limit - three days - the item is automatically deleted from the user's computer, smartphone or tablet.

Those without high-speed Internet are encouraged to bring their personal media devices to any library branch to use the district's wireless Internet.

Use of hoopla is blocked to anyone with more than $10 in unpaid fines, and users are limited to eight downloads per month, whether it's a movie, TV episode or digital album.

"If you're a family of four and everybody has a library card you can do the math - that's 32 downloads a month," Coulter said.

The service is provided through a national library vendor, which charges libraries only for what patrons actually use - with fees ranging from $.99 to $2.99 per download. Coulter said the fees are unlikely to strain the collections budget.

Hoopla is hardly the first high-tech service to be added to the library district's repertoire, and usage figures reflect a rising demand for digital media.

E-book readership has exploded twentyfold since the district introduced its OverDrive service in 2008, rising from 22,450 downloads in its inaugural year to more than 430,000 downloads this year, according to library district figures.

"I'm not going to say that books will ever disappear," Coulter said.

"But I also believe that to stay vibrant and vital and relevant to society, we have to present materials in the formats that people actually use."

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