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Library landscape changing in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Vancouver Island Regional Library Parksville Branch customer service librarian Darcy Crum signs up for hoopla, the brand new digital service provider now offered by VIRL which allows library cardholders access to a plethora of free movies, music, audiobooks and television shows.  - CANDACE WU PHOTO
Vancouver Island Regional Library Parksville Branch customer service librarian Darcy Crum signs up for hoopla, the brand new digital service provider now offered by VIRL which allows library cardholders access to a plethora of free movies, music, audiobooks and television shows.
— image credit: CANDACE WU PHOTO

Late fees may be a frustration of the past, according to Vancouver Island Regional Library Parksville Branch customer service librarian Darcy Crum.

VIRL recently went digital, and Crum said the sweeping changes will revise the landscape of literature as we know it.

A VIRL press release issued Feb. 14 stated the library would extend its services using a digital media provider called hoopla, which offers a wide array of movies, television shows, educational/instructional videos, documentaries, music and audiobooks. The release said these services are all accessible online, so users don't actually have to leave their home to borrow material.

"It's a lot like Netflix," said Crum. "But it's all free if you have a library card — which are also free."

Crum said users sign up for an account which links the program on various different devices.

"Hoopla basically remembers you based on your account, which means you can start watching a movie on your computer, pause it and then continue your program where you left off on your tablet later in the day."

Additionally, Crum said once your lending period expires, your borrowed material will simply dissolve into cyberspace — giving us all a little extra peace of mind.

Crum said the move into the digital sphere reflects VIRL "responding to a need in the community."

"Offering this service is something we've been looking into for a long time," said Crum. "It's the result of a lot of public consultation and serious discussion about what our customers want."

Crum said hoopla serves the purpose of extending VIRL's reach into urban and rural regions.

"In today's society there is a lot of digital content out there," said Crum. "Some people might not be able to pay for it."

And even though the library now offers this new digital database available at the touch of a screen, good old fashion hard-copy books still exist in the physical library itself.

"This isn't about the digital world usurping print," said Crum. "It's about providing access to information, education and enjoyment."

VIRL communications and marketing officer Heather Bartlett agreed that moving to a digital platform was an exciting time for the library.

"We're staying in time with digital resources," said Bartlett.

"In terms of the interface it's really user friendly," said Bartlett. "And they offer great documentaries, music and children's movies — there's really something for everybody."

Bartlett said hoopla offers "more educational content" to viewers and part of the reason VIRL chose to go with hoopla as a digital provider is because the content is "dynamic and relevant to the community."

Furthermore, Bartlett said hoopla only caters to library facilities and is unavailable to the general public without going through your library branch.

Bartlett said in order for current library cardholders to register for hoopla they must be in "good standing" (fines under $10), have a PIN number and an e-mail address. After registering, she said cardholders may borrow titles by downloading, installing and signing into the mobile hoopla app or signing into the hoopla website.

"One of the focuses of the board of trustees and library operations is to invest in e-resources," said Bartlett. "So this initiative (introducing hoopla) fits — the idea is to provide greater access to resources."

But even though moving to an electronic platform means more availability and flexibility for consumers, there are still some limitations.

According to the VIRL website, library members may borrow up to 12 titles per month: movie and television content is available for 72 hours, music albums are available for seven days and audiobooks are available for 21 days.

"So far, it's been a hit," said Bartlett. "The program has been well received by cardholders and from an administrative perspective it is certainly cost effective."

For more information, or to access hoopla visit www.virl.bc.ca or your local VIRL library branch.

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