Pandemic Leads to Significant Increase in Streaming Video Usage at Public Libraries, Study Shows

As more people stayed at home during 2020 due to the pandemic, they were streaming a lot more videos for reasons beyond just entertainment. This trend is expected to continue over the next three years, prompting many public libraries to transition their budgets from DVDs to streaming and prepare for changes and challenges, according to new data from Kanopy.

“Kanopy is extremely grateful to the hundreds of librarians who took the time and effort to participate in our survey,” Kanopy CEO Kevin Sayar said in a statement. “Their invaluable input will help inform our product development and allow us to better serve the public library community and the patrons they serve.”

Key findings include the following:

  • More than 47% of participants say streaming video budgets will increase in 2021 and over 71% expect an increase over the next three years.
  • Comparatively, just over 9% of participants say their DVD budgets will increase in 2021 and approximately 15% expect an increase in the next three years.

 

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  • 54.5% of public libraries currently offer more than one streaming video service, and many indicated training patrons to use multiple platforms is a challenge.
  • 58.2% say that in addition to entertainment, patrons use streaming videos for other purposes such as personal enrichment and class assignments.
  • Pay-per-view and subscription were nearly tied as the most preferred models for streaming video acquisition, at 23.6% and 23.4% respectively.
  • 49.6% of librarians believe it is their responsibility to support the curricula of K-12 schools with streaming films, and 32.0% say they are collaborating with schools or plan to in the near future. Comparatively, 31.0% say it is their responsibility to support local community colleges and 9.8% say they are collaborating with them or plan to in the near future.
  • 88.4% say collection diversity in their video selection is “important” to “very important” yet just 33% say they are meeting patron needs for such content.

 

“During the pandemic we experienced a sharp spike in streaming video usage, and this increase has continued even though we reopened for in-person service over the summer,” said Kay Cahill, director of collections and technology at Vancouver Public Library. “We saw a strong appetite for educational streaming video content in 2020 and a significant increase in recreational and educational use.”

“Our FY20 streaming budget saw a significant increase due to closure from the pandemic,” added Marco Daniels, a library associate with Oak Bluffs Public Library in Oak Bluffs, Mass. “We expect to continue this trend in FY21, but it is important to note the increase in our streaming budget comes from the decrease in our DVD budget.”

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