Prince George’s library system goes digital to add services -- Gazette.Net


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Checking out digital media from the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System has now become a little easier.

Library patrons are now able to make use of hoopla digital — a service that allows users free access to movies, music and audiobooks on their home computers or mobile devices. The library system previously had limited access to the items, but hoopla digital provides more options.

Kathleen Teaze, county library system director, said the service is paid for based on usage, estimating that hoopla would cost up to $20,000 per year.

Teaze said since the service’s debut on Nov. 17, more than a thousand people have registered, and 2,500 items have been downloaded.

“It’s been really popular,” said Robin Jacobsen, outreach manager for the county library system. “It’s been more popular than we thought. It’s so easy to use that people are finding it a good first step for those who haven’t downloaded books before, and it’s free.”

Patrons download the software application, entering their library card number, and can begin using the service immediately.

Jacobsen said one of the reasons for the service expansion was the limited lifespan of physical discs.

“They get scratched or lost, and that’s not an issue here,” she said. “Downloadable services like this will continue to grow and be flexible regardless of the platform. People are downloading into their computers, phones and laptops and lots of different ways to view the material.”

Out of about 422,600 library cardholders and 4.5 million total checkouts last year, about 214,000 were from e-books, audio books, mp3s and movies, Jacobsen said.

“We’re not cutting back on those things,” Teaze said referring to CDs and DVDs. “Hoopla offers services we don’t normally buy such as TV programs, not the newer popular stuff that comes out, but long-term DVDs are probably on their way out as a medium because streaming is the thing that’s coming.”

Kathryn Rabjohns of Clinton said while she has not used hoopla yet, she uses audio books on a weekly basis, but added she sees the value of the service.

“In this day and age, everything is going digital. It’s important,” Rabjohns said. “... I think having everything streaming is really important just because it’s the technology everyone is using.”

“The more accessibility, the better for people like me who are constantly on the move,” said Ivy Thompson of Mount Rainier. “It helps me that I don’t have to worry about overdue material. It’s where information is going, so I like having access to that system. I have it all on my phone, so it works.”

jlyles@gazette.net