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Do you need Netflix when you can stream from NYPL for free?

If you have a Brooklyn or New York Public Library card, you can get access to a mountain of films, including flicks from the Criterion Collection. No card? Here's how to get one.
NYPL
You can stream tens of thousands of movies for free with your NYPL or Brooklyn Public Library cards! Photo: NYPL

Netflix who?

Back in the day, hitting the library was an event as one reveled in the smell of paper and bindings and swam in unlimited access to CDs and DVDs. After Dewey and his decimals were booted, then came online catalogs. One could request a book, get an email when it’s available and go pick it up. Like literary online shopping!

Now, our libraries are on our phones, Kindles and Amazon Fires. Not many of us actually go into a physical library, but thanks to so many extras with the apps, it isn’t the library that is obsolete. With free music with Freegal through the Queens Library system or the New York Public Library, forget Spotify. Need more words? The NYPL offers access to 300,000 free e-books.

And for your eyeballs yearning for more movies, Brooklyn Public Library cards might have just blown your Netflix “wanna see” queue to smithereens.

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All you need is a Brooklyn Public Library card (or a NYPL card) and an account with streaming service Kanopy, and you have instant access to thousands of films, including hundreds from the Criterion Collection.

Kanopy offers more than 30,000 documentaries, indie films, foreign flicks and classic movies, plus more than 400 Criterion Collection titles.

The Criterion Collection is a sort of international Library of Congress dedicated to “gathering the greatest films from around the world.”

“A rep over at Kanopy told us on the phone that NYPL and BPL account holders will have access to ‘a majority’ of the 30K+ films the service streams,” Hannah Frishberg at Brokelyn wrote. “As well, the rep noted that unlike Netflix, there is not too much film turnover over time, and in fact, Kanopy is increasing their database and adding 100 or so new films every month.”

You can view up to 10 movies per month with a NYPL card and up to six per month with your Brooklyn card. Films are “on loan” for three days, according to the NYPL.

Brooklyn Public Library cards are free for “anyone that lives, works, pays property taxes or attends school in New York state,” while New York Public Library cards are free to “New York City residents and non-residents who work or attend school in NYC.”

You can sign up for a library card online (NYPL here or Brooklyn here), but you have to hit up a branch to upgrade your card and get access to goodies like Kanopy.

 
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