Last month, I gave you a breezy introduction to hoopla, a digital media service that gives library users free access to tons of entertainment and informational content in a variety of formats. While some of you have signed up and dived right in, we’d love for more of you take advantage of what we think is a pretty swell service. For the hesitant and/or skeptical, I’m offering up some tips and advice to fill you in on just what this hoopla is all about.
-Know the available formats – With hoopla, you can check out and stream movies, TV shows, music, audiobooks, eBooks, and comic books. Movies and TV shows have a three day checkout period, music has a seven day checkout period, and audiobooks, eBooks, and comic books check out for three weeks. At the end of an item’s checkout period, it is automatically returned, so you don’t have to take any action. If you’d like to borrow a returned item again, you’re free to check it out again right away, though mind the checkout limit (more on that in a bit).
-Rejoice for zero wait time – All the content you see on hoopla is always available instantly. Items may be used by multiple people simultaneously, so there are never any long, infuriating hold lists to deal with; if you see something you like, you can have it right now. Gratification doesn’t get more instant.
-Put the recommendations feature to work for you – When browsing around, you’ll notice a “Recommended” tab under each format heading. This is where hoopla will recommend titles to you based on the genre preferences you specified after initially creating your account. If you’d like to fine-tune your preferences in order to receive better, more on-target recommendations, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Recommendation Settings.” On the resulting page, you can select as many genres for each format as you wish.
-Browse by categories – One of the browsing options for each format is “Categories.” Select it and you’ll unsurprisingly be shown a large array of categories into which content is sorted. You can find a lot of gems by browsing around categories in your areas of interest. I recommend these categories for finding some of the best stuff hoopla has to offer:
- Audiobooks – The New York Times Bestsellers
- Movies – Oscar Winners & Nominees
- Music – Featured on NPR
- Comics – 2016 Eisner Awards
- Books – New York Times Bestsellers
- Television – Fitness & Exercise
Note that each format has a “Just Added to hoopla” category. Check it periodically to find the newest content available.
-Don’t forget to turn the page – No matter how you choose to browse, you’ll see a number near the top and bottom of each page that tells you how many titles are being displayed. If you see “Showing 1-50,” there’s a good chance there’s more content to choose from, as 50 is the maximum number of items hoopla will display on a single page. Click the “Next” button to see the next 50 items, and keep clicking it until it’s no longer available to see all possible options.
-No media players required – To view or listen to your checked out hoopla items, you don’t have to download any special software; just go to “Currently Borrowed” under the “My hoopla” tab and click the play/read/resume button that pops up when you hover over your desired item to stream it right in your browser.
-Download your content for mobile use – Each item you check out may be temporarily downloaded to an iOS or Android device (be sure to download the free hoopla app in your App or Google Play store), which is handy if you want to read, watch, or listen somewhere you don’t have Internet access and streaming isn’t an option.
-Know the monthly checkout limit – While we’d love to allow each and every cardholder to go nuts and check out as much of hoopla’s library as they wish, in order to ensure that we’re able to offer hoopla long term and to allow as many people as possible to enjoy it equally, we unfortunately have to institute a monthly cap on checkouts per account. Each cardholder is permitted to check out a total of five hoopla titles per month. The checkouts do not roll over from month to month, but rather reset to five at the beginning of each month.
-Seek extra help if needed – If you find yourself with questions, visit hoopla’s help page to see if they are answered there. Of course, you can always call the library, e-mail us, or stop by for help with hoopla or any of our other digital resources.
If hoopla sounds worth all the…hullabaloo, visit www.hoopladidital.com, click “Get Started,” and create an account with your e-mail address and library card number.