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Now Showing at the Public Library: 30,000 Movies


Rooney Mara in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” now available for streaming through the library.

Merrick Morton/Columbia Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

Streaming just became free, courtesy of the public library. Anyone who has a New York Public Library or Brooklyn Public Library card can now watch more than 30,000 feature films, documentaries, foreign-language films and training videos.

Last Friday, the two libraries partnered with the streaming service Kanopy to give cardholders access to the company’s collections. This includes the entirety of the Criterion Collection, which features hundreds of classic and contemporary films.

Library cardholders (ages 13 and older) can stream well-known titles like “Paris, Texas” and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” But they will also be able to find movies that might not be available on Netflix or iTunes. Kanopy has a focus on independent films, documentaries, classics, foreign movies and “hard to find films,” a Kanopy representative said.

Kanopy began in Australia in 2008 selling DVDs to college libraries. Now it’s a robust streaming service that has expanded into the United States and moved beyond academic libraries.

“It broke my heart when students would send us emails to say, ‘How can I keep my Kanopy subscription after I graduate?,’ and we’d have to say, ‘You can’t,’” said Olivia Humphrey, Kanopy’s chief executive. Now they can, through partnerships with public libraries in more than 192 cities, including Baton Rouge, La., Grand Rapids, Mich., and Los Angeles.

While the collection remains the same in all these places, it’s curated to focus on specific locales. Through the New York Public Library service, viewers can find a section devoted to New York Times Critics’ Picks over the years.

Ms. Humphrey said that millennials remain the major demographic streaming Kanopy’s films. Still, she said, that has shifted somewhat now that Kanopy is in public libraries, especially given the collection’s focus on classic and independent film.

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