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'An Open Book': Bibliotheca Enters the World of Digital Streaming for Libraries
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Posted On July 19, 2022
In the world of libraries, where budgets tend to stay flat or shrink while everything else keeps going up in cost, the thought of dropping a massive amount of money into a digital streaming service that charges the library per use does not seem like a great idea. But here we are in 2022, living in an age when a lot of digital streaming services offered to libraries have that exact model. Services such as Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu do not have a pay-per-use model, so wouldn’t you think that a digital streaming service offered to libraries would go the same route? Until recently, that answer was no. But things are changing.

biblio+ welcome image

This is the point in our story when the camera shifts, it zooms in, and biblio+ comes into the picture. From longtime library vendor Bibliotheca, biblio+ is a digital streaming service that isn’t based on pay per use. Instead, it gives libraries a chance to dip their toes into the digital streaming service world with a model focused on unlimited, simultaneous streaming. This shift in direction is designed to help libraries get the most they can for their patrons without their budgets taking massive hits—while eliminating the uneasy “Just how much is this going to cost us?” question libraries have been facing with other digital streaming services.

“We’re a 42-year-old company. We’ve been a digital company since 2011. A lot of our thoughts have turned to trying to figure how we can bring a new perspective to libraries,” says Oliver Martin, Bibliotheca’s chief product officer. “We’re also very aware of the financial constraints that public libraries are facing. We keep asking ourselves, ‘How can we help public libraries?’ The biblio+ streaming service is one of those solutions.”

GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT

The way that everyone consumes content has been changing pretty rapidly over the last decade, thanks to the rise of streaming juggernauts such as Netflix, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and we had to stay at home, the landscape changed even more. Once a side note to library services, streaming video, digital content, and connection over digital platforms quickly became the focus. The need for public libraries to connect with their communities increased, leaving lots of libraries scrambling to find an option that best suited not only their communities, but also their budgets.

The biblio+ platform enters a well-stocked market, where there are quite a few competitors offering similar services. So how did biblio+ come into existence to save the library world from pay-per-use charges? “The market told us that current options for digital streaming services offered to libraries were unsustainable. That’s when we started to look at how we could provide this kind of service with a flat rate for all libraries,” says Bryan Messersmith, senior business development executive at Bibliotheca.

The ease of connecting library users to the content they seek is also a major focus for the biblio+ platform. Shaun Briley, director of the Coronado Public Library in California, reiterated this in a post featured on the biblio+ website: “People want to turn on the TV or pick up a device and have an app right there—that’s the way entertainment is going. biblio+ is the only product of its kind at this time. It’s unique, and being one of the first to offer it is something we’re eager to shout about to draw people into our library.” With biblio+, Bibliotheca is giving the people what they want, making it easy for everyone to access content, and taking the stress out of how a library can pay for a service like this.

CONTENT AND USER EXPERIENCE

The biblio+ platform offers libraries and their patrons a wide range of carefully curated films and TV shows. biblio+ has award winners and nominees, independent films, documentaries, and many other genres. There’s a wide variety of content waiting for users from the moment they log in to the platform. Its curated lists are great for helping users forego long evenings of scrolling through a streaming service only to never find something to watch. When you log in to biblio+, you see carousels of titles similar to what you see on Netflix. biblio+ has collections such as Library Recommendations, Based on Books, and Through a Diverse Lens. There is a monthly theme too; for example, in April 2022, there was a carousel of titles under the heading Celebrating Earth Month. There’s a section for your queue, called My List, and a Recently Viewed section. Some well-known titles include the original Swedish The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; TNT’s The Librarians series; Four Good Days, starring Glenn Close; The Messenger, starring Woody Harrelson; and the documentary I Am Big Bird.

biblio+ content images

If content is king, the design of the biblio+ platform is the royal court that holds everything together. Thanks to the focus on eye-catching visual elements, users of the biblio+ platform will find themselves immersed in a sea of amazing content that they’ll no doubt be adding to their queues. “Library patrons are consumers, and libraries are content distributors,” says Messersmith. “We want to elevate the experience for library patrons and make this as easy as possible for them.” biblio+ does just that, mixing the right amount of content for patrons to discoverwith a platform that is easy to use. There won’t be major frustrations awaiting library patrons who use biblio+. Instead, they’ll get access to a library streaming service that suits their needs here and now. This hyperfocus on both content and user experience from the biblio+ team gives public libraries a really stellar option to consider when entering the streaming world.

MARKETING MADE EASY

One of the biggest tasks that libraries need to tackle is how to market all of their offerings to the communities they serve. Luckily, the biblio+ team members have this under control, and they have dedicated a lot of thought and care to developing a biblio+ marketing portal that will serve the needs of every library using the platform. Alini Eliza Garcia, global marketing manager at Bibliotheca, remarked that they understand how “keeping patrons informed about new offerings provided by your services can be time consuming and confusing,” and the biblio+ marketing portal aims to alleviate that with its interface and tools.

Updated monthly with a staggering amount of marketing and promotional materials for new titles coming to biblio+, librarians will gleefully pore through the portal’s vast amounts of film art, synopses, cast lists, and more and be able to quickly adapt and use these for their library’s social media marketing needs. Even better is that libraries will get access to the full biblio+ brand kit with logos and other digital assets that will help every librarian become a biblio+ marketing whiz for their local community. If you’ve long wanted to start a movie club at your library or make your own lists of recommendations, biblio+ is the platform that will allow you to do just that. The combination of unlimited streaming and all of the fantastic marketing options put together by the biblio+ team gives you all of the tools you need to make this happen.

INTEGRATION, THE FUTURE, AND MORE

The value of having biblio+ grows even more when integrated with uniFi+, Bibliotheca’s library communication distribution platform. It’s kind of like Bibliotheca is building its own version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but for library products that focus on marketing library services, while continuing to improve the patron library experience. Weaving together modern library staples such as digital signage as well as Bibliotheca’s selfCheck kiosks, remoteLockers, and other solutions, biblio+ nicely finds a home nestled in the uniFi+ system, where the content offered on this platform can be pushed out and marketed to multiple screens across multiple branches if needed.

During our conversations, the team members at Bibliotheca mentioned a few times that they view their work with libraries as “an open book.” They’ve proven that with their approach to streaming video. “We want to work together with libraries. We value how libraries are part of a sharing community. It is our number one goal to listen to you and to help you,” says Georgette Kenney , VP of global marketing at Bibliotheca. “Libraries are a joy to deal with, so we look forward to hearing more from you soon.” With amazing content, a sleek and easy-to-use interface, and a kind and caring approach to public library service, biblio+ enters the world of digital streaming services for libraries on a high note.

Promotional images courtesy of Bibliotheca


Justin Hoenke is a human being and a librarian. He's worked in public libraries in the U.S. and New Zealand, and is currently the library director of the Gardiner Public Library in Gardiner, Maine. His professional interests include creativity, public libraries as community centers, and music. Follow Justin on Twitter (@justinlibrarian) and read his blog (justinthelibrarian.com).


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