Are you paying for music, TV, movies, and books? You don’t have to! Here are three different apps/websites that you can use for free. Simply create accounts using your library card, then gain instant access to hundreds of thousands of titles, from silent cinema classics to today’s top-40 chart hits—all from the comfort of your own home.
Need a library card? San Francisco Public Library cards are free for all California residents. Apply online, present a valid photo ID in person at any SFPL location, and walk out with your key to limitless entertainment (including physical books, LPs, museum passes, electronic databases, online classes, and more).
App or website? App
Libby is an app that allows you to borrow ebooks and audio books from any library for which you have a card. Simply create an account, enter your library card information, and get instant access to your library’s collection. The SFPL has more than 80,000 titles from which to choose. You can renew and return items directly from your device. Libby has an array of features, including sampling any book before borrowing, zoomable graphic novels, and read-along audio for kids’ books. Need a larger screen? Libby lets you send your books to your Kindle or tablet for easy reading. N.B.: Despite being digital, some popular titles have limited copies, meaning you might have to wait for the newest read. (For instance, New York Times bestseller Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere currently has a four-week wait.) However, there’s no limit to the number of library cards you can register to an account, or the number of audio books and ebooks you can borrow at a time, so there’s plenty to enjoy while you wait your turn. You can also tag items into different categories to create lists for the kids, for scary story night, or school. No wi-fi? No problem! All items in your Libby library can be downloaded, so you can enjoy them on BART, on a plane, or on your sofa.
App or website? Website
Kanopy describes itself as “thoughtful entertainment”: it has more than 30,000 documentaries, classic films, and indie films, including movies from 1910 to 2018. Recent titles include I Am Not Your Negro, This Beautiful Fantastic, and Loving Vincent. Kanopy includes films across many genres, from works distributed by the Criterion Collection to the films of Frederick Wiseman. Search by category (health, sciences, education, history, politics, nature, global studies), year of production, language, and so on. The website is available on any device, including desktop, mobile, Roku, Amazon Fire Tablet, Apple TV, and Chromecast. Each library allows a certain number of credits per month: the SFPL allows eight. Once you pick an item and press play, you have three days to watch it as many times as you’d like. The credits restart every month, so you can save future items on your “watch list.” You can also add as many library cards to your account as you’d like, each with its own set of credits. Kanopy features optional subtitles and transcripts of your movies while you watch. Your Kanopy account can be linked to multiple libraries, including any public library or college/university library that offers Kanopy.
App or website? App
Hoopla is an app that allows you to borrow ebooks, audio books, comics, music, movies, and TV. Hoopla includes Action View on comics; full album borrowing for music; and customizable fonts, formatting, speeds, and themes on ebooks and audio books. All borrowed items are downloadable, so you can enjoy them without stressing over wi-fi. Different media allow different borrowing times: for instance, three days for TV shows, seven days for music, and 21 days for comics, ebooks, and audio books. Hoopla also uses monthly borrowing credits, and SFPL allows 20 credits per month. You can also save potential titles to your favorites list for future enjoyment. N.B.: While Hoopla might not have every popular book or show, it’s the perfect place to start your search or browse for new interests, since it never restricts items with holds. While you might not find the hottest trend or latest release, you have at least 20 credits to use every month, and you’ll never have to worry about a wait list.