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Fairfax County libraries offer movie streaming through Kanopy

Kanopy promotional image (Image via Kanopy/Twitter)

Fairfax County Public Library now offers access to Kanopy, a subscription on-demand streaming video service.

As of Feb. 1, library patrons can sign up for an account with five play credits per month, allowing users to have access to more than 30,000 films, documentaries and classics.

Kanopy is the first video streaming service tested by FCPL. Others like Hoopla — a library-focused version of popular streaming service Hulu — were simply too costly for the library system to consider, according to FCPL Director Jessica Hudson.

FCPL anticipates that the service will be well utilized by the community. The project was funded partly by money from the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion federal stimulus bill passed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grant funding for the project is expected to run through the end of September.

“Our goal was to have this for a year and to assess community interest and to go from there,” Hudson said at a FCPL Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 9.

Kanopy includes access to Arthouse Favorites, British Cinema, the Criterion Collection, the Great Courses, world cinema, Kanopy Kids and short films.

The streaming service is only available through libraries. Most users need a valid public library card number and a password or PIN. Universities also offer access to the service.

In Virginia, a limited number of libraries participate in the service, including Loudoun County. Arlington County offered it through May 18, 2020.

FCPL has an online guide to help patrons interested in setting up an account. Play credits reset on the first of each month, and unused credits from the previous month do not carry over.

Once a user presses play, one play credit is used, and the title expires after three days. But films in The Great Courses and Kanopy Kids do not use up any play credits.

Hudson noted that other streaming services could cost up to $1 million per year — a price tag that is not sustainable for the county. FCPL may consider making the service permanent, depending on utilization and the availability of long-term funding.

“This is a good way for us to test the waters and see how it goes,” she said.

Image via Kanopy

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