The library is always a handy spot for borrowing books, magazines, and music, both physical and electronic. You can also borrow DVDs from your local branch, but did you know you can also borrow, stream, and watch videos through many library systems on your computer, phone, tablet, or other device through dedicated apps?
The first step, of course, is to have a valid library card for your local branch or county library system. Then find out which apps your library supports—like OverDrive, Hoopla, and Kanopy—and download them so you can start streaming from the available video library. Here’s how to use these services.
Japanese retailer and e-commerce site Rakuten provides two free apps, Libby and OverDrive, that are designed to help you access content from your library. While Libby only supports ebooks and audiobooks, OverDrive also works with streaming video. To get started, download and install OverDrive on your preferred device. The app is available for the iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Windows, macOS, Amazon Fire tablets, and more.
After installing OverDrive, fire up the app and sign in with your library account. To get started, you’ll have to supply the name of your library, then enter your library card number and PIN. If you don’t yet have a PIN, contact your local library to get one. After signing in, select the name of your library to access its collection.
Browse for videos by selecting Collections or searching by specific criteria. Videos that are available to borrow display an Available tag. When you find a video you’d like to watch, tap the thumbnail. The details page allows you to watch a small snippet of the video before renting.
To rent the video, tap the Borrow button, then choose the number of days you’d like to have the video (three, five, or seven days) and tap the Borrow button again. You can then add the title to your bookshelf, giving you quick access to everything you have borrowed.
To watch the video after adding it to your bookshelf, tap the hamburger icon in the upper left and then tap the entry for Bookshelf. Tap the thumbnail for the video to watch it on your device.
By signing into your account, you can watch the video on any computer or device with the OverDrive app or access to the OverDrive website.
To kick things off, install the app on your preferred device. Open the app and select the Sign Up option to create an account. After you create your account credentials, the app offers to help you find your library based on your location. Choose the correct library if it appears in the list of search results. If not, type the name of the library you want to use in the Search field.
At the main screen for the app, tap the button for Movies or Television, depending on what types of videos you want to see. You can also use the Search icon at the top to look for a specific video by title, director, actor, and other criteria.
If you run a search, your results will include all types of content; look for items labeled as a movie or TV show, and tap the video that interests you. The Details screen displays more information on the movie or TV show, such as a synopsis, cast list, and director. The app tells you the number of days the video is available; tap the Borrow button if you want it.
You can then play the video from the same screen. Just select the Play button, and the video then plays in the app.
The home screen of the app also lists any items you’ve borrowed, so you can play the video from there. The Hoopla app also works across devices, so you can start a title on one app and resume it from a different device.
Kanopy is a free service available through certain public and university libraries. It’s expensive, so many libraries don’t offer it. For example, I used to access the service through the New York Public Library, but then the NYPL decided it was no longer worth the cost. If your library does support it, you can watch up to 10 films per month.
To use Kanopy, install the app on an iPhone or iPad, Android device, Fire TV, Roku, or Apple TV, then choose the library you want to use. You may first want to check Kanopy’s Library Search page to see if your local public or college library is onboard. Click “Find Your Library” and if your library supports the service, add your library card number and PIN to gain access.
Once inside the app, you can browse all titles or conduct a search for specific criteria. The selection is varied with more than 30,000 films, including Hollywood classics, foreign films, indie flicks, shorts, and documentaries. To watch a film, tap the thumbnail and tap the Play button to play it.
This article originally published at PCMag