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What Are Libby and Hoopla and Why Should You Use Them

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at JMU chapter.

For those of you who consider yourselves bibliophiles or simply want to get more into reading, the first piece of advice I have for you is to get a library card.


Having a library card is a great way to save money. Even if you’re not looking to save money, the selection of the library might be a lot greater than your own and will give you more options than perhaps your personal library cannot. The library itself also provides a great atmosphere no matter the location as it always has the goal of fostering an environment that is meant to support a love for reading and learning. Libraries also have a variety of subjects and mediums to offer. Not into straining your eyes? Do you want to feel transported into a story without using your sense of sight? Many audiobooks are offered in many libraries. Not into physical books? Nowadays libraries offer ebooks—not just physical books.

This is where Libby and Hoopla come into play. Both are apps you can find on the App Store or Google Play Store. The best part is that they are in conjunction with your library. To differentiate the two, the following is what they both have to offer through their inventory.

Libby is an app that offers a wide variety of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and digital graphic novels. It allows you to read within the app, but it also gives you the opportunity to send the ebook to your Kindle. I have personally done this many times and have found it life-changing. The app also has the ability to direct you to Kanopy, a platform where you can also watch films using your library card.

Hoopla on the other hand has similar things to offer but a few distinctions. Hoopla also offers ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and digital graphic novels. However, unlike Libby, they also have a large selection of digital comic books, which I have always wanted to read more of. What is also great about Hoopla is that they include film, tv, and music within the app. You can check out an artist’s album or a film from the library digitally if you so choose. Checking out a film directly from the app is something Libby does not offer at this time. Instead, Libby refers you to Kanopy, which you would have to log into separately. The film material is also different for both. Kanopy provides a wide selection of films, documentaries, foreign films, classic cinema, independent films, and educational videos. The films and shows included in Hoopla are also of a wide variety but are easier to come by since you can access the films directly from Hoopla rather than an outside application.

One advantage Hoopla has over Libby is that there is no wait time to check out materials. On Libby, if a book is recently released or in popular demand at your library you will have to wait a certain amount of time until it is available. Occasionally, Libby allows you to “skip the line” by providing a shamrock icon next to the borrow ****button—this is almost like a cheat code. It does not have a wait time in this instance, but as a result, it may also have a shorter loan period and the material may not be renewed. If you want a book immediately you may want to use Hoopla. However, despite the great additions Hoopla has to its digital library compared to Libby, it does have a disadvantage in that you cannot send your ebooks to your Kindle if you wanted to—the only exception is if you have a Kindle Fire for which you would need to download the Hoopla app and read on there. All other versions of Kindle are not compatible with Hoopla.

Another disadvantage to Hoopla emerges if you share your library cards with others. If you and another person are using Hoopla, you cannot listen to audiobooks on the same library card account. I have found this to be a disadvantage to me because I share my library cards with my siblings since you can borrow a good amount of materials with one card. I found out that on the same library card, my sister and I could not listen to audiobooks at the same time—it would simply kick one of us out of the application. So you should keep this in mind when you are thinking of which application may work best for you.

Both Libby and Hoopla allow you to add multiple library cards. Why might you want to hold multiple library cards on these digital platforms? If you search for a book that is unavailable or simply is not offered at that particular library, you can switch out your card within the app for another library card you are registered with and see what other libraries have to offer in the way of their inventory.

I currently have four library cards; I have found they all have a great selection that differs from one another. I have learned that the ease to switch out your library cards within these apps is an amazing addition that has improved my access to books and vastly enhanced my reading experience. Personally, I use both Libby and Hoopla and have found them both great for different reasons and experiences. You may find you want to use both to your advantage, which is a great option as well. I believe as a society we should protect the upkeep of libraries and a great way to support our library communities is to use the library’s resources to their fullest extent.

Overall, visiting your local library is absolutely worth it to connect with your community and also a great way to learn more about Libby and Hoopla or to find out if your library has its own app! Libby and Hoopla are just a few ways to expand your reading tastes and step outside of your comfort zone of what you would normally read. So get reading!

Fabiola (Fabi) Garcia is a double major in writing, rhetoric and technical communication, and media arts & design at JMU. She enjoys reading, watching and making films, and learning new languages.