With all of the uncertainty in the world, digital media has become more important than ever. Here at the Richmond Public Library, we’re excited to provide access to multiple online programs so you can find the option that works best for you. Our two primary resources are Hoopla and OverDrive, which you may know as Libby. These are especially useful for parents, as both have a large collection of children’s books. Both are completely free; even better, as long as you have a library card, you already have full access! However, there has been some confusion about these programs and how to use them to their full potential. In this post, we are going to break down Hoopla and give some tips for how parents can use it to its full potential; we’ll cover OverDrive/Libby at a later date.
Hoopla can be accessed through a web browser at hoopladigital.com, or through the Hoopla app, which is available for both iOS and Android. When you first access Hoopla, you will need to create a free account using an email address and password. It will then prompt for your location to find the Richmond Public Library. On the following screen, you will be prompted to enter your library card and your PIN number, which are the same as you use to log in to your account online or to log into computers at the library. That’s it, you’re ready to get reading!
With Hoopla, you are given 8 checkouts per calendar month. You may borrow most books, comic books, and audiobooks for 21 days, and most movies for 3 days. The best news–there are no waiting periods at all! Any item that is listed is always available. Be careful though, because once you’ve checked out an item, you have used up one of those checkouts, and you do not get it back once the item has been returned.
Tips for Parents
- When using Hoopla for children, you can select “kids mode,” which will only show results for children’s content. You can access this in the same way regardless of which version you are using: in the top right corner of the screen you can click/tap on the word “KIDS,” or you can select “kids mode” in the settings menu.
- Hoopla has more than 20,000 children’s ebooks, and more than 3,500 audiobooks. While this may seem daunting at first, you can take advantage of their search engine to narrow down selections by title, author, and even genre. The mobile version has an even easier method: on the front page, select the format you want (ebook, audiobook, music, etc.) then at the top tap on “Genres” to view a multitude of different categories (such as historical fiction, sci-fi, self-help, or biography) and collections (such as adapted to film, popular series, women’s history month, or zoo animals).
- Take advantage of the “Bonus Borrows” section. The titles from this list can be loaned without them counting against your total available checkouts for the month! You can access these from the aforementioned “Genres” tab on the mobile version, or by searching either version for “Bonus Borrows.”
- To find picture books that also contain narration, you can search for “Read-along.” This will give you more than 3,000 items. Do note that some are listed as “ebook,” which you can check out for 21 days, while others are listed as “movies,” which you can only check out for 3 days. The movies will often contain additional music and animation, but otherwise follow the stories in the same way.
- In addition to books and audiobooks, Hoopla is a wonderful resource for movies and tv shows! If you don’t have Netflix or Hulu, Hoopla can be an excellent free alternative. While its selection is more limited than the pay-to-watch programs, it’s a resource that shouldn’t be overlooked.
- One of the best ways to get around the 8 checkout limitation is to use multiple library cards! There is no limit to how many cards you can attach to your account. You can also easily sign up for an ecard here. Once you use up all 8 check-outs in a month, simply go to your settings tab, then put in a new library card number and PIN. The items you checked out previously will still be available to you, but you’ll have another set of 8 checkouts to use.
I hope these tips can help you take full advantage of your library card membership while our physical locations are closed. Stay safe and keep reading!