What is Hoopla and how does it work?

If you’re looking to save money on entertainment, your public library may be the answer. If your library is subscribed to Hoopla, you have free and legal access to books, comics, music, magazines, movies, and television shows.


What is Hoopla?

hoopla is a cloud-based media lending and streaming platform for public libraries. As we mentioned earlier, Hoopla offers many different types of content, including books, magazines, music, and even movies and TV shows. All this content is free of ads.

Participating public libraries are located in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

How does Hoopla work?

You can access Hoopla through its mobile app or streaming platform. You can borrow specific content just like you would in your physical library. Then download or stream the content using the app. The items you borrow from Hoopla do not count towards your loan limit in your library.

Unlike many free streaming apps, Hoopla is both ad-free and private. According to the Hoopla Help Centerit does not share your account information or loan history with anyone.

One feature that you may notice when using Hoopla compared to other digital libraries where you can download free ebooks is that you usually don’t have to wait to borrow a popular item. Available content falls into one of two categories:

  • Instant Borrow – The number of customers who borrow these items at the same time is unlimited, so there is no waiting period.
  • Flex borrows – only a certain number of copies can be borrowed at a time, so you may have a wait if other customers borrow it.

Your library sets your monthly borrowing limit based on budget, as libraries pay per use when a cardholder borrows or streams content from Hoopla.

The other distinguishing feature you may notice is that you can borrow a variety of media, including video, music, audiobooks, and ebooks. Most library apps like Kanopy or Libby specialize in a single medium.

Hoopla is like having a modern multimedia library on your phone with a wide variety of choices. Hoopla uploads new content weekly and like other streaming services, cycles content on and off the platform.

What you need to access Hoopla

First, you need a library card at one of Hoopla’s participating libraries. Download the Hoopla app or visit the Hoopla Digital website. It might be easier to just follow the link from your library’s website or app.

Sign up for a free Hoopla account, then link your library card with your card number and a PIN if your library uses one as well.

The Hoopla app is available through the iOS App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore. You can also access Hoopla through a web browser.

What content can you find on Hoopla?

Now that you know what Hoopla is, you should try out all the content of the platform. This is everything you can find on Hoopla.

1. Borrow eBooks and Comic Books

You don’t have to go to the library to borrow an eBook. If your library is subscribed to Hoopla, you can borrow eBooks for 21 days. Returns are automatic, so you’ll also save yourself a trip to the library to return a book when you’re done.

If you’re familiar with other library eBook apps like Libby, there are a few notable differences:

  • Most of the content on Hoopla allows unlimited simultaneous checkout, meaning there is no limit to how many customers can check out an item at the same time. This means you don’t have to wait to read the book.
  • You read the book within the Hoopla app. Some services like Libby also allow you to read eBooks in dedicated e-readers like a Kindle.
  • Since libraries pay Hoopla per use rather than purchase individual e-copies, you may find different content on Hoopla than on Libby or OverDrive. Some publishers prefer one model over another. If your library offers access to more than one eBook service, it’s worth checking them all out to see what you prefer.

If you prefer graphic novels or comics, you’ll find Hoopla’s collection under a separate menu from other eBooks, but the features are the same as other eBooks. The main change is that the reading interface is slightly different. The comic book reader’s user interface is gesture-responsive, so you can use your touchscreen to zoom in on a panel to make reading easier.

2. Use Hoopla to Listen to Audiobooks

Audiobooks can be a great way to pass the time while doing household chores, driving, exercising, or just relaxing. If you prefer to listen to your books, you can borrow audiobooks for 21 days via the Hoopla app or streaming channel.

The audiobook player interface includes a sleep timer that you can set from five to 120 minutes. If you ever fell asleep while listening, but then struggled to find your place again, the sleep timer can prevent this from happening again.

If your library doesn’t offer Hoopla, Cloud Library is another great option for listening to audiobooks and borrowing books.

3. Stream Movies and TV Shows with Hoopla

Not only can you watch books, but you can also use Hoopla to stream movies. Once you borrow a movie, you have 72 hours to watch it through the mobile app or your streaming set-up box.

To link your Hoopla account to your configuration box:

  1. Install the Hoopla channel on your device. The Hoopla channel is available for Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, Fire TV, and Chromecast.
  2. Start the option to link your account within the Hoopla Canal
  3. Open the Hoopla app and visit your settings (look for the gear icon).
  4. Choose the option Pairing a streaming device. You will see a box where you need to enter the code that will appear on your TV.

You can access the movie on multiple devices, but can only watch it on one device at a time.

If you use Hoopla to stream television shows, keep in mind that each episode counts towards your loan limit set by your home library.

For example, if your library limits you to five items a month, you won’t be able to watch an entire seven-episode season in one month. While you may find shows you want to watch, a binge watcher may find Hoopla too restrictive, especially if you borrow other content like books or movies.

4. Find music albums on Hoopla

In addition to audiobooks and videos, you can borrow music albums to stream for 7 days. Hoopla contains both old and new music and compilation albums and soundtracks.

You stream the music directly via the Hoopla app. The music playback interface is simple compared to many dedicated music streaming services.

Watch Hoopla’s Binge Pass

When you borrow a Binge Pass, you get guest access to partner content for 7 days with a single loan. You can stream as much content as you want during the loan period, as the name “Binge Pass” implies.

At the time of writing, Hoopla’s content partners include Curiosity Stream, Hoopla Magazines, Great Courses, and Hellosaurus.

How is Hoopla different from other library platforms?

If you are familiar with other library platforms, you will find that Hoopla is similar in many ways. However, it has a few differences.

For example, other platforms like OverDrive (which also owns Libby) only have a limited number of copies of a video or book. So if a borrower borrows a copy, it will not be available to other borrowers. Kanopy, also owned by OverDrive, charges libraries on a per-use basis each time a user checks out and watches a video.

On the other hand, Hoopla is a service where the library pays per use, meaning multiple customers can check out the same item. That’s why some publishers don’t allow their content on Hoopla, preferring that individual libraries buy rights to each copy.

Access the library on your phone or tablet

With apps like Hoopla, you can borrow books, albums, and shows without setting foot in the library. Hoopla is one of several digital services offered by participating libraries. Others to look for are Kanopy, Freegal and Libby.

If you’re interested in streaming movies, shows, and music through your library, check out other digital library resources.

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