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Kanopy streaming dropped from city's 3 library systems over 'unsustainable' cost

Screen frames from the Kanopy movie streaming website

Screen frames from the Kanopy movie streaming website show the categories of movies on their site. Photo Credit: kanopy.com/David Trotman-Wilkins

The city’s three library systems have dropped a popular streaming service because it is too pricey, officials said Monday.

Kanopy, which touts itself as “thoughtful entertainment” features independent, classic and educational television shows and films. Library card holders have traditionally been able to download a limited number of items for free.

The company sent out an email to subscribers on Monday saying it was “disappointed” that the New York Public Library, Queens Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library will stop offering its services to patrons for free on July 1.

“We have enjoyed furthering the New York City libraries’ mission of providing open access to knowledge through our diverse and exclusive slate of 19,000+ thought-provoking films,” Kanopy CEO Olivia Humphrey said in the email, adding the company understands “that New York City’s libraries’ current priorities lie with other programs that also advance their mission.”

Officials at the New York Public Library responded with a statement that the “cost was unsustainable.”

“Our resources are better utilized purchasing more in-demand collections such as books and e-books,” said Caryl Matute, interim chief branch library officer.

Those concerns were echoed by staff at the Queens Public Library, which said Kanopy was planning to hike the subscription rate to about $125,000. About 6,000 of the 1 million cardholders used the service, officials said.

“While we understand that some cardholders enjoyed this service, the increasing cost of Kanopy, and the need to devote our resources to other priority services and materials that are in higher demand, such as books, e-books and DVDs, make it unsustainable,” the Queens Public Library said in a statement.

The library pledged to explore other options for streaming services and take suggestions for future DVD purchases.

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