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January 17, 2023

How to use Kanopy, the streaming service that comes with your Free Library card

The online platform gives access to hundreds of movies and series, and at no-cost is one of the perks of having a library card

Streaming Free Library of Philadelphia
free library kanopy Source/

Kanopy is a streaming service available at no cost to Free Library cardholders. The streamer previously had been offered by the city's library system between 2017 and 2021, but was cut due to the expense. The screenshot shows the app's home screen.

A Free Library card gets you access to mountains of books, free WiFi, literacy services — and now, a streaming library (again).

The Free Library of Philadelphia announced Tuesday that is bringing back Kanopy, a streamer offering access to thousands of documentaries, international movies, Oscar-winning dramas, classic cinema and children's TV shows. While the Free Library originally offered access in 2017, it cut Kanopy in 2021 due to budgetary concerns. But now that the library has switched to a new subscription model called Kanopy PLUS, cardholders can stream all of the app's content for free, once again.

"We are overjoyed to resume access to Kanopy through the Free Library," Kelly Richards, president and director of the Free Library, said in a statement. "It was a popular service with many of our patrons, and adds another way that Philadelphians can access the Free Library from the comfort of their homes."

If you already signed up for a Kanopy account the last time it was available, you can simply log in and add your library card credentials for immediate access to the streaming library. Otherwise, head to the Free Library's database page and scroll to find the Kanopy link to sign up for a free account.

Current titles on Kanopy include documentaries on James Baldwin ("I Am Not Your Negro"), LCD Soundsystem ("Shut Up and Play the Hits"), an autistic man's connection to Disney films ("Life, Animated") and the Central Park Five ("Ken Burns: The Central Park Five"). Classics like "Charade" and "Dial M for Murder" are also available, alongside newer movies like "The Hating Game" and "Joe Bell."

Parents, meanwhile, have access to the entire "Kanopy Kids" platform with 2,000 titles, including seasons of "Sesame Street" and "Reading Rainbow," as well as the "Muzzy" language learning series.

Kanopy subscribers sounded off when the Free Library cut the service in 2021, flooding the library's announcement page with comments expressing their disappointment. But only a few thousand library cardholders used the service each month, so when the Free Library was hit with deep pandemic budget cuts, it canceled Kanopy to focus on in-person services.

Now, fans can pick up where they left off. The Kanopy app is available for free download, and compatible with Roku, iOS and Android devices.

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